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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June 2003

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Heavy amp needed for Nautilus speakers?
Dear TNT team,
First of all, congratulations for your very good and informative site. That such a thing can exist (for such a long time already) in these commercial times.
Before I can ask my question I have to describe my set: Arcam FMJ CD23 CD-player, Accuphase E-207 amp, B&W Nautilus 803 speakers. My question is: According to some hifi-shops, my amplifier is not really suitable for the N803's. They say that these speakers need really heavy (and stable at low impedance) amplifiers.
One should think of power amps like Mark Levinson, Krell KSA or FPB, Classe, Bryston 4B-SST or equal. That would mean, that my integrated Accuphase would be not heavy enough to give the bass slam these speakers can give.
They might by right. Or do they just want to sell these expensive products? What is your opinion? I have read your review of the N801 and 802, and that was indeed with heavy Krell's. But is that really necessary for the N803's? If so, it would take me quite some time to save enough money, because these amps don't come cheap.
With kind regards,
Eric Hendriks - E-mail:

Dear Eric,
before listening to what dealers say, try listening to your own ...ears. Does the sound satisfy you? If yes, forget the hype and keep on enjoying your Music.
If not, ask the savvy dealers to give you one of these fabulous amps on loan for a weekend. It is a request they can't refuse to satisfy :-)
The truth is: everything depends on you, your taste and your needs. Of course, better amps sound better but...will you be able to appreciate the difference? Is your room (or rest of the system) capable of letting you discover those differences? And, more importantly, are you really willing to spend big bucks to hear THAT kind of difference? This is an answer that only you can give, nobody else can. I'm ready to pay a couple of thousands of Euros/$ do hear a subtle difference....others will consider me totally nuts. That said, it's up to you.
Lucio Cadeddu

Mains cables questions
My power supply configuration is as follows:
From the wall socket a three solid (3X2.5mm2) cable leads to a multi socket device (about 10 sockets) from there separate cables lead to each component. The question is where should I use the TNT Merlino?

  1. just between the wall socket and the multi socket leaving the individual cables to the various apparatus untouched
  2. leave the cable between the wall socket and the multisocket untouched and change to merlino the individual ones
  3. change all cables to merlino i.e. a combination of 1&2
Thank you for considering my questions
C.G.Marcopoulos - E-mail:

Dear Costantine,
first of all, change the cable from the mains socket to the distribution spur. If you like what you hear, change all the remaining cables. If you fancy, you can build the more sophisticated TNT TTS, a better cable than the TNT Merlino.
Please keep us updated on your findings,
Lucio Cadeddu

Vibration testing (THE TRIAL BY FIRE)
The OLIMPIA soundbug from for $26.99usd makes a flat surface it is connected to into a vibration plane for audio coming from an 1/8" jack. This is the greatest test that I have found to see if vibrations directed at shelves or gear is moving to other shelves or gear.
A metal rod or even a pen, that is placed on the target shelf rather than the one vibrating, and pressed to the location on your ear where you would normaly use a tuning fork will tell you how isolated the target shelf is.
Hope this is of interest.
J Milo Train - E-mail:

Dear Milo,
thanks for the tip!
Lucio Cadeddu

NAD amps
Dear Lucio, in the Feb 2003 Reader's Corner: in your response to one of the reader on the subject of NADC320 BEE amp you have suggested to replace the factory stock main-cord with a better quality one in order to get a better sound; just wonder in what sonic aspects would that be better?
I wonder, if by doing so (rebuild an IEC socket within the unit, would this degrading the Original Sonic characters of the amp? Very anxious to hear from you and thanks in advance.)
PS. I have been thinking of replacing my NADC370 with the NADC320BEE; since what I read from website that the BEE sounds warmer and more musical and has a better low level detail, more refined...etc I just wonder if you/or other editor have done a comparison test report in your TNT?
Simon Leemd - E-mail:

Dear Simon,
no, we haven't compared the 320 BEE with the C370 yet. Considering how serious is NAD with the hierarchy of its products I wouldn't expect the C320 to be vastly better than the C370. As for replacing the mains cord, this sometimes brings subtle improvements in definition and overall dynamics. In my opinion it's a trick worth trying.
Lucio Cadeddu

Feedback about stereo
Hi Lucio,
I love stereo. I love Vinyl. I love cd, but at the same time I'm very tolerant when it comes to new ways of enjoying music / sound I am also excited at what composers / musicians could do with 5.1 Music presentation can go beyond stereo, certainly if you consider electronic music. Almost none of the rules applicable in "natural" musical presentation are relevant with electronic music. So why not go for the creative use of 5.1?
Would / Could Morton Subotnik,. Stockhausen and many more recent musicians (electronic or even "rock" ) not be interested by this development, or are they simply not considered when we speak about music and natural presentation.
If you are surrounded by synthezisers (or electronic music machines if you prefer) and record each of them to one or more channel / speaker, you also have "high fidelity to the original performance".
Nothing needs to disappear, and as vinyl and tubes have showed us, very different technologies can be quite dynamics when used together.
It is a good thing that a long time ago some people lost the battle to stop the recording of music, because it was not faithfully recreating a musical performance!

