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

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November 2004

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Loudspeakers with passive woofers
Fellow True Stereo (and vinyl) fanatics: I have an old pair of Celestion speakers, stand-mounted, I think from the sixties or seventies - 1960's or 70s that is, model name unknown as the nameplates have fallen off the front grills. They have been in store for years and I have no product description so when I pulled off the grilles and saw three drivers I thought wow! I've got some three-way speakers, but when I dismounted the front and looked inside I saw that only two of the drivers are connected to the cross-over.
What's this, was I sold a pup all those years ago? It turns out that the base driver just a cone with a pad on the back - no electronics of any sort. The enclosures are closed, so the base unit is passive, just resonating from the alteration of the pressure within the enclusure caused by the movement of the tweeter and mid-unit. I am now considering reviving them - but is it worth it? Will the cone/surround material have aged too much and how well does a passive woofer perform?
I have not seen any other speakers of this type - was this a Celestion invention?
Michael - E-mail: michael.shanahan (at) telia.com

LC
Dear Michael,
passive woofers, as you call them, are still widely used in modern loudspeaker design. I don't know who used these for the first time in audio history but it is a system used even on esoteric loudspeakers such as the glorious Sonus Faber Extrema's, for example, or even some recent Thiel model (even the CS 7.2!).
Instead of using a bass reflex port, tuned to a particular frequency, one can use a passive woofer, that is a membrane that resonates more or less like its active "brother".
Perhaps your Celestion's are from the Ditton series (a 66 maybe!!!) and you may consider restoring them, at least for a secondary system. The 66's were pretty good speakers.
Hope this helped somehow,
Lucio Cadeddu

Interconnects
Dear Lucio,
I have been investigating on cables to suit my needs on the hi-fi components I've got and found it difficult to combine with each other. My equipment consist on Amber preamplifier, I don't know which model (It's Old) and Rotel 990Bx Stage Amplifier.
The audio cables have been for a long time Madrigal PHC throughout the equipment and Kimber 8TC for the speakers. I have also California AudioLabs CD Player DX3 and Thorens 321 Turntable. I've have been for a long time short of one of the cables (The shorter One Less than 0.5m) than I usually attached to the CD Player and I have bought the Transparent Music Link Plus to that one, I have tried different cables on different occasions like Cardas Quadlink 5c and Nordost and didn't fill the problem so couldn't you tell me if it is a good combination with Transparent and Madrigal or shouldn't I look elsewhere. In a different note: is Transparent loosing some harmonics because of the passive filter? Thanks in Advance,
Miguel - E-mail: Grethe (at) teleline.es

LC
Dear Miguel
your question is quite unclear. Are you unsatisfied with the final result with the Transparent cable...or not? In my opinion, Transparent cables, especially the mid-to-high range products, are extremely well sounding wires. For example, the Super is an excellent interconnect! The passive filter is a component of the cable itself, I've never experienced low harmonic content because of this...Anyway, are you 100% sure your unsatisfaction is due to cables?
Try finding a second-hand Super and listen to it.
Lucio Cadeddu

Real Stereo!
Dear TNT,
Please add me to your list of supporters. Add me 100 times. To be honest, I can't believe that surround sound could be any more successful than the Quad sound craze. Perhaps I'm ignorant.
But I completely agree with your (the only feasible) position regarding binaural perception, and I appreciate the Alan Dower Blumlein history lesson.
In my opinion the consumer electronics industry make mostly garbage, and consumers are only too happy to buy it. People don't realize that 5.1 is a crutch. The masses won't take the time to understand, or spend the money for a high resolution playback system. When they become bored with the lousy sound they get from their mass-produced, black plastic, remote-controlled, over-grown clock radio on steroids, they'll jump at surround sound. Five channels of garbage decoded from lousy chips made in the far east. Hey... get the same crappy sound as in the movie theater! What could be better??!!
Yikes.
I applaud your efforts.
Semper Hi Fidelis,
Jim - E-mail: jmcfarl (at) mac.com

LC
Dear Jim,
thanks for the passionate support in favour of our Real Stereo Campaign. If you happen to manage a website (even not Audio-related) you're kindly invited to add the Real Stereo logo to your pages, linking it back to our Real Stereo page. This will help to "spread the word" and will make your website listed (and linked) on our Real Stereo Supporters webpage.
Happy 2-channel listening!
Lucio Cadeddu

Thumbs up for NAIM NAIT
Lucio,
I just wanted to thank you for recommending the NAIM NAIT integrated amplifier. I just got it all set up tonight. It is a tremendous amp.
I asked your opinion some time ago against the NAD 3020. I did not get the NAD, instead I got the NAIT. I can hear the amazing sound right away after I have plugged it in. Full, warm, overall very enjoyable and involving musical machine. I just couldn't believe its power for being just 15 watt rating and its small size.
I was not able to turn past 8 o'clock on the volume dial otherwise it was going to hurt my ears with my speakers. I am in a small room though. Nevertheless, it was not the case with other amps. Yes, indeed it is gem and a keeper of course.
Dick - E-mail: dtzou (at) ezlink.com

LC
Dear Dick,
I'm glad to hear my advice gave you so much listening pleasure. Yes, the Nait is a damn good amplifier. A magic one, indeed.
Don't let the volume knob position fool you, though. Naim amplifiers and preamps do have higher input sensitivity so it is hard, with non-Naim sources, to fully exploit the volume pot range. I mean, you get full power way before the knob is turned fully clockwise.
Enjoy that little gem!
Lucio Cadeddu

VTA Article
Geoff,
Thanks for a sane article on the VTA issue. Perhaps we all stand a chance of getting back to listening more to the music rather than merely listening to the sound after all.
This is the most interesting piece of Hifi publishing since the demise of Listener magazine, to these eyes. And if you know the old Listener magazine, you'll hopefully take that as a complement.

