I used a K&K and a Microgroove. They both worked very well. Then I bought a Supratek, so I don't need the stepup any more. So, I sold the Microgroove and kept the K&K in case I ever need another stepup.
Size don't matter. Does that answer your question?
I can tell you on my personal experience the same thing: Performance Does!
Thanks for the responses. But my question remains unanswered as to the technical merits of a much (4 to 5 times) larger design in terms of overall performance. My ears seem to detect a fuller, deeper in bass extension with the larger design. Moreover, the cost seems proportional to the size of the stepup as well. Any actual comparative experiences with magnetic stepups?
Dear Divo: I think that you are like many people ( like me ) that always are trying to find the best analog sound reproduction quality. The most important issue about a stepup-transformers is not the size of it or the quality sound of it, for the anolog music lover the most importantt issue is: NEVER USE A STEPUP TRANSFORMER, always use a preamp with a built-in high gain ( for low output moving coil cartridges ) phono stage. When you use a SUT the critical signal from your low output cartridges has to go trough additionals connectors and interconnect cables that degraded the signal, and not only this the signal degraded too because has to go trough severals meters of wire ( transformers ) inside the SUT. So, the best SUT is NO SUT. This is a fact and you can probe it: her the same signal trough a SUT and trough a preamp with a buil-in phono stage and you will hear the BIG difference.
Don't take my word for sure, do this test: hear it.
Regards and enjoy the music.
Raul, after the frequency with which you have insisted that one MUST use only a preamp with a built-in high-gain phono stage, perhaps you would extend your comments and cite some specific examples of such peramps that have proved worthy in your experience.
A fellow A'goner was using a high gain phono stage. Just for kicks he borrowed my BentAudio stepups and tried them into the MM stage of his preamp. That setup blew his high gain phono stage out of the water. He literally had it up for sale hear in less than a week.
There is no "always" on this issue. It depends on the components being compared, and possibly on other components in the system as well. As '4yanx' said, how about some specific recommendations instead of dogma.
I've used Mitchell cotter passive, Counterpoint SA-2 tube active, Music reference RM-4 tube active, ARC MCP-2 SS active, supex passive, Ortofon 3000 passive on various preamps ( ARC sp-11 MKII, counterpoint SA-5000, Marantz 7-c, music reference RM-5, HK Citation I ) and found very different results. However, the external step up devices are more dynamic overall than the build-in MC stage in SP-11 and SA5000. I prefer the tube active step up like the SA-2 and the RM-4 over the rest. The RM-4 has the best dynamic overall. The SA-2 is not as "see through" but it has slight warmer and relax tone compared to the RM-4 ( thx to tube retifier.)
However, if I have $$$$ to buy the super expensive reference high gain phono stages then maybe I don't need the step up.
I have not found a better MC stage than HK citation I + music reference RM-4 combo for the VDH black beauty so far.
I too think that there are always tradeoffs:
The high-gain devices are far not linear and surely complex. Designing a high-gain phonostage is a challenge of carefull selection of parameters and feedback but in return still even for budget it's better choice than step-up especially in low-end resolution that even a very good quality transformer won't have...
Just to chime in quickly here..I recently added a Bent Audio MU SUT 1:10 ratio(20db gain) for My Dynavector 17d2Mk2..Using a ARC PH3 SE with the fixed 54bd gain. Although the Dyna is now 0.26mV output(up from 0.23) it drove the PH3 SE okay and sounded good. But, without the MU SUT, it lacked the dynamics that brings the Dynavector to life, Better transparency, dynamics, bass is tighter and more weight. Once broken in, and properly loaded for the Dyna..the Bent Audio is far and away better sounding than the ARC alone without any negative downside IMO...Cheers!
Dear friends: Over the time I use severals stepup transformers and head-amps: Ortofon T 2000 and T 5000, Audio Technica AT 1000T, Classe NIL 3, Denon, Expressive Technologies, Klyne, etc... and in that times I always think that this was the best way to hear the reproduction of a low output moving coil cartridge ( for many years ). Then I discovery the Dennesen JC 80 and the Vendetta Research ( high gain phono stages ) and my audio/music/reproduction/life change for a better understanding of what is what we are loosing in the music reproduction at home an understand that before an audiophile I'm a music lover ( it's very dificult to tell where are the limits of these two adjectives ). Since then I always are looking for the " straight line " in the audio reproduction, looking for the products that degraded less the audio signal. We receive through a LP, CD, SACD or DVDA a signal that comes heavy degraded for all the many previous steps where the signal has to pass before we can put on our front end and do the reproduction. I think that if all of us loves music, we have a minum obligation that is: " that the signal suffer the less posible degradation ". The SUT goes against this. Maybe, for many people the SUT is the only way to go. I explain this:
Like Marakanetz and S23chang told us a high gain phono stage is a challenge and very expensive but set you back what we are looking for : " real signal music reproduction " and believe me there it is the only way to get closer to the music.
The experience that speaks Kehut has a simple explanation: for to do a good audio reproduction of a MC cartridge of 0.26mV we need at least 60db of gain that the PH3 does not have it and that is why he hear that differences through the SUT that put the gain for the correct signal reproduction. It is not that the SUT sound better than the PH3 it is only that put the necesary gain for the reproduction, something that the PH3 can't do it.BTW, Doug what is the high gain friend's phono stage?
