SUT Advice - Which Ones Are The Best?


I am currently in research mode.  I want to add a SUT to my set-up but I am finding that there is not a lot of information from my local audio shop resources.  It seems that SUTs are outliers in the high end audio world.  
That said, I have read several articles in magazines and the web touting their merits.
Of all the brands out there I am most familiar with Bob's Devices.  Art Dudley wrote many good things about his experiences with Bob's SUTs, and I happen to trust Art (God rest his soul), but I'm wondering if there are others I should consider as well.  Please post your recommendations if you have experience with any SUTs, regardless of brand.
As for my set-up, I have a SME 20/2 turntable, Tri-Planer tone arm, Lyra Kleos cartridge, and KTE LCR Mk5 Phono preamp.  I do not know if I will always use a Kleos cartridge but I do think I will always buy low output MC carts.  I hope to buy something that will work with low output MCs but have some adjustability just in case.
I'd love to hear your recommendations.
Thanks!
Peter
128x128snackeyp
Anyway you slice it... (whether it be pure tubed, SUT/tube, FET/tube, and yes even with some solid state devices, etc... ) I truly believe that we should try and remember that we, as vinyl lovers, should all feel thankful and blessed that we have so many great and talented designers who are able to provide us with a plethora of fantastic options that are available to us at so many different price points that it allows us all to have the opportunity to be able to enjoy the great sonics that vinyl can provide :)

I do not understand how anyone would be able to categorically deny the worthiness of a component that they may have never even heard in their own system, simply because of a certain capacitor, wire, passive/active device, etc... that is being employed. I’ve always believed that the worthiness of a component is a combination of the entire circuit design and the sum of all the parts working together seamlessly vs just one sole aspect of the component in question... not to mention the importance of system synergy.

We are all individuals, with our own set of ears, with our own unique way of hearing sounds. We all have our own set of listening preferences and sonic priorities. What is important to one, may not be to another. But, what we all "mostly" have in common is the love of music and being able to reproduce that in our homes :)

I know that it is the opinion of many, that in order to have a high gain phono amp that it must have to be a Solid State or FET design or else there will be just too much noise.  For those people I would suggest the Wavestream Kinetics Deluxe Phono Amp. I have admired Scott Frankland’s audio design work (phono, preamps, amplifiers) for decades but was never in a financial position to afford them. However, over the last couple of years, I have suffered 5 unexplained strokes and have recently been diagnosed with two cancerous tumors. I have come to realize that we may not get any mulligan’s in this game of life. 

So, on Feb 17, I placed a deposit with Scott for his most recent Wavestream Kinetic Level 5.1 Reference phono amp. His phono amp has always been on my "bucket list". It is an all tube design currently using (2 x 12AX7, 4 x 6DJ8); with extremely low noise ( I believe with the external power supply, noise is below 1uV (one-millionth of a volt ); providing 3 front panel selectable inputs = two MC at 62 dB of gain (without the use of SUT’s or FETS) with a useful cartridge range of 0.2mV to 1.2mV and one MM output at 42dB (you are able to choose your MM gain or you can have 3 MC ); having both balanced and RCA inputs and outputs; adjustable loading available on the back panel via custom loading plugs; and an essentially flat RIAA EQ curve within one tenth of a dB (.1dB) from 3 Hz to 40 Khz. *** The above specs are from the best of my recollection - if you have interest, please consult with Scott Frankland to confirm. He is wonderful to communicate with. ***

It is very dynamic, both in the micro and macro sense, throughout the entire frequency range.  It produces rich harmonics that are exhilarating when listening to violin/cello/acoustic bass, both reed and brass instruments, vocals, etc... all without sounding syrupy.  It is extremely quite, plenty of gain and very pure sounding... due to not having to use any FET or Solid State devices, no need to use Step Up Transformers and their extra set of interconnects and connections or having to fight with hum issues.

It is a very well thought out design, by an extremely talented designer and a true gentleman who is absolutely fantastic to deal with, Mr Scott Frankland.  I feel very blessed to be able to have this piece in my system.  At $9K new, I feel it is an absolute steel.  Once in a very great while, you might see one come up for sale on the used market, but not very often.  I consider this to be a true testament to the greatness of this phono amp as people who own it, hang on to it.  It is not a "flavor of the month" type piece, but rather something that you cherish and would like to pass on to your children.

