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

You are here > Home > Staff & Contacts > Letters of the month

January 2004

Please take a moment to review the How to use the Readers' Corner manual

TNT SandBlaster
Just to let you know there are a pair of mini Sandblasters supporting my Concordant Quad IIs.
They are actually made from pine shelving board for aesthetic reasons, standing on carpet on the Eltax spikes you can get. I initially tried air suspension courtesy of my local cycle shop, but sand sounds better and my bike got a puncture.
Keep up the good work.
Stephen Axcell- E-mail:

Dear Stephen,
glad to hear our SandBlaster worked so well for your system!
Best Regards,
Lucio Cadeddu

Cartridge alignment
Hi Lucio,
I'm replacing my cartridge in my well preserved 1976 Garrard Z2000b turntable. I'm using an Audio Technica AT440ML/OCC cartridge. My question concerns cartridge alignment within the headshell mount. In the past I've used the supplied "clear plastic setting gauge". My question is since the tonearm is a zero tracking design is there any advantage to using an alignment protractor such as the one provided with my "Hi-Fi News Analogue Test LP" and If so which technique should I employ?

  1. Two point Technique
  2. Linear Offset Technique
  3. Universal technique.
Mark D. Yeager - E-mail:

Dear Mark,
your Garrard tonearm is designed in such a way to minimize tracking error. In other words, it puts the cart "tangent" to the grooves in any position. Hence, I'd suggest to align the cart so that it stays "parallel" to the headshell. That will suffice. If you want to test how good the zero tracking error theory is good (or bad) use a two null-points technique.
Best Regards,
Lucio Cadeddu

Less bass with biwiring: a mystery?
Hi Lucio,
first, you have very nice car :-) It's about 100 hp more than I have... You presenation on Fractal geometry and music seem to be an interrsting topic, would be nice to read it in english though...

Anyway, there's something I'd like to share. My setup is Marantz CD6000, Rotel 931mkII and Tannoy mx3. Speaker cables: 2 years ago I started with FFRC made of three 4-pair cat5 but as my length are long (a bit less than 5m) and at higher levels distortion was noticeable, I had to go for something thicker - a 25-pair bundle of cat3.
It surely sounded better (inspite of cat3 vs cat5), I'd say "smoother", distortion gone. I used it in biwire mode for about a year, and as my speakers are a bit bright to my taste, I connected most of pairs to the woofer and only 2 pairs to the tweeter. I was OK with this setup, however recordings with low bass content really sounded "flat". One day I decided to put in terminal jumpers back, so now it's single wire mode - all 25 pairs feed woofer and tweeter altogether. The result was surely, more treble (which I really did not need), but, also more bass! Maybe not actually "more", but bass lines became more distinct, more "traceable" and easy to follow in complex recordings. Overall sound became more coherent, and despite more treble content, those "flat" recordings became more lively and listenable.
Well, I thought, the cable resistance seen by the woofer didn't really decrease - two more pairs do not alter the picture - why then there is more bass? Is it something to do with Linkwitz-Riley x-over design that really does not like biwiring?
Any thoughts?
Dmitry Kovalev - E-mail:

Dear Dmitry,
biwiring is a can of worms. You can easily get ANY kind of result by biwiring, it all depends on cable geometry, electrical parameters (R, L, C) as well as on crossover type and drivers characteristics. For these reasons I always suggest a sano "trial and error" approach. Also, I suggest to use a better monowiring instead of a cheap biwiring.
Consider also that biwiring doubles the equivalent cross section of the wire but so does the overall capacitance seen by the amplifier. This "doubled" capacitance certainly can affect high frequencies performance, amplifier's stability and peak current capability. I have no scientific explaination for what happened to the sound of your system, I can only suggest you to keep investigating (with different cables, such as our Ubyte-2's for example).
Happy listening and pls keep us updated!
Lucio Cadeddu

Upgrades for Marantz CD/DVD
I'm new to home audio, but was looking at your site and noticed that you had mods listed for Marantz CDP's. I have a DV 8300 (DVD/CD/SACD) player, and wanted to know if there is anything that could be done to improve on the audio side, since right now I'm using this player for both 2 channel audio and my 5.1 home theatre.
Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated!
Thank you,
Roger Lamberson - E-mail:

Dear Roger,
I have zero experience on tweaking DVD players but I'm pretty sure they'll get some benefit from the usual tweaks. For example, try replacing the stock feet with Vibrapods, Foculpods, SonicDesign or Isonode feet. Then you can always get something better with new mains cables and interconnects. Also, try placing a heavy weight over the cabinet (e.g. a book)...something should change, up to you to decide if for better or for worse.
Finally, some careful - by trial and error - damping inside the cabinet (via damping adhesive sheets, for example) should improve sound in some way. Warning! Perform one tweak at the time, listen carefully for a week or so, then get back to the original situation and listen again.
Best Regards,
Lucio Cadeddu

I was interested in a discussion you question you answered in the Reader's Corner 2002 about taking a normal single wire connection speaker and making it biwireable. You answered that you didn't recommend it. However it sounded like you didn't recommend it using a single cross over network. My question is whether you would recommend it if you were able to get another of the same crossover networks from the manufacturer (making two per speaker) with a separate binding post plate wouldn't that address the problem as well? I've recently been toying with doing the same thing with my mid-fi speakers after having purchased a set of birewireable loudspeakers from Wharfedale and discovering the virtues of that.
Thanks - I appreciate the feedback.
Eric Wadley - E-mail:

Dear Eric,
I'm not 100% sure I've got your question right. Anyway: biwiring is a good thing but it doubles the cost of the speaker cables. Sometimes monowiring with a better (twice as expensive, that is) cable gives better results. It all depends on system's balance and personal taste.
Two single crossovers wouldn't transform a single wiring speaker into a biwireable one, though.
Anyway, if biwiring was the panacea for every kind of audio evil...every manufacturer should use it. Thiel, just to name a very well known Company in the field, makes monowiring speakers :-)
Hope this helped,
Lucio Cadeddu

Don't overlook digital coax
Hi Lucio,
As always, I enjoy reading TNT every month. I am glad to hear great things are in store for 2004.
I wanted to pass along a budget tweek and see if you or others had a similar experience. I recently acquired a Pioneer PDR-509 CD recorder to make copies of both CDs and vinyl. It was my first attempt at CD recording and did not want to blow vast sums on a new unit. I have been using a Sony CDP-C85ES five-disc player as the source component, joined by a digital optical cable. The copies sounded acceptable until I did an A-B (source-copy) listening test. Ugh! I was not happy. There was noticable loss of the upper frequencies. I suspected the optical cable.
I also have a new Denon player but it does not have a digital optical output; it has instead a digital coaxial output. I said, "Ah ha...maybe Denon knows something I don't." So, I bought a 6-ft. Magnavox RG59 coaxial cable (Part No. M61214) with gold plated connectors costing only $4.00 USD. I plugged it into the Denon's coaxial output and the Pioneer's coaxial input. I made a copy of Keiko Matsui's "Dream Walk" CD. On playback I could not discern a difference, and I was smiling.
Most optical cables go for $20-25 USD, but the $4.00 coaxial cable was superior in my opinion. Sorry for all the verbage, but we TNTers are somewhat obsessive compulsive when it comes to stereo.
Anthony Young - E-mail:

Dear Anthony,
you somehow confirm a quite well known fact: the coaxial digital link works better than optical. It shouldn't, but it does. And different coaxial cables sound _very_ different. Again, they shouldn't, but they _do_ that.
I'm preparing a ridiculously delayed digital cables shootout test and, believe me, each cable has its own sound. I know it sounds funny and crazy, but that's what I've found.
Happy listening!
Lucio Cadeddu

Fun at TNT-Audio
Hi. I just wanted to say that I have not previously had so many laughs when reading about hi-fi and diy projects.
Your article and others at TNT-Audio has really inspired me. They are fun and shows that you use imagination in a very creative way and the results are better products than is possible to buy in any hi-fi shop even at 5-10 times the cost.

The whole atmosphere of the articles seems to be fighting the BS from the commercial hi-fi world and how to create splendid products. Great web-site, great ideas.
Henrik B Andersen - Denmark

Hi there Henrick,
I'm glad you enjoyed the article and our humble site. We really do try to keep it all in perspective. Think about it, this is a hobby. Hobbies are supposed to be fun, dammit! :-)
In many of our articles, we just try to show that if you are handy (and safe) with tools, you can build something for a fraction of the cost of a commercially similar product. Not to mention, it probably sounds as good and in a lot of cases, better.
And you're right, I don't think any of us buys into the hype of BS of the whole "high end" industry. Sure there's some cool gear out there, but at what cost.
Stay tuned, later this year here will be some more cool DIY projects.
Best Regards,
Scott Faller

Some "Real Stereo" support
Dear Sirs,
We totally agree with you, and gladly support the Real Stereo campaign. Thanks in advance for the "link back" to our site. Yours sincerely,
Csaba Horváth - Limited Edition Audio Ltd.

