FIDELITY RESEARCH STEP-UP TRANSFORMERS


Dear All
Like many before me I am moving down the multi tonearm route. Amongst the arms and cartridges I have are a Fidelity Research FR 64S and denon DL103. I was thinking about trying out one of the Fidelity research step-up transformers - preferably an FRT 4, or FRT 5 - I hope to get an FR7 cartridge at some point.

I was wondering if someone could:
1. shed light on the hierarchy of the transformers ie was the 4 or 5 the better model
2. would they work well plugged into any MM phono stage
3. what is the general hierarchy of the step-ups
4. Do they work well with modern cartridges - ie my shelter 501, transfiguration temper v, Benz LPS

I am hoping that someone will be able to help me

thanks



lohanimal
With my FR-7fz and previous FR-7f i've been using this toroidal silver sut, they are superb for all LOMC cartridges, 3 inserts available for different impedance.  
https://audio-heritage.jp/FIDELITYRESEARCH/etc/index2.html
I do have XF-1 L which is better than 4 or 5.
Check pricing and use translator.
XF-1 L works with LOMC up to 3 ohms. I do use it with Ikeda canitleverless which is 3 ohms.

If you want to get this one some day:
https://audio-heritage.jp/FIDELITYRESEARCH/etc/fr-7f.html
and to use it with dedicated step up it will be XF-1 L or if you want more universal unit buy FIDELITY RESEARCH XG-7


I have an XG-5 in my second system, also the universal type with 3 positions and one 'step down' from XG-7. It sounds really nice, but not on the same level as my other two dedicated step ups, Entré ET-200 (copper wire) and Ortofon T-3000 (silver wire), both for MC's in the 2 to 6 ohm range and both with 30dB gain.

If you plan on using FR7 or other low impedance cartridges, a dedicated low impedance type is preferable. I have no experience with XF-1L, so don't know how it compares to the ones mentioned above. There also was a silver wire step up from FR. This is quite rare, sought after and expensive. I saw it offered twice in the last 5 years and sold instantly, so it must be very good.

BTW: I would advise against using a low impedance step up with Benz LP-S.


Dear @lohanimal : Ste up transformers are not " rocket science " and does not changed in the last 40+ years. What changed was if are silver coiled or cooper or what ever but the functions stays the same.

I owned FR, AT, Denon, Entré and several other SUT's and with out doubt I can recomend to you the Denon AU-340 that I still own along the Denon AU-1000 ( both modified by me. ).

You can't go wrong with the 340 that works really good with any vintage or today cartridges:

https://audio-heritage.jp/DENON/etc/au-340.html

https://www.vinylengine.com/library/denon/au-340.shtml

Please take a look to the Denon frequency range against the top FR or any FR SUT, Denon outperforms any of them and this spec tell us a lot about the quality of those transformer designed by Denon.

Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,
R.
Dear all
Can i first of all say thank you for your responses - very informative so far.
As it happens i have 2 phono stages. A Vendetta SCP2B which I intend to use with a Transfiguration Temper V directly - I wish it had more inputs - hey ho.
My other stage is Whest 0.20 which can take MC or MM - with the Step Up i will put it onto MM.

I was curious as to what mods you carried out @rauliruegas to the denon.

I would ideally like at least 2 inputs for the step up. That is partly why i like the FR range. 

I was not familiar with the XG range - i note that there are no 7's for sale


Dear @lohanimal  : "   I hope to get an FR7 cartridge... "

IMHO the qworst decision you can take speaking on cartridges because all the disadvantages that has cartridges with integrated headshells and especially the vintage ones you name it:

first than all the with the 7's you can't set up correctly any cartridge due that you can't have azimuth mechanism to do it and can't change the overhang and offset angle to take advantage of one of the Löfgren tonearm/cartridge kind of alignments.
In the other side the internal cartridge/headshell wires/connectors that are so important because is where the cartridge signalmust pass through are just that: vintage and with low quality.