In any case, just another excellent option to be considered :)

As for SUT's are concerned....  Not all SUT's are created equal.  There are some great ones, and others that are not so great.  I have a vintage Hirata Tango that has an exceptionally wide bandwidth with no ringing.  When used with some phono stages ( that are not up to the same refined standard of my Wavestream ) the Tango can absolutely improve the sound of those phono stages.  However, as nice as some SUT's can be, it is imperative that you match the SUT to your cartridge and phono stage.  You can't just simply use multiple different cartridges with a single SUT.  Just too many variables with gain, output, impedances, etc.  You also have to contend with additional interconnects, possible hum issues, etc.

Wishing you all the very best of health, love and happiness!
Don

My Hashimoto HM-3 has recently been on loan to the HiFi Group I am a member off.
I missed a very recent meeting, where the HM-3 SUT was used in a demonstration with a Bespoke Built Head Amp.
The differences in the performances were reported on as a follow up in an email chain.
The Hashimoto has been claimed to have been mellow, relaxed and having a refined detail retrieval. 
I can concur using recollections of my experiences about the refined detail retrieval, I have noticed this myself when the SUT is in use.

The Head Amp has been claimed to have forward projection and airiness and incisive detail retrieval.
I can concur using recollections of my experiences, that when I have used a Head Amp in my system, the projection and clarity/lucidity of the presentation is noticeable and differs from a SUT in this area.
 
My experience with SUT vs Head Amp demonstration in my system will show a SUT to have a hint of Richness when compared to a Head Amp.
Are Mellow, Relaxed, Richness the same thing when different comments from different individuals are being offered about a SUT? 
Are Airiness and Incisive Detail Retrieval quite similar to clarity/lucidity when different comments from different individuals are being offered about a Head Amp ? 
Bear in mind another SUT 'might close the Gap' on the Airiness, but my experience is that SUT's add a hint of Richness, so the clarity/lucidity will be a harder gap to close in on. 
These are my thoughts on the matter based on my limited experiences.

If it is a must to get the presentation to meet the preferences of the end user and to be a satisfying long term experience, it is worthwhile experiencing each of the Designs (SUT vs Head Amp) to see how one is making an impact within a System.
 
    
@no_regrets 

Couldn't agree more with this!

I do not understand how anyone would be able to categorically deny the worthiness of a component that they may have never even heard in their own system, simply because of a certain capacitor, wire, passive/active device, etc... that is being employed. I’ve always believed that the worthiness of a component is a combination of the entire circuit design and the sum of all the parts working together seamlessly vs just one sole aspect of the component in question... not to mention the importance of system synergy.

Dear @edgewear : "  I've compared dozens of low impedance MC's with mixed results, but generally speaking Ortofon SPU, FR 7, Ikeda 9 and Miyabi seem to prefer a SUT in the signal path (with some preferring silver wire over copper wire and vice versa), while Ortofon A95, MC Anna and Transfiguration Proteus sounded much better with active amplification...""

Like you I did and do the same SUT vs active cartridge quality comparisons where both phono stages ( MC and MM ) has the same quality level performance.

I own and owned several SUTs and by coincidence two of them that I still have came by Entré, I own too the AT 1000T that is dedicated for the AT MC1000 cartridge that you own, I own too 2 modified by me Denon SUTs the 340 and the AU1000. I'm using this last for the latest comparisons. Here its unique characteristics:

http://20cheaddatebase.web.fc2.com/needie/NDdenon/AU-1000.html


Look its wide frequency range and its heavy weigth.

Well, any vintage and today cartridge performs really really good with the AU-1000 but overall can't even the high gain active stages quality performance levels in my phonolinepreamp. Yes, near but not match it.

Btw, if you can and due that you have not preference on these alternatives try to get the AU-1000.

As a fact I can live easily with the SUT in my system but the high gain active alternative is the ultimate way to go.

Of course that everything is dependent of the whole design quality levels of any active high gain unit.

Regards and enjoy the MUSIC NOT DISTORTIONS,
R.