SUTs(Step-Up Transformers)

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SUTs(Step-Up Transformers)

Postby stereophile » Tue Jun 10, 2008 9:11 pm

Stereophile reporting for work here. Let's talk about SUTs(Step-Up Transformers) for analog playback...

Some phono cartridge types: moving coil (MC) produce low voltage signals w/c are inadequate for the moving magnet (MM) section of phonostages. To use them, you have two choices: either use the active moving coil section of your phonostage(if there is one) or hook up a passive SUT to the existing MM input.

In my set-up I have phonos(Creek OBH 15, Black Cube SE & EAR 834P) with both MM/MC inputs. I was curious as to what sonic difference a SUT can provide. I was in luck at the time. Plasticman lent me his vintage Fidelity Research FRT-3.

It's my avatar on the left. It has one input and three settings: pass, 10 ohm & 30 ohm. I'll keep it simple for now. Depending on the voltage output of your MC cart, you choose between the 10 ohm and 30 ohm. 30 ohm has more gain. The pass feature is used if you are using an MM cart.

The cart I first tried it with in my system is my Lyra Skala. It is an MC cart with 0.5mv output. This is pretty good for an MC cart. I set it at 10 ohms. I was previously using the cart with the MC section of my Black Cube SE at 100 ohms.

I was playing Ella & Louis(Verve). The diff :?: The midrange became silky smooth with a bit more warmth and intimacy. My kind of music. Using the Black Cube w/c was warm for an SS phono, Ella had less weight & heft and seemed a little dry. Let me be clear about the Black Cube SE: I like it. I like what it does to the recording. I preferred it over so many phonostages, that I got 2 units. What the FRT-3 did was bring up the performance a couple of notches more :!: 8) Amazing :!: P :!:

Problem was, the FRT-3 was not mine. I had to RETURN it to plasticman :!: :( I told myself I could not listen to my set-up w/o it. It rar5ely crops up on ebay. It is even rarer locally. I am a patient person. I kept on telling myself to be very patient....very, very patient. :roll: As luck would have it, I snagged one off ebay :!: :D

I have tried it with my FR MC201(0.1mv), Denon DL-103(0.3mv) & DL-103R(0.25mv). These worked better at the 30 ohm setting. I do prefer having the SUT in the analog chain.

Should you decide to try one, you have to carefully match the SUT to the impedance of your cart. There are extensive articles about SUTs on Vinyl Engine should you be interested.

So tell me, what SUTs have worked for you and with what carts. Do post the settings of your SUTs.
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Postby JackD201 » Wed Jun 11, 2008 12:54 am

I heard a client hook up a Cotter to his Lamm LP2's MM stage and we AB-ed using a DPS table, DV arm and a Koetsu Coral stone. With the MC input the presentation was clean and correct but clearly still Koetsu with the Cotter there were bursts of color. It was a really cool experience. I'll be watching this thread closely because I'm hoping to get another arm so I can use the MM stage of my own LP2 with some good SUTs. :D
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Postby stereophile » Wed Jun 11, 2008 10:35 am

JackD201 wrote:I heard a client hook up a Cotter to his Lamm LP2's MM stage and we AB-ed using a DPS table, DV arm and a Koetsu Coral stone. With the MC input the presentation was clean and correct but clearly still Koetsu with the Cotter there were bursts of color. It was a really cool experience. I'll be watching this thread closely because I'm hoping to get another arm so I can use the MM stage of my own LP2 with some good SUTs. :D


I look at SUTs as another means of expressing the music in an analog system. It will then be a matter of preference by the listener.
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Postby JackD201 » Wed Jun 11, 2008 10:39 am

SUTs were kinda given bad press but so far the supposed nasties have never qualified as nasties to me. Thanks for the listings and impressions Lito :D

Pahiram naman :twisted:
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Postby vintage_dog » Wed Jun 11, 2008 10:42 am

JackD201 wrote:SUTs were kinda given bad press but so far the supposed nasties have never qualified as nasties to me. Thanks for the listings and impressions Lito :D

