Elevate your turntable experience
Introducing for our analogue friends, the MC Step Up S3 and DS3.
The latest release from Pro-Ject Audio is designed to improve experience for customers with looking to move to Moving Coil cartridges but who have either an excellent built-in phono stage on their integrated amplifier, a limited capability (i.e. MM) dedicated phono stage or for the experience customer already with an MC cartridge, wanting to get the most out of their system.
What is a Step Up transformer?
A Step Up Transformer is used primarily with moving coil (MC) phono cartridges, which are known for their low output levels. These cartridges typically produce a signal that is too weak to be directly handled by the standard phono preamplifier stage designed for moving magnet (MM) cartridges.
The step-up transformer increases, or "steps up," the low signal voltage from the moving coil cartridge to a level that is compatible with the input sensitivity of a typical MM phono stage. This amplification is achieved without adding significant noise or distortion, preserving the high fidelity of the audio signal.
The use of a step-up transformer is crucial for audiophiles and enthusiasts who prefer the sound quality of MC cartridges, as it enables the turntable system to effectively translate the delicate nuances and dynamics captured by these high-quality cartridges into a clear and robust audio output.
The Step Up Transformer is installed between your cartridge and your phono stage.
e.g. Pro-Ject X2B turntable.
Mini-XLR out from the back of the TT into the RCA input on the MC Step Up S3. RCA from the SUT into the RCA input on the S3 phono stage (with this being set to 47Khz / 100ohms and 45dB gain). The phono stage connects into your normal line level input on your amplifier.
e.g. Pro-Ject X8 turntable.
5pin out from the back of the TT into the XLR input on the MC Step Up DS3B. XLR from the SUT into the XLR input on the DS3 B phono stage (with this being set to 47Khz / 100ohms and 45dB gain). The phono stage connects into your normal line level input on your amplifier as usual.
Which one is for me?
There are two new products from Pro-Ject Audio:
It is worth noting - Step Up Transforms (SUT’s) should be matched to a cartridges load/impedance and output. A low (e.g. 0.7mv) output cartridge needs careful amplification and any noise can be significantly amplified with traditional phono stages. Depending on the source output should determine which SUT you require.
There is also the selection of connectivity - where single ended RCA vs Balanced XLR may lead one to consider one product over another.
In our experience - high output MC (HOMC) cartridges (Sumiko Blue Point No.3 High at 2.5mV) are suitable on the MC Step Up S3 whereas low output cartridges (such as the Cadenza Bronze at 0.4mV) require more gain (stepping up) for the output to the Phono Stage thus the MC Step Up DS3 B would be appropriate.
If your turntable supports single ended RCA only (i.e Debut Carbon Pro) or your amplifier has no balanced inputs with a high output MC cartridge (anything 2.5mV or above) - the MC Step Up S3 would be likely be sufficient for you. It features two different impendence settings, gold plated terminals and an aluminium housing.
If your turntable supports balanced (i.e. XLR) such as on the X8 or X9 or your amplifier has balanced inputs available as well as a lower output cartridge (Quintet/Cadenza series for example) - the MC Step Up DS3 B would be the Step Up Transformer for you.
Capable of supporting the higher end, lower output cartridges (such as the Quintet or Cadenza Black from Ortofon or the Songbird or Starling from Sumiko) - it features a wider range of impedance and gain settings as well as the ability of having balance in/out as well as single ended inputs if you have a higher end MC cartridge on a more traditional turntable (Linn, Cyrus, Rega etc).
So how does the sound improve?
What really jumps out at you when listening to your setup through a SUT is the improved dynamic range.
As simple as that!
You’ll enjoy a more articulate, realistic playback experience with music sounding fuller but not bloated. If the SUT is doing the job correctly - high frequency which can be attenuated in phono stages will have more space around it, again opening a more natural experience from the vinyl, improving the authenticity of the experience which we all know, is why we love analogue playback!
Certainly the playback sounds less strenuous - it’s easier and more engaging. That for me is what really makes the MC Step Up units worth their investment and if you purchase appropriate to your current and aspirations, should last you a long time.
Can I demo these units in store?
Absolutely! In store we are currently running the Xtension 9 which ships with a FREE DS3 B Phono Stage currently (an amazing, high value offer!), with one of the new Evo AS 9” S Shaped tonearms, Cadenza Bronze cartridge with the MC Step Up DS3 B.
We’re happy to do A-B comparisons with our system as required as well as look at other options of phono stage compatibility with your turntable.
Don’t forget, for your existing turntables we have cable upgrades from Pro-Ject Audio available too (from RCA-XLR, Mini-XLR to Mini-XLR/XLR and 5-pin to XLR).
Contact us if you need support on which cable you need.
For a limited time only, buy a Step Up Transformer and get 5% off your order when picking one of our selection of MC cartridges. As always - please contact Lee in store to discuss options, suitability and our experiences of these new units.
Should you be interested in a new tonearm - contact Lee to check on availability and options on your turntable. We have the ability to demo 3 new tonearms in store which are suitable for the X2, X8, X9, X10, Classic, 2Xperience and other turntables from other manufacturers taking a 9”, 10” or 12” tonearm.
We have the “Premium CA” (Carbon Aluminium), “Evo AS” (S Shaped, Chrome finish) and “Evo AS Premium” (S Shaped, Premium Black finish) in store with our X8 and X9 available to show the upgrade demo.