TNT-Audio Readers' Corner
Monthly section devoted to your letters, positive and negative feedback about everything related to Audio and HiFi.

You are here > Home > Staff & Contacts > Letters of the month

June 2002

Please take a moment to review the How to use the Readers' Corner manual

North Star 192 Transport review
Lucio,
Let me compliment you on the excellent review of the North Star Model 192 Transport. I have re-read this review several times now and I hope that you can clarify a few points for me.

Can I interpret your review to say this transport is "excellent" with I2S upsampling and 24/192 North Star DAC, "very good" with 24/96 AES/EBU output to 24/96 DAC and only "good" with S/PDIF output to standard DAC? Is this correct or am I misinterpreting your comments?

I have a heavily modified ART DI/O 24/96 DAC (Jensen transformer output, Black Gates, yada, yada - it's very nice) with Monolithic P3 Power Supply. I have outboard upsampling (16/44 to 24/96) via GW Labs DSP anti jitter box and lots of expensive digital cables. I am seriously considering the North Star transport to replace my Rotel 971. So, your clarification on the performance of this unit's S/PDIF output will be very helpful.

If the North Star only really "sings" with I2S and it's sister DAC, then perhaps I must consider other transports. Some of my options are:

As you can see, I have many choices to make. Please help by answering questions above. Thank you.
Regards,
John O'Rourke - E-mail: corourke@attglobal.net

LC
Dear John,
the NorthStar 192 Transport performs at its best when partnered with its 192 DAC but it is a very good transport even when used with different DACs. More or less, it is like the Armonia CD1 kit. After all, both take the digital stream directly out the Philips CD Pro 2 transport.
Considering you can split your "upgrade" in two (first, the transport, then the DAC) I'd suggest you to go for the NorthStar. It will get the job done with your current DAC (upgrading your current transport) and then you can match it with the Model 192 DAC.
Hope this helped,
Lucio Cadeddu

Amp for Avantgarde Uno
Hello Mr. Richard,
I read your positive review on TNT Audio about the Decware se 34-I integrated amplifier and the review of the Zen Triode. My loudspeakers are the Avantgarde Uno (8 ohm, 101 dB). According to you, which amplifier can do better with my speakers?
Thanks a lot!
Best regards
Filippo Cristallo

RG
Hello, Filippo,
I have spent quite a bit of time with both amplifiers. While the SE34-I would be a much better selection for less efficient speakers, I believe the Zen Triode SE84-C Select version would give better results with the Avantgarde Unos.

In fact, on the Decware site, two people are listed that use a Zen Triode with Avantgarde speakers (one Duo, one Trio). The page is located at: http://www.decware.com/zspkrview.htm
I find the Select version of the Zen Triode to be very fast, very accurate, and very musical. The limitation is always the efficiency of the speakers - which is not a problem with Avantgarde Unos.
If you have any other questions, please contact me again.
Regards,
Richard George

Sony and Triangles and more...
Lucio,
I have put together a neat little package as a first step in my home audio and home theatre experience. This consists of the Triangle Celius (Front L/R), Triangle Sats 2 (Rear L/R), a Sony DVP 900NS V dvd/cd/sacd player and Sony STR VA 555 ES AV receiver.
It sounds great! The Triangle's timbre superiority and the clarity of the newer Sony electronics give a sound that's perfect for solo vocals and jazz pieces. The seperation from the refined treble, rich mid-bass and tight bass is a wonderful listening experience, as opposed to the airy and clean sound of more expensive systems.
This works well in a 4-speaker home theater setup, giving weight to the great vocal speeches supported with dramatic ochestral music e.g. braveheart, Godfather -- a more coherent and engaging home theater experience.

Nevertheless, there are weaknesses: brightness in busy pop and rock tracks, congestion and straining in the John Williams 'adventure' ochestral pieces.
I suspect this is mainly due to the weak amplification from the Sony AV Receiver, listed at 110W X2 channels. What do you make out fo the Celius specs of 120W-240W/ 5-8ohm handling and 92dB handling, and the Sats for 60W-120W/4ohm and 90 dB respectively.

Do you think the difference will be clear if I add a 150W stereo amplifier ? Does this principle apply for tube amps (e.g. VTL ST 150) too ?

