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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January 2007

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Cool experiments with the T-Amp
Your article inspired me to do this. Thanks. It sounds AWESOME.
My next project is probably one in the kitchen or a patio setup.
Marlan - E-mail: marlanw (at) yahoo.com

LC
Dear Marlan,
congrats on your excellent DIY project. Though definitely not HiFi it certainly looks cool. Also, kudos for the excellent text.
Happy listening!
Lucio Cadeddu

Mains troubles
Hello TNT!
thank you for the resources, critical for really enjoying painless audio experiences with our well thought out equipment purchases!
One question, what do you recommend or where do I go for something more along the lines of a power conditioner / voltage stabilizer? I have moved to Switzerland from Canada - there it was much easier to find and use such products. I have much more trouble here (in Switzerland / Europe) to find such tools. Here is an example product: http://www.monstercable.com/power/productPagePower.asp?pin=1321
In Switzerland, I'm certain the fluctuation is much less than in North America, but, I still find that from day to day I see and hear some differences. It is also perhaps a problem that all my electronic equipment is connected to one outlet.
Example of what I hear, it is possible to hear slight ticks on those odd days when switching sources, some days there is absolutely no tick, and sometimes its more than just a little tick.
Somedays I can hear an ever so slight hiss from the speakers when volume is turned to max (no signal source!) and some days a bit more hiss and some days almost no hiss.... maybe I have another issue.... I assume my real problem is power though, not having stable and clean power.
What is your opinion on this subject?
Shortly I will create a TNT Merlino, and the TNT FFRC speaker cables! I am very curious to hear the differences as well, and I am always more grateful for something I made with my own hands. I found your web site because of my dilemma and the wonders of searching with Google!
I use optical connections between my three signal sources and signal processor (monster cable as well.... it was a decision between middle ground or a lot of money. I hope I guessed right!) and HDMI for the video direct from a video source - not through the signal processor.
This is all different equipment than what I had in Canada, but back there, I wasn't quite as high end as I am now. But still not as high end as you.
Thanks for any advice!
Kevin - E-mail: Kevin.Hanson (at) leica-geosystems.com

LC
Dear Kevin,
thanks for your kind words. Mains troubles can be very different in nature. Unstable or low voltage isn't the cause for the noises you can hear on your system, though. Other household electronic components (and even lights!) can cause pops, ticks and any sort of transient noise into your system. First of all you should use a dedicated mains line for your HiFi. If this is impossible to get, try using a mains filter, for example something like the Black Noise we reviewed a couple of years ago. This Company makes several models to suit everyone's needs and budget. Eventually contact them to get some good advice.
If you're into DIY, before shelling out some juicy cash on commercial products, try replacing each and any IEC mains sockets of your HiFi component with filtered ones like these. These cost few Euro's each but can be obtained for free from old PC power supplies. And they work!!!
Good mains cables might help too, though mains filters are definitely the way to go. If you fancy, buy a digital tester and monitor the mains voltage in your house in different hours of the day, that will help understanding better the nature of the problems you describe.
Please consider that, normally, HiFi systems sound better in the evening (or at night) because large industrial appliances are turned off (large air conditioners, huge electric motors etc.). Ok, the lower noise floor helps too :-)
Keep me updated!
Lucio Cadeddu

Just kudos
You guys are GREAT!
Keep up the good work for we really appreciate it.
P.S. I soooo much liked that article about kids and HiFi, thank you.
Kind regards,
Alexandru - E-mail: aburduja (at) techteam.com

LC
Dear Alexandru,
thanks for your kind words of appreciation! I've recently written a book about children (titled "Like a rainbow of dreams at night") and a small paragraph has been dedicated to "Kids & HiFi". If you can read Italian, the book can be found HERE.
Happy listening (with or w/out kids :-))
Lucio Cadeddu

Best upgrade ever...and for free!
Hey, I've been reading your site for around a year and found it to be amazingly useful, thank you so much for all your hard work!
Anyway I wanted to share a secret that I just discovered... the best stereo upgrade that money can buy, and it is practically free! What is this magical component, you ask? Some sort of rare metal, recently discovered in the depths of the jungle? An unknown IC out of China, ready to take the world by storm? A novel use of a common household cleaner?
None of the above! The secret, friends, is to *get your ears cleaned*!!!! I got this done by a nurse the other day, and let me tell you, it makes my Bose sound system sound almost as good as a hi-fi system costing literally the same exact price! Seriously, if you haven't gotten your ears cleaned lately, do it now. Of course some people's ears stay clean naturally, but for people like myself, and I'm sure there are plenty of us out there, the only way to unlock the potential of our costly hifi gear is with the judicious application of some hydrogen peroxide and a scraping tool.
Again, thanks for putting out your magazine and I hope that this tip falls on deaf ears ;-)
Sam - E-mail: sam.clearman (at) gmail.com

