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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Atoll IN 50
Hello from Greece,
I know, it's been ages ago since this review of the Atoll IN 50, but I trust this site and I am about to buy this amp..BUT ..
It's been stated that piano lost harmonics and that sound really bad as I need an amp rich and full for piano listening and vocals and most possible fatigue free!
With Atolls it is weird, some describe them relaxed and silk smooth, others the opposite.
Is it better to buy a Nad, same class or the Atoll IN50 is closer to classical music?
Thanks
Anonymous - E-mail: pire (at) outlook.com.gr

LC
Dear reader,
the Atoll IN50 I reviewed was a good integrated amplifier at the time but that was almost 20 years ago! If you have read my review you should have understood how this amp sounds. And no, not every Atoll amp sounds the same! The IN80, for example, was much more bright and lively, while the IN50 had a more mature and smooth sound. I'm pretty sure you won't be disappointed with its performance, but it is a rather old amplifier, you might need to check the status of its power supply caps. I hope the price is reasonable, considering the age. On the other hand, if you are referring to the new Atoll IN50 (called “SE” if I understand well) I'm afraid I can't help, as I assume this amplifier has been redesigned/upgraded after all these years! I haven't had the chance to audition it again so I can't comment. I can only guess its tonal balance has remained faithful to the one I described in my review and, hopefully, its general performance has been improved.
As for classical music and piano, it is not the amp that will make these musical genres less or more enjoyable! The speakers (and the listening room) have a much larger impact!
Hope this helped somehow,
Lucio Cadeddu

Upgrade for a 30 years old system
Hello.
I have just read your reviews on Doge 8 (preamp) and Doge7 (DAC). They were very instructive for me. I am coming back to the passion of listening music, and I was looking to the doge 8 as a possible next purchase. I am also from Canada, (Sherbrooke QC), and from what I read in your reviews, I share some similarities with you. Since I am French, I hope you will apologize my English mistakes. Before I proceed with my questions, I'm beginning with a brief topo of my situation. My system is 30 years old (maybe more). For me, every things needs to be upgrade. This system consist of TT = denon dp-45F, stero amp = denon dr-555, speaker paradigm 9se first generation. The cartridge is overdue and I am looking right now to change it (in the range of 1000$, maybe more). As you, I am more an analog guy. But I plan to had a tuner and a CD player.
I want for the next years (on an horizon of 2 to 3 years) building a “budget” system. My plan was first to upgrade my TT, going for a Jean Nantais products. I still plan to do so, it's partly depending of budget issue. But for now, my amp shows sign of deterioration. So maybe I will have to go for the amp pre-amp upgrade first.
First, questions concerning doge 8
When I am looking at phono preamp prices, I have the feeling that the doge 8 is a bargain if it's phono section is good. Do you agree with that? Since I want to upgrade my cartridge to be a MC type, and I think that the coincident statement step up transformer doesn't seem to be available (from their web site). Do you have a suggestion for a good step up transformer available in Canada? You mentioned that doge 8 clarity doesn't need as much a tube upgrade as doge 8, but do you think (or know) that there tube upgrade (Optional Psvane 12AT7-TII grade A) is worthy?
Finally: can the transaction (for a purchase) with Doge be considered reliable?
Second, questions for the amp to go with the doge 8
I was planning to mate the doge 8 with the Dynamo MK III Amplifier from coincident speaker technology, considering my budget limitation, and considering that my speaker are to be change. They are not powerful amp, but it is in my budget range, I am rarely listening at a high volume (I can't be precise with sound pressure measure, it's an impression).

Thank you.
Even simple and short answers would be appreciated.
Pierre - E-mail: pierre.baillargeon (at) csdessommets.qc.ca

RMcC
Dear Pierre,
I am very happy to read of the revival of your passion for listening to music. Welcome back. You mention that your first priority would be to replace your turntable with a Jean Nantais product. A rebuilt Lenco idler drive unit (à la Nantais) is in my opinion a very good choice. Whether it be a Jean Nantais unit or another well done rebuild you will get very high performance for your investment. I have been a strong proponent of Lenco idler rebuild turntables for many years. I personally believe that no $1500. belt drive turntable can touch the performance of a well rebuilt Lenco of the same value.

I definitely consider the Doge 8 preamp good value for your money. The Model 8 in no longer available unless you go to the used market. The present version is the Doge 8 Clarity. As you have already read my review, you already know that I am a fan of this unit. The MM phono stage in both the Model 8 and the Clarity are very good. The MC stage is not quite up to the level of performance of the MM stage but still good nonetheless. My experience dealing with Doge has been all good and I have no problems recommending then to you as a reliable company. I have had no listening time with any Psvane tubes so I can't comment on them.

Regarding MC step up transformers, you are correct, the Coincident Statement is no longer available. An audiophile friend of mine told me recently that he believes that it was retired from the Coincident line because it was too expensive to build. I am lucky enough to own one and it's not going anywhere! A possible Canadian alternative to the Coincident Statement would be the Bryston TF-2. It is a bit less expensive than what the Coincident sold for and is available from Solen in St. Hubert, Qc. There may be a Bryston dealer closer to you, I didn'd check. I have only listened to TF-2 for a few minutes at the Toronto audio show 2 years ago so I can't give you a definitive opinion on it. I can say that if it is as good or better than the TF-1 unit that Bryston produced many years ago it is definitely worth serious consideration. I owned a TF-1 for several years and sold it only after the arrival of my Coincident Statement step up.