At least AT cartridge integrated models as Technics headshell integrated ones came with azymuth and overhang adjustments not like the monolitic 7 type.

Of course is up to you because is your money and you decide what to do with.

Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,
R.
@rauliruegas 
I hear what you say, but on the other hand many say the FR7f including the likes of @jcarr have commended it's unique design. Frankly - life's too short to not try one out. It's part of the reason that I am going to have a couple of multi-arm turntables.

That said how did you modify the Denon SUT? out of interest was it more transparent the other SUT's you used?

@lohanimal don’t get too hung up about the supposed problems with FR7 as presented - ad nauseam - by rauliruegas. He’s the ’odd one out’ around here concerning these cartridges.

Most forum members familiar with them love the way they make music. And when you use them together with the FR64/66 tonearms and observe Ikeda’s specified P2S distance, you get none of the alignment or set up problems.

You don’t have to take my or anybody’s word for it. You can buy the FR7 series without much risk. If you don’t like what they do, you will have no problem reselling them at no loss. As you say, life’s too short not to try.....

I agree with bukanona. XF-1 L is better than 4 or 5. As 
Raul mentioned many times the switches for extra impedances
mean extra soldering points and aluminum conductors. 
FR produced  also ''mid '' and ''high'' impedance transformers
despite the fact that all MC carts are low impedance  kinds.
Anyway one should check the output cable and if corroded 
exchange for a new one. There is also an ''silver kind'' but
pretty expensive and difficult to find. 
But one can get the excellent Denon AU-S1 (3 kg) for similar
price which can be used for low and high impedances.
Special for this transformer Denon made an very good MC
cart with modest price: DL-S1  
FR-7f and FR-7fz are great cartridges for sure, when you’re using them on FR-64s tonearm you don’t have to adjust azimuth if the arm mounted on flat surface as it should be.

I am not so concerned about silver phono cables, i have them too, but i like high quality copper phono cables.

SUT is oldschool classic solution for LOMC, but you can always try something new like CURRENT INJECTION phono stages. They are designed for low impedance cartridges, 47Labs Phono Cube is magical with my FR-7fz. This is a "current-injection" type o the PHONO STAGE.
Dear chakster, May I conclude that you don't own an phono-pre
which can drive outputs of, say, above 0,15 mV? I need my
Denon transformer only for  my Ortofon MC 2000 with 0,05 mV 
output.  However lew(m) also mentioned an ''current injection'' 
type for his Ortofon MC 2000. I asked what this ''current driven
thing '' means but was not ''honored'' with an answer. 
Dear @lohanimal  : "   commended it's unique design. "

Yes, unique design means cartridge motor/inside the cartridge but  he told the same for the Sony XL88 internal motor design and these has nothing to do with " stupiod " monolitic cartridge headshell where exist no way to make the rigth low distortion track and tracking error because as the Glanz integrated no one just can't do it.

Who cares what other audiophiles posted about when this is only COMMON SENSE and knowledge level of what any cartridge needs for can shows it at its best ! ! ! 

At least Audio Technica in its integrated headshell models not only you can modified the azymuth or overhang as the cartridge set up ask with the best geometry alignment for but even they use in the headshell a self damped magnesium material and  ( if I remember ) with damping rubber too. AT knows the cartridge needs when FR just dis not or does not want it to do it, this is a FR problem that they gives to us " ignorant/stupid " people that " do not know nothing of the cartridge/ tonearm best set up ", go figure ! ! ! 
Like many other audiophiles I bougth at least 3 diferent models of those terrible FR cartridges and I bougth it because in those times my ignorance/stupidity levels were really high, differences with other gentlemans is that I learned in the whole cartridge/tonearm set up at its best.

As I told you it's your money and that could be the level of distortions you deserve. Is up to you, I don't care. I'm only given you a common sense and knowledge opinion and nothing more than an opinion. Go a head.

