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linden518
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Moving Coil Step-Up Transformer for Denon 103?

Moved this question here from the Entry thread... you'll still think me an idiot for asking this, but: What the heck does a step-up transformer do? Why use the step-up trannie in addition to phono stage? Can somebody explain to me what might be the optimal situation in which step-up transformer is used? I'm trying to tread through the dark waters of vinyl (Got my Fremer DVD in the mail, hooray!) and it's fun & confusing at the same time.

So, if you don't have a phono stage already, you can't use step-up transformers at all, right?

I have a phono stage on my Plinius 8150 and don't have one on my Leben CS600. I haven't yet decided to which system I will add a turntable system. Supposing I'd try for the Denon 103 cartridge: would it be better adding a step-up transformer to the Plinius' stage (like the Denon 103-specific Auditorium 23 that Art Dudley mentions) or adding a stand-alone phono stage to the Leben, like a Pro-ject tubebox, Sutherland Ph3D or Era Gold V? Or if I get the phono stage to the Leben, do I still need to add the step-up trannie to maximize the potential of the Denon 103?

Obviously, I'm going to wait until our NYC Analog Drunkards' Convention on 2/22 for some of these questions, but wanted to understand these things a bit first... Thanks!

Jan Vigne
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Re: Moving Coil Step-Up Transformer for Denon 103?

Step up transformers do what the name implies, they step up the voltage from one level at the input to a higher level at the output. They are passive devices so no active circuit noise or distortion is added by the transformer. They are probably the cleanest way to step up the voltage of a cartridge but have limitations in that they are typically fixed in the amount of gain they provide and have a fixed input impedance. If you run several cartridges and require the ability to trim levels and input impedance/capacitance, then you should use an active device with those provisions. In most cases - and certainly for the Denon 103 - the transformer would be my first choice in a step up device. You might even find the Denon transformers on the used market for a good price. You would then run the transformer into a moving magent phono input. You would not require an outboard active phono stage if you use the transformer. If you're considering the 103, I would also consider the Zu cartridge recently reviewed in Stereophile.

linden518
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Re: Moving Coil Step-Up Transformer for Denon 103?

Jan, thanks so much for your explanation. Much clearer now! I did read that article for the Zu 103 cartridge & I'd probably opt for that cartridge, as it seems like a relative bargain.

I have another question, though. Among the standalone phono stages, are there models optimized specifically for low-output MC? I saw that most of them accommodate MM or high-output MC... thanks again.

Jan Vigne
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Re: Moving Coil Step-Up Transformer for Denon 103?

"Optimized"? 'Splain "optimized", keemosabee.

linden518
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Re: Moving Coil Step-Up Transformer for Denon 103?


Quote:
"Optimized"? 'Splain "optimized", keemosabee.


Well, phono stages that are geared specifically for LOMC rather than HOMC/MM. Since I don't have a phono stage in my Leben system, I'd like to see if I can just get a quality phono stage that's specifically for LOMC rather than getting a phono stage + step-up...

Jan Vigne
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Re: Moving Coil Step-Up Transformer for Denon 103?

Yes, there are phono pre amps that favor low output mc's though most are meant to work within a range of output voltages from the cartridge. Check the Stereophile review archives to determine what features you wish to purchase. Keep in mind higher gain from a dedicated LOMC phono stage will probably have more noise that a MM phono stage with a step up transformer.

linden518
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Re: Moving Coil Step-Up Transformer for Denon 103?


Quote:
Keep in mind higher gain from a dedicated LOMC phono stage will probably have more noise that a MM phono stage with a step up transformer.


D'oh! Why do you have to do that to me!

But seriously, if you have any recommendation for a quiet LOMC phono stage, pls let me know... thnx.

Elk
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Re: Moving Coil Step-Up Transformer for Denon 103?

I can suggest the Musical Surroundings Phonomena

# Discrete transistor topology
# Class A operation
# Dual mono audio layout
# Super matched pair of low noise input transistors
# Adjustable gain: 40 - 60 dB in 16 steps
# Adjustable loading: 30 ohms - 100 k-ohms in 128 steps
# Adjustable capacitance

It is clean, clear, detailed and quiet, "affordable" (always a relative term) at $600.00 list.

There also is a battery power supply option.

60 dB of gain is sufficient, although even more clean gain is nice with low output cartridges. This gets expensive.

linden518
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Re: Moving Coil Step-Up Transformer for Denon 103?

Thanks, Elk. I'll check out Phonomena, but honestly, I'm leaning towards MM right now, most likely with Clearaudio Virtuoso Wood cartridge. Just too much right now to set up for LOMC (money-wise & planning-wise); I'll probably come back to LOMC later, well after I set up my turntable first.

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