Recomendations: Burmester, Boulder, FM Acoustics, Classe, gryphon, CTC Blowtorch, Rowland.
Regards and always enjoy the music.
High Doug: If you can give us not only which was the high-gain phono stage but which cartridge and the used load impedance in that test. TKS.
Regards and enjoy the music.
Oh yes I forgot these exellent phono preamps: Spectral, Klyne, Halcro, Pass, MBL. Somebody talk to me about Edge buy I never have the opportunity to listen it.
Thanks for the many recommendations. I'll add them to my list in case I decide to upgrade phono stage and/or preamp someday.
The phono stage was a Sonic Frontiers, an SF-1 I think though I never saw or heard it. It had both an MC and an MM phono stage. It was boosting a Shelter 501MkII (.4mv) into a c-j PV-10 preamp. The owner tried the following configurations:
A. 501 >> SF-1 MC input >> PV-10 line input
B. 501 >> BentAudio Mu >> SF-1 MM input >> PV-10 line input
C. 501 >> BentAudio Mu >> PV-10 MM input
He reported that A was the worst, B was much better, C was best. We can ignore C for this discussion since it merely compares the two different MM phono stages. The comparison of interest was A vs. B, where B was reportedly much better.
The SF-1 had three adjustable gain settings: 44, 54 and 62db. I presume (hope) the 62db setting was being used for configuration A and the 44db setting for configuration B. That would put A and B just 2db apart when my 1:10 SUT's were plugged in. Any thoughts?
This Sonic Frontiers phono stage it's a unit that appear in the years 92/93 in two models: your friend one an a signature model, I thing that the price was around 1,000.00 and 1,800.00 for the signature. Your friend model is a hybrid one and is a moderate gain ( not high-gain ) and a little noisy product. For today standards it is at the bottom end of a mid-fi product.
No disagreement on the SF from the little I've read, but that's irrelevant. If an SF is what my budget allows, why tell me that a more expensive unit is better? If I asked you for tonearm recommendations under $1K I hope you wouldn't insist that I demo a Schroeder Reference.
For this listener, going into the phono stage he already owned, he got better results from a SUT than from the high gain circuit, at virtually equal gain levels. That flat out disproves any absolutist position that a high gain stage is "always" superior to a SUT.
With unlimited resources and freedom to choose from among all available components I agree with you, the simplest path is likely to be best. But that isn't the real world for most people.
Dear Doug: I re-read your posts in this Divo thread and your last post don't makes any sense to me other that: " looking for a fight " or " I'm right you are wrong ".
Those attitudes are loosing time for both of us and for other readers.
Regards and enjoy the music.
Well that sums it up, thank goodness.
In support of, "NEVER USE A STEPUP TRANSFORMER", we shall also adopt, "NEVER LET CIRCUMSTANCES OVERRULE DOGMA."
I stand corrected, humbled even. You have my vote for the next papal vacancy, there could hardly be a stonger candidate.
Gents: there has been a deviation from topic here I notice.
Nevertheless, for info, let me tell you that I have owned many phono stages without stepup : Atmasphere MP-1, the Groove, Walker Reference and the Aethetix IO. I have also owned a few that use a SS stepup (Audible Illusions, Herron) and some that use a transformer stepup(Hovland and now the amazing K&K). So I have been around the block a few times. I currently favour the much more expensive but stunning Bent Mu stepup(with integrated short interconnects) over the Lundhal inside the K&K. So I was probing for actual comparative experiences with stepups to calibrate my own, rather than debate the usefulness of stepups. Debates of the comparative value of phono stage design with/without stepups for MC application have been covered elsewhere, I believe.
Perhaps I selected the wrong forum.
Welcome back Divo, and my apologies. If I had bit my tongue and not responded to the original digression it might have died when it began. Mea culpa.
For SUT's I've only heard the Mu, so can't offer any tranny comparisons. I'd also be interested in any comparisons that may be offered in response to your question.
I, too, enjoy my K&K very much and may have interest in the Bent, having formerly owned John Chapman's passive linestage. Thank you Divo for mentioning specific models, as opposed to general name brands - more what I sought.
Dear Divo: The number of turns in a stepup transformer it's a very important issue. In the same conditions: design, execution of that design, same preamp,..etc. You must to go for the " bigger one ", this one has a better frecuency response speciality on the bass reproduction.
Regards and enjoy the music.
Glad you like your MU as much as I..I can't say enough about how excellent a product. Dont want to digress the subject further on this thread, however that may be too late anyway. My recommendation for the MU came from TWL..who was kind enough to lend some opinion on the SUT. After owning one for just a short time, I can say his assesment of their use was spot on very worth the investment.,,:) Ken
yes, Raul, this corresponds with my experience so far. More lower frequency energy with the larger core designs gives more body to instruments. More satisfying overall.
I have only one suggestion when it comes to step up transformers. Quicksilver. Add ons should usually be avoided in a perfect world. Often we either are already in love with the preamp we have or we can't afford to trade up to the all in one unit that will sovle our problem. To see why transfomers win out over high gain pre amps or pre-preamps, take a magnifying glass and try to magnify an object. While you can see it better, you realize the more you magnify it, the more distorted it becomes.