IKEDA 9TT high-end M/C cartridge weight: 10gr, Stylus Force: 1.8gr 10Hz-45kHz

IK 01 MC 9TT
NZ$ 4,250.00 ea (incl. GST)
Ikeda tonearms & cartridges

You will be able to hear the breath of LP/SPs !

New
IKEDA 9TT user comment:
" I am running the new Ikeda 9TT cartridge on the Ikeda IT-407CR1 arm and it is sublime".  I just received my new Ikeda 9TT cartridge and I'm really impressed, it is very three-dimensional and dynamic. It is more open and airy and 3D than my Shilabe. It also tracks better. I can only assume it will continue to improve ".......B Demars

"I am winding down my time with the 9TT. It has been featured with the IT-407 in a series of video shoots on the Onedof turntable and now on the surprisingly excellent Triangle Art Signature turntable. The 9TT offers a holographic midrange more 3D than the Koetsus I've heard or owned (Rosewood, Rosewood Siggie, Pro-IV, The Urushi Vermillion). Now be warned I've not heard the $10K plus Koetsus, but the 9TT falls well under this mark. It is very low in output and I would not use a tube phono stage with it without a SET. My results are based on the Wyetech Ruby P1 combo; reference midrange, robust low frequency, sweet top-end and a simply unreal midrange, like Miles Davis in your room quality.". ....Peter Breuninger

"It is arguable that the true star of this system are the IKEDA CR-345 CR1 tonearm and the 9TT cartridge and the Hartvig provided a platform for them to glisten. The caliber of the Ikeda tonearm and the 9TT cartridge, in particular, is undisputed at the asking prices; one can easily visualise, in particular, the use of the 9TT in more ambitious setups. Employing an aluminium alloy body, the 9TT, in my opinion, produced a more controlled, uniform tonality than those with wood or polymer material. Coupled to a neodymium magnet and lightweight, double layered duralumin cantilever, the 9TT ought to be quite dynamic and even accurate than many."....... Constantine Soo (dagogo mag)
The Ikeda 9TT is specially designed  and developed  with the concept that a cartridge should be more easy to handle, by inherting the charactristics of  competent ability for the sonorous expression power attained with the former cantileverless IKEDA 9 series cartridges.

The body unit is made of a solid aluminum alloy by lathing a piece of aluminum alloy precisely one by one in order to hold the generator unit firmly.

The cantilever is made of a double layered duralmin pipe in order to reduce its actual weight and any possible warping affecting the sound badly, in addition to gaining a stiffness.

The sound sources picked up by the line contact  architecture of the stylus chip will be precisely delivered to the magnetic coils.  In addition, thanks to the highly efficient Permalloy core, low impedance coils, very strong neodymium magnet and an ideally shaped magnet yoke, it is possible to purely reproduce the sound without having any redundant coloring of sound.

In order to pick up the hidden sound elements and a glamor of sounds itself engraved on LPs/SPs in addition to the fulfillment for various conditions required for the best phono cartridge as a reproducing device,we  always  spend a plenty of time to fabricate and then make an alignment repeatedly.

Specifications

Reviews

Videos

Specifications

Electromagnetic Generator : Moving Coil (MC)
Output Voltage : 0.16mVrms (1kHz 35.4mm/sec. at 45° peak)
Coil Impedance : 2.0 ohms.(1kHz)
Appropriate Stylus Force : 1.8grams ± 0.2grams
Frequency Response Range: 10Hz ~ 45kHz.
Channel Separation : over 27dB (1kHz)
Channel Balance: Within 1.0dB (1kHz)
Compliance : 7 x 106cm/dyne
Stylus Chip : Solid diamond, Line Contact
Cantilever: Double layered duralmin pipe
Weight : 10grams
Change of stylus : Change of generator unit including stylus coil.
Connecting terminal:  Right channel:  Hot --- Red. Ground --- Green
                                     Left channel:  Hot --- White. Ground --- Blue

Reviews

Simply put, it’s a massive machine that gets the best out of your vinyl without you – or it – having to try very hard, it seems you can afford not to!
HiFi World
Don't be fooled by its conservative looks, this is a brilliantly conceived, superbly engineered vinyl spinner. A memorable - seminal even - high end product.
 
HIGHLIGHTS:
- supreme musical ease
- unerring speed stability
- flawless engineering
- excellent fitted tonearm

What it gives then is brilliant sound out of a (very big) box, with a superb fitted arm that sings with almost any highish mass moving coil cartridge. It presents a relaxed, easy, nonchalant sort of sound, but one that is nevertheless immensely satisfying. The best thing is that it’s very devoid of character, or obvious strengths or weaknesses for that matter. 

Hitherto known for their bespoke premium priced audio tubes, Euro Audio Team have just launched a brand new high end turntable featuring an Ikeda tonearm, no less! David Price gets into the groove...
 
Jozefína Krahulcová, CEO of Euro Audio Team (E.A.T.) is a redoubtable character. Bubbling with enthusiasm for this, her company’s first (but not last, I am assured) high end turntable, she exudes confidence despite the time not being quite right for the launch of such an esoteric, luxury product. “I am a big fan of vinyl - it’s the best way to listen to music,” she tells me, “and I’ve got a very nice classical music collection. I wasn’t happy about the turntables on the market, so I decided to do this...”
 
Ebullient she may be, because the new E.A.T. Forte isn’t just another derivative design – another ‘me too’ premium priced product there to have a presence in the market. It shows some interesting thinking – certainly in its unique combination of clever techniques used by various other designs – and the reappearance of a seminal tonearm from a past master of the art – Ikeda.
 
It is a fixed subchassis “mass design”, in the tradition of the great nineteen seventies direct drives. Indeed, featuring a separate motor unit, massive platter and string belt drive, it actually reminds me very much of Marantz’s fabled TT-1800, their late high end design that never was – and also certain top Micros of that period. Whilst the outward appearance may ring bells, so to speak, the inside engineering is quite different. The plinth is a metal filled, MDF box of backbreaking weight, with beautiful gloss lacquered wood veneer. Debates rage hard on online forums about the merits of this, but suffice to say that just as the sprung subchassis approach works best when the springs are as unintrusive as possible (a la Avid), so the high mass approach works better the higher the mass is – and the Forte is certainly heavy...
 
The platter is the next most noticeable thing, largely on account of its huge 400mm diameter. It weighs 19.9kg, and is a two part affair with the inner section of the platter made from soft alloy, and the outer part made of a harder material. As you might expect, the main bearing (in the Forte’s case inverted with a ceramic ball mating to a Teflon cup) needed to handle this sort of weight and resultant pressure is vast, but it is given a helping hand by magnetism no less – with the be bottom half of the platter incorporating neodymium magnets to lower the pressure on the bearing. This ‘semi magnetically suspended design is an elegant working compromise, but tweakers won’t be delighted to learn that the bearing pressure is not easily adjusted and is best left to the factory setting. Finally, the platter comes with sorbothane damping, and the matt is made from recycled vinyl records; a massy record clamp is supplied.
 
