The Transcendent RIAA
Copyright 2010 Troels Gravesen

Link to Transcendent/US

Go to my RIAA-2010 page, rebuilding the Transcendent phono stage - partly hard-wired.

The Transcendent RIAA, providing 52 dB gain, is currently used with my Dynavector XX2 mkII cartridge through SILK trafos and from here on I think we're talking serious money to increase playback quality significantly. If you can live without show-off 10 mm alu front panels, fancy knobs, etc., give it a try. At 650 US $ the Transcendent RIAA is excellent and easy to tweak should any new ideas emerge. Add 4 good coupling caps (2 x 0.01 uF and 2 x 0.10 uF) and you may be in for a good experience. Tubes are 4 x 6C45pi and 2 x ECC83. The Dyna XX2 mkII and SILK/Transcendent has given me great times in front of my speakers.

The SILK/Transcendent combo has so far been compared to a Densen MC step up units (solid state) and a Jasmine MC step up (solid state) and it didn't make me reach for the soldering iron. Trying to visualise my very subjective experience from these comparisons combined with other tests on valves vs. solid state looks like this:

Above the perceived soundstage from these experiments. When we did the Densen/Transcendent comparison we first listened to the Densen and then the Transcendent and my guest bringing in the Densen said: "See, a wider soundstage!" And yes, I too hear a sort of wider soundstage, but at the cost of the holographic and expansive midrange good valve stages can create through good high-efficiency speakers (DTQWT in use here). From Densen and the Jasmine I hear a somewhat compressed midrange, very cool, very clean, but nevertheless without the transparent, almost "reach out and touch" properties of good valves. The owner of the Jasmine is also my friend and we have plans to try out some significantly better coupling caps for the Jasmine, because we don't think we've yet heard what this unit is capable of.
PS: The Jasmine fitted with SCR tin-teflon caps (Obbligato) made a significant improvement to the sound.

No-nonsense alu and stainless steel.

The Transcendent RIAA comes with "orange drop" caps - quite good actually - but hard not to experiment with a wide range of caps as they are so easy to change - and the values are 0.1 uF and 0.01 uF making even really expensive caps accessible. Russian NOS PIO has been tried, Jensen copper/PIO, Russian alu/teflon, standard MKP, etc. The Russian alu/teflons stayed in for a long time and were eventually replaced by Mundorf Supreme silver/1% golds. I had these running for a year until I tried SCR tin/teflon. These will stay (- I think ;-)).

Shielded silver plated copper cable in teflon wrap replacing non-shielded, solid core copper cables.
Mundorf Supreme silver/1% gold (PP film) coupling caps.

Step-up trafos: Silk MC step up transformer from SAC/Thailand

SILK Supermalloy MC-step up transformer from SAC Thailand: These are MC220 allowing 10X with 100 ohm loading impedance, or 1:20X with 25 ohm loading impedance. Some chunky beasts! Here built into an aluminium cabinet fitted with a switch for 10x and 20x.

Eventually these trafos were built into the Transcendent RIAA and the RIAA power supply was moved into a separate unit. With the power supply close to the RIAA board I never could get this set-up free from serious hum problems.

PSU removed and SAC MC trafos placed in chassis. Preliminary SCR tin/teflon caps in place.
For as long as possible I try not to cut capacitor wires - could be they would end up somewhere else.

6C45pi/ECC83 phono stage. Three tubes/channel. The 6C45pi tubes draw some serious current, thus 12 watts available. 6C45pi tube (single triode) filaments are connected in series similar to the two filaments in the ECC83 tube. Have tried 5751 tubes in replacement of EH ECC83. The 5751 should have 30% less gain compared to ECC83. Can't hear any noticeable difference in gain and I'll buy another pair of 5751 tubes as I have no idea how old (used) they are. The 5751s appear to outperform the EH ECC83 tubes sonically.