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WarJarrett
22-01-2008, 12:31
What MC step ups and head amps has anyone tried, and what differences did they hear? I have 4 transformers and 3 head amps now, doing comparisons, and ulimately confusing myself about which I like best.

johnrtd
22-01-2008, 15:19
Could you tell us which preamps (and the rest of your amplifying chain) you have? And, of course which cartridge!

John

Vinyl Grinder
22-01-2008, 16:41
What MC step ups and head amps has anyone tried, and what differences did they hear? I have 4 transformers and 3 head amps now, doing comparisons, and ulimately confusing myself about which I like best.

Ever tried the Supex 'SDT-722' step up transformer, never tried it myself.

Marco
22-01-2008, 17:55
Guys,

This is a subject dear to my heart - I'll get to it later! :)

Marco.

Vinyl Grinder
23-01-2008, 02:06
Mayware 'T24' Transformer which uses a technique called 'reflected shunt equalisation' which uses a low inductance transformer enabling the use of carts from 2-40 Ohm.Has user changeable tappings ( Not really a good thing, but!)This was one of my best trannies regardless..
gain varies from 30dB for 2/3 Ohm to 20dB for 40 Ohm carts..I did use this with the Mayware 'MC-7V' cart to superb effect.Superb dynamics also.Just another one of my past exploits...Funny how we de-grade as we up-grade!

pure sound
23-01-2008, 10:55
I'm developing an odd fascination with MC impedance matching transformers. This is particularly strange as the cartridge I use (Audionote Io) dictates the use of a very high ratio (100:1) transformer and the only people to make such a device are Audionote or Kondo. I found some loose transformers from the old silver wired Audionote Japan S6 on ebay which I put into a box and which suit that cartridge perfectly. Kondo still makes a version of this called the SFz (v. expensive) as do ANUK with several models.

ANS6
http://i75.photobucket.com/albums/i318/murrayjohnson/16_3-1.jpg

Internal View
http://i75.photobucket.com/albums/i318/murrayjohnson/0d_3-1.jpg

Loose transformers
http://i75.photobucket.com/albums/i318/murrayjohnson/5c_1_b.jpg

So why the interest in others?

There were many different manufacturers of high quality studio equipment in the 50's and 60's. Most of these produced (or had produced) microphone matching transformers which facilitated the use of low impedance microphones with high impedance inputs. People have realised that these are applicable to use with MC cartridges and the prices of these loose transformers is creeping up. Models such as those by Altec, peerless, Jensen, RCA, UTC, Dukane all offer outstanding performance and are relatively simple to wire into a chassis. I recently bought a pair of Dukane 3A25's for a few pounds. These gave glorious results with an AT OC9 that I'd never previously wanted to listen to for more than a few minutes at a time.

Dukanes

http://i75.photobucket.com/albums/i318/murrayjohnson/P1010215.jpg

A friend has some UTC A10's and has just bought a pair of the danish Jorgen Schou transformers which I'm keen to hear. It seems that the core materials used in the laminations as well as the winding techniques used (particularly in some of these older designs) can really preserve an incredible depth of tone from an MC cartridge in a way that wouldn't have seemed possible based on listening to the cartridge under normal circumstances.

Have a look here for more inspiration

http://members.myactv.net/~je2a3/mic-mcstep-up.htm

Keep an eye out for auctions like this.
http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&rd=1&item=280186471670&ssPageName=STRK:MEWA:IT&ih=018


From the Pure Sound point of view, I've found a European supplier of a goodish quality 1:15 transformer which would certainly do for most newcomers to the joys of MC's and which would go well with our phono stage.

I've also found a UK transformer supplier who can make me some custom wound 'specials' with fancy core material and winding arrangements. The only problem with these is the outlay involved and the fact that they would cost half as much again as the phono stage we make! For me its not a problem as I appreciate the difference a good transformer can make but whether there's really much of a market for a 600-700 transformer remains to be seen.

johnrtd
23-01-2008, 15:10
If there's a good set up with a (mostly expensive) MC cartridge that price is not a problem. A problem though is the quality of the transformer, the shielding and the room it takes. In the past a transformer had the advantage, over tube and transistor amps, of a low noise level. But that time is past! Nowadays it's easy to construct a MC preamp with a noise level of -75 dB at 0,3 mV//100 Ohm.

John

Vinyl Grinder
24-01-2008, 09:23
If there's a good set up with a (mostly expensive) MC cartridge that price is not a problem. A problem though is the quality of the transformer, the shielding and the room it takes. In the past a transformer had the advantage, over tube and transistor amps, of a low noise level. But that time is past! Nowadays it's easy to construct a MC preamp with a noise level of -75 dB at 0,3 mV//100 Ohm.

John

Maybe so John but they do not sound as good.As is nowadays.

johnrtd
24-01-2008, 10:56
Dear Vinyllist
Nothing is perfect. And every configurattion has it's advantages and disadvantages. So there are always some kind of consessions when designing an item.
Now let's have a look at some of the possible (!) qualities of both.

The step-up transformer:
1. It's passive so there's hardly any non-linear distortion
2. Bandwidth is ALWAYS limited
3. A good one is relatively big and needs space
4. It's supsceptible for "fields"

The active solution:
1. Distortion can be very low, around <0,01%
2. Bandwidth is wider then any vinyl record holds
3. If the "lay out of the PCB" is okay no shielding is needed
4. It needs a power supply and that supply should not be coupled with the RIAA pre-amp thereafter.

In the end it all comes at a price. A good MC step-up transformer will cost >1500 € and an active MC pre-amp, including RIAA, comes at around the same price. At present we offer a complete pre-amp kit, without the cabinet, for 895 €.