Dear Daniel,
you are 100% right thinking that 5.1 sound COULD give artists a new way to express their art. On the other hand I feel artists, in general, don't even exploit bare stereo! Just think at all the VERY BAD recordings out there: compressed dynamics, poor or ridiculous stereo imaging ad so on.
So, while 5.1 could be a new interesting "way" to make and record Music, I'm still waiting to hear good 2-channel recordings ;-)
If they can't use 2 channels, go figure the horror they can do with 5+1!!!! For many artists, even mono was more than enough.
Also, please read two of following letters on the very same topic.
Lucio Cadeddu

Rotel + B&W: Wrong Match?
Current system:

Solution? A salesman told me that I need an amplifier that is capable of details. Is it true? Is it the weakest link? Now I found some second hand amp, all around US$900: YBA Integré DT, Musical Fidelity A3.2, Copland CSA28.
They are all in different stores and not all the stores have B&W. This makes audition difficult. In your opinion, which is a better match?
Is the IRD LLC-P Preamplifier+ Norh LeAmp - monoblock amplifiers ($700+$500) more musical?
I listen to vocal, jazz, orchestra and R&B.
FYI: A friend just returned my TNT Triple T speaker cable, which I made 1.5 years ago. With it connected to my system, I can hear immediately the difference, the clarity of treble and better bass. Thank you for the recipe.
I also made the TNT-TTS cable for the amp. The effect is very small - perhaps I already had good electricity supply.
John Choy - E-mail:

Dear John,
the problem you refer seems related to the poor acoustics of your listening room. Perhaps it is too reverberant, with too many strong and early reflections. You should try to add carpets and pillows, for example. If you've already done this, you can try a better amplifier, for example the YBA Integré. This is a GREAT sounding amp, perhaps a tad bright in the highs, but capable of incredible bass drive. For sure, considering you mentioned the DT (Double Transformer) version, your loudspeakers will be able to give you all they can :-)
Anyway, before any purchase, ask for a private _in house_ audition. This is S/H stuff, it should be easier to get a temporary loan (for a weekend, for example).
Keep me updated!
Lucio Cadeddu

Save our ...stereo feedback
I read your article and found it well written and entertaining. I agree the home theater movement has caused much sacrifice of accurate music recording when the recordings are all about poorly crafted synthetic effects. The reproduction characteristics of multi-channel systems are another matter. There are great ones, reasonable ones, and crappy ones-- as has been the case since mono hifi.
The same goes for the music sources! Musical styles and tastes are a whole 'nother matter... Mine run a gamut from rock to blues to classical and occasional jazz. Tough to get the "right" speaker sound so It must sound good for Jimi and Eric before others. A properly phased midrange rules and a thumping bass are most important for me.
I did purchase a modest (Marantz 770, Boston 965 + centers and rears) 5.1 system mostly to get the spatial representation from modern video sources. Intelligent speaker selection and placement produced a better frequency and spatial balance than what I had before. That was not an easy assignment in a very difficult room geometry and surface environment. The old more modest stereo system became relegated to the game room. Alas, there is no room for the 15" JBL cabinet electrically-padded as the center channel any more. Even that only worked well to fill the "hole in the middle" on a good stereo mix. Stereo had its limits, you know.

The 5.1 sys does a very good job of reproducing properly recorded / encoded material for the price. Vocal placement, especially, can be much better. It does have trouble recreating a usable spatial field on old stereo analog mastered material-- IF it was a lousy mix to begin with. If it sucked in stereo, it will sound worse after the DSP tries to split up the content through established algorithms.
Well mixed stereo material plays well whether modern or vintage. Poorly mixed instrument field faults become magnified by binary orders of magnitude in their spatial misplacement. No amount of channel level adjustment can "fix" such material when misplaced so badly at this endpoint. Spectral faults are extracted and localized to particular channels to become unmistakable. EQ adjustments at this point are less effective as a corrective measure.

Many people have not taken the care to evaluate the mix quality of their favorite reference source material when evaluating newer generation systems. Was it produced with 5.1/6.1 reproduction in mind? Was it that good a stereo mix to begin with? Or has it been used for its spectral and dynamic content features alone? New generation equipment always bring out the best characteristics and highlights the worst "features" of recordings as they were made. I agree that most reverberation algorithms in multi-channel processors are not very realistic. That is only because they won't pay the Lexicon engineers to blend in multi-reflections smoothly. The technology works like magic when it is used properly.

You stated there was no live music content requiring four or more spatially distinct sources, though. You must have never attended an Emerson, Lake & Palmer or a Pink Floyd concert. ELP used a front stereo plus rear-corner image pattern which the players actually controlled live with slider pans. The Pink Floyd setup added side and rear drivers with vertical channels as well. It took two guys at the console-- one for source levels and the other running slider pan pots plus 3-D joystick controls!

The Floyd would design a whole new sound system for each tour with the latest and greatest stuff. Then they choreographed the music, audio, and video experience for total immersion in the concept of the lyrics. A CD listener would have no clue to what the Floyd was singing about until they attended one of these experiences.
The effects were dramatic and completely justified the price of admission. I did confirm the effects were just as striking when not in a pharmacological-enhanced state of mind, BTW. The modern Pink Floyd recordings actually capture some feel of the spatial experience on a 5.1 or 6.1 system. They sound spatially reasonable (and similar) on either an analog stereo rig or multi-channel set to stereo.

