I once had a Koetsu Black. An early one from the eighties, built by Musashino Lab for Koetsu. It had it’s original tip with the boron cantilever and well over two thousand hours of playback. It might seem as an heresy to some of you but it tracked well, there was no sign of distortion at the end of records, the cantilever was still straight, even straighter and better aligned to the cartridge body than some of the brand new modern cartridges I have sometime played with… 

I always thought these older cartridges sounded different (if not better) than their modern counterparts either from the 90’s or the latest Koetsu Black Goldline iteration. The Black was lent to a friend who played with it on his EMT 948 turntable and EMT 929 tonearm. I remember quite well his astonishment when he changed from his different EMT TSD cartridges to this little black thing. I offered him to keep it for a month or so. Fifteen days later he called and told me that the Koetsu was distorting badly. I suspected immediately that the diamond tip was worn out. It had to happen one day as the cartridge had already had quite a long lifespan.
Finding someone to service a cartridge is not so easy. For instance : I know nobody in France who deals with this business, and most of the time you have to wait for a very long time before expecting your cartridge to come back. As for my previous retips I choosed Roberto Torlai because he is fast, serious and reliable.

After inspection he told me that my Koetsu Black was just having its tip starting to unglue and that it was still 85% good, meaning that it would still be able to play/danse into the groove of quite a few records. I decided to go for a full retip with a Fritz Gyger II diamond tip. I had also sent him a modern Koetsu Rosewood with a desperate need for a brand new cantilever which turned out into a boron cantilever with a Fineline tip (this was the kind of tip Koetsu used with there early models).

They came back two weeks later. The Koetsu Black had changed a lot. It was much more dynamic, much more precise and had an incredible bass. It seems as if it was on steroids… The Rosewood was soft and polite, shy in comparison to the black but maybe more subtle, more refine. One thing was sure : they sounded both really good. Of course best of both worlds would have been even better but I already new that if I wanted that kind of performance I would only have it with a stone bodied Koetsu like the Onyx.



Earlier this year I decided to part with the Black and had to sent it through the post office to its new home. Of course it arrived damage. One channel of the cartridge was not working. I asked my buyer to send it to Roberto Torlai so that he could check it out. One of the minuscule internal wires was cut right next to the coil. This seemed as impossible to solve/solder.

But… Roberto sent back the cartridge to its new owner which then  compared it to it’s Koetsu Black Goldline on his EMT 930 with 929 tonearm. He kept the Musashino Lab Koetsu and sold the modern one.
Thank you Roberto!
Can you the tiny spec of solder just next to the coils on the wire in the back? Incredible!!!!!

P.S. : All photos from the inside of the Koetsu Black are of 100% analogical origin and from Roberto Torlai courtesy.