Pahiram naman :twisted:


jack, still recall what were those nasties they reported?
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Postby JackD201 » Wed Jun 11, 2008 11:09 am

phase shifts and non linearities leading to a loss in transparency mainly VD. I never noticed any such thing however when listening to SUTs in Mullards, MTs, yours or other systems. Valin makes some references to this in the LP2 review. I'm considering a Cotter or a Koetsu to match with my low output Koetsu.
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Postby dante » Wed Jun 11, 2008 12:05 pm

I'm building a SUT for my system based on a pair of Altec Lansing 15095 transformers that I got from ePay. Have to find somebody to build the SUT for me though. :lol: :lol: :lol:
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Postby Jon Agner » Wed Jun 11, 2008 12:06 pm

dante wrote:I'm building a SUT for my system based on a pair of Altec Lansing 15095 transformers that I got from ePay. Have to find somebody to build the SUT for me though. :lol: :lol: :lol:


Just give it Rene Rivo, he knows what to do with it :wink:
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Postby Jon Agner » Wed Jun 11, 2008 12:13 pm

JackD201 wrote:phase shifts and non linearities leading to a loss in transparency mainly VD. I never noticed any such thing however when listening to SUTs in Mullards, MTs, yours or other systems. Valin makes some references to this in the LP2 review. I'm considering a Cotter or a Koetsu to match with my low output Koetsu.


Jack,

I think Valin has a valid point on this. however, like you, i did not expercience such phase shifts when I used an SUT for my Koetsu. In fact, comparing this with a headamp, a low output Koetsu prefers to be matched with a low input impedance SUT. I did try doing variable resistor loading on the MC headamp, but still, my ears preferred the sound of the Koetsu with an SUT.
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Postby Raf » Wed Jun 11, 2008 12:54 pm

I've found that the Altec 15905 at 150 Ohms and the Lundahls at 100 Ohms are two SUTs that work well with the Denon 103r. Same goes for the tiny beyerdynamics

I've also enjoyed passing the Denon 103r through the above stepups and then into the MM level inputs of a Lehman Black Cube and an ARC hybrid phonostage with enjoyble results.

In my imagination, uneducated as it is, there seems to be something good that happens when the low outpt of an MC cart is stepped up by a passive process before it gets to an active phonostage...the effect seems to be sweeter or more musical than just hooking up the cart straight to the active phonostage...my impressions only :)
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Postby JackD201 » Wed Jun 11, 2008 12:58 pm

The added gain definitely helps for as long as the noise floor doesn't come up along with the signal. So well cleaned LPs and proper cart/arm set up are a must. They should be a must SUT or no SUT anyway so this isn't an issue. Seeing as noise artifacts come in down the chain, I agree that using a well executed passive method does make a lot of sense.
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Postby ambel » Fri Jun 13, 2008 1:31 pm

One good thing about SUT's are. They are passive they are matching device so they don't amplify the noise unlike active devices you have power supply noise, thermal noise coming from the parts like resistors, tubes, transistors.
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Postby mullard88 » Thu Jul 24, 2008 9:29 pm

Hi JackD201,

I suggest you acquire both the Cotter and Koetsu SUTs.
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Postby mullard88 » Thu Jul 24, 2008 9:41 pm

Hi stereophile,

The Cotter SUT seems to match every mc cartridge that I have used it with. It is a very flexible SUT. It has a matrix of pins that the user can re-wire to get different values. But I have never done this yet since it has always sounded acceptable to me the way it is presently wired.