Interestingly, the Forte is a twin motor design, the designers choosing to specify two low torque AC motors generating 2,700Kj of torque via twin pulleys and long diamond cut string belts. This is coupled with an active speed controller, and located in a separate enclosure which is made of sandwiched metal and MDF. This has two speeds, switchable by a push button, and there’s a digital display offering stepped speed increase or decrease (if you so wish). One particular fun feature is the way this speed display counts its way up to 33.333RPM (or 45RPM) when you switch on, steadily climbing to normal operating speed.
 
As you might expect, Technics SL1200-style 0-33.333 RPM in half a second starts are not available from a turntable with a platter that weighs more than most turntables. But this is of course to miss the point; the designers of the Forte assert that the higher the torque to the motor, the more intrusive it can be. By using twin motors, only gently connected to the platter which itself is so heavy it resists the short-term, momentary dynamic wow imposed by the stylus, the idea is that the motors spin the platter up to speed in a reasonable time and momentum does the rest. The motors then don’t engage with the playback loop directly, that 20kg platter acting as a filter to speed variations. 
 
The twin motors seem to work as twin turbochargers on car engines, supplying unstressed lazy torque rather than delivering needlessly (and possibly intrusively) high amounts. Regular readers will know I personally am a big fan of direct drives, but I do find E.A.T.’s approach interesting and very thorough. They have obviously designed the Forte well aware of the vagaries of belt drives, and all the problems it imposes, and would contend – I am sure – that it ain’t what you do, it’s the way that you do it! This is reflected in remarkably fine speed stability [see MEASURED PERFORMANCE].
 
I find the deck itself a paragon of simplicity; it really is the sort of turntable you buy if you’re not into fiddling. Once located (which given its size and mass is easier said than done), you – ermm – just switch it on and off and that’s your lot. No suspension springs to twiddle, no fine speed to set, no intricate assembly of umpteen bits from a kit before it works. Essentially, the EAT Forte is a plug and play turntable – but for millionaires! It is, of course, immaculately finished, and whilst I may prefer functional, machine-like looks of the Avid Acutus or the arresting geometric grace of the Michell GyroDec, I can see that it is an attractive thing to have in your house – providing you’ve got one big enough, of course...
 
Another key part of the Forte is of course the tonearm. Although notionally badged as an EAT product, Jozefína makes no bones about the fact that it is designed and manufactured by Ikeda. Indeed it is a chrome finished Ikeda IT407 12” design, mounted on a sorbothane damped heavy metal base. If you’re not a Japanese hi-fi nut, you might be shrugging and saying so what – so think of it as being a bit like Lexus getting Bristol to supply engines for their top limousine [see ARMS AND THE MAN below] . More remarkable is that Osamu Ikeda was reputed to be in semi retirement, and extremely unlikely to ever make any tonearm for anybody ever again...
 
Originally launched in 2006, the 12” IT407 is a fairly high mass dynamically balanced design that traces its lineage all the way back to Fidelity Research days. Precision radial ball bearings are used along with a thread linked, weighted bias compensator and there’s a locking counterweight at one end of J-shaped polished arm tube, and a detachable headshell at the other. The build quality and finish of this arm is equal to the SME Series V, which really needs no more explanation – but suffice to say it is absolutely exquisite to hand cue, feeling as silky as the top SME in use. My only gripe would be the slightly fiddly arm rest lock, which isn’t the best ever devised, even if it does the job.
 
Once again, the debates around tonearms are manifold; everyone ‘in the know’ has their favourite, and just to make life interesting, they rarely agree. The Ikeda arm brings no innovation, no fancy tonearm materials, no special damping systems or clever ‘active counterweights’; rather it’s an utterly conservative high mass design that relies on impeccable and consistent construction to achieve its sonic goals. Put a decent moving coil in (in my case a van den Hul Frog), dial in the tracking force, bias and vertical tracking angle (all very easy and elegantly done) and you’re off!
 
SOUND QUALITY
 
Having just spent a long and most enjoyable period with Avid’s Acutus, and of course my own Sony TT-S8000 (a late seventies Japanese direct drive that makes most moderns look like Fisher-Price playthings), it was a sobering experience to see the E.A.T. Forte in my equipment rack, let alone hear it. It is massive; bigger I would say than two Technics SL1200s in a row. The sound is concomitantly large, as imposing as the deck’s physical bulk. I was fascinated, as in my system I haven’t come across anything quite like it...
 
First then, a little bit of perspective. I found the Avid Acutus (at a mere £3,000 less if you fit it with the SME Series V tonearm that it so obviously wants) to be a breathtaking vinyl replay tool – masses of energy, vast amounts of detail and tremendous energy that had me perching on the edge of my seat. Put on some power pop like Simple Minds, or heavy electronica like The Prodigy and it was time to fasten your seatbelt for – as they say – the ride of your life.
 
Immense and cowering as the Forte may be sonically, it is not like the Avid. It is an altogether less intense experience. Don’t take this to be in any way disparaging, as actually it is more versatile. Slip on some John Coltrane and you can sip a snifter of Scotch, light up a Silk Cut and tap your toes just as the Right Honourable Ken Clarke would his Hush Puppies. You can relax into the music, think about next weekend’s visit to the in-laws or what colour you’re going to paint the front door when the weather gets better. With the Avid, you’d have the vagaries of the recording etched into your cranium, and may well be thinking, “a great piece of music, but this early sixties cross-paired mic recording isn’t ideal”. Back to the E.A.T. though, and you’d be bathing in the languid, luxuriant sounds of Johnny Hartman singing, ‘Lush Life’, sitting up straight totally transfixed with your heart up where your Adam’s Apple should be. My point is simple; the Forte takes you into the music as far as you want to go, yet demands nothing from you.
 
On the very surface of things, it is less detailed than the Avid. It doesn’t put a magic marker under every attack transient, underlining when the note starts, and yet it is no less fast and no more unstable – indeed it seems even more speed-stable than the Acutus, which is really saying something. I found with Yes’s ‘Owner of a Lonely Heart’, my reference Sony only just nosed ahead in the leading edge of the bass guitar stakes. The TT-S8000 is utterly exceptional in this respect, and a little ahead of the Avid, whereas the E.A.T. was, figuratively speaking, just millimetres behind its back bumper. But whilst the lithe direct drive with its light platter and clever quartz lock speed control servo system could just about inch ahead on leading notes, it lacked the E.A.T.’s immense stability. It was as solid as the proverbial lump of granite sticking out of the briny. The scale, the epic expanse of its soundstage and the utter unflappability of its performance beat the Sony into a cocked hat.
 
