[ TNT | Who we are | Readers' corner | Listening tests | HiFi Shows | Factory tours | Tweakings | Inter.Views ]

Readers' Corner - July 2000

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

Goldring and Shure Tests
The best I have viewed among the hundreds audiophile websites. Keep it up! I just want you to know that I have learned a lot pertaining to analogue based on the listening tests articles (analogue stuff and so on).
I have only discovered this letter section after 2 years of consistently looking for new articles on tests and listening section. The writer's description of the Goldring 1042 cartridge is simply "on the dot".
I cannot help but smile at the descriptive process of listening, comparison, and observations. I am now in the process of obaining the Shure V15VXMR cartridge. Thanks for the excellent article on this cartridge and this is really the clincher.
On the other hand, the review of M94E cartridge was a real riot. In my opinion, you have actually siad it all for vinyl lovers. The economic aspects of stylus versus turntable (cheaper cartridges are meant for lower or mid-end TT). Thanks!
When you have a Rega Planar 2 or 3, stick to the mid-priced cartridges. The exotic comes when you are talking about the SME Model 10 or 20. Thanks again.

I am not seeking any advice on my system but out of curiosity can I assume that the SME3009R tonearm was really meant for Shure cartridges? I am using a Thorens 321 TT (external Power Supply) with the said toneram. The Goldring 1042 sounds good but somehow suffer from tracking ability at the end of the disc.

I am looking forward to the Shure V15VxMR and by the way, just maintain the format and tone. The high-end mags like Stereophile and The Absolute Sound have a lot to learn here.
Thanks for providing the opportunity to write and once again keep it up!
Ahmad Damanhuri Kamaruddin- E-mail: daman@tm.net.my

Dear Daman,
a heart-felt thanks for the sincere appreciation, it is our only reward. I'm glad to hear you've appreciated our tests on analogue stuff, actually we are among the few retro-grouches who still like to play (and test) vinyl-oriented components.
I really don't know if the SME arms were designed having Shure carts in mind...it would have been pretty weird, IMHO.
Anyway, the distortion you hear at the end of the LP is quite common and it may be caused by several factors: wrong antiskating force (try different values), poor cart alignment or wrong VTA. I assume you have already checked out these factors. If not, it is about time to try.

And yes, we will always be the way we are now: cool, addicted and REALLY independent.
Happy listening & reading!
Lucio Cadeddu

Black Cube fever
I have invested a lot on my turntable, it is a LP12/cirkus/armaggedon/aro/chorus black. I have read the TNT review of the Lehmann Black Cube and was impressed. Therefore I took my 8000A to the dealer to make a comparison. At the dealer's place, the turntable was a cheap model which looks like a Project clone and the catridge was the cheapest Goldring - I think it was the Elan.
Well the BC sounded better and I bought it. In my system consisting of Rotel 980 (as power amp) 8000 A (as preamp) and Spendor S100, the BC was much better than the 8000A phono section being much more dynamic and powerful.
I am thinking of making an upgrade by either adding a good mc catridge or a preamp or a power amp. I have budget for only one item and are not sure which is the better way. Many dealers said that the S100 is difficult to drive and that I should change the power amp or better still both the pre and power.
A few dealers advised me to seriously consider biamping as it make a big difference. I could biamp by getting a second hand 8000P. I have not tested the BC on a mc and I am wondering if it makes even a bigger difference with a good mc hooked on to it.
Leong HW ( Mr ) - E-mail: sharry@pd.jaring.my

Dear reader,
the Black Cube is a very fine phono stage, both with MM and MC cartridges. I won't suggest buying a new MC cart, I'd rather give a try to new pre + power amps instead. Which one? Oh well, it depends on your budget, mainly....
If in Italy, I'd choose some pre + power amp combo from AM-Audio (we have reviewed some of them recently)....in your Country I don't know what is currently and easily available.
Classe' Audio, Mark Levinson, Jeff Rowland, Pass Labs...plenty of good stuff to choose. Up to you (and your budget) to decide.
Happy listening!
Lucio Cadeddu

Wimbledon CD isolator
Hi Folks,
As its tennis finals time, i thought i might share this one. A Dutch guy posted an idea ages ago on how to improve a AH Tjoeb cdp. I tried it with a slight mod and found it worked on not just my cdp, but others too.
All thats needed is a sheet of perspex,mdf or hardboard 3mm thick. Cut about the same size as your cdp,and three tennis balls. Then cut three holes 65mm in diameter to hold the balls, use your own discresion for ball placement. I put one at the front centre and two at the back....give it a go doesn't cost the earth.
Peter Ream - E-mail: ream.peter@dtn.ntl.com

Dear Peter,
thanks for the tip. Using tennis or squash balls to isolate HiFi components is a very old and effective tweak, indeed. Some audiophiles use soft balls (not filled with air) instead.
Keep tweaking!
Lucio Cadeddu

This seems serious!
Hi all,
Does anyone know anything about the Verance audio watermarking system?
According to the rumour, the five biggest record labels have licensed a form of audio watermarking to ensure that a decoder will always be able to identify the owner of a piece of sound.

