To SUT or not to SUT?

montesquieu

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Jan 27, 2019
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I think it is instructive to see the specs of the cartridges Tom (Montesquieu) say's work best with his SUT's and compare them with the specs of the cartridges he is using with his head amp. I am inclined to think that most cartridges with "modern" specs (for example 0.5mV output, ohm impedance like the My Sonic Labs) will work best with a head amp whilst cartridges with "older" specs (like the FR-7 or Io 2 above) work best with SUT's. Most of my cartridges fall into the latter camp but I do have a few of the former and find that whilst they do work with my SUT's they need more experimentation with their loading requirements for best sound.

I think it's mainly down to output ... many older MCs are of very low output, which pretty much always respond better to use with a SUT. (It being just too much to ask a valve in particular, but also most implementations of FETs, to provide sufficient gain to boost them to sensible levels without introducing too much noise.)

SUTs can have their own noise challenges though ... I've learned over time how to set up arm and turntable earthing, as well as appropriate system layout and interconnect selection and dressing, in order to get them dead quiet, but I recall years of difficulty with ground loops or induction hum.

Per the original question - a healthy 0.5 mV at around 1 ohm, that's right in head amp sweet spot, even a tubed one like the HA5000.
 
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dcc

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Having myself an Allnic H3000V, I had considered getting their head amp as well but the output of my cartridge is too low and I went for a custom made SUT from Consolidated Audio. It was definitely a big step up compared to the Allnic's internal SUT.
 
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Rensselaer

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Yes to SUT!
I am using Phasemation pp2000 and a MSL sig. is on its way.
I didn’t believe in SUT until I heard a good one, now I have 15. All vintage though, hard to find newly made ones that are as capable and I have heard some of the most renown ones.
I used 1:15 for Phasemation and that works well. 4.5mv output works well in my System. Using full range no crossover. I do not ‘load’ the cartridge, leave it as 47k fr the phono. If u do the maths any impedance less than 20ohm made v little difference to the gain.

Using the right SUT gives a more open, natural sound. And more importantly the tone and timbre. Unfortunately there is no one SUT fits all. Matching the cart and SUT is critical. Try not to overground the SUT either.

That’s why SUT route is a rabbit hole, they multiply!
Have you heard your Phasemation pp2000 through a pair of Phasemation T-2000 SUTs yet?
 

Rensselaer

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I have been an SUT enthusiast over many years and owned quite a few - AN S6c (Kondo era Audio Note), AN S4 (ANUK), Paravicni The Head TX4, Hashimoto HM7, Stevens & Billington TX103, EAR MC3, Audiorium A23 SPU version, Miyajima KSW, Altec 4722, UTCA12 and quite a few others, most recently the multi-adjustable Miyajima ETR-Stereo and ETR-Mono SUTs, and of course the internals SUTs in my Allnic H7000V and in my previous EAR 912.

I would still consider myself an SUT enthusiast in many circumstances but I had quite a change of opinion when I heard an Allnic HA3000 head amp in my system, after which bought my own HA5000 head amp (the HA3000's replacement, with inputs for two tonearms rather than one). This is way better than any previous head amp I've tried, valve or solidstate.

Anyway, in the months since this arrived I have since sold the Miyajima SUTs, and use the HA5000 with (among other things) a pair of My Sonic Lab cartridges, a Hyper Eminent and an Eminient Solo mono (see my previous write-up here https://www.whatsbestforum.com/thre...-104s-and-mh-124s-tonearms.31616/#post-683539

Hopefully this direct experience of running MSL cartridges with head amps vs SUT might be useful, I don't know the OP's phono stage but can say that the Allnic pairing (HA5000 head amp and H7000V) works superbly with these cartridges and I have no intention of going back down the SUT route. Which is something I would never have expected myself to write.




