BluegrassDan

Audio samples - Crimson vs Cinemag input transformers
« on: June 23, 2020, 10:57:42 PM »
Ultimately, what matters at the end of the day is how this stuff actually sounds in use.
Here are four audio samples 24bit/96k:

Cinemag CMMI-5C (1:5 and 1:10)
Crimson CT-A10 (1:5 and 1:10)

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/bcyamu2zjcoth6a/AADf6-pYBC8ff-cfkSUQvWQta?dl=0

Bare bones vocals sung through a U87ai.

I know which one I like the most. Curious what y'all think.


scott2000

Re: Audio samples - Crimson vs Cinemag input transformers
« Reply #1 on: June 24, 2020, 12:08:22 PM »
The Crimson is definitely different...Neat...... Can't wait to give them a close listen

Right now I'm to pissed off for that guy ...

Nice singing!

ruffrecords

Re: Audio samples - Crimson vs Cinemag input transformers
« Reply #2 on: June 24, 2020, 04:00:20 PM »
I prefer both 1:10 transformers over the 1:5 ones. Can't really separate the Crimsom 1:10 from the Cinemag 1:10 though.

Cheers

Ian
www.customtubeconsoles.com
https://mark3vtm.blogspot.co.uk/
www.eztubemixer.blogspot.co.uk


'The only people not making mistakes are the people doing nothing'

scott2000

Re: Audio samples - Crimson vs Cinemag input transformers
« Reply #3 on: June 24, 2020, 06:16:11 PM »
I thought I liked the softer sound of the Cinemag over the detail of the Crimson but listening earlier in my living room I'm pretty sure I favored both the Crimson... obviously different system..

Now I'm confused...




BluegrassDan

Re: Audio samples - Crimson vs Cinemag input transformers
« Reply #4 on: June 24, 2020, 11:28:29 PM »
I shared these samples with several of my professional musician pals asking for their unbiased ranking. All of them ranked the Crimson 1:10 the highest, except for one person who ranked it a "glowing" second.

Before trying the Crimson, I thought I was satisfied with the Cinemag 1:5. But there is something unnaturally "metallic" in the 5k-8k range that bugs me.

The Cinemag 1:10 has a very gentle rolloff that starts at 4k and goes down -1.5dB at 20k. But it also does this mid-forward thing that sounds kinda nasal. It's the exact same transformer design as Jensen.

The Crimson simply sounds more musical to me. At 1:5 it is less dense and has some pleasent air, which could be nice on sources like acoustic instruments. At 1:10 it is more robust.

Unloaded, the 1:5 has a lift starting at 4k that rises to 2dB at 20k. That same lift is 1.5dB at 20k for the 1:10 ratio. You know, I like how they sound unloaded. With a load, they sound choked off.

I am likely going to add a ratio switch for 1:5 and 1:10 to allow for both options.
« Last Edit: June 24, 2020, 11:31:59 PM by BluegrassDan »

vitopower

Re: Audio samples - Crimson vs Cinemag input transformers
« Reply #5 on: June 25, 2020, 12:44:43 AM »
I'm only on laptop speakers right now  :D ...but enjoyed this, thanks for posting.  been wondering about Crimson.

Cinemag sounded detailed, tight clear high end, neutral and modern sounding mids.

I love what the Crimson 1:10 brings out / adds to your voice, the lower mids sound glued to the upper mids, anchored, fleshy, natural and more record like with some 50s magic sauce that reminds me of a Thordarson step up.. I wonder if the core composition is similar. Its the clear winner here for me.

What was the preamp circuit?

BluegrassDan

Re: Audio samples - Crimson vs Cinemag input transformers
« Reply #6 on: June 25, 2020, 01:36:45 AM »
The preamp circuit is something I whipped up, with some added help from the great folks here. Two 6072 gain stages, essentially.

john12ax7

Re: Audio samples - Crimson vs Cinemag input transformers
« Reply #7 on: June 25, 2020, 04:06:44 AM »
The Crimson 1:10 sounds thicker / fuller in this setup.  Have you checked distortion on these? It might be saturating a bit more, not necessarily a bad thing.  Different zobel networks might change things as well.

