Why are SUT's so pricey? And a few other thoughts

Discussion in 'General Audio Discussion' started by tyeeslayer, Dec 2, 2017.

  1. tyeeslayer

    tyeeslayer Super Member

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    Is it the ol' supply and demand thing, or am I missing something here?
    There sure does not look to be much to them, or am I missing something here too?
    Is there some magical winding that makes them high $$$
    Do they color the sound?
    If MC phono stage is less then enthralling will a SUT into the MM input be an improvement (considering you like the sound of the MM phono stage)?
    What gain does one need for a 0.4mv cart?
     
  2. Blue Shadow

    Blue Shadow I gotta get me a new title

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    Check out Rothwell Audio's site, lots of SUT info and some gain info but you might need to know some impedance info, too for properly matching the cartridge in question. Maybe it is on the list he has on the site.
     
  3. tyeeslayer

    tyeeslayer Super Member

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    Very informative. But still leaves me with the question ....Why so pricey? MC1 is $380 usd.
    Look what is in the unit. Why nearly 400$ rothwell.jpg

    rothwell.jpg
     
  4. Todd Dodds

    Todd Dodds AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    I can't explain it, but I suppose it might be one of those examples of "...it's not so much what's in the unit, but knowing WHAT to put in the unit".
    All I know is that I needed the expensive SUT to make the noise go from the expensive cart, to the expensive preamp, expensive power amp and expensive speakers. I chose not to question. But, hey...when a nice record is going for $50...
     
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  5. UncleBingo

    UncleBingo AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    http://www.jensen-transformers.com/transformers/moving-coil/ Note the RH column for bulk pricing. Not a lot of economy of scale for manufacturers buying in bulk.
    Also, mu-metal shielding, nickel cores, precision winding machines, engineering costs added to "Why bother, if you can't make money doing it?".
    $350 is a drop-in-the-bucket to a guy spending 1k+ on a phono pickup.
     
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  6. Blue Shadow

    Blue Shadow I gotta get me a new title

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    Vintage silver wound SUT are in the 600-800 range when you can find them. Winding a transformer must not be easy to get right, proper materials and such. And if one loses count of the turns, we gotta do it all over again.
     
  7. UncleBingo

    UncleBingo AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Yep, and you don't get paid for the unwinding. Not to mention that you probably trashed the wire and can't re-use it.
     
  8. Athalwolf

    Athalwolf AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    I asked about gain for a LOMC cartridge I recently acquired and was directed to this page : https://www.kabusa.com/pregain.htm
    My cartridge has an output of only .28mV. I put that number into the calculator and pushed compute and the recommended gain is 61dB. I inputted .4 and the result is 58dB. (that's assuming I used the calculator correctly). My phono pre has a max output of 60dB so I'm kinda wishing I had a bit more juice. Several people have told me that 60 is fine but I read that it's always better to have a bit extra. Something about opening the cartridge up to it's full potential.
    Glad I saw your post this morning. It reminded me to take some salmon out of the freezer for dinner.:)
     
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  9. tyeeslayer

    tyeeslayer Super Member

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    So do they colour the sound?
     
  10. mjw21a

    mjw21a Super Member

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    Really depends on the SUT. I have a vintage Jensen SUT which definitely colours the sound though it's delightful with certain carts.

    A Cinemag Blue 1254 where I can't hear it in the chain. Seems totally transparent. Also a Fidelity Research FRT-3 which seems to have the tiniest hint of warmth though is more open sounding than anything else I've ever heard.

    So yeah, it really varies. I used these with my tube phono stages though the Valab LCR-1 I'm now running on my main system just doesn't need it (73db gain). It sounds pretty incredible with my 0.12mv Phillips GP922 cart
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2017
  11. Freddymac2

    Freddymac2 Super Member

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    Every piece you put in your system has an effect on the output. Most MC cartridges say 100 ohms is what they want across them. Some use up to 1000 ohms, and each change effects your output slightly. Not all transformers get the most out of a cartridge, so there is a certain amount of matching the two pieces.
     
