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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February 2011

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HiFi beginner
Just a Hi-Fi beginner and planning to purchase Denon D-M38DAB micro hi-fi pairing with Monitor Audio BX2 bookshelf speakers. Maybe you can recommend other products all-in one system would be highly appreciated. My humble questions:

  1. Can you recommend which songs/album/artists that can be used as a testing CD or LP benchmark for Hi-Fi system? Now days music becomes high definition bit-rate, which trusted website can download high-bit quality songs? Any trusted website can purchase LP products as well?
  2. For a future upgrade, please give recommendation to setup a budget Hi-Fi system (basic integrated tube amp, integrated solid state amp, floorstand speakers, turntable, CD players that support SACD/CD and high definition formats) plus speakers cables, interconnect and power cable as well.
Thanks for replying.
Rassan - E-mail: kumario9 (at)

Dear Rassan,
we reviewed some all-in-one music center in the past, for example the Arcam Solo and the Audio Analogue Enigma, you might find useful infos on those articles. Even the Linn Classik system is a very good option. On the other hand if you're planning to upgrade your system, you might find useful infos on our listening tests sections: you'll find many reviews of inexpensive tube amps or Class D amps, which could be the most natural upgrade path for your system. Without knowing your budget I'm afraid I can't be more specific.
We also have a whole section devoted to audiophile records that can be used as benchmark testing tools for HiFi evaluation. There you'll also find reviews of websites that offer high-quality Music download.
Hope this helped,
Lucio Cadeddu

Dayton vs Temple Audio
Dear Lucio,
In the same week TNT-Audio published two test articles about two small class D amps, one the Temple Audio Bantam Gold 179 Pounds 15 wpc with 12V PSU by Nick Whetstone and the other by yourself on the Dayton Audio DTA-100A US 99 30 wpc with 30V PSU. You and Nick said that the amps on test are better than the Trend Audio TA10.1 and you find it even better than Scythe SDA-1100 my actual small chip amplifier.
Apart from the difference in power that in my case with full range (25 to 20 khz) high efficiency loudspeaker system doens't matter and the difference in price that matters a lot, which of the two interesting amplifiers sounds overall better? I mean soundwise. Meantime get my best applause for those two reports that put us worldwide audiophiles in knowledge of good and reasonable products in the lower rate of purchasing price.
Dario - E-mail: dariomelo38 (at)

Dear Dario,
I'm afraid I can't help, since I've not tested the Temple Audio amp. Perhaps Nick can give some hint, considering he has also reviewed the Virtue Audio One, which is very close to the Dayton, using the very same Tripath chipset (TK2050). Anyway, considering the Dayton is so vastly superior to your Scythe, you might consider it as a natural upgrade. For 99$ you can't go wrong.
Hope this helped,
Lucio Cadeddu

SPDIF remark
Dear Lucio,
first of all: thank you very much for your great site. It's always a great pleasure to read...
In your reply to Jonathan you say Moreover, many PCs offer digital output (both on Toslink and SP/DIF) this case exploiting the USB output would be a nonsense.
From my experience, SPDIF is not all the same. I use the HiFace (for having two crystals: one for 44.1 kHz and one for 48 kHz and multiples). Sound quality improved a lot when I replaced the computer feeded 5V at the USB plug by an excellent 5V power supply. It might turn out at the end that a built-in SPDIF is not the nicest solution - just like the built-in sound card.
Kind regards,
Ulli - E-mail: modmix (at)

Dear Ulli,
the USB and the SP/DIF are very different outputs, if you consider the former uses power supply while the latter doesn't! You should compare the two outputs using the very same DAC, without trying to improve the standard USB output. From what you say it seems you haven't performed this kind of test. If yes, please report back your findings.
Thanks for the feedback!
Lucio Cadeddu

