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Readers' Corner - February 2000

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This week letters

New speakers
Dear TNT
I must say I love your site & I visit it all the time. I have a question for you about some speakers.
I am in a situation where I have to choose between Dali 808 or B&W dm603 s2. I listen to heavy music and a bit of techno. BUT the speakers are also going to be front speakers in my surround system and then I will have to buy a center speaker too. I just don't know which ones to choose.
I have a Denon AVR-1400 and 2x SYTEM AUDIO 1005 which I will use at surround speakers. Which speakers should I choose?
I would be glad if you made a sound test or something. They almost cost the same in Denmark where I am from.
If you have any other comments on the speakers I would like to read them. I you think I should choose an other speaker company I would like to know fx KEF, MISSION, SYSTEM AUDIO, JAMO, PARADIGM etc.
Thank you
Mads Vinding - E-mail: MadVin@e-mail.dk

Dear Mads,
do not forget that PERSONAL experience can't be replaced by anything. So if you can go and listen to these speakers, DO IT and decide using your personal taste. Having said that, my personal preference would go for the Dali 808. But don't let this fool you: the choice of a pair of loudspeakers is mostly a matter of personal taste, not to mention correct matching with the listening room and the amplifier.
Lucio Cadeddu

TNT Merlino mains cable
Dear sir, thank you for the wonderful website. I am spending 90% of my surfing time on your site everyday! I like especially the tweaking section and have gotten down into the FFRC speaker cable (DIY) using Belden Category 5 cables.
The "itch" of doing something else is HERE! I have read the Snake twist (TTS) and Merlino power cables. But, given the former is a bit too complicated and do not wish to venture into it for fear of the high current involved.
Nevertheless, I will try the Merlino. I have a question: at the IEC end do I have to connect all the 3 cables as per normal? And of course at the mains connector the earth will be connected to the cable shield.
Thank you & regards,
Andrew Eu - E-mail: andreweu@myworldmail.com

Dear Andrew,
I'm not sure of having understood your question, anyway I'll try to explain how you should connect the 3 cables of the Merlino mains cable.
Connect the 3 conductors as any other mains cable and connect the shield to the earth wire into the plug that goes into the wall. Leave the shield disconnected at the component's end (IEC plug, that is). If this sounds still unclear, ask a trained technician to do the work for you. Electricity can kill, don't forget it!
Lucio Cadeddu

Audio Analogue Maestro CD player
Ciao Lucio,
I've just read your fine review of the AA Maestro and - if I get you right - you seem to have the opinion there are better CD players to be had for that kind of money, in the vicinity of 3M.
If it's not asking too much, which players are those? I'm in the market for a player in that league and I found the Maestro to VASTLY outperform all other contenders (e.g. Arcam Alpha 9, Talk Electronics Thunder, Densen Beat B-400) I had the opportunity to listen to.
Could well be that a kind of synergy had struck when I put the Maestro in my system, but the difference left nothing to think about or discuss.
It simply made my system sound so much closer to the real thing. Consequently I decided I would get the AA machine, but before I do, I might be interested in hearing those that you find superior to the Maestro. I know how busy you are, so I'll be more than happy with just a list of players you think I should hear before buying.
Thanx, keep up the excellent work on TNT, I'm one of your regulars,
Primoz - E-mail: primoz.jurko@guest.arnes.si

Dear Primoz,
the Audio Analogue Maestro is a very fine performer and an excellent choice if you're in the market for THAT kind of sound. If you have found it so good into your system then it is THE player to choose!!!
I've not written there are better players in the Maestro price range, I've written that in some areas the sound of the Maestro could be improved (deep bass, dynamics, punch). And this makes a HUGE difference.
If you're searching for an explosive performer, with razor-sharp attacks and decays, then the Maestro won't be your regular cup of tea. Having said that, I invite everyone to read the reviews CAREFULLY, without ADDING phrases that haven't been written, as this can be extremely DANGEROUS and MISLEADING.
TNT-Audio is a truly independent magazine, you don't need to "read between the lines" to understand the meaning of a review. We write exactly what we liked and what we didn't. No lies.
In order to find some weak spot (as indeed happened) of a fine performer like the Maestro you need to compare it with more expensive components (transports + DACs, for example)...but this doesn't necessarily mean there are better players into that price range.
So, go for the Maestro, you won't be disappointed.
Lucio Cadeddu

