SUT vs. Phono preamp

On what basis is  the decision to chose  a SUT vs. a phonostage made?
I use a SUT for my Denon DL-103 carts. I based my decision on popular opinion plus the fact that it is a passive device. A well built SUT should be dead quiet as there is only a transformer used to boost the voltage. You may have to try different grounding schemes to get all of the noise out but it isn't generating any, it's being picked up from external sources.
An active MC preamp can have noise as it's dealing with so low a signal and must amplify it to a great extent. That is one reason there are so few good tube MC preamps, it's harder to keep them quiet.A lot of folks think that the SUT just sounds better as well if it's properly matched. I didn't buy an active stage after all my research, I went straight to a SUT, actually got it in a trade with another audio friend before I picked up my first MC cartridge. It's a Denon AU-320, perfect match for the DL-103.What cart do you have?
Apart from the SUT or high gain Phono Stage there is a third option such as Headamp (or Pre-preamp).

SUT is passive
Headamp (or Pre-Preamp) is active device

If your MC phono stage can’t handle your LOMC cartridge or you’re not satisfied with the quality, you can use SUT or Headamp and MM phono stage.

You have to pay more attention to the amplification device if your phono cartridge output is less than 0.25 mV, if it’s higher then you may never need a SUT or Headamp and most of the MC phono stages have enough gain to handle your LOMC cartridge.

Still you may like different flavor of the SUT (or headamp) in comparison to the high gain MC phono stage.

As you know each phono stage is different, even of there is a gain for LOMC it does’n mean it’s better than another phono stage + SUT.

"Current-injection" MC phono stage for low impedance MC is something special, it can be much more impressive than conventional MC phono stage.

Noise is not the issue when you're using quality devices, no matter what type.
Normally with a Phono Stage you have optional loading for your MC cartridge and you can change it right on the phono stage. To do that with SUT you will have to change SUTs

if you really want to understand SUT’s, here is a reference for how they work and how to choose one.

personally i have 2 SUT’s right now (one with copper windings and one with silver windings) in my system i’m demo’ing. these guys.

the advantage of an SUT 'in theory' is lower noise, and 'in theory' greater micro-dynamics, than a head amp since the SUT is passive. in essence; a head amp involves an additional amplification stage which 'in theory' always will add some noise......and reduce the sense of naturalness and ease. as always; there are no absolutes; these concepts depend on degrees of execution. SUT’s are not always better, and head amps are not always worse.

it depends.....

I have 5  LOMCS, one phono preamp and one SUT. Actually, I do not notice much difference between  the phono preamp and the SUT, but I just wanted to know a little more about the theory behind all this; your responses so far  have helped  greatly. 

I had a Denon AU320 SUT teamed with my ZU-Denon DL103 and I didn’t particularly like the sound as it sounded kind of flat.  I sold it and bought a Bobs Devices SUT with the Red Cinemag transformers.  The sound was clearer and much more involving.  
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@stereo5 that is good to know. I have a set of Cinemag 1254 transformers sitting here for a project. Now I can’t wait to hear them.
My phono stage is a Rega Aria, not exactly top of the line, but at $1500, no slouch either.

Ok, this is your phono stage

70 Ohm, 100 Ohm, 150 Ohm, 400 Ohm

63.5 db and 69.3 db

There are dip switch settings for all Rega MC cartridge models, but what about your MC cartridges, they are all Rega ?

A SUT can ring etc. so is not without possible sonic artifact. On the other hand a SUT more or less can't pass rfi which may bring a benefit to your phono considering the MC ultra high hf like most things audio comes down to specific implementation and pairing.
None are Rega; They are Benz Micro Gold, AT 33ev, AT F2, and your favorite Denon103D.  Haven't  tried it yet.  I usually use the vintage MMs, but recently wanted to play MCs against each other, which the Aria lets me do easily. MM's: At 12sa, at 440ml, shure v153 and M92e, Micro acoustcs 2002e,, Stanton 881s, and Empire 2000z, also  Goldring 1042, and many more.l The Stanton and Empire come in as  champions for overall performance..
''additional amplification stage...will add some noise" (mikelavigne).
I use a SUT for carts with less than 0,2 mV output. However I
will start  not with ''theory'' but with practice. I own two phono-
pres both with 4 amplification stages. Basis Exclusive and Klyne
7PX 3.5 . Both recommend the use of the lowest amplification
stage in relationship to carts output. The ''theoretical'' assumption 
being ''the bigger amplification the bigger distortion''. I also own 
Denon AU-S1 SUT but use only with my Ortofon MC 2000 with
0.0 5 mV output. For outputs above 0.2 mV I don't need an SUT. 