Vinyl Grinder
24-01-2008, 16:10
John

A precisely matched high grade step up transformer is far superior to any MC stage. Fact!

I can see your trying to sell your products, but please put that aside..

Marco
24-01-2008, 20:17
Andr'e,

I'm sure John's intentions are entirely honourable even though his opinion differs from yours ;)

I'll contribute to this discussion, in terms of step-up transformers and their merits, in more detail later.

Marco.

Vinyl Grinder
24-01-2008, 22:40
Andr'e,

I'm sure John's intentions are entirely honourable even though his opinion differs from yours ;)

I'll contribute to this discussion, in terms of step-up transformers and their merits, in more detail later.

Marco.

Ok..Don't forget to mention your perfectly matched step up transformer in the process ;)

Marco
24-01-2008, 22:56
Oh you can take that as a given ;)

Different strokes for different folks though...

Marco.

johnrtd
24-01-2008, 23:18
Dear Vinylscratcher

In principle I didn't refer to our own products. After having been the chief editor of an audio magazine (yeh a printed one) I've seen lots of transformers and preamps. My thinking about the subject has to do with that experience (and our own R&D of course).
And sure there are some nice sounding transformers around, I know.

John

Vinyl Grinder
24-01-2008, 23:43
Dear Vinylscratcher

In principle I didn't refer to our own products. After having been the chief editor of an audio magazine (yeh a printed one) I've seen lots of transformers and preamps. My thinking about the subject has to do with that experience (and our own R&D of course).
And sure there are some nice sounding transformers around, I know.

John

Grinder John, Grinder not Scratcher!

Yep there are some pretty shitty transformers knocking about, but pick a good un & bingo..

leo
25-01-2008, 01:46
Both traffo and active circuits have their downside, problem with MC is that its such a small signal it takes an extremely low noise circuit to work well, a lot of designs are either too slow or too noisy, traffo's also have their downsides as already mentioned, theres lots of cable in these things and good quality wound does not come cheap

I wouldn't like to put my money on which is the best way to go tbh

Filterlab
25-01-2008, 10:03
Grinder John, Grinder not Scratcher!

LOL! :D

Marco
25-01-2008, 10:31
What's a grind or a scratch between friends? :p

Marco.

Filterlab
25-01-2008, 10:37
What's a grind or a scratch between friends? :p

Marco.

2 years or 6 months respectively.

:D

JonR
19-02-2008, 07:41
Interesting thread.

If, hypothetically speaking, I wanted to try out a Purseound P10 with my AT-OC9, can anyone recommend a suitable step-up that costs no more than around 100? Or would it cost more than this? Anyway, any suggestions would be much appreciated.

pure sound
19-02-2008, 08:48
Hi Jon,

The nearest thing I can think of to what you want would be one of these.

http://www.britishaudio.co.uk/blackhead.html

Otherwise look on ebay for a second hand pair of Ortofon T-5's, Sony's equivalent or a Denon step up.

Or this if you act fast

http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/Ortofon-T-10-step-up-transformer-MC-Moving-Coil_W0QQitemZ220201459558QQihZ012QQcategoryZ48648 QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem

WikiBoy
19-02-2008, 09:52
John

A precisely matched high grade step up transformer is far superior to any MC stage. Fact!

I can see your trying to sell your products, but please put that aside..

From my experience of using and designing both John is quite correct. Transformers *add* to the circuit more than acceptably in my terms. I still feel people misunderstand transformers when used for voltage gain. In simple terms it is a trade off between current and voltage and an MC cartridge doesn't have much current to trade off. I am always surprised they sound as good as they do, but a well designed active gain stage in my terms wins every time.

I think this boils down to what you expect and want from the music, glass bottle afficionados tend to like what transformers do.

JonR
19-02-2008, 09:56
Thanks for the suggestions and the heads-up on the Ortofon, Guy - I have checked it out....and bid!

Mike Reed
19-02-2008, 10:42
I may well have this problem thrust upon me if I go ahead with replacing my Lyra Helikon with a Koetsu.

The output is about the same, but I understand that Koetsus like loadings of between 85 and 100+ ohms, whereas my Lyra is very accommodating and works well into my Naim Prefix K (580 ohms) and probably most other stages.

Although Naim are bringing out a versatile new stage very soon, with 4 impedance x 4 capacitance permutations, I'd like to know of other options.

A 'Puresound' stage has been recommended (and I like the idea of a valve or two!), but I feel it's designed for mm only. The thought of bloody great transformers and what-have-you doesn't appeal, though.

The cart. will go on an SME5 into a Naim pre., and I'm not well-versed in electronics theory, if that's any help!

Mike Reed
19-02-2008, 10:45
By the way, the above was recommended in one of the postings. I still have a pair in its original box lying around somewhere, if there's any interest.

WikiBoy
19-02-2008, 12:02
I may well have this problem thrust upon me if I go ahead with replacing my Lyra Helikon with a Koetsu.

The output is about the same, but I understand that Koetsus like loadings of between 85 and 100+ ohms, whereas my Lyra is very accommodating and works well into my Naim Prefix K (580 ohms) and probably most other stages.

Although Naim are bringing out a versatile new stage very soon, with 4 impedance x 4 capacitance permutations, I'd like to know of other options.

A 'Puresound' stage has been recommended (and I like the idea of a valve or two!), but I feel it's designed for mm only. The thought of bloody great transformers and what-have-you doesn't appeal, though.

The cart. will go on an SME5 into a Naim pre., and I'm not well-versed in electronics theory, if that's any help!

