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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December 2003

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Your website and my speakers
Dear Lucio,
by accident I stepped onto your website and I must say I am really impressed. By being into punk rock for many years I know and support the diy - idea, one could say, "by nature" - it's great to see other people doing such things, just because they like it and want to share it with others. It's a great thing you have going on there!
Now you might ask, how could anybody who maily listens to punk rock (let it be about 80%, the rest varies on many kinds of stuff except for techno and hip hop) ever be interested in hi-fi issues? You don't need good equipment for this kind of music! Well, I used to think that too, but wrong! Since I have equipment that's at least way better than the stuff I had before, I know the difference. I have all technics: SL1200 MK2 record player, SU-C800UM2 preamp, SE-A800SM2 power amp and the L80 louspeakers by JBL (by the way, some time after I bought them I noticed that they have no serial number, the field where it should be has been left blank - could they be a fake?).

I do not understand much about hi-fi; I always found it hard to understand technical / physical kind of matter. Whenever I can grab some hi-fi magazines somewhere, I read them very interestedly, knowing that I understand half of it if I'm lucky, what's also due to not knowing many of the terms they use. Reading your site is even harder because it's in english, but some things are definitely worth getting the dictionary from the shelf.
At least it is not all about "more expensive = better"! also it seems that it is a bit more down-to-earth, some things one can read in the mags are nearly esoteric to me. Nevertheless I have become more interested and feel that "well, it sounds ok, but it could sound even better" from time to time! And so here's on to a thing I know that must sound better. To put it short, I need new speakers.
Although the "do's and dont's" say that these kind of questions are more appropriate for the forum, you have been answering such questions here and there so id'd be happy if you had an advice for me.
My speakers have their port on the back side and need to stand at least 70 cm off the wall. Recently I moved into a flat whith more but smaller rooms than before. Since then, the bass sound is far from satisfying because the speakers have to stand in the corners of the room, quite close to the walls. It annoys me since, but lazyness and lack of money were between me and new speakers.
Now I have to do something, the room is far too cold so I have to put an oven into it, and that will leave no-way-no-how any space for both speakers. So I need new ones. They must be small enough and designed to stand or hang close to a wall, but -well, of course- sound strong, powerful and clear. Although I don't listen to typical bass-dominated music, I like a good strong bass... at the moment I have a rather mushy one. It almost sounds better from the next room!
My budget depends on how much I can get for my 4-year old speakers, I could put 200-300 euros onto that. Maybe you know something that could help me making my decision. It would be much appreciated.
with greetings, keep up doing what you're doing.
Andy - E-mail:

Dear Andy,
if you're after rock and have problems with the near walls, look no further than Naim (or even Linn) speakers. These are designed to sound close to the rear wall so, at least, one of your problems will be addressed. If you want BASS you can't think to buy small speakers...there are laws of physics that can't be forgotten.
A pair of Naim Intro, Credo or even old Linn Keilidh should suit your needs. The budget seems tight, so second-hand becomes a MUST.
Sooner or later, when your budget will allow that, sell the Technics pair and buy a serious audiophile integrated amp. You won't regret that move.
Hope this helped,
Lucio Cadeddu

Protected CDs
I want to warn all CD buyers visiting your site: before you buy any CD branded with "Copy Controlled" system, try to play it in your CD-player. The other day I bought B.R.M.C album "Take them on on your own", released by Virgin/EMI and branded with "Copy Controlled" system, and it doesn't play properly in my Sony D-EJ725 CD walkman. CD skips after 9 seconds played, in one and every song on CD, sometimes continue playing, but sometimes going back to the beginning of the played song, and some songs are unplayable because of constant returning to the beginning after 9 seconds played. This is very annoying. I've tried to get CD replaced, but store clerk refuse to replace it due to explanation, that in their CD-player it plays fine! They even try to persuade me that my CD-player is broken! Yeah sure, but how it plays all other CD's (more than 1000) from my collection?
Virgin/EMI and other record companies are trying to sell us some silver discs which look a like CD's and suppose to play in CD-players, but they are not CD's for sure, otherwise they'll play in ordinary CD-player. Major record companies are pushing us towards piracy!? I thought they are supposed to attract more customers, obviously I'm wrong.
Pity, imagine how many artists/performers will be denied their income, due to their record companies experimentation with copy protection systems, thus distracting us, long-time album buyers, their best customers.
Be warned again; closely examine every CD for any kind of "Copy Protection" logo/sign/brand before final purchase. In the store where I bought B.R.M.C album the front cover containing "Copy Controlled" logo was turned inside so one couldn't have a clue about it. I didn't investigate who turned covers in all B.R.M.C. CD's inside out (I've checked all of them on the store shelf), somebody from the shop, whole retailer, CD pressing plant, or maybe record company! And if somebody did it on purpose?
I'm regular visitor of your site from August 1998, and I think its fab!
Keep up the good work and thanks again!
Igor - E-mail: Cyprus