None are Rega; They are Benz Micro Gold, AT 33ev, AT F2, and your favorite Denon103D.

LOL :))

 Haven't tried it yet. I usually use the vintage MMs, but recently wanted to play MCs against each other, which the Aria lets me do easily. MM's: At 12sa, at 440ml, shure v153 and M92e, Micro acoustcs 2002e,,

Never tried those, but my AT20SLa was very nice. 

Stanton 881s, and Empire 2000z, also Goldring 1042, and many more. The Stanton and Empire come in as champions for overall performance.

I can imagine, i tried 881s mkII and 980, you can always upgrade to higher Stanton model, the absolute best is SC-100 WOS (my favorite). 

If you like Stanton do you know that both Stanton and Pickering also available as a low impedance versions with extremely low output (just like MC) ? Here is the manual with specs. 

The Stanton 980LZS and PICKERING XLZ 7500S (AND XLZ4500S) are "low impedance" and will work directly into the Moving Coil (MC) input instead of MM input. It provides extended frequency response well beyond 50kHz. The 980LZS patented moving stylus system featured a Stereohedron nude diamond and ultra-low mass samarium cobalt magnet which allows it to track the highest levels found on the most sophisticated high technology records

Dear @stereo5  : Your SUT evaluation is not fair. The Denon 320 is a vintage SUT vs " today " Bob' SUT and the problem are all that crap of input/output RCA connectors as all the internal used wires because the Denon transformers are good ones with a banwindth of 10hz to 100khz and really flat response and this characteristic is truly important and critical because normally the SUT frequency response is a little restricted.

I own several SUT's and between them I owned the 320 and still own the AU-340 where I don't use any more inputs/outputs connectors but I soldered directly inside the unit the input/output silver signal cables and rewired with silver KK cable inside and know what: it's a challenge for almost any today SUT.

Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,
Dear @mikelavigne : ""  there are no absolutes; these concepts depend on degrees of execution. SUT’s are not always better, and head amps are not always worse.

it depends....."""

you are rigth and agree with but ( always exist a : but .) as you said: depends:

a SUT in reality is not totally silent and prone to take almost every kind of external noises coming from other electronics or sometimes rfi/emi and as I said in my other post all SUT's have restricted frequency response.

I own the Denon AU-1000 ( weigths 10kgs. ) that has a flat frequency response between 5hz to 200khz that's really good for a SUT.

Now to connect a SUT to a phono stage we need additional cables and input/output connectors and soldered points down there where th really low and sensitive precious cartridge signal must pass through and all those additional " stones " in the signal path means not only additional distortions but suceptible to pick up in that path other kind of noises.

All those certainly does not happens in an active phonolinepreamp IF that phonolinepreamp has an excellent design and excellent execution to that design, if these happens then the active alternative could be a little better against that Denon AU1000 that is modified for me ( something as what I did it with my 340 by Denon. ).

Nothing is perfect in audio, trade offs everywhere and in this subject perhaps the critical trade off the one more important is that an active phonolinepreamp with those characteristics I mentioned are truly expensive really expensive and only for gentlemans as you.
I own a unit like that but only because a friend of mine and I designed and builded and I have to tell very competitive today with the best out there, obviously not perfect.

Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,
I remember reading this article from Arthur Salvatore many years ago...  and finally i ended up with ZYX CPP-1 Headamp with special transistors made with the same copper wire used in ZYX LOMC cartridges for coil winding. I screwed up my CPP-1 when i had to replace the batteries and this is how it looks. I remember it was highly regarded by Arthur Salvatore who compared it to some of the best SUTs. 

