I think, depending on budget that a Tri-Planar or a Schroder Reference would be two of the best picks to match up with an Airy3.
I would urge you to go with the SB / Copper coiled version of the Airy3.
If budget would allow, the UNIverse SB/copper coiled version would be a huge move up over the Airy3, but the Airy3 is a stellar cartridge.
Do plan on the Airy3 taking 150-200 hours to fully break-in. The Cardas Frequency Sweep Record will greatly help and speed up the break-in process.
Enjoy...you are in for quite a treat.
hello eric, i just recently upgraded to the airy three copper or x, with the sb base for added weight on the cartridge, i am using a vpi 10.5i arm on my aries three table, for phono preamp i have a ear 834p modded by mitch, with teleafunken tubes, the zyx was a huge upgrade from the dynavector 20xl,i am on the verge of trying the bent audio tx103 step up transformer, if any one is useing the tx103 chime in your thoughts, mike
In this day and age of truly magnificent high gain, low noise phono preamplifiers, I can't for the life of me understand why anyone would want to compromise the ultra-refined performance of an expensive low output MC cartridge by running its output through a step up transformer -- of even the highest quality. Sorry guys, I just don't get it -- it's like, "Why bother?"
And I'm not prejudiced. I used to use a Mitchell Cotter myself, but that was 1985! So have at me if you like, but IMO, they represent a giant step backward.
" this day and age of truly magnificent high gain, low noise phono preamplifiers"
which ones are you referring to?
There are many, Plinko. But to get right to the heart of what Nsgarch is talking about, I would say to look for phono stages with FET high gain stages instead of transformers or tubes. Transformers are going to filter out dynamics and tubes can do the same but mostly they are just plain noisy in high gain circuits. That's not to say that tube phono stages in general are bad. There is just so much better resolution with a properly designed SS gain circuit for LO MCs.
Eric, which Airy are you getting the L (.24mV) or the H (.48mV)?
Also remember, ZYX is one of a few manufacturers that spec their carts using the JVC test record. So when considering whether various phono preamps have enough gain, you need to convert to the more standard CBS test standard and multiply the JVC numbers by a factor of 1.6, which in the case of the Airy 3 would be either .38mV or .76mV depending on which version you get.
That said, if you prefer tubes (and you might, considering the Chord is all ss), there are some very fine tube units which will work at either of those output voltages, Audio Research and Aesthetix to name just two.
Like Dan, I prefer a ss unit (even though that makes my whole system ss) but it's a very special phono preamp, so I'm probably not a good example. I think what Dan is saying is that you'll get more performance/dollar in a ss unit. For synergy, Chord makes a wonderful ss phono preamp, the Symphonic, but Im sure it's expensive.
If you're willing to use one of the good high output moving coil carts from van den Hul or Sumiko, you could go directly into the Chord's MM phono input. That would still give you better sound than using a step up transformer IMO.
Almost, Neal. I do prefer a SS gain stage for MC over a tube or tranny. My Alaap phono (by Nick Doshi)has just such a circuit, but the rest of the unit is tubes as is the Alaap preamp.
I'm going on what I've heard and what I can remember from cmos design back in college. Point is that these IC chips, especially true these days, are much better at amplifying all of the micro details in the LO MC circuits. Even the very best of transformers cannot faithfully induce the entire signal from the input coil to the output coil. That is why I believe I hear so much more from my LP's even with the same Benz Glider I've been using for some time now.
I did not hear these micro-dynamics and nuances with the same arm/cart/table back when I was using the Aesthetix Calypso and Rhea, which has all tube gain stages. Although Aesthetix makes very good tube components. I've not heard an IO so I can't say if the gain stages in that model are closer to what I'm getting now.
In any case, I believe that K&K as well as Hagerman are now offering phono stages with SS input gain stages. But as with everything audio, folks should decide on the whole presentation and not just the tech specs.
