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 2012

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Upgrading a Sony XA3ES or buying a new player
I am writing to help me with a decision. I have two options: stay with a Sony XA3ES (somewhat harsh and fatiguing), but with very little use, which could be improved by output buffer with Burson Audio Dual opamp and output stage with OPA825, not a cheap operation. Or dual OPA825 for output buffer and OPA2134 for output stage. Is this a good upgrade?
Or buy a new player, no need to modify. In this case please give me a specific model.
Thank you very much again and sorry for my poor English.
Jose - by E-mail

Dear Jose,
since your Sony CD player is a good component, with precise and reliable CD transport, perhaps a far better option would be to add a separate DAC to it. Why? Because results are much more predictable and because this way you can eventually sell the player "as is". Selling a home-modified HiFi component is nearly impossible! There are many DACs in the market right now, many offer the USB input that can be useful for transforming your PC into a high-quality music source. We've tested many of these DACs, have a look at our reviews. If USB isn't interesting for you, have a look at the second-hand market: you can find high-end DACs for peanuts nowadays.
Hope this helped,
Lucio Cadeddu

ZU Essence with TBI Millenium
Hi Arvind,
Did you get to try out the TBI with the ZU Essence?
6moons gave rave reviews for the Ampino paired with the Essence. Based on your review, the TBI should be even better and a better value. However, things don't always work that way.
I would love to get your thoughts on this.
Scott - E-mail: ssalyers (at)

Hey Scott,
I had sent back the Essence by the time I had tested the TBI, so never got to listen to that combination. I did compare the TBI to the Ampino in my review, and did prefer the TBI.
Hope this helped,
Arvind Kohli

Loudness wars
Dear TNT editor
I couldn't resist resist responding to the decidedly sour, grumpy old manism's of the usually reliable Mark Wheeler's article on the 'loudness wars'.
The 80's as the decade music forgot? I don't know what he was doing, but my discontent with much of radio and TV saw me listening to the strange sounds coming from student and community radio radio, devouring music mags, borrowing music from my public library and making speculative purchases from my local record store.
I found the music I was looking for then and that 'search ethic' continues today. Try it. It does work.
As for his comments about indie labels as the 'way forward', the history of recorded music and the capturing and dissemination of musical innovation has been driven by indies and major labels.

As for 'better recorded' music, should we be demanding that no one enter the recording studio or hard drive of a computer unless they have the coin to satisfy our middle class desire for the patina of 'quality' and 'sophistication' or are we interested in the performance?
Martin - E-mail: jbmarken (at)

Hi Martin,
Thanks for the response. Thanks for the compliment "usually reliable" but best of all, thanks for the well written argument.

I've been using the phrase "the 80s was the decade that music forgot" for 20 years now, referring especially to chart music. I remember, as a student in the early 80's hearing great bands that were breaking but who had cut their teeth in the 70s stimulated by music of that decade and decades before and I remember being excited. Seeing bands like The Smiths (before This Charming Man was released on Rough Trade) led me to expect a decade which would retain the impetus of the 50s, 60s and 70s. That same year watching DJ Reggie Wells turntable remixing Michael Jackson hits felt like it might lead to something new, but photographing bands at CBGBs merely endlessly recycling 70s funk and punk and hearing the same old same old on the radio was disheartening. The excitement wore off as the only new material the 80s seemed to offer was mostly diluted electronica derivatives of 70s pop formulae and indie bands were ploughing familiar furrows, however enjoyable. Then in '89 I heard Orbital's chime and the 90s were born. At last, exciting new genres began happening again and Trance, Jungle, Intelligent Drum&Bass, gabber, industrial hardcore, etc. became known to the mainstream and cross fertilised everything from folk to rock in the 90s and beyond.

The 70s was frequently derided as "The Decade That Taste Forgot", and flapping about to Northern Soul in my hi-waisted, multi pocket, Oxford bags or head banging to blues based rock in tattered bike jacket, I was probably the poster boy for sartorial disaster back then. When I read that phrase about 70s taste in the late 80s my first thought was "this is the decade that music forgot". The 90s and noughties have been back to form with a vengeance and in the tens there are exciting gigs every weekend at pubs and small venues in every town in the UK and so many fantastic small to medium festivals throughout Spring, Summer and Autumn, all over Europe that I regret having to work for a living.