Buying directly from Europe
Dear Sir,
I live in Borneo Island that has VERY limited number of HiFi Dealers (probably 2 - 3 only). Each time I have to fly to Singapore for a better system...THAT is rather costly.
I am quite tired and feel like buying directly from Europe could be a better choice, especially if there isn't any distributor in South East Openg.
My question: I would like to know how to contact the company that sell Audion Sterling valve amp. As well, I did e-mailed Synthesis Valve amp company for their products but they never replied to me. Strange enough, as I e-mailed Sonus Faber & Opera before, both did not reply. This happened also to my friend who is a HiFi lover, he never received reply from these 2 companies.
Last question, my system is too bright. I feel like getting a valve power amp to warm it up. I am not sure whether a valve power amp could hook to my Rotel pre-amp that is not a valve type. Please advice and sorry for asking too much if any, Thanks.
GOH Yau-Ping - E-mail: gohyp@pd.jaring.my

Dear reader,
buying directly from Europe could be expensive as well and many Italian Companies simply lack the "organization" to do that seriously.
A proof of this statement is that they seldom reply to E-mails and they don't use the Internet, even when they own a Company Web Site. Internet in Italy (let me say, in Europe) is still living its "early days" and especially the small HiFi community doesn't know how to exploit this powerful media.
Now, contacting Audion is easy since they have a web site and they seem familiar with E-mail. Just go to our article on Audion preamp and power amp.
As for Sonus Faber, Opera and Synthesis I don't know what to suggest. They do have their Web Sites and E-mail addresses...if they don't reply, I don't know how I could help.

Finally, you can, of course, connect a tube power amp to your Rotel preamp, no problem. But please consider that if your system is too bright, maybe your listening room is the culprit. Try adding carpets, heavy curtains etc.
Lucio Cadeddu

New Audio Analogue Puccini SE & reviews on TNT
Dear Friends of TNT-Audio,
since a week I have the new and revised 55W Puccini SE amplifier up and running in my home. This is the very first one that came to town (Gothenburg, Sweden), it was kindly lent to me by my audio shop for burn-in and listening -- and I simply refused to give it back. Being in short supply, the result is that I can enjoy this new amplifier in my home, but visitors to the shop can not...

However, TNT being an Italian site, I am surprised not to have seen a word on the revised Puccini on your site. You really should tell the world about this one. Even more surprising is that it is not even featured on Audio Analogue's own homepage...
Thank you for a fine site!
Tommy Larsson - E-mail: tommy.kerstin@swipnet.se

Dear Tommy,
first of all let me tell you are dead wrong :-) We've been the first Audio mag (or site) to have announced the new Puccini's, exactly into our reportage from the last Top Audio Show in Milan. The Audio Analogue guys have promised us the new Puccini's but I haven't seen anything yet.
You see, being an Internet magazine doesn't help much, at least in Italy. Audio Companies still prefer traditional "print" mags...I'll let you guess why.
So we will probably be the last ones to test the new Puccini's. There's nothing I can do about that.
If you think this is a serious loss, please send an E-mail to Audio Analogue and let them know. I'm tired of asking.
The same applies to other Italian products. If you think we should review something "made in Italy", let the Company know about it. We have already asked everything to everyone. Churches are still the best places where one should...pray.
Lucio Cadeddu

Previous weeks letters

Absolute beginner
Hi, I'm Pedro Martins and I live in Portugal.
I'm starting in the world of hi-fi. I think I can distinguish a good sound from a bad one. But I don't know what should I buy.
I would like to spend something around $1000. For this price I know I have to go for an integrated amp. (maybe next time I go for a tube-equipped one).
Can you help me?
Pedro Martins - E-mail: sdi@iade.pt

Dear Pedro,
first of all I suggest you to read our Buying Guide, there you'll find some precious info to start well.
Anyway, 1000 $ are enough to start with a budget system that can play decent Music.
You can consider, for example, a basic integrated amp from NAD, Rotel or AMC. Then a pair of bookshelf speakers to choose into the KEF, Mission, Infinity or Wharfedale catalogues (please read some reviews of these products here on TNT-Audio) and finally an entry-level CD player like the Teac CDP 1120 or the Marantz CD 4000, just to name a few.
Keep reading &, even better, start to listen to some HiFi system, believe me, it is the faster way to know (and FIND!) what you're looking for!
Lucio Cadeddu

