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Thread: Step-Up Transformers v Phono Preamps

  1. #1
    MartinT Guest

    Default Step-Up Transformers v Phono Preamps

    Ok, I've read so much about the two different methods of running a low output MC cartridge. Some advocate a SUT as being the best impedance match to a high level phono preamp, others prefer a preamp with MC capability.

    I'm running an AT33PTG with Underwood modded PS Audio GCPH set to high gain. Although the GCPH is pretty quiet, I can just hear noise and hum when the volume is set to my normal listening level. Now I'm beginning to wonder what a SUT would do for my system, with the GCPH set to low gain.

    What do the assembled think? Should I try a SUT or am I wasting my time? If so, which SUT?

  2. #2
    Join Date: Jan 2008

    Location: Wrexham, North Wales, UK

    Posts: 110,089
    I'm AudioAl'sArbiterForPISHANTO.

    Default

    Hi Martin,

    It's a tricky one. The trouble with SUTs is that they tend only to work best when they've been designed in unison with a partnering cartridge, so this usually means that the cartridge and transformer will come from the same manufacturer.

    It's different of course if you're into D.I.Y and have the facility to build your own phono stage and SUT to match your cartridge of choice, but commercially this isn't such an easy option.

    To answer your question, the only SUT I'd use with your AT33PTG is this:

    http://cgi.ebay.com/Audio-Technica-A...3A1%7C294%3A30

    ...and it's not exactly a cost-effective proposition!

    So to answer your question, in your situation, I think you're largely wasting your time, and I'd stick with your current PS Audio phono stage. Also, SUTs will not necessarily make things any quieter, in fact often they can generate hum.

    If you want to get more from your cartridge then you could at some point consider changing/upgrading your phono stage, perhaps by looking at an all-valve design. There are some cracking ones around at the moment

    Marco.
    Main System

    Turntable: Heavily-modified Technics SL-1210MK5G [Mike New bearing/ETP platter/Paul Hynes SR7 PSU & reg mods]. Funk Firm APM Achromat/Nagaoka GL-601 Crystal Record Weight/Isonoe feet & boots/Ortofon RS-212D/Denon DL-103GL in Denon PCL-300 headshell with Funk Firm Houdini/Kondo SL-115 pure-silver cartridge leads.

    Paul Hynes MC head amp/SR5 PSU. Also modded Lentek head amp/Denon AU-310 SUT.

    Other Cartridges: Nippon Columbia (NOS 1987) Denon DL-103. USA-made Shure SC35C with NOS stylus. Goldring G820 with NOS stylus. Shure M55E with NOS stylus.

    CD Player: Audiocom-modified Sony X-777ES/DAS-R1 DAC.

    Tape Deck: Tandberg TCD 310, fully restored and recalibrated as new, by RDE, plus upgraded with heads from the TCD-420a. Also with matching TM4 Norway microphones.

    Preamps: Heavily-modified Croft Charisma-X. LDR Stereo Coffee. Power Amps: Tube Distinctions Copper Amp fitted with Tungsol KT-150s. Quad 306.

    Cables & Sundries: Mark Grant HDX1 interconnects and digital coaxial cable, plus Mark Grant 6mm UP-LCOFC Van Damme speaker cable. MCRU 'Ultimate' mains leads. Lehmann clone headphone amp with vintage Koss PRO-4AAA headphones.

    Tube Distinctions digital noise filter. VPI HW16.5 record cleaning machine.

    Speakers: Tannoy 15MGs in Lockwood cabinets with modified crossovers. 1967 Celestion Ditton 15.


    Protect your HUMAN RIGHTS and REFUSE ANY *MANDATORY* VACCINE FOR COVID-19!

    Also **SAY NO** to unjust 'vaccine passports' or certificates, which are totally incompatible with a FREE society!!!


  3. #3
    Join Date: May 2008

    Location: Lancaster(-ish), UK

    Posts: 16,962
    I'm ChrisB.

    Default

    Martin,

    As Marco says, this is tricky. (I knew he'd beat me to answer this!)
    I certainly wouldn't go chucking any money at this yet.

    Have you checked that all your earth connections are good? - and I mean absolutely impeccable .....clean & tight, right through the system.

    Your phono stage is not exactly a slouch.

    If I were you, I'd try to borrow a half decent SUT to test your theory.

  4. #4
    Join Date: May 2008

    Location: A Strangely Isolated Place in Suffolk with far away trains passing by...

    Posts: 14,557
    I'm David.

    Default

    Once again, I can't be so cut and dried about it. I'm curently using some Sony versions of the Ortofon T5's, regarded as give-aways at the time. Whatever a dearer tranny may do, I'm getting more music out of my LP's (with a Stilton OC9) than I've done in years. I'm keen to try the Sowter transformers one day with the OFC option (around 130 the pair) as silly bits of male jewellery intended for the status concious far eastern market (my SUT costs ten times yours so must be better) have no relevance these days...