There is another fly in the ointment, it depends on how the active stages in the head amp have been designed. It is quite possible to design this to be load rejecting when designing at these low voltage levels. So some head amps need to be carefully adjusted for load and others don't. BUT the audiophile grapevine has been active on this one, so the sheep are doing a lot of baaa-ing :) If you want me to recommend a load rejecting one then PM me.

WikiBoy
19-02-2008, 12:06
By the way, the above was recommended in one of the postings. I still have a pair in its original box lying around somewhere, if there's any interest.

These are as good as anything transformer wise unless you are willing to spend a lot of money, and they don't ring ;)

JonR
19-02-2008, 12:11
BUT the audiophile grapevine has been active on this one, so the sheep are doing a lot of baaa-ing :) If you want me to recommend a load rejecting one then PM me.

You wouldn't happen to be referring to something that is shortly to be released by a certain Wiltshire-based outfit are you by any chance, Richard.....??

WikiBoy
19-02-2008, 12:30
You wouldn't happen to be referring to something that is shortly to be released by a certain Wiltshire-based outfit are you by any chance, Richard.....??

Nope don't normally listen to anything from the west country, can't understand the accent :eyebrows:

Seriously, I think their old circuit from what I remember of it is pretty load rejecting. Perhaps they are just jumping on *another* band wagon like the cable one. When you have big staff and factory and a declining market it pays to look in all directions ;)

Sometimes it is commercialy better just to give the customer what he wants even though you may think he is bonkers :mental:

I am in a very lucky position to do what ever I want and if people don't like it either conceptually or in reality, well too bad. Your friends were like this when JV was in charge, different beast now IMO.

JonR
19-02-2008, 12:42
Well, I think it's fair to say a lot of people miss JV, but the fact is he's dead now and meanwhile the company has to move on. I actually do like what their new offering does; the convenient load adjustment certainly adds to its appeal, IMO. The price tag, on the other hand, err....doesn't!!

WikiBoy
19-02-2008, 12:53
Well, I think it's fair to say a lot of people miss JV, but the fact is he's dead now and meanwhile the company has to move on. I actually do like what their new offering does; the convenient load adjustment certainly adds to its appeal, IMO. The price tag, on the other hand, err....doesn't!!

You miss the point!

What is the point of having load adjustment when you don't need it, apart from to pander to the Baa-lambs, which is what I was refering to. With a transformer yes and very audible, as it is working at the limits of what is possible. BUT with an active stage you have so much headroom the load changes become insignificant with good design. Naim almost had that with the old circuit :) though splitting the rails would have helped.

IMO this is marketing pure and simple. It gives an itch in the pockets for all the "if its made in Salisbury it must be best" brigade. They are milking a captive market and that is always a very short term strategy.

Anyway John enjoy, take no notice of me, just try and keep an open mind.

JonR
19-02-2008, 13:04
Anyway John (sic) enjoy, take no notice of me, just try and keep an open mind.

I'd like to think that I am at least doing the latter - by considering a valve-based device in my system for the first time!!

Steve Toy
19-02-2008, 13:36
Let's not get into any sheep bashing eh?


IMO this is marketing pure and simple. It gives an itch in the pockets for all the "if its made in Salisbury it must be best" brigade. They are milking a captive market and that is always a very short term strategy.

I can think of one guy who is a bit like that but to me it isn't a question of being best, just suitably different. I think even now they are just that - different and distinctive. I guess it is only expensive if, like me, you just can't afford it.:baa: They aren't all sheep. Some are genuinely discerning.

pure sound
19-02-2008, 13:53
Nice one Jon. Well within budget!

JonR
19-02-2008, 14:05
Cheers Guy - yeah it's a bit of a result, I'd say!

Now - to secure a P10 to try it out with....!!

pure sound
19-02-2008, 14:12
It should certainly be more than good enough. I'll try to look up what the exact spec was. I found my Mk1 OC9 liked to see 30 Ohms but the T-10 will I'm sure do what you want.

Finding a P10 might be harder! There are none here at the moment. try Noteworthy, Radlett Audio (now in Saffron Walden) or Walrus.

JonR
19-02-2008, 14:25
Will do Guy, thanks.

pure sound
19-02-2008, 16:02
looks perfect. (see the first table)

http://www.vinylengine.com/step-ups-and-mc-cartridges.shtml

JonR
19-02-2008, 17:18
looks perfect. (see the first table)

http://www.vinylengine.com/step-ups-and-mc-cartridges.shtml

Profuse apologies for my ignorance Guy, but I tried following the table and understanding what it meant, but am having some difficulty relating the information it contains to my own cartridge. Please could you explain what you mean? Thanks in advance!

Mike Reed
19-02-2008, 19:53
After perusing these postings and wading through a Frenchman's impressive but (to me) incomprehensible thesis, it's dawned on me that most of this stuff refers to upping the voltage to mm levels.Mostly by passive means.

This surely is not pertinent to feeding a line level on my pre.. I have gleaned that an active phono stage is for me (similar to my power-supply driven Prefix, I guess).

I appreciate (as someone pointed out) that too many permutations of impedance and capacitance may compromise sound quality and most would be redundant. However, Naim is not known for stinting on sound quality in favour of bells and whistles!.

1600 or thereabouts. Expensive, someone said. Really? Not if it does the job. There are phono stages out there (a handful) costing well in excess of ten grand. Even the Tom Evans ones can be over two grand!. I think my Prefix is a bargain, but even that's not bargain basement with a decent power supply, which is mandatory.

