Is a SUT needed?

I have a Dynavector DRT XV 1s going into an Aesthetix Rhea Signature. The sound is great, but I do have to increase the volume due to the low output of the cart, which can produce a high noise floor, when listening to quieter passages.  Do you think a Dynavector SUT 200 would be a good match?  Any suggestions?

Well if your phono-pre is not adequate and you want to keep your

LOMC then either an SUT or some other phono-pre with sufficient

amplification can solve your problem. ''either or'' does not allow

some third possibility (grin).

A good quality SUT is IMO the best way to amplify the low output (<1 mv) of mc cartridges with adding any noise! My first transformer was a Verion P designed by Mitchell Cotter. This was back in 1977 and my mc cartridge was the GAS Sleeping Beauty Super Elliptical. I presently own 5 SUT's - but alas not the Verion (sold!).
The gain is adjustable in eight steps, with up to 75dB of gain at the maximum setting. Nine different cartridge loadings are provided.

I doubt you need of a SUT with 75db gain. My cart is .24 mv output and my phono pre (JLTi) is 62db gain which has plenty of output. Check your settings if you haven't already. 
Do you have the XV-1 XV-1s or XV-1T.  It depends on the both the internal impedance and output voltage to determine which step up or whether an active stage would be better.  If the impedance is low enough, a quality SUT will sound better than the active stage in the Rhea.
You might want to check the gain set up in your Theta - it is adjustable. Michael Fremer used 56db gain setting with the Dynavector XV1S when he tested the Theta, there is still another 20db available.

The use of an SUT is debatable - you might get a lower noise floor, but at the expense of other distortions that SUT's introduce such as phase anomalies and distortion, and another set of connections and leads that can only reduce transparency. I have many well regarded SUT's along with FET, Tube and Bipolar based MC step-ups/phono stages - SUT's (phase anomalies, slow and suck dynamics) & FETs (too coarse, grainy) belong in the department of last resorts.

Have you tried low noise NOS tubes from Andy @ Vintage Tube Services?

You might want to give him a call.
Thanks for the suggestions. I have my Rhea set at 62 on gain. Any higher and it overloads. Gain isn't the issue, noise floor is. Jperry has the the correct remedy I do believe. I'll call Andy about some tubes. I've spoken to him before-just wanted your opinions.                     Steve. 

I had a Rhea and at the 62 db gain setting you should not have a noise issue with the right tubes. I bought RCA tubes from Andy on his recommendation that fit in my budget and that took care of noise floor issues.
jperry:  I too purchased 4 matched RCA 12ax7's from Andy and my noise floor was reduced significantly. Still a little tube rush between songs at high level of playback, but that's just tubes. 

Curious? The tube lovers change the question about ''superiority''

into ''tube kinds''. So, obviously, there are mediocre , better and

superior kinds. Which is which is , alas, not clear.

I'm not clear, on what aspects makes one tube superior to another.  You read about NOS (new old stock) being the best.  It would seem with technology being so much better in our modern times, a superior new stock tube could be manufactured.  My guess is the market isn't strong enough.  Tube suppliers, such as Andy's Vintage Tubes, measure and match tubes, based on their measurements.

Glad to hear my suggestion helped with your problem. I assume you just replaced the V1 and V2 position tubes left and right. Those are most sensitive to noise issues.
jperry:  I replaced all four
Is an SUT needed? No but IMO (only) I find an SUT into a MM stage gives me superior results.Better dynamics more detail and a more natural presentation. I've tried many SUT's and have found the Kondo SFz step-up the best until recently.  I have recently tried tbe SA Labs SUT from Russia to now have outperformed my beloved Kondo unit, and at a less expensive alternative. 
Once I replaced my "new" tubes from my upgrade from a standard Rhea to a Signature Rhea, with  very low noise matched tubes, my noise floor is as quiet as a tubed preamp can be-almost.  I chose the the RCA quad matched 12AX7's from Andy, at Glenn Buckley's from Aesthetix   suggestion.  I would have thought the upgrade would have provided these, but it did not.  I have plenty of gain, as I set my input to "62."  any higher and I get over modulation.  The cost was around $300.  I could have spent more for even better tubes, but you have to place a limit somewhere.  I may upgrade my tubes from here-hard to say at this point.  No matter how much one invests, there's always something better.  I think I'm looking for the perfect system and on my budget, it just ain't gonna happen.  I'm considering different cartridges, as well as more room treatment.  Don't misunderstand-my sound is absolutely great, but there's always something better.  I'm pleased with all my hardware.  Looking for that unicorn.
@handymann ,