Nsgarch i am not sure that what you are saying on the step up is true, the way i see it is a coil of wire will do less harm than a stack of components in the signal, when it gets late and a few glasses of wine are flowing, and the volume gets turned up between lps my system is quite, very little if any output at speakers, at the same time when a lp is playing and its a quite part of music its dark quite, and when the time comes to rock close your eyes and the band is in front of you playing loud and clear, i know the ps audio gcph i had for a while did not have the sound i was looking for like my 834p, i was curious about the tx 103s as john at bent audio has a very good following, i do thank you for your input, we have to much product and not enough time, mike
Stltrains, I think Dan put it best:
"Even the very best of transformers cannot faithfully induce the entire signal from the input coil to the output coil."
A step-up xfmr is not just a "coil of wire". It is an inductor with an iron core which produces a sort of magnetic inertia. They also tend to alter the cartridge's frequency response curve. Rauliruegas probably has given the best arguments against step ups. . . . and he owns dozens of cartridges ;--) Check his threads.
Ah, but it is not just a coil of wire. It is 2 coils that don't touch. The current in the input coil induces a current on the second coil. The ratio of the windings on coil 1 to coil 2 determine how much of a "step-up" the signal sees across the transformer.
But herein lies the issue. The signal from the cartridge is very small with minute chages and harmonics. It is not possible for all of those tiny signal components to be induced on the second coil. So you end up with a kind of filtering effect. I'm sure it is quiet, but it also lacks some of the original signal coming from the cartridge.
Transformers are a great, cost effective way to step up the low level signals. But an IC circuit is much, much better.
Back to clear up one thing. The entire MC stage in my Alaap is SS using a FET-based circuit. (Nick made me write this 100 times!)
thanks guys for your info it is dully noted, we learn something new everyday, and you will not inform anyone more than me on improving my sound to my ears, will be looking into a better ss phono preamp than the ps gcph was to my ears, hey dan sometimes writing something over really makes it set in, have a good one and thanks mike
Thanks for all the inputs. Since I've already got the AN MM phono stage. I'll try to add a step up transformer at this stage. I'll cpmpare the phono stage set up with the Chord and Ayre phono amps later on.
I'm trying to get the Airy 3x-SB 0.24mv version. Would like to know does the Graham 2.2 arm a good match with the Airy3 ?
If you're set on using a step-up consider the K&K Audio which uses Lundahl transformers and has the ability for easy cartridge loading using your choice of resistors (no soldering required). You'll save some money versus some of the other brands out there which you can use to buy some new vinyl.
I own the (copper) TX103's (from Bent Audio). I also own an Alaap (similar to Dan_Ed's). The Alaap is clearly superior. Not a little superior, a lot.
That said, the copper TX103's are well short of the best transformer's I've heard, and Nsgarch's old Cotters are not the best either, at least not for use with a ZYX.
The internal transformers in the VAC Renaissance are *almost* as good as the MC stage in the Alaap. Of course the Renaissance sells for twice the price, so that ends the argument of those stepups being an inexpensive solution!
The transformers Frank Schroeder uses gave a prototype Alaap a run for the money, but the MC stage in the Alaap is much improved since then. Going from memory, I'd guess those trannies would not compare today. But they're probably alot less than $5-6K too. Thom Mackris knows what they are if you're interested.
At reference levels however, I agree with Nsgarch, Dan and Raul. No transformer I've heard can match today's best SS MC gain stages.
like i said to much product, and not enough time, i just found a fine copy of the Beatles help US capitol lp that sounds super, was a good night for baseball to the cardinals won, and a good Beatles find, shoot it dont get any better than that, the tubed ear 834p with mitchs mod and telefunken tubes with the rest of my gear makes for a warm musical prestation my ears like, and for now it works for me, thanks for the info, tomorrow is another day, mike
The Airy3 is a great cartridge, but it did not do well with the 2.2 in my system. It was not pleasant sounding at all. The 2.2 does not seem to be able to control the Airy3 nearly as well the Tri-Planar was able to do, which the Tri-Planar was able to do beautifully.
The Airy2 is not near the cartridge that the Airy3 is, but it sounded better on the 2.2 in my system. A UNIverse sounded heavenly on my 2.2, but the UNIverse sounded phenomenally better on a Schroder Reference and a Tri-Planar.
I am guessing that Doug Deacon will chime in here with his comments about the Airy3 and tonearm match ups from his experience.