This convinces me that it is not the medium at fault, but that most recording engineers fail to consider the needs of but one listener playback market, if that. It would help if the artists, not the labels, were in charge of the sound specification. Only when artists have succeeded long enough to record their material with a good producer and "sound" engineer can the public receive the best representation of an artists' work.
And recordings produced with something better than 44.1 kHz bits would return long-lost cybalism to our musical platters, too. Nyquist specified his frequency sample rate requirement based on asynchronous measurements of repetitive waveforms with averaging. He never intended it to represent music or any other random waveforms accurately. 196 kHz would pretty much get there.

Please don't hastily kill the messenger when the author was a babeler or a scribbler. We should beg Lexicon to design a pure digital home A/V system with however many channels they spec! It would be all optical inside and digital RF out to the plasma phased arrays, of course. That would raise the bar for the digital audiophile world to shoot for. Maybe listeners would be willing to pay for the high bandwidth digitally encrypted optical recordings such a system would demand and we have been promised for the last couple of decades.
Naaah. The Asian market would just dominate (cheapen) it and the Europeans would come out with better (read incompatible) standards anyway. Fresh vinyl sound quality at DoD prices. It would put some high tech computer workers into business as installers, though... for a while.
Martin W. - E-mail:

Dear Martin,
You raise some very interesting points. Maybe I can comment on one or two of them.
1] Point taken about the Floyd. Mind you, this would be regarded by many as a particular kind of slightly surrealist music making. Your pals Jimi and Eric didn't need to resort to this chicanery in order to create a buzz... At the other extreme, listen to Mahalia Jackson in '40s and '50s mono and ask yourself whether such techniques would have enhanced her performance?

2] Lexicon? OK. Having previously worked in the pro-audio industry, I know there are some quite clever pieces of kit and associated technology. However, this is missing the point slightly with regard to "real stereo" which I shall come on to in a moment.

3] 44.1khz? Yes indeed. A classic case of compromises for all the wrong reasons. Ditto with DAB digital radio, and a host of other developments.

4] The stereo (or more correctly 2 or more channels) mix. Ha! Here is the whole point. Real stereo doesn't need such a "mix" in the first place, as the whole idea is to capture the acoustic space and time of the performance. This is why certain proper stereo recordings made in the 50s (for example) sound so good today. They didn't go through 309 stages of processing before the master was cut. In many cases, two decent microphones (placed according to Blumlein's recommendations) recording on to two tracks of rolling 30ips tape created the "master" then and there. There was simply no need for post processing. If you doubt the effectiveness of this approach, seek out some of these early recordings.
The presence and acoustic can be simply marvellous. Some labels, such as Mercury's "living presence" experimented with a fill in mic, effectively using three microphones (often recording on to 35mm film stock in their case). This would be reduced to two channels for the final master, but still no "processing" - it simply isn't necessary when things are done properly. Herein probably lies an issue.
I wonder how many recording engineers are even capable of recording real stereo these days? Some certainly are, but these seem to be mostly in the classical arena. I shudder to think what is being taught to new "engineers" these days, but if they are spending their time wondering how to process and mix a 5.1 or 6.1 master, then God help us, because we shall certainly be taking a few steps back and losing the sound of real performance in real acoustics.
By co-incidence, I visited a couple of audio dealers today and listened to some very well reviewed and popular loudspeakers. I took along some source material which included some simply made recordings - some from the former Eastern Bloc countries, featuring vocal and instrumental works. It occured to me that, already, certain manufacturers are starting to tailor their products towards the more synthetic sounds. I can understand why they might think this is commercially astute - but it is moving away from Hi-Fi. This was the whole point of the SOS article. I have absolutely nothing against multi-channel / home cinema etc., but I also don't want to lose the special magic that real stereo played through products designed for accuracy* can produce. This would be a shame.

Note! "Accuracy" doesn't always sound good in a short duration dealer's demo, where often they try to impress with over emphasised frequency extremes (usually at too high a volume, whereby your ears will quickly react to protect themselves). However, the trained ear knows it when it hears it. If mainstream, and even specialist manufacturers start to go down the "let's impress 'em" route, with lots of channels, processing and effects, then we may never hear it again...
Kind regards,
Julian Ashbourn

Re: Save our ...stereo feedback
Dear Julian,
I see we do share many viewpoints. I'm afraid your nostalgic longing for artists all playing at once, with instrument levels balanced best as can be averaged by ear, and getting it down satisfactorily in a few takes is a thing of the past. Even garage bands use at least a 4-track+ overdub process-- enabling mistake corrections. It often gets down to a musician performance issue in reality.
Classical (chamber music), acoustic/electric jazz (no kick drum), country, folk, and gospel groups are quite doable as stereo field recordings. Reasonable in a studio and even better in an acoustically treated empty club with nice reverb built in. Have you tried to record an AMPLIFIED trio or quartet playing live using a 2-track Revox 15ips reel-to-reel? Miking is the easy part. The few times my level-riding was OK the musicians made a goof! A full drum kit never can be captured properly without multiple mikes. It is quite impossible to capture many types of music, like techno or metal, using simple techniques. We are not dEvo-- we are Men!