I had hoped for recommendations (from suscribers' experiences) of other phono stages that CAN be configured for other loads etc. without changing the internal gubbins

pure sound
19-02-2008, 20:27
Profuse apologies for my ignorance Guy, but I tried following the table and understanding what it meant, but am having some difficulty relating the information it contains to my own cartridge. Please could you explain what you mean? Thanks in advance!

No worries. It just means that the turns ratio in this transformer is such that when you plug the output of it into an MM stage with 47Kohms input impedance (almost all are), the impedance it then presents to the cartridge is 30 ohms. Which I reckon is exactly what an OC9 needs to see.

JonR
20-02-2008, 00:19
No worries. It just means that the turns ratio in this transformer is such that when you plug the output of it into an MM stage with 47Kohms input impedance (almost all are), the impedance it then presents to the cartridge is 30 ohms. Which I reckon is exactly what an OC9 needs to see.

Ah right - thanks again for the explanation, much appreciated.

johnrtd
20-02-2008, 13:59
There might be other problems too when using a transformer (step up) instead of an electronic circuit. If a transformer offers 47 or 50 kOhm at the output one has to take care that the link to the MM-input is very very short otherwise cable capacitance (and/or inductance) may filter out the higher octaves. I assume all of you know that LP records can have a bandwidth of 50 - 80 kHz?
A different thing is the input->output impedance relationship. The ratio is a given thing. So if the impedances relate to each other as 1:500 (most step-up's are) one has to take care when connecting to a 50 Ohm (or lower) cartridge impedance .....

If someone is interested I could design a (relatively) cheap active circuit and offer you the pcb with or without components.

Have fun
John

WikiBoy
22-02-2008, 23:12
There might be other problems too when using a transformer (step up) instead of an electronic circuit. If a transformer offers 47 or 50 kOhm at the output one has to take care that the link to the MM-input is very very short otherwise cable capacitance (and/or inductance) may filter out the higher octaves. I assume all of you know that LP records can have a bandwidth of 50 - 80 kHz? John

Series capacitance is a low pass filter and series inductance is a high pass filter and series resistance is volume filter ;) AND transformers have all three in far greater quantity than a good active circuit, capacitance especially if you are using an interconnect of any length. Your dealing with minute voltages (relatively), much easier to mess up than line level voltages.

The only need for them is that you cannot design a valve mc stage unless it is unacceptably noisy. So out of a design necessity the marketing men try to create an artificial advantage - "don't sell the meat sell the sizzle".

Marco
23-02-2008, 08:26
Richard,

As with anything in hi-fi, there is no 'true path' or one 'best' way of dealing with a problem.

I've got quite a bit of experience of active MC stages and transformers with a variety of cartridges and I've come to the conclusion that unless the transformer has been specifically designed to partner an MC cartridge, preferably if it's made by the same manufacturer, and therefore the electrical specifications are properly matched, then you're better off with a good active design.

However, in instances where the cartridge and transformer have been designed to operate together from the ground up by the same manufacturer, or where a manufacturer has specifically designed a transformer that optimises the performance of a particular cartridge, then this in my experience gives the best results. Manufacturers who come into that category are the likes of Audionote, Ortofon and Denon.

The problem with a lot of MC transformers is that they're not specifically designed to optimise the performance of a particular cartridge sonically and electrically - they're designed for general use in many cases by manufacturers who do not design cartridges, so ultimate performance is not achievable unless you're very lucky and just happen to hit upon a perfect match.

Therefore to conclude, use a good active MC stage if your cartridge manufacturer does not supply an optimised transformer for that cartridge, but if your cartridge manufacturer provides a matching transformer then that will give ultimate performance for that cartridge. I have never heard a better sound from my Denon DL-103 Pro than when used with a good MM stage (preferably valve) and Denon's own step-up transformer or my Auditorium 23, which is the result of someone's years of experimentation to find the ultimate transformer match for the 103, and a unique understanding and experience of how that particular cartridge works. It will be the same with those who have produced devices for Ortofon and Audionote.

Marco.

WikiBoy
23-02-2008, 08:59
Richard,

As with anything in hi-fi, there is no 'true path' or one 'best' way of dealing with a problem.

I've got quite a bit of experience of active MC stages and transformers with a variety of cartridges and I've come to the conclusion that unless the transformer has been specifically designed to partner an MC cartridge, preferably if it's made by the same manufacturer, and therefore the electrical specifications are properly matched, then you're better off with a good active design.

However, in instances where the cartridge and transformer have been designed to operate together from the ground up by the same manufacturer, or where a manufacturer has specifically designed a transformer that optimises the performance of a particular cartridge, then this in my experience gives the best results. Manufacturers who come into that category are the likes of Audionote, Ortofon and Denon.

The problem with a lot of MC transformers is that they're not specifically designed to optimise the performance of a particular cartridge sonically and electrically - they're designed for general use in many cases by manufacturers who do not design cartridges, so ultimate performance is not achievable unless you're very lucky and just happen to hit upon a perfect match.

Therefore to conclude, use a good active MC stage if your cartridge manufacturer does not supply an optimised transformer for that cartridge, but if your cartridge manufacturer provides a matching transformer then that will give ultimate performance for that cartridge. I have never heard a better sound from my Denon DL-103 Pro than when used with a good MM stage (preferably valve) and Denon's own step-up transformer or my Auditorium 23, which is the result of someone's years of experimentation to find the ultimate transformer match for the 103, and a unique understanding and experience of how that particular cartridge works. It will be the same with those who have produced devices for Ortofon and Audionote.

Marco.

