The recent KLIAV Show 2018 witnessed yet another year of local participation. One of the buzz around the show was the Skyaudio/DocTT set up. Doing a joint show, Steve of Skyudio Singapore collaborated with Doc TT a.k.a. Lee Beng Swee to showcase a series of mods and add onn to one analogue set up. One of the highlights was this Andromeda SUT (Step Up Transformer), designed and finished by Doc TT. During the show, the SUT was hooked up to a Musical Fidelity M1 ViNL phonostage and a Hana EL cartridge. It sounded huge and lively to sum it up.
Straight after the show, Doc TT offered me to listen and review this SUT in the comfort of my home. Have I ever said no to a review? I took it on as I was also curious how would it sound in my set up and with the Hana SL cart. Now, why would a person want to add on an SUT to his MC cart? Why not just use an MM cart instead?
An SUT actually lets you step up a low output MC cart to the correct level without the compromised sound quality. It also suits people with an only MM phono stage in their set up.
BUILT AND DESIGN
The Andromeda is beautifully encased in Baltic Brown Granite stone. The doctor feels that stone over an aluminium chassis resulted in lower floor noise and prouduces darker background music presentation.
In the rear, it is equipped with 2 pairs of RCA sockets; one In and one Out. There is also a Ground socket and a mechanical switch to select a high or low gain and also to turn it off. The off switch is to completely turn off the unit and not a bypass switch of the SUT. I would prefer it to be a bypass switch personally so that its easier to compare the MC cart with or without the SUT.
The unit is relatively heavy for its size, about 5 kg. Solidly built the unit is.
THE SET UP
You will need 2 pairs of RCA interconnects. One from your TT to the Input of this SUT and the other is from the Output of this SUT into you MM input on your phono.
For this review, I was using:
1. Clearuadio Solutions Wood AMG TT
2. Hana SL MC cart
3. Musical Fidelity M1 ViNL phono stage
4. Musical Fidelity M6i integratde amp
5. Accuphase E470 integrated amp
6. PMC Twenty5. 24 speakers
Do note that you need a fully shielded RCA as my first hook up created a hum on my speakers. After changing to another RCA, the hum was reduced.
Putting back the SM Salim track from the KLIAV show, Tak Seindah Wajah, the overall presentation was definitely livelier even at a lower volume. Usually I have to crank up the volume to at about 12 o' clock on the knob. It was sufficient at about 10 o' clock. Emotions ran high on this one. Given the expansive and enveloping music surrounding me, it does deliver the emotional connection to listener. The track was delivered with higher energy with emphasis on liveliness. The vocal was 'gemersik' if one to use a Malay term. There was no overwhelming of any particular frequency. My concern initially was purely the fact that the SUT may just be another 'amplifier' that boost the bass. I was wrong. What it does is it opens up the overall presentation and let the cart delivers more detail. However, I do feel that with the given openness and airiness, I lost some of the grunt and dives of the lower end frequency.
Next was Linda Ronstadt's rendition of Perfidia. Boy, this one was a treat. The Andromeda excels when it comes to vocals and this slow ballad type of musical genres. Particularly with wind instrument. It reproduces the sound with a larger soundstage that provides listeners with more engaging experience. Her vocal was delivered in a more energetic manner, suitable for this kind of music. I did loose the grunt again here but its still acceptable given the track.
On this particular track from The Duet LP (cant recall which track now), the bass was slamming tight. Ok partially it is the PMC Twenty5.24 but given the SUT injected some spaciousness to the sound, the bass was actually still tight and digs really deep. The SUT did not take away that satisfaction compared to the 2 tracks above. The double bass is just crazily presented here and at the same time, it is not restricted as the SUT disperse a bigger ambient to my system.
This one was challenging as the local LP repressings have not been satisfactory. Putting on this May LP, the SUT opens up the presentation as expected. Wider staging but at the same time it brings up the 'flatness' of the LP to be more apparent. It does help on providing that sense of space for a rock kapak sound but at the same time, I didnt get the grunt that I was expecting.
The DocTT Andormeda SUT is what I call one of those listen to believe upgrades for your MC cart and phono stage. It opens up more the overall presentation and is very detail in producing those dynamics that one set up may have. I experienced on several occasions certain details that I didnt notice before. Going back to my set up without SUT, I did regained the slamming overall bass that I like but the sound stage was a bit restrained compared to with SUT. If I was to sum up this in one sentence - A unit that expands your analogue source with high level of details. It goes back to your preference whether you prefer a huge and expanded ambience and sound stage or a more focussed and hard thumping presentation. If you have a chance to demo this, please do so with your own MC cart and phono stage. It will definitely give you a different exeperience. It will then just be whether its to your preference of presentation or not.
Contact Doc TT or Lee Beng Swee on Facebook for further details.