IKEDA Kai , IKEDA 9TS and IKEDA 407, FR64s fitting experience (on Micro Seiki SX 8000 MKII)

shakti

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May 9, 2015
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Since a couple of days, I am enjoying my Micro Seiki SX 8000 MKII turntable.

It was clear to me, that I like to combine this heavy turntable with heavy arms and low complient cartridges. recently I saw a Micro Seiki SX 8000 MKII with SME V and Kuzma 4 point tonearm, which might be a nice combination, but does not look like, what I would expect from such a turntable
(I know , the SME V is old as well, but still looks very modern).

So I have choosen the SAEC 407/23 Tonearm and the Ikeda 407 Tonearm to be combined with Ikeda 9TS and KAI cartridges.

As the SAEC 407/23 was not a perfect match (too analytic and not enough "rich" bass) on the original brass base from Micro Seiki ,
I fitted the SAEC on an aluminium base and my Micro Seiki RX 1500, which is a much better balanced combination.

So I focussed next to the Ikeda 407 tonearm (with VTA lifter).


Looking into the Ikeda 407 manual will give you a 50mm distance from cartridge stylos tip to the headshell/arm interface,
with 295 mm pivot to spindle distance, which was my starting point, as you can see on the pics .

This starting point was supported by the obvious great fitment of the Ikeda Kai and 9TS cartridges in the Ikeda headshell, which is just looking perfect.

My idea to interchange the 2 cartridges in the Ikeda 407 arm, using the same Ikeda cartridge seemed to become difficult, as the two cartridges have a difference in weight. Ikeda homepage is showing 1,5g difference , but reality is arround 2g.

But 2g is in the reach of easily increasing the force by 2.2g for the 9TS, if balancing started with the Kai (9TS has 2g and Kai has1,8g tracking force).


I started the comparison (using Kondo M7 /Kondo SPZ and Thoeress PhonoPres) with the KAI, which sounded nice (after having had 30h on the Clearaudio break in disc), but compared to Transfiguration Proteus and vdh Colibri not with the quality level expected.

Changing to 9TS showed a much better performance in relation to the pricepoint. More dynamic and more resolution, Kai was not bettering 9TS in this area, only the smoothness of the mids were more nice.

I was also disappointing, that the KAI was not 100% able to do high dynamic and loud voices, where the 9TS had no problems. So I started to think about the 50mm distance..., as in former times the old Fidelity Research Arms tonearms had a recommandation of 51mm,
which is still the norm for cartridges like Ortofon SPU or Tedeska.

So I started to bring the KAI to a 51mm distance point.

To my surprise, this position, sounds better, but still not perfect. At the end I was bringing the cartridge back and forwards (adjusting the tracking force accordingly) . The sonic response of the KAI was drastic, I can not remember, that I have fitted a cartdrige, which is that sensible in this parameter.

Relatively easy I was able to find a good position, but as this is also effecting the VTA (not only tracking force) I have to do some more investigations, but already now, the sonic improvement was huge and I start to understand, why many people like the KAI so much and other people say, that the cartridge is "just ok".

I will post a picture of the KAI in the final position soon :)

But having done this exercise, I mmediately started to do the same with 9TS. To my surprise, the differences were audible, but in comparison very small. I would say not worth the effort...

Now I was able to compare the 2 cartridges and the sonic difference become more obvious, the KAi clearly betters the 9TS, but the 9TS has a fantastic performace for the price point, which is in Germany three times less as KAI.

Finally I decided to give a little more "shine" to the KAI and I installed Ortofon LW800s leadwire instead of the 4N Ikeda wires, which worked out good!
( I am coming from a day to day listening experence with vdh colibri, so this leadwire makes the change a little less different, may be I will exchange after a whilem getting better used to KAI, to 6N copper lead wire)

At the end , I decided, that Ikeda 407 and KAI works perfectly together on the Micro Seiki SX 8000 MKII turntable, rich bass, smooth mids , nice resolution at all, huge soundstange.