Well ask any valve amplifier designer and if he is being honest and not following the marketing path, he will tell you that he would much prefer to use valve active stages than a transformer, but he can't!!!

So a deficiency is turned into an asset for marketing purposes. Now the real argument is between solid state and valve phono stages. Losing bandwidth and dynamic contrast in exchange for rose coloured glasses, a trade off all are making decisions for. It is human nature to want change and also to follow the most exciting band wagon (marketing). BUT *NOTHING* is perfect, everything is a compromise, the current move to valve will have a corresponding backlash, when people realise that bits of the baby have gone down the plughole. This is why Gromits audio adventures (good title for a book) is so informative and humerous. He is going through all the stages it normally takes people months or years to go through, and is at a regressive stage having gone through valves, then to information and clarity, now back to drive and presence. Hopefully he will realise nothing is perfect and the state of the art *does not exist* and it is down to an individuals *acceptable compromise* that will makes you happy.

Quite simply there is no *best* anything, there is better, worse and different.

Steve Toy
23-02-2008, 10:25
Richard,

I know what you mean by "rose coloured glasses." I'm not yet ready to wear mine.

pure sound
23-02-2008, 12:53
Hi Richard,

I wouldn't ever choose to use a valve MC stage. Transformer every time, particularly with the cartridge I use at home. 0.04mV out needing to see 2-3 ohms!
The majority of cartridge manufacturers also choose to make and generally recommend transformers too. (Denon, Ortofon, Audio Technica, AudioNote, Shelter etc)

Gromit's adventures have been interesting to follow but the decisions he's making are very much based on the speakers he can get to work in his room. He seems to be enjoying the Naim stuff at the moment. Where next I wonder?

WikiBoy
23-02-2008, 13:22
Hi Richard,

I wouldn't ever choose to use a valve MC stage. Transformer every time, particularly with the cartridge I use at home. 0.04mV out needing to see 2-3 ohms!
The majority of cartridge manufacturers also choose to make and generally recommend transformers too. (Denon, Ortofon, Audio Technica, AudioNote, Shelter etc)

Gromit's adventures have been interesting to follow but the decisions he's making are very much based on the speakers he can get to work in his room. He seems to be enjoying the Naim stuff at the moment. Where next I wonder?

Don't you know the equation relating to head room v load impedance, also load rejecting circuit design. I say again the only thing that makes transformers necessary in this application is the electrical characteristics of valves, those constraints are not there in solid state designs. When you are working on the edge of what is possible then loading influences enormously and transformer into cable into valves is just that at that voltage level.

You know as well as I do why there is the necessity for output transformers with valves amps and how many people have tried to produce a reliable and sensible OTL to counter this. Are you telling me that given the choice you wouldn't get rid of the most expensive and critical component in valve amp design if you could?

I also know the inherent advantages of valve circuits, I wish I could get transistor circuits that simple, I keep trying :scratch: They are just different methods to catch the same monkey, and he is a slippery bugger.

pure sound
23-02-2008, 17:08
I've yet to hear an OTL that I liked. The nearest thing I've heard to one that works is the Berning which uses a high frequency impedance converter

http://www.davidberning.com/technology

however, even then I prefer the sound of a good transformer coupled amp!

WikiBoy
23-02-2008, 18:38
however, even then I prefer the sound of a good transformer coupled amp!

I can understand that and I think it is the same distortion characteristic as valves, those that like valves like transformers. Some early tranny amps like the Rogers had transformers and ? (forgotten the name, the big US company that makes expensive bling things and a ridiculous turntable that looks like record player with an amp front on it) put them in deliberately in solid state amps to get that distortion character. Some people also swear by using output caps like in the early germanium based tranny amps, different distortion. And IMO that is why you cannot get everything in any product, you have to prioritise / compromise. And that is why so many people go around the circle looking for niavana and end up back where they started.

My priority would say that I don't like transformers they *block* what I am looking for from music, it is like the choice of a specific musical instrument, you look for its timbre, well as far as I am concerned hi-fi design is largely like musical instrument design, you have to compromise and prioritise a series of parameters, go for one and you normally diminish another, you create a timbre. A classic example is what Gromit is finding in the Naim. Big power supplies with overlarge caps and a DC amplifier as complex as the following AC amplifiers as regulation. Overkill PSU design, well it gives you an amp that gives you timing and presence to kill for, but irritates in equal proportion in lack of detail, lack of space, lack of colour. You pays yer money and you takes yer choice. Well IMO valves and transformers are just another compromise and choice. The problem is the sheep and bandwagon mentality of the audio fraternity, they don't want to make their own choice, they want others to do it for them. They want magazines and experts to tell them they have made a good choice or they fret and don't trust their own judgement. This has created the BIGGEST problem in the hi-fi industry, the bullshit rip off retailers, reviewers and marketing men all trying to compete to tell you they are / know best and everything else is crap. They need to be stood up to and told to shut up!

Well valve amps are just becoming the new flat earth, that was wrong (and right) and valves are right (and wrong). Earlier in my posting on this forum I talked about creating a clique of the open minded, is it possible I doubt it, all we get are sheep and camp followers with a few Gromits and Jerry's in between.

Rant over!

scoobs
11-03-2008, 20:27
Well ask any valve amplifier designer and if he is being honest and not following the marketing path, he will tell you that he would much prefer to use valve active stages than a transformer, but he can't!!!


:scratch: The chap that's building my valve phono/line stage made the same comment, and yet I went against his advice and plumped for MM to go with my tranny. :doh: Will definately give this a go in the future though, with a continuous run of cable from headshell to active speakers.