Also, to add more musicality further, what are the pros and cons for adding a tube CD player, as opposed to a tube DAC? What would recommend as a musical sub as opposed to say the REL Storm?
My listening room is an apartment with combined dining and living too (6m X 12m), concrete walls, ceilings and floors.
Thanks for your time for reading this ! May I also request if you could run an article to recommending ways for ambitious home theater setups to be more "audiophil-ic".
Best regards and happy driving!
Reuter Chua - E-mail: reuterc@pacific.net.sg

LC
Dear Reuter,
it is not a matter of "quantity" (watts), rather a matter of "quality". I suggest you to upgrade your receiver with a separate preamp/decoder + a 5-channel power amp. Otherwise, if your budget is tight, buy a better sounding receiver (NAD, Rotel, Harman Kardon, Arcam...).
I have little experience with subwoofers so I can't comment on this, sorry. I just know the REL Storm does have a very good reputation.
Moreover, since you are using a receiver it is a nonsense to try to add musicality by means of a tube-equipped CD player. Your DVD player should be good enough (see review on TNT-Audio).
Finally, with respect to your last request, I'm afraid I won't devote articles to Home Theater as our mag is mainly focused on standard 2-channel Music, by now.
Lucio Cadeddu

Speakers dilemma
Hi Lucio, first of all congratulations for such an excellent site. The reviews are excellent.
I have recently changed all my hi-fi components, being the speakers the last, and I know have a dilemma about them. My system consists in a Rotel 972 Integrated Amp, Musical Fidelity A3CD connected through Eccosse The Composer Interconnects.
My old speakers were B&W 601 S1 and my listening room is 7 square meter approx. The speakers are placed on the shelf in a not very adequate position (too high) but I cannot correct that at the moment. I have also no space for stands.

So I wanted to upgrade my speakers and I went to demo Dynaudio Audience 42 and Triangle Titus. The Dyanudios were very detailed, clear, precise but lacking bass (the demo room was much larger than my small listening room so I expected things will be different in it) and also a bit bright and lacking resolution. The Triangle were more impressive at first listen. More resolution, more bass, but after a while I found them a bit treble shy. So I decided to buy the Dynaudio's (ex-demo at a very good price).

I haven't done too much serious listening yet, but I have the feeling that maybe I should have choosen the Titus. Although the bass of the Dynaudios in my small listening room is generally good, the highs tend to be a bit aggressive.
I was also thinking of the Dynaudios Contour 1.1 but they are very expensive and hard to drive. Not sure if my amp will do the job.
What would you reccomend, change to the Titus, give more time to the Dynaudios 42 or go for the Contours?
Thanks and regards,
Juan Fiter - E-mail: juan_fiter@certimab.es

LC
Dear Juan,
first of all, your listening room is too small. This means you're listening to the tweeters "in near field". Placing the speakers high - as you did - is a no-no, too. Hence, it is normal the Dynaudio's sound aggressive (I assume you have given them enough time to break-in).
The Triangle Titus should sound the same. I'd choose small speakers intended for small rooms: Rogers LS 3/5A, Linn Kan and similar designs. Try to place them correctly...otherwise it's a PURE waste of money.
Lucio Cadeddu

Dynavector vs Goldring
I've read your rewiev about the Dynavector x10 and I'd like to hear your opinion. First of all and more important, being an owner of a Thorens 125 mk II with a SME 3009 II arm, do you think that the Dynavector 10x suits well my arm? Then, I'm in doubt between the Dynavector an the Goldring 1042, what do you think about those two cartridges, what's the differences in their sound?
Thanks a lot!!
Alessandro Gigli - E-mail: giglipa@hotmail.com

NF
Hi Alessandro,
Thank you for your letter.
First, I cannot give a comparison between the Dynavector and the Goldring, as I have no experience with the Goldring.

However, I can tell you this: the 10x4 was my favorite cartridge I have ever owned (and I've had dozens over the years) until its early demise at the hands of a curious child. I did warn in my review that the 10x4 does not come with a stylus guard :-(

I have since upgraded to a Dynavector DV-20XH which does include a stylus guard. Yes, it sounds better, but I never would have known this except for the dead 10x4. Had the accident never happened, I would not have upgraded.
I am not totally sure the Dynavector will be happy mated to the SME arm that you own: the SME is geared more towards a MM cartridge. The Shure V-15xMR may be a better choice.
I hope this is of assistance.
Nels Ferré

Amusing new piracy-proof software! :-)
Hi Lucio,
I got sent this. It originates from Te Papa, the "national" New Zealand museum in Wellington (quite an issue with Aucklanders!) and I thought that the staff and readers my find it rather ammusing!
I sure did!
Keep up the good work,
Roy Tipper - E-mail: tmcroy@hotmail.com

Music Industry Unveils New Piracy-Proof Format: A Black, Plastic Disc With Grooves On It.

Music bosses have unveiled a revolutionary new recording format that they hope will help win the war on illegal file sharing which is thought to be costing the industry millions of dollars in lost revenue.

Nicknamed the 'Record', the new format takes the form of a black, vinyl disc measuring 12 inches in diameter, which must be played on a specially designed 'turntable'.

