I am very happy with my Bob's Devices Cinemag step ups but I haven't used the ones you mention.
20 responses Add your response
from everything I have read and heard, to get top performance from a SUT/MC cart system, they must be matched to each other. Search the archives and you will find lots of information on this. SOME carts are very sensitive to loading and some are less so. The benefit of the S&Bs is that you can easily experiment with and hear the diff btwn diff loading values and diff resistors. You might want to consider a head-amp (aka pre-pre-amp) if your phono stage does not provide sufficient gain. I have used the ZYX CCP-1 with very good results (not w your cart, but I do not believe that a head amp/cart match is as critical as a SUT/cart match. Just my $0.02, bt I'm guessing unless you can find an SUT that several people agree is a good match with your cart, you're going to have to experiment some.
I also use a headamp and do so very happily. I find it quite flexible (it has two gains and a pass-through, and 4 different loading choices). It easily beat my previous best SUT, that said it cost a bit more than the SUT did, and I have never tried a SUT with the reputation of the S&B TX103 (i.e. one of the best ever made).
Check out the Hagerman Piccolo, especially if you aren't afraid of using a soldering iron. It is very good stock, but really shines with some very small improvements, like a better cap in one key location and some "boutique" resistors in 2 locations. All 3 of these "mods" are directly in the signal path so they should be easy to identify from the provided schematic.
It also provides variable loading on the fly with the flick of a knob and 3 different gain levels.
Dear Lutenist: That VDH cartridge is very good one and IMHO to shows at its best it needs to be " surrounded " by the right/best analog audio links you can achieve/find.
IMHO that Croft you own to process the BB very low and critical cartridge signal made more " damage " that good to preserve the cartridge signal integrity.
Maybe could be better in favor to achieve a more real/true cartridge quality performance make a change of that item for a better unit that can honor and make justice to that top BB cartridge.
Add a SUT to that cartridge signal processor IMHO could be a big mistake. Of course that what I'm posting here depend of what are your targets on quality level perfomance level and if you want to herar the BB like a real/true BB or just simple hear it with a lesser lot lesser quality performance that what the BB can/could offer.
Regards and enjoy the music,
If you want a great value check out choiraudio dot com. They have a Cinemag based SUT for $349. It's in a nice enclosure with star grounding. Unless you build one yourself I have not seen a finished Cinemag based SUT at this price.
The usual disclaimers apply - I do not have any financial affiliation with Choir Audio.
Ultimately it will depend on how it interacts with your cartridge and phono pre. In my case the silks outperformed the S&B's. Unfortunately specs and reviews rarely tell the whole story of how an sut will perform in a given system. It would be nice if you could get an evaluation period when buying some of the higher priced step ups. Bottle Head amps are supposedly going to offer an SUT from magnaquest that should be very good and priced reasonable.
I highly recommend the SoundTradition Live! MC-10. Costs about US$990. Here is the website: http://www.obsinc-products.com/servlet/Categories?category=MC+Step-Up+
Its th best I have heard and is quite a bit better than the Cinemag CMQEE-3440A, the Silk Step-Ups Fidelity Research XG5 and SPU-T100 using either my Ortofon SPU Meister Silver Mk2 or Dynavector XX-2MkII cartridges.
Lutenist- I do not begin to understand the ins and outs, but if you do some searches on the forums you will find that there are different schools of thought on loading primary vs. secondary. I will tell you that w a very high res system, you can hear v small differences in cart loading. I would NOT discount trying a good headamp.
I have tried resistor loading on the secondary side of the Silk transformers. The best write up on this is in the Bent Audio Forum. Have not tried loading on the primary. I find that loading on the secondary can help. But my preference is the Cinemag over the Silk even with loading. Of course YMMV.
I just received my June Stereophile today and see that Art Dudley comments on the Bob's Devices SUT and says that it is very close to one costing 10X as much. He says"For the LP enthusiast who has yet to experience the superiority of a MC pickup combined with a transformer step-up device, I can think of no better place to begin."
I've been using a VDH MC 10 for many years, I know its not in the same league as the BB but as its from the same family i will toss my $.02 to the wind. I've tried a few great Head amps (Pioneer HZ 1 was the best still regret selling it) as well as recently the Silk SUTs and older Otofon SUT and highly regarded Denon SUT and to be honest the VDH carts just sounds better with a Head Amp. even my VDH manual says they don't recommend a SUT. with the cost of the BB I would invest in a quality head amp/MC phono stage I think you will be happier in the long run.