IME having owned a Rhea, it will be hard for you to improve on the RCA tubes, you will get different flavors, but not tubes that are more quiet.

Jperry:  Thanks for the heads up. I could have easily invested twice what I already have, to no avail. I'm pleased with my sound. It's all good. 
handymann ~ I'm sure your analog system "sings" and yes tubes can make a world of difference but again it's my opinion (after trying to perfect my alalog rig for close to 40 years now) that a MM phono stage used with a step-up transformer will usually outperform a MC phono stage alone in most parameters. 

A SUT & MM stage are like a peanut butter & jelly sandwich you can't have one without the other.  


(dealer disclaimer)
Sksos1:  That's why I'm using two different MC carts. No SUT needed. Maybe a SLUT😁
Sksos1:  All joking aside, I had a Clearaudio Maestro and it sounded great. Didn't have it connected to an SUT. It had plenty of output. Maybe I need to invest in a SUT to up my voltage. .5 mv is a small amount of output for sure. I know with any kind of input, u need good up front volume. I wish I could try a SUT out to see if I liked it. 
handymann it's not that a MC phono stage doesn't have enough gain to drive the output of the MC cartridge that's not what I'm talking about.It's that a MM phono section is usually easier to build and doesn't require an extra stage and then when you add the SUT to the MM phono stage the magic happens. You would never use a SUT into a MC phono stage b/c for sure you will overload the system.
If you live in the Boston area I'd be more than willing to come over with several SUT just so you can hear what I'm talking (listening) about. 
sksos1:  i'm just a few blocks from you down in Nashville Tn.
I'll drive over this weekend!😎
There is no substitute for trying one or more in your own system to hear the effect.  Bob of sent one of his SKY10 SUTs to me and Wow!  Huge improvement.  My phono stage is cj TEA2MAX, 55 db, using an Ortofon Winfeld with 0.2mV output.
Dear @handymann @sksos1 @jperry @bobsdevices : No one needs a SUT if we can find out a well designed SS active high gain phono stage with bipolar devices in the active stage.

No single SUT can competes or outperforms that active high gain phono stage. SUTs has not the wide frequency range that an active item has and that it's need it to honor cartridge response on MUSIC. SUTs has not the extremely fast response of bipolar devices that makes a huge differences on transient response, SUTs has not the rigth bass range management specially in this lower frequency band, SUTs are way suceptible to pick up several kind of " noises " and SUTs generates too distortions no matter is a passive item and I can go on and on about. @dover is rigth on his post in this regards.

Your " incredible " sound through your Rhea is a " false dream paradise " as is any single tube phono stage no matters what and nu matters its price tag.

Unfortunatelly the Rhea is one of the worst phono stages out there and not because some one told me but because I had first hand experiences not with the Rhea but with his " senior " dad the Io Signature four chasis all tube phono stage: a crap of phono stage and the designer was not the culprit but tubes.

I heard it twice in a megabuck home system surrounded between other things of a Walker TT and the like. Its level noise is terrible for say the least as is its RIAA eq. deviation and not only because a high dbs deviation but because the RIAA curve for the left and rigth channel are different when both must be the same!.
Its output impedance goes between 2k and 3Kohms where we have a huge lost of cartridge/music information.
If I remember I counted at least 5-6 stages where the signal pass  and including everything the signal pass through more than 40 links  inside the unit and this is the " senior dad " its Rhea relative is even worst.