Peter Gabriel’s ‘Solsbury Hill’ was another case in point. Brilliant of course as the song is, it’s a slightly murky mid-seventies analogue recording and one that doesn’t flatter a turntable of any size, price or weight. I found the Forte was able to unpeel the song, rather like an onion skin, giving me great insight into every layer of the production, yet without sounding in any way forced or strained. I remember the Avid doing this too, albeit with more drama and seemingly more detail, although I still found the E.A.T’s presentation more naturally ‘right’ on an instinctive level. Its dynamics were formidable, and yet less explicit. With such innate power, it was able to deliver the contrasts in a more effortless way, like a slumbering giant waking up to brush away an irritation without bothering to raise an eyelid. Again, by contrast, the Sony seemed a tad breathless – which is not something you ever say about it in less illustrious company...
 
Tonally, the Forte was superb. Its bass is immense, unflappable and without fault – save for being fractionally slower to switch on than the Sony. Alternatively, it may be right and the Sony is simply a little 'nervous' with the leading edges, etching them artificially hard in a characteristically direct drive way? The E.A.T. is also sumptuous in the best tradition of vinyl; cue up The Who’s ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again’ from an original seventies pressing of ‘Who’s Next’ and you really know that’s a valve bass guitar amp being used. It’s the sort of bass that doesn’t need to make any apologies – there’s no issue with the recording, or the rest of the replay equipment, it’s just there like the elephant in the room. 
 
Yet it doesn’t overpower, or slur notes, or dominate the mix in any way; put on some nineteen sixties freakbeat from Ice (the most famous band to come out of my own Sussex University, which isn’t saying much) and yes, sure enough, you can tell it’s recorded in someone’s bathroom in Brighton. Cue up 4hero’s ‘Escape That’ however, and you’re into low frequencies the like of which you rarely hear outside of Wembley Arena. Powerful as the E.A.T is below the stairs, let’s just say it’s not gratuitous.
 
Across the midband, you have a massively expansive sound. It makes the Sony – and to a less extent the Avid – seem rather stuck between the speakers. Yet instruments are not quite as accurately located as with the Acutus, which if it were a policeman would be a Miami-based member of CS1. The E.A.T. isn’t imprecise, it’s just big enough in its soundstaging for you not to have to ask questions; “the guitar’s over there, the lead vocal is over there, okay, fair enough!” Nor is the midband quite as icily clear as the Acutus or the Sony, but it’s actually no less detailed or informative, it’s just the way it presents the information is altogether more relaxed. Now, I have a sneaking suspicion that the Ikeda arm is at least partly behind this state of affairs. It’s so redolent of all those hours I used to spend languishing in Japanese hi-fi shops in and around Tokyo, listening to that country’s high end fare. Think massively polished, with easy information retrieval that would never even think of throwing it at you. Yes, it’s an ever so slightly ‘hi-fi’ sound, but a gorgeous one – and mates brilliantly to the E.A.T’s mellowy, moody, subtle sound.
 
As befits a turntable of this immense speed stability, the treble is a joy. It is slick and easy, beautifully polished and wonderfully atmospheric – yet sharp and incisive in a way that never dominates. Miles Davis’s ‘Kind of Blue’ was majestic; smooth, vast in stage and deliciously, naturally musical, and with a wonderfully natural top end. If ever there was a turntable/arm combination to flatter a cartridge’s natural treble ability, this is it. Once again, my reference players both turned in a superficially slightly more detailed rendition, but it wasn’t in any way more informative. Rather, it was if the brightness control had just been turned up a bit. The Avid was brilliant, pushing you right up close to the cymbals, the Sony had wonderful ‘snap’, whereas the E.A.T. took a gentle step back from the hi-hats, giving a less ‘in your face’ rendition that was – all said and done – a tad easier and more satisfying to listen to.
 
CONCLUSION
 
At this level, you’re not going to get a bad turntable, so the question then is – what kind of good one do you want? As with fine wines, great watches, top restaurants and seven star hotels, at this price you’re buying something that suits you like the best bespoke tailored suit. And so whom would the E.A.T. Forte suit? Well, the standard fitment of the Ikeda arm means this is far more like a turntable package than most decks at this price, which come sans tonearm, requiring you to make this big decision. The Forte is a case of ‘add cartridge and go’; it even requires relatively little set up as it is not a skeletal design which demands various layers be bolted on to various others.
 
What it gives then is brilliant sound out of a (very big) box, with a superb fitted arm that sings with almost any highish mass moving coil cartridge. It presents a relaxed, easy, nonchalant sort of sound, but one that is nevertheless immensely satisfying. The best thing is that it’s very devoid of character, or obvious strengths or weaknesses for that matter. Simply put, it’s a massive machine that gets the best out of your vinyl without you – or it – having to try very hard, it seems you can afford not to!
 
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ARMS AND THE MAN
 
In 1964, the former factory manager of Japanese tonearm specialist Grace decided to start his own business. At the age of thirty five, Osamu Ikeda formed Fidelity Research Kabushiki Kaisha and by the mid nineteen seventies his company was making world-class tonearms and pickup cartridges. Ikeda was no copyist, taking out several international patents and finessing his designs like few others. Indeed, so respected was he in Japan that his products were even used by the Imperial Family. The late nineteen seventies were the glory days for Fidelity Research, with the FR64 series of tonearms his strongest product, being a superlative device at a time when there was a relatively paucity of competition. 
 
After the demise of Fidelity Research, the great man came back with Ikeda Sound Laboratories Company. An altogether smaller and specialist affair, he designed, built and inspected every product by hand. It was a chance for yet more innovation, not least the world’s first MC cartridge without a cantilever. The new IT345 and IT407 tonearms were launched in autumn 2006; coming in twelve and sixteen inch versions respectively. E.A.T.  use a specially modified, gloss finished version of the former. (since updatded to Ikeda IT407-CRI 12" tonearm & Ikeda 9TT catridges)
 
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MEASURED PERFORMANCE
 
The EAT Forte carries an Ikeda IT407 12in (307mm) arm with detachable headshell. This is a solid affair made from various metals Ikeda say, rolled not diecast. The arm feels solid and ‘dead’ in the hand and indeed it measures like that too. For a long, tubular arm it is surprisingly free of a main arm tube mode, expected around 200Hz or lower. In this region there is no sign of vibration, although a small bump at 120Hz could possibly be due to primary flexure. Otherwise, the IT407 is a very ‘quiet’ arm all the way up to 3kHz and should give excellent bass quality and fine sound staging as a result, as well as a pure midband. Above 3kHz, as accelerations rise, the headshell becomes as active as most, so here the Ikeda is less distinguished. Also, 12in arms roughly halve the tracing distortion generated by a 9in arm and usually sound smoother and silkier as a result, although often not as ‘fast’.
 