The Ikeda 9TS is a different animal, more modern , more punchy..., so I was looking for a tonearm with punchy bass as well, with a solidrock dynamic and a matching effective mass. After the not so harmonizing partnership with the SAEC 407/23, I was looking for a Fidelity Research FR 64s .

The FR64s should be very very close to the FR66s, but for a price, which is much more realistic and not (yet) driven by crazy collectors.

Fortunately I was able to buy a nearly NOS FR64s, which was never installed on a turntable, since decades waiting for a customer, just beeing on demo in a glass vitrine.

From another German collector I was able to buy the Fidelity Research N60 Tonearm stabilizer weight.

I was able to understand, that the Ikeda VAT lifter is not giving only the VTA lifter opportunity to the arm, but also increases resolution, stability and bassperformance of the 407, so it was clear , that I need the FR BA60 VAT lifter or as a compromise the N60 stabilizer for the FR64s tonearm.

The Ikeda 9TS has shown, that it does not change the performance too much, if played with different headshell positions, so I fitted the 9TS immediately to the FR64s to get a first impression.

And this first impression is just great! Like a perfect match, the FR64s (silverwiring) has so much brutal dynamics and sonic stability, that the 9TS plays like a rockmusic devil :). I tried Queen "we will rock you" and this became a fanatstic listening fun.

So my goal to have one Cartridge/Arm combination with high resolution and a more intime listening character and on the other side a more high dynamic, powerfull combination for the more dance floor like rythmattack approach (without loosing the High End bit of high resolution, realistic soundstage, realness..)

As the FR64s requires the old standard of 51mm stylus to headshell start distance, I was changing the postion of the 9TS accordingly. Mainly the soundstage improves, specially the hight of the instruments/vocals became more realistic.

But I believe, that I am not at the end to surch and find the final position of the 9TS as well.


Finally , after all the spent hours with Ikeda / FR Cartridges and Arms I have to say, that it is not easy to change from a Stevensen, (or any other curve) optimized cartridge placement to an just rough advice driven position, continuing the next steps by extensive listening.


The next steps are a multidimensional parameter universum of different sonic effects, but specially the KAI is a clear responding cartridge, which likes to help you to find the best position!


Juergen

ikeda1.JPG Ikeda2.JPG ikeda3.JPG ikeda4.JPG ikeda5.JPG
 

bonzo75

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Thanks nice write up. Which is the colibri you are referring to, btw, as there are many varieties?

Also planning any experiments with Schroeder?
 

shakti

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Kedar,
actual I am using the vdh Colibri XGP MkII (means the 2017 version) in a Yamamoto HS1-S Ebony wood headshell with soldered 6N thick headshell wiring.

After having had vdh colibri XGW and XPW I started to like XGP version in wooden headshells as well. Gold coils are more flexible with phonoPre's , it was always hard to get 5K impedance for the platinum coils. The Wood versions sound right with the moste arms, like SME V, but with the plastic body and changeable headshells you can customize the Colibri to your needs.

Currently I am going to think about a colibri with low compliance to match it with Ikeda Arms.
And I would like to get my hands around the Stradivarius Version, hawaian Koa Wood and violin treatment.


The Schroeder Arm is a great arm, but I do not see the arm as the best fit to the MS Sx 8000 MKII, I like to see there more heavy and robust arms to have a harmonic appearance.


Back to Ikeda and fitting the cartridges. I was listening today to some nice music , always comparing the FR64S / Ikeda 9Ts combination versus the Ikeda 407/Ikeda KAI combination, which helped a lot to get the preliminary best position.

With this position I am going to hear now the next days, may be, when I get more used to the performance I can enjoy now, I able to fine-tune to the next level!

I attached pics to make the new position in comparison to the former position more clear.

The difference ist drastic and with KAI a clear difference in performance, the 9TS is more robust, so the difference in sonic performance ist not as big, as the new fitting position may demonstrate.

The mismatch to the Schoen Tool is now even bigger.

( by the way, if somebody is interested, I am using Yamamoto Titan Headshell screws)

Juergen

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shakti

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May 9, 2015
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as an overlay to find the best position for the Ikeda Cartridges, I like to remember, that there is an ongoing discussion about the correct pivot to spindle distance for the FR64s tonearm. Some user refer to an english/japanese translation mistake, some refer to a tonearmtest written in the German Magazine "Das Ohr" No 7 from 1984, where a different distance was recommended.

