SUT With a Manley Steelhead RC?

I own a Manley Steelhead RC and am using as my main cartridge a My Sonic Lab Signature Platinum.  MSL makes their own SUT that I have been thinking about purchasing, but I'm wondering if it's necessary with the Manley.  I find the Steelhead to be the best sounding phono preamp I've ever owned, but I'm always wondering about ways to make it even better.

I sent a message to Bob at Bob's Devices, but his reply to me was ambiguous.  He made it sound at first as if there would be little sonic benefit, and also seemed to say that his SUT would be superior to the one inside the Steelhead.  I tried to ask more questions but he went radio silent after that, and if I try to call their phone number I can't seem to talk to anyone.  This is not a complaint about their company, BTW.  I've heard nothing but good things about his products.

Any useful advice is appreciated!


I am quite sure that some other company makes or made the Koetsu SUT for Koetsu, and then slapped the Koetsu name on the product.  Just like the Koetsu tonearm was made for them by Jelco. Audio Note (Japan or UK) is a fairly wide ranging enterprise (cartridges, preamplifiers, amplifiers, etc), so i am willing to believe they make AN SUTs. My short list of Denon and Ortofon was by no means meant to be complete.

A quick search on the net resulted in this. "Sugano Jr. resumed the production of the acclaimed Koetsu step-up transformer due to repeated requests from customers. If you hear it matched with the Koetsu range of cartridges, it is easy to understand why there was so much demand for this hand-made supremely crafted transformer".

I think it’s well known Koetsu never wound their own SUT’s, but sourced them from a Japanese maker - the question is "who"? Haven’t seen an answer on that, yet. The new metal-box SUT shows some additional components inside there too (resistors) along with damping materials - so they’re probably doing something to "optimize" sonics for Koetsu. The old wood box SUT’s are different - and they lean towards the "detailed / fast" side of the sonic spectrum, with a little extra energy in treble and without destroying the midrange romance (like Lundahls do). It is a VERY good match for Koetsu carts. Can sound great with other carts too, but you have to watch that treble getting too hot. I don’t know how the metal boxes ones sound. 

For Ortofon - their Verto shows Lundhals inside. Pretty much any transformer with that distinct flat rectangular metal box is going to be a Lundahl. Lots of component manufacturers use them (line inputs too). I’d be surprised if Ortofon wound any of their modern SUT’s. I’d be surprised if ANY cartridge manufacturer did.

EAR is impressive for winding their own transformers (and their MC-3 / MC-4 SUT’s are superb), but they’re a component maker, not a cartridge maker.

I’ve a Steelhead RC that has been the one constant in my system for several years. I ran it as a preamp for a little while but prefer it into an active preamp. I use the Veloce Litho battery pre that has been mentioned in this thread and also have the Saetta battery monoblocks.

A while back I was using a lomc, an Audio Tekne MC 6310 rated 0.1mv. I had the matching Audio Tekne SUT. The Steelhead has tons of gain even on the MM. I could run the 0.1mv Audio Tekne through the MM input and felt it sounded better than using it with the matching SUT. However I configured the ground arrangement there was always just a tiny amount of low level hum with the sut in circuit. It’s possible that it would have been inaudible but for the battery powered Veloce but I didn’t have another linestage on hand to try it.

Anyway, I think with a unit like the Steelhead there wasn’t anything to be gained using the SUT (‘scuse the pun).

By the way, I stupidly sold the Audio Tekne to “move up” to a Benz LP-S. What a mistake that was. The Audio Tekne is still the best cart I’ve owned in my system.


ps - love the two YouTube vids someone posted above, one is of my old system before changing out the speakers.


In all cases, at all settings, my Steelhead is very quiet.  So (Snackey), I am wondering whence comes the noise you say was bothersome when you set gain at 65db via the MM inputs. Try reducing the gain setting in 5-db increments until you get to a point where noise is not a problem but gain is still sufficient. Was the volume control over past the 12 o'clock position?  If so, that might suggest you won't have luck reducing the gain setting, as I just suggested. I cannot recall ever having the volume control past 1 o'clock, even with very low output cartridges, but that speaks to the input sensitivity of my amplifiers.  Also, try listening to a variety of LPs, to be sure that the noise you heard did not emanate from a dirty or particularly noisy LP. Before this turns into a SUT symposium. If you do hear noise, listen to determine whether it is in both channels or just one.  If in one channel, that might indicate a faulty tube,