Paolo Conte Music
Hi Lucio (cool dude after all :-)),
I recently bought a live double LP from Paolo Conte called Concerti. Okay it is digitally remastered but the music is very nice.
Now I might want to get some more of Paolo Conte and I tried to get some hints about which records are his best ones.
I did not find anything helpful on the net but as you are Italian you can probably give me a hint.
Thank's a lot
Frank Gales - E-mail: frank.gales@sap.com

Dear Frank,
I'm glad to hear you enjoy one of the best Italian composers of all times! Paolo Conte is a lawyer (yes!) with Music as main interest. As a result he started writing songs for famous Italian singers and then he decided to sing his own songs.
The result is a cool mixture of jazz and Italian tradition that is simply amazing. If I had to choose some disc from his long discography I'd pick up Aguaplano, Gelato al limon, and still some live concert, where he clearly performs at his best.
His very low-keyed voice is even a good test for any HiFi system and his discs are pretty well recorded, too.
From his recent titles, let me suggest you Parole d'amore scritte a macchina, very intriguing.
Hope this helps.
Lucio Cadeddu

NAD amps
I came across your name while searching for information about a NAD amplifier called "3220PE" (where "PE" stands for "Power Envelope"). I cannot seem to find ANY information about this product. I realize itīs discontinued, but SOMEONE should have written SOMETHING about it.. one would think.. :-))
Joaquim Homrighausen - E-mail: joho@home.se

The NAD 3220 PE was the natural evolution of the legendary NAD 3020. It was actually very similar to its ancestor, except for the fact it offered a very high dynamic power, supplied by the Power Envelope circuit, a device that, like a turbocharger :-), gave an extra kick of raw energy during musical transients.
I still believe the best NAD amp was the 3020 and the brother 3120 but the 3220 PE performed quite well, sounding way more powerful and lively than its claimed power would have suggested.
If you find a 3220 for 100-150 $, buy it, you won't be disappointed.
Lucio Cadeddu

I am an audiophile from the Netherlands (my name is Stef) and I enjoy your site tremendously, it is really very good, especially the tweakin' & do it yourself sections. I hope to experiment with your designs in the future, but first I try (they are bloody expensive) to buy myself a "Manger" loudspeaker for my backloaded horns (I use them as full-range speakers).
Which are already great (but "shouty") with Fostex drivers, but it seems that those Mangers in a horn are astonishing, quite unlike "normal" full-range Lowthers or Fostex's.
Then it is time to build an equipment rack which I designed, or borrowed, myself. Ideas seem to get inspired by a lot different approaches and visions, anyway I'm not an original but I hope to combine sensible things as decoupling by pressurized air thru inner bike tubes on which sandfilled platforms rest.
In those platforms I will "sandwich" a copper plate (with a groundlead) to shield RF.
Stef - E-mail: johannav@xs4all.nl

Dear Stef,
thanks a lot for your appreciation...and congrats on your DIY fever!!! Ever considered building a simpler TNT FleXy table?
I'm so sorry not everything of the Italian tweaks section is translated into English, since there we have old designs of air tubes supported platforms...and one with sand, too, called Sandblaster :-). Nothing new or exciting, just plain old ideas known for years in the HiFi community.
Anyway, I'm working on a new decoupling device, something rather original I think but it will take MONTHS before the design and tests are complete.
Stay tuned,
Lucio Cadeddu

Bartolomeo Aloia kits
I really don't know where or who to ask for an unbiased opinion on this Italian tube audio kit; I am very interested in some products from this tube audio kit manufacturer in Italy called Bartolomeo Aloia and I am wondering if you have heard any positive critique on his kits?
Does he supply with good products?
Peter Sugano - E-mail: sugano@hkstar.com

Dear Peter,
you may need to know that Bartolomeo Aloia is one of the most respected audio designers in Italy. He started designing kits when nobody else was doing that in Italy!
He has been (and still is) a pretty well-known columnist in various Italian HiFi magazines and many of his DIY kits originated directly from his articles.
Then some of his projects have gone commercial, in the sense that a Company is now manufacturing preamps and amps (mostly solid state) designed by Bartolomeo himself. The Company name is Aloia, of course :-)
I dunno if these products are available outside of Italy...but it may be worth investigating.
And yes, of course we have asked him about his products but he seems to ignore the power of the Internet, as many other HiFi designers in Italy...so, by now, we have just to wait for the BelPaese to discover the Net :-|
So, if you are interested in his kits you can be sure you're going to build pretty good sounding stuff. Consider he designed zero-feedback amps in the early '70s...when everyone was searching for the ultimate low distortion figures...
Lucio Cadeddu

