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Which MC Step Up Transformer are you using?

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I was wondering what members are currently using to drive phono preamps that do not have enough gain for low output MC cartridges.

What made you select your current SUT?

I use a Cotter MK2 but imagine there is much better options available today?

 

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I doubt that many step up transformer will surpass your cotter mk2 . 

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Cotters are considered by some to be the holy grail of SUT. The Mark 2 L version sells for a small fortune. I read somewhere they use silver wound transformers.

 

Not going to better it for any reasonable amount.

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It might amuse everyone that i purchased a Linn LP12/Ittok Mk2 with Koetsu Silver and the Cotter Mk2 around c1994

for less than what some people pay today for a single 1m "transformational"  black art mains cable.  Yes we live in different times where clever marketing weaves perceptions of reality to drive sales.

 

The original owner decided to let "inferior analogue" technology  go to fund  a Cal Audio Labs DAC. after "seeing the light" besotted with new wave "superior" CD technology.

 

I paid the money and ran!  

 

I see Cotter transformers going for stupid prices on eBay but see no evidence to justify the cost other than sellers  blatantly gauging a gullible market.  Yes It is a good SUT but not worth $5K+ being asked. I  have no doubt there are much better solutions today hence my post.

 

 

 

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16 minutes ago, warmtone said:

 Yes It is a good SUT but not worth $5K+ being asked. I  have no doubt there are much better solutions today hence my post.

You could make that statement about vintage gear in general.

 

I bought my Cotter in a LP12/Supex Combo, it was my first turntable and I had no idea what the little blue box was at the time. Do you still have your Cotter?

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1 hour ago, kelossus said:

You could make that statement about vintage gear in general.

 

I bought my Cotter in a LP12/Supex Combo, it was my first turntable and I had no idea what the little blue box was at the time. Do you still have your Cotter?

 

1 hour ago, kelossus said:

You could make that statement about vintage gear in general.

 

I bought my Cotter in a LP12/Supex Combo, it was my first turntable and I had no idea what the little blue box was at the time. Do you still have your Cotter?

 

1 hour ago, kelossus said:

You could make that statement about vintage gear in general.

 

I bought my Cotter in a LP12/Supex Combo, it was my first turntable and I had no idea what the little blue box was at the time. Do you still have your Cotter?

Yes - but  interested in more contemporary options.

 

 

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Posted (edited)
21 minutes ago, warmtone said:

 

 

Yes - but  interested in more contemporary options.

 

 

Sorry mate, I forgot you were the original poster.

 

Only the L version pull decent money in my experience. Those models on Ebay have been for sale for years and will never ever sell. They will be buried with them.

 

Unless you have the L version your only going to sell it for $1500-$2000. If you have the L version you may get $3000+ but it's going to be a long sell.

 

I would just keep it, I don't think your going definitively better it for $1500. SUT are old technology, I don't see any innovation that indicates modern varieties are better. If anything most prefer the old transformers as they used materials which were superior but are either too costly in the modern day or are considered dangerous to manufacture with.

Edited by kelossus

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Hi Dubya Tee

 

4 hours ago, warmtone said:

but imagine there is much better options available

I think you may be over rating technological progress in this area. 

I imagine there are contemporary and electrically superior, options available, but they are unlikely to be transformer based.

As stated above, in the transformer market, even with the ones below being available, the Cotters are arguably superior sonically, with specific cartridges. 

https://anamightysound.com/shop/step-up-transformers/consolidated-audio-mc-step-up-transformer/

There are others available at various price points that also work very well with specific cartridges and cartridges developed after the Cotters were made, may be better served by transformers made for those particular cartridges. 

In the same way there are newer, better cartridges than the Koetsu Silver, however none of them would I be prepared to sacrifice my left ******** for, as I would for that holy grail for me, a Koetsu Silver. 

Contemporary 'sensibly priced' and 'measuring better' solutions for moving coil step up are usually either head amps (active gain stage) or high gain phono stages. 

If transformers are your poison (they are mine, I have silver Bent Mu's), bang for buck are the Bob's Devices range and the above Consolidated' s have plenty of competition at the top end of the market. 

 

Choose your poison, but don't expect it to be 'better' than what you have. 

