The Koetsu Jade Platinum moving coil phono cartridge has always been a dream component for me. For many years, I would look at ads that offered the cartridge and pay particular attention to newsgroup threads that mentioned it. I have owned all of the non-platinum Koetsu cartridges, from the Black to Urushi Tsugaru (see Reviews here on 10 Audio). I had the Rosewood Signature Platinum, too, and enjoyed it immensely for over a year in my system. The Rosewood finally showed its very small shortcomings as a slight lack of extension and resolution in the treble and a bit less power in the bass that I prefer. I thought the Jade’s more massive body would resolve those two issues, small though they were.
I had heard from a few folks who use a Jade regularly that it is a truly wonderful cartridge, and finally I had the opportunity to try one for myself. After breaking in the $8500 Jade on my SOTA Cosmos turntable and TriPlanar VII tonearm, and using a Conrad Johnson Premier 15 Series 2 and Manley Steelhead phono preamplifiers, I am now convinced that all cartridge reviews are either very worthwhile or practically worthless. If the cartridge is reviewed on your tonearm or one that is very similar to yours, then you can probably rely on the information in the review. My experience with the Jade quickly indicated that my long standing desire to hear how well it performs would not be satisfied with this analog system.
And I found out why. The TriPlanar simply is not the right tonearm for the Jade. This combination provides soft, plodding and indistinct bass, a huge but unfocused soundstage, and a treble range that is no particular improvement over the $3000 less expensive Rosewood SP. The bottom line here is that this high mass stone cartridge needs a high mass tonearm, such as the Ikeda. At least that is what satisfied users tell me.
Many reviews, mine included, go into great detail to help you decide if a particular component might provide the sound quality you are looking for and be a good match for your system. This review is not one of those. But equally valuable, I suggest, is a review that provides a cautionary message about system synergy and when not to consider the component under review for purchase. This MINI REVIEW should not be interpreted as a categorical failing of the TriPlanar VII tonearm or the Koetsu Jade, for that matter. The TriPlanar is a tonearm which I have found to be wonderfully synergistic with several other cartridges and it continues to serve as my reference tonearm. Despite the results obtained with the Jade, I am not at all motivated to look for a replacement tonearm.
I had the opportunity to audition the Koetsu Jade Platinum in my system, but never heard it perform to its potential. The dream continues.
* The MINI REVIEW is a new feature on 10 Audio. MINI REVIEWS are for those components that I have auditioned in my system but, due to limited time with the product or other issues, do not warrant a full review. MINI REVIEWS are presented to give you pertinent information about a product that may help with your buying decision, but should not carry the same weight as a full review.