Dear Igor,
this copy protection thing is a shame. Perhaps record Comanies are trying to destroy the Red Book CD format so to replace it with the new digital media (SACD etc.). Who knows? It's business as usual!
Lucio Cadeddu

FleXy table - sort of
Inspired by your TNT FleXy table I have built a rack on my own. For that I have constructed a frame where a "normal" flexy is hanging in. Perhaps some of your readers might be interested in that, so if you think it will be appropriate I would be pleased if you would link my site.
If you are interested to put a picture on your flexytable - site please contact me.
the link is With greetings from Germany
Michael Reimers - E-mail:

Dear Michael,
thanks for the link (eventually pls link back to us) and the clever idea!
Lucio Cadeddu

Norh SE9
Richard, have you had a chance to listen to the ACA 2b??
I was thinking of buying a valve preamp and sending it through the power amp section of my Plinius 8150.

I visited Thailand recently and saw some TS Audio products but since returning to New Zealand I've been unable to find out any information about them on the net?!!?? Also didn't get a chance to listen while in Thailand.

Any guidance or advice you could give would be appreciated. Equipment is Linn LP 12, Marantz SA 14, ProAc 125 and Plinius 8150. Music is classical, chamber music, classical guitar, lute music, jazz, blues and the occasional female vocalist.
Enjoyed your review of the SE9.
Many thanks,
David Byron - E-mail:

Hello, David,
I'm glad you enjoyed my review of the Norh SE9. It was a fun amplifier to work with. Sorry to say I have not heard the ACA 2B yet, so I can comment neither on its sound nor build quality. I will say that the types of music you favor often, but not always, benefit from a valve preamp.
In my system, I prefer my Decware ZTPre for this type of music (this is a very basic, simple, well-built, and not terribly user friendly device!). However, considering the quality of your other equipment, I don't think the ACA 2B would be a good match. Its reputation is that of good quality - but good for the price. Again, I cannot know for certain. Although, it is cheap enough that it wouldn't cost that much to play with it.
I suspect that you might be better off with a higher end valve preamp. A number of such preamps have been reviewed on TNT Audio and elsewhere.Unfortunately, I couldn't be as much help as I would like. If you do select a valve preamp to try, let me know what happens.
Richard George

TNT Stubby
The TNT Stubby looks like a great design! Any good ideas on how to attach speakers on to the 8 inch board so they have less chance on falling off?
Greg - E-mail:

Hi Greg,
Hmmm....Good question.
Never really thought about that one much. I imagine velcro on the bottom corners might work. Can't say what that might sound like but it would help keep the speakers attached. You might also try some small spots of Blue Tak or rope caulk in the corners. They would provide a bit better coupling than the velcro but then you get into wood finish issues.
If you come up with any good ideas, be sure and drop us a note and let us know how they work.
Scott Faller

On the iRiver recorder
Thanks for your review at TNT-Audio. It was very helpful.
You said that, with the iRiver iHP-120, the whole music download scene is starting to make sense, or something to that effect. However, iRiver tech support tells me that the iHP-120 cannot play protected WMA files. This is the format that MusicMatch and other online services sell. The protection is designed to prevent one person from buying a legit copy, then burning it onto multiple CD-Rs and selling them.
Unfortunately, those of us who have a substantial investment in legally purchased and downloaded software in the protected format cannot play these files on the iHP-120. (To do so, we would have to burn them to a CD-R, then "rip" the tracks off the CD-R into MP3 or unprotected WMA format. This would be inconvenient, time-consuming, and would result in lower quality, as it amounts to creating a compressed file from a compressed source file, and each level of compression reduces quality.)
My other concern is the non-replaceable battery, which your review is careful to note. Like you, I learned from tech support that the factory itself will not even replace the battery when it dies. However, don't expect to get 5 years out of the battery. There is a lot of evidence that batteries of this type last 1.5 to 2.5 years. If you spend $350 on the unit, and it lasts 2.5 years, then you are, in effect, renting the unit for $140 per year, after which time it becomes a paperweight.
I certainly agree with you that this device is almost revolutionary in terms of the incredible array of useful features that it packs into such a small and light device. However, the inability to play legally downloaded music and the likelihood that the device will die in 2 years makes it, for me, at least, a very poor choice.
I would encourage you to consider verifying this information and editing your review to include it.
Ron Cronovich - E-mail:

Hi Ron,
Thanks for the letter, I'm intrigued to learn of the protected WMA file problem, as I said in the article I'm a MP3 (or whatever) virgin. I suspect that if companies once again try to copy protect to the point of becoming useless the 'customer' will simply go elsewhere, i.e. illigitimate sources. People in my experience are prepared to pay a fair price for things, the problem is that the music industry works on a 'what the market will bear' philosophy.
The classic example being that though CD's are far cheaper to produce than LP's, and DVD's cheaper than video casettes, the industry thinks it's OK to charge much more for them. Can you think of any other manufacturing industry that halves production costs and doubles price? Think how much these companies are charging for downloads - something which costs them royalties and not much else... The only reason they can do it is because it's a cartel. But the big hole in their philosophy is that 'what the market will bear' only works if you have a relatively stable market in which to operate, and that you can exercise total control over competitors, either legitimate or illigitimate.
Neither of those prerequisites now apply and so now people are getting used to going elsewhere even if it means breaking the law - the growth in DivX and MP3 being just two examples. However as I mentioned in the article, the whole raison d'etre of compressed formats - limited storage and slow downloads, is rapidly vanishing. They are a solution to a problem that will soon no longer exhist. In the iHP-120 we have the first machine that really opens the door fully to all these alternatives, soon much better machines with far more capacity will hit the shops, but for me the significance is that the iHP-120 is the first true crossover product.
I couldn't agree more about the battery problem, to throw away an expensive machine because the battery cannot be replaced is obsene and the ultimate expression of the 'throw away' society. What next, valve amps where the valves can't be changed? I ask every TNT reader to email iRiver about this and make their feelings fully understood. I'd also add that the box mentions that the storage is replaceable - a misprint? It would be nice to be able to replace the hard drive, after all it's merely a toshiba portable device.
As the thing is held together by screws my TNT developed instinct for opening things up and fiddling may result in another scoop on TNT...
Lastly I have managed to source another player (though I've yet to receive it) but not from any official iRiver source who I suspect are not overly happy with what I have written so far. Over Christmas I hope to have it rigged into all digital set-up, a live recording session and a recording studio. Sadly iRiver consider it more important to get them out to computer magazines, the Sunday supplements and style magazines...
Geoff Husband

Still on the iRiver recorder
Hi Geoff
I read your article about iRiver from 6 December and I think that TNT is finally starting to follow the internet digital and formats of music source.
I followed yours experiments to introduce some order in MusicMatch play lists and recalled that I had the same experience. Fortunately, finally all was set up but there are many other complications especially for the classical music minded.
I tried to involve TNT in this project but received some negative response from Lucio Cadeddu. I still wish that TNT will pay attention to the vast information of digital music creating on the net and on these new mega giga players.
Please do not leave the media to the pc magazines that are boom boxes or surround minded with there horrible computer speakers.
Ishay Ben-amotz - E-mail:

Hi Ishay,
Thanks for the mail, and I appreciate you wanting us to review such things on TNT. I hate to say it but the reason the iHP-120 got bandwidth on TNT is because it's a crossover product (the first?) between real hi-fi and the computer music world. We have a small staff and feel it's better to do a good job on one specific subject than be a "Jack-of-all-trades".
If we took on MP3, why not "in-car", surround systems, professional systems, home studio. You see the problem? We would be spread too thin. In fact the Editor's decision to "ban" MP3 looks ever more justified as the need for compressed audio rapidly vanishes.
If you've got 2000 gig hard drives and ultra-high speed connections what is the point? It's a format which will have a very short shelf life.
All that said, I personally will be following developments in such players (and I have another iHP-120 arriving soon) when they seem to offer something for the audiophile market and will be publishing my findings on TNT.
All the best
Geoff Husband

Super tweeters
Since you are in the US I'm directing this to you. I have been happily tweaking my system since first discovering and it's getting sweeter all the time.

On a whim after reading about them, I added a couple of Radio Shack super tweeters (#40-1310B) to my Energy XL15 bookshelf speakers. Just sat them on top and have been playing. I was amazed at the level of hearable (below 20kHz) sounds that they added from the sources that my little bookshelfs had been missing, despite the Energy's ratings at 20kHz. They're a little bright, which I have been told may be some unnecessary reinforcement at some of the frequencies at which the main and supertweeters overlap.

I want to adjust or modulate this WITHOUT opening the speaker box or complex circuitry. RS says to use them externally without high efficiency speakers that you need an Lpad or volume control. Unfortunately, the Shack doesn't carry their own recommended part for this anymore! They show you how to make a crossover filter for internal hookup, but I don't want to go that route.