I've never used Crimson before,  how was the ordering experience,  pricing,  support,  etc?

rackmonkey

Re: Audio samples - Crimson vs Cinemag input transformers
« Reply #8 on: June 25, 2020, 05:54:56 PM »

I've never used Crimson before,  how was the ordering experience,  pricing,  support,  etc?


You can buy both A-10 versions either by calling/emailing Crimson directly, or you can order them via eBay. Same price either way. $95 for the full A-10 version, with a UTC style header (lug type), or $75 for the internally strapped version that’s got 4 leads (plus a shield lead) for 600:50k only. Shipping was fast to Texas - 2 or 3 days. John Cunningham (the owner) is good about responding to questions via email as well.

Really happy with the one I bought. Looking forward to him getting the A-24 done.

Crimsonaudiotransformers.com
Whether you think you can or you think you can't, you're probably right.

BluegrassDan

Re: Audio samples - Crimson vs Cinemag input transformers
« Reply #9 on: June 25, 2020, 06:00:06 PM »
I agree with the ease of ordering. Called John and talked through what I was looking for and other design stuff. Super nice guy who seemed excited to help.

I had transformers in my mailbox 2 days laters.


john12ax7

Re: Audio samples - Crimson vs Cinemag input transformers
« Reply #10 on: June 25, 2020, 09:36:20 PM »
That's good to hear.  Nice having additional transformer options.

justinheronmusic

Re: Audio samples - Crimson vs Cinemag input transformers
« Reply #11 on: June 28, 2020, 08:30:20 AM »
 I asked this in a previous thread, but I am interested in more opinions, I hope it's not too much. I have a Sowter 8343 in my D-LA2A & a Carnhill for the output.

 In my experience, I have heard the difference between cheap transformers and high end transformers, but I am not too familiar with high end transformers vs high end transformers in a tonal context. What does Sowter bring to the table over Cinemag? What does Crimson bring to the table over Sowter, ect?

 The LA2A I remember working in my brief stint in Los Angeles with had a warm syrupy low end, but not necessarily dirty; my LA2A is nice, but compared to what I remember, mine sounds "new".

 Does anyone know the differences in the materials of the Crimson & The Sowter?

 
Justin Heron
Artist / Recording Engineer

BluegrassDan

Re: Audio samples - Crimson vs Cinemag input transformers
« Reply #12 on: June 28, 2020, 09:40:19 AM »
I have a couple Sowters here. While I didn’t compare them directly in this test, they definitely are on the smoother end of the spectrum.

volker

Re: Audio samples - Crimson vs Cinemag input transformers
« Reply #13 on: June 28, 2020, 10:27:12 AM »
Such generalizations of entire brands don't have much merit. Not every Ford is bigger than every Honda, not every Porsche is faster than every Volkswagen.

They all use copper wire, they all use the same types of laminations. Maybe such a comparison could be warranted in special cases like Lundahl, where most of the small signal transformers are built from amorphous cut cores, compared to most other brands which use standard laminations. But even then the final product depends on the actual design, the material is just part of the recipe. A statement like "they definitely are on the smoother end of the spectrum" would mean to me that in general all Sowter transformers have somewhat limited high-end, and I seriously doubt that is the case. They produce such a wide range of own and vintage designs, I would be very surprised if you could find such a definitive characteristic.

BluegrassDan

Re: Audio samples - Crimson vs Cinemag input transformers
« Reply #14 on: June 28, 2020, 11:46:49 AM »
Such generalizations of entire brands don't have much merit. Not every Ford is bigger than every Honda, not every Porsche is faster than every Volkswagen.

They all use copper wire, they all use the same types of laminations. Maybe such a comparison could be warranted in special cases like Lundahl, where most of the small signal transformers are built from amorphous cut cores, compared to most other brands which use standard laminations. But even then the final product depends on the actual design, the material is just part of the recipe. A statement like "they definitely are on the smoother end of the spectrum" would mean to me that in general all Sowter transformers have somewhat limited high-end, and I seriously doubt that is the case. They produce such a wide range of own and vintage designs, I would be very surprised if you could find such a definitive characteristic.