Marco
11-03-2008, 21:02
I hear what Richard is saying, and it makes absolute sense, but I still believe that a properly matched transformer and cartridge (designed together by the same manufacturer) offers the best overall performance. That is what my ears tell me.

Yes, of course it's all about compromises, but I simply haven't heard an active MC stage that can make my Denon DL-103 Pro sound as good as my Auditorium 23 step-up transformer and MM valve phono stage, so one can only comment from relevant experience.

If Richard can show me (and let me hear) an active MC stage that he thinks would make my DL-103 sound better than the A23 transformer, which was optimised to be used with the 103 Pro, and my all-valve Croft MM phono stage, then I'm all ears!! :)

Marco.

WikiBoy
11-03-2008, 23:02
I hear what Richard is saying, and it makes absolute sense, but I still believe that a properly matched transformer and cartridge (designed together by the same manufacturer) offers the best overall performance. That is what my ears tell me.

Yes, of course it's all about compromises, but I simply haven't heard an active MC stage that can make my Denon DL-103 Pro sound as good as my Auditorium 23 step-up transformer and MM valve phono stage, so one can only comment from relevant experience.

If Richard can show me (and let me hear) an active MC stage that he thinks would make my DL-103 sound better than the A23 transformer, which was optimised to be used with the 103 Pro, and my all-valve Croft MM phono stage, then I'm all ears!! :)

Marco.

You know where it is and what to buy :ner:

AND if you don't like it return it for full refund including your postage/shipping costs and I will throw in a little pressy you can keep which ever way. :eyebrows:

Marco
11-03-2008, 23:20
I presume then it's one of your own designs? :)

Send me one to audition then (I don't do the 'buy it now refund it later' thing - sorry). I'll compare it to what I use now and review it on the forum. Treat it as you would if you were submitting it to a hi-fi magazine for reviewing. Once I've listened to it and reviewed it I'll return it to you (or buy it if I prefer it to what I use now). This will be great publicity for you if your phono stage is as good as you say it is!

Marco.

WikiBoy
12-03-2008, 00:25
I presume then it's one of your own designs? :)

Send me one to audition then (I don't do the 'buy it now refund it later' thing - sorry). I'll compare it to what I use now and review it on the forum. Treat it as you would if you were submitting it to a hi-fi magazine for reviewing. Once I've listened to it and reviewed it I'll return it to you (or buy it if I prefer it to what I use now). This will be great publicity for you if your phono stage is as good as you say it is!

Marco.

Nope.

I do not supply for review, especially not to forum admins :lolsign:

But Gromit just borrowed my development one, and as long as it doesn't start motorboating again you can ask him to review it.

PS - how is it great publicity to promote to 150 members including such delights as plastic grinder - only kidding I love your forum really, well to tell the truth it is the only one that will have me :confused:

Marco
12-03-2008, 08:36
No problem, Richard, that's fine.

However, we're still no further forward then with regard to you proving to me that your active MC phono stage is better than my valve MM stage/MC step-up transformer combo.

With the greatest respect to Gromit I know nothing of how his system sounds or what his sonic priorities are, so short of curiosity factor him reviewing your phono stage would be meaningless to me as I have no known benchmark from which to judge.

If you're ever in the North Wales/Chester area you're more than welcome to drop by and we can do the comparison then, or I could come to you? Otherwise we'll get nowhere with this debate :)

150 members? Tut tut, pay attention...we have 165 now! ;) - the biggest percentage of which are active, and that's not including the 100s of Guests we get looking in daily. It's not only members who read the forum.

Remember we've only been going for 7 weeks. The forum is extraordinarily busy considering the size of the membership. Trust me, The Art of Sound will in time grow to become one of the major and most influential forums in the UK. We have big plans for this place, so behave yourself (we enjoy your contributions) and you'll be part of something special :smoking:

Marco.

WikiBoy
12-03-2008, 13:35
Remember we've only been going for 7 weeks. The forum is extraordinarily busy considering the size of the membership. Trust me, The Art of Sound will in time grow to become one of the major and most influential forums in the UK. We have big plans for this place, so behave yourself (we enjoy your contributions) and you'll be part of something special :smoking:

Marco.

I never behave myself. From the boy scouts onward I have been thrown out of everything I join. And the more I am told to behave the more prativeny* I become (*Russian word that describes it perfectly - nearest translation in English is "pain in the arse")

Marco
12-03-2008, 14:39
I never behave myself. From the boy scouts onward I have been thrown out of everything I join. And the more I am told to behave the more prativeny* I become (*Russian word that describes it perfectly - nearest translation in English is "pain in the arse")


Yes, this we know!! :lolsign:

I like people who are different - 'characters', as I believe they are affectionately referred to. I'm one myself! This is the reason that despite your somewhat obstreperous personality you have remained a member here ;)

"Prativeny" - I like the description; I'll keep it for future reference.

Marco.

Filterlab
12-03-2008, 14:52
...From the boy scouts onward I have been thrown out of everything I join....

Hehehehe, you surprise me mate. :)


...well to tell the truth it is the only one that will have me :confused:

You're still here, that shows we must like you. ;)

By the way, I love the muppet avatar - made me chuckle when I first saw it. You will be a senior member in a few posts time actually.

scoobs
12-03-2008, 14:56
By the way, I love the muppet avatar - made me chuckle when I first saw it. You will be a senior member in a few posts time actually.

:) Made me chuckle too. I'm sure Richard wont mind me saying, but having looked at his energetics youtube vids, there's an uncanny likeness with the avatar. However in reality I suspect that he owns a pair of eyes, otherwise how else would he make such exceedingly good amps.

