Etsuro Urushi Bordeaux Moving Coil Phono Cartridge
It was about a year ago that I reviewed the cartridge that's one step lower in Etsuro Urushi's line, their Cobalt Blue. In the review I said that the Cobalt Blue is "a super-transparent window into the recording that was etched into an LP's surface", praising this cartridge to the point where one might be led to believe that there is no better cartridge on the market. This is not the first time I've felt as though I have painted myself into a corner when reviewing a piece of high-end audio equipment, which happens more often than not when the equipment performs as well as the Cobalt Blue.
There is no question that the subject of this review, the Etsuro Urushi Bordeaux, is a better cartridge than their Cobalt Blue, and I'm not saying that just because it costs more. The Bordeaux shares all of the DNA of their Blue Cobalt cartridge, except for one very important feature: Sapphire has been chosen for the pipe material of its cantilever. By using sapphire, the makers of the Bordeaux cartridge claim that is has "superb sound transmission character and hardness". It is also apparent that the Bordeaux distortion level measures very, very low, even when transmitting signals that might cause other cartridges to vibrate, "thoroughly eliminating any loss of signal". A plate of pure Sapphire with a 2.5mm thickness is also used in the Bordeaux's base section that comes in contact with the headshell. Like the Cobalt Blue, this cartridge uses a stylus with a contact surface of 80μm, a "super micro line" diamond chip", which traces the grooves of the record with great accuracy.
I think the Bordeaux is well worth its asking price, because it has all the characteristics I could ask for in any extremely well-made high-end phono cartridge, as it brought me so much closer to the original event that was etched into the grooves of all the records I played. I think any audiophile who is looking for a cartridge anywhere near the asking price of the Bordeaux should give it serious consideration. I can't image them being disappointed with it. The Etsuro Urushi Bordeaux deserves to be matched with some of the best analog front-ends of the best high-end audio systems because it is one of the best high-end phono cartridges you'll likely hear anywhere near its price.
Previous Annual Blue Note Awards