LC
Dear Sam,
you seem to have missed our hilarious March 2006 editorial where Mark Wheeler wrote a lot of (funny) things on this topic. Ear cleaning works but the results tend to decay rapidly in time...after a couple of days or so your ears behave like they used to. In any case, I agree they should be professionally cleaned from time to time :-)
Thanks for the tip!
Lucio Cadeddu

Revox B-226
Dear Mr. Cadeddu,
Your article regarding Revox B226 CDP is most thankful for providing useful information to the users including myself.
I purchased a junk B226 at JPY36,000 through an internet auction. With a service manual obtained on e-Bay, I managed to restore the machine. I fully agree with you that it sounds cool and rigid although the frequency range is not so wide as most of current CDPs, provides us with the core of music.
The construction is designed to make maintenance easy quite similar to most of professional audio equipments. I guess the secret of its sound lies behind the old Philips metal swing arm mech. For these days, it is rather hard to find this sort of CDP, therefore, I would use it with care as long as I can afford.
Yours truly,
Hiroshi - E-mail: hiro (at) v07.itscom.net

LC
Dear Hiroshi,
congrats on your not-mainstream purchase! The B226 is a very musical performer, perhaps not perfect but it does possess something "magic" that is hard to find even on modern CD players.
The combination of good 'ol days CD transport, TDA 1541 DAC chipset and pro-like construction does the trick, apparently.
Enjoy your Revox!
Lucio Cadeddu

Naim gear
Dear Lucio,
I have recently bought a pair of Chario Academy Millenium 1s and am now planning on upgrading my trusty old Rotel RA-980bx.
Reading in your second hand amplifiers guide I've came across older Naim gear and while researching a bit further I came to believe that Naims offer something I've always been missing in my setup - involvment, rhythm, timing,... but as I also believe offer quite a bit of detail and above all are not fatiguing.
So recently I've came across a NAC72 / NAP140 combo in excellent condition (but unfortunately not reccaped yet) somewhat 15 years old. It is also fitted with phono boards. My concern is whether the Naim combo would be up to the task of driving the little milleniums. I believe NAP140 is rated 45W at 8ohm / 70W at 4ohm. Charios have a sensitivity of 87dB, impedance 4ohm (dropping even to 2ohm as the seller have told me). On the other hand I've heard Naims are quite unbelievable in their ability to drive difficult speakers.
Also I believe that (eventually) adding a *-cap takes quite a lot of strain off the amp itself.
It would be used in a room measuring about 5 x 4 m, 2.2 m high - I listen at moderate volume levels.
I thank you in advance for your opinion!
Best regards,
George - E-mail: enazvau (at) email.si

LC
Dear George,
I'm sure the NAP 140 will make your speakers fly, despite its moderate power output. Naims have driving abilities that are almost unbelievable. Adding a *-Cap to the NAC72 will make everything sound better. Before adding a *-Cap try recapping the power amp, after 15 years it might be a worthwhile improvement.
Keep me updated,
Lucio Cadeddu

Tweeter polarity
Dear Sir,
Happy new year to u & u'r family.
Pls. tell me the if I reverse one tweeter's polarity then what will happen with respect to soundstage? What happens when I reverse bothe the tweeter's polarity?
Regards,
Sandip - E-mail: sandipb (at) dabur.com

LC
Dear Sandip,
many loudspeakers are designed with inverted tweeter polarity, depending on crossover's needs and layout. You can try inverting polarity on tweeters, this will certainly affect the width and depth of the soundstage. It is hard to say if the change will be for better or for worse, as it mainly depends on the speaker itself and on the system you are using.
Experiment by yourself and keep me updated,
Hope this helped,
Lucio Cadeddu