"We can state with absolute certainty that no computer in the world can access the data on this disc," said spokesman Brett Campbell. "We are also confident that no-one is going to be able to produce pirate copies in this format without going to a heck of a lot of trouble. This is without doubt the best anti-piracy invention the music industry has ever seen."

As part of the invention's rigorous testing process, the designers gave some discs to a group of teenage computer experts who regularly use file swapping software such as Limewire and gnutella and who admit to pirating music CDs. Despite several days of trying, none of them were able to hack into the disc's code or access any of the music files contained within it.

"It's like, really big and stuff," said Doug Flamboise, one of the testers. "I couldn't get it into any of my drives. I mean, what format is it? Is it, like, from France or something?"

In the new format, raw audio data in the form of music is encoded by physically etching grooves onto the vinyl disc. The sound is thus translated into variations on the disc's surface in a process that industry insiders are describing as 'completely revolutionary' and 'stunningly clever.'

To decode the data stored on the disc, the listener must use a special player which contains a 'needle' that runs along the grooves on the record surface, reading the indentations and transforming the movements back into audio that can be fed through loudspeakers.

Even Shawn Fanning, the man who invented Napster, admits the new format will make file swapping much more difficult. "I've never seen anything like this," he told reporters. "How does it work?"

As rumors that a Taiwanese company has been secretly developing a 12 inch wide, turntable -driven, needle-based, firewire drive remain unconfirmed, it would appear that the music industry may, at last, have found the pirate-proof format it has long been searching for.

LC
Dear Roy,
it's sad but true. We had a better sounding, piracy-proof medium and we've almost lost it in favour of the "perfect sound forever". And it's happening again! As soon as CDs are beginning to sound bearable :-) the Lords of the Market are changing it again!!!!!!!
As usual, don't believe the hype!
Lucio Cadeddu

Custom TNT Merlino cable
Hi there
I thought you might be interested to know I recently made a power cable using a slight variation to your TNT Merlino cable.
In this part of the world stock (South Pacific) standard shielded power cables are not available. So I bought some moderately thick gauge 3 core mains cable and a large diameter coax cable with a copper shield. I stripped the outer PVC cover from the mains cable and platted the three leads together (with their individual PVC covers intact).
I then stripped the copper shield from the coax cable and inserted this over the platted three leads. I then covered the entire cable with heat shrink. The copper shield was connected to the earth lead at the wall plug end only. No ferrite cores were used as they were out of stock.

The improvement it made to my sound system, although subtle, was quite remarkable: more detail and less grain (mid to high freq) as well as a tighter mid bass. There also were some improvements in the micro dynamics and depth of the sound.
Musical instruments seemed more defined and layered in the soundstage. When listening to good quality recordings (Chesky) I heard things in the music that weren't noticeable before.
Overall the cable created a more natural and unfatiguing sound. I was quite surprised what a difference a power cable can make.
Regards
Glen Hughes - E-mail: glen@pasifika.com

LC
Dear Glen,
try doing the same braiding the 3 cables together before inserting 'em into the copper shield. Also, you can try the same trick with different types of mains cables: multistrand vs solid core, large section vs thinner wires etc.
Keep us updated!
Lucio Cadeddu

Congratulations (and a small question too)
Hey Lucio (and the other chaps too!),
Wanted to congratulate you on an absolutely fantastic site - it's become my favourite read both online and off... I'll be putting a great big link up on my site in the next week (in my next update) to send people across!

Most of it I can't really use of course, as it's involving turntables (which I know nothing about) or reviews of hifi equipment I know nothing about... however, I have particularly been interested in your DIY cable how-to's - have already made a couple of pairs of the Ubyte-I cable (one of which I managed to mess up a bit so put it down to practice!), and I'm about to start work on the TripleT.

So, here's a couple questions to clear up my poor muddled head! [Apologies if they've already been answered somewhere - I did look!]

  1. I'm not sure which of the DIY cables is probably the "best" overall - you compare the Ubyte2 to the FFRC, but neither is compared to the TripleT (or variants thereof) ... I presume the Ubyte2, but I'm not sure. Either way, I've already bought a 100m reel of Cat6 so it'll have to do for now!!
  2. Is there any way of finding out whether my system is "good" or not - my problem is I do love music, but I'm not sure what sounds "good" - I can tell when something sounds bl---y awful, but not when it sounds just OK, or fantastic. I've got very good hearing (goes up to approx 23khz) so that's not it. Have I just not heard the possibilities, is my system cr*p / unsuited or am I using the wrong recordings?
If its any help, my system is the following: Thanks in advance, and keep up the magnificent reviews/how-tos!!
Regards,
Nick (Wykid1, CrowdControl Editor)
E-mail: Wykid1@crowdcontrol.co.uk www.crowdcontrol.co.uk

