I must admit, I’ve long been a bit of a skeptic about the use of step-up transformers. It seems like more kit in the signal path, the argument that a MM phono stage is somehow “better” than an MC stage always seemed somewhat spurious. I had this suspicion it was all just another ruse to get us to buy yet another box, another set of cables and more shelf space without actually offering any tangible improvement in performance.
This may seem an odd position being as I use one in my every day set up. I have a Puresound P10, which was bought back when I had a Moving Magnet cart..The arrival of a Benz glider left me in a quandary. In the end the fact I had only recently acquired the P10, and indeed had fallen for it’s charms, coupled with some raised eyebrows and the talk of yet more upgrades from Mrs WW, led me down the Transformer path. Guy sent the T10, it worked, I could hear the benefit of my new Cart, and was very happy with the sound, enough to not question anything more..
When Richard Morris of Lotus hifi emailed me with a chance to try this adjustable Allnic Step-up I decided pretty quickly to say yes. Having long harbored this suspicion, I finally had a chance to try for myself. Many wammers had assured me that Step-ups make a big difference.. I was about to find out.
Build Quality++ A1 would buy again..
The build quality of this unit is frankly ridiculous.. no one needs a solid billet of aluminum, with beautifully milled heat sink holes on the side, clunky dials to select gain and enough weight to brain a burglar and his mates. No one needs that from a step-up but Allnic give you that anyway, it is a sleek thing of purposeful beauty.. I was falling for it straight out of the box. I’d have to do some back-to-back testing here to make sure I wasn’t being lead by my early desire for this object.
In the event the audible differences were pretty clear. And although some back-to-back testing was used, the extra sheen and smoothness from this step up was quite apparent. At nearly three times the price of my daily runner I was hoping it would be in some way “better” but price is rarely a guide to sound quality in my view. I’ve heard £500k rigs that would remove the barnacles from an oil tanker at 1000 paces, and £1500.00 systems that could charm the birds from the trees.. Price doesn’t impress me. Build quality does, and that tends to come at a premium. Sound quality also impresses me, but the two are not always linked.. in this case there is a clear link. The high cost is due to phenomenal build quality and the amazing build quality has resulted in a very high level of sound quality and refinement.
The Allnic AUT at £1395.00 is an expensive bit of kit, considering it’s a box (albeit a very nice box) with a couple of transformers in it. Yet I feel many will, like me, fall for it’s charms. The difference was a general lift in mid range clarity, and a kind of smoothing of the sound. The T1o is not harsh, I don’t get harshness at all, it’s more that the Alnic has more smooths ( if they are a thing*) and delivers a slightly rounder generally more pleasing sound. It added and extra layer of refinement and that was very welcome.
I can’t say much more than that, it doesn’t resolve extra layers of detail, or lift any veils. It’s simply “nicer”.. arrgh, I know that sounds like a dreadful cop-out, but in the same way I can’t tell you why I prefer Sussex Brie to French, it’s as difficult to explain this one away.. Put it this way, I sat and listened to vinyl constantly while it was here. And I am a fat lazy git, prone to streaming from my SONOS rather than changing disks, anything that can persuade me to keep getting up and down, and also to dig out the cleaning machine to hear more music, must be good. And it is..
A short but sweet review about a small but perfectly formed device. Gets the James Palmer “I would” seal of approval.
The technical blurb tells the story just as well:
- Both the transformer and the selector switch embedded within a single block of mu-metal shielded casing. Mechanical vibration in the unit is greatly
- In addition, the spaces between the transformers and the unit’s body are filled with a silicone elastomer that possesses excellent vibration attenuation characteristics.
- The Allnic AUT-2000’s unique structure significantly reduces the length of the signal path and substantially improves the signal to noise (S/N) ratio.
- The Allnic AUT-2000 has an exceptionally flat signal response across a broad frequency range, using a secondary load resistor at 47 kOhms, as installed for MM cartridges in phono stage circuitry. (Allnic does not manipulate lower valued resistors to produce a flatter response curve).
- The large nickel Permalloy cores in the transformers result in high input voltage saturation and, consequently, very deep bass reproduction.
- The Allnic AUT-2000 is equipped with a separate gain selector for each channel. This eliminates channel crosstalk from the unit.
- Provision of lower gain levels helps to accommodate the current ever growing number of high output MC cartridges.
- Use of a five-sectioned sandwich winding method for the transformers reduces leakage, inductance and capacitance. This significantly improves high frequency response.
PRODUCT MANUAL: http://www.hammertoneaudio.com/Image…2028-11-09.pdf
Available from Lotus HiFi: http://www.lotus340r.net/items/AUT2000.htm
*am aware they are not.