Jun 082017

I got a nice surprise delivered to my doorstep, the Arai Lab MT-1 step-up transformer (SUT), courtesy of Mr. Yoshi Hontani of the Muson Project in Osaka, Japan.

Arai Lab MT-1 step-up transformer for moving coil phonograph cartridges.

Yoshi-san exports hi-fi exotica from Japan like that from the Leben Hi-Fi Stereo Company, the Spec Corporation, fo. Q, Audio Replas, KRYNA, SFORZAT, Murasakino LtdAcoustic Revive, and now Arai Lab.

The Arai Lab MT-1 SUT is a bespoke item that is built to be an ideal match for your particular phonograph cartridge.

Arai Lab MT-1 rear view.

In the case of the Arai Lab MT-1 from Yoshi-san, it was built to be an ideal match for the Murasakino Musique Analogue ‘Sumile’ MC phonograph cartridge I have in for review, which has an ultra-low internal impedance of 1 Ω.

Arai Lab says there is no other SUT capable of drawing out the full performance that the 1 Ω Sumile is cable of but the MT-1.

The Murasakino Musique Analogue ‘Sumile’ MC phonograph cartridge.

Arai Lab says the frequency frequency response of the MT-1 is perfectly flat over the range of 1.5Hz to 140kHz.

Bottom view of the Arai Lab MT-1 SUT.

Arai Lab says, “A coil quality factor (Q) is given as a numerical value that determines the performance of the transformer. This value is equivalent to the driving force and braking force of the amplifier. Currently, MT-1 boasts Q of more than 30 times on the primary side, and more than 70 times on the secondary side, compared to the most expensive MC boosting transformer on the market, boasting more drive power and braking power than you would realize by upgrading the power amplifier.”

Arai Lab MT-1 SUT.

As Arai Lab says above, the MT-1 uses very potent transformers, and the resulting SUT is not that much smaller than one of my vintage McIntosh MC30 monaural amplifiers – it’s huge!

Arai Lab MT-1 SUT.

I was immediately smitten on first listen, as the combination of the Arai Lab MT-1 SUT with the Murasakino Musique Analogue ‘Sumile’ MC phonograph cartridge is the most perfectly musical match to my Westminster Royal SE loudspeakers and vintage McIntosh electronics that I have ever encountered, and I must confess to being rather awestruck at the result.

Listening to music with MT-1 SUT and the Sumile phono cartridge is really wonderful!

I’m just getting started with the Arai Lab MT-1 SUT, and I’ll have a lot more to tell you about it as I learn more about Arai Lab, the designer’s goals, the materials used in the construction of the MT-1, and how it performs with the Sumile MC phono cartridge, as well as my trusty Ortofon SPU Classic GM MkII stereo phono cartridge.

Arai Lab MT-1 SUT with my Garrard project turntable.


Jonathan Halpern of Tone Imports was also smitten with the Arai Lab MT-1 SUT, and will importing it to North America.

Jonathan told me that the Arai Lab MT-1 will be a direct special-order item only, due to its considerable cost. The impedance that the Arai Lab MT-1 is built to affects the price.

For example, the low impedance version that I have to match the Sumile phono cartridge’s 1 Ohm internal impedance is the most expensive version at 13,995 USD.

The 21 Ohm version of the Arai Lab MT-1 is $10,995 USD, the 11-20 Ohm version is $11,995 USD, and the 2.1-10 Ohm version is $12,995 USD.

Jonathan told me, “The transformers will be wound to the specifications of the client’s cartridge. So, a 2 Ohm SPU gets a 2 Ohm transformer, a 6 Ohm Koetsu would get a 6 Ohm transformer at the $12,995 price, and so on. The 2 Ohm version of the MT-1 is the perfect match to the Sumile, as well as some of the other “super cartridges” such as the top of the line Accuphase, Phase Tech, and other very low impedance cartridges.”

For inquiries about the Arai Lab MT-1 SUT in North America, please contact Jonathan Halpern at Tone Imports.

For information about obtaining an Arai Lab MT-1 SUT in other parts of the world, please contact Yoshi Hontani directly at the Muson Project.


I’ll have a lot more to tell you about this developing story, but until then, may the tone be with you, and the music make you happy!

 Posted by at 7:51 pm

  2 Responses to “Today’s Fresh Catch: The Arai Lab MT-1 Step-Up Transformer!”

  1. Have you already tried vintage Lomo step up transformers?

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