The Original manual ist showing 230mm on a Japanese written paper, only the 230mm are in english.

But this drawing is also showing as a reference the Fr64FX.

Unfortunately, ist seems, that the FR64fx does exist in two different versions, black and silver. Both have a different geometrie.

The German magazine tested different FR tonearms and recommends for the Black FR64fx and the silver FR64s 231 to 232mm pivot to spindle distance and 1mm more overhang.

Finally I decided , that this is too much confusing and I tried the different prepositions . So I am using now the 230mm, as this gives me a pin point sharp picture. The 231,5 mm with adjusted overhang is a little bit more smooth and softer. So I can understand, that some do prefer.

But doing so, I was motivated to find the old Magazine, and I found it!

the tester were saying that all Fidelity Research tonearms had something in common, which was a fat bass and a kind of thick uppercase too.

So they were close to see this as the sonic signature of the arm.

and to a certain degree I was on the way to agree, compared to the SAEC 407/23 both arms were playing with a thicker ground...

But than one of the tester tried to fix the counterweight with a little stronger torque and realized a sonic difference.

This is in opposite of the manual , which says, that there is no difference in tightening the screws or not.

So I tried it out!

And both tonearms, the Ikeda and the Fidelity Research reacted clear on the torque used to fix the counterweight, als the FR allows to fix 2 other screws more tighten (side balance and antiskating) , which does not make a big difference in my gear.

With the right torque the bass becomes more impressively well balanced, very interesting , that the thick bass was not a tonearm characteristic, but a resonating counterweight. Now I can understand even more, why this arms need the N60 or BA60 arm base stabilizer.

Juergen
 

853guy

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Aug 14, 2013
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Hello shakti,

Just wanted to thank you for sharing your experience here. It's greatly appreciated.

Best,

853guy
 

shakti

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May 9, 2015
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Today I found the next hours spare time to improve the Ikeda / Fr combination.

beeing impressed, that the change of torque on the counterweight was such a clear difference, I decided to go further in Resonance Management , to change headshells!

Recently I bought many different headshells from Yamamoto, three different woods and a carbon version. Unfortunately all headshells were too light for Ikeda 407 or FR64s.

But I own a Jelco HS30 too, which is basically a Magnesium Headshell with rosewood cover and a silver cable.

This headshell is arround 16g, so interchangeable with the Ikeda headshell, which I am using in both arms.

I did the comparison of this two headshells mainly in the Ikeda Arm, but the result was similar to FR64s.

The Jelco was a kind of overdamping the Arm, but had also a more flat frequency response, The Ikeda headshell has more energy in the upper bass and playes a more rich version of the music. The Jelco HS30 has (due to the pure silver cable?) a slightly higher resolution. I was using the Ortofon 800 silver /copper hybrid cable in the Ikeda headshell.

First moment I liked the more neutral presentation, but second moment, I was missing the typical energy of Ikeda influenced Music.
But I identified also something inharmonic, so I decided to change the Ikeda headshell to an Ortofon 6N/7N hybrid pure copper cable.
In my Ikeda combination I preferred the pure copper cabling, in other combinations that might be different.

Sometimes I like to listen to Audio technica ART 7 or ART 9 cartridges, as they play wonderful in good arm combinations and they are a kind of "neutral" , as many of the High End cartridges , like the Ikeda KAI, do play more with a personal interpretation of the music, which can be very beautiful, but makes it difficult to fine-tune a system...

With the ART 9 I was able to fit the cartridge into the very heavy Yamamoto HS5 headshell. I fitted also the TY-1 Titan finger into the headshell. And as to my experience the ARt7 and 9 do like the head shell cables being delivered with them, I fitted them too.

This combination , being fitted into the FR64s arm was clearly better than the previous headshells, so the Ikeda head shell plays great in the Ikeda arm, but the FR64s definitely prefers the Titanium headshell.

I may consider to buy a techdas Titanium Headshell, because it would be possible to combine the Ikeda cartridge than with a Titanium headshell.