R.
Dear @edgewear : "  you get none of the alignment or set up problems "

Really, please let us where are the foundations for your " common sense " statement?

How can you change the azymuth cartridge set up that always you need to make changes on it, let us know how?

Let us how you can set up the overhang and offset angle through Löfgren A or B. Not with the STUPID Stevenson alignment?

Your statement unfortunatelly only shows you really low knowledge levels on these specific and critical subjects to achieve the best quality performance levels for any cartridge/tonearm/TT combination.

Waiting for your answers for we can have new ligth in those regards, please don't dead silence and let us to learn because each day is a learning day.

And please tell me where and why I'm totally wrong with my advises.

Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,
R.
Dear chakster, May I conclude that you don’t own an phono-pre
which can drive outputs of, say, above 0,15 mV? I need my
Denon transformer only for my Ortofon MC 2000 with 0,05 mV
output. However lew(m) also mentioned an ’’current injection’’
type for his Ortofon MC 2000. I asked what this ’’current driven
thing ’’ means but was not ’’honored’’ with an answer.

Nikola @nandric i think i tried all possible types:

SUT, Headamp, High Gain Phono Stage, Phono premps with built-in SUTs ...

0.15 mV is not a problem at all with my phono stages (i have 4 different)

Even 0.05mV is not a problem with Gold Note PH-10 i’ve been using with my MC2000

1) What is new for me is Current-Injection type of the phono stage, various manufacturers made them. You can read about one of them here. MCCI is MC (Moving Coil) CI (Current Injection).

here is more about principle:

"The basic difference between the Phono MCCI and virtually all other phono preamps is its current-injection input, which takes advantage of an MC cartridge’s very low impedance, its inherent current-generating capabilities, and its balanced, floating-ground architecture.Instead of a traditional voltage-gain stage, the Phono MCCI’s input stage is a current-to-voltage converter. According to the Candeias, the cartridge directly injects its current into a system of "balanced DC currents," creating an amplified output voltage. The resulting amplified voltage is claimed be made "directly of the original cartridge’s current" with virtually no loss, and certainly less loss than is claimed for any voltage-gain circuit."


2) My current-injection phono stage is 47 Labs originally designed for MIYABI cartridges! Read here about it.


3) If you want to go further i’l tell you that power amps can also be current source, like this Nelson Pass design i am using.

Nelson Pass about this principle:

" A given input voltage results in a particular output current. Ordinary amplifiers are voltage amplifiers – an input voltage translates into an output voltage. This is not that kind of amplifier, and as of this writing, the F1 and now the F2 are the only such amplifiers available for audio use. Being current sources, these amps operate differently with a loudspeaker. A regular audio amplifier supplies an arbitrary output voltage, and the speaker draws current according to its complex characteristic. As such, the current through the loudspeaker is not exactly proportional to the voltage in either amplitude or time. A current source amplifier delivers a precise current to the voice coil of the loudspeaker driver, ignoring the series impedance elements in the circuit, including the wire, connectors, the inductance of the voice coil, the resistance of the voice coil versus temperature – all that stuff. This is potentially valuable in that the current passing through the magnetic field of the loudspeaker produces the force and acceleration on the voice coil and cone, and this translates directly into sound pressure. A current source is simply the most direct way of controlling the acceleration of the voice coil. In the linear range of a loudspeaker, the acceleration is directly proportional to the current, and in mass-controlled loudspeaker drivers the sound is proportional to the acceleration. Since most loudspeaker systems are designed around a voltage source, there is only a subset of products that can take advantage of this effect. In general, these are high-efficiency drivers (ones that produce more than 90 dB per watt). Of greatest interest is the performance offered to high efficiency full-range drivers, where not only is the loudspeaker very efficient, but also covers a wide or full range of the audio spectrum through a single radiating surface. Often this translates to delicate single cone drivers such as the products from Lowther or Fostex, with big motor assemblies coupled to light fragile paper cones. These are the speakers that often don’t sound good with “high quality” solid-state amplifiers, most often because the two are mismatched in impedance and wattage. This is an unusual amplifier that will not give its best performance with most of the loudspeakers on the market. It requires careful attention to loudspeaker loading to get the best performance. The accompanying white paper “Current Source Amplifiers and Full-Range High-Efficiency Drivers” is required reading. This is a tinkerer’s amplifier. "

manual here.