Montesquieu, would you kindly tell me about your Leben? I own a CS-300Xs that did not sound good until I removed the Sovtek valves that it came with (they used to come with Mullard EL84's but as they became rare switched to Sovtek, hence the s on the end of the designation) and replaced them with NOS Amperex. My Phasemation pp-2000 MC cart goes through a Phasemation T-2000 SUT pair, to a Leben RS-30EQ valved MM phono stage. The output of my CS-300Xs is only 20 watts, push-pull I believe, but my speakers (Thrax Lyra's) can take up to around 250 watts. My system sounds great, but if my CS-300Xs should ever fail me, does your Leben have the magic? Did you have to change any valves? Thanks,
 

montesquieu

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Jan 27, 2019
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I've owned quite a few EL34/KT88/90/120 push pull valve amps over the years including the Leben CS660P, Radford STA25 (which is 35w EL34) and Radford STA100 (100w KT88) - the latter restored for me by Radford Revival in the UK - as well as EAR 890 and assorted others.

My take on PP amps is generally that single pairs of pentode/tetrodes per channel sound better than parallel push pull, where in return for more power, you risk clarity and coherence. For that reason I wouldn't go to parallel push pull, even though I've heard a few PPP amps that I quite like (EL84 based, typically). It's also my view that pentodes/tetrodes should be left in standard configuration - I never really heard a triode-strapped pentode that pushed all buttons for me, especially in an amp that's switchable, as opposed to needing physical rewiring.

The Leben CS1000p for my money is right up there with the very best KT88 PP amps out there. It comes as standard with KT120s. I'm not a big fan of KT120s generally (they always sound a bit 'thick' to me - I dont know whether this is a particular characteristic of the Tung Sol design) so I put in my favourite tube - the EH KT90. Just as powerfull in the bass, at higher registers it has more clarity and a share more musicality in my book. But then again I'm biggest on Renaissance and Baroque chamber music, Lieder and solo keyboard. It's possible a rock fan may go the other way. As mentioned I always run it in pentode - in fact I don't even know why they bother with triode switching.

Anyway for my money the 1000p is less compromised than the 660p which is a sweet and lovely thing with plenty of bass - but the bass is soft and less defined in comparison to the 1000p, which really is a different animal - it's larger, beefier all round and has a more robust feel to it. In absolute terms the 1000p it hasn't quite got the grip of a high-power solid state amp, but the counter-side is that it retains a sweetness common to the Leben line.

I guess what I'm saying is that it sounds like a valve amp, but a very good valve amp. If you are seeking to move up in power from elswhere in the Leben line it could be a good bet. There is a review out there where someone (cant remember who), who has also owned both, came to a verdict the CS1000p, while more accomplished in every normal hifi criterion, somehow lost out on magic to the CS660p .. well having also owned both, I simply don't agree. Not with KT90s in anyway. For me it's simply better all round, period.

As ever, I suppose it depends on speaker-amp synergy. But hard to see where you can go wrong.

In part just for the sake of change, I've been quietly eying up different options, such as going OTL, or going back to Radford STA100 or STA100-derived monoblocks (the Radford is even more robust in the bass than the Leben, indeed in many ways sounds more solid state than valve - though my Audiopax Model 5 pre enables me to dial back in some of the valve juicyness).

But it really would take something special to knock the Leben off its perch. It's such a lovely looking, well made thing too - a pleasure to own.
 

scot

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Jan 4, 2018
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Hi

I am also looking at low impedance/low output mc cartridges and SUT and have been reading a lot about both lately. The one that seems to consistently get the most rave reviews from all that hear/review them seems to be the Auditorium 23 Homage T1. Art Dudley thought it was so good he felt it deserved a whole new category and gave it a class A+ (as apposed to just class A) in Stereophile magazine's "recommended components" list which is very unusual for him especially. It's expensive at $5000.00 (what in this hobby isn't) but he claimed it was just amazing. A lot of the manufacturers who build these cartridges also offer their own SUT that's usually made specifically for their cartridges. That might be a good option. Good luck.
 

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