I also tried on both arms the SAEC 3 headshell, which is an Aluminium Oxid Ceramic headshell. But I prefer the heavy Titanium headshell.

The ceramic headshell performs better in my SAEC 407/23 tonearm.

So finally , I am ending up with a Titanium headshell for the FR64S und the standard Ikeda headshell for the Ikeda Arm. Both arms do play now with pure copper headshell cabling. But I will try soon a pure silver cable on the FR64s, as the arm is the silver version.

Now I am going to enjoy the next level of performance , every little step makes fun to explore :)

Juergen


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leyenda

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Juergen, this is a very useful thread. Too bad I already gave up my Ikeda 407 otherwise I would be having fun with all the setting combo you listed!
 

gian60

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Hi Juergen
please can you tell me something about your Saec 407 against FR 64,FR 66 and Ikea,because i can buy one Saec 506 like new.
I know is good arm,but also old design and i don't know the sound against new generation tonearm
Regards
Gianluigi
 

shakti

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@Gianluigi
I do not know the SAEC 506 in person, but seeing, that the SAEC 506 , even without lift, was more expensive than 407/23 and has ruby / metal blade bearing, I would assume, that the arm is much better than 407/23.

http://www.fonolab.com/services.html

In my comparison the SAEC 407/23 performance was below the Fidelity Research FR64s. But as the SAEC 407/23 has a different Tonearm weight, it is difficult to compare, as the cartridge has a different synergy with this arms.

The Ikeda 407 has a different sonic signature than FR64s and 407/23. Even fine-tuned, the Ikeda 407 makes a more rich midrange sound than the other two arms.

I would say, that the material mix and the inner damping is different. Combining the Ikeda with a highly damped headshell (wood for example) would lead in a kind of over damped performance. The SAEC 407/23 sound is more lean and to the point analytic. As my SAEC 308L does have very much the same sonic signature (on a lower level than 407/23) , I can imagine, that the 506 is also a more neutral sounding arm, specially , as the arm was developed for professional studio usage.

I would say, that the SAEC arms (if combined with the correct arm base) do sound very similar to actual modern tonearms, which are mostly neutral and detail friendly voiced.

Personally I like the FR64s for the energy, which is given to the music! and the Ikeda 407 for the emotional midrange.

So I have the SAEC 407/23 now on sales .

Juergen





bel
 

bonzo75

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Shakti, do your analog observations differ with your Krell amp on YG Anat as compared to using SET on YG or Zingali?
 

shakti

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yes, of cause!
starting with the obvious, the my IO signature (2 PSU) is not quite enough for the Zingali / SET combination.

Finally the Thoeress became my main PhonoPreamp, as the Thoeress sounds great and! is quite , even on low voltage MC.

If it comes to differences on turntables, clearly the YG ANAT II ref prof do show better, what is happening in the low bass frequencies. The Zingali is limited to 30hz, the YG makes the 20hz, which is a huge difference, if it comes to turntables.

But as I prefer the speed and attack and the harmonic sound of the Zingali / SET combination, I continue to listen to the Horn/Tube combination.

It makes other details more important. For instance has the Fidelity Research tonearm FR64S more speed and punch as the Ikeda 407. This difference is very clear with Zingali. Listening to YG, this difference becomes harder to identify. On YG the inner harmonic and tonal balance of the Ikeda 407 Tonearm becomes more prominent. So together with YG, I might prefer the Ikeda Tonearm, on the Zingali , I love to listen with the FR64s tonearm.

The simple message is again, if you change one component in a well established system, you start by "zero" and you have to get it right with open ears . even well known components might show a different character...

Juergen
 

Mike Lavigne

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Apr 25, 2010
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yes, of cause!
starting with the obvious, the my IO signature (2 PSU) is not quite enough for the Zingali / SET combination.

Finally the Thoeress became my main PhonoPreamp, as the Thoeress sounds great and! is quite , even on low voltage MC.

If it comes to differences on turntables, clearly the YG ANAT II ref prof do show better, what is happening in the low bass frequencies. The Zingali is limited to 30hz, the YG makes the 20hz, which is a huge difference, if it comes to turntables.