 

Cheers 

Grant 

 

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Posted (edited)

I'm running a Hashimoto HM-7 SUT and keep a Fidelity Research FRT-4 aside as a spare.  I've a Hashimoto HM-3 I need to get around to selling also, and a vintage Jensen SUT that I enjoy with Denon carts.

Edited by MattyW

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Posted (edited)

This may be of interest - I use an EAR MC 4 SUT (with Lyra Etna and Lamm LP2.1 Deluxe  phonostage) with great results..............initially used it with a pair of one metre Stealth Indra interconnects to my phonostage which are fine interconnects in their own right. However, Tim de Paravicini of EAR recommends as low as possible capacitance  cables of short length - preferably no longer than 30 cm. I had the Audio Note distributor make me a 50 cm set (two runs per channel twisted together) using Duelund 12g cable (which I supplied) using Audio Note GP silver plated rca/rca plugs for a couple of hundred dollars - the improvement was instantly noted. So I rearranged placement of the SUT and had a second pair of even shorter, 30 cm cables made up using the (thinner) 26g Duelund cable -  better still !! Zero issues such as hum etc., I use the tone arms earth to the SUT and then a second earth wire from SUT to phonostage.

 

I lent the cables to two other SNAers who were both troubled by hum initially, but eliminated it completely by using the same earthing arrangement and they both experienced noticeable SQ gains. Interestingly, one was using a complete Cotter set up and it sounded superb. His Cotter hasn't been serviced for years (if ever) and we both agreed it would be worthwhile for him to have a technician check it out as some of it's components could possibly now be out of original specification. Only drawback was the Duelund cable did seem to take about 30 hours or so to reach it's best, notwithstanding SQ gains were easily noticeable straight away.

 

Naturally I have no idea of the cables you use between SUT/phonostage, but it might be interesting to try similar cables first (or at least shorten your existing cable if not already done) prior to moving the Cotter on and even if you do the Duelund may well be a preferable option with your new SUT.

 

 

Edited by Smp

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14 hours ago, gnnett said:

Hi Dubya Tee

 

I think you may be over rating technological progress in this area. 

I imagine there are contemporary and electrically superior, options available, but they are unlikely to be transformer based.

As stated above, in the transformer market, even with the ones below being available, the Cotters are arguably superior sonically, with specific cartridges. 

https://anamightysound.com/shop/step-up-transformers/consolidated-audio-mc-step-up-transformer/

There are others available at various price points that also work very well with specific cartridges and cartridges developed after the Cotters were made, may be better served by transformers made for those particular cartridges. 

In the same way there are newer, better cartridges than the Koetsu Silver, however none of them would I be prepared to sacrifice my left ******** for, as I would for that holy grail for me, a Koetsu Silver. 

Contemporary 'sensibly priced' and 'measuring better' solutions for moving coil step up are usually either head amps (active gain stage) or high gain phono stages. 

If transformers are your poison (they are mine, I have silver Bent Mu's), bang for buck are the Bob's Devices range and the above Consolidated' s have plenty of competition at the top end of the market. 

 

Choose your poison, but don't expect it to be 'better' than what you have. 

 

Cheers 

Grant 

 

Grant,  many thanks for your comprehensive response above.

I was amazed anyone would remember  the Koetsu silver - which I am about to reinstall having found the Kiseki Agate  too analytical. 
 

The silver is in EC and low hours but now 25 years old and probably needs a re-build but not sure who I would  trust to do the work?

 

The anamightysound.com site is very interesting - good to see older cartridges like the Orotofon SPU  series held in high regard.   I noted the SUT they offer which may be excellent - but it is very expensive given exchange rates, gst etc.

 

I had the pleasure of listening to. Thrax Audio Dionysus preamp  a couple of years ago and that experience made me realise how good we’ll designed transformers can sound.  My bias against “transformers”  in the signal path was banished.
 

The Thrax did more good than any other component I have heard in my system and it was hard to hand it back to the owner!

Heavy lifting done using switched Lundahl top shelf transformers and minimal-active circuitry - just one valve.

An amazing  revelation of how to achieve top results with a well engineered minimalist approach.

 

I note the  highly respected Thrax Phono stage uses a Lundahl transformer so I am sure they are worth investigating.

It is reassuring that meanwhile the Cotter MK2 is at least an acceptable SUT despite its age.

 

Also thanks to others who have responded - the journey continues.