Mains cables and ferrite clamps
Apologies if my original message was slightly unclear - I thought I would explain myself a bi better and ask you an additional question.
The power cable I was referring to was your "Merlino" cable, which looks like what I want. Only trouble is, I can find neither the ferrite clamps or the shielded mains cable on the RS site you linked to!
Could you possible provide me with links for the shielded mains cable and ferrite clamps, or tell me the part numbers or something for them - I'm a bit lost here, I just can't find either on their website.
Thanks for your help,
Daniel Adams - E-mail: dan@fearsome.net

Dear Daniel,
I only have an old RS catalogue ('98) so I'm not sure if the codes are exactly the same, perhaps you may need to search their site with some specific keyword like "shielded cables" and "ferrite clamps" or "Anti-RFI".
Anyway, here are the codes from my catalogue:
the mains cable is called SY-type and the code is 379-154 while there are so many ferrite's I can't name them all. Some clamps are coded as follows: MSFC-4T (or 5T, 6T, 8T, 10T, 13T) MTFC 16813T (16816T etc.). Warning! These codes can differ depending on the year. I think the best way is to search the RS or Maplin web site. Radioshack could be a good source too.
Otherwise ANY good electronics part store should have these items in stock, including the shielded cable.
A good source for cheap ferrite rings is right behind your computer...look at the rings around the monitor and printer cables :-)
Hope this may help!
Lucio Cadeddu

Hello! "Bravo" for most informative and fresh site for the given topic(s) (HiFi that is!). Personally, I found "Listening tests" and "Tweakings" as my top two sections. I've already built the Flexy table, the TTS mains cables, and got lot of ideas from "Tweakings" which kept me busy for some weekends now.
So keep up the good work.
Best regards,
PS. I'm looking forward for the "Northstar Model 4" listening test.
Goran Makovec Pulevic - E-mail: goran.makovec@msoft.si

Dear Goran,
there are so many fancy Tweaks into our DIY section that your weekends are going to be busy for a while :-) But hurry up, because we're going to publish some new fancy and crazy ideas. Also, we're about to publish some DIY loudspeaker kit anytime soon...don't ask, we're working on 'em!
As for the Northstar stuff, I've warned the guys you're awaiting for their digital stuff to be reviewed into our pages.
Lucio Cadeddu

Sonus Faber Musica
Hello Lucio,
could I ask your opinion on the Sonus Faber Musica. Have U had the opportunity to listen to it and what are your comments on its' performance.
I am currently using an Audio Note Oto SE, would the Musica make a suitable replacement? My complain on the Oto SE is its' lack of "Ooomph" though I have no complaints on the mids and highs.
My gear:

Any other comments are most welcome.
Din - E-mail: technical_sdc@sdc.com.sg

Dear Din,
the Sonus Faber Musica is a very nice integrated amp, able to drive even "tough" loudspeakers. I see no reason why it shouldn't be a good match and partner for your Audio Note/Snell loudspeakers which have a pretty high sensivity and pretty good bass.
If the Audio Note OTO is lacking some "drive" on your woofers, then a solid state amp like the Musica could be a clever choice. But, please, don't take anything for granted: listen to it before you buy!!!!! Possibly with your 'speakers.
Lucio Cadeddu

Ultrasound Alias Light Loudspeakers review
I am glad that there is now a way to contact. I have enjoyed reading your publication and check in every week or so. As I am in the US, a number of the products you review are not available here.
That is one of the reasons that I like your publication, I have always enjoyed discovering new products and have also enjoyed the Italian products which I have heard in this country.