The EAT Forte turntable produced some amazing results. It was just 0.1% slow, a negligible amount and low speed drift below 1Hz was lower than usual too, resulting in a very low unweighted Wow and Flutter value of 0.072%. This suggests the EAT Forte will have much the same grip on pace as a Direct Drive. Weighted wow and flutter was low too, as is to be expected, measuring 0.061%. 
 
An unusual combo this may be in appearance, but it is a good deal more sophisticated under the skin than one might imagine. It’s a great pairing. NK
 
SPEED STABILITY
 
Don't be fooled by its conservative looks, this is a brilliantly conceived, superbly engineered vinyl spinner. A memorable - seminal even - high end product.
 
HIGHLIGHTS:
- supreme musical ease
- unerring speed stability
- flawless engineering
- excellent fitted tonearm
reference midrange, robust low frequency, sweet top-end and a simply unreal midrange, like Miles Davis in your room quality.
Peter Breuninger

I am winding down my time with the 9TT.

It has been featured with the IT-407 in a series of video shoots on the Onedof turntable and now on the surprisingly excellent Triangle Art Signature turntable.

The 9TT offers a holographic midrange more 3D than the Koetsus I've heard or owned (Rosewood, Rosewood Siggie, Pro-IV, The Urushi Vermillion), although I've not heard the $10K plus Koetsus, but the 9TT falls well under this price point.

It is very low in output so I would not use a tube phono stage with it without a SET.

My results are based on the Wyetech Ruby P1 combo; reference midrange, robust low frequency, sweet top-end and a simply unreal midrange, like Miles Davis in your room quality.

I can say that this Ikeda 9TT is a focused cartridge, focused because it reproduces in a very charming way some music genres and because it has its own attitude; if you like it, you buy it.
Domenico Pizzamiglio

Listening to strings quartets with it it's very pleasant because the timbre connotations are well defined but less contrasted than usual. It is possible to recognize all the instruments and it's ok if the cello is less pot-bellied and the violins are softer; with selected recordings it is pleasant (the trio for violin, cello and piano by Haydn in the execution of Beaux Arts Trios on Philips for example) because Ikeda soft sound regulates the harshness of the recording. 

In our sector there are brands or names that still recall precious and rare objects, sometimes even esoteric or arcane. Mysterious and magic masters -most of the times from Japan- that hidden in their secret, dark and dusty laboratories, work restlessly to wind transformers, examine with a microscope copper and silver to see if it's pure and at the same time, solder very expensive electronic equipments made with noble metal to get best performances. Their names are well known to all those that are long time hi-fi followers. Sakuma, Kondo, Imai, Shibazaki, Shindo and Ikeda, of course, are in audiophiles’ mind. Isamu Ikeda is part of the legend since 1964 when he founded the brand Fidelity Research that designed and built tonearms, cartridges and step-ups. The importance of  FR64 And IT407 tonearms is universally renown, it's a 12" tonearm that is considered one of the best ever. The cartridges, FR1 and FR7 have reaffirmed the success of this enterprise that has been also listed in stock exchange. In 1985 this enterprise closed down for reason that have not been divulged. After a while the Ikeda Sound Labs were established and in 2011 production line and marketing has been moved to IT Industry Company Ltd. We are lucky enough to have in our hands the last of their phonographic cartridge: the 9TT. This cartridge exists also the monophonic version, to please all kind of vinyl records lovers. A characteristic feature of these series 9 cartridges has been the fact that they didn't use the cantilever because Ikeda reckons that it is the cause of some noise and causes the loss of the dynamics of the recording. If I don't go wrong only Decca has a similar product. On the other hand the absence of the cantilever causes a wrong reading of ondulate vinyl and no superiority is demonstrated. Surprise surprise, 9TT has a cantilever so we're back to tradition once again. We hardly read about the look of these cartridges but I want to stress the fact that this 9TT is really harmonious and it looks nice on the tonearm. To be exact on 2 tonearms. As you will read shortly this review has been made using ... 4 ears. The review of this Ikeda is a special event so I asked a friend and valuable reviewer to write about his listening impressions. Domenico Pizzamiglio has a very vast experience in the analog field and so he's the right persono to do it. I haven't read his impressions yet because I don't want to be influenced by his ideas. 
 
Here are some technical facts that are important when choosing a phonographic cartridge:
Type: MC cartridge 
Output Voltage: 0.16mVrms (35.4mm/sec., at 45°peak) 
Coil Impedance: 2.0 ohms (1kHz) 
Appropriate Stylus Force: 1.8 grams ±0.2 grams 
Frequency Response: 10Hz ~ 45kHz   
Channel Separation: over 27dB (1kHz) 
Channel Balance: within 1.0dB (1kHz) 
Stylus Chip: Solid Diamond, Line Contact 
Cantilever: Double layered duralmin pipe. 
Weight: 10 grams 
 
Now we have to face the dilemma: step-up or not step-up? I personally stay with those that say “no step-up”. With one exception when the levels of the cartridge output are so low that there's no way to amplify them actively. The only exception I see is for those that use a tube phono-preamplifier that generally have to limit its gain because of the noise it generates. The solid state designs, today, can gain up to 70 dB and can amplify cartridges that pass the 0,1 mV. I might be strange but in this world where less is better the idea of putting 2 extra connections and hundred odd meters of copper coil has no appeal for me. Every transformer, no matter how it is built, modifies the frequency response at the top and, sometimes, at the bottom too. All in all there are not many good step-ups and the connecting cables that can reproduce the original sound are really expensive. This is why I reckon that these transformers must be avoided if not really necessary. I want to deal also with the matter of the impedance of the load that the cartridge needs to play at its best. I often read about rules, sub-rules, formulas, square laws and fractions ... but all these calculations are oftentimes denied by the hearing. Allen Wright, lamented founder of the Vacuum State Company, suggested to try and load all the MC at 47KOhms "not to damp the life out of them". According to him there were exceptions represented by some Ikeda and Dynavector Ruby. These two had a better sound at 100 Ohms. This is an interesting theory that I subscribe only in part. I think that it depends also on the components used in the system. My personal experience is that my Lyra Helikon, when amplified with a phono preamplifier Audio Research PH3 is at ease with 47 KOhms, while with Einstein's "The Turntable's choice" I use 85 Ohms. This is just one of many examples. For this Ikeda I have found correct the same value I use for the Lyra and in effect it has an impedance similar in its absolute value (5.5 Ohm for the latter). 
 