So from where comes that " incredible " sound you are talking about. I know that that is what you like because you are accustom to but sorry to wake up of your " paradise dream " but the reality is that you have to put on sale and find out any other phono stage that does not needs a SUT.

I own and owned several SUTs and my modified Denon AU 1000 ( weigths 12. kg. ) outperforms today any price tag SUT and I have to say that performs really good through the MM stage but not at the same level than the MC active high gain stage I own.

Sooner or latter all of us will wake up of that " false paradise dream ". I know that no one wants to wake up of that " dream " but the reality is that is only that a dream a nothing  more.

Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,
WOW.  i Wish I knew everything like you Raulrugas.
The more responses "I" get, the more I find out how little I know. I'm just looking for guidance from people much more versed than I. I appreciate ALL opinions. 
Raul :  What phono stage do u recommend?  I have a Calypso Signature and two EV 600's as power amps. I love my sound, just ALWAYS looking for improvement. BTW, I'm pushing a couple of Wilson Maxx II's. 
Raul please don't wake me from my dream b/c it's such a beautiful place. Usually I have to wear Depends while dreaming or I'll soil the chair!
Raulirugas, so if I follow your recent rant correctly,  my Ypsilon VPS-100 phono and Ypsilon MC26L sut matched with a Lyra atlas SL or a ikeda Kia will sound like crap. Or at least not as good as anything you have? If it does sound great to me, It’s all in my head? I have had several mid to high end phono stages. From the walker reference, pass labs XP-100, Vitus SP-102 among others. They were all great units in my mind. But none bested the ypsilon and sut set up. While you certainly are very knowledgeable, your view is not the final word. Certainly not in the minds of Ypsilon. Nor in my mind!
Post removed 
+1 sksos1. I too prefer and use SUT's with my low-output MC cartridges! I bought my first one back in 1978 to use with a GAS Sleeping Beauty Super Elliptical. That was a Verion P (Mitchell Cotter). A GLORIOUS sounding combination!
Dear @bobsdevices : You know for sure about and not only that but your knowledge levels is superior to mine and I truly mean it.

Problem is that you have is a must to stay " biassed " on that regards. It's fine with me and I'm not against SUTs per sé because can " sounds " really really good but if we compare the SUT you want  ( vintage or today units. ) against a well designed SS ( bipolar devices. ) active high gain phono stage this one beats the SUT.

Now, I'm not talking of what I, you or other gentlemans like it more because this fact is absolutely subjective and has nothing to " see " with the way lower overall distortions ( everykind ) performance coming from the active unit.
You already know this. There is no single way that any one of us can stay truer to the recordings using any SUT, it's just imposible to have against that well designed active unit. You know this Bob ! ! 

Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,
Dear @whatthe : You own any one " dream system " desire.

I know very well those 3 units you named: for its price Vitus is infamous/terrible and the Walker is not at very top .

Anyway, other that the Ypsilon is a tube unit. Problem is that additionaly we need and external SUT and additional an external line stage.

Those means that the sensitive and critical very low output signal of any LOMC cartridge stays " suffering " high degradation levels at each single link where it must pass before we can listen it through those Magico speakers.

First link to that cartridge signal is the tubes and transformers in the phono stage that destroy that signal. From here the signal must pass through the Ypsilon output connectors to the IC cables and cable additional connectors and after around 0.5m-1.0m of cable where the signal travels takes the out IC cables connectors to the SUT input connectors where inside the signal travels for many meters of transformer wire and then goes through the SUT output connectors to the input IC cables connectors and other 0.5-1.0m of additional IC cable and from here to the input connectors and electronics in the line stage.

I know for sure that you love it and this is not under any kind of questioning in no way. What you or any one of us like it is each one of us privilege and no one can argue against it. Period.

When we have a good designed SS active high gain PhonoLinepreamp ( integrated one. ) the recorded LP MUSIC information that the cartridge stylus tip pick-up has a way different " treatment " where the degradation levels is way way lower than in the case I exposed here.