However, I do have one question. The review of the Ultrasound Alias Light loudspeakers did not make any sense to me at all. I wondered if there was a problem with the translation into English. (As I do not read or speak Italian I could not compare the review with the Italian version).
After a good description of the design of the speakers and of the associated equipment and listening room, the reviewer started to describe the speaker itself. The first two paragraphs under Tonal Balance are, to my thinking, entirely positive.
The balance of that section is partly positive and partly negative. I couldn't help but think that saying a speaker is too sweet for one's taste is not a very negative comment. After all, the speaker with this fault (as opposed to being too bright) could still be listened to for long periods of time.
In the next section of the review, the reviewer again appears to be largely complimentary except for stating that the speakers are not very dynamic and are best played a moderate levels. Again, this would seem to be a fault that could be easily lived with, especially for people in apartments or small houses.

Through this point in the review, I was thinking that these were interesting speakers that I would like to hear if they were ever imported into the US. You can imagine my pure astonishment when the reviewer ended the review with "...I've hated these speakers since the first minutes..." This conclusion came out of nowhere as far as I could tell. There was nothing in the review that led to that conclusion that I could see.
That is why I wondered if there was a problem with the translation. If there was not a problem with the translation, could you explain why the reviewer hated speakers with so many good qualities?
Thank you.
Van L. Hayhow - E-mail: HAYHOWLAW@aol.com

Dear Van,
and I thought the sense of that phrase was clear...obviously how wrong I was. And since _I_ translated the original article I am the sole responsible for the misunderstanding :-)
That phrase should mean the reviewer had hated the speakers during for the first days he listened to them but then he slightly changed his mind, as soon as he had been able to find some positive aspect in the sound of that Ultrasound Alias.
Anyway, the review can't be considered entirely positive (rather negative, let me tell ya), especially if you read the Manufacturer's ANGRY reply at the bottom of the article.
He wasn't exactly "satisfied" with the review, to say the least.
Hope this clarifies a bit. Sorry for any misunderstanding.
Lucio Cadeddu

New amp?
Thanks for the feedback. I already contacted Unison Research and AM Audio for more info. I hope to get it soon.
One thing that I need your help is to be able evaluate UR 845 monoblocks can drive my speakers well because with existing amps I get more boomy result.
It could be cables, passive or amps where they could not grip the bass. Since I could not find any 845 based amp to test with my speakers, I wanted to ask you if you have any experience of that sort.
In order to understand better my system, please kindly look at the below link to see the pictures and the details of my system.
1. Go to www.arduman.com/aa
2. Select My Friends' Systems
3. Select Cuneyt Genc Revisit 22 Jan 1999 (misspelled,actually it is 2000)

The other idea that I want to ask you if solid-states could handle better the speakers(at the expense of loosing the tube advantage?).After your reviews in TNT pages I focused more in two amps:
-AM Audio Ref 50
-Audio Flight 50.
Any feedback is more than welcome.
Best regards
Cuneyt - E-mail: cuneyt.genc@citicorp.com

Dear Cuneyt,
I've never been able to listen to your Cabasse loudspeakers, let alone with a 845-based amp. Not every 845 amp was created equal so we can't discuss if the 845 from Unison Research would be able to control your woofers or not...
My best bet is that one of the two cited solid state monsters can accelerate and "brake" your drivers better than most tube-equipped amps. We're going to test the Audia 50 soon (or so they have promised...) while I've already listened to the AM Audio 50 Ref quite carefully...and I can assure you the baby (50 kgs!!!) can drive (and I mean DRIVE!!!!) almost anything.
Anyway, you have to TRY one of these AT HOME with your loudspeakers.
Lucio Cadeddu

Sicomin wanted
Hi Lucio,
Could you get me the contact details for Sicomin in France (phone, fax, URL). I am interested to look at their products for import into Canada.
Thanks and keep up the best audio website on the planet!
Derek Coates - E-mail: esoderek@axionet.com

Dear Derek,
at least I've been able to discover a secret Sicomin official web site, with just two or three pages, mostly under construction. Our French cousins seem they need to discover the power of the Internet yet :-)
Anyway, Geoff Husband @ TNT has given me some further info about the Company (maybe the same infos can be retrieved directly from the Web site, dunno exactly):
MGB, Zone industrielle du Munat, 1, rue de l'Industrie - BP 8
Tel : 04 77 75 07 32
Fax : 04 77 75 99 64
Directeur General: Xavier BONITEAU
E-mail MGB@bxpro.com

Hope this may help,
Thanks for the appreciation,
Lucio Cadeddu

© Copyright 2000 Lucio Cadeddu

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