The Koetsu Rosewood Signature has arrived at Pearl Audio. The cartridge is a legend unto itself. There are just a few iconic MC cartridges that merit this title - the Linn Troika, the Lyra Helikon, the Benz Ruby, but even among such esteemed company the Koetsu Rosewood has always held a singular place, almost on an island by itself. A bit like a Kohno guitar.
The Koetsu Rosewood is not a cartridge revered for etched soundstaging, hummingbird speed, nor thunderous bass performance but rather for a refined, lush and lifelike finely textured sound. There's a unique humanity to the sound - a quiet aliveness. If it were a singer it would be Melody Gardot most of the time but could become Cassandra Wilson when it needed.
Koetsu cartridges are known for this lushness and sense of realism. The entry level metal bodied Koetsu Black cartridges have this character but with a little less of the life and aliveness. The highest-end stone- and coral-bodied Koetsu cartridges have more composure and stunning resolution but with subtle and remarkably unique personalities based on their materials. In the middle is a family of two branches: the Koetsu Rosewood and Koetsu Urushi families. The Rosewoods have minimal finish with to achieve a full measure of beneficial harmonics giving them their signature lush and rich sound while the Urushis are rosewood bodied with lacquer coatings, each of which has a unique sonic signature.
We installed the Rosewood on our TechDAS Air Force V with Graham Phantom tonearm and the combination is absolutely magical. It's interesting in that unlike most lush cartridges, the Koetsu seems to do everything else quite well - it's about the most balanced sounding 'lush' cartridge we've encountered and honestly the best sounding Koetsu rosewood setup we've done. The reason is likely that precision and perfection of the TechDAS/Graham turntable allows the warmth and harmonics of the Koetsu to come through coupled with the table's control, weight, and soundstage.
We are currently running it with the standard and most-familiar Lofgren geometry to get our bearings, but in a few weeks we will try moving it over to the Uni-DIN and see what that brings about.
Lastly, it comes in a lovely wooden presentation box.