What is deplorable is the abominable standard of commercially released recording precisely because they are TOO professional, TOO polished and TOO squashed for car radio and mp3 use. I really want raw recordings from a few cheap mikes direct to hard drive via minimal eq and minimal compression and peak limiting. The over processed production so beloved of the 80s (Sade anyone?) enables any old rack system to sound appropriately bland and shiny. TNT-audio high resolution systems show them up as the bland schmaltz they are. Give me the anything from old The Velvet Underground and Captain Beefheart recordings to new local unsigned bands' gigs or to the bluegrass pub gig I attended last night in Belper but don't polish it, compress it, limit it, roll it off or transmit it at 128kbs. It is the contempt that the music industry holds for its fans (as exemplified by BBC6 music's execrable 128kbs delivery) that first brought about cd, which they're killing off now we've made it work reasonably well and now serves a compressed diet of talent show spin offs to a dwindling audience who don't know where to find the good stuff.

Martin, it'd be great if you'd share whatever new stuff you've heard, here, with us at TNT.

Here's to many more years of happy listening!
Mark, The Incredibly Grumpy Old Scribe

Tannoy System 215 DMT
I had been listening to Tannoy Sensys DC2 until I had to move and could not carry my speakers with me. Mine is a NAD c352 + c542 with Supra 3.4S Ply. I came across a pair of Tannoy System 215 DMT which I tested and found bottom end missing. But, whatever I could hear was great. Is it ok to go for this speaker at this time with NAD C352 in a 12' x 15' room? I think a smaller room will let me hear some bottom end. I need your advice badly before this pair of speakers goes away.
GopalJee - E-mail: gopaljee.nigam (at)

Dear GopalJee,
the Tannoy System 215 DMT are very good speakers and I'd strongly recommend purchasing them, if price and conditions are fine. It is very strange you've found a missing bottom shouldn't be so! Audition them again, if possible, then decide.
Hope this helped,
Lucio Cadeddu

Amp choice
I'd like to buy an integrated amp for my Usher BE718 speakers, do you think the Wyred4Sound STI1000 you reviewed could be a good match for the BE718?
Best regards,
Nico - E-mail: tettarelle (at)

Hi Nico,
I have heard the Usher BE718 and the STI1000 - but unfortunately not together. The Ushers benefit from powerful amplification and the W4S certainly meets that criteria. The speakers are very detailed and so is the amplifier so I think it would be good - but only if you have a slightly warm component upstream, of the power amp - maybe a valve preamp, DAC or CDP. I certainly think the combination has a chance to be very good but you should try and listen before you make a final commitment to buy the amplifier. If you do get to listen please let me know how you get on.
Hope this helped,
Andy Norman

TNT Triple T and Anticables
Hello Maarten,
Firstly, I want to THANK TNT-AUDIO for the TNT Triple T DIY cable instructions. I made it over Christmas Holidays and am truly enjoying it. Great clarity compared to my past 12-gauge speaker wire. But, I made it with regular Cat 6 (not plenum type) and so am keen to upgrade it to the best Cat 6 un-shielded, bonded pair wire. My search is on to find that.
Meanwhile, I bumped into Anti-Cable Speaker cables on the internet. I see that Maarten, you auditioned these. I am most intrigued by them and am considering trying it.
Could you please give me your frank comments on what you believe the difference will be between the Triple-T and the Anti-Cable for a 1 meter run?
Hoshi - E-mail: bhdaruwalla (at)

I'm not a great believer in cables and think that they can only make a minor difference at best, at least in my experience. Of course, this is only true when comparing properly made and correctly designed cables.
I do like the anti cables, but I have to warn you that they are not very practical in use, and for that reason I don't utilise them very much.
I haven't used the Triple T cable, so I cannot comment on that.
Hope this helped,
Maarten van Casteren

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