Filterlab
12-03-2008, 15:03
...However in reality I suspect that he owns a pair of eyes and ears, otherwise how else would he make such exceedingly good amps.

Well that is a good point mate, any links to the videos?

scoobs
12-03-2008, 15:06
http://theartofsound.net/forum/showthread.php?t=179

Filterlab
12-03-2008, 15:19
Ah! Just been reading the Art of Energetics, very interesting stuff, I can see how someone who masters the movement of electrical currents and the effect of components would be into this kind of stuff.

I particularly like this bit:


With practice you will become stronger, healthier in mind and body, revitalised in spirit, more relaxed, tolerant and self confident

Now that I could do with for running this place. :D

WikiBoy
12-03-2008, 15:20
Hehehehe, you surprise me mate. :)



You're still here, that shows we must like you. ;)

By the way, I love the muppet avatar - made me chuckle when I first saw it. You will be a senior member in a few posts time actually.


Don't wanna be !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I prefer to be a muppet, can I have my title back, I think it suits me perfectly.

Filterlab
12-03-2008, 15:21
I prefer to be a muppet, can I have my title back, I think it suits me perfectly.

I can do that, but you'll have to be a Senior Muppet. You've too many posts to be a normal Muppet. :D

WikiBoy
12-03-2008, 15:23
:) Made me chuckle too. I'm sure Richard wont mind me saying, but having looked at his energetics youtube vids, there's an uncanny likeness with the avatar. However in reality I suspect that he owns a pair of eyes, otherwise how else would he make such exceedingly good amps.

You don't need eyes grasshopper, all you need to do is be one with the force.

Marco
12-03-2008, 23:06
I think Richard should be renamed "Senior Muppet and bad-ass mothafukka".

Marco.

Filterlab
13-03-2008, 08:43
Indeed, good call. :)

WikiBoy
13-03-2008, 10:06
Indeed, good call. :)

I suppose it is not my choice, but I hate it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Why can't I just be a muppet, or if you have to use a superlative of some sort how about Super Muppet. Being a filterlab tech-ie you could put a small superman S badge on Bunsen's white coat.

Marco
13-03-2008, 11:00
Done! :)

I'll let Rob do the 'S'.

Marco.

Filterlab
13-03-2008, 11:20
...Being a filterlab tech-ie you could put a small superman S badge on Bunsen's white coat.

Well now you're Super Muppet, I'll pop a badge on his jacket this evening. I'll need my sewing kit which is at home.

Mike
13-03-2008, 16:45
Series capacitance is a low pass filter and series inductance is a high pass filter

:scratch:

WikiBoy
13-03-2008, 16:51
:scratch:

:scratch::scratch::scratch::scratch:

I obviously woke up with my brain reversed that day.

AND you are the first to notice :lolsign:

Mike
13-03-2008, 16:55
Yeah.... some folk like to talk a lot without reading properly, or thinking!

:goodthread:

NRG
13-03-2008, 18:05
Marco, here's a little MC head amp. for you to try if you want, not heard it myself but maybe worth a go just for curiosity's sake...

http://homepages.tcp.co.uk/~nroberts/article64b.pdf

Mike
13-03-2008, 18:15
That looks interesting Neal, and as simple as a very simple thing!
Might give it a go myself sometime, should cost peanuts!

;)

scoobs
13-03-2008, 18:18
http://i230.photobucket.com/albums/ee15/indypepa/supermuppet.jpg

http://i230.photobucket.com/albums/ee15/indypepa/supermuppet2.jpg

Marco
13-03-2008, 19:08
Hi Neal,

It looks like an interesting little thing, and could well sound very good. If any of you chaps would like to build one and let me listen to it I'm all ears! :)

Nick,

I think Richard will love those!

Marco.

WikiBoy
13-03-2008, 22:43
http://i230.photobucket.com/albums/ee15/indypepa/supermuppet.jpg

http://i230.photobucket.com/albums/ee15/indypepa/supermuppet2.jpg

"Faster than a speeding bullet. More powerful than a locomotive"

"Is it a bird, is it a plane, no its Superman"

More like

"Faster than a pregnant slug. More powerfull than bubblegum"

"Is it a flying pig, is it a Zeppelin, no its Suppermuppet(sic)"

http://youtube.com/watch?v=7S3K9kEASOw&feature=related

scoobs
30-03-2008, 21:47
Scary stuff!
I have decided at the 11th hour to change my new valve phono/pre to active MC stage rather than MM, so I'll be looking to move the highphonic 103 tranny on, based on the recommendation of the designer and also corroborated by our very own Richard. I'm also thinking about a pimped 3009 II to replace the technics arm. I'm gonna push the envelope a bit.

Marco
30-03-2008, 22:35
Nick,

Don't do it. If you don't change your cartridge it will result in a worse sound :trust:

All the DL-103s work best through a step-up transformer.

However, to allow me to make a more definitive assessment of the situation please supply details of what the "pimped" 3009 involves and exactly what your designer has told you about active MC stages. Is he familiar with the quirks of the DL-103 or is he just looking at things in general? I'm not running an MM stage and a tranny for nothing, Nick... I think you should hear my set-up before you go any further - seriously. You might just need to hear the Auditorium 23. Bring your Highphonic and we'll make comparisons. I know the differences.

The effective mass of the 3009 is unsuitable for your 103 Pro, no matter how much it is "pimped", unless you're talking a complete rebuild. The 3009 was designed for the Shure V15 and other similar MM cartridges of its era - it was never designed for moving coils. You would have to change your cartridge. The only SME which works properly with a DL-103 is a 3012, or the new 312S, but neither would fit on your deck...