Previous weeks letters

DIY cables recipe
I just read your statement on cables. Here is a possible recipe idea for you. It has the virtue of being ridiculously simple, relatively cheap (in comparison to commercial designs). its not even necessary to solder: you just need good scissors or if you want to go high tech, a scalpel.
A well known German component manufacturer produces metal ribbons: copper, silver, silver-gold. Choose a metal. Buy enough to connect the amplifier to the speakers.
The conductors don't need to be put together or weaved. Just insulate them (either with cloth sleeving or baggy plastic jacket). Your don't need bananas or spades: just trim the shape so that it can enter whatever connectors you have.
I have tested this formula up to 1 meter long, although the current formula tries to be as short as possible: about 50 cm because I have monoblock amplifiers. I'm not trying to promote a particular brand: the same ribbons can be bought from specialized metal suppliers, and other 'hifi' sources like a company based in Switzerland. There are also commercial variants of the same idea: e.g. Goertz. However, Goertz places enormous amounts of plastic and insulation around the conductors.
In terms of results they are very good. I started off with goertz which I thought was really good. Then I got copper ribbon from allen wright: even better - more precise. Then I thought why not try the silver ribbon that I also got from allen wright. Originally I got that as hookup wire. That was even better than the copper ribbon. This was also counter-intuitive: the copper ribbon was much bigger/wider. After a while I was asked to make some diy cable for my brother: when looking for material I came across the Mundorf silver-gold ribbon. I thought: what the hell, I can always use it as power supply wiring if I don't like it as speaker cable.
I got 1 meter: cut it in half along its length, then cut each piece in half. that gave 4 pieces of 50cm and each one 8.5mm wide (supplied width was 17mm). Sometimes this hobby makes me laugh: it did this time. There was a bid step forwards.
OK it's a quite specific solution (for monoblocks) and I haven't tested it beyond 1 meter (that was with the copper cable) it gets expensive for a diy solution if one insists on having full width silver gold ribbon. If you choose copper ribbon it's pretty cheap.
for info: Tempo electric has a web page which links to diy ideas on cable they think that ultra soft silver wire is the way to go (the Mundorf ribbon - and the Allen Wright for that matter - is quite hard even if allen wright is much thinner).
I hope you continue your good work on one of the few lucid hifi websites.
Alan - E-mail: alan.zzzzzzz (at)

[DIY ribbon cables]

Dear Alan,
thanks for the tip and the DIY recipe. And thanks for the pics! I'd love to test this idea but my monoblocks are very far from the speakers. I should run excessively long interconnects to bring the mono's closer to the speakers. However, yours sounds like a good idea.
Thanks again!
Lucio Cadeddu

Any views on digital Interfaces?
Hi, I know you don't cover computer audio and this is grey area, but I think it is a way of getting a new lease of life from an old but good DAC and hence is relevant.
I have recently assembled a PC to use as a Vortexbox appliance. In order to hook it up to my main DAC I needed to convert the USB output to the BNC digital input on my DAC.
I like to research fairly heavily before parting with cash, and was amazed at the number of digital interfaces that are on the market to bridge the gap between USB and SPDIF and indeed SPDIF to SPDIF. Many of the interfaces claim to reduce jitter and hence improve the sound "turns your computer into a high-end transport". Some of these interfaces are pretty expensive (i.e. over a UKP1000).
I would be interested in your views on whether these devices make a difference and whether those differences are audible and beneficial. There are an increasing number of reviews "out there" but few that seem impartial and, I suspect that this new market not unlike cables.
My own conclusions were that to avoid various problems with USB, I wanted a device that was self powered and that had no software drivers to install.
I have already made my purchase so my question is purely academic now, but may be of a wider interest to your other readers.
Jonathan - E-mail: (at)

Dear Jonathan,
if one uses a DAC without USB input such an interface is a must but before spending money in such a device I'd rather consider changing the DAC with a new model that supports USB as well. In any case, I wouldn't spend more than 100 € on a digital interface, considering that one can buy a decent USB DAC for the very same money!
Moreover, many PCs offer digital output (both on Toslink and SP/DIF) this case exploiting the USB output would be a nonsense.
In the future we will review these digital interfaces, so stay tuned for more infos on this topic.
Hope this helped somehow,
Happy listening!
Lucio Cadeddu

DIY loudspeakers
Hello Mark
I don't know if I'm asking the right question but if not, can you please give me advice.
The question is: Can I set Woofer of 8omhs, middle of 4omhs and tweeter of 8omhs again in a 3-way speaker system?
And if yes, what should I do with that 4omhs, will it effect the output?
Very glad if you can clarify this problem.
Thank you verymuch!
Anh - E-mail: duongarch (at)

Hi Anh,
To build a three way system you need to match a 3-way crossover to the drive units. Designing a crossover requires electronics knowledge and manipulation of formulae. Your question implies that you do not have this knowledge yet. As you are an architect, you will be familiar with handling formulae to solve mechanical problems and therefore would be capable of the task once you have mastered the theory. My favourite book on the subject would be Martin Colloms' High Performance Loudspeakers, of which any edition will do as the chapter on crossover design has not changed much.