 

 

 

 

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3 hours ago, warmtone said:

Grant,  many thanks for your comprehensive response above.

I was amazed anyone would remember  the Koetsu silver - which I am about to reinstall having found the Kiseki Agate  too analytical. 
 

The silver is in EC and low hours but now 25 years old and probably needs a re-build but not sure who I would  trust to do the work?

 

The anamightysound.com site is very interesting - good to see older cartridges like the Orotofon SPU  series held in high regard.   I noted the SUT they offer which may be excellent - but it is very expensive given exchange rates, gst etc.

 

I had the pleasure of listening to. Thrax Audio Dionysus preamp  a couple of years ago and that experience made me realise how good we’ll designed transformers can sound.  My bias against “transformers”  in the signal path was banished.
 

The Thrax did more good than any other component I have heard in my system and it was hard to hand it back to the owner!

Heavy lifting done using switched Lundahl top shelf transformers and minimal-active circuitry - just one valve.

An amazing  revelation of how to achieve top results with a well engineered minimalist approach.

 

I note the  highly respected Thrax Phono stage uses a Lundahl transformer so I am sure they are worth investigating.

It is reassuring that meanwhile the Cotter MK2 is at least an acceptable SUT despite its age.

 

Also thanks to others who have responded - the journey continues.

 

Given you are in Victoria, warmtone, it may be easy to organise for you to audition a head amp, instead of a new SUT.

 

At least ... you would be able to achieve the optimum loading for the Koetsu Silver, with a head amp (rather than a SUT).  :)  I couldn't find the Koetsu Silver in the Vinyl Engine cartridge database but all the Koetsus listed seemed to have a coil resistance of 5 ohms - which means the optimal load for the Silver should be between 50 ohms (10x) and 500 ohms (100x).

 

Send me a PM if you are interested in exploring this option.

 

Andy

 

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12 minutes ago, andyr said:

 

Given you are in Victoria, warmtone, it may be easy to organise for you to audition a head amp, instead of a new SUT.

 

At least ... you would be able to achieve the optimum loading for the Koetsu Silver, with a head amp (rather than a SUT).  :)  I couldn't find the Koetsu Silver in the Vinyl Engine cartridge database but all the Koetsus listed seemed to have a coil resistance of 5 ohms - which means the optimal load for the Silver should be between 50 ohms (10x) and 500 ohms (100x).

 

Send me a PM if you are interested in exploring this option.

 

Andy

 

Hi Andy Thanks for the offer which I may pursue once we are through the CV19 episode.

My wife and I have just recovered from it.

 

My Karan PH2 is a high end Phono stage and I have just discovered it has loading and gain options which I need to explore.

I didn’t get it with a handbook but after lifting the lid found dip switches to make the various adjustments.

Cartridge loading is easy to figure out - gain less so.  I have contacted Karan for advice on setting gain.

 

As supplied the PH2 lacks adequate  gain for a low output mc but if I can squeeze another 10dB or so I may be able to eliminate the Cotter SUT.

 

Thanks once again for the offer - no doubt better head amps than mine are now available including the  new ARC Ref  3se.

I just have a small issue  with the eye watering 33K price tag!

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18 hours ago, Smp said:

This may be of interest - I use an EAR MC 4 SUT (with Lyra Etna and Lamm LP2.1 Deluxe  phonostage) with great results..............initially used it with a pair of one metre Stealth Indra interconnects to my phonostage which are fine interconnects in their own right. However, Tim de Paravicini of EAR recommends as low as possible capacitance  cables of short length - preferably no longer than 30 cm. I had the Audio Note distributor make me a 50 cm set (two runs per channel twisted together) using Duelund 12g cable (which I supplied) using Audio Note GP silver plated rca/rca plugs for a couple of hundred dollars - the improvement was instantly noted. So I rearranged placement of the SUT and had a second pair of even shorter, 30 cm cables made up using the (thinner) 26g Duelund cable -  better still !! Zero issues such as hum etc., I use the tone arms earth to the SUT and then a second earth wire from SUT to phonostage.