I specifically said the “couple” of Sowters that I have used, which are the 1009 and 1290. Both of them have a smoother characteristic in my LA2A than equivalent Jensens. A bit less transient detail and what people often describe as more vintage.

I can’t comment on their full line of transformers.

rackmonkey

Re: Audio samples - Crimson vs Cinemag input transformers
« Reply #15 on: June 29, 2020, 02:43:53 PM »
What Volker said. No way to generalize here. Even the same transformer in different circuits often won't even sound the same. It might lose low end or high end, etc.

Core materials, size, winding ratios and gapped vs ungapped will give you better clues to the general sound you can expect than manufacturer names will.
Whether you think you can or you think you can't, you're probably right.

justinheronmusic

Re: Audio samples - Crimson vs Cinemag input transformers
« Reply #16 on: June 30, 2020, 08:29:01 AM »
 How does one choose a transformer for the job? The turns ratio of the Crimson and the Sowter I have are totally different, yet they still both work.

 To me it seems that you need the right one, but it could be any one?
Justin Heron
Artist / Recording Engineer

rackmonkey

Re: Audio samples - Crimson vs Cinemag input transformers New
« Reply #17 on: June 30, 2020, 11:46:16 AM »
Start with transformer types: mic input, line input, single ended output, P-P output (gapped/ungapped). The circuit itself determines which of these you'll need.

Vast oversimplification follows, but it's intended to give you a rough idea of the considerations in selecting a good transformer for the job at hand.

Output transformer selection: (let's assume for this summary a line-level, pro audio scenario where you know you may need to drive a 600 ohm load). First, is the output single ended or push-pull? Is the output stage cap coupled? Then you'd choose an ungapped output transformer made for the specific stage topology (SE or P-P). Is it DC coupled? Then you'd choose a gapped output transformer that can handle DC made for the specific stage topology. The winding ratio choice is largely determined by the output impedance of the stage. It gets complex here, but to oversimplify, for lowest distortion you'd choose a transformer with a nominal primary impedance of 2x - 3x or more than the output impedance of the stage (higher=lower distortion; tradeoff is gain reduction). Core materials are largely a matter of choice. Higher steel content (up to 100%) = higher distortion, but generally more euphonic when pushed. Higher nickel content (up to about 80%) = wider bandwidth, lower distortion, but more abrupt/harsh distortion when pushed. Of course, level handling ability must be taken into account for the particular unit you’re dealing with.

Input transformers: Is it a line-in stage or mic-in stage? Match transformer type to stage type. Line-in requires significantly more level handling ability than mic-in, so line-in transformers will reflect this vs mic-in types. Higher max level = more headroom (but you might select a lower headroom model if you want to hear the transformer working - see the 1176 for example). Winding ratio ideally involves some math to match "optimal source impedance" of the input stage with the transformer secondary for lowest noise. JFET and tube input stages are higher impedance, so you'll generally use at least 1:10 ratio or higher with these. BJT/IC (non-FET types) inputs are lower impedance, so it's common to see anywhere from 1:1 up to 1:10, with 1:2 - 1:5 being the most common range. Core material selection is less of a factor with mic inputs, since the majority are typically high nickel content for maximum core excitation at lower levels. Line-in transformers can vary though, with 50/50 (steel/nickel) up to about 80% nickel being common.

And of course, with all of the above, you want to select transformers that are designed for the bandwidth you need. Ham radio transformers, for example, may look the part, but usually won’t do the job because they are limited to speech input frequencies (~200 - 3500 Hz).

Again, a total oversimplification, but an attempt to give you an idea of the considerations that go into a fairly rigorous selection process. Often, however, we just use experience to get us into the ballpark and try things out.
« Last Edit: July 01, 2020, 03:35:29 PM by rackmonkey »
Whether you think you can or you think you can't, you're probably right.


 

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