The system used for this review was the following:
 
turntable Basis 2001, tonearm Graham 2.2, phono cable: LAT International XLR, phono preamplifier: Einstein "The Turntable's Choice" balanced, cable between pre and phono preamp: Transparent Super XLR, CD/SACD player dCS Puccini + Puccini U-Clock, cable between CD player and preamplifier: MIT Oracle MA Proline, preamplifier: MBL 4006, cable between pre and power amps: MIT Oracle MA-X Proline, power amplifiers: Bryston 7B ST mono, loudspeakers: JBL 4350B,  AC1, Black Pearl and others self-made, mains filter: Black Noise 2500.  
 
Now it's time for the listening impressions after the 50 hours of burn in that are recommended by the Italian distributor. Just a remark, after the first 30 hours we have not noticed any relevant change. For the first listenings I have used records that have no relevant technical feature. I usually take the most of this opportunity to listen to old and neglected records. I want to tell you about "Mondi Lontanissimi" by Franco Battiato (EMI). The hits of the drumstick let you hear the sound of the drumhead in a very unexpected an pleasant way. The Hi-Hat in "No Time, No Space" sounds very clear. When the timbre of the 9TT gets more stable we can listen to pieces that have a higher technical quality. Tchaikovsk’s Romeo and Juliet (Telarc) is the first one. The cartridge passes very well the romantic sensation during the opening of the strings. The kettledrums enter in a pompous way but lack a little in dynamics. The soundstage that comes from the big JBLs speakers that transform the electric impulse generated by the Ikeda, is large and free from constraint. You may have noticed that I'm not a fan of the depth of the image and I can tell you why straight away: because it doesn’t exist in the real world. That's it. You probably attend often to acoustic music concerts. If you want to listen to music far down, the way many audiophiles like it, you will have to sit in the places that are far away from the orchestra. This is not what the sound engineers record because they want to make you hear the sound just like the director hears it, and sometimes you can even hear the breath of the musicians playing. In this case if depth is excessive it is unreal. Well, let's go ahead with the description of the superb sound of this Ikeda 9TT. The extreme of the high range seem a little bit laid back but have the desired effect of producing a very sensual sound. There's no need to say that the Japanese are unbeatable in this. "Tabula Rasa" by Arvo Part ( ECM) presents a moving sound of the strings in a dreamlike atmosphere. Jarrett's piano is also outstanding in the harmony of a global reproduction with high quality and emotional engagement. The hits on the drum in the final part of "Fratres" are really impressive for their harmonic richness and plainness. Simon and Garfunkel's voices in "The Concert in Central Park" (Geffen Records) are fascinating in their simplicity, sweetness and high definition. Guitars in "April Come She Will" are reproduced with richness of details that are in contrast with the sharpness and the speed of the bass and the bass drum in "Wake Up Little Susy". Could it be that this Ikeda is nuts about Jazz? Of course this is a rhetorical question. Now that we have guessed its soul and attitude we take advantage of it and listen to "Heard Around The World" by Miles Davis (CAS). It's a double vinyl recorded in 1976. This is a quintet with Sam Rivers/ Wayne Shorter at the sax, Herbie Hancock at the piano, Ron Carter at the bass and Tony Williams at the drums. Ikeda shows its capacity of interpreting what's hidden in the grooves with strong delicacy. The recording is very natural and this is the way it is reproduced. This cartridge is highlighted by jazz and small orchestral groups. The difference between the two vinyl records, recorded between Tokyo and Berlin is clear and 9TT can reproduce the events’ atmosphere very well. The trumpets and double bass pianissimo come out of the record very clearly, on top of the hiss of the analog master. A quick passage with "Made in Japan" by the Deep Purple clears out the fact that for this kind of music there are more qualified alternatives. I have almost forgotten to tell you that this cartridge has an incredible ability of tracking the records without distorting the sound until the very last groove. The needle's cut is evidently very well done. 
Well, what can I say in conclusion? This is the typical Japanese jewel with the characteristics that define all the music machines that come from that part of the world.
 
9TT is a cartridge that states straight away: “This is my sound, take it or leave it!” The situation of hi-fi around the world makes me guess that many people would say:” I take it!” If I had the financial means to buy all the things I like I'd be in this group for the pleasure of the many vinyl records that are lying on the shelves in my room. Ikeda has a strong attitude and this is the reason why it is extremely interesting and not expected.      
 
Angelo Jasparro
 
 
Domenico Pizzamiglio's listening
 
IKeda 9TT has been listened also in my system that is very similar to the system of Angelo (belt turntable, pivot tonearm - his is unipivot, mine is dual - solid state phono preamplifier) but with different components. 
I chose, for the Morch tonearm on a Bauer DPS, the blue armtube. This is the heaviest among all those produced by J.J. Morch. A tonearm around 20 gr seems to be the most apt: with my tonearm whose mass is 20gr the resonance frequency is close to 11Hz lateral and 9 Hz vertical. Adding a 3 gr plate, the lateral resonance frequency went down to 10 Hz while the vertical remained the same. The declared compliance value seems to be real. I used a Lehmann Black Cube phono preamplifier that is also MM and gave me the opportunity to use the Ikeda with a Ortofon T20 step-up, that fits the internal impedance of Ikeda. I used also the American Hybrid Technology pre that is made for cartridges with a mobile coil and has the great advantage of having a very high signal to noise (90 dB) ratio. In this way the feeble signal coming from the cartridge has no problems with the noise. The signal is not so feeble after all, in fact the 0,16 mV declared are very prudential. I heard no differences with the Transfiguration Aria that has an output of 0,3 mV, that is to say the double. Step-up or active phono preamplifier? If it is quiet I have no doubt and I prefer the active preamplifier. Some like the step-up but I think that it lacks of those details that are present and clear with the active pre. I have read that the transformer is better because with the phono pre the MC cartridges play too sharp: I don't think this is true. I believe that we have to trust the imperfect human ear and we don't have to try loads that are excessive. The sound might seem sharp but in this case it's a mistake of the user and not of the system. I think that adding cables on cables is not so useful and may disturb the final result.
 
There are situations though when it is necessary to use a transformer for reasons linked to the cartridge chosen or in vintage systems that have valve pre amplifiers that are not as silent as the modern ones. In my specific case, may be because I could adjust the gain of the pre amp with my two Burmester phono stage, I had no problems with Audio Tekné and also with the Denon DL S1. The latter when preamplified with its own transformer does not convince me while I find it more free with the America Hybrid Technology. It is true that modern active phono stages are very silent, or at least those that I have recently tested like Whest Audio, Tom Evans, Boulder or Burmester are really quiet. 
 