 It was a first time when i saw input resistors like that! Those resistors looks like an MC cartridge coil and made by winding the wire to a coil that has no inductance in a special process. Those resistors made by ZYX to transfer the output signals with no noise and no inductance at all. They are made of pure coil wire of MC cartridges, cryogenic purified. Signal from LOMC cartridge should go into ZYX CPP-1 Headamp’s resistor without any influences from resistor noise and inductance. Nakatsuka-San decided to use his own resistors made of pure copper wire, same material as a copper wire of MC carts. In order to playback the sound info of LOMC carts in 100% fidelity, CPP-1 headamp has special circuit in the simplest amplification circuit. Great device to avoid Step-Up Transformers for LOMC cartridges.

Tech specs of ZYX CPP-1 Pre-Preamp:
Input impedance: 125 Ohm
Step up ratio: 26db
Frequency response (+/- 1dB): 1Hz - 500kHz 
Channel separation is higher than 100dB 
Signal to Noise ration is higher than 95dB
THD is lower than 0.1% (1kHz)

This is what Arthur said and you will find more on his website:


This is, most likely, the finest head-amp I've ever heard. I state this because it is competitive with the finest transformers I've had, while all the many other (external) head-amps I've heard are simply not in that league.

Disclosure- The ZYX head-amp is a solid-state device! It is highly unusual for a successful cartridge manufacturer to also design and build an audio component that is so different in fundamental nature (non-mechanical in this instance), with such excellent performance. The relevant details...

The ZYX Compared to the Bent Silver

The ZYX basically equals the Bent Silver TX-103 transformer in immediacy, neutrality, frequency extension and the size of the soundstage. The ZYX has excellent channel separation, and the macro dynamics are absolutely breathtaking. In direct comparison, the Bent Silver is superior in two areas; its ultra-low sound-floor and its freedom from electronic haze. These areas are considered "subtle" by many audiophiles, though not me, and can be especially noticeable on certain acoustical music.

Please don't misunderstand me, the ZYX's background noise (hiss) is very soft, basically non-existant, and lower than any head-amp I've ever heard. It just loses a bit of individuality, harmonic completion, sense of space and micro dynamic "tension" compared to the Bent Silver. It's not alone, so does every other step-up I've ever heard. For the sake of perspective; the ZYX's "weaknesses", only compared to the Bent Silver, are still actual strengths compared to almost every other step-up I've heard. That's how good it is. In fact, there were many times I was not even able to distinguish between the two of them, because their basic sonic character is so similar*.

The ZYX also has some practical advantages...

Other Factors and Compatability

While both the ZYX and the Bent Silver are rated at 26dB of gain, the Bent Silver loses some of its gain as soon as it is loaded-down, which is a requirement. The ZYX is already "loaded-down" as is, so it has more real gain in practice. For many systems, this may prove irrelevant, but in my own system, it is the difference between some records coming "alive", or not. There is another advantage to the ZYX; it is virtually "cable proof", since it is an active device.

While signal cables, both to and from the ZYX, are still obviously important, there's never going to be a true mismatch. Sadly, this is still possible with the Bent Silver, because it is passive by nature. I've already directly experienced this potential problem. This reality can be critical for cable freaks and/or experimenters.

In short, the ZYX's high level of performance can be experienced in every system, while the Bent Silver, though it has even greater potential, will only reach that potential with time, effort, patience and maybe some further expense.

Some Practical Information

The ZYX's power supply consists of high-quality (9 NiCd) batteries, which are re-charged in a few hours (overnight is easiest). It broke-in very quickly, only after around 10 hours or so of play. It doesn't sound good for the first few minutes of each session (it's veiled, dry and ill-defined), but it warms up fast, and after 20 minutes (1 LP side), it's already at its best. It can also be played while the batteries are being re-charged, but I'm not sure about the sonic compromises, if any, while doing so.

Despite the ZYX's relatively small size, and its lack of a large power supply reserve, I can assure you that its large dynamic swings, plus its mid/deep bass weight and impact, are as good as I've ever heard. These qualities, plus its outstanding neutrality, immediacy and spooky silence, are what most impressed me about this unit. All of this was unexpected. The "standard" model of the ZYX pre-preamp has 20db of gain, with a slightly simpler circuit. It's very possible, if not probable, that it will sound even purer.