The bandpass filter design for the midrange driver must match not only the DC resistance, but also the rising impedance caused by voice coil inductance. This will apply at the low pass section of the bandpass filter. The voice coil inductance could be corrected by a Zobel network, but this would create a net impedance of around 3 ohms for the midrange, which will cause quite a dip in impedance in the midrange, which may cause excess amplifier current demand or frequency response irregularities.
It is therefore theoretically possible, but I am curious why you wish to do this? Is it to combine your 3 favourite drivers, regardless of their match? This is unlikely to create a coherent sounding system.
Does this help?
Happy experimenting,
Mark Wheeler

About cables
Dear Lucio,
I am lucky that I wasn't rich enough to waste money on cables (did spend a fortune on an Electra Glide power cord once). Found Blue Jeans Cable and Anti-cables, both reasonably priced IC's ($25.) and speaker cables($69.) plus shipping. Both products bring me closer to the music and don't cost much. Feel sorry for those who spend 10 Grand on Nordost speaker cables because they don't sound better than my Anticables! Cables that can do that and don't cost the moon are keepers. Not interested in the "component of the next review" if what I have works well. I add Zebra Cable Power cords to that mix.
I suggest you another band: Lydia Pense and Cold Blood (discovered by Janis Joplin, Lydia is still singin'; Cold Blood has lost members and some of them play in Cold Blood or in Tower of Power). So go to Youtube and look up Lydia singin': Back Here Again, Face The Music, You Got Me Hummin'(from the original band).
Thanks to everyone on TNT again for some great reading.
Bow - E-mail: bow_160 (at)

Dear Bow,
thanks for the feedback and your musical suggestions. We are receiving many comment of appreciation re: our latest editorial on cables, this means audiophiles are beginning to feel this cables craziness has exceeded any reasonable limit.
Happy listening!
Lucio Cadeddu

Computer audio
Dear Lucio/TNT
First let me compliment you with the great site. Every saturday I eagerly look for a new update and the holidays seem to last for ever ;-)
On TNT a lot of attention is given to DAC's and especially USB DAC's. My CD player is sometimes having problems and I want to replace it with a good (USB) DAC. I spent quite some time looking for a good DAC for the right price and my next step is to connect it to a streaming source of some kind. I think that I either want to buy a Squeeze box touch to stream the music to. This squeezebox has to be modded though. An alternative is to buy a little netbook and have it output it's data over USB. I spent quite some time investigating the alternatives. I thought it would have been very helpful if there would be a central point with descriptions of several options. Would it not be a great idea if the Do It Yourself & Tweakings chapter were to be extended with a descriptions of how to solve that e.g. how to alter your squeezebox touch so that USB is selected for digital out, or how to set it up for linux etc etc.
Having these options described in a series of articles grouped in TNT would be a great source of info. The reader would not have to plough through all the forums so find out what the possibilities are and how to set things up.
With kind regards,
Andre - E-mail: dreas (at)

Dear Andre,
we were planning to do exactly what you ask for. For the moment, our Nick Whetstone has published, on his personal website, a guide to computer audio you might find interesting to browse. There's no best option, just a matter f personal preferences: there are audiophiles, for example, who won't tswitch on a PC t listen to their HiFi system and might prefer a all in one music server. To each one is own.
Hope this helped somehow,
Lucio Cadeddu

Just appreciation
Hey! I just found your site on the web, and i really got impressed! Thank you very much for this, man. You are very welcome in Brazil. Thank you for your serious approach to the way of thinking "independent". I share with you. People in Brazil share the same feeling. Things here for Hi-End audio or even Pro Audio are very hard. Lucky some that know how to read, write or talk in english and can share this information. I'll always tell people about this on-line magazine! I still even don't know how to thank you! Don't know exactly when, but I'll write you some feedbacks for the DIY projects and other things me and some friends are developing around here.
Man, when you have almost no access to some things, you really have to do it yourself! =D
Again, thank you very much.
Guilherme (producer, pianist and sound engineer) - E-mail: guismarquesrj (at)

Dear Guilherme,
thanks for your kind words of appreciation! Please keep us updated on your findings about our DIY designs, it is meaningful for us. As for indipendence, trust me when I say it is very difficult to find people who are both competent and ready to share their knowledge for free. For this reason I'm glad to announce the TNT-Audio staff has now three new members, two from the UK and one from Australia. I invite you to read our latest editorial on this topic.
Happy listening and DIYing!
Lucio Cadeddu

On caps
Hi Mark,
perhaps the best work about capacitors is this from Cyril Bateman: Sound.pdf
Happy listening,
Raul - E-mail: coutodominguez (at)

Hi Raul,
Many thanks for this link, as I can pass it on. I am aware of Cyril's seminal work (having reread some for these reviews) but I was unaware it is available online, and in colour too!
Many thanks and Happy Listening,
Mark Wheeler

Re: Libretto CDP
Hi Nick,
Thanks for your reply. You have far more experience than me! I value your opinion. As you say Hi-Fi doesn't offer the choice that the computer industry does but sooner or later someone will offer suitable product!
Mike - E-mail: mikebooth (at)

Hi Mike,
As I state in my guide to computer based hi-fi I still reckon that a streaming device is much more user-friendly for hi-fi than a USB DAC. You can buy one and plug it in, and with a minimum of fuss, have it playing music to your system in place of the CDP.
Nick Whetstone

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