Dear chakster, the saying is ''nobody is to old to learn''.
I am probably older than old. But Lewm is to blame because
he deed not answer my question about this ''current -injection''.
I thought an new P&R invention. You should add the price (grin).
@nandric used 47 Labs phono cube goes for $1500 minimum, new it was very expensive device. Phono cube itself is very compact, but power supply is big and heavy, together it was about $3k new. This product is no longer available from 47Labs (discontinued model). 

Someone even cracked it up and made a replica for less $$$
Dear chakster, You should write your poem about 47 Lab Cube
before they discontinued the precious. 
Sadly Miyabi 47 and its predecessors MCA,Standard also discontinued, but this is not the reason to ignore them. 

New Current Injection phono stages still available from several manufacturers for much higher price than my 47 Labs
If to give comment about  XF-1 L.

It's dead silent, SN ratio is superb, shielding is something special.
 
It's not the best also but it doesn't looked shy near upper league transformers

So as about sound it has no colour but all details are present. It's pretty close to AN, Neumann etc. Close but some juice is missing. But really not much. I think  Denon AU-S1 MC Step Up is more versatile but for my liking XF-1L is better as it works only up to 3 ohms.
Although as about Denon  AU-S1 I am not believer that it can work from 3 up to 40 ohms. I would make a bet 20-40 ohms as the optimum range.

Dear @lohanimal  : All my SUT's were modified and the 340 outperforms almost any vintage or today SUT but the AU-1000 ( the weigth of this SUT: 12kg. and frequency response range : 5hz to 200khz . ) and others that I never experienced.

Audio Technica SUT's as the 1000T or 700T are really good too and its today  model seems to me as something to own and probably extremely hard to beat:

https://www.audio-technica.com/cms/accessories/1211e0cd29d5d0aa/index.html

As you I own an active phonolinestage device. Your Vendetta is a good one.

Even that I don't know your other cartridges you own I think that you need better carrtridges than your Transfiguration or Denon entry level 103 that I owned/own. You can stay with Transfiguration that are excellent quality performers like the Proteus one.

The SUT's you ask for are in the mediocrity/average range and could work with mediocre/average LOMC cartridges like your 103 but not for top performers.

Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,
R.
@rauliruegas 
I am somewhat surprised you don't know that the Transfiguration Temper V is an absolute top flight MC cartridge which holds its own against anything out there today.

The Shelter 501 Mk2 was recently re-tipped at Expert Vinyl and that's a very decent MC.

As to the DL103 being so lowly - that's interesting as the guy who makes Zanden amps uses one.

I keep that fora lot of listening because if my 4 and 5 yr old have a bad moment - it's £200 odd to replace - not over £2000...

In my various experiments I find that a great phono sectionis more important than the cartridge. I refuse to go over a certain price for a cartridge because its just a flipping magnet and thin wire - I've seeen Van Den Hul make them at shows - compare it to an equally priced say car/bike/watch an awful lot more skill and man hours go into making those items - but that's my 2 cents worth.

I hope you don't mind but I will email you directly about the AU340 mods.

thanks
Dear @lohanimal  : I posted that I owned that Transfiguration model and orther ones too, I love Transfiguration designs.

Even today still exist a cult in some Japanese gentlemans for the " venerable " 103 " that is a true mediocre/average design and that that tube electronic and Japanese designer use it means only his mediocrity levels or his very personal idiosyncrancy and nothing more.