  12. Todd Dodds

    Todd Dodds AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    I jumped into the whole table/cart/preamp/phonostage/SUT thing blind. Or maybe 'deaf' to be more correct. Anyway, I've wound up with a pretty broad array of options for making vinyl records make sounds.
    Of all the stuff I've got to fool around with, I'd say my Rothwell MCL SUT is tied with Musical Surroundings Nova II phonostage
    for clean sound, and a lot cheaper.
     
  13. twiiii

    twiiii Super Member

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    I bought my first Ortofon back in 63 or 2 it was a SPU model with a built in SUT's in a single headshell that plugged into an Ortofon Arm. I think the combo was a little over$100.00. Then came another with the elliptical Stylus. In order to improve tracking the SUT's were removed from the head shell. Over the years I must have had 4 or 5 different external ortofon SUTss. Each sounded different with a different cartridge only sounding right with its cartridge. When I decided to give up on LP's the first time only keeping 20 or so Direct to disc , Command, Sheffield , Mobile Fidelity, I tried a V-15 V MR and a Stanton 981. I kept the stanton and bought 4 extra stylii. That was the middle 70's. I basically had 20 lps and maybe 500 tapes in my collection until CD's were introduced. . Then in 2008 a close friend introduced me to Dynavector HO cartridges, I had said I was tired of SUT's with all the issues they brought with noise, RF interference and hum. Today as I keep adding LP's I added a Mac MP 100 because I want to go back to LOMC cartridge soon. Probably an XX2. But no more SUT's for me. I lived with them and installed them and they were always a compromise and a pain to deal with back in the 70, 80, and 90's. I will admit those that were more costly, gave better performance than the less expensive models. It was quite evident during demos. An SUT with a +/- 2 db response can totally color the sound and compromise the performance of a cartridge. So if you want a SUT that will allow the total performance of a good MC cartridge to shine thru be prepared to spend the big bucks. We didn't have the options back in the 60's and early 70's.
     
  14. tyeeslayer

    tyeeslayer Super Member

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    Sometimes with a limited budget this hobby is trying to say the least. You want to try it all, but lamentably can only afford one. But which one? There are no simple answers and to make the wrong choice can cost you. I wish I could buy them all and try them out. The Rothwell ones look intriguing, the Signature One....me like a lot. But oh the price. Yup Champagne taste on a beer budget.
     
  15. tyeeslayer

    tyeeslayer Super Member

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    The cart is not a super high priced/ super unit. It is a AT-OC9/III
     
  16. 4-2-7

    4-2-7 Smart Ass Sponsor Subscriber

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    I personally like Phono Head amps because they are adjustable in gain and loading. A SUT is one setting and ordered for the cartridge one is trying to used. After a while hear and Rothwell seeing what I was doing he added a Head Amp that will handle Lo & Hi output MC carts as well as MM cartridges. I think it's called the Head Case.

    What I did was to try used eBay staging, Stand alone RIAA stages and Head Amps, having two or more at a time. By doing this you can hear the difference between them and sell the ones you don't want with no loss. I have managed to collect 4 SOTA Phono Head Amps even after passing one on to another member. However they take time to find and if you do a search on them It will show me:p

    Denon and other companies made these in the past when LOMC where the thing.
     
  17. edwyun

    edwyun Super Member

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    The calcs are good for an estimation but they don't take into account insertion loss from each component. For example, my SUT has a 2dB insertion loss. So, it's always better to have a bit more gain than the calcs recommend.


    Some do and some don't. As a reference point based on a mV/dB meter, my SUT was measuring +/- 0.5dB from 20Hz to 16kHz and then had a slight rise of +3dB at 20kHz (though a part of that rise was inherent in my MC cart).

    Also, I wouldn't say color so much as providing better tonality, fullness of sound, and soundstage.
     
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  18. edwyun

    edwyun Super Member

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  19. 4-2-7

    4-2-7 Smart Ass Sponsor Subscriber

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    I agree here
    Ty, I really don't need to used the head amps with my cartridges, but the SOTAs I use open up my space. They seem to push the roof up and walls out making my room like a concert hall opposed to just a living room.
     
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  20. Balifly

    Balifly Listening Subscriber

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    You would only need a very basic one like the AT 630 for your cartridge.

    A couple of years ago the AT 630 and similar Ortofon SUT were in the $100.00 US or less price range.

    Now they are up to the $300.00 range.

    Check with Montycat, he may have some local sources. :idea:
     

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