Conclusion and Advice

This is the step-up to get if you want superb sonics, complete background silence, with no fussing around and total cable compatibility. If there's a better head-amp around, I haven't heard it, or even of it, yet. Its selling price is $ 1,650, direct on Audigon, which is $ 375 more than the Bent Silver. This may be an issue for some. However, for those audiophiles who don't like any MC transformer, for whatever reason(s), the ZYX is a "no-brainer" choice, if it's affordable.

The Bent Silver still has greater potential, which is why it is in Class A, but I can't absolutely promise you that this potential will be realized in every system. For the most serious phono fanatics, meaning those audiophiles who are prepared to make every effort to optimize it, the Bent Silver continues to be my highest Reference and, it shoudn't be forgotten, it can never break down. Just don't forget the caveats I've posted.

Future Auditions

It must be emphasized that I have not yet heard the Bent Silver or the ZYX CPP-1 at its best: The Bent Silver can still be loaded-down some more, and the ZYX's 20dB gain model has still to be properly auditioned. Both require either a more sensitive system, and/or a cartridge with higher output. This will all happen in the next few months...

The first ZYX UNIverse I will audition has a .48mV output (while the Airy 3 I'm now using is .24mV). I'm also receiving more sensitive amplifiers and speakers from Coincident Speaker Technology.

The more I think about this, 2006 is shaping up to be a truly major year for audio developments and its evolution.

Btw, other that what I posted about main " trouble " with SUT belongs to the low bass range where an active well designed phonolinepreamp has not only  more tigth or deep but with out any kind of noise or bluring you can detect but my Denon AU-1000 performs truly good even better than the silver versions of Audio Note ones.

From vintage SUT's not only Dernon are really good but you can look for Entré that are excellent too but any vintage SUT ask for modifications but its transformers that are second to none.

If some one is looking for head-amps the one from Classé Audio NIL-3 is something to listen and own it and second to none too: true Canadian engineering with an excellent excecution design reflected in its extreme high quality performance levels.

. A extremly heavy units, the power supply is a behemont size and in reality can function like a stand alone amp due to the caps reserve on it. In the picture you can see it and I can tell you that it measure ( deep. ) like 50cms. I owned it:


I have been using the Audio Interface (40 ohm) SUT for 35 years.  It has excellent Jensen transformers made in my hometown-Chatsworth, CA.  I use a resistor to achieve 220 ohm impedance match to my Benz Ruby 3.  The exact replacement for it is the ISO-MAX built by Jensen at $550
If one can afford or has multiple MC cartridges, the Zesto Andros Allaso is also an excellent choice using Jensen transformers at $3000.   It has 10 impedance settings and 4 gain settings equivalent to 40 total settings.

+1 on the Zesto SUT.  I use one in combo with a Herron VTPH2A and love the flexibility and ability to dial in nearly any cart.
Dear @fleschler  : Zesto is a good SUT but I think has a little " problem :
" extremely-versatile "

To achieve all those settings the unit needs some switches, I can say a lot of them, and the best switch is no switch because degrades the cartridge precious signal information.
All the losted cartridge signal information through those switches never came back ! ! 

No single switch is the best way to go with SUT's. Signal have to pass as directly as it can, with no " obstacles inside the SUT.

That's why the Denon AU-1000 is so great SUT and of course with excellent transformers.

Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,
@rauliruegass I spoke to Upscale Audio who sells the Zesto and he assured me that there are no switches in the impedance changes, they are all done using different taps on the transformers.

Yes, my next cartridge (which maybe the top of the line Benz) will probably have a Zesto SUT to accompany it.
There are so many great SUTs from the past, so it is absolutely no problem to find one and try one (or even a few). 