The Verance system is reported to work by changing the musical waveforms to fit a library of pre defined waveshapes. A decoder is then able to notice the modifications (corruptions) of the original sound and then is able to produce the required information, ie whether the track is from the White Album, etc.
The system is so robust because it works with the actual music, it is not some sort of embedded information in the digits which could be easily stripped away and therefore it survives translation to analog, MP3, tec.
If this is true it seems like losing the plot big time! Why did us engineers bother making high resolution audio stuff anyways?
Hopefully somebody will cheer me up and tell me this isn't going to happen.
This could be a turntable manufacturer's dream come true.
Mr. A.N. Eng - E-mail: engpc@solid-state-logic.com

Dear A.N. Eng (???),
I've heard similar rumours, it is clear that the record labels are worried by the extensive use of digiital "free" audio over the Net and not only. So they're losing BIG money.
It appeared natural to me as soon as the digital format was invented...I said, hey, these guys are going to strangle 'em with their own hands, aren't they? And it has happened.
With the good 'ol vinyl there weren't problems of this kind...but they wanted the "perfect sound forever read by pure light", they saw and predicted big sales and profits (CDs were more expensive than LPs...what a hoax) and now some kind of divine revenge has caught 'em. The real problem is that they are killing Music, indeed.
Sad but true.
Lucio Cadeddu

CD Tweak
Hi Lucio,
Thanks for your many wonderful ideas and inventions.
For CDs, I have also noticed that most CD-R copies sound slightly better than the original discs.
I use a Hewlett Packard CD writer to make a copy, and then compare the sound on an inexpensive Philips portable player using a separate amplifier driving Sennheiser headphones.
The audible improvement is similar to the improvement you describe for the effect of CD treatment fluids. Perhaps you will try a similar comparison when you have time. Perhaps some brands of CD-Rs are better than others, and perhaps CD-Rs can also benefit from some sort of tweak. I hope to find out when I have the time.
Also, I hope to discover if these tweaks are as effective for DVD players and expensive component style CD players as they are for inexpensive portable models.
Best regards,
Charles Miller - E-mail: Miller.Charles@oscsystems.com

Dear Charlie,
it sound very strange to me that a copy may sound better than the original. Actually, it can't. Just because your reference IS the original CD and anything else that has been copied from it may sound different but NOT better!!! Better in which sense? Can a picture look more realistic than reality?
And, let me add that any test performed with a portable CD player is deeply affected by the very low quality of this unit, so much that what is better may appear worse!!!
Finally, I regret to admit that we at TNT-Audio have ZERO interest in CD-R copies. We love the original stuff so much that at the point 3) of the rules of this Readers' Corner we explicitly state we don't want even discuss about CD-Rs. Sorry.
Lucio Cadeddu

I know I suffer from Upgraditis
Hi, I've just discovered your site, how wonderful & refreshing it is, may it continue for many years to come.
I have always had a perverse interest in hifi, and ever since the age of 12, I have been buying and upgrading my audiophile equipment.
In my pre-marital days, I spent fortunes on upgrades; one could say I suffer from the upgraditis bug. It wasn't until I got married that I decided to give the old mistress the boot.
While I appreciate the uplifting experiences from sound and music, this nonetheless, could never complete with sex and the spiritual harmony between two people.

Even today ten years into marriage, I still fondly remember my old love, particularly, the very special memories of bi-amplified Edison A12 Tube amp (Class A amp, which I built from kit, a What Hi-Fi offer going back yonks.), each pair was connected to a Musical Fidelity Speakers (MP3's) the source was the ubiquitous Marantz CD player, which ran through QED passive preamp.
How wondrous and lifelike, it had a three dimensional soundstage which even today its difficult to match. Those Edison's couldn't be described as hifi, they were musical instruments, the vocals kicked out like a hologram, which you could almost touch and feel.
There was ambience and texture and the musical miasma encased the listener enrapturing orgiastic pleasures never before experienced. How I missed them.