The integrity of the cartridge signal is way better conservated through that SS unit.

Which one like it us more?, it does not matters because what I’m saying here and else where on this same regards is that the cartridge signal degradation levels ( that we can’t restore in any way but only follow the degradations. ) is in one side far away from the recording and the other truer to the recording.

If at each single link in home audio system chain we take care on degradation levels and how to avoid it ( well we can’t but at least put at minimum. ) what we can listen and really listen has no paragon/ quintessence on what we already listen in what ever system no matter what.
We always achieve the best of the best quality coming from the speakers ever.

So, when we are trying to put at minimum the distortion levels at each system’s link we don’t have to worried if what we will achieve will like us because always we like it. Period.

Btw, money is always important but more important is to know how to achieve that gorgeous unique level and what to do.

Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,
This is going to be rather long, but I will try to explain the difference between using an external MC step-up transformer into a MM phono stage, and using a self-contained phono preamp that does it all.

Disclaimer:   I manufacture Step up transformers. I started doing it as a hobbyist trying to improve the sound of my system. Over time, many improvements have been made.

Background: Matching Moving coil Cartridges to phono stages is a difficult process. For MM cartridges it is relatively easy since there is a standard for MM cartridges at 5mV and 47k Ohms. With MC cartridges, there is a wide spectrum of output voltages and internal impedances, as well as a variety of inductances. For a Phono stage manufacturer, it is a nightmare.

Basically, almost all MC phono stages have a MM mode. The designer in most cases, builds a second stage to convert the signal from a MC cartridge to the MM level. Most do this with an active stage designed and built with FETs. Some use internal step up transformers. The challenge is accommodating a wide variety of MC cartridges. This is typically accomplished using a bunch of switches or jumpers on a circuit board. Many have adjustments for impedance and output voltage (different gain settings). If you look at the specs of each phono stages and compare them for MC cartridges vs. MM cartridges, there is usually a significant different in signal to noise ratio. The ratio is lower by about 8-10dB for MC cartridges vs. MM cartridges. This results in a louder background noise floor for MC cartridges. Additionally, adding switches to low output signals is very difficult without degrading sound.

For those phono stages that use internal step up transformers, there is a limited range for MC cartridges and typically, the internal step up transformers are not as good as some of the best in the industry. One step up transformer cannot be made to work properly with most MC cartridges.

A stand-alone step up transformer can be used to better match a cartridge to a MM phono stage, instead of using the internal active stage or the internal step up transformers. You can use a step up transformer ranging from 1:5 to 1:40. For those who say that using a stand-alone Step up transformer is not a good idea because it adds an additional set of interconnects; well, the active stage or internal step up transformers are connected by wires or printed circuits inside the phono preamp. Perhaps you would also say that a console stereo is better than separates since no interconnects are required. There are lots of excellent interconnects that are as good, if not better, than the internal wiring.

Good points.  I would only take issue with the implication that using ICs between an outboard SUT and a suitable MM stage is no different, in terms only of the potential effect of the connecting wires, than having a built-in SUT or a voltage gain stage before the MM circuit.  The external SUT not only requires much longer wires, making it susceptible to RFI and/or the effects of wire capacitance, but it also requires connectors, usually RCA type, at both ends of the ICs. Connectors are a major source of coloration, in my opinion, where low level phono signals are concerned.  This is a point in favor of built-in SUTs, if one must use a SUT.

The Dutch are collective convinced that the Germans have

no sense for humor. However I deed find some ''contrary''

evidence. I don't mean their ''Wein, Weiber und Gesang'' 

(drinks,women and music) but propositions like: ''the thoughts

are tax free'' and more in particular: ''If theory and practice

coincide then probably both are false''.

I am not sure about SUT's theory or the theories about SUT's

but  my experience is in ''correspondence'' (aka ''correspondence 

 theory of truth'') with @bobsdevices , say, assumptions.

