Can I get more out of my Koetsu ?

Hi Team, 
This might be one of my only discussions on here so pls take it easy on me🙏.

My current dilemma is, as the title suggests, I don't know if I am doing one of my carts (Koetsu Rosewood Standard) justice. 

Current setup is:
Koetsu > Yamamoto HS-5 headshell 18.4g > Technics 1200GR standard arm W-achromat > EAR MC4 > EAR Phonobox Classic > Leben 600x > Devore Fidelity 096;

The MC4 SUT is a new addition and it is all sounding pretty magical to me right now. Previously I was using the SUT in the phono stage. 

I know the Koetsu is meant to be on a high mass arm and that is why I added the HS-5 head shell. It is heavy and brings the resonance calculation to acceptable range. I do have to add the added counter weight for the technics arm but with it everything tracks perfectly. 

My other cart is a Hana ML low output MC cart. I like that one too but it only requires a medium mass arm which the Technics is so theoretically a better match.

The Koetsu already sounds magical and better than the Hana to my taste but how do I know if It could be sounding even better?

The way I see it:

  1. somehow hack a high mass arm onto the technics (don't think this would be easy and maybe not recommended) 
  2. Upgrade to technics 1200g (better arm but still not high mass. actually think its less mass than the GR)
  3. Start a new journey with another table with high mass arm (possible but $$$) 
  4. Just be happy with what I got and buy more records 😃

Strategy advice on how to navigate this problem and if new turntable is the answer some suggestions on how to approach that. 

I am not fussy about audio equipment that looks like it can take me to the moon. I am more into older style equipment that just sounds lush, magical and gives me technicolor dreams. 

Thanks in advance!!!


that MC4 is right at the very best I’ve heard Koetsu

@mulveling sorry to imply otherwise. I shouldn’t doubt the impressive synergy that can be realized from simplicity!

Since we were on the Loco transimpedance train, the SUTZ was most applicable.

My Koetsu Vermilion also gets along extremely well with simple tube RIAA gain via the SUTZ transimpedance current-to-voltage converter.

Is the consensus that this [transimpedance] is a better design or a matter of taste?

@kdogsy That’s a great question that’s been avoided 😎

I would venture it’s an acquired taste with the right system and cartridge.

When the design works, users will of course seek out low-impedance pickups that enjoy the party, most likely with the belief that non-working pickups are irrelevant in the LOMC universe.

In Stereophile’s March ‘23 issue, Herb Reichert describes the SUTZ connected to his all tube Tavish Design Adagio as, “These sonic descriptions fail to communicate the subjective character of my Dynavector experience. I put hundreds of listening hours on the XX-2 because it’s lively, easy-flowing free-spiritedness made me want to play records. At the end of every side, I needed another” as well as, “Ron Sutherland went wild and created a new category of phonographic components - the current-drive headamp - that let me add my own choice of tube glories to the quiet steadiness of virtual short loading.”

As far as a better design is concerned - I suspect that may have something to do with Mr. Sutherland calling it Loco.

I think you’re doing ok. You may think about a turntable upgrade but that’s just part of the hobby. As for your koetsu, I have a Rosewood Signature mounted on my vpi scout. It’s sounds great.  They can be finicky but keep adjusting. That’s what I did and eventually hit its sweet spot. Also be sure to use brass mounting screws. It helps. Good luck. 

Thanks everyone, enjoying the discussion. @mulveling you have offered SUT advice previously and I am really happy with the difference in sound sound the MC4 has made. I kept the interconnect short as you suggested and will try out some shorter interconnects from TT > SUT also (currently 1M).

I have a good used high end HiFi warehouse at the end of my street so if I see any of the mentioned gear from this thread come through I will ask for a loan to experiment. 

I have been drooling over some turntables that could be possible upgrades but I think I am getting into the 10k territory which is allot for me and I might like to end up with something with 2 tone arms if spending that much. 

anywah appreciate all the comments and insights 🙏

For what it’s worth, I am using a custom built, solid state current driven head amp in front of my tube phono stage with MM levels of gain. The results are impeccable, terrific. I love it. I did it because you have to go out of your way for gain if you are using an Ortofon MC 2000 cartridge, which has possibly the lowest voltage output of any cartridge ever marketed but produces decent current output owing to its very low internal resistance (2 ohms). And I don’t own a SUT. this type of head amp is real competition for any step up transformer.

Kudos to Sutherland for going commercial with the idea, if that’s what they’ve done. Because I can’t find such a product on their website.