The multitrack concept mixed to stereo imaging and beyond has been a fact of studio and live recordings for many decades. Mixed well, it can sound very good for any CURRENT and legacy playback formats. They simply can not anticipate the needs of future playback technologies. They will consider legacy system compatibility as long as they are still unavoidable.

A semi-throwback to your concept was the 1974 Yes Relayer album. They rented a big hall, stuffed the seats for acoustic "crowd" absorption, and played "live" with both stereo field and multitrack recording. Then sold a few hundred? thousand copies as consumer LPs. It is every bit an audiophile recording with strong dynamics and wideband material. It is really beyond my humble Dual 1219 turntable and ADC Q32 cartridge's capability at 1g tracking. It makes an excellent LP test record for high end TT/cartridge setups. I can not say if it was the material or the recording concept that made it uncommercial.

BTW, that incredible Floyd sound was produced inside the San Francisco Cow Palace! An amazing acoustical accomplishment given the metal roof on concrete slab walls producing multiple standing waves everywhere you stand. Their surround channels must have had individually equalized base delay settings to cancel all those out. Surrealistic, for sure. As intended. It also had a very practical effect.
I heard the Grateful "Wall of Sound" in the same venue... spectrally great, but could not stop the standing waves. Merely more planar slapbacks and interference. Most DeadHeads would not notice or care. They sneak in their recorders if they can. The performance? Well above average but not among their greatest. The Allman Brothers through the Cow Palace house system sounded horrible and made me physically ill from sonic reflection overload.

Time domain processing technology COULD be applied to surround sound systems as a means of correcting a room's reflection faults. A digital implementation would be cheaper, more user friendly, which equals more commercial success to continue production. Supply the system with a built-in RTA and an omnidirectional microphone and it could be made automatic! Most users simply don't have the expertise to find a good speaker placement (source image) for even a two channel system--much less deal with the frequency and time domains in more challenging environments.
Home theater installers don't take the time to acoustically tune a room if they even know how. Even mediocre multi-channel systems actually cover up many room faults by swamping undesirable primary reflection sources with more secondary sources and reflections. Automatic implementation would be plug and play acoustically speaking. The vast majority of owners would benefit from such post-processing and would therefore be more likely to "buy into it".
Notice I do not consider stereo to be that realistic to begin with. What did you think of Quadraphonic? If you could set aside the horrible silicon amplifiers and cheezy delay circuits used? 4 or more channel surround headphones get you to a true sonic image implementation. Good headphones eliminate listening room problems and fill the "hole in the middle" by cranial conduction. The only problem with stereo headphones is the lack of frontal image placement.
The listener's brain will attempt to place itself in a recognizable spatial field with varying results. This also makes me physically ill beyond an hour because it is a truly artificial image placement best suited for monitoring use. Mechanical attempts to solve the frontal image problem had some success but were were not accepted widely enough because of either transducer limitations of the time-- or the comfort, restriction of movement, and social group factors.
You would prefer dual stereo miked recordings for the front and rear sources as taken live in a "perfect" room, I presume. Great if the musicians can either play perfectly or all (and the listener) can live with their mistakes. A high quality synthesized quad sound from "stereo" sources can be easily implemented using current technologies. The only question is if the public would "buy into" the concept. Maybe... if it was light, wireless, active noise cancelling, voice-activated controls and a mobile phone built in!

When I made the Lexicon reference I was really only talking about their DSP reverb technology as the undisputed studio and performance king of the hill. I then looked at their home theater line on their web site. I see they do Dolby, THX, and the Harman CHANNEL7. The processor has myriad analog & optical digital I/O but the amp has only analog inputs. What up wit dat? Still going to toneshift through a coax cable! Maybe they post-comp-- or just live with it.
I suppose it is Harman management that does not want to break very much new ground to fully implement a concept. Harman was making making garbage by the late 60's-- even by consumer market standards. I know, because I had to work on the crap in the 70's. They have attained a quality name by buying out great names (JBL, Infinity, and now, Lexicon) and riding their quality of design coattails. The Harrnon-ized designs eventually compromise a great brand's design standards for profit margin and marketability. Gimmicks aplenty. Their latest and "greatest" millenium concept s are "EzSet uses a built-in sound pressure measurement and calibration system that lets you automatically balance speaker channel levels for optimum surround sound enjoyment " & "the first brand to offer a complete set of color-coded input, output and speaker connection jacks and terminals on the back of every product we sell"! They are the ones you should campaign against.

I believe the retro audio purists believe that. The music labels are in a real bind right now. Consumers believe the problem lies with their own flawed marketing and distribution practices which encourage unlicensed (cheaper) copies. The EIA complains the music industry encyption ideas are short-sighted and technically flawed.
Only major changes by all parties will save the industry that we all do depend on for content (good or bad). CD and web digital formats will never be safe from bootleggers. They have no incentive to improve digital sound production formats. How much production care can they AFFORD to take if the MOST that Honest Consumers will pay is $0.99 per song?

