I am sharing this review again because many of you use low compliance moving coil cartridges. This is still one of the best tonearms ever made for those cartridges.
Isamu Ikeda was born in 1929 in the Koto district of Tokyo. His pursuit of a perfect analog sound is a legend, which began in the 1940s. Dissatisfied with the production at a previous audio company in 1964, he decided to form his own company, the now-legendary and world famous Fidelity Research Inc. Its products have been desired and owned by audiophiles and music fans the world over, including the Imperial Household Agency and the Imperial Family.
Ever since the end of WWII, Ikeda-san has been making phonographic equipment. The early moving-coil cartridge out of Japan was one of his developments, and many of the Japanese cartridge-makers apprenticed under him. From the mid-sixties through the early eighties, cartridges like the FR 1 and MC 201 and tonearms like the FR 12, FR 14, FR 64, and FR 66 from Ikeda-san’s company Fidelity Research achieved international acclaim. He pioneered the use of silver wire, featherweight styli, yoke construction, and pioneered higher-efficiency magnets which allow for coils with fewer windings.
Fidelity Research’s first two products, the FR-1 cartridge and FR-64 tonearm were big hits in Japan. When Ikeda-san introduced the FR-7, which featured the world’s first “empty core, four pole structure” and the FR-64S tonearm in 1978, the company became a major business including being a big player in the Tokyo Stock Market. Unfortunately, due to many unfavorable circumstances including the popularity of the CD, Fidelity Research was forced to close in 1985.
Nevertheless, Ikeda San’s enthusiasm continued and in that same year, he established a small audio company, Ikeda Sound Laboratories Company. This new company was a place where he was able to do things that had been impossible under the mass production company that Fidelity Research had become. He came out with the 9-series of cartridges, and the IT-407CR1 and IT-345CR1 tonearms. The 9-series took the empty core technology of the FR-7 and added a groundbreaking new development: the world’s first moving coil cantilever-less cartridge, much like the London Decca moving iron cartridges. The new tonearms were improved over the FR-64 and FR-66 by eliminating more vibration through the use of a combination of aluminum, zinc-bronze, stainless steel and brass to form an extremely rigid and musical tonearm.
Mr. Ikeda is now in his mid-eighties, and has handed the work over to IT Industries. The spirit, technology and craftsmanship continues to live on with the new company. IT has been with Mr. Ikeda all along in the production of his products. I was assured that IT Industries was still making everything by hand in Japan. Now, the wonderful and beautiful Ikeda products are once again available in the United States. We can all say a word of thanks to William Demars of Beauty of Sound located in East Greenbush, New York for importing them to the United States once again.
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