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 2006

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Audiophile-level good Music
Hi Lucio!
Just looked through last months reviews on TNT, great fun and very informative as always.
I saw you were reviewing great music recorded with audiophile qualities. I've always liked Rickie Lee Jones but never been a hard-core fan, so the the other day I got myself a three-disc Rickie Lee Jones anthology called "Duchess of Coolsville: An Anthology" (see for instance Amazon). And while Rickies music is great as always, what is astounding with this record is the quality of the recording and the mix. Just a tip!
(playing music on a DerekShek's NOS Dac, Decware Taboo and Hawthorne Silver Iris).
Johan - E-mail: johan.lofstrom (at) glocalnet.net

LC
Dear Johan,
thanks for the precious tip! It looks like a good suggestion for some late Christmas gift!
Happy listening!
Lucio Cadeddu

Re: NAD 3020 query
Hi Lucio
I came across an old but nice Yamaha ca-600 integrated amp at a local thrift store, it was only $9.98 I thought to myself "that's so cheap what do I have to lose?" so I drug yet another piece of hifi home. I am sure glad I did. I hooked it up in my main system that consists of

  1. B&W 602s3 (now Polk LSi-9) which are another bargain story. B&W 600 Subwoofer
  2. Arcam diva 192 CD player
  3. Studio quality RCA's and Gr8 audioquest speaker cable.
I took out my Forte f-44 preamp and Forte 4 Power amp, 50 watts pure class A. Both units had been updated by a former Threshold tech and had been burnt in fully. This little Yamaha was more musical, especially with 70s music, than the Forte stuff which I had upgraded from NAD gear. The Vintage knob web site reviews it's big brother the ca-1000 to rave reviews, and I now know why. These are great units.
The Yamaha loves the Vifa radiator ring tweeter on the Polk's, they are soul mates found!!!
Corresponding a little with the Vintage knob people, I asked if older Accuphase integrateds are better, and they said, yes indeed Accuphase is better.
What's you opinion on older Accuphase integrated amps?
If you have the time please tell me your thoughts.
Regards,
Eric - E-mail: ericdahlbeck (at) yahoo.com

LC
Dear Eric,
I don't know the CA 600 in detail but I've owned a CA 400, perhaps a simpler and older model. Unimpressive, I'd rather say. It made Music, yes, but that was all. Finally I decided to give it to a friend and get a Marantz 1060 in return :-)
Now, it is possible that your CA 600 is much better but please consider that vintage amps have old caps, resistors and coils that need to be replaced because of their values that certainly have gone out of specs. On the other hand, there must be a reason why some audiophile prefers the sound of old amps. Perhaps modern HiFi has gone too far. I mean, during the attempt to reach hyper-realism we have lost pieces of Music somewhere. What you get, sometimes, is a perfect, precise, detailed and...life-less sound. Also, sometimes audiophiles don't like reality. They prefer a warmer, perhaps coloured, presentation....what I call "My-Fi" instead of Hi-Fi. Unfortunately (?) HiFi gear has to reproduce everything which is on discs, the good, the bad and the ugly. My experience with 70's vintage amplifiers (especially entry-level stuff) is that they tend to make everything sound the same. They somehow impose their sound to the source. That's not HiFi, as I intend it.
Anyway, what really matters is that you can feel that breeze running through your spine!

hey pick you up, put you down
rip you up and spin you round
just like we said we would
'cause we're a forest fire
believe you me, we'll tear this place down
if we get caught in this wind then we could burn the ocean
if we get caught in this scene we're gonna be undone
it's just a simple metaphor, it's for a burning love
don't it make you smile like a forest fire
["Forest fire" from Lloyd Cole, right now on my CD player...what a lovely song my friend...And I don't matter whether the soundstage is correct or not, this is a real, burning love].
Lucio Cadeddu