Thanks for the effort you've made. If I get a chance (2 toddlers)/can work up the enthusiasm (over listening to music), I'll give your experiment a go. Please keep asking interesting questions and writing about audio,
Sincerely,
Justin - E-mail: bejust (at) btopenworld.com

GH
Hi Justin,
Many thanks for the kind words - and "sanity" is one I like especially...
Please try at least one of the experiments and get back to me.
Cheers
Geoff Husband

Funny articles
Scott,
just read your page on TNT Stubby stands. I think I pee'd myself
Tim - E-mail: blackt (at) bmts.com

SF
Hiya Tim,
Oh, if you liked that one try these :-) Lowther PM2's (be sure to rest your mouse over the picks in the Lowther review), December 2003 Editorial, July 2001 Editorial or maybe Blue Man Groups' "Complex".
Thanks so much for the kindest of compliments. Nothing is funnier than seeing a full grown male soil his pants :-)
Hope you enjoy the other articles as much as the Stubby's.
Regards,
Scott Faller

Loudspeakers matching
Dear Sir,
First of all I want to thank you all for plenty of valuable and comprehensive informations that can be found on your site. It is really nice (as one of previous readers stated out) that TNT obviously does not act in anyone's favour and that all products are equally treated with all their strenghts and weaknesses.
My question is about the loudspeakers choice. I set an eye on beautiful Sonus Faber Concertino noisemakers but am concerned about my amplifier. It is a brand you reviewed a year or so ago - Korato, Serbian amplifier and in my case it is cheaper, integrated version (KVA-15i with ECC 81/12AT7 preamp valves and EL 84/6BQ5 output valves. The manufacturer states that output power is 15W RMS, 1kHz.
I have modest B&W DM302 speakers which gave their best coupled with the amp, but despite its decent performance in treble and midrange (as decent as can be for the class) I lack a little bit of bass and overall sound quality. That is why I decided to change the speakers.
However, reading reviews of SF I found on several places that they demand "juicy amplifier coupled with them" since their sensitivity is 88 dB which means they are a bit lame on less powerful amps (my B&W's indeed have 91dB sensitivity and they are everything but lame in combination with Korato). Naturally, I will hear Concertinos before I buy them coupled with my amplifier but would also like to hear your opinion from the professional and technical point of view - is it worth even trying such thing or should I try something else (here in Serbia we have relatively modest offer of loudspeakers - mainly B&W, Mission, few models of KEF and few other brands).
I'll be glad to hear any opinion you can offer. By the way, I listen classical music (more chamber than symphonic) and some bits of jazz (Fitzgerald, Holliday, Krall - mainly female voices) which means I don't demand thunderstrikes in my small listening room - smoothness, clarity and fine soundstage make me quite happy.
Once more, I appreciate very much your unselfish work you do for us, music lovers.
Srdjan - E-mail: ssrdjan (at) tesla.rcub.bg.ac.yu

LC
Dear Srdjan,
I do not know your amplifier so my comments can't be too specific. Generally, 15 watts on a 88 dB/w/m loudspeaker are enough for getting decent sound pressure levels (and overall dynamics) into a small listening room. It all depends on your personal taste, of course. Considering the musical genres you prefer (chamber music and light jazz) and the small size of your room I have nothing against the planned purchase of the SF Concertino's. I'm pretty sure your amp will be able to drive them as required.
Hope this helped somehow,
Lucio Cadeddu

Cartridge choice
Hi, I'm relatively new to Hi -Fi and in the need of some professional help. I just purchased used (but in a good shape) Thorens 125 MKII turntable with SME 3009 Improved arm. Came across your review of Shure V15vVXMR cartridge and was hoping you could clarify few things for me.
In your review you said: "Valve amps, old SME 3009's, Garrard 301's and horns just cry out for a 60's cartridge even if it has been updated seven times!" Forgive my ignorance, but did you mean cartridges that was made in 60s or the 60's model cartridge? The reason I'm asking this is because I came across with some that were made in the 60s. I also found SHURE V15VxMR and SHURE V15VxMR AUDIOPHILE.
It does says "audiophile" on the package and the other does not have that. Also, packages look a bit different. So, are they different cartridges or just different packages? The specs on both are the same. If there is a difference than which one is better? I have:

A combination of tube preamp and Vandersteen speakers tend to be a bit on the bright side. Hoping to find some bass somewhere :>)
THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME
Oleg - E-mail: NATALIEOLEG (at) aol.com