The Bend Audio SUT is another very flexible SUT. It comes with a pack of resistors that the user can install. In my experience, I always liked it without any resistor. I also makes music with every mc cartridge that I have used with it.
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Postby stereophile » Thu Jul 24, 2008 9:45 pm

Hullo M88-

Good to see you posting in WS again. Yes, there seems to be a renaissance movement locally when it comes to SUTs. I suppose it was bound to happen with the re-newed interest in analog. 8)
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Postby pigdog » Thu Jul 24, 2008 9:48 pm

i have been experimenting with SUTs for almost three years now and many of you has seen my collection of imput trannies turned SUTs this all came about after reading JE's online article on SUT. prior to that, i have always been frustrated by the active mc stage on solid state phono stages, particularly Musical fidelity, which i find to be totally unexciting and uninvolving; as luck would have it, i was able to acquire a used ortofon T20 many years ago and noticed the BIG BIG difference of a Passive SUT. but buying off the shelf SUTs are expensive, these things costs an arm and a leg, coming across JE's online article was very helpful, so off to ebay i go searching for Imput trannies, at that time altec 4722 are about USD150-200 a pair mounted on a chassis, 15095s are around 50bucks and beyerdynamics are less than usd5 each. i ended up buying a lot of these SUTS and the total costs of all 18 of my SUTS is still cheaper than say a Koetsu! dont get me wrong, i am not here to dissed on the Koetsus, which i believe is very good, but i certainly dont think it is a good idea to pay an arm an a leg for something where there are cheaper alternatives. also given the chance to acquire a koetsu on the cheap would be most welcome! i am still experimenting and discovering the different characters and quirks of each suts. i have some excellent ones such as the partridge, some duds like ferentis and some rather disappointing ones like an overpriced lundahls so far my favorites are many from 4722, to ortofon t20, to Tamuras, partridge and currently monitoring a pair of jorgen shou which i hoped will be a nice match for the EMT TSD 15 cart.
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Postby amandarae » Thu Jul 24, 2008 10:47 pm

pigdog wrote:i have been experimenting with SUTs for almost three years now and many of you has seen my collection of imput trannies turned SUTs this all came about after reading JE's online article on SUT. prior to that, i have always been frustrated by the active mc stage on solid state phono stages, particularly Musical fidelity, which i find to be totally unexciting and uninvolving; as luck would have it, i was able to acquire a used ortofon T20 many years ago and noticed the BIG BIG difference of a Passive SUT. but buying off the shelf SUTs are expensive, these things costs an arm and a leg, coming across JE's online article was very helpful, so off to ebay i go searching for Imput trannies, at that time altec 4722 are about USD150-200 a pair mounted on a chassis, 15095s are around 50bucks and beyerdynamics are less than usd5 each. i ended up buying a lot of these SUTS and the total costs of all 18 of my SUTS is still cheaper than say a Koetsu! dont get me wrong, i am not here to dissed on the Koetsus, which i believe is very good, but i certainly dont think it is a good idea to pay an arm an a leg for something where there are cheaper alternatives. also given the chance to acquire a koetsu on the cheap would be most welcome! i am still experimenting and discovering the different characters and quirks of each suts. i have some excellent ones such as the partridge, some duds like ferentis and some rather disappointing ones like an overpriced lundahls so far my favorites are many from 4722, to ortofon t20, to Tamuras, partridge and currently monitoring a pair of jorgen shou which i hoped will be a nice match for the EMT TSD 15 cart.


Exactly! That is why I use a Cinemag. It has the same exact specs as the Altec 4722 but cost less than $100 a pair. FWIW, the person who designed the Altec 4722 is the same guy who designed and manufactures the Cinemag.

Don't take my word for it. Just read comparison on-line between the two. Better yet, if you have them side by side, try to compare. For a quick read, type "Cinemag vs Altec 4722" at AA, just for fun.