TNT-Audio on mobile phone
Hi,
Recently I checked out my Nokia 2650 mobile phone's ability to connect to the internet using the WAP / WML browser / protocol and the GPRS (always online) connection. (GPRS is much faster than a traditional mobile dial up and you only pay for actual data transfer and not for time).
And guess how I am now getting all the news from TNT Audio? Yes, on my Nokia 2650! That is because Google has put up an ingenious interface that converts HTML pages for WAP / WML. You just go to www.google.com on you WAP phone. Then you'll get a nice Google search window (Google automatically detects that you are connecting from a mobile device) Do a search on the net - for instance www.tnt-audio.com/what to find the news section (it is a bit tedious to navigate most site so I prefer if I can find the page I want to bookmark) Choose the first searc result and you're on TNT Audio :-)
Then you can bookmark the link so you can go to that page next time without having to do a Google search first. The Google translation only works well if the pages you want to browse are pretty standard (some would say primitive, but they don't know what they are talking about ;-) HTML pages like the ones on your site. The only negative thing is that for some reason I cannot use yours (and others) site search facility - and as stated previous it is rather time consuming to do intensive navigation.
To me it is GREAT advantage to be able to read TNT Audio and other internet pages on my phone as I often have to lie in bed due to a severe muscle disease (McArdle's disease) when not being able to sit in front of my PC. I have now bookmarked several sections of your site for easy access and I really hope and pray that you won't change the layout for some fancy graphic stuff making this much more difficult - or impossible. The good thing about the Google translation is, that many sites won't have have to put up special WAP / WML access/ pages.
Now I just wait for you guys to make the TNT Audio search work on my mobile ;-) then everything would be near perfect..!
Thanks for a terrific site. Your concept of no banners and commercials really is a great advantage when viewing the pages on a mobile phone. Stick to your concept - I'm loving it.
Best Regards,
- and good luck for a bright TNT Audio future...
Per - E-mail: per.borgen (at) bo42.net

LC
Dear Per,
TNT-Audio pages are written in a very simple way so to make them readable even by non-WYSIWYG browser (text browsers like Lynx, e.g. for blind people) and...hear hear!!! WAP phones. From time to time I check the TNT-Audio pages via mobile phone and though it is not exactly a WAP-compliant site it is still readable...as you have just discovered. And it is readable even without the WAP "translation" made by Google. The search facility trouble isn't our fault, since we use Google OnSite (the search engine browses our pages).
We love to keep things simple,
Lucio Cadeddu

NAD 3020 query
Hi
My name is Eric, I live in Seattle, I enjoy your web site, thank you!
I noticed you reviewed the 3020, is the model you reviewed the same model that is in the picture on the review page?
That one looks like a "series twenty" model, which is NOT as good as the NAD 3020a version.
I have had all of these, the ones that say series twenty are not nearly as good as the 3020a The 3020b is only a little better than the series twenty ones. But not as good and musical as the 3020a. I just though I would share this with you.
Best regards,
Eric - E-mail: ericdahlbeck (at) yahoo.com

LC
Dear Eric,
there are various versions of the 3020 and some are better than others, you're right. My favourite is the "audiophile" version 3120, without tone controls. Close second comes the 3020i. I own an old Series 20 (which is damn good, by the way) and a 3120 but I've listened to ALL the 3020 versions made on Earth so I have a precise idea of what this series of amps is capable of.
Thanks for the feedback!
Lucio Cadeddu

North Star Model 192 - CD transport
Dear Sir,
I've read your review of the North Star 192 DAC/transport combo and have some questions. Maybe you can answer them? I am thinking of buying this combo, but with the newer extremo DAC. Have you experience with this DAC? Is there also a review about it?
Another question is about the CD-transport. I've read that the toploader has to be handled with care. Does this mean the toploader is not very well constructed or does this only concern the laser unit that is more exposed?
Kind Regards,
B. - E-mail: b.huijgevoort (at) home.nl

LC
Dear B.
we will review the Extremo DAC sooner or later, though we are primarily interested in their new integrated CD player. The North Star transport isn't particularly weak and it showed no flaws or faults during my tests. Early versions of the Model 192 T had some mechanical trouble with the top loading mechanism but the North Star crew did their homework and solved the problem.
Hope this helped somehow,
Lucio Cadeddu

How up-to-date is a 15 year old system/valve amp?
Dear Lucio,
I own a 15 year old system that is in desperate need of an update but since I can't afford replacing the whole system I would like to know your opinion on where to start. I haven't read any magazines since I bought it - until now, that is, and TNT has been a good starting point.
My system:

I was wondering if nowadays it still makes sense to build a system around the Audio Innovations if so I would consider stretching my budget for a new CD player of around 750 (or maybe a used one?). How about the interconnect cables, should I keep them?
I listen mainly to Traditional/World music, classic Jazz and some classical (mostly piano) and light rock and would rather have a fast/lively, engaging sound than an ultra detailed 3D soundstage.
I have forgotten to mention that my very small listening room is 3,10 x 2,45 metres and it doubles as a library so one of the long walls is full of books (the other long wall is behind the speakers).
Thanking you in advance,
Ricardo - E-mail: ricardo_franca (at) netcabo.pt