Audiophiles should be grateful that limited edition vinyls are being made again. If we pay premium dollars we should expect premium quality. The same characteristics that make them expensive to manufacture also deter bootleggers. The market will drive the suppliers to an unfair compromise point as with all niche products. I doubt that separate "true stereo" and "surround compatible" versions could coexist and survive, though. Expect a "one size fits most markets" at a barely tolerable price= enough people will actually cough up money for them to be profitable.
A pleasure discussing these topics with you,
Martin W. - E-mail:

Dear Martin,
I think we are singing from the same hymn book (although maybe from a slightly different phase angle!). I absolutely agree that much popular music is better made in a multi-track format and carefully mixed down to two (or more if desired) channels. Indeed, I did much of this myself many years ago as an amateur songwriter...
However, I maintain that there are many other musical forms - even including some "popular" (I use the term in it's original context) music, which can be beautifully captured in real stereo. Ditto for certain styles of jazz, opera, chamber music, solo piano, vocal ensembles and other forms. I appreciate of course the variables of venue and abilities of the players concerned. By the way, I heard a Russian choir singing live in a church, whereby the soloists actually used their physical placement dynamically in order to provide the correct musical balance. I could have made a great stereo recording of this if I had suitable equipment to hand. As for errors of perfromance - I guess it depends on the magnitude of the errors. If certain players need 149 takes plus a few weeks of post editing before they sound acceptable - well, fair enough I suppose, if the end result justifies it. Interestingly, there is a series of live recordings recently released over here called "LSO Live" where the London Symphony Orchestra decided to simply record some of it's performances, warts and all, in order to capture the excitement of the moment. I believe these recordings are very popular - I have a sampler disk and can see why they would be.
Yes, I may be a luddite, retro, something or other who should no doubt be locked away beyond the reach of decent society - but I know how good real stereo can be. I also know that if we forget this technique, it will be at our loss. Just as we have (almost) forgotten how to make proper motor cars, build decent buildings and a host of other stuff. Every step forwards seems to have at at least one or two backwards - at least in the realm of consumer goods. Fortunately not so in some scientific pursuits.
Re quadraphonic - I once had a Marantz quadraphonic receiver (beautifully built in those days) and bought a few SQ records. I tried all sorts of speaker placements, but never could find a satisfactory sound. Certainly, you could fill a room with noise easily enough, but I was happy to go back to stereo. My first set up after this was a Cambridge P110 amp driving a pair of Lowther horn loaded boxes (big enough to camp out in). Boy, did these sing. I was back to having real performers in the room again.
Re enthusiasts "paying more". Why? Another modern concept. Pay more, pay more, pay more... How about paying less for a change? The concept of enthusiastic hobbyists in a variety of fields used to be associated with a low cost "doing things on a shoestring" philosophy which, to many, was part of the fun*. Don't get me started on this one though...
* An example being John Cooper's racing car, the original design of which was chalked out on the garage floor, with a couple of old sub frames welded together and the engine from a fire pump. They went out and beat the dominant Ferrari's and Alfa's of the day.
Kind regards,
Julian Ashbourn

Naim Nait
I really enjoyed your article on the original Naim Nait. I was considering buying one to drive Quad 63's, especially after reading your article. I am also considering a Marantz 8B tube amp with my own diy tube preamp. Price difference aside I was hoping you could pass on some advice if possible. I am also looking for a good phono stage, how good is the phono in the Nait?
Do you know if the Nait will drive the 63's? Thanks for any advice you can pass on.
Richard Miglioranza - E-mail:

Dear Richard,
if you don't mind about high sound pressure levels, then go for the Nait, it should drive your ESL 63 with ease and finesse, provided you don't require "too much" power.
The phono stage of the Nait is MM only and derives, as said, from the famous NA 322 Naim phono boards. Hence it is very good. It is not as good as an expensive separated phono-preamp, though.

Of course, the Marantz 8B would be a completely different approach, it is hard to predict which "match" you'll prefer. If you can, try auditioning both with your spekaers into YOUR room.
Keep me updated, I'm curious to know the outcome :-)
Lucio Cadeddu

NAD 3020
I noticed your review of the NAD 3020 on the web. I have been using this little integrated for 10 years now and each time I think I want to replace it with something more modern I end up keeping it. I don't know much about it other than it sounds good.
I have a question for you since you know more about the capabilities of the 3020 than I do. I do know it is a fairly high current design for a 20 watter. I also know it is supposed to handle a wide range of speakers which brings me to my question. I'm looking for new smallish bookshelf speakers and I have found some rated a 4 ohm nominal impedance. Most others are 8 ohm.
Can my 3020 handle the 4 ohm load well? I do bi amp it so I have 90hz and greater signals going to the amp of the 3020 so the speakers aren't called on to do much below 90 hz (my crossover is at 90hz with 24 db roll off). Is there any advantage to using 4 ohm speakers over 8 ohm or vice-versa?
Thanks for your time.
Henry Patterson - E-mail:

Dear Henry,
the 3020 will drive 4 ohms loads without trouble. Depending on which version of the 3020 you own, it should be possible to set the "load" for 8 ohm or 4 ohms speakers. I'd recommenend keeping the switch always on 8 ohms, regardless of the load offered by the speakers.
Hope this helped,
Lucio Cadeddu

Speakers for A.Analogue Puccini?
I just bought a S/H Puccini for $300. The rest of my system consist of a Rega P2 with a Grado Black cart and B&W 602s2 speakers.
What kind of speakers would you recommend for the Puccini? At the moment I find the sound a little light and bass shy. I know that the Puccini isn't the most powerful amp available, so high sensitivity is a must. Price range up to Euro 1000.
Henrik Ljadas - E-mail:

