Stepping up

Love it or hate it, it just won't stop
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cressy
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Stepping up

Post by cressy » Mon Apr 10, 2017 11:01 pm

Been buggering around again today with the setup. I put the audio technica at f7 back on the lenco in place of the shure m97xe.

The phono stage is a benedict audio hothead, the mm one. These phono stages are either or, not mc switched, you buy what you require which i think is quite a good idea, if you want the optimal performance for your cart.

So, the dl103 and the atf7 need a step up.

I got hold of a denon ha500 head amp off Ali for the purpose. Now in the past I have used cinemag suts, llundahl suts, neutrik suts, and sowter ones. I found the sowters t' other day in a box, i thought they were something else, id bought some sowters in identical cans for use as phase splitting transformers, but they werent those. Forgot I even had them.

Found the neutrik ones too. So i had a play and wired the sowters and neutriks to a bank of sockets so i could a-b.

Unfortunately one of the neutriks was buggered, but doing an a-b between the denon and the sowters was eye opening. Reason being, I found the denon much better than the sowter suts.

The denon doesnt seem to roll the top end off or curtail the bass. The sowters sounded soft, the bass abit sludgy and the top end abit splashy compared. Mid about the same.

Used with the hothead, it doesn't seem to have much of its own signature, and the selectable gain is very welcome with the pass f5, giving plenty of gain. Enough that it might be ok at owston without needing a pre on the +32db setting

I seem to remember Andrew looking at a fet based step up some time back, and now I know why.

I had a moment with it, thinking one channel had packed up with no output from the right channel, turned out one of the cart tags had come off inside the insulation. Fixed that, and good to go.

Frankly, having used the denon, i wouldnt use suts again.

Caveat is, it has to be a very good head amp, the ortofon mca 10 I had wasnt all that good, about equal with the sowters, which were better in some respects and worse in others

Accepted wisdom is to use suts, but i now think that needs some revision

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Thermionic Idler
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Re: Stepping up

Post by Thermionic Idler » Tue Apr 11, 2017 12:14 am

Agreed.

I've used several SUT's, even some well regarded ones. I've read countless forum posts from people about how they are THE way to deal with MC cartridges and frankly I've wondered what planet they are on.

Without exception, I've found active non-transformer based MC amplification to be superior in every respect. MC transformers are a bloody nightmare, just trying to get the things to stop humming involves performing an intricate ceremony with a sacrificial goat and standing on one leg whilst reciting Ogma's Tale of the Trees.

I've got a Graham Slee Elevator (which you are welcome to borrow for a bit Ant, if you want, although I will want to sell it quite soon as I'm a bit short of cash right now). It's proved itself superior by some margin to every passive SUT I've tried including some Altec 4722's I paid far too much money for at some point in the misguided notion that they must be good because they are 1) a pretty shade of green and 2) old.

Apparently if there IS a perfect match between your MC cart and its step-up transformer, then the results are awesome. Unfortunately you need to be a Shaman to find that perfect match because the cartridge and SUT transformer manufacturers won't publish any meaningful documentation to give you any kind of useful guidance. I remember reading a 6moons article on the subject some time back that just made me lose the will to live - the upshot was that you were completely on your own, and it was a lottery whether your cartridge and SUT would match, and you'd wind up spending a Lottery win finding out.

One day in the dim and distant past when I had much more disposable income than I have now, I became so fed up with it all that I bought a solid state Whest with configurable gain and load settings, and have never looked back since. I like it because it sits there quietly and accurately converting my cartridge's output to line level, and isn't a fucking pain in the arse.
Deck: Garrard 301
Audio Origami PU7
Van Den Hul Black Beauty
Phono: Whest PS30RDT
Pre-amp - Scratch built AMB α24/LCDuino
Amp - Transcendent "Son of Beast" 15W OTL
Speakers - FF225WK Metronomes

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Ali Tait
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Re: Stepping up

Post by Ali Tait » Tue Apr 11, 2017 6:06 am

Ant, if you like what the Denon does, sell it and buy the top of the range HA 1000. Even better.
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Michael L
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Re: Stepping up

Post by Michael L » Tue Apr 11, 2017 7:16 am

I use a pair of Hashimoto HM-3 SUTs with my Transfiguration Spirit MC cartridge. Previously I used them with a Denon DL304.
I am very happy with them. Their HM-7 SUTs are better still but I've not tried them.

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Ali Tait
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Re: Stepping up

Post by Ali Tait » Tue Apr 11, 2017 8:03 am

Had a pair of HM 3 previously, nice but the Tribute I have now I found much better.
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