Whetstone Audio in Austin, Texas supports your campaign to save stereo! ROCK ON!
Brian DiFrank - Whetstone Audio

Dear friends,
these are just few examples of the continuous positive feedback we're getting for our We Support Real Stereo campaign from every corner of the World. Who said global feedback is harmful to good sound??? :-)
Keep the faith!
Lucio Cadeddu

Sonus Faber
I have a Sonus Faber Quid amplifier - and am very pleased with this marvelous product. I have a couple of related questions:

  1. How can I get a copy of the instruction manual...?
  2. Do you know of anyone making CD players in walnut cabinets/enclosures...?
  3. If I where to use the Quid as a pre-amplifier alone, what power amplifier would you recommend...?
Looking forward to your reply.
John Everett - E-mail:

Dear John,
I own a Quid as well and I can assure you there does NOT exist such a thing you'd dare to call "owner's manual" :-)
Furthermore, as far as I know, Sonus Faber has very scarce information about this integrated amplifier.
A natural choice to upgrade the Quid would be adding a preamplifier. Actually, the best part of this integrated amp is the power stage, NOT the preamp section. You can search for a second hand Sonus Faber Prius or Amator Driver preamps (tubes in the first one, solid state the second). These are quite hard to find but they will match the Quid excellently.
Another step above would be the pair Sonus Faber Amator Driver + Power (preamp and power amp).
As for walnut-made CD players, look no further than Holfi. I reviewed their Xaurus Rex some time ago here on TNT-Audio.
Hope this helped,
Lucio Cadeddu

About stone blocks
First : your site is very attractive and full of useful solutions. Thank you for these. About the TNT Stone Blocks. They works fine. After placing them under the CD player, the sound was softer and voices became natural. In France they are sold by the "Sholl" brand and each one must be cut in the middle to get two stones. Price is 4 euros for making 4 stones. Other trick: I use pure silver coaxial cable between the CD player and the preamplifier and between the preamplifier and the amplifier. This works nice for the high frequencies. This cable reference is RG 223. You can ask any Amateur Radio to know where to find this cable.
Alain - E-mail:

Dear Alain,
thanks for the precious feedback and kind appreciation,
Happy New Year!
Lucio Cadeddu

A-400 & Mission 753s
Saw your website. Congrats - it's a great effort! I read with interest yr pairing of the Pioneer A-400 & the Mission 753 speakers. I'm looking to improve my current system; an A-400, Thorens TD-280 mkII, Pioneer PD8700 CD player (stable platter variety) & JBL TLX 14 speakers. All connected with average Monster Cable - both speakers & RCA connectors.
I'm not unhappy with it, but after 10 years with the same set-up, I'm probably due a change for the better. I'm a fan of most types of music, but I mostly listen to alternative bands playing rock, electronic, reggae, jazz and acoustic guitar.
If you have the time, I have two quick questions - firstly, what would you say is the weak point in my system? I'm also interested in the Missions, but can you suggest any speakers that would match the Missions WITHOUT their size. As is stands, my wife sees the JBLs as big, black, and ugly, so I dread to think what she'd make of the Missions....
Thanks in advance,
Andrew Jones - E-mail:

Hi Andrew,
Well first the good news. The Missions are tall and slim and work well aginst the wall, they also come in some nice veneers so they won't upset the boss. They will take up much less floorspace than the JBL's. As for weak links try making FFRC speaker cable (1 hours work) it'll probably sound much better than the Monster and cost pence. Other than that it's a well balanced set up, upgrade one item and the others will all become the weak link :-)
However if I were to spend money on the system I'd go for a better turntable, the Gyrodec SE + Michell arm looks absolutely gargeous and will make a major difference. Then buy the Gramamp 2 phono stage. This won't unbalance the system as the Gyro is quite forgiving, but you'll never listen to CD again...
Geoff Husband