LC
Dear Nick,
first of all let me say I'm very skeptic re: you can hear up to 23 kHz...as this would be a fact good for medical research papers :-) Are you 100% sure?
Secondly, your system is quite good, nothing that can be considered "fantastic", the weak spot being the loudspeakers. BUT!!!! If it sounds good to your ears, why bother? :-)
As for DIY cables: we do not attempt to say which of our cables is better sounding because this would involve a (too) large number of variables.
So, while the Triple T can be considered a good cable on most systems it can sound horrible with amps that don't welcome high capacitive loads. And so on. A good all around performer is the TNT Star, welcomed by most systems, though its performance can't be considered hi-endish :-) [it's always a give'n'take, uh?].
I suggest you to build both the Ubyte and the Triple T and then compare 'em (and let us know).
Keep us updated!
Lucio Cadeddu

Carpet & Sponge
Hi Lucio,
I have followed your advice to put up thick carpet in my 9' x 19' x 10' room. I put up 6 pieces of 5' x 6' x 2" sponge on the 4 walls. I have covered 50% of the walls. Results? Quite amazing!! I could hear sounds that never I have noticed before while playing some CDs of mine.
Bass too gets tighter with less boom, imaging more focus now. Perhaps, the best of all is that my system sounds warm now. Very warm. I have a pair of Aliante Plunto and JBL4410. Before putting up the carpet, Aliante has absolute advantage over 4410, being warm and easy going. But now, can't really decide cause Plunto seems to be too warm and some of the sounds being lost while 4410 doing the job well, becoming crystal clear but not bright!

My room becomes "sound dead" now. I could feel completely silence in the room which makes me wonder whether I have put up too much carpet and sponge. If I prefer this setting, should I avoid getting system that is warm as it might get too warm?
Thanx.
Bill - E-mail: agsmal@pd.jaring.my

LC
Dear Bill,
I'm not sure what your question is all about. If your room makes the system sound too warm, remove the sponge panels you have put on the walls and try to find a better balance.
Lucio Cadeddu

A pretty decent budget system
Hi Lucio,
some words to share with others what I consider a pretty decent budget-conscious system.
It fits all my needs and I build it upon yours and other people's suggestions.
Here it goes:
Nad C370 Integrated amp with its mate, the C541 CD player. The amp is tweaked: I replaced the cheap jumpers between Amp & pre-amp with some Audioquest Python-J to increase the soundstage and open the high frequencies.
Wharfedale Diamond 8.4 loudspeakers biwired with QED Silver Anniversary (for the price, it's a steal: don't even think of a sub with them - I used the money left to buy a pair of the excellent Grado SR-325).
I use Straightwire Chorus interconnect.

My home is a new one, so I asked for a dedicated 20 amp / 14 gauge electrical output. That's it! Everything is placed in a real wood furniture (very heavy) so the system isn't subject to vibrations.
Hope this will help others like me: this system is IMO pretty well balanced.
Christian Savoie - E-mail: christian.savoie@bell-nordic.com

LC
Dear Christian,
it is so relieving to read of a satisfied audiophile!
Lucio Cadeddu

Support from "down under"
Hey Lucio!
I've just read that you need a bit of appreciation to support what is in effect an extra-curricular activity (a.k.a. hobby). Well, here is mine!
It's sites like this and groups of people like you that make Hi-Fi so interesting!
I have been a home builder/modifier for many years now, so my system is totaly odd and rather than "tweaked" it is a tweek!

Do I always agree with you - NO way! (I can't make cat 5 stuff get close to my home-builts based on Cardas wire - thank Thorsten for prodding me further!)
BUT, and it is a big but, even when I disagree with you, it usually boils down to a matter of taste - and more importantly, you have usually made me think!

So guys, never imagine that your efforts are wasted. They are enjoyed and very much appreciated.

Finally let's try a "red rag to a bull" comment.

I have just put a layer of microsorb between the two layers of the top plate of my VPI Jr Mk4 turntable. I got it sent to New Zealand from Michael Percy in California, but I imagine it is available in Europe.
It helps in digital boxes too - especially when used with TI shield (same source), which is (I think) mu metal coated with copper.
Just don't trust microsorb as an adhesive, even though it is sticky. Use contact. Worked so well on my Audio Alchemy DTI32 pro/DDE3 with a Micromega Stage 6 used as a transport that I had to put the microsorb on the turntable to play "catch up"!