 

I lent the cables to two other SNAers who were both troubled by hum initially, but eliminated it completely by using the same earthing arrangement and they both experienced noticeable SQ gains. Interestingly, one was using a complete Cotter set up and it sounded superb. His Cotter hasn't been serviced for years (if ever) and we both agreed it would be worthwhile for him to have a technician check it out as some of it's components could possibly now be out of original specification. Only drawback was the Duelund cable did seem to take about 30 hours or so to reach it's best, notwithstanding SQ gains were easily noticeable straight away.

 

Naturally I have no idea of the cables you use between SUT/phonostage, but it might be interesting to try similar cables first (or at least shorten your existing cable if not already done) prior to moving the Cotter on and even if you do the Duelund may well be a preferable option with your new SUT.

 

 

That’s a pretty high end set up and would no doubt make front end adjustments clearly audible.

I was wandering which Phono stage you were using?

The EAR MC4 SUT must be up to the job and perhaps an option for me as well.

My interconnects are Audioquest silver.

Thanks for the feedback.

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On 05/04/2020 at 5:10 PM, kelossus said:

Cotters are considered by some to be the holy grail of SUT. The Mark 2 L version sells for a small fortune. I read somewhere they use silver wound transformers.

 

Not going to better it for any reasonable amount.

You may be correct -  a few SNA members have the same  view.

 

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1 hour ago, warmtone said:

Hi Andy Thanks for the offer which I may pursue once we are through the CV19 episode.

My wife and I have just recovered from it.

 

Wow - you've had it and come out the other side, Brian!  Great to hear ... we should get more of this sort of good news.  :thumb:

 

1 hour ago, warmtone said:

My Karan PH2 is a high end Phono stage and I have just discovered it has loading and gain options which I need to explore.

 

As supplied the PH2 lacks adequate  gain for a low output mc but if I can squeeze another 10dB or so I may be able to eliminate the Cotter SUT.

 

It certainly is (a superb phono stage)!  :)  But you've confused me ... it has gain options which I presume you are not currently using - as you use a SUT instead?  But if you can increase gain by 10dB, using the dip switches ... you can use it by itself?

 

1 hour ago, warmtone said:

Thanks once again for the offer

 

NP, Brian.  Let's hope Karen can show you how to get the additional gain you need, using the dip switches.  Then you should be able to achieve optimal loading for the Koetsu Silver.

 

Send me a PM after our social distancing regime is over!  :thumb:

 

Andy

 

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2 hours ago, andyr said:

I couldn't find the Koetsu Silver in the Vinyl Engine

I think that database has been purge of "past crimes of the father". 

 

My understanding is the Silver was purportedly Snr's playing with the witches brew of alnico and silver. I think it was 0.6mV output and voiced with Sagano Snr's own transformers and Garrard 401 of course. The Cotters of the same vintage, recommended for Koetsu cartridges, probably targetted the right loading with a 47K phono stage. 

 

Cheers 

Grant 

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6 minutes ago, gnnett said:

I think that database has been purge of "past crimes of the father". 

 

My understanding is the Silver was purportedly Snr's playing with the witches brew of alnico and silver. I think it was 0.6mV output and voiced with Sagano Snr's own transformers and Garrard 401 of course. The Cotters of the same vintage, recommended for Koetsu cartridges, probably targetted the right loading with a 47K phono stage. 

 

Cheers 

Grant 

Grant,  I think your diagnosis is correct!

 

Having checked the internals of my Karan PH2 over the weekend for the first time I conclude the following:

The default  factory settings for gain is currently too low for the Koetsu (same for the Kiseki) to sing without an SUT.

 

As mentioned above,  the loading and gain can apparently be tweaked with DIP switches but I need advice from Karan on the right switch combination to increase gain to around 60dB

 

Input loading is easy to verify and can be checked with a multimeter. I seems to range from 540 - 47K depending on switch combinations.  There is a spare pc board location and switch position for an additional resistor if you want say 200 ohms.

  

At present the Cotter is feeding into a 540ohm (default) load with no capacitance - it probably should be closer to 47K to match the Cotter as you say. 

 

The trouble is the Kiseki Agate I am using is too bright which may mean the Cotter is not presenting the right load.

 I changed from the Koetsu for a bit more "excitement" but its far too analytical for my taste.  Mid range is not in the same league.

 

I am about to switch back to the Koestsu and will try and optimise the Karan to eliminate the SUT completely

 

 

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Posted (edited)

I agree!

Edited by dbaudio
spelling error

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