But as I prefer the speed and attack and the harmonic sound of the Zingali / SET combination, I continue to listen to the Horn/Tube combination.

It makes other details more important. For instance has the Fidelity Research tonearm FR64S more speed and punch as the Ikeda 407. This difference is very clear with Zingali. Listening to YG, this difference becomes harder to identify. On YG the inner harmonic and tonal balance of the Ikeda 407 Tonearm becomes more prominent. So together with YG, I might prefer the Ikeda Tonearm, on the Zingali , I love to listen with the FR64s tonearm.

The simple message is again, if you change one component in a well established system, you start by "zero" and you have to get it right with open ears . even well known components might show a different character...

Juergen

great post, good lessons to learn.

thank you.
 

bonzo75

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Thanks, exactly what I was looking for.
 

shakti

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Today I tried the Dereneville Headshell Contact Mat on my Ikeda 407 / Ikea 9TS combination. The goal was, if it would be possible to get more micro dynamics and a more detailed /precise performance out of the combination.

The Ikeda Kai has in difference to the Ikeda 9TS a Titanium TopPlate, the 9TS a standard aluminum TopPlate. This ha given me the thought, that the resonance management of the contact area to the headshell is vital in the Ikeda cartridge design.

I am using the original Ikeda headshell, as I assume, that the cartridges are developed in this headshell.

The Dereneville minimat is a thin glass fiber with a 2 side Silicon skin. It adds 0.2 g to the headshell and the tonearm hight needs slightly be adjusted.

The effect of the small and thin mat is clear and obvious , the 9TS looses a kind of grey grain and becomes more clear and precise, specially in the (for me) important midrange. Instruments are getting a more natural sound, specially voices and wood instruments benefit from the Dereneville mat in this combination.

On the other side the Ikeda 9TS looses a little speed and attack. It seems, that the direct coupling of Aluminium to Aluminium is the main reason for the modern sonic signature of the 9TS. With the Dereneville headshell mat, the 9TS becomes more close to the more intime music reproduction of the Ikeda Kai.

So it seems, that Ikeda can fine-tune the performance of their cartridges with the material of the top plate.

As I have sold my Ikeda KAI, the Ikeda 407 / 9TS combination will become my dream team for the more quit and melancholic music , the Dereneville Headshell Mat will help a lot to improve the 9TS sonic signature in the direction of the KAI, which is for me a great step in the right direction.

Juergen
 

theophile

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shakti. A great series of posts. A great series of insights.
 

gian60

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I am very surprised you sold the KAI,strange also is not much better of 9TS
 

shakti

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selling the stuff, which does not satisfy me fully ist the best way to free up funds to explore the next experience.
Unfortunately the dealers in my area are not in the position to support my needs, so very often I just buy the stuff I am interested in, one of the reasons, why I like vintage gear so much. I like to listen to new stuff for many weeks, to really understand the sonic signature, to overcome my own historical preferences and to arrive on a better level of musical understanding. The KAI was a very existing lessons learned, but the difference to the 9TS is too small for the price ticket.

I also sold the Transfiguration Proteus for the same reason as also my Air tight PC3.

Both cartridges will help me, to understand the next cartridge better.

I like to listen to the Ikeda SAI, as I perfectly can understand the logic of an integrated head shell. I am also excited about the listening experience of Tedeska cartridges in Munich. Reinhard Thoeress had them in his Demo.

Looking forward for new experiences, may be also with some old used Koetsu stone bodies in good shape :)
 

bonzo75

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Hi what was the difference you noted between XGP and XPW? and anywhere did you compare the same metal with a P and a W?
 

shakti

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I had vdh Colibri:

- XGP

- XGW

- XPP

- XPW

xpw was the best in all and everything on IO sig and 5Kohm

XGW is my second favorite, as it sounds so smooth :)

XGP is most neutral with focus on resolution

XPP has the platin glimmer in the mids, but still with focus on resolution

currently I have reduced to just XGP in Yamamoto Ebony headshell, a nice blend of XGW and XGP !
 

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