I've learnt bit from you folks, so this is my attempt to repay it a little.
Keep up the great work - especially encouraging people to build there own stuff. You have inspired me to aim for an Armonia transport kit when I can afford it.
Many thanks from "down under"
Roy Tipper - E-mail: tmcroy@hotmail.com

LC
Dear Roy,
thanks for the support and the precious tip!
Stay tuned!
Lucio Cadeddu

Questions on Tannoys (2 letters)
Hi neighbour
My name is Tomislav and I am writing from Croatia and want to ask you something (before our match in world cup).
Few weeks ago I bought a pair of Tannoy Mercury mx1 speakers and an amplifier Denon PMA 255UK. For both products I've read good notes on the Internet but finally I wasn't satisfied at all.
I tried everythig I could but it still sounds not good. Loudspeakers are not sharp at all. Sometimes I feel like somebody placed a blanket around them. When I connected another pair of hightoned loudspeakers (tweeters) on Tannoy it sounded better, but it's not that for such a name.
I read your opinions for MX2 and I know that they are similar so please could you give me some advise.

Dear TNT,
Today I spent hours and hours and read almost everything from your pages (except Italian articles), and learned very much about music, hi-fi components and so on. Thank you.
Yesterday I wrote you about problems with Tannoy MX1 and I didn't expect any answer from you, because I have never asked someboby anything, via e-mail and I thought you will be very busy and will not answer.
I do not know what will you answer be, but I want to tell you my opinion about music listening.
My experience is that you can not have both - the form and the content, and here is what I mean by that. I started with listening music in 1983, when I was 11. In 1985 I bought Grundig RR 3500 radio cassete recorder, and spent with it 17 years of recording, listening casettes and radio and injoying the music.
Since my favourite music was Italo disco, english and american pop music, and Italo was very rare in my country, I have never seen any of italo original records. This year I found some italo in cd's at Internet and I downloaded it and recorded on CD in my work place.
But I do not have CD player! And so that was the reason for finally buying (after seeing thousands of shiny Sony, Grundig, Philips etc. prospects) something bigger and better. I bought a Sony CD and double deck because Sony is not too expensive in Croatia, and Sony receiver (but reciever gave me very bad sound so I changed it for a Denon amplifier and Onkyo tuner). But it wasn't good too.
Now I realised two things. First, the point may be the fact that I always listened music normal or quiet, and my Grundig, when listening quietly, sounds much better than Denon and Tannoy.
Second I think that mayby Denons 2*30 watts( 8 ohm) cannot satisfy Tannoy 10-70 watts (8 ohm), max 100 watts and thats why Tannoy sound poor.
BUT that were (maybe) just reasons for new components not sounded good, but that was no reason for me felt bad when listening new sound.
I think for last 17 years I get used to Grundig sound and the same Grundig device and specially in cassetes and radio voice from Grundig and it became my referent level.
I could never understand people who buy records or cassetes for years and then sell them to by CD only because it sounds better. I hate cds and could never enjoy in music from CD or computer (Computer will never have a soul for music, like, for example, good gramopfone with bunch of records).
The important part in enjoying the music took the same device. O.K., it could be maybe the case that I bought bad stuffs, and through them I judge others which might sound better, but, what I want to say is:

When you try to get better and better devices, your love for music and enjoing in music will decrease. You will be focused on plastic, iron and steel but not to music as art. If you are running for better form you will lose content.

I'm going to let my wife enjoy Denon and I'll continue to use my Grundig. You can still help me with advice with connecting proper tweeter (ohms and strenght) to Tannoy or eventually replacing Denon 255 with denon 355 or yamaha, amplifier or some better idea for tannoys to sound clearer and sharpener.

Sorry for my bad english.

Congratulations again for excellent web site. I'm gonna recommend it to anybody who deals with good sound or just wants to buy something that sounds better. Enjoy yourself.
All best from Croatia.
Tomislav - E-mail: tomo@mathos.hr

LC
Dear Tomislav,
if I understand well, you were used to a poor sound and got shocked by hearing what's really recorded into discs. That happens. I suggest you to give your system another chance, before trashing it. Human hearing, though badly educated by years of low-quality listening will soon recover and be able to understand what the real thing is.
Finally, let me strongly disagree with your final caveat: going for better doesn't necessarily imply you are going to lose content. Form has nothing to do with serious HiFi components: they are mainly designed and made to sound GOOD, not to look cool.
Your Tannoy MX1 are extremely good (budget) speakers. Perhaps your Denon isn't the right partner (you could try with a NAD or a Rotel) but chances are you placed them the wrong way in your listening room. Re-read our basic articles on loudspeakers positioning etc. and try again. The truth is out there.
Lucio Cadeddu

Re: Newbie question
Hi,
My name is Reuter Chua and congratulations for a terrific site! The information is credible and everything is well written.
I have but one request: for you to review the Triangle Celius 202. I've seen the Titus and Comete on your website, and enjoyed both reviews, but I think that covering the full-range Celius will help us readers understand also more about the Triangle brand spirit and philosophy, and also see your views on these speakers that seem to be be quite underrated from reviews I've read.