Let's go back now to the object observed. Ikeda declares only the internal impedance that is 2 Ohm. Ikeda is Japanese and in Japan step-ups are loved. For those that will use a transformer they will have to choose an apt one and those that want an active phono stage may use one that is around 100 Ohm of load. I have tried different loads. With 50 Ohms the cartridge was correct but somehow forced, with 500 Ohms the sound was excessive from mid-low range to mid-high range with very little influence on the low and deep range and on the treble that appeared almost dynamically compressed (but this was just because the other two were too acute).  
 
Well, how does this Ikeda sound? 
 
It's different from the previous Ikeda that had no cantilever. I remember that when I tried one I noticed its speed and the fact that it was not too soft. The sound was "monitor like", a bit pushed forward and very charming. With this Ikeda, cantilever left aside, things seem to be different, less charged-up and more relaxed, calm. After the suggested hours of burn in the first octave is still not complete; the sound of the bass drum is smaller than usual There is the hit but it's positioned on a higher frequency. The highest part of the audio spectrum seems to be laid back. This Ikeda reminded me of Koetsu with their full but soft sonority. 9TT is a chamber music cartridge. 
Listening to strings quartets with it it's very pleasant because the timbre connotations are well defined but less contrasted than usual. It is possible to recognize all the instruments and it's ok if the cello is less pot-bellied and the violins are softer; with selected recordings it is pleasant (the trio for violin, cello and piano by Haydn in the execution of Beaux Arts Trios on Philips for example) because Ikeda soft sound regulates the harshness of the recording. 
 
With other recordings the pathos is a bit lessened as in the concert for Violin and Orchestra by Beethoven directed by Karajan. Also the piano is enhanced by this cartridge, often the first octave is not recorded at the right level (in Petrouchka by Stravinsky for an instance, Pollini DGG) and its tendency to be soft in the high range makes long listenings possible. Ikeda did not convince me when dealing with more complex and dynamic signals. The Firebird By Stravinsky on Telarc has a medium-low range a bit advanced together with the medium range. Instruments are defined but here and there the cello sound ruins a bit the final result and is lacking of force in the highest part of the frequencies. In the Concert n. 4 for Piano and Orchestra by Beehtoven (Kempff, DGG) the sound seems to come from a room rich in absorbing materials, far from the bright rooms that we usually find abroad (Munich Philarmoniker or Berlin or again the Musikverein); well the impression is that of being in a opera theatre in the 18th Century. When listening to modern music, Making Movies by Dire Straits for example, you cannot feel the impact of the electric bass and also other sounds result less violent here. For those who love the Lieder this cartridge seems to be perfect. With this genre Ikeda's characteristics are very fitting. I don't want to deal with the soundstage, it's different in every recording. The weakened frequency answer makes the loudspeakers less present and gives to music a more defined depth. Tracking is very reliable, comparable to that of Goldenote Tuscany, Air Tight Supreme, ZYX Omega Gold Diamond, Lyra Olympos, and there's never the sensation of mistracking. 
 
I can say that this Ikeda 9TT is a focused cartridge, focused because it reproduces in a very charming way some music genres and because it has its own attitude; if you like it, you buy it. 
 
The cost is around 3.400 euros. It's not cheap but Ikeda is one of those brands that produce dreamlike objects. In this case the price is not excessive if compared with other japanese élite production. 
 
......Domenico Pizzamiglio
the 9TT is really at the top of its game when it comes to that ever-so-critical midrange area—and in particular voices—whether be they of the rock, jazz or classical persuasion.
Myles B. Astor

REVIEW SUMMARY: It's clear that Ikeda-son's latest that he hasn't lost his magical touch. His latest creation, the 9TT moving coil cartridge, is a very linear, resolving and truthful sounding transducer and was a pleasure to listen to in my system. The Ikeda 9TT is clearly one of the top performers in its price range and given the proper ancillaries eg. arm and phono section, is a serious contender for anyone shopping for a moving coil cartridge..... given just how good the Ikeda 9TT is, one is left wondering how his all-out, no holds barred effort, The Kai, sounds!

EXTENDED REVIEW: Some mornings I wake up and feel like a real audio old timer and other days I feel like a total noob next to a legend like Isamu Ikeda. Back when Ikeda and his company Fidelity Research were in their heyday, I was truly a high-end audio rookie and sadly never had the opportunity to hear his then revolutionary Fidelity Research FR64 or 66 arms or FR1 or FR-7 moving coil cartridges (although I did actually see his arms and cartridges in the showcase at Electronic Workship located then on 8th St. in the Village!). Years later, though, I did chance to hear the Rowland Complement/Ikeda "cantileverless" moving coil cartridge priced then at a jaw dropping and almost unheard price of $2500. And that listening session with the Complement has left to this day a lasting impression. Despite the cartridge's miniscule 0.17 mV output (limiting its use to but a handful of phono sections or SUTs), the Complement set the standard in its day for low end impact, resolution and transient attack. Over the years I've also wondered—given the tremendous strides made in the design and manufacturing of phono stages, arms and—whether we actually heard all that the Complement (or for that matter any other cartridges of that era) was capable of delivering given it was next to impossible to set-up, vanishingly low output and low compliance.

Skip ahead twenty five years or so and Ikeda has once again set up shop and is building what is arguably the best $4000 moving coil cartridge on the market. So good in fact, that the Ikeda 9TT gives the big boys a real run for their money and more than a mouthwatering taste of the state-of-the-art in cartridge design (bear in mind that Ikeda also produces the Kai, his attack on the SOTA). In some ways, the 9TT is an anti-audiophile type of cartridge because you want to play not just one cut from an LP but both sides of an album. Imagine that!

Craftsmanship Defined

Make no mistake. Ikeda's latest and greatest creation has its stylus firmly planted in the neutral and resolving camp of cartridge design. No, the Ikeda 9TT isn't a forgiving cartridge. No, the 9TT won't sugar coat bad recordings. Nor for that matter should it or any cartridge worth their weight in gold. On the other hand, the 9TT brings to the table an uncanny ability to dig more out of those grooves than many other similarly and higher priced cartridges allowing those cherished recordings with seemingly limitless ceilings to continue to blossom.