    In the meantime and bearing in mind my thread regarding occasional distortion due to bad LP's and possible arm-bearing chatter (now fixed I think), I'm being lent an AT630 transformer which gives lower gain and was well liked at the time.

    As some SUT's are fairly cheap, why not try a pair and see for yourself. At least you have a decent active reference...
    Tear down these walls; Cut the ties that held me
    Crying out at the top of my voice; Tell me now if you can hear me

  5. #5
    Join Date: Jan 2008

    Location: Wrexham, North Wales, UK

    Posts: 110,089
    I'm AudioAl'sArbiterForPISHANTO.

    Default

    Guys, I think trying an SUT is perfectly good advice for Martin, just to see what it does.

    However, I'm looking at the bigger picture (as I always do), and so therefore, if Martin decides to go down the SUT route, he has to have a viable choice to make which will genuinely improve the performance of his cartridge compared to what he's getting at the moment from his PS Audio unit.

    I don't think any of the suggestions so far for him to try, SUT-wise, represent an upgrade on the gear he's using at the moment, so the question is what *real* choices does he actually have when it comes to an SUT that will ideally match his AT33PTG and offer him a genuine upgrade?

    In my view, the AT-5000T SUT I linked to on Ebay, or a completely different phono stage, are the only options that fit the bill. Personally, unless Martin wants to splash some serious cash, I think he should leave well alone and continue enjoying the sounds he's getting at the moment, which by all accounts are pretty special

    Tinkering for the sake of tinkering rarely pays dividends.

    Marco.
    Main System

    Turntable: Heavily-modified Technics SL-1210MK5G [Mike New bearing/ETP platter/Paul Hynes SR7 PSU & reg mods]. Funk Firm APM Achromat/Nagaoka GL-601 Crystal Record Weight/Isonoe feet & boots/Ortofon RS-212D/Denon DL-103GL in Denon PCL-300 headshell with Funk Firm Houdini/Kondo SL-115 pure-silver cartridge leads.

    Paul Hynes MC head amp/SR5 PSU. Also modded Lentek head amp/Denon AU-310 SUT.

    Other Cartridges: Nippon Columbia (NOS 1987) Denon DL-103. USA-made Shure SC35C with NOS stylus. Goldring G820 with NOS stylus. Shure M55E with NOS stylus.

    CD Player: Audiocom-modified Sony X-777ES/DAS-R1 DAC.

    Tape Deck: Tandberg TCD 310, fully restored and recalibrated as new, by RDE, plus upgraded with heads from the TCD-420a. Also with matching TM4 Norway microphones.

    Preamps: Heavily-modified Croft Charisma-X. LDR Stereo Coffee. Power Amps: Tube Distinctions Copper Amp fitted with Tungsol KT-150s. Quad 306.

    Cables & Sundries: Mark Grant HDX1 interconnects and digital coaxial cable, plus Mark Grant 6mm UP-LCOFC Van Damme speaker cable. MCRU 'Ultimate' mains leads. Lehmann clone headphone amp with vintage Koss PRO-4AAA headphones.

    Tube Distinctions digital noise filter. VPI HW16.5 record cleaning machine.

    Speakers: Tannoy 15MGs in Lockwood cabinets with modified crossovers. 1967 Celestion Ditton 15.


    Protect your HUMAN RIGHTS and REFUSE ANY *MANDATORY* VACCINE FOR COVID-19!

    Also **SAY NO** to unjust 'vaccine passports' or certificates, which are totally incompatible with a FREE society!!!


  6. #6
    Join Date: May 2008

    Location: Lancaster(-ish), UK

    Posts: 16,962
    I'm ChrisB.

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Marco View Post
    Tinkering for the sake of tinkering rarely pays dividends.
    I thought what I suggested wouldn't involve any outlay or risk.

    Checking your earth connections is not exactly tinkering in the sense that you imply.
    Borrowing a SUT will throw more light on the problem/solution.

    As I said, I certainly wouldn't throw any cash at it just yet.

  7. #7
    Join Date: Jan 2008

    Location: Wrexham, North Wales, UK

    Posts: 110,089
    I'm AudioAl'sArbiterForPISHANTO.

    Default

    Yep, I wasn't referring to your post Chris

    Marco.
    Main System

    Turntable: Heavily-modified Technics SL-1210MK5G [Mike New bearing/ETP platter/Paul Hynes SR7 PSU & reg mods]. Funk Firm APM Achromat/Nagaoka GL-601 Crystal Record Weight/Isonoe feet & boots/Ortofon RS-212D/Denon DL-103GL in Denon PCL-300 headshell with Funk Firm Houdini/Kondo SL-115 pure-silver cartridge leads.

    Paul Hynes MC head amp/SR5 PSU. Also modded Lentek head amp/Denon AU-310 SUT.