One particular detail intrigues me: the Celius response starts from 45 Hz... which makes me wonder about its full - range capabilities (will it sound just like a bookshelf ?).
And also, more analysis on its widely acclaimed "high-speed drivers"; which I think may result in highly analytical but less passionate music - very un-french indeed!
Well I hope this is not too much to ask for, but I do highly value your opinions.
Best regards,
Reuter Chua - E-mail: reuterc@pacific.net.sg

LC
Dear Reuter,
we can review the Triangle Celius anytime. The only problem I see is...our busy (as hell) schedule. We have dozens of manufacturers waiting for a review so, considering we've reviewed two Triangle products recently, I'm afraid you should wait a little bit.
Finally, just one advice: do not try to guess how a loudspeaker sounds like by looking at the tech specs. You won't succeed. Go out and listen, that's the only way to know the truth.
Lucio Cadeddu

Just thank you
I just read the who pays for this section. I was not aware TNT-Audio was a labour of love, thanks for you time, effort, and money spent, it is very enjoyable.
Regards,
Andrew Levy - E-mail: levy@mindspring.com

LC
Dear Andrew,
thanks for your appreciation! We need that!
Lucio Cadeddu

Radioshack SPL meter source in Europe
Hello Lucio,
I believe you had this question from other readers, here is a source in Europe: www.cornwallelectronics.co.uk/.
I just bought one...No problem...
Keep the good work.. Olivier Plancq - E-mail: oplancq@hotmail.com

LC
Dear Olivier,
thanks for the precious info!
Lucio Cadeddu

Re: Newbie question
Hi Lucio. Thanks for your reply on the Readers' Corner. Really appreciate your suggestions. I totally agree that I should step up from mini-sys if I don't want the same sound. I sort of made my own decision now.
I went to a local hi-fi store and listened to the Denon DF-100 mini hi-fi system, which consists of a separate CDP and amp.
I was just amazed at how everything sounded so "real". Obviously I've never been exposed to true hi-fi level equipment so such an entry level setup already amazed me in sound.
Instruments sound like instruments, and everything sounds spacious and "transparent" (I guess this is the right word =). I really can't resist but to raise my budget now. =P I do have a few questions for you that I hope you can kindly answer (if you can't provide the answer/opinion from the top of your head then you can skip the question):

  1. Have you heard good/bad things about the Denon DF-100 mini hifi?
  2. The guy offered me US$650 tax included for the package: amp, cd player, and a pair of Tannoy MX-1. Good deal? Or shall I ask for more of a discount?
  3. Does the Tannoy MX-1 deserve spiked (ie. more expensive) stands? Or are cheap ones sufficient? See that's additional cost for getting the system. =)
  4. If I make the purchase I want to make the TNT-Star cable for the speakers. Is the Star sufficient for such entry-level setup? And can you give a high-level explanation of why the Star performs better than most other mid-priced cable, as reviewed in TNT?
Thanks for your time again, for answering another bunch of questions. I look forward to your reply.
Danny Tsang - E-mail: dmhtsang@hotmail.com

LC
Dear Danny,
I have no direct experience with the Denon combo you cite. If you liked it...go for it (though my advice was different ;-)). After all, you get a decent pair of loudspeakers such as the Tannoy MX1's. This is purely entry-level stuff so you shouldn't be concerned with the quality of speakers stands or cables. Cheap speaker stands and our TNT Star cable will be good enough for your system.
I'm not claiming the TNT Star is better than other cables...I just claim it is the easiest and cheapest cable you can build. Thanks to its large cross-section, LOW inductance and shielding it can outperform cheap figure 8 commercial cables. That's all.
Let me know,
Lucio Cadeddu

Vintage stuff
Ciao Lucio!
Write on! Your editorial Look back in anger...or not? (newer = better?) described a balanced prospect of the possibilities in older gear, now tagged as either "classic" or "vintage" gear by the dudes who market the stuff. And balance IS important, because the market may extract more from you than the returns in used gear - with all things considered. It's a precarious slope.

A lot of used gear may need a helping hand to perform its best, and the resulting cost has to be set along side the purchase of a new item. It could be as simple as a new power cord, a set of new female RCA plugs, or set of feet. Even a simple item may defeat the advantage of a good "oldie". Often I favor older gear for a specific reason.

My preference is for discreet electronics as opposed to more modern circuits, even if a greater cost is ultimately involved in the repair and servicing of the older circuit. It's the reason why I spent $300 having a Dynaco FM3 over hauled and realigned right down to it's factory presettings. This is a personal choice, a predilection if you will.
I don't believe I am expert enough to sort out the precise advantages circuit for circuit, but I lean in that direction anyway! And it's sometimes a trade off. There are quieter and better DX-ing FM tuners than the Dyna all over the lot, but it imparts a greater emotional experience in jazz and chamber music cheaper than anything else I can afford.