Dear Henrik,
you should know Audio Analogue designers use B&W loudspeakers to monitor/design their amplifiers. Hence, it sounds logical you should look for a better pair of B&W loudspeakers. For example, a pair of DM 603 S3 or CDM7 NT (second hand, if money's too tight to mention :-)).
Keep me updated,
Lucio Cadeddu

Positive feedback about the article "Save our Stereo!"
Hi Julian,
Enjoyed your article - very true and well put - brings back memories of LP vs CD, so there is hope!
Malcolm - E-mail:

Good morning, re true stereo v "home cinema": You told the plain and simple truth.
The gulf between "the industry" and the true-path enthusiasts and custodians of authentic high fidelity has never been wider.
I think those on the true path should have some kind of secret masonic "sign"!
Roger (vinyl only) Wilkinson - E-mail:

Greetings Julian,
I just ran across your article on multi channel and what effect it may have on the two channel world. I am a small audio dealer in New York and very much dedicated to 2-channel reproduction.
I feel as you do in regard that given a good playback system, the musical presentation can be nothing short of amazing. Multi channel is unnatural, yes indeed. I have actually thought about writing an article similar to what has just been posted on TNT. Now I don't have to. My question?? Glad you asked. Would you think Lucio would mind if I reprinted this article, unchanged of course, on my website with direct links to TNT (to add to the others links already directing people to TNT).
Bill - E-mail:

Dear Bill,
Thank you for your kind words in support of this view. Re using the article - you should check this with Lucio. I would have no objection personally, but Lucio is the arbiter here.
Maybe as a dealer, you could start a local campaign for true stereo? If enough people around the globe did this, maybe a useful point would be made. If there is enough support for this view, I may even put something together myself as a means of co-ordinating such views and firing this back into the industry....let me think about this.
Kind regards,

No problem at this end, of course! We will support 2-channel stereo reproduction as long as we can. This shouldn't come as a surprise, considering the amount of reviews of analogue gear we publish at a constant rate (turntables, arms, carts, phono preamps, accessories....).
Julian Ashbourn & Lucio Cadeddu

DV-10x4 MkII
Hi Nels,
I read your review on the DV 10x4 MkII MC cartridge (nice review) and am thinking of buying one myself. I have the Rega Planar 2 with the RB250 arm and would like to ask if any VTA adjustments are required when you use the DV 10x4 MKII cartidge on this set-up? If there are, what did you use?
Thank you very much,
Kelvin Yeo - E-mail:

Hi Kelvin,
Thanks for your e-mail. As far as VTA on your setup, the Dynavector DV-10x4 MkII isn't fussy. However, to be exact, you will need to remove the arm, and put a 4mm spacer between the arm and the plinth. Then remount the arm and align the cartridge. Rega sells the spacers, or you could visit your local hardware store and get a washer of the correct diameter and height. I used the spacer on my Rega Planar 2, and still use the spacer on my Sota Star with my DV-20XH.
Please be aware, the DV-10x4 MkII has been replaced by the DV-10x5.
I hope this is of assistance.
Nels Ferré

Compact Cassette
Dear Julian,
I have just gone back into the recent TNT archive to read your article "Is there life left in the humble compact cassette?" [Feb 2003]. I am sorry that I missed it until now, because I would have been more timely in my response.

As an individual who uses a cassette machine on a weekly basis, I can say that the cassette has not been properly replaced by another recording medium for its convenience and universal application. Moreover, there is enough life left in the cassette to absolutely astonish the uninitiated. Those in the know will need no convincing. Alas, it is not difficult for the audio enthusiast to dazzle non audiophiles with a well recorded cassette played through an honest system.
Just get some guests over, crack some beers, sit back and watch the reaction as I have done many times. Unless you tell them, they think that the source is CD every time! But these days, there must be many real audio hobbyists who have never listened to a well recorded cassette.
And therein lies the possible demise of the analog tape source. If the greater number of younger enthusiasts remain oblivious, the market dragons will have their way, and the cassette will become as dead as reel to reel - which is pretty darn dead unless you are into heroic effort.

The signs here in Japan seemed to have preceded what is happening back home in Canada. In Japan these days, I have to go to a special store to get any decent tape stock. Two years ago, the big electronic stores had shelves overflowing with a dazzling array of emulsions in the various bias options.
These days most of the remaining space is given over to stock designed to attract junior high school students who are still using cassettes to record from their MD players. I have found only one manufacturer who still prints any technical information on the label. The rest have resorted to cute pictures of bears and brightly colored wrappers. The message is clear.
With the best emulsions either rare or unavailable, and metal tape virtually extinct, the industry is getting ready to dump this medium completely - and soon.
Perhaps only some audiophiles will miss it. Just the same as it's only some audiophiles who are concerned about the analog LP, or the miserable compression of many FM broadcasts, or the threat that mass marketing of multichannel equipment poses to true stereo imaging [Re: your recent editorial].
But these audiophiles make up a sizable number of consumers around the world. And they are NOT the kind of consumers who spend good money on some cruddy mini-system and then sit on it for fifteen years. We need forums like TNT to raise a defense for what is a far more important issue than just a trivial hobbyhorse for the obsessed and nostalgic few. This is an important controversy, and it is attached to the phenomenon of globalization and standardization of production. To the point, this issue is about the conservation of the integrity of the current recorded archive and the world's music culture. I for one will be tuning OUT if everything recorded starts sounding like Dolby THX!