Even in marriage I thought I had immunity from outbreaks of upgraditis, but this proved to be ill founded. My interest in computer hardware and my desire to be a speed freak brought me back to the same path.
I unashamedly spent lots and lots of money on PC components, such as new faster processors; more memory and 3D feature laden graphic cards etc. I even built my PC several times over and despite all this I still can't escape obsolence.
In the continual and rapidly advancing technologies in the PC world, today's breeze is tomorrow's doormat.
While there have been advances in hifi quarters, it has never been relentless. If your system gives you musical satisfaction then it's good enough.

So where's the moral, there isn't one, be true to yourself. If good music means paying an arm and leg for a new set of speakers, so what, give up your arm and leg. But tell the wife first!
Jason Rogers - E-mail: jasonrogers42@jasonrogers42.screaming.net

Dear Jason,
upgraditis is a very common disease this side of the pond. But we at TNT-Audio always try to focus our (and our readers') attention to MUSIC. So, before spending an arm and a leg on new components, maybe it is better to consider buying new...ehm...software, i.e. discs, LP or CD, it doesn't really matter. Even better, spending some spare money on live concerts is a good way to improve our own HiFi system.
Hey, even a fast sport car (possibly a red one, made in Italy) can make you enjoy your HiFi system much more :-)
Just kidding, it is so difficult for me to redirect my whole "spare" income on HiFi only :-))))
Anyway, keep the HiFi flame burning bright!!!
Stay with us!
Lucio Cadeddu

TNT Akropolis
Good Day,
I am a great fan of TNT and thought I had read every article that you had on your fabulous web-site. Well, today is our great national holiday, the 4th of July, Independence Day, and feeling particularly lazy, I decided to spent the most of the day perusing Hi-Fi sites and listening to music. I ran across your article about the Akropolis speaker stands and had a chuckle.
I was about to have a very expense pair of custom speaker stands made about 8 weeks ago, over $1000US a pair and briefly mentioned this to my wife and you can guess the result. It was complete stand-off.
As I patiently explained all the reasons why I needed this pair of stands and what they would do for our music and how they would do it, she abruptly interrupted me and asked why we could not use concrete pillars like she used in the garden.
Well, what could I say, she said that in her Majesties opinion, the concrete pillars would do everything these overpriced and ugly stands would and more including save us a fistful of money which we could use to buy more music, which she felt was way more important to her comfort and listening life.
So we promptly went to a local architectural supply warehouse and found these beautiful pillars and piles of recycled marble, nice and thick about 1", to use for shelving and etc. We bought 4 pillars and all the marble you can imagine for less than $200.
Just as you have pointed out in your article, they are absolutely solid and work as the ultimate audio stand. And further more because of taking my wife's advice, I have been able to take the money saved to upgrade my Turntable and add about 10 more CD's and over 200 LP's to our music collection with no resistance from the frugal half. And more importantly, now Karen, my wife, proudly tells one and all that it was her idea for these beautiful Hi-Fi stands. Isn't great when you can win like that!!!!
Keep up the great work with the magazine.
Thank you,
P. Lynn Miller - E-mail: lynn@killaleallc.com

Glad to hear you've found the Akropolis stand so effective. IMHO it is a killer stand, perhaps the better sounding stand I've come across in my audiophile life. Sadly, many readers think it is ugly, too ugly to use it at home. Frankly, there are uglier HiFi components out there but with a golden brass plate and a ridiculously hi-price they become things to dream of.
In my opinion, when it comes to absolute performance, few speaker stands come close to the TNT Akropolis.
Stay tuned for more fancy tweaks/DIY designs!
Lucio Cadeddu

Tweaks that work!
Hello from Canada. Love your site, a true work of passion for hifi. I used the TNT stonebloacks under my Roksan Xerxes turntable. I have a wood floor with a target turntable stand.
A heavy sandbox sits on this with Vibrapods, then a piece of plywood on top. The Roxan sits on this. I really didn't expect much from my foot stones as I placed them under the tiny feet. When I sat back to listen to the same cuts again I knew I was in serious trouble.
I had an altogether more musical system that wouldn't let me leave the room. Why they work I don't care. That they work and are a huge improvement floored me. For 4.59CDN I bought a new analogue system. Thank-you, thank-you.