A case in point (discreet board aside): in order to augment my analog gear I searched for a CD player, and a number of older models by such makers as Marantz, Arcam blah-blah and were serious contenders. But in the end, a new Marantz CD 6000SE on sale for a mere 30,000 yen was the winner. And my flaming oath, if it don't make me laugh or cry!
On the other hand, I have a 1971 AR solid state, integrated amp in storage across the ocean which I am just dying to connect to my old Tannoy 10 inch concentrics via my DIY CAT-5 speaker cable. As one review of this often forgotten treasure said about ten years ago, "... a NAD with balls!"
Lorne Spry - E-mail: marilorn@abeam.ocn.ne.jp

LC
Dear Lorne,
thanks for appreciating my latest editorial and for the caveats when buying older gear. Unfortunately, I expect prices of some old item mentioned here in TNT-Audio GO BALLISTIC on the second-hand market. It has already happened, it will happen again. So, dear readers, refuse to pay more just because the item has become a "collectible" or has been mentioned on some HiFi mag. Older gear is attractive even (especially?) because of its low price.
Lucio Cadeddu

Advice
Dear Lucio,
I am in the process of putting together a new stereo system and I need some advise: I am considering the purchase of a CD-Recorder, e.g. the Marantz DR-6000 or the Denon CDR-1000. I believe they are both good machines and are a better choice than buying a double tray machine.
As my digital audio source I am considering following options: either a good DVD player, that can be used as a CD player and a DVD player, or a good CD player.
I've been reading up on various machines, including your review of the Sony DVP NS 900V/S DVD player. Sony also makes a cheaper version called the DVPNS500V (For your information, I live in Canada, and as you probably know, not everything that is available in Europe or the US is also available here!).
The alternative is to get a good CD-player, e.g. Marantz CD-6000, NAD C541 or perhaps a Sony SCDXE670, which can also play SACDs. My questions are following: would you recommend using a good DVD player as an audio source for when I record CDs. The majority of the recorded CDs will be played in the car, so the quality does not have to be audiophile!
When not recording, I would use the CD-Recorder as my main source. From what I have read, the Marantz CD-recorder is also a very good CD-player.
I realize that nobody knows whether the SACD or the DVD-A system will succeed (if any), so I'm not sure whether a Sony player is the right choice.
How about Toshiba, I believe they also make some good DVD-players (but use the DVD-A system). Is a player that can play SACDs, automatically a better player, even when just playing CDs (I assume not).

So, to sum it up: should I go with a CD-Recorder, separate CD-player and a more basic DVD-player that is used mainly for watching movies (I don't really spend much time in front of the TV, I might watch a movie once a week, but prefer documentaries). Or shall I get a CD-Recorder and a good DVD-player that also has very good audio qualities (which one would you recommend?).
For your guidance, the rest of my system will most likely consist of a NAD C370 amp. As speakers I am considering Paradigm, Axiom (both Canadian), B&W, JMLab, Dynaudio or Mission.
Many thanks in advance for taking your time to review this message.
I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Best regards
Thomas Legner - E-mail: thomaslegner@hotmail.com

LC
Dear Thomas,
I'd go for a good CD recorder (Marantz could be a clever choice) and a cheap DVD player. After all, you can connect the DVD player via its digital output to the CD Recorder. This way you avoid signal deterioration caused by "el cheapo" audio circuits inside the DVD player.
As for SACD, let's see what happens ;-)
Hope this helps,
Lucio Cadeddu

THD and amps
Your site is awesome, I've already been inspired to make the TNT Triple T and it has made a huge difference in the sound of my system, I've even made a third cable for the center in my HT setup and that made a major difference in clarity in movies / tv / anything.

I've read your articles on solid state amps and making a power stage and have read something somewhere (I think you guys said it) that the only thing that matters in amplifiers is THD.
After looking at various amps I've noticed that Adcom has really low THD %'s on many of their amps like down to .006% at the highest, even the 5 channel ones. So is that all that really matters in amplifiers?
I know the signal to noise ratio also matters, but after what point? What does S/N mean anyway? Is it the dB mentioned the point at which noise becomes audible?
I also know that no specification will give any hint to how the thing actually sounds and unfortunately I'll probably not be able to audition the components I'd like to get (there's one HiFi store in town and they don't have a very good array of amplifiers). The amplifier will power two older Magnepan mg 1.0's.
Thanks,
Ron Trolard - E-mail: ront@bham.net

