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 2011

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About Lady Gaga's Amazon deal - 3 letters
Dear Lucio, I play LPs and sometimes CDs on a boom box...don't download anything. In the past I found "never opened" clearance stock in stores. A gem of pop/jazz music which I got for 99 cents was a Sue Raney LP: All By Myself circa 1964 (?) mono, still playing well with some wear but still tremendous. Here's a link with the Lp cover: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QkC157gR65s.
Being financially constrained, I take cds from the library, which by the way are practically new('cos very few are borrowed) and have a friend cut me a cd copy. Is this bad? The cd was purchased at full price, royalties were paid...I thought there's a movement from some artists to give their music free online? And how do artists feel about Youtube?
Sincerely yours,
P.S. More music:

Lydia Pense and Cold Blood discovered by janis Joplin, still goin' http://www.jazzradio.com/
Bow - E-mail: bow_160 (at) hotmail.com

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Hi,
in the April 2011 editorial of TNT Audio "A new album for just 0.99 $!" you write: "Can artists survive when their discs sell for few euros?"
I wanted to mention, that in the 1980ies I bought LPs for 149 Austrian Shilling. That are about 10 Euro 50 Cent (1 EUR = 13,76 ATS). This includes 20% tax so the actual Money available to the music system (should read music mafia) are 8 Euro 80 Cent.
The production and transport of a CD is and always was much cheaper than for the LP, rejects are much higher for the LP than for the CD, and so on.
So we have the point, that a CD - given the same margin for the artist/label that was standard in the 1980ies - never ever had cost more than 2 or 3 Euro (not counting the very early years when only few 1000 CDs were produced).
So it is a fact that people like Elvis Presley, Elton John, the Beatles, Micheal Jackson, .... got rich with a CD for a few Euro. And it is a fact that the usual price of a CD of 20 Euro a few years ago from all manufacturers should be investigated by the anti trust authorities. ;)
Yours,
Thomas - E-mail: dka (at) wanka.at

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"Lady Gaga's music isn't exactly what you'd call "art" but that's not the point."
Dear Editor,
if it isn't the point, then what is, exactly, the point???
There's logic and reason in selling ballast for ship to someone that lives in the mountain, but can you touch the logic of the mountain dweller buying it?
Amazon marketeers do their job very well. They are exploiting the inevitably, "illegal" download, possibility of their trash product, to get fresh hot dollars, out of a product that is targeted to a certain market.
Is it then an offer or a steal, by them, Amazon?
As for you presenting it, as a STUNNING offer ....,"does the Emperor wear new clothes, or what"?
Best regards,
WJL - E-mail: 7suenos (at) otenet.gr

LC
Thanks everyone for the feedback on my recent article on Amazon offering Lady Gaga's new album at 0.99$. Some comments:

  1. Yes, discs (be it CDs, LPs or whatever) are expensive, especially if one considers only a small, negligible fraction of the profits go directly inside the artists' pockets. That's a real shame and that's because I hope to see more and more artists selling their Music directly to the masses, online.
  2. Copying is illegal. Insted of copying, consider purchasing the same CDs in the second-hand market. Good Music can be bought for peanuts nowadays.
  3. The point isn't whether Lady Gaga's music is art or not, I'm sure nobody can decide that. The point is that we should exploit the possibility to purchase Music for less, as we have already spent too much on "regularly" (ahem) priced discs!
    Do Amazon pursue their business? You bet! Is that a problem? Not really, if you love Lady Gaga's music you can profit by this "offer" otherwise you can leave it on their servers (like I did, actually). Is it a "stunning" offer? Yes, it is and I hope it is the first one of a long, long list :-)
Happy listening!
Lucio Cadeddu

DIY : optimisation of the listening room: the Brodule by Audiophile Apiguide, a must
Dear Lucio,
I want to share my impressions on a great DIY device which optimises the sound in the listening room. It's called the Brodule and has been invented by Audiophile Apiguide, a French audiophile. It's cheap to make (40) and produces extraordinary results. To me, this is one of the best DIY tweaks of all times as far as room optimisation is concerned. It will change your listening experience.
The device operates as follows: it is a cup of modeling clay / paste (air hardened) over which hang 6 steel balls attached to 2 rectangular magnets (one placed above the other). The magnets are attached to a base which is above the cup and rests on sticks standing in the bottom of the cup.
The cup is placed near the front wall facing the listener, and is at mid-distance between the two speakers. It has some similarities with the Resonators from Acoustic System (device placed against the front wall) but operates differently (no resonance of metal cups, on the contrary, the cup of clay does not resonate at all, the inside thereof reflects high frequencies and direct them towards the steel balls).
What the device does is to break the high frequencies which bounce back from the back and side walls onto the front wall and into the cup; the steel balls receive the high frequencies and break them (energy transformed into vibration or heat). What you hear is fantastic.
In summary, you will hear the original parameters of the recording.
The detailed results are as follows:

I urge TNT's readers to have a look at the following descriptions (in French only sorry) and pictures, and to make their own Brodule: www.apiguide.net/images-audio/defocaliseur-a-billes-brodule.pdf
www.audiophilefr.com/Site/forum2/accessoires-f8/le-brodule-de-l-audiophile-apiguide-un-must-t17687.html
Best regards,
Stephane - E-mail: nhat (at) 9online.fr

LC
Dear Stephane,
thanks for bringing this fancy device to our attention. Unfortunately I don't have the time to experiment it by myself but I'm sure other TNT readers will be more than curious to build and test it (and eventually report back).
Thanks for the feedback!
Lucio Cadeddu

Previous weeks letters

Cambridge DacMagic
Hello Andy,
I read your review about DacMagic on TNT and I would like to know:

Best regards,
Nuno - E-mail: nbaptista007 (a) netcabo.pt

AN
Hi Nuno,
I haven't heard the Rega DAC but from the reviews I've read I suspect it would be a little better. The DacMagic is nearer to bright than smooth. It's very detailed and clear sounding but it's a bit lacking bass (at least in my system). So bass instruments seem to fade back into the mix rather than pinning the music right down - it's always difficult to describe.
A lot will depend on your transport, cables and source material too.
I haven't heard the components you already have but have done a quick search - they look pretty good. My guess is that the DacMagic will sound very capable - it will certainly work alright and do you for a while - especially if you're not using it as your main source. Otherwise I think I'd look at the Rega. One thing to remember though is that the difference between DACs alone is quite small (say, compared to speakers).
I think there's a new Musical Fidelity V-Dac coming on the market soon with a better power supply. That could be worth a listen but I don't know when it will become available.
The best thing, if you can, is to buy from someone you can return a DAC to if you don't like it.
Good luck - and enjoy listening,
Andy Norman

Re: WAF & WASP
Hi,
I read your article about WASP speak locating and think it sounds very useful. However, we are building a new house and my wife has insisted we have no floor standing speakers. I have been researching in-wall speakers and think I have found several good ones, from reviews. Do you have anything on tweaking in wall speakers and especially deciding where they should go?
I will have very limited locations to choose from in our main living room. Thanks, Dave - E-mail: dsommer8 (at) pacbell.net

MW
Hi Dave
I saw your enquiry & Lucio's response on our letters page. As TNT-audio's resident speaker and acoustics geek I thought I'd offer my two penn'orth.

There are some alternative roads to walk down as I am assuming you love your wife and wish to please her as far as possible. Equally, I assume she loves you just as much and therefore wishes to please you too. As in so many things matrimonial, compromise is the order of the day.

You'll have seen my articles on active crossovers and here is one set of circumstances where active crossovers permit something absolutely impossible any other way.

Actually Lucio is wrong in one respect of wall mounted loudspeakers. The best and most even bass is much more possible with wall location (see my stuff on room acoustics and controlling antinodes and nodes, AR and Allison did a lot of work on this in the late 70's and early 80's and designed some very effective speakers to exploit this. If you are building from scratch, it is useful to ensure that you avoid room dimensions with relationships of inter multiples. Therefore do not have length, width or height twice or thrice the dimension of one of the others. Furthermore, do use solid building materials, plaster on insulation block (or brick or stone) will always sound better than drywall or gypsum board. There are no exceptions to this rule. Solid masonry floors (like a thermal mass slab) are usually better than suspended timber floors, but if you have a basement, just use heavier joists (150x50 upwards) and floor sheets (25mm plywood) than usual. If you do have a basement, that is a ready made enormous bass enclosure.

Corners are always a big problem, hence the proliferation of tuning devices to absorb or disperse bass in corners. You can avoid this problem as I have by clipping the room corners with triangular fillets 500mm across. The difference these fillets make is much more even bass and absence of the hot spots that usually exist in most rectangular rooms. A heavy sloping ceiling helps in my room too. Driving the bass below 100Hz from the corners will require 1/4 of the amplifier power that it would from free space. Guess where we're going with this?

You guessed it, these corner fillets can actually be the bass enclosures. Cross them over below 100Hz to small stand mount satellites (mini monitors) using an active crossover with time adjustment (variable phase) and you have the best of both worlds.

Happy constructing, and happier listening
Mark, The Old Scribe

Heil AMT
Dear Sir,
I very much enjoyed your review of the Heil AMT. You're right on with the observation that we men still long for the things we desired in our youth, but couldn't afford. Personally, I would wish for a pair of Rectilinear IIIs, and the Crown ES-224.
Thank you.
John - E-mail: jt8518 (at) att.com

MW
Dear John,
Thank you for the kind words, they're much appreciated.
The Crown amplifiers were sold here in Europe then as the Amcron, presumably a compression of 'AMerican CROwN' to distinguish them from some existing local brand of something like headgear for the aristocracy. I do not recall those tasty hybrid electrostatic speakers making it to these shores, and if they had they would be on my wish list too!

Happy Listening,
Mark, The Old Scribe

Prism Orpheus versatile pre-amp
Dear TNT-team,
I have a deep respect for all your efforts to give us, hifi-afficionados, an objective (i.e. non-commercial) view on relevant hifi-equipment. I'm a big fan and a trusty follower. I start my week every monday by opening your weekly update. I refer not only to the reviews, but also to your answers to the Readers' letters. Big thumbs up. Keep up the good work.
Now to my question. I believe, and I find some hints in your website that you believe this also, that 'professional' (i.e. studio) equipment can give a stagggering price/quality ratio. So I found the Prism Orpheus, a studio pre-amplifier which combines an impressive versatility with, as mentioned by different users, a very good sonic performance. In my case, it would replace a pre-amplifier, headphone amplifier, USB-Dac and MC-phono-amp because it combines all these functions in just one 19inch box.
In other words: I would replace a complete hifi-rack with this just one machine. How amazing is that. And I would not be surprised if it could even serve as an equalizer or even an active filter. Since you are one of my trusted references, I would really appreciate one of your objective reviews on this remarkable machine. And I do think that, because of the combination of versatility, sonic performance and price, a lot of readers could benefit. Any chance at that?
Greetz,
Jean - E-mail: jeancoum (at) wxs.nl

LC
Dear Jean,
first of all thanks for your kind words about our humble work. And thanks for suggesting the Prism Sound Orpheus to our attention. It certainly looks very, very promising, considering the very good tradition of Prism components. We will certainly consider including it into our reviewing wish-list. Being quite expensive a private listening test before purchasing would be mandatory.
Thanks for the feedback!
Lucio Cadeddu

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