CD players dilemma
Dear Sir: I am looking for some guidance regarding the AH! Njoi Tjoeb 4000 with all the up-grades verses the Classe' Audio CDP-10 players "your thoughts?" are we comparing apples and oranges? I would like your opinion on the above, as I am currantly using a nad C541 i and would like to upgrade.
Cameron - E-mail:

Hi Cameron,
They are apples and oranges of sorts. I've listened to the Classe. It's a rather warm sounding CD player. Very nice but not overly detailed. If memory serves it has balanced and RCA outputs. It also does HDCD. This player runs about $2000 USD.
On the other end of the spectrum is the Upsampled NJoe Tjoeb. This player is (obviously) tubed. This player provides the "warmth" of tubes but retains a huge amount of detail because of it's upsampling capability. It is extremely smooth and detailed. I can't say enough about this little players performance. It simply stomps the surrounding competition anywhere near it's pricepoint up to about $5k. It's that good. Be forwarned, it needs tons of breakin time. Decked out, this thing runs about $1200.
Either of these players are going to outperform your existing NAD. The NAD is a nice deck but both of these players will be a significant sonic upgrade. In the end it really depends on your preferences in listening. If you want detail go for the Tjoeb, if you want a more relaxed sound go for the Classe.
Hope that helped.
Scott Faller

Rope caulk
I've read you're piece of building your own speaker stands. At a certain point you've talked about 'rope caulk' to use to keep the tubes on their place when mounting and keep the sand inside...
My question: what the hell is 'rope caulk'? Where can I find it and are there other materials who can do the job?
Thanks very much...
Marnix - E-mail:

Hi Marnix,
Rope caulk is a weather sealing product commonly found in hardware stores.
Here's a link to a site in the US that carrys several different styles of rope caulk. There are also pictures so you can see what it looks like.

Alternative materials could be something like BluTak, though that gets a little expensive. Plumbers putty won't work because it drys out over time.
One of your local hardware stores should carry a product similar to rope caulk (hopefully).
Hope that helped.
Scott Faller

Odyssey Audio
Dear Scott,
I thoroughly enjoyed your review of the Odyssey Audio - Epiphony loudspeaker. I, for one, feel that your loudspeaker reviews offer the reader far greater insight into the performance of a loudspeaker than do any other reviews I have read. Not many, if any, reviewers care to include comments on the "row" or "soundstage placement" such as you do. I feel this is a very important aspect, as I am not particularly fond of loudspeakers that are, shall we say, "in-your-face." Your reviews always let the reader know where the soundstage presentation is, making it very easy to decide which electronics are suitable partners.

I have been searching for a speaker that has a somewhat recessed soundstage, as I prefer to view the performance rather than be a part of it. Had I not found your review I would still be looking.
I just wanted to say thank you for such an informative review. Regards,
William - E-mail:

Hi William,
That you very much for your kind words. I can't really take all of the credit for the format in which I'm reviewing the speakers. Geoff Husband came up with the basic concept for his turntable reviews. I just adapted it to affordable speakers. When I did, I thought about it from the aspect of "What would be important to me if I were purchasing a pair of speakers?". Though the categories I've chosen aren't perfect, I think they do a decent job of conveying the way a pair of speakers sound (providing I don't get lazy when I'm typing :-) I'm glad you enjoy the reviews and keep reading, we've got even more coming in the next few months.
Scott Faller

[ 01/2000 | 02/2000 | 03/2000 | 04/2000 | 05/2000 | 06/2000 | 08/2000 | 09/2000 | 10/2000 | 11/2000 | 12/2000 | 01/2001 | 02/2001 | 03/2001 | 04/2001 | 05/2001 | 06/2001 | 07/2001 | 08/2001 | 09/2001 | 10/2001 | 11/2001 | 12/2001 | 01/2002 | 02/2002 | 03/2002 | 04/2002 | 05/2002 | 06/2002 | 07/2002 | 09/2002 | 10/2002 | 11/2002 | 12/2002 | 01/2003 | 02/2003 | 03/2003 | 04/2003 | 05/2003 | 06/2003 | 07/2003 | 09/2003 | 10/2003 | 11/2003 | 12/2003 ]

[ Home | Staff & Contacts | DIY & Tweaks | Listening tests | HiFi Playground | Music & Books ]