LC
Dear Ron,
numbers don't tell the whole truth. Very low THD figures normally imply the amp makes use of a HEAVY negative feedback, which is sometimes referred as a feature that worsens the sound. So, my advice is: as long as THD figures stay below 1% you can't go wrong. Consider loudspeakers have THD figures as high as 5-6% !!!!
As for the Signal to Noise Ratio (S/N for short): this indicates how many dB's the signal stays ABOVE the noise level. The higher, the better (it's a ratio!). Anyway, just stay above 80 dB and you'll be home dry and safe :-)
Just let your ears judge the thing: if it sound like the REAL thing, go for it and forget the numbers.
Don't forget to audition the amps with your speakers, as they are quite power demanding. Consider Adcom, NAD, Rotel or second-hand Krell's.
Lucio Cadeddu

TNT Star loudspeakers cable
Hi Lucio, keep up the fantastic work on your website. A friend of mine noted it to me a few weeks ago and I have enjoyed it immensely. An article which recently jumped out and grabbed me was the TNT STAR: DIY SPEAKER CABLE.
If at all possible time permitting could you reply on the following questions. I'm curious if the four conductors in the shielded cable you mention are each solid copper or the multi-stranded variety and also if the connections from opposite conductors are +, + and -,- which I'm sure is the case but I would like verification.
My speakers are approximately eight feet apart and I would like to adhere to the quite often mentioned 3 + 3m classic pair of speaker wires but I'm inclined to build the shortest possible length of speaker wire that I can. Would you recommend this? A reply to some of these basic and rudimentary questions would be greatly appreciated.
Paul Karasavidis - E-mail: vidis@rogers.com

LC
Dear Paul,
the cable I've used for the TNT Star is multistranded just because I haven't been able to find a solid core one :-)
And yes, the scheme you report is correct: +, + and -, - are opposite, just follow the pic in the article.
Shorter loudspeakers cables are better sounding, normally, so go for 'em and let me know your findings, especially if you can find a similar 4 conductors cable of the solid core kind.
Lucio Cadeddu

Marantz CD 63
Lucio,
firstly a quick note to say thanks for such a fantastic site - I visit every Monday morning and always find something fresh and valuable to read - thanks again.

I wanted to drop a line about the tweaks I have performed on my Marantz CD63. I have done most of the mods from your articles in the tweaks section, but last night did the additional parts with adding cap across the DAC which came from Acoustica.org.
I couldn't believe the improvement when I tried the player after the mods - rock solid imaging, big timing improvements and it now plays really good tunes. I can now stop saving for the Naim CD player and enjoy the one I have for a while.

I've also tried some other bits which I think you may be interested in - after adding the damping materials to the panels and the transport, I unscrewed the transport and the main circuit board from the base and now have these "floating" on blu-tac to help isolate them from the chassis. I have also fitted better phono sockets and an IEC socket plus a Merlino mains cable. This has had a big positive effect and well worth considering.

I am planning to make a stiffer base plate then add a separate DC in socket to feed some up rated regulators for the DAC and analogue PSU lines - see Acoustica.org.
I have also sat the player on some funny closed sell foam I found my mother-in-law using for flower arranging. It's not oasis, as it is a much less dense structure but is very rigid and light. It cost about 1.65 and came in a 2 foot by 1 foot sheet about 25mm thick. It has made a real improvement to the timing and bass clarity of the cd and I'm now applying the same to my NAIM NAC92 pre-amp.
Anyway, this is becoming a bit of an epic so I'll go - thanks again for a great site.
Richard Shortland - E-mail: Richard.Shortland@lgh.co.uk

LC
Dear Richard,
thanks a million for the feedback and the precious tips. Keep tweaking!!!!
Lucio Cadeddu

Just positive feedback
Thank you so much for TNT-Audio.com. The web-magazine is every bit as good as Stereophile and TAS for what I am looking for --honest, straight-forward reviews. Keep it up.
Thomas Gonzales - Chicago, IL - E-mail: thomgonzales@msn.com

LC
Dear Thomas,
we think we can't be compared to giants like TAS and Stereophile. Anyway, your sincere appreciation is Music to our ears :-)
Keep reading!
Lucio Cadeddu

[ 01/2000 | 02/2000 | 03/2000 | 04/2000 | 05/2000 | 06/2000 | 08/2000 | 09/2000 | 10/2000 | 11/2000 | 12/2000 | 01/2001 | 02/2001 | 03/2001 | 04/2001 | 05/2001 | 06/2001 | 07/2001 | 08/2001 | 09/2001 | 10/2001 | 11/2001 | 12/2001 | 01/2002 | 02/2002 | 03/2002 | 04/2002 | 05/2002]

[ Home | Staff & Contacts | DIY & Tweaks | Listening tests | HiFi Playground | Music & Books ]