One of the reason i like Luxman SUT is because i can have 3 different SUTs in one set. Basically two is enough for nearly all cartridges as you can see on that image with 8030 and 8020. However, they made another one (8025 for use with cartridges with impedance from 3 to 40 Ohm). Those SUTs are Silver toroidal type. Instead of changing SUTs user can change inserts in one base. Amazing feature in my opinion. 
I use a homebrew battery ploperstrd tube phono preamp. Undetectable noise floor; twin mono design so no cross talk; and a stepped 4 deck pot with 1% metal film resistors from Vishay I got from Alan online dealer. Sounds awesome. 
It’s a Nelson Pass design using 12AE6 6.3 volt old fashioned car radio tubes. I side a nine volt lithium battery for a power supply;  gives a bit more gain and don’t seem to shorten tube life much, if any. Mine are nine years old and dhow no sings of weakening, at least so far. Really sweet sounding component!
Dear @fleschler  : That SUT has 3 diferent controls at the front plate and I don't know  but I can't imagine how the designer let the signal totally out of those 3 controls each time you make changes down there.

Anyway, I prefer the straigth one as the AU-1000 and is not so expensive when you find out.


Dear friends : Obviously that the transformers in a SUT is critical and has to be reflected in the frequency response range where is flat not at +-3db

My advise is to ask always that spec before pull the triguer and compare in between some SUT's. We have to remember that the SUT ( other than the cable/connectors ) is the first amplifier device where the delicated cartridge signal must pass and we want to preserve the integrity of that signal putting the lost signal at minimum. It's imposible for passive or active devices not lost or adds " something " .

I own an EAR 324 phono pre-amp which has transformer settings of 4, 15 and 40 ohms and 3 gain settings.  I struggled for a year to achieve the correct sound for my Benz Ruby 3.  It was either too bright and thin or too dull and heavy sounding. 

My cable manufacturer friend told me to just use a resistor at 220 ohm on an Audio Interface L40.  That is the perfect setting for the cartridge.  The Zesto has four settings within 10 ohms of 220 ohms including 220.  It has the widest range using nearly identical Jensen transformers.  I have not heard anyone claiming the Zesto SUT isn't superb.  

Does anyone know that the Zesto is inferior to the Ortofon or Denon or my Audio Interface?  
Dear @fleschler  : I know is inferior to the AU-1000 and probably your Audio Interface is even better at least yours has wider frequency response and this says a lot:

I don't know why you could go for the Zesto when your Audio Interface is one of the best out there and I don't " see " how the Zesto can beats it, but........

Btw, I think that is improbable that a Zesto owner already tested against the SUT's you ask for.

Anyway, always great fun testing audio items.

The ISO-MAX Jensen SUT should be nearly identical to the Audio Interface (and is easier to use with the front and rear separation for input and output).  It is very reasonably priced if it is the same transformers.
If you are on a budget I would go with an SUT, if you plan to use a low output cartridge. If budget is no concern, I would go with a good phono section capable of low output cartridge operation.

There is more than just noise to be concerned about. SUTs must be properly loaded so as to not ring (distort); this loading depends quite a lot on the cartridge used; IOW varies depending on the cartridge.

An active phono section will probably have more noise. It might also have more bandwidth; personally I prefer the improved soundstage and detail I get from going direct. But it doesn't always work that way so in a very general way, that is why I made my initial recommendation.

Yes, Benz cartridges are not known to be SUT happy and prefer phono stages that can increase output without transformers.   However, in my case, the Audio Interface is an ideal match for an SUT.   My cable maufacturing friend built a low noise, subminiature tube step up but we couldn't get the impedance just right through changing of resistors.  It still had substantially more noise than I wanted to live with.  
I have a Premier (Sumiko) S.U.T. and a Pre-Amp, like Boofer posted earlier, I can't hear a difference. 
On what basis? Try it.

Hook up your cartridge to your phono stage and listen to a record cut at low volume levels, set to the volume you like to hear.
- Do you hear distortion?
- Does it play loud enough?
- Lift the cartridge. Do you hear a hissing noise?

If you answer ’yes’ or ’no’ or ’yes’, then a good SUT will help. How good? About as good as your cartridge. Oxygen free SUT’s from Sowter are very good, but the amorphous core - silver wound SUT’s from Lundahl are the best I’ve ever heard, and I’ve heard some very good ones.

Even so, my phono-pre is marginally better for dynamics and weight with a platinum Koetsu.
I have auditioned a home-made (not by me) Sowter SUT which sounded very dynamic but could not achieve the correct tonal balance.  It couldn't have been an impedance mismatch as it was rated at 220 ohms the same as my current Audio Interface.  Something else apparently.
@andirocks , IMO materials are far more important than brand; further, I trust the Lundahl brand far more than Cardas.