Is is possible to make an external crossover in such a setup??? Otherwise, can you recommend the proper volume control part or setup available in the US for not much soldi?
Thanks and keep up the great work!
Bart A. Charlow - E-mail:

Hi Bart,
The part you are looking for is the Radio Shack Catalog # 271-265. It is a 3 watt rheostat. You will need to cut this in behind the crossover. If you install it straight off the binding posts of your Energy speakers you'll cook the rheostat.
Actually, your Energy speakers are a fairly nice speaker (depending on your tastes). In the treble region, they aren't lacking much (if any) information all the way up to 20k. What you have done with the super tweeter is boosted (heavily) the treble response in your system. The super tweeter you are using has an internal crossover with a 12db per octave slope and cuts in at 5k. The RS super tweeter is 96 db efficient where your Energy speakers are roughly 90db efficient.
That means from about 2k-3k (or so) you are getting a heavily accentuated high frequency response. You may think that you are getting information that you never heard before and you may think this is natural but it isn't. Essentially it's like you took an equalizer and jacked up everything from 2k on up.
On the other hand, if this is how you prefer to hear your music, by all means go for it. I would suggest that you pay atention to your listening habits as you experiment with the super tweeter. On the surface it may appear to more "detailed" and appealing.
I'd bet that you will begin to listen for less extended periods of time due to "listeners fatigue". Eventually, you will probably find that the Energy's sound was a bit more natural than you first thought when you connected the super tweeter.
Have fun in your experiments.
Scott Faller

Praises from Singapore

Hi Lucio,
I'm Vincent, from Singapore.
I have recently taken the step to buy hifi components after years of reading hifi magazines and visits to your site. Currently I am just 4 months into my system which comprises of a Densen Beat 100 integrated amp and a Marantz 6000 OSE cd player. I got both of them on the Used market.
I must say that your site has provided much information and inspiration to newbies like me. There are a couple of DIY projects I have done with instructions from your site. They are the The Twisted Snake, Flexy rack and the StoneBlock feets (they are literally feets in my implementation).
I have included some images of the projects just to let you know that there are people who read TNT and take them seriously.
In fact, the purchase of my first CDP is based on your reviews. More often than not, my friends and I check to see if there are reviews on certain products that we have seen on the Used market here in Singapore.
You have done a great job with the site!
Best Regards,
Vincent Wong - E-mail:

Dear Vincent,
your TNT'ed setup looks way cool! Hope the sound satisfies you. It's nice to learn how many FleXy's, TTS's etc have been made worldwide!
I notice there's an empty top shelf on your FleXy...waiting for a serious LP spinner perhaps? ;-)
Stay tuned!
Lucio Cadeddu

New cd player advice...
Dear Lucio,
I wanted to ask you for a small piece of advice if you don't mind....
My actual system is as follows:

Music collection: in the 1500 region (split in 70% digital and 30% analogue) - mainly high tech jazz (a la bugge wesseltoft), electronica (a la peace orchestra and boards of canada), and some acoustic jazz + funk and a few but quite fast paced classical cds like the Carmignola interpretations of Vivaldi released by Sony. The listening room (aka the living room) is rougly 20 square meters with a 2.8 ceiling height, with very little furniture. To tell the truth, the Sugden cd player was sweet, not harsh at all (!), and quite engaging from a tonal point of view, but I find it to be very boring due to its lack of rythm and dynamics (both macro and micro -which are virtually non-existent-).
Whenever it came to the foot tapping factor, I have to recognise that it lacked any sense of rythm (and soul) to make you believe you are listening even to a scaled down version of live music (or even recorded music).
Also, the level of detail retrieval seems to be very low, although I have to admit that it was very well blended into the musical nature of the player.
(I shouldn't have sold my Rotel 991 cd player, or at least not to buy the Sugden cd player ....) I recently listened to the Copland cda822 cd player and I liked it quite a lot...
It was sweet (always a must), not harsh at all, very musical, not lean at all, and unlike the sugden, it had much much more detail and a very very good rythm factor. (did I say Very?)
And all of that came without any expense to musicallity.... (which is in many cases the usuall trade-off) It really had that air guitar thing ...
(Maybe its attack was a bit rounded off, but I guess at this price point it is a bit of an "out of place" kind of critique....) The only "BUT" is that I can not afford it .....
I was wondering if you could give me your opinion on the Copland cda289 cd player and the cda266 as a match to the rest of my system, as well as let me know if you think it will provide me with the "extra" bit I am looking for without loosing too much of the tonal balance and sweetness of the Sugden....
(which one would you buy in the 2nd hand market??? The cda266 or the cda289 ? ).
I know that they maybe aren't as good as the cda822, but ... who knows! I look forward to hearing from you soon,
Best regards, (and THANKS !!!!!!!!)
Borja Lopez - E-mail:

Dear Borja,
I'm not so familiar with the Copland CD players to give you a clever advice on which one to buy. Since you seem to like sweet and warm sounds, with great sense of rhythm, why not a second-hand Naim CD player? Even a Naim CD 3 (better a 3.5) would suffice. Even better, a CD 5. Another good choice could be a second-hand Rega Planet or Jupiter (or Jupiter + Io).
Hope this helps,
Lucio Cadeddu

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