GH
Hi Oleg,
Congratulations on the purchase - it's an excellent basis and the V15 is going to be a perfect match. The V15 - even the latest models - are a throw back to the late '60's early '70's where low mass tonearms and high compliance cartridges were the holy grail. The SME is a very low mass arm and so the V15 the perfect match. My comment on the V15 being a '60's cartridge referred to that, and despite it having been changed several times over the years the basic concept and construction remains much the same as before.
I don't know what cartridge you are running at the moment but if it's recent it's quite likely to have a lower compliance than the SME is really happy with - this alone could result in a poor bass performance as the whole arm/cartridge resonates on low bass notes rather than being held stationary by the arms effective mass. With the V15 you should have no such problems and the 'classic' combination of 125/SME/V15 will show a clean pair of heels to many a modern turntable...
As for the difference between the V15 and the 'Audiophile' version I haven't heard of the latter but search Shures website, if no mention is made it's just a word on the box...
Let me knwo how you get on,
Cheers
Geoff Husband

DIY cables
Hi
Very interested in the site, but I've a simple question. Several of the suggestions on the simplier designs of mains and interconnects are several years old. Are they still valid or have things moved on.
Regards,
Ian - E-mail: ianwfrost (at) btopenworld.com

LC
Dear Ian,
things "move on" only if pushed by commercial interests. In the Seventies Japanese HiFi Companies used to release new components every year or so. What's left? Almost nothing! This means the "new models" were just commercial remakes of old designs. Some of the best HiFi components ever, those which have built the history of this hobby - have remained virtually unchanged for decades (Quad ESLs, Klipschorns, Linn Sondek, Shure V15, Tannoy Westminsters and many others).
Since we do not sell our designs we feel no need to update them every now and then. They are good enough to become everlasting classics of the DIY scene :-)
Hope this clarifies our position a bit,
Lucio Cadeddu

Klipsch RF 3 speakers
Dear Sir,
thank you for a very interesting review of the Klipsch RF 3 loudspeaker. I am about to upgrade my HI FI ... after 20 years!! my old cambridge A 60 from 1980, has been great, but old Mission 700 speakers are shot ... and cassette deck broken...
Would you recomend me to change the A 60, or use it with RF 3 s for example??
Your comments would be greatly appreciated.
Regards,
Ian - E-mail: ianmalcolmscott (at) yahoo.co.uk

LC
Dear Ian,
certainly you can keep your trusty A 60 and make it drive better speakers such as the RF-3's. Perhaps the amp needs some reconditioning, for example a recap (new power supply capacitors, that is). Perhaps it is not as brilliant as many modern amps but it gets the job done, it's warm and sweet and I believe it would be a nice partner for the RF-3's.
Hope this helped somehow,
Lucio Cadeddu

Tweaks that work
Hi Lucio, today I changed the mains cable of my Marantz cd63 KIS, and I can hear a definite improvement; much more solid bass :-), presence and air! I had already changed the clock for an LC-Audio one, a couple of years ago; this mains cable (3x1,5) is a big improvement too. I'll change the 2114 opamps for the AD 8065 (follower to the AD825), LC makes a drop-in version (see website). This seems ideal.
I took out the caps behind the HDAM's as well, put wire in and replaced the caps behind the HDAM's to the buffer spot next to the HDAM's. Naturally I had to take out the 4 original Elna's. The music picture is even more open now. Even at low volume there is bliss :-)!
I also put "bitumen" (self adhesive dampening), from the car components shop, inside the player. The sound is "more liquid" (certainly the voices of singers and more of a soundstage to boot), and details are there, where they weren't before...:-)!
Kind regards and thanks for the tips!
Hans - E-mail: kiphaan (at) home.nl

LC
Dear Hans,
glad to hear the "usual" low-cost tweaks described here on TNT-Audio produced such amazingly positive effects.
May the Music be with you,
Lucio Cadeddu

Diapason Micra
Hello,
I read a few days ago the test you've done of the Diapason Micra, and I share your impressions. Having tested - at home different loudspeakers, I finally bought them!
Those Micras are really amazing for their size. Thus, as you say, you don't have to wait for a light or razor sharp reproduction. My question would therefore be: what source (CD or DVD player) would you advise to make those boxes make a maximum of details? I currently use an arcam CD 72, which is good, but not very transparent or "open".
With other words: do you know a very good player that would match perfectly the Micra's in terms of transparency, openness and dynamics?
Many thanks in advance,
Best Regards,
Laurent - undisclosed E-mail

LC
Dear Laurent,
you don't specify your budget so it is hard for me to guess :-)
Anyway, please consider the following CD players: the Cairn Fog + Soft I reviewed some time ago here on TNT-Audio, a second-hand Accuphase DP 55 or DP55V, Naim CD 5 and a S/H Rega Jupiter. Finally, you don't mention the amp you use. The Diapason Micra's are a tough load, perhaps the lack of detail is - at least partially - due to a not-ideal speakers/amp matching.
Hope this helped,
Lucio Cadeddu

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