Out of all the cartridge's attributes, it's perhaps the 9TT's "quietness" and transparency, low level resolution and simply all around effortlessness that sets this cartridge apart from the competition. There's simply less of a sense—much like top cartridges such as the Lyra Atlas and ZYX Universe 2 (and forthcoming Proteus) cartridges—of a stylus (t)racing through the record groove. No doubt part of that quietness is directly traceable to Ikeda's choice of stylus profile. The other piece to the puzzle as Peter Lederman describes it, may be related to how moving coil cartridges handles resonances transmitted up the cantilever to the pivot point (eg. the eerie digital-like quietness of the strain gauge cartridges). That sense of unfettered effortlessness, transient attack and resolution really comes into play on that all-time favorite reference disc Picaflor: Latin American Music for Guitar and Mandolin (Titanic Mn-8). Here, the 9TT really stands out on this Mair-Davis duo championed unique pairing of guitar and mandolin when it comes to contrasting the ringing, bell-like, sharper sound of Davis' mandolin with the softer edged sound of Mair's guitar. There's a uniqueness to each instrument's attack that in particular highlights the mandolin's tremolo or that impression of a sustained note. There's certainly no lack of life or microdynamics and that's coupled with a great sense of radiating guitar and mandolin's radiating body. Tonally, the 9TT lies just slightly to the lean side of neutral but the cartridge doesn't thicken or thin out the midbass to midrange frequencies that would only serve to confuse the two instrument's different tonalities.

"The Worried Drummer" from another long time reference disc Mallets, Melody and Mayhem (Columbia CS 8333) is another go to and extremely revealing reference cut. With the Ikeda, there's simply a striking sense of transparency, tightness and speed on this percussion LP without the characteristic etched, hyperdetailed character of older (that may have a function of the arm and its ability to deal with the energy created by the cartridge when tracking the groove as the cartridge back then) or lesser moving coil cartridges. The 9TT easily sails through that especially hard to track triangle retrieving both the instrument's long decay time, shimmer and damping of the ringing. The 9TT also does an admirable job of conveying the shaking of the tambourine's zils or the subtlest, inner details of the shaken sleigh bells. Drums are shockingly dynamic andunconstricted. Where the Ikeda just falls slightly short of the best is in just the slightest loss of impact and tightness in the lower octaves here (after all it's a good Columbia issue but it's still a Columbia pressing in the low end) and pristineness at the far end of dynamic scale.

The newest addition to my reference disc list and one that superbly illustrates the 9TT's ability to conquer the upper octaves as well as resolution and transparency is the wonderful Three Blind Mice recording Now (Three Blind Mice TBM-2) featuring the Masura Imada Quartet. This closely miked recording—like most Three Blind Mice releases—really illustrates the 9TT's ability to reproduce the delicacy, lightness and resolution of cymbals, bells, etc. The various percussive instruments on the mind boggling "Alter" track simply hang in space and the 9TT allows their subtle ringing, shaking and resonating to emerge from the grooves. There's seemingly nothing but air between the listener and the instrument. At the other end of the frequency spectrum, plucked double bass strings have a real sense of attack, snap and jump factor. No matter how rapid the playing, there's never a sense of confusion or smearing. Ichiro Mimori's soprano saxophone has a distinctive dissonant and nasal quality without the honkiness and brightness associated with other systems. All the instruments are precisely placed on a simply huge soundstage though the 9TT loses a smidge of the recording's sense of amazing spaciousness.

Now the 9TT is really at the top of its game when it comes to that ever-so-critical midrange area—and in particular voices—whether be they of the rock, jazz or classical persuasion. One rock album that I find myself returning to time and time again is the excellent Speakers' Corner reissue of Lou Reed's Transformer (Speakers Corner/LSP-4807). Not only is there an excellent sense of vocal intelligibility and see through quality on "Walk on the Wild Side" but Reed's voice certainly never sounded like that in college even with the use of mood altering substances! The 9TT also exposes like a sore thumb that point in the recording where someone not so elegantly spliced another take into the mix and Reed's voice becomes louder and moves a little closer to the listener. There's also no missing the recordings enormous soundstage; the Thunderthighs appear out of thin air on the extreme outside edges of the stage and slowly creep forward aiding in defining the soundstage's width, depth and height. No, the 9TT doesn't retrieve quite all the reverb enveloping the backup singers. No, images aren't quite as fleshed out as with the best cartridges. No, the 9TT isn't quite as relaxed sounding as say an Atlas or ZYX. But these flaws are in many ways only apparent when side-by-side with the big boys. In other words, you have to really, really know what's on each LP.

What really struck me when spinning that stunning recording of Bach's Quodlibet(Telefunken SAWT9457-A) was just how the Ikeda 9TT so clearly and distinctly separated the male and female voices as well as the female voices around a single microphone. Yes, the Atlas has a bit more transparency and sense of space on this recording although the 9TT is certainly no slouch in this department. Or take another great vocal recording such as Ella Sings Jobim (Pablo Today 2630 201). On this $10 Twist and Shout find at last year's RMAF, the 9TT has an uncanny knack to reproduce Ella's voice with a see-thru clarity that many lesser cartridges/systems obscure. Ella's unique phrasing and the intelligibility of her voice come through loud and clear.... "The Girl From Ipanema" give you the big sound, dense orchestration and layering without confusion with Joe Pass's great guitar work really standing out.

The Ikeda 9TT also fares extremely well with both small and large scale recordings. One example is the great, Steve Hoffman recommended, small scale jazz recording Bob Cooper Coop (Contemporary/OJC-161). Despite looking far and wide for an original black/gold label of this very early Contemporary jazz recording, I've only been able to put my hands on the OJC reissue (the 1980 version done by Steve Hoffman from the original tapes). Coop, featuring Bob Cooper on tenor sax along with the likes of Mel Lewis on drums, Victor Feldman on vibes and Frank Rosolino on trombone doing West Coast jazz, possesses as do any of the best Contemporary recordings, a simply incredible sense of musicians standing and playing in your room (or the mailroom as it would be!). The 9TT does an excellent job on the "Main Theme" from "Jazz Theme and Four Variations" of rendering the silky smooth tone of Cooper's sax. There's no stress or strain and the sound of Rosolino's trombone comes through clear as day. Yes, you can hear some of the "OJC" coloration—that dryness, loss of space and midrange weight, etc.—but you can also get an excellent sense of believe me, just how great the master tape sounds.

Nor does large scale music faze the Ikeda 9TT either. Take for instance, the "Second" or "Third Movements" from the Mercury recording of Fetler's Contrast for Orchestra(Mercury SR90282). There's no sense when coupled with the Doshi phono stage of added stridency, brightness, congestion on dynamic passages like lesser phono cartridges. The 9TT is a little more exciting and incisive than Atlas....The bass and drums are extremely clean though the 9TT loses just a hint of the little spaciousness present of wonderful Robert Fine reference recording.