Regarding your second question, I have not had the opportunity to listen to the Coincident Dynamo amp. In fact, I was scheduled to receive one last year for review but that review had to be canceled when we moved to a new house. I presently own a pair of Coincident Total Victory II speakers as well as the Statement transformer so it is obvious that I like Coincident products. I have also had several hours of listening time with their excellent Frankenstein amps. I would be surprised if the Dynamo amp didn't live up to the high standards of construction and sound that Coincident has put in to its other products.
Enjoy your journey to new audio experiences.
Best regards,
Roger McCuaig

Pure Class A amplifiers
Dear Lucio,

  1. after more than 100 hours...here is one BIG difference between the Trends TA10.2 and the Dayton Audio DTA-1. HUGE AMOUNT LOSS of BASS. DTA1, sloppier, but HUGE amount of bass...but in Trends, more than HALF is gone...below 300 Hz, adios...
    This is why people want subwoofers. In all other points, the Trends is the best amp. Of course. Even quality of anemic bass, with the Trends is better...
  2. I ask you if you know of a not too expensive integrated or separates, amp... NO vacuum tubes, in CLASS A mode. The cheapest I find is the Lux, Japan ...about usd 4000...
    Have you seen anything around usd 1000 or less than usd 2000 ??
    Class A... need only few watts...
Kindly, please suggest..
Thanks,
Kisho - E-mail: mukashifriends (at) yahoo.com

LC
Dear Kisho,
I disagree on your comments with respect to the bass range of the Trends Audio TA10.2. Saying there's nothing below 300Hz is such a wrong statement! Of course, it all depends on the speakers. If their sensitivity isn't sufficently high than the power output of the TA10.2 isn't enough to “drive” the woofers properly. Are you sure you have connected the speakers correctly, and not out of phase, for example?
As for your quest for a solid state pure class A integrated amp, these are normally expensive, so your best chance is to search for something in the second hand market. Musical Fidelity A1 or A100, Kelvin Labs The Integrated might be not impossible to find.
Hope this helped somehow,
Lucio Cadeddu

Cambridge Audio CD players comparison?
Hi Nick. I am a TNT-Audio reader and once owned a Cambridge Audio CD6 CD player. I read you used to run a CD5 for a while. After my Oppo 980 was broken, I tried to find an old Cambridge - I missed the CD6. I bought a D300se but was badly packed and now I have probably a bent motor spindle and the CDP does not read the discs. I am thinking of getting a D500se someone is selling defective: almost imprecettible analog out but the digital outs are fine.
I wanted to ask you an opinion about how the old CD5 compare to the newer D300/500 Special Editions - if you ever had the chance to. Is it worth that I keep on trying to get the newer ones? Are they much better than an older CD5, which I could get at the same price used (version 1)?
Thanks,
Pasquale - E-mail: p.robustini (at) gmail.com

NW
Hi Pasquale,
I have hardly used a CDP for many years now. Output from a computer (plus external DAC) is vastly superior in my experience. So I am sorry that I am unable to offer you help in this instance. If you wish to get a CDP, it may be best to ask for recommendations on one of the hi-fi forums (or read some of the recent reviews here on TNT-Audio).
Regards,
Nick Whetstone

TNT Aircoil signal cables
Dear Roger,
I just came across your article on TNT about the Aircoil DIY cable and I did want to share with you some of my experiences: I am living in Italy, north east area in Padova which is very close to Venice. In our small community of audiophiles we are using since some time an architecture for our interconnect cables very similar to the one you describe. I have in my system at least 10 cables based on the same principle and my results are the following:

Et voilà, testing these cables against interconnects well above 1000 for 1m was a draw which, for a cable worth in the most expensive version (silver enamelled + Silver bullet plugs) 170 seems to me an excellent compromise.
I hope the above will fit with your further testings.
Best Regards,
Piero - E-mail: piero.canova (at) eyebeam.it
[The TNT AirCoil]

RMcC
Dear Piero,
Thank you for taking the time to share your experience. We will certainly pass it on to our readers. I had thought about making a set of Aircoils using naked or varnish coated conductors with Teflon tape to keep them apart as you have done but have not got around to doing it yet. This might make the overall diameter of the finished cable smaller. In my case I had to drill out my connectors in order to get the cable to pass.
With respect to your comment regarding eliminating the skin effect by using smaller conductors, I have calculated that at 20 kHz the skin effect only becomes relevant for conductors larger than #19 AWG. For example with #24 AWG the skin effect starts to have an effect at 68 kHz. The number is nearly the same for both copper and silver.
Best regards,
Roger McCuaig

Ciunas ISO PS
Hi Nick,
I can get this for $60 shipped (used of course) from someone. Is it really worth it? The unit I will use it with has no DC inlet, USB powered.
Thanks.
Celal - E-mail: gurcuoglu (at) hotmail.com

NW
Hi Celal,
If the battery is still good it should be OK. To use it you will need to make up (or buy) a lead to split the power supply and signal to your DAC. Here is a link to the TNT-Audio DIY version of such a cable. You will also need a charger. Regards,
Nick Whetstone

On Compact Cassettes - 1
I'll put my Dragon and RX-505 against your digital music any day and will win in a double blind test. I think you should give Naks and some