LC
Dear Ricardo
if I were you, I'd keep your still excellent digital source and I'd concentrate on speakers and amplification. With 750 € there's room for some interesting second-hand bargain, on speakers and integrated amps. Where to start? I'd firstly upgrade the amplifier. Its modest power output and driving ability needs more sensitive speakers in order to perform at best. In my opinion your speakers will temporarily benefit from a more capable solid-state amplifier such as a Naim Nait 3 or 5, or even some model from the Rega or Exposure range. If you're after "engaging" sound instead of 3D soundstage these are the amps to look for. As for cables, just keep 'em.
When your budget will allow some extra upgrade, plan to buy new speakers but I'm pretty sure you will re-discover yours after the change of amplification.
Hope this helped somehow,
Lucio Cadeddu

Impedance mismatch?
Hello,
I just read you review of the Polk LSi7 bookshelf speakers and was interested in your opinion on the 4ohm issue. Being a "newbie" to the audiophile world, I am just learning about "nominal impedance" and such. I have a Marantz SR7500 Receiver (105/ch x 7), which gives 8 and 6 ohm ratings, but not 4ohm. I have read in on-line write-ups that it possesses a high current amp, which is required for these speakers.
My question is: should I have any concerns driving these as L/R Mains in 5.1 setup? I used the Surround Back terminals (as Speaker C) to drive the High Freq., and the Main (A) terminals to drive the Low. I just completed the wiring last evening, and Pink Floyd Animals was the first choice. They sound AWESOME!! Please let me know what you think, and do you believe I can safely drive the matching Center (LSiC), which is now in my sights?
Thank you for you time and have a great weekend!!
Mark - E-mail: mdporta (at) amerisci.com

LC
Dear Mark,
I'm pretty sure your Marantz will be able to properly drive the Polk Audio LSi7 loudspeakers, despite the conservative impedance claims. Perhaps it will run out of steam at very high listening levels but electronic protections will avoid amp's suicide.
BUT!!! You should connect the speakers to the MAIN (read: FRONT) output terminals ONLY....do not mix & match different outputs (surround and main) as they contain different musical informations. If you wish to biwire them, just use two pairs of speakers cables connected to the very same pair of MAIN output posts!
Hope this helped somehow,
Lucio Cadeddu

Economic anomalies in HiFi
Hi Arvind,
Many compliments for your articles on TNT (I've just read the Italian version). I studied economics and I liked very much your way to economic analisys of our audiophile passion.
Gianluca - E-mail: agpym (at) katamail.com

AK
Hello Gianluca,
thanks for your kind words. I see many economic anomalies in the audio industry; as there are in others. I quite enjoy investigating and writing about them.
The myth of the perfection of the "free market" system and competion is repeatedly put to shame. Add to that the imperfect information disseminated to consumers, and we have the mess that we know today.
If you like this sort of thing, then my upcoming review of the KAB/Technics based phono system will be right up your alley.
Regards,
Arvind Kohli

TNT Akropolis speaker stands
This looks like an ingenious solution. These Akropolis cement/ concrete ones are easy to find. My question for you is do we not need to fasten the speaker to the stands.
If so how do we do it.
I have Paradigm Signature S 4 speaker stands.
Let me know what is your opinion.
Thanks,
Pandu - E-mail: pdhanwada (at) yahoo.com

LC
Dear Pandu,
I'm glad you enjoyed the idea. Securing the speakers to the Akropolis stands is easy: ou just need few blobs of blue-tack or similar stuff (plumbers' putty, for example). Blu-Tack is used to hold posters on walls.
Hope this helped somehow,
Lucio Cadeddu

Cheap T-System
Hello Lucio.
I was browsing through the internet and came upon your review of the T-Amp and although I'm not into DIY stereo systems or high end stereos I like good sound when I listen to music, because I listen to a lot of music.
I'm really interested in getting the T-Amp because based on the review it sounds awesome. I listen mostly to music through IPod Nano and also use a media box with a disk for hard disc. Could you please tell me how to to use the T-Amp with my IPod and plugged in the wall here in Iceland (we use 220V power)?
Can you point to some cheap speakers which are good enough for this amp and also if the amp would be good with Bose Triport headphones (I came upon a review of Grado SR-80 headphones and I will try to order from USA when I find a dealer which handles them)?
Thank you really much for good reading.
Regards,
Johann - E-mail: johann (at) gudbjargarson.net

LC
Dear Johann,
the t-Amp has a simple stereo minijack input. Use that to connect everything you want to it. As for power supply, you just need a 220V/12 volts AC/DC adapter as those that are of common use on CB radios, for example.
Cheap speakers? They should have decent sensitivity, if you wish to get some decent sound pressure. I wouldn't miss some Klipsch offer (frequently found on Ebay) for bookshelf models above 90 dB. Unfortunately my experience with headphones is very limited. If you wish to use them with the T-Amp please read carefully our article in order to avoid connecting two negative poles together (the T-Amp will die that way, as it is already "bridged")).
Hope this helped!
Lucio Cadeddu

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