    Other Cartridges: Nippon Columbia (NOS 1987) Denon DL-103. USA-made Shure SC35C with NOS stylus. Goldring G820 with NOS stylus. Shure M55E with NOS stylus.

    CD Player: Audiocom-modified Sony X-777ES/DAS-R1 DAC.

    Tape Deck: Tandberg TCD 310, fully restored and recalibrated as new, by RDE, plus upgraded with heads from the TCD-420a. Also with matching TM4 Norway microphones.

    Preamps: Heavily-modified Croft Charisma-X. LDR Stereo Coffee. Power Amps: Tube Distinctions Copper Amp fitted with Tungsol KT-150s. Quad 306.

    Cables & Sundries: Mark Grant HDX1 interconnects and digital coaxial cable, plus Mark Grant 6mm UP-LCOFC Van Damme speaker cable. MCRU 'Ultimate' mains leads. Lehmann clone headphone amp with vintage Koss PRO-4AAA headphones.

    Tube Distinctions digital noise filter. VPI HW16.5 record cleaning machine.

    Speakers: Tannoy 15MGs in Lockwood cabinets with modified crossovers. 1967 Celestion Ditton 15.


    Protect your HUMAN RIGHTS and REFUSE ANY *MANDATORY* VACCINE FOR COVID-19!

    Also **SAY NO** to unjust 'vaccine passports' or certificates, which are totally incompatible with a FREE society!!!


  8. #8
    Join Date: May 2008

    Location: Lancaster(-ish), UK

    Posts: 16,962
    I'm ChrisB.

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Marco View Post
    Yep, I wasn't referring to your post Chris

    Marco.
    Hahaha,
    Sorry the plural 'Guys' caught me out for a bit there!!!!

    You will learn to use grammar correctly, Marco, my boy!

  9. #9
    Join Date: Jan 2008

    Location: Wrexham, North Wales, UK

    Posts: 110,089
    I'm AudioAl'sArbiterForPISHANTO.

    Default

    I do already, matey. "Guys" is simply a generic term I often use for addressing the forum as a whole. Observe how I sometimes use this nomenclature when making announcements on the noticeboard for the benefit of everyone. It's the same here. Sometimes I also use the word "People" in the same way

    Marco.
    Main System

    Turntable: Heavily-modified Technics SL-1210MK5G [Mike New bearing/ETP platter/Paul Hynes SR7 PSU & reg mods]. Funk Firm APM Achromat/Nagaoka GL-601 Crystal Record Weight/Isonoe feet & boots/Ortofon RS-212D/Denon DL-103GL in Denon PCL-300 headshell with Funk Firm Houdini/Kondo SL-115 pure-silver cartridge leads.

    Paul Hynes MC head amp/SR5 PSU. Also modded Lentek head amp/Denon AU-310 SUT.

    Other Cartridges: Nippon Columbia (NOS 1987) Denon DL-103. USA-made Shure SC35C with NOS stylus. Goldring G820 with NOS stylus. Shure M55E with NOS stylus.

    CD Player: Audiocom-modified Sony X-777ES/DAS-R1 DAC.

    Tape Deck: Tandberg TCD 310, fully restored and recalibrated as new, by RDE, plus upgraded with heads from the TCD-420a. Also with matching TM4 Norway microphones.

    Preamps: Heavily-modified Croft Charisma-X. LDR Stereo Coffee. Power Amps: Tube Distinctions Copper Amp fitted with Tungsol KT-150s. Quad 306.

    Cables & Sundries: Mark Grant HDX1 interconnects and digital coaxial cable, plus Mark Grant 6mm UP-LCOFC Van Damme speaker cable. MCRU 'Ultimate' mains leads. Lehmann clone headphone amp with vintage Koss PRO-4AAA headphones.

    Tube Distinctions digital noise filter. VPI HW16.5 record cleaning machine.

    Speakers: Tannoy 15MGs in Lockwood cabinets with modified crossovers. 1967 Celestion Ditton 15.


    Protect your HUMAN RIGHTS and REFUSE ANY *MANDATORY* VACCINE FOR COVID-19!

    Also **SAY NO** to unjust 'vaccine passports' or certificates, which are totally incompatible with a FREE society!!!


  10. #10
    Join Date: May 2008

    Location: Lancaster(-ish), UK

    Posts: 16,962
    I'm ChrisB.

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Marco View Post
    I do already, matey. "Guys" is simply a generic term I often use for addressing the forum as a whole. Observe how I sometimes use this nomenclature when making announcements on the noticeboard for the benefit of everyone. It's the same here. Sometimes I also use the word "People" in the same way

    Marco.
    I don't care, you're still going to see the Headmaster.



    Martin,
    Have you tried setting your phono stage to MM level settings & turning it up? Is there too much noise then?

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