Anyway for outputs bellow 0,2 mV. Both my phono-pres (Basis

Exclusive and Klyne 3,5) have 4 amplification stages. But in

the user manual the lowest possible is recommended for

the given cart because higher amplifications mean higher


Germans say, Dutch may have two dad's but dishes still must be done
right after dinner .
Extra pain in the chain?
Not for me.
Cartridge with sufficient output to phonostage without any transformer is for me and choices are plenty-plenty.
There are also non-RIAA preamps for super-low cartridges and they make more sense to add an extra pre-gain.
Dear @bobsdevices : As you know I posted almost in all threads that my main target is to stay: TRUER TO THE RECORDING and my audio system " spins " around that target and how achieve it ( nearer as I can. ) and in the analog alternative case we have to take extremely care to preserves the cartridge signal information preserves its " full " integrity, with out this premises we can’t achieve that main target.

Can we preserves the full integrity cartridge information?, sure we can’t do it. What we can do it is to stay the nearest we can and that’s ALL ! !.

My system handles the cartridge signal through a PhonoLinepreamp ( no separates. Output signal goes directly to the amps. ) ) unit designed with some of these characteristics: fully diferential/balanced dual mono class A non-feedback, dual mono separate/external power supply, no single wire inernally from where the signal travels, input/output connectors direct soldered to the main four layers circuit boards, two totally separated dual mono MC and MM stages where the MC one active devices are bipolars and Mosfets for the MM stage, passive RIAA with tigthy passive devices tolerances ( matched, truly matched. ), no SUT for gain only active devices, every stage fully discrete, no impedance/gain switches or the like and obviously no single tube there or every where in my system.

All those and many other characteristics in that unit permits to have a RIAA eq. deviation of only 0.012 dbs and not only this but when you make RIAA measurements and print the chart/diagram you can’t distinguish the left from the rigth channel RIAA measurements because there is no deviation in between ( as in every phono stage no matters its price tag. ), you see only a line for both channels from 20hz to 20khz. This kind of performance levels is not only through the RIAA response but all the whole Phonolinepreamp channels response/performance is the same.

That’s the quality levels I’m talking here and everywhere. Way different on your or other gentlemans approach and that’s why I know for sure a SUT can’t not even be nearer to my unit. Noise and distortion levels in my unit?, well you can’t believe it.

Now, as I said in this thread a SUT sounds very good but with other kind of " distortion " levels. I own several SUTs and I like it when I use it but I like it more when are out of the signal.

For many people and phono stage manufacturers a SUT is a must and is the lower price solution, we have not many choices to achieve something as my unit because that will be extremely extremely expensive.

Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,
Dear Raul, I submit that it's impossible to know for sure that your phono is within .012 db of perfect RIAA, because there's no way to measure that accurately. I'm sure it's as perfect as you can make it, however.
Dear @lewm : You submit wrong because exist those measurements tools to make that. Even the top of its line manufacturer you know very well because modified your unit measures 0.07 db.

You have not very good memory about but I posted twice ( along few  years.) that RIAA chart where in one of those ocassions you ask to me how was the response over the limits of that chart: 8hz to 40khz and I answered to you that the chart only showed RIAA frequency response and its deviations ( the unit frequency response goes from 0hz to over 1 Mhz. ) and you ask about because in the chart the response was totally flat not only between 20hz to 20khz that's the RIAA requisit but over that 8hz to 40khz and if I remember ( because I don't have in hand now. ) the deviation on what you seen was 0.015dbs and this number improved over up-grades.

Additional characteristics of that unit is that's fully regulated input to output and that the cartridge signal pass only for two discrete gain phono stages.

Btw, exist on other 6 gentlemans that like me are lucky enough to own it.

As fact some other gentlemans that post here and in other internet audio forums ( including a very well regarded proffesional reviewer. ) and some of them ( I know this. ) that even had the opportunity to lisented the unit in its own system losted the opportunity to buy that unit for true " penauts " and prefered another way to go.