This is what makes audio such a pleasure and after all it is fun and music and maybe some dry red wine? I didn't try them under my cd player as I have the Vibraplane copy happening there. The small inner tube with the sand bagging. It works very nicely. Continued success.
I've been telling people about your site. Happy regards,
Lloyd Smith - E-mail: lloyd.smith@ns.sympatico.ca

Dear Lloyd,
thanks a lot for your sincere appreciation! I'm very glad you've had such vast improvements with our simple tweaks. Stay tuned for more fancy tweaks soon on this pages....
Lucio Cadeddu

DV 507 arm question
Hi Geoff,
just been looking at your review on the DV 20 cartridge. I appreciate your words of wisdom- not just candy coated!! I recently purchased a Dv507 arm to go on an Aura TT. I am looking for a med $$ cartridge for this combo?? A friend suggested the DV 10x4??
Someone else who also owns the 507 arm was told to try the DV 17 11. He said it was not good at all?? Happy for any brand suggestions- Thanks very much in anticipation.
Warren - E-mail: audiophile@xtra.co.nz

Hi Warren,
Thanks for the mail... I'm going to hedge about here... I've not heard the 507 yet (review due this year...) but some swear by it and it is certainly an original solution to the problems of arm design. As for cartridges again I've only heard two of the DV range and been impressed by both.
From this I'd expect the others inbetween to be good but there are always exceptions.
As for your friend, cartridges exert a greater effect on the overall tonal presentation of a system than any other component bar speakers, so it's easy for someone to find a missmatch if they buy blind - sadly most cartridges are bought this way.
Certainly both Dynavector cartridges I tested were powerful, especially in the bass. This might tip a bass heavy system over the edge. Something like an ATOC9 or Clearaudio would better suite such a set-up.
I'd add that money spent on the cartridge, given a TT/arm capable of exploiting it, is well spent. On the other hand the DV-20 might be just right and leave enough for an upgrade elsewhere.
I'd love to be able to tell you "buy 'x' or 'y'..." but hi-fi isn't that simple - sorry
Geoff Husband

LP12 and SME arm
Are they compatable? Stories of excessive bass. Can these arms be mounted on LP12 without cutting crossbrace on plinth?
I have the latest LP12 Lingo so I thought that the leaner sound of this LP12 would mate better with the SME. All of the reports of a mismatch were with older Linns. I may go with a Graham, OL mod RB250 or Nottingham A table and start over completely. Thanks Again

The LP12 is a great turntable. It's Achillies' heel is a somewhat overblown upper bass. The ITTOK is a bright forward arm and so together the total exceeds the sum of the parts. If you upgrade from an ITTOK to an SME IV or V the much more powerful bass may cause problems if nothing else is changed.
The obvious answer is to redress the balance with a dry, forward cartridge. However over the years the character of the LP12 has changed to become more 'neutral' (and to lose some of its magic?) so how much of a problem this is depends on the date of yours. Ditto the brace. Early LP12's have no problems, later one's may, but it's no big deal to cut a small piece out.

The question is whether an EKOS would be better. I'm in no doubt that from an engineering and adjustment point of view the SME's are superior, but the EKOS is balanced for the LP12. If you plan to stay with the LP12 I'd be inclined to go for the EKOS or Naim ARO, but if you plan to change it in the next couple of years the SME would be the better bet.
If you go to the SME website www.sme.ltd.co.uk you'll find a review of the V used on an LP12, Oracle and Source TT - the LP12 came out best...

Lastly, for the sake of 40 pounds I'd try a "Ringmat" which addresses many of the LP12's inherent problems.

Just one word of caution... Upgraditis is a terrible disease (I have it...). The LP12, especially one like yours takes a lot of beating, especially in the area of timing. I own an Orbe with SME IV and the Dynavector XV-1. In total about 5500 pounds. It has more bass power, better detail, better imaging than Steve Davey's (steve@tnt-audio.com) DC driven LP12/Ittok/AT33e (total cost second hand/DIY, 700 pounds). But when I played him Los Lobos' 'Be Still' on his set-up to show how difficult it was to time, we both wondered what the fuss was about - it all fell into place.
Previously I'd though the Orbe made a good fist of it, with the LP12 timing just wasn't an issue. The move you suggest looks dangerously like a sideways step - be sure you dislike the LP12 and like the NA enough to justify the change and the costs involved...
Why not just buy more vinyl, or a record cleaner?
Your call :-)
Geoff Husband

© Copyright 2000 Lucio Cadeddu - http://www.tnt-audio.com

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

Previous months letters

[ 02/2000 | 03/2000 | 04/2000 | 05/2000 | 06/2000 ]

[ TNT | Who we are | Readers' corner | Listening tests | HiFi Shows | Factory tours | Tweakings | Inter.Views ]