My other SUT is the best I ever heard! It's called Tribute and made by Pieter Trunier from amorphous core Cobalt. This SUT eats S&B TX103 for breakfast! :D

regards,

Abe
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Postby Jon Agner » Fri Jul 25, 2008 9:47 am

amandarae wrote:
pigdog wrote:i have been experimenting with SUTs for almost three years now and many of you has seen my collection of imput trannies turned SUTs this all came about after reading JE's online article on SUT. prior to that, i have always been frustrated by the active mc stage on solid state phono stages, particularly Musical fidelity, which i find to be totally unexciting and uninvolving; as luck would have it, i was able to acquire a used ortofon T20 many years ago and noticed the BIG BIG difference of a Passive SUT. but buying off the shelf SUTs are expensive, these things costs an arm and a leg, coming across JE's online article was very helpful, so off to ebay i go searching for Imput trannies, at that time altec 4722 are about USD150-200 a pair mounted on a chassis, 15095s are around 50bucks and beyerdynamics are less than usd5 each. i ended up buying a lot of these SUTS and the total costs of all 18 of my SUTS is still cheaper than say a Koetsu! dont get me wrong, i am not here to dissed on the Koetsus, which i believe is very good, but i certainly dont think it is a good idea to pay an arm an a leg for something where there are cheaper alternatives. also given the chance to acquire a koetsu on the cheap would be most welcome! i am still experimenting and discovering the different characters and quirks of each suts. i have some excellent ones such as the partridge, some duds like ferentis and some rather disappointing ones like an overpriced lundahls so far my favorites are many from 4722, to ortofon t20, to Tamuras, partridge and currently monitoring a pair of jorgen shou which i hoped will be a nice match for the EMT TSD 15 cart.


Exactly! That is why I use a Cinemag. It has the same exact specs as the Altec 4722 but cost less than $100 a pair. FWIW, the person who designed the Altec 4722 is the same guy who designed and manufactures the Cinemag.

Don't take my word for it. Just read comparison on-line between the two. Better yet, if you have them side by side, try to compare. For a quick read, type "Cinemag vs Altec 4722" at AA, just for fun.

My other SUT is the best I ever heard! It's called Tribute and made by Pieter Trunier from amorphous core Cobalt. This SUT eats S&B TX103 for breakfast! :D

regards,

Abe


That's why I'm getting the Cinemag as well :D :D :D
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Postby pigdog » Fri Jul 25, 2008 10:09 am

i just won a pair of Jorgen Shou imput trannies from ebay last night, these ones cost me a pretty penny, perhaps the most expensive i have ever paid for a SUT but given the reputations of these SUTs i think it will be worth it, and still cheaper than most 4722 going around in ebay. i also checked out this website

http://www.toonstudio.com/bobsdevices/cinemag.htm

i assume you guys were reading these as he is the main promoter of the cinemag. i know if this guy as he sells his stuff in ebay also. i find him a bit expensive, but if you just buy the cinemags alone and asked rene to mount it for you as i liked renes work better, i have bought from capt'n bob, while his wiring is very good, his boxes where of the cheap plastic varieties
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Postby amandarae » Fri Jul 25, 2008 1:38 pm

pigdog wrote:i just won a pair of Jorgen Shou imput trannies from ebay last night, these ones cost me a pretty penny, perhaps the most expensive i have ever paid for a SUT but given the reputations of these SUTs i think it will be worth it, and still cheaper than most 4722 going around in ebay. i also checked out this website

http://www.toonstudio.com/bobsdevices/cinemag.htm

i assume you guys were reading these as he is the main promoter of the cinemag. i know if this guy as he sells his stuff in ebay also. i find him a bit expensive, but if you just buy the cinemags alone and asked rene to mount it for you as i liked renes work better, i have bought from capt'n bob, while his wiring is very good, his boxes where of the cheap plastic varieties


Pigdog,

Have you had a chance to listen to the Silk Audio SUT? Just curious.

Ahh, yes, Capt Bob. Used to be a participant in the AA thread for proper wiring regarding the Cinemag with the late Garth Phillipe. Now he's selling them! Amazing !

I agree, master craftsman hypertriode can do a much better job. While I do not have hypertriode's sophistication and talent, my SUT's (2 pairs of Cinemag and a pair of the Tribute I mentioned), although ordinary looking, does the job very well.

Some of the pics I have, dust included ......


Image

Image

Image

regards,

Abe
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