I ran into Bob Sattin of Bob’s Devices at RMAF as I was looking at new Chesky LP releases in the marketplace. Sattin was next door and said, “Hey, do you want to listen to the record?” Sure. Chesky had several great records available to purchase at the show but two really looked interesting: Macy Gray’s “Stripped” and Melissa Manago’s “Little Crimes.” Both sounded excellent on Sattin’s playback system.
Now the team at Chesky does sublime recordings but much of this also had to do with Sattin’s stellar analog and headphone-based playback system. Starting off with another gorgeous rosewood finished VPI Prime Signature table using a Cardas Heart or Ortofon Cadenza Bronze cartridge (he had the Cardas Heart on for my visit) that then fed one of Sattin’s famous step-up transformers (SUTs) into an LKV Research 2-SB phono stage. The analog outs were then connected via Sattin’s own interconnect brand to an Elekit headphone amplifier feeding Sennheiser’s full size (and then some) 800 headphones. The Elekit TU-8200DX amp itself is a 6L6 tube amp that goes for $775 USD but Sattin had put in KT-88 tubes. In any event, the sound was glorious. Macy’s voice was spectacular. Melissa Manago had a very cool rendition of Somewhere Over the Rainbow that was beautifully done. I noticed a gorgeous midrange coming through on both albums. Soundstage was clearly defined and it felt like the Senns were capturing everything. I really need to get both of these albums.
What’s new with Sattin? He has two new SUTs, the Sky 10 and Sky 40 which pretty much fill in more of the step-up range in his arsenal. Bob has done great work which started with Cinemag to do superior SUTs for moving coil devices. Working with Cinemag, they developed refinements to the windings, core materials, and laminations to get the best possible sound. Sattin now covers step ratios from 1:5 to 1:40. Have a high-gain phono stage already in use? No worries. As Sattin says, it’s always better to use the low gain setting on your phono stage and one of his SUTs, as that will result in higher signal-to-noise ratios and a better sound. The best Bob’s Device to use simply depends on your phono stage characteristics and the millivolt output of your cartridge.
Sattin even has a VPI SUT which you can use to replace the junction box on your VPI table. This has the advantage of saving you a pair of interconnects and providing that direct connection to the tonearm wire. Neat. Sattin also has his classic Cinemag 1131 SUT which is switchable for for 1:20 (26db gain) or 1:40 (32db gain). There is even an option to have XLR outputs for those of you that have a phono stage that accepts XLR. Fit and finish on Bob’s gear looks impeccable with solid connectors and much care put into the soldering inside the case.
I should probably mention that these albums were part of Chesky’s binaural series too which is worth checking out if you have a good headphone rig. Recorded with a “dummy” human head with microphones literally in the ears, these recordings offer hi-rez digital playback with all the imaging you would hear if you were in front of the artists.