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Review MC1 Moving Coil Step-Up Transformer

MC1 Moving Coil Step-Up Transformer

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Rothwell MC1 Moving Coil Step-Up Transformer

The MC1 is a moving coil step-up transformer which will raise the output of moving coil phono cartridges to the level of moving magnet cartridges so that the signal can be fed into a moving magnet phono stage pre-amp. This is the perfect solution for owners of low output MC cartridges and valve pre-amps (which are often MM only). Despite the proliferation of moving coil phono stages available today (both onboard and outboard), many people still believe that a good step-up transformer and a moving magnet phono stage is the best way to handle a moving coil cartridge. If you want to enjoy the sublime sound of a valve phono stage and a moving coil cartridge, a step-up transformer to interface the two is obligatory to get the best performance. Why? Because although it is easy enough to get sufficient gain with valves to amplify the tiny signal from a moving coil cartridge to the required level, a good signal/noise ratio is almost impossible without a transformer. Many years ago it was quite common to see transformers in use with MC cartridges, with many units offered by cartridge manufacturers such as Ortofon and Denon, but nowadays they are much rarer. This isn’t because they perform badly (far from it), but because they are large, heavy and expensive when compared to transistors, and the number of transistorised mc compatible phono stages available today along with the relatively few people still using vinyl (compared to the days before CD) means that it simply isn’t economical for large corporations to produce them. However, transformers still offer the best performance for those with a no-compromise attitude to vinyl reproduction. And pay no heed to the naysayers who decry the performance of transformers. Remember that all the classics from the golden era of recording were made using transformer coupled microphones and the transformer coupled valve and ribbon mics from that era now change hands for astronomical sums. Ask yourself why.

Why choose a Rothwell transformer?
Rothwell have been producing mc step-up transformers since 1989 and have extensive experience and expertise. The MC1 has a high quality permalloy core and carefully designed windings to give a wide bandwidth with good bass extension, and thorough screening is provided by mu-metal cans to keep external magnetic fields down to the absolute minimum. Careful loading of the secondary windings - optimised for a subsequent MM phonostage - keeps transients beautifully clean for a detailed and revealing sonic performance. It is compatible with low output cartridges in the range 0.3mV - 0.6mV and has a voltage gain of 22dB - perfect for most of today’s audiophile cartridges such as those from Lyra, Koetsu, Clearaudio, Grado, Van Den Hul etc.