Anyway, the important issue is that main target: stay truer to the recording where as the TT/tonearm and each link in the system as the phonolinepreamp is critical an important.

All depends which is each one of us home audio system main target.

Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,
Dear friends: Look what I'm talking about and see why is so important the Phonolinepreamp:

Btw, @lewm in that ocassion along the chart of the unit I own were the the charts of the Halcro and Dartzeel phonolinepreamps too where both was not even close. Dartzeel was " terrible ".

Here that Vitus has a price tag of 60K big dollars and this LAMM set you back  around 75K+ and you need additional IC cables to connect it to the LAMM line stage: 

Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,


Since you brought up the Stereophile Shindo measurements, did you see the review on the SKY 40 where Art Dudley preferred the SKY SUT instead of the internal transformers in the Shindo?   Did you see that the Shindo uses Internal Lundahl SUTs instead of an active circuit?   Did you see that the SKY SUT is rated in the A category on Stereophiles top 500 list?

You have said many times that you have tried several SUTs.  Did you try a SKY?

@czarivey , ''cartridges with sufficient output....are plenty-plenty''.

The moving parts by MC carts are stylus, cantilever and coils.

Reducing the moving mass by styli and cantilevers (tubed- boron,

sapphire or beryllium) would make not much sense if the coils

use so much wire that the mentioned reduction is undone.

Designs by which iron core is used to increase the output have

their own problems so coreless coils deliver those small outputs.

Ortofon, for example, uses just one layer of wire with about 0,2

mV output. But Ortofon also produces matching SUT's .

''Old'' and new Ikeda's have also < 0,2 mV. You can at least

assume that those designers which prefer low output have

good reasons to do so.


I can assume many things including very positive indeed, but still thinking of extra headache in the chain to bother with nevertheless and regardless of I guess similar to vacuum tubes vs. silicone. 
Dear @bobsdevices : Look, as I posted I'm not against SUTs and certainly not against you very good designs. No, these is not the main subject in my related posts.

No, I had not the opportunity to listen a LOMC cartridge through the SKY SUT but I don't need it because the quality level a the " stay truer to the recording " is not attainable yet through a passive gain devices like the SUT.

In the other side you choosed a really wrong exampel for refering to the SYK performance level because that gentleman AD whom makde the review is some one that is accustomed to a very very low quality performance levels due that " he dies " for that terrible/anacronic electronic alternative name it: tubes. Where is just useless to analize nothing of that gentleman can says in his reviews of nothing.

Bobb, I'm talking of a way way different quality levels and again: I know that your SUTS performs very very good as other SUTs too but even this very good performance levels are not exactly up to the task I'm refering.

Bob, I respect you a lot as I respect any single manufacturer out there. Please don't feel offended or a bad feelling for what I say  in this thread at the end I'm  only a music lover and true audiophile and that's all.

Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,

@czarivey , My ''headache'' was matching impedance and

inductance between my + 40 MC carts and SUT's. However

my Denon AU-S1 covers 2-40 Ohms so I don't need to buy,

say, 10 SUT's. However my post about moving parts and their

mass is more easy to grasp then your ''silicon-versus -tubes''


Raul, the single most important aspect of any evaluation of audio equipment in the end must be how the music sounds.  And you consistently neglect to address in your discussions the element of taste.  It is OK to have your preferences, I fully respect that.  You have stated many times that you prefer SS to vacuum tubes.  That is fine.  The problem is that you don't seem to be able to respect others who have a preference for their tubes and SUTs.  Your fervor for your views take on some of the characteristics of a religious fanatic and that is most unpleasant for me and I suspect others.  Once before I drew  an analogy to wine:  Some people prefer Bordeaux, others might prefer a Reisling; I picked two very different styles to make my point: There is no right or  wrong, it is all good. 
Is anyone else not getting the weekly forum recap? Does it still come on Friday evenings? I have missed getting it about 3 times in the last few months.