You can give me a call on the matter if you like, but please don't rush into anything silly :)

Marco.

griffo104
31-03-2008, 14:27
Scary stuff!
I have decided at the 11th hour to change my new valve phono/pre to active MC stage rather than MM, so I'll be looking to move the highphonic 103 tranny on, based on the recommendation of the designer and also corroborated by our very own Richard. I'm also thinking about a pimped 3009 II to replace the technics arm. I'm gonna push the envelope a bit.

Scoobs I would really think twice about the SME 3009. I heard on recently with a DL304 and while it sounded ok the minute I put some difficult indie music on it really struggled with the treble and high end information, so bad that we decided to stop listening and change records. Never good when that happens - the deck was a Technics direct drive but not an SL1200/1210 and I can't remember the model number.

Whay not go for something like a Technoarm instead ?

Is your tranny still up for sale and if so how much ?

scoobs
31-03-2008, 16:29
Thanks for the concern fellas, well I have pulled the plug on the 3009, after Kevin (KAB) explained the messy process of removing my technics arm and din plate, at the first mention of 'de-solder' I ran a mile, so I'm just gonna get a new tonearm cable intead. The fella building my amp is a dyed in the wool 103 fan who also modifies them, he advised me that the 3009 with the included heavy AT headshell would be a good match, but I cant stomach the prospect of making a mess of my nice technics arm.

As for the phono stage, well, it's too late to go back now but again as a 103 user himself he re-iterated that an integrated SS MC stage / valve linestage based on the Kondo M7 would perform better than a MM/sut in my setup, he had nothing to gain by this, actually he's lost out as I dont require the additional pair of interconnects he was going to make up for me.

I know this flies in the face of the vast majority of opinion on here but I am going to take the chance, as I am seduced by the simplicity and minimalism of this approach. May the force be with me.
The tranny sold in no time on the wam.

Gromit
31-03-2008, 17:01
Nick - sorry, only just seen this thread but please trust me on this when I say that the NVA phono2 is a bloody good active phono amp. Upgradable via an extra psu aswell of course.

Quiet, no hum issues, plenty of gain and a huge spread of room-filling sound.

scoobs
31-03-2008, 17:22
Thanks Rich
Your valuable accounts were in the back of my mind also, as a fellow previous P10 & sut user. Likewise to your phono2 the MC stage will be matched to the spec of my 103, A brave new world!

Marco
31-03-2008, 20:03
Hi Nick,

Good news about the 3009 - I really don't think that would have worked.

Best of luck with the active MC stage. Fingers crossed, mate! :)

Marco.

JonR
13-04-2008, 22:57
Evening all,

Well, it's been a while, but finally there have been some developments!

Herewith some pictorial evidence....

My system, with a familiar addition....

http://i293.photobucket.com/albums/mm80/doctorhelmer/IMGP0328.jpg

It's Noteworthy's demo unit, which I have on loan until next Saturday!

http://i293.photobucket.com/albums/mm80/doctorhelmer/IMGP0329.jpg

And here's the Ortofon step-up transformer which Guy recommended (please excuse the utterly dire photography!):-

http://i293.photobucket.com/albums/mm80/doctorhelmer/IMGP0330.jpg

A clearer close-up shot:-

http://i293.photobucket.com/albums/mm80/doctorhelmer/IMGP0331.jpg

And this is the cartridge in question - an AT-OC9MLII:-

http://i293.photobucket.com/albums/mm80/doctorhelmer/IMGP0332.jpg

Initial impressions - wow!

Music absolutely pours forth from the speakers. I have never heard anything quite so effortessly full-on from a vinyl source in my system. I'm hoping to put it through its paces a little more over the next few days, but the early signs are promising!

Cotlake
19-07-2008, 21:53
Hmm, well I've previously owned NVA 'sand' phono stages and they were totally lifeless and compressed both in sound and dimensionality compared to my WAD Phono II (tweaked) with Lundahl step-up Tx's which are coupled to my ancient and very low output little used Ortofon MC30. I was very happy to sell my NVA on as a package with my Linn LP12; also a product that is marketed beyond the aural truth. My TT set up was used for demonstration at the last three Bristol 'Sound and Vision' Shows in the WD room. Shed loads of best sound at the show comments and alot of gobsmacked punters when they inquired on the identity of the cartridge. Understandable considering it's vintage and at the release time, bland reviews. I've done the 'sand' phono stage thing on both MM and MC. The ears have tested it and it doesn't work. MC into trafo's may be less than ideal in theory, but to the ears it's the best, all IMHO.

RobHolt
21-07-2008, 23:10
Hmm, well I've previously owned NVA 'sand' phono stages and they were totally lifeless and compressed both in sound and dimensionality compared to my WAD Phono II (tweaked) with Lundahl step-up Tx's which are coupled to my ancient and very low output little used Ortofon MC30. I was very happy to sell my NVA on as a package with my Linn LP12; also a product that is marketed beyond the aural truth. My TT set up was used for demonstration at the last three Bristol 'Sound and Vision' Shows in the WD room. Shed loads of best sound at the show comments and alot of gobsmacked punters when they inquired on the identity of the cartridge. Understandable considering it's vintage and at the release time, bland reviews. I've done the 'sand' phono stage thing on both MM and MC. The ears have tested it and it doesn't work. MC into trafo's may be less than ideal in theory, but to the ears it's the best, all IMHO.

Ditto Greg.

I use a WAD PII with Sowter step-ups and it's great.

Briefly ran the NVA Phono but it was very hissy and the lack of any shielding meant interruptions from passing mini cab radios and other assorted noises.