If you want a to hear your mono recordings sound better than you ever dreamed without spending a fortune, there is nothing on the market like the combination of the Miyajima Premium BE Mono (reviewed recently) for $1,250 paired with the Robyatt Audio’s AK Mono Step-up transformer (“SUT”) for $650.00. The SUT is custom made in Brooklyn NY to Robin Wyatt’s specification.
It’s just a big hunk of copper with RCA connectors. Still, I love the way it looks.
Let’s begin with the midrange and treble because these are what make or break it for me with any component. The good news is this is an area in which the AK Mono is simply sublime. The midrange does not stand out in any of the audiophile ways, yet the Miyajima cartridge sounded more complete and more realistic using the AK Mono in my system than it did with even the Auditorium 23 basic SUT. The AK Mono allows the Miyajima cartridge to get the body and color of instruments and voices so right. This is something that most SUTs do fairly well, but Robin’s AK Mono does it better than most; head amps I’ve heard don’t even get in the game.
Robin did an amazing job of matching the AK Mono with the Miyajima. The cartridge never rings even the slightest amount within this combination. The AK Mono allowed my system to play strings with such realism that I was completely drawn into the performances. It allowed the top-end of the Miyajima to be open, sweet, and just plain beautiful to listen to. It allowed the music to come to life in a way that just sparkled with musical realism.
The AK Mono improved the bass and lower midrange over other SUTs I tried with the Miyajima cartridge. It reproduced drums, acoustical and electric basses with good impact and a fundamental rightness.
Conclusion: The Importance of Matching SUTs and Moving Coils
I don’t know of anything that drives home the importance of matching SUTs and Moving Coil cartridges more so than this combo. I own the Auditorium 23 Homage T1, a $5,000 SUT that is by far the best SUT I have ever heard with the Shindo SPU or the Miyabi Standard, but the T1 doesn’t match with the Miyajima. The cartridge sounded slow and sluggish with it. I also own an Auditorium 23 standard SUT that is made to match with the Denon 103, and it also matches the EMT cartridges very nicely. I previously thought the Auditorium 23 standard SUT matched the Miyajima but the match with the AK Mono SUT is far better.
What we should never forget is that a moving coil cartridge and SUT should be thought of as a single performer. This isn’t just subjectively so: It is measurable, predictable, and very audible. So there is no such thing as a “best” SUT. This is why I opted to buy my Shindo Giscours without a built-in SUT, to allow me to have two inputs with which to match a stereo cartridge with its best SUT, and a mono cartridge with its best SUT.
The combination of the Miyajima Premium BE Mono and Robyatt Audio AK Mono SUT is one of the two best ways to listen to mono records I know of, the other being the far more expensive EMT mono cartridge and Homage T1 transformer. I would be hard pressed to say which sounds best.
- (Page 1 of 1)