In any case, my experience is with the state-of-the-art Lundahl 1931Ag.
Dear @terry9 : materials is always important but I think that the more critical and important characteristics belongs to the rigth build transformer design and the quality level for the excecution of that design.

Audio Note uses pure silver inits SUT’s and are not so good in quality level performance even its FR goes only at 50khz.

Design/manufacture SUT’s is no rocket science but more knowledge level and skills to do it.
Vintage SUT’s excells in those both characteristics and you have many examples:

Denon AU-1000 is only one of them and uses no silver, Audio Technica AT100T is other excellent unit ( I owned when I owned the AT1000MC where that SUT was dedicated for. ) with wide FR, Ortofon T-2000 silver wire and 4hz to 150khz, Technics top SUT is the champ on FR windth: 3hz to 300khz.. In this regards Lundahl is only average even the Ag version. Of the examples I mentioned only the Ortofon use silver wire.
I owned/own all those SUT’s but the Technics and I forgot and still own Entré that’s really good vinatge SUT.

In those old time existed a very hard SUT competition between manufacturers and this kind of contest made it that each brand tryed to be the top one.

Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,

Btw, some one mentioned Luxman, well I owned the Luxman C5000A Phonolinepreamp that came with the 8020/30 silvber wire SUT's and were and are really mediocre and nothing to look for. Of course in those old times for me the C5000A was a premium unit but for other reasons not in specific for the SUT.
@rauliruegas ,

materials is always important but I think that the more critical and important characteristics belongs to the rigth build transformer design and the quality level for the excecution of that design.

I agree. I tried to say that in the sentence about trusting the Lundahl brand more than the Cardas. You said it better.

But I don't agree about vintage excelling modern. As I understand it, amorphous core (Metglas) has only been understood and available for the last 25 years or so. Also, modern machines allow for more precise tensioning and placement than previously, hence, at the very least, more consistency in manufacture.

As for FR, 1931Ag's are 10-100,000 Hz =/- 1dB, which is more than adequate for a puppy's hearing, let alone mine; and I trust Lundahl's current testing and reporting more than vintage.

Finally, my testing shows the 1931Ag to be pretty close to pure gain. Not a whole lot of room for improvement there.
The Technics SH 305S that Raul mentions is a Amorphous core type . It is a very good sounding SUT as I use one . It comes close to my best LOMC reference a BMC MMC1 current injection phono preamp 
Dear @terry9  : "  But I don't agree about vintage excelling modern.."

well maybe you could be rigth. I don't posted but I listened a system using Lundahl SUT but was a first time I listened to that system and I was in that sessions where the system had mounted a ZYX cartridge that again was the first time I listen that models so I really can't say for sure about that SUT that even I can´t remember its model.

Now: do you already listened to a vintage SUT as the Denon or Technics I mentioned?

Btw, of course that 100khz is a frequency that human beens can't hear directly but I think that " something " is down there with those vintage SUT's for it can goes with that so wide windth FR because if that be easy every one can do it and no today SUT are near of those kind of specs.

Now: "  Even so, my phono-pre is marginally better for dynamics and weight...." I can tell you that between other things the widest flat FR in an active unit is one reason on what you said even that that kind of so wide frequency range is out of our hearing sensitivity.

For many audiophiles SUT's can be addictive. Rigth now I'm listen through my AU-1000 and performs just great and with no noise levels you can detect. Can I ask for more? certainly I can live with for ever but due that my active phonolinepreampis so good in quality and resolution I prefer it  to the SUT but not by a very wide margin.

Music transients is one area where my active unit beats the Denon and from there comes other music main characteristics that SUT can't achieve it however can be near of them.

@rauliruegas @enginedr

I have not listened to any of the SUT’s that you mentioned, but I have listened to some very good vintage SUT’s, both factory assembled and DIY assembled. None was as good as the 1931Ag, and only one was close.