Finally like Ikeda's other cartridges, the 9TT is definitely no slouch when it comes to low end frequency reproduction and dynamics. Take the Super Analogue repressing of Gary Karr's Religious Songs and Hymns (Super Analogue KIJC 9244). While the Ikeda doesn't quite grip the road like its bigger moving coil brethren, this record serves quite nicely to illustrate the depths to which the Ikeda can plunge on the organ. On another longtime reference Jonas Hellborg's Elegant Punk (Day Eight Music), the 9TT really shines when it comes to capturing the attack and dynamics of his electric bass guitar. And where the 9TT really stands out on Hellborg's rendition of Hendrix's "Little Wing" is simply the cartridge's ability to extract low level resolution and subtlest, softest nuances of the music.

The Touch is Still There!

It's clear that Ikeda-son's latest that he hasn't lost his magical touch. His latest creation, the 9TT moving coil cartridge, is a very linear, resolving and truthful sounding transducer and was a pleasure to listen to in my system. The Ikeda 9TT is clearly one of the top performers in its price range and given the proper ancillaries eg. arm and phono section, is a serious contender for anyone shopping for a moving coil cartridge. ....given just how good the Ikeda 9TT is, one is left wondering how his all-out, no holds barred effort, The Kai, sounds!

Technical Highlights

Isamu Ikeda is hardly a Johnny-come-lately to the high-end audio business. In fact, Ikeda is revered in Japan as the father of the moving coil cartridge; practically every one of the greatest Japanese cartridge-makers has at some time in their career apprenticed under him. Ikeda's more "modern" accomplishments include the introduction (now nearly 50 years ago) of the Fidelity Research FR-1 moving coil cartridge noted for its use of pure silver wire, a lightweight styli, yoke construction air-core coils, higher efficiency magnets (that allowed for coils with fewer windings) and an almost unheard of at that time line contact stylus. Ikeda followed up on the commercial success of the FR-1 with the release in 1978 of the FR-7 moving coil cartridge and its then revolutionary "empty core," four-pole structure.

After Fidelity Research closed its doors in 1985, Ikeda didn't miss a beat and immediately formed Ikeda Sound laboratories. The fledgling companies' first transducer release was the Series 9 cartridge line utilizing the same empty core technology developed for the Fidelity Research FR-7 MC cartridge along with the brand new "cantileverless" design.

Ikeda's latest designs such as the 9TT are no longer cantileverless. He abandoned this design concept in large part because of the cantileverless cartridges' sensitivity to dust, geometry, dialing in and antiskate issues. And thank goodness. His cantileverless designs were an absolute nightmare to align; only the Graham arm of the day with its patented cartridge alignment jig gave any sort of confidence in set-up and alignment. Believe it or not, I actually witnessed Bob Graham mounting and aligning the Rowland Complement in an early production version of his arm in only five minutes. But that was the exception, not the rule.

That aside, the latest generation of Ikeda cartridges is designed to pay homage to that earlier Ikeda magic yet be more forgiving of the aforementioned issues. At the heart of the new Ikeda 9TT cartridge is a permalloy core, neodymium magnet and ideally shaped magnet yoke and low impedance coils. The cantilever is fashioned from double layered duralmin pipe and topped off with a solid line contact diamond.

Still, the Ikeda 9TT isn't, because of its rounded shape and rather large body, the easiest cartridge in the world to set up. Mounting and alignment in the VPI 10.5 Classic arm definitely required both a good set of eyes and a steady hand. Not to mention two things other than alignment may prove problematic for potential buyers at this price range. First, the cartridge's extremely low 0.16 mV output necessitates the use of a very quiet phono stage or step up transformer. Two, the 9TT sports a very low compliance requires the use of a high mass arm though the cartridge performed very well in the VPI 10.5i tonearm. When it came to loading, the 9TT seemed using the Doshi Phono section quite happy seeing at 100 ohms.
........Myles B. Astor

Ikeda IT-345CR1 tonearm, 9TT moving-coil cartridge
Constantine Soo
Vinylphiles in their fifties and older will likely recognise the Ikeda name, a marquee from the 1980s that was synonymous with innovation, quality and exclusivity. Senior Reviewer Jack Roberts reviewed the Ikeda IT-407CR1 tonearm in 2012 and gave it high marks. The historical detail that Jack put together on the company and its owner is a good read.

The Ikeda IT-345CR1 tonearm is quite a treat to hold in one’s palms. The wand is consisted of a dual pipe structure with the outer pipe made of stainless steel and the inner pipe aluminium. three pieces of O-shaped ring are installed between the outer and inner pipes to dampen vibration. The body and shaft of the tonearm are made of brass.

The tonearm’s connector pin is rhodium-plated and the headshell is chrome-plated aluminium. The headshell’s connector, however, is made of titanium. Azimuth adjustment is provided on the headshell.

The IT-345CR1 is one of those rare metallic apparatus that magnificently withstands time after time of close-up scrutiny-turn-admiration. Vertical and weight adjustments is straightforward though relying largely on feel and visual cue. The upside to this is it is easy to loosen the bottom security bolt and adjust the VTA. The aluminium headshell with solid metallic feel is quite a beauty in itself, too, and straightforward to use. Answering my inquiry, the company claimed the tonearm employs dynamic balance as opposed to static balance, thus a “far superior tracing ability because the inner spring always control the stylus pressure stably and constantly.”

The Ikeda 9TT moving-coil cartridge used in this review is the second top cartridge in the company’s 9 Series, producing 0.16mVrms, flaunting a golden finish of an aluminium alloy body coupled to a neodymium magnet and lightweight, double layered duralumin cantilever. A very promising and potent mix. The upper model to the 9TT is the US$8,500  (excl tax) flagship Ikeda KAI in a blue alumite buff finish with titanium top and base, boron cantilever, samarium-cobalt embedded generator, while the US$2,800 (excl tax) entry-level 9TS in emerald finish tops the output at 0.35mVrms, also fitted with a double layered duralumin cantilever.

It is arguable that the true star of this system are the Ikeda CR-345 CR1 tonearm and the 9TT cartridge and the Hartvig provided a platform for them to glisten. The caliber of the Ikeda tonearm and the 9TT cartridge, in particular, is undisputed at the asking prices; one can easily visualise, in particular, the use of the 9TT in more ambitious setups. Employing an aluminium alloy body, the 9TT, in my opinion, produced a more controlled, uniform tonality than those with wood or polymer material. Coupled to a neodymium magnet and lightweight, double layered duralumin cantilever, the 9TT ought to be quite dynamic and even accurate than many.
........... Constantine Soo 

Videos

Ikeda Tonearm, Ikeda Cartridge, Beauty of Sound, Review Part 1 Intro Setup and Listening