Vinyl and music
Dear Arvind Kohli, thank you for the articles you wrote about your experiences with the vinyl format. I wonder also myself why it is so intruiging and fascinating to hear music via vinyl.
Many years ago I heard an old grammophone (I mean an acoustic machine without an amp and a clockwork to wind it up) with a friend and a strange emotion came over me, the sound quality was bad, the regulation of the speed was unprecise etc. etc. BUT!!! I heard music in a direct way as if it came out of a time machine. In a strange way I had a sort of direct contact with the performers and the music they played. It is not impossible that during the process of technical refining and improvement of hifi gear we threw away something essential. Sometimes I think it has all to do about fase correctnes and the rest is not very important. Our hearing system seems to be extreme sensitive for fase failures.
Besides a whole lot of psychological and musical aspects is making music also a matter of material and physical processes, and maybe the reproduction system of a platter with a groove is closer to the practise of performing music . Some audio designers approuch designing hifi gear as if it are music instruments, it could be that a turntable is more capable to reproduce music due to all his mechanical parts, in fact it is a mystery.
I am (a not very good) percussionist for a hobby and for several years I had the honnor to play with some very fine musicians in the Netherlands, Non of them was an audiophile in the meaning of caring about hifi gear, most of the times they owned an el cheapo set and did not much care about reproduction quality. As one of them explained: the music is in me and a hifiset is for me a reminder.(its a kind of strange to call a piece of gear "musical" in this way of thinking) On the other hand, they were extreme precise when it came about controlling and tuning the sound quality during a performance.
For me there is also a sentimental reason, I love to see my old records, the sleeve art on it, it gives me fine memories from the time that I saved money for a record and played it so often that I knew it by heart. this limitation (due to not having much money to spent when I was a schoolboy) gives you a focus and concentration on the music which for my son is incredible.
For him internet is an endless supplier of free music. I think that Music approached in that way becomes a virtual sideproduct without a correlation to the fact that all music is composed and performed by men\women with a content and a form to express that content (maybe I am getting old haha).
There is also an economical aspect, for little money it is possible to acquire an old turntable and get good results with it ( http://www.lomboktrading.com/lovelencoengels.htm is a page I made about tweaking a LENCO for my wife for about 200 ) and especially classical records are not expensive secondhand and most of the time in a very fine condition (not ruined on bad turntables or played at wild hot parties).
Ok, enough for now, I'm going to play a string quartet of Schubert on my old Thorens.
Thanks again for your fine articles on the TNT site
Luuk - E-mail: casamillepiedi (at) tiscali.it

AK
Hello Luuk,
thanks for your kind words. I am very curious to experience a wind-up grammaphone, I am sure it was quite a treat.
I have long experienced musicians who do not show much of an interest in their playback systems, and it has always puzzled me. Then again, none of the ones I have met seem to be very vigilant with the quality their recording are done with either.
One big reason, possibly, is that they usually don't have a lot of money or the wherewithall to pursue a variety of equipment. Additionally, it seems that when they do have a recording done, they are only too glad for the opportunity and either assume the recordist knows what they are doing, or do not want to jeopardize the opportunity over something "technical".
Alas, we suffer...with the mediocre recordings that have become the standard. But I digress.
Congratulations on your new baby (turntable).
Regards,
Arind Kohli

Audio Analogue Puccini SE amp
Your article has been very useful in my selection for an up-grade. Since I am not in a position to have an audition I would like your advice. My present system consists of Linn Basik Turntable + Marantz CD 94 Mark II CD player + Mission Cyrus II Amplifier + Yamaha NS 1000 M speakers.
My amp has recently packed up and it's about time that I go for a change.
After reading reviews and reports the Puccini SE seems like right choice. Need your opinion.
Since I live in Karachi (Pakistan) the closest place from where I can buy the Puccini SE is Dubai. Does the company have an agent in Dubai. Could I get the Name and address and contact No/ E mail.
There is no response from the address on the company web page.
Regards
Majid - E-mail: majidlotia (at) gmail.com

LC
Dear Majid,
the Puccini SE would be a not so relevant upgrade over your Cyrus II, I'm afraid. I'd better collect some extra cash to buy something sensibly better. I tend to suggest UP-grades not just SIDE-grades. The Puccini SE is different from your Cyrus II (softer and warmer, just slightly more refined) but it won't give you goose-bumps.
Anyway, I don't know if AA stuff is available in Dubai...if you have contacted them during these recent holidays chances are the mail got lost among Season greetings :-)
Try again, if you really wish to buy that amp, even against my advice :-)
Hope this helped somehow,
Lucio Cadeddu

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