Sorry ... back to cassettes before I leave off. My best friend and fellow audiophile lives in my home town, Vancouver Canada. We have been trading cassette tapes back and forth for many years.
These cassettes have been recorded on a number of machines: both older and newer Nakamichis, Sony portables such as the classic TC-D5M and Walkman Professional, and even humbler machines such as my twin bay Teac W-860R. Forget specs and all the other ink splotches which demonstrate the inferiority of cassette recording.
The music which we have stored throughout the past 25 years provides some of the most scintillating and passionately conceived recording on any medium that remains in either of our music collections. These tapes are an archive of the sonic signatures of many different systems from years ago, up to the present day. One tape is of particular interest.
Ken recorded it on TDK metal tape in 1979 using a Sony Walkman Pro through an Adcom pre-amp. The source was vinyl LP. The music is a compilation of Jarre, Eno, Gabriel, Glass, Harrison, Anderson and Parks. In order that we might continue to preserve this document, we dubbed the original cassette. I had to *special order* the TDK MAex metal tape here in Sendai, Japan in order to make the dubs. But I am glad I went to the trouble. Using the aforementioned Teac, even the dubs are simply terrific! They are dynamic enough to make me concerned about the neighbors.
There is an analog musicality about them that is untiring and irresistable. Don't believe me? If you are ever in Sendai, get on the E-mail and invite yourself over.
These days I use my old Nak to record NHK FM transmissions. There are live performances from Tokyo and some great recorded music from an archive something like the one the CBC has. I have hours and hours of interesting and eclectic and even rare music that was conveniently, casually and cheaply recorded. Whatever was analog remains analog. And whatever was digital is sufficiently preserved to be more than just casual listening - in fact, a lot of the digital to analog is just damn good. And a lot readers must be saying, Don't get me started!
That's another underrated audio source I cannot go into here. I'll only say it again; guests think this stuff is CD. And fussy old me who prefers an honest silence to boring sound tends to forget myself.

About a year ago I took my Sony TC-D5M to be looked at by Sony's local repair depot - Sony, not an agent. They charged me the usual nominal fee in advance. I just wanted it checked for spec. I wanted to see if the transport was OK. After all, I had bought it from a junk shop for the price of a good bottle of claret the year before. A week later they called and asked me to pick it up. My wife went over and they handed her back the unit AND refunded the fee. To factory specs, they said. No charge, they said.
Wow! What service. The only problem is that the Sony tape for which the bias was set up is no longer made!
Lorne Spry - Japan - E-mail:

Dear Lorne,
Thank you for your interesting account. I like your point about preserving the sonic signatures of various bygone systems - it is a good one. I also have some older FM recordings, made on a three head Akai machine, which still sound terrific. I also echo your point about finding good tape stock - even the familiar names (TDK SA / Maxell XLII etc) seem to be a cheap shadow of what they once were. The quality of the shells in particular is dire. As for the more recent concoctions, I have a batch of German made EMI high bias tapes which sound absolutely dreadful, with a bass hump the size of a large camel.
They have the legend "Fantastic Sound" written on them. Fantastic maybe, but accurate they ain't. What a shame - the industry could still make a pile of money out of the humble cassette, if only they would support it properly.
This is also the root of my plea for proper stereo - there is still much life left in this technique. Indeed, a new lease of life if the right decisions had of been made re SACD and DVDA (not to mention the afront which is UK digital radio). Instead, we seem to be going backwards at an alarming rate. Time I think for another peasants revolt.....
Kind regards,
Julian Ashbourn

Dear Mr.Cadeddu,
First of all I want confirm that I am a two channel fan. I have a DVD player and I listen to it in stereo. Yesterday I had plenty of time and did some tests with my system. I have:

I have two copies of an album so I both played them both from CD and DVD using the DAC of MD player. MD player has millions of digital inputs and you can switch them via remote. I did many A/B comparisons and could not be able to detect major differances between the transports (most of the time I forced myself to detect, maybe I have problems with my ears or I have a system limitation on amp and speakers).
After that I had a new idea in mind, what if I sell my CD and DVD player and buy a Pioneer 747i (DVD+DVD-A+SACD) and a good DAC so that I can listen to SACD and CD's in a better way? Also I really like Ah!Tjoeb CD players because of their production philosophy.
We know that in most cases the price is the major quality factor with hi-fi. Although this is not the only parameter I can not decide if it is an upgrade to replace a 2000 $ AN CD2 with 700 $ Ah!Tjoeb Upsampling CD player?
As you can guess I think that CD player is the weakest link in my system. If you can guide me I will be very happy.
Looking forward to your reply,
Sincerely yours,
Koray Pars - E-mail:

Dear Koray,
I'm a bit confused. It is not clear if you want to "play 'em all" (those digital formats) or if you just need a good CD player.
In the first case I'm afraid I can't be of much help, considering my limited experience in the field of multiformat players. Consider that if you decide for one of these, an external DAC could be useful only for playing CDs, not SACDs.
In the second case, try to audition the Tjoeb with upsampler against your Audio Note CD2. I think you should plan to spend much more to get a relevant upgrade, though.
Hope this helped,
Lucio Cadeddu

NAD C350
Hi Julian
I read your review of the NAD C350. Nicely written. It seems like the amp for me. I have a couple of questions for you though....