We all three seem to be pretty much agreed, though, that even the best of the SUT’s is not quite a match for the best high gain phono/pre. I suspect that I could not tell the difference between the 1931Ag and a phono/pre using teflon or styrene caps for RIAA - it’s only by using vacuum and air-gap caps exclusively that I can differentiate. I suspect.
@terry9  : I think that for that " differentiate " we need at least two things: room/system high resolution and to know what to look for that could tell me those differences.

Btw, the Technics came from 1981, that are more than 25 years.

Dear @terry9  @fleschler  : All those vintage SUT's I named and own/owned along the Technics that owns @enginedr1960 came from the early 80's and by coincidence all but the Technics had same price 150K Yens in those old times.
Technics had lower price due that Technics was/is a company from the world biggest electronic builder Matushita with all kind of resources that even Denon or AT just has not and can't market its products at lower prices.

Noted those 12kg in the Denon unit weigth?

This is today Audio Technica SUT ( 5kg. that's heavy for today other SUT " standard " about. ):

a straigth SUT with no switches, that always is the best kind design.

Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,

Dear @terry9  @fleschler  and friends: That Audio Technica AT-SUT|1000 new top model says a lot for every audiophile and especially in the analog side:

In this thread ( and other threads through the time. ) I supported and posted that those vintage Japanese SUT's coming from Denon, Audio Technica and Technics are really even today second to none and contrary to today very expensive SUT manufacturers as Lundahl or Ypsilon and others the first hand knowledge levels coming inside those Japanese SUT's are way superior to the knowledge levels of today top SUT builders ( of course this is only my take. )

Audio Technica, Denon  and Technics all them were/are designers and manufacturers of: cartridges, tonearms, TTs and even electronics/speakers.
Been and be cartridge designers all of them ( including Ortofon. ) knows perfectly not only how works a cartridge but its needs and that latest Audio Technica SUT is a clear example of that when it comes with input/output balanced design:

""  The transformer maintains a balanced signal from the moving-coil cartridge through to the phono preamp...""

and I don't see there silver wire transformer windings.

Anyway, that AT SUT can be a must to liosten it.

With a Moving Coil Phono cartridge, you should use an external Moving Coil (MC) step-up transformer into a Moving Magnet (MM) phono preamp or MM inputs, versus using a self-contained phono preamp that has both MM and MC inputs.

Background: Matching Moving coil Cartridges to phono preamplifiers is a difficult process. For MM cartridges it is relatively easy since there is a standard for MM cartridges which is 5mV output (at 1k Hz) and 47k Ohms loading. With MC cartridges, there is a wide spectrum of output voltages and internal impedances, as well as a variety of inductances. For a Phono preamp manufacturer, matching all moving coil cartridges requires some serious design considerations.

Basically, almost all MC phono preamplifiers have a MM mode. The designer in most cases, builds a second head amplifier or phono pre-pre amplifier to convert the signal from a MC cartridge to the MM level, where it enters the MM preamplifier. Most do this with an active head amplifier 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 set 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 preamplifier and compare them for MC cartridges vs. MM cartridges, there is usually a significant difference in signal to noise ratios, except for those that use internal step up transformers. For active head amplifiers going into the phono preamplifier, 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 degrades sound quality.

With phono preamplifiers that use internal step-up transformers, there is a limited range for MC cartridges, and typically, the internal step up transformers do not approach the quality of the best in the industry. One step-up transformer cannot be made to work properly with all MC cartridges.

A stand-alone step up transformer can be used to better match a cartridge to a MM phono preamplifier, instead of using the internal active head amplifier or the internal step-up transformers in a phono preamplifier. Step-up transformers ratios typically range from 1:5 to 1:40.

Adding an additional set of interconnects to use a stand-alone step up transformer instead of using internal circuitry inside a phono preamp does add some additional lengths of wire as well as connectors, however, the active stage or internal step up transformers are connected by wires or printed circuits inside the phono preamp. Perhaps one could also say that a console stereo or integrated receiver is better than separate components since no interconnects are required. That is true if you could choose which components are hard wired inside the console.

The bottom line is that you will get better result by matching a Moving Coil Phono Cartridge using a Step-up transformer with the correct ratio, than by using the Moving Coil section of a Phono Preamplifier.