Low Output MC's- Are We Playing W/ Fire ??

Might the current rage w/ low output MC's and the neccesity to use step-up transformers, at least on tubed phono stages, be introducing a new potentially harmful link into the chain. Not all step-up transformers are created equal. Might we get overall better performance out of a well executed .45 mv output design ( Helikon ) w/o using a step-up vs. a .22 mv output ( Helikon SL ) w/ a step-up. Or are low outputs almost ALWAYS better ?
Doing it right with a low output MC needs quite a bit of money and planning. I won't go down into the low output range although I have a good MC preamp capable of handling 0.3-0.5 mV.

I don't think it's worth to go down into the 0.2 mV range. Obviously, there will be people posting that it is worth it. Everyone sets their own standards. My cutoff point would be in the 0.9 mV neighborhood. Right now I'm using a 2.0 mV MC.
If you use the super-quiet, high-gain Linn Linto phono stage, you can go low without fear. No noise!
Tube phono stages can be designed to handle low output MCs,
like the old MFA preamps.

A better question is why are these MCs so expensive? Does
a $3K cartridge produce 10X more information than a $300.
cartridge? Does it make your records last 10X longer?
Sc53, my low output MC phono preamp has no noise...one of its previous owners had a Linn Sondek with a Monster Alpha, but the Monolithic Sound PS-1 I recently bought (plain version, $300 for the demo) totally outperforms it in musicality, dynamics, bass extension, soundstage, etc. No contest. I do not have to go down to those output levels to get better music for the money (which in fact, I don't).
Why to low output??? Tip speed, transient response, detail, definition, etc. However the rest or you system needs to be up to it. Otherwise your wasting your money.

Great step up devices are available, and I prefer the SS version simply for the reduced noise. Use the tubes elsewhere. (just my opinion)

The reason its possible is the windings required to provide the gain are increased on the coils. This adds mass, and the force to overcome the mass becomes greater. You cannot accelerate a truck as easily as you can a car. The mass is pysical phenomenon, f= Mass X Acceleration. It can be done but the available force is deterimined by the record groove, and the mass loading on the record. Hence (in theory the low output MC (with lower mass) is capble of better performance).

Note: not all low output MC's are low mass, so choose your poison wisely. It can be worth it, but it is very expensive. I prefer a medium output MC and admit a stong liking for the latest Grado's above the Sonata.

Even the Sonata is a deal.

Also be aware that achieve the (potential benefits) of an excellent MC will require continous tweaking of at the very least VTA. I get very tired of all the futzing. So decide what inportant and makes you choices.

The mag reviewers get paid to tweak the snot out of the cartridge and report whats available. At the end of most days I just want to make on simple adjustment at best and let her rip. (probably a large portion of my fondness for the Grado's. Very good and not futzy.

good luck on your decision,

A transformer is not a neccesity. There are all tube phono stages that can handle the job. I use an Aesthetix IO phono stage that is all tube with a .34 mV cartridge with wonderful results. I have also used a solid state Pass AlephOno that was very nice.
There is one question that i have always wondered about situations like this. Since a very low output cartridge has a smaller window of operation from highest to lowest output levels, isnt' the dynamic range of the system drastically compromised or at least reduced ? From what i can see, there is no way to get around this "problem". Since we are talking about the source of information that the rest of the system has to operate from, wouldn't this be considered a VERY negative aspect for a phono cartridge to possess ??? Sean
VERY good point, Sean. I learned a BIG lesson when I switched to the Monolithic PS-1. So much music coming out! I realized then that going down in output was not the path I should follow...

I'm not anywhere near as qualified as Sean and others in electronics, but doesn't it make sense that if the output is too low there will be serious loss of information on the cabling due to the extremely low voltage and also more suceptibility to interference (EMI/RFI)?