  1. What speakers/CD player were you using?
  2. I wonder if you have ever heard an old NAD306 integrated and if so how you think the C350 compares?
  3. Did you listen to anything else apart from classical?
If you get the time I would be interested in your reply.
Darren Watson - E-mail:

Dear Darren,
On this occasion I used NAD C521i, and modified Pioneer PDS701 CD players and my trusty old Tannoy DC1000 speakers which are quite analytical. I also ran a Sony S570ES tuner through the system.
I am not so familiar with the NAD 306 (may have heard it once or twice), but do remember the 3020 variants and the NAD 60 and 90 before them. One of the primary differences I would suggest is the weight that the C350 can bring when the program demands.
In this respect, it behaves like a much more powerful amplifier - never seeming to run out of steam. Even through the DC1000s (which only go down to about 45hz or so) it can produce real bass weight and definition - most unusual at this cost. Another attribute I would say is the timing which, especially with the NAD CD player, is right on the button.
As mentioned in the review, at first this may seem a little "dry" but actually it is just the amplifier telling the truth. Voices are also well reproduced, with individual character coming through strongly.
Interestingly, on some opera recordings, the difference between a singers natural "resonant" zone and the areas either side of it, were very well defined, with the subtle changes in timbre and character coming over very clearly.
Similarly, on brass, the character and timbre of individual instruments is very well portrayed - indicating I think, a pretty good mid-range and mid-range to treble transition. Have a listen to one - I don't think you will be disappointed.
I listened mostly to classical and jazz, but also some 70s rock, some latin, some african music, some 50s (some very good recordings), some more recent female vocal music - so a pretty broad range. My philosophy here is that a good amplifier (or other component for that matter) should cope with most kinds of (real) music.
Hope this helps.
Kind regards,
Julian Ashbourn

Speakers for NAD C350
Hi Julian
As an owner of NAD C350 amplifier I was very proud to read your article about this amplifier. I also liked your review because not many reviewers can analyze the virtues of am amplifier in connection to the real aim of it, to create confident music.
I have a long roman with NAD. I started 20 years ago with 7020 receiver, changed it to NAD Monitor 7000 receiver that drive Mission 751f speakers. My source is NAD C541 CD player. All located in a small working room. This small combination is perfect for me.
In my living room I have another stereo-DVD system (not a surround that I have found irrelevant for classical music and opera lovers). This systems includes NAD C350 amplifier, Marantz DV4200 DVD Player, TV set and Sonus Faber Concertino's speakers. My NAD C541 CD Player can be connected too.
Unfortunately I am not very happy with this system. The Sonus Faber are excellent for chamber music, solo piano, solo violin, trumpet, ect. sounds as played in the room, vocals are terrific but a grand opera or a big symphony orchestra confuses my speakers in and some cases cause them to scream.
I came to a conclusion that the Sonus Faber are too small for my big living room (about 40 Sqm) and I started to look for bigger speakers. On my list: Kef Q5, Mission 782 and Monitor Audio S6.
Can you let me know what speaker you have used for the test and what you think will be good match for the NAD C350 in a large room for a classical music listener.
Ishay Ben-Amotz - E-mail:

Dear Ishay,
Actually, I used my old Tannoy DC1000s which are quite efficient and relatively lively. They certainly were capable of producing a full and "big" sound when driven by the C350, including full scale orchestral works. Orchestral bass drum and timpani came across very well. Sibelius' symphonies 1 & 4 which eat up amplifier power and speaker handling capacity on the crescendos, didn't worry this combination at all.
Finland was reproduced in all it's sparkling glory... La Traviata and Aida could be enjoyed with this set up at comfortable listening levels, with a full range sound and no compression effects (something I am very sensitive to).
Your comments on the Sonus Faber speakers are similar to what I have heard elsewhere, in that they are excellent for solo voices and small scale works, but maybe not quite so good at producing a big sound in a big room - but I guess this was not the objective of the designers.
Of the speakers you mention, I really like the KEFs, even the smaller Q1s are remarkable speakers and can in fact produce a very full sound. Imaging is excellent too (being a point source design). I have also heard very good things about the Monitor Audio Silver series, although I haven't personally heard the S6s. Not so sure about the Missions - but then I am biased as I have never particularly liked them.
Of course, I am a Tannoy (dual concentric) fan and when visiting a local upmarket Hi-Fi store recently I was intrigued to hear the manager describing the new Tannoy range, with the additional super-tweeters as "simply wonderful" - although they are a little pricey. However, the stand mount Sensys DC1 (slightly smaller than the DC1000s but with a better spec) should be available at a reasonable cost and would be well worth a listen.
I would imagine they are very different from the Sonus Fabers, and they might surprise you. The NAD should drive the Tannoys very well too.
Hope this helps - keep reading the TNT pages...
Kind regards,
Julian Ashbourn

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