""  In my various experiments I find that a great phono sectionis more important than the cartridge. ""

I almost agree with that statement. Yes the phono stage quality level design and quality level excecution to that design makes a paramount differences and extremely important to honor the cartridge signal but we have to remember that with out a cartridge there is no signal to pass through that phono stage. It's not easy for me to say with absolute certainty the grade of importance in between because we have to think too in that matching tonearm.

But you are rigth in the critical importance of that phono stage where I prefer the active high gain against the use of external SUT's. I own those SUT's and use SUT's because is a good alternative and I like it.

Btw, I will let you know about just email me here:

rauliruegas hotmail dot com .

R.
Hi @rauliruegas  - emailed u last night.

Like i said the 103 is a good workaday cartridge - it's very well made for the price. In addition they have good consistency - anyway the thread is about step-ups

I've never tried a step-up and thought I'd try one whilst being able to also do arm multiple mounts - 'killing 2 birds with one stone' so to speak.

I recall once saying to someone that my Shelter 501 with a Nordost cable was far superior to my Tansfiguration with a TCI cable. Thankfully both my phono stages are active (though one can switch to MM).

It's tempting and very costly this hi-fi habit with as many opinions as there are components.

I am taking your tip and seeking out a Denon AU 340.

@chakster and @nandric 

I am not going to get a single input step up transformer. I have what one will call a 'bijou' room so multi inputs are the 'way to go' for me. 

In my 'nearfield' set up I am being drawn more and more to a warmer tonal palette than ever before. I make no apologies for it and do not want to be a 'slave to neutrality' - that said a thick syrupy sound - yuck:) 
Hi @rauliruegas  - emailed u last night.

Like i said the 103 is a good workaday cartridge - it's very well made for the price. In addition they have good consistency - anyway the thread is about step-ups

I've never tried a step-up and thought I'd try one whilst being able to also do arm multiple mounts - 'killing 2 birds with one stone' so to speak.

I recall once saying to someone that my Shelter 501 with a Nordost cable was far superior to my Tansfiguration with a TCI cable. Thankfully both my phono stages are active (though one can switch to MM).

It's tempting and very costly this hi-fi habit with as many opinions as there are components.

I am taking your tip and seeking out a Denon AU 340.

@bukanova @chakster and @nandric 

I am not going to get a single input step up transformer. I have what one will call a 'bijou' room so multi inputs are the 'way to go' for me. 

In my 'nearfield' set up I am being drawn more and more to a warmer tonal palette than ever before. I make no apologies for it and do not want to be a 'slave to neutrality' - that said a thick syrupy sound - yuck:) 
I am not going to get a single input step up transformer. I have what one will call a 'bijou' room so multi inputs are the 'way to go' for me.

For this reason i have line preamp with 4 inputs, so i can connect different phono stages for my 4 tonearms (two turntables).

The SUT i have mentioned has one base with insert for 3 different silver toroidal transformers designed for ALL type of MC cartridges (8030 for 1.5 - 3.5 Ohm // 8025 for 3 - 40 Ohm // 8020 for 20 - 40 Ohm ). This is SUT if the most versatile. 


In my 'nearfield' set up I am being drawn more and more to a warmer tonal palette than ever before. I make no apologies for it and do not want to be a 'slave to neutrality' - that said a thick syrupy sound - yuck:)

Even if your phono stage is neutral who said that your amp is neutral, especially tube amp ? This is where you can get your warm tone. 

SUT is oldschool technology, learn as much as you can about "Current-Injection" PHONO stages for low impedance cartridges, this is the most direct and live sound ever. This is ideal for low impedance MC cartridge.  


I love the total lack of agreement on this forum at times :)

Both the FR64/FR7/SUT and the lightweight MM/modern MC Active stage may always be at loggerheads - my only way to resolve is to hear it.

@chakster the one you mentioned does allow different transformers, but isn't it a case of plugging and unplugging? I don't like to do that as most my tonearm cables have WBT connectors - not only that you should plug and unplug continuously.
It's better to plug/unplug not RCA connectors on the SUT side, but DIN connector on your tonearm when you want to switch from one to another. You just re-direct a cable (DIN) from one tonearm to another if needed. For this reason i designed custom made rack with open bottom for easy access to the tonearms. SUT swap on Luxman base is easy as changing tubes in the amp.  I also have WBT RCA on some cables. 

But this is not what i'm trying to say. 

Current-Injection phono stage for FR-7fz is the best solution, better than SUT 
Dear @lohanimal  : The stand alone Luxman unit came from the integrated phonolinepreamp Luxman C 5000A design.

I owned that unit and I know that those transformers ar not really top devices. Are small transformers with a limited frequency response band.

You can't go wrong with Audio Technica, Entré or Denon and its characteristics are rigth on what you are looking for and with very high quality level performances not like Luxman or even FR.

Btw, I still own the 103 because any one in analog has to owns it but it's not up to the today task standards of quality. Of course that for its price you can't ask for more.
Remember that that cartridge was designed in exclsive for radio stations and not for audiophiles. Yes, its cartridge motor function very well and that's why several last years buyers took it and with some modifications they sale to us as the 8th " world´s wonder " for big big dollars when they invested only a few coins on it: big bu$$ine$$ coming from  ignorant buyers

R.. 
Whilst a bit 'off-topic' everyone has a DL103 - they can provide a benchmark.
Does everyone have a Koetsu Redwood? A Shelter? a Lyra Titan? Let alone a Shun Mook..how does a person compare and track changes in a system? With a benchmark. 
I'm desperate to find what really floats my boat once and for all and want to try the Denon in a few arm/cart combos and plinths - why? it's a hobby - it's fun - it's popcorn for my mind and allows me also to banter with guys/gals like you...


Denon 103 with conical tip in 2020 - are you serious ? 
You like rolled-off sound ? 

Frequency response of the silver SUT from Luxman is within 15hz - 100kHz is very good for vinyl. Distortion ration 0.003 %, step up ratio is from 1:10 to 1:32. Multiple Electromagnetic shield. Excellent core material of Toroidal type. 

For example Denon AU-340 has 0.05 % distortion ratio, this is much higher distortion.   




Denon DL103 is the worst possible benchmark, more like a 'lowest common denominator'. 

Has weight of transformers something to do with their quality?
I see that some refer to +10 kg. for Technics but Kondo-san
(Audio note ,Japan) weight about 500 g. i  own Kiseki MCT-2
made by Kondo san for his friend Van den Dungen and identical
with his own weighting only 500 g. I also own Denon AU-S1
(weight 3 kg. ) costing $ 3000 new and about $1000 second hand.
The price of Audio Note transformers would be very curious if the
thesis about weight-versus -quality relationship would be correct.
@edgeware lol
thankfully not my only cartridge then
Dear @lohanimal  :  At the end seems to me that you don't need any SUT.

Look Through 3 TTs I have mounted 10 tonearms/cartridges and I always use it only one phonolinepreamp and at each time that I want to listening another diferent of the mounted LOMC cartridges I only disconnet the tonearm cable and connect the cable of the other cartridge. This task takes me 1 minute to do it.

Now, I use ( time to time ) SUT's because I owned from several years now but normally I listen the LOMC cartridges with out SUT and directly in my active high gain phonolinepreamp that comes with two totally separated duaL MONO FULLY BALANCED MM and MC stages.

Repeat, I don't need a SUT and seems to me that you neither.

R.
@rauliruegas I am also exploring a Manley Skipjack or other switching device. 
I just want to know, in part, why so many swear by SUTs
@rauliruegas 
My other option is a further phono stage with multiple inputs - my big problem is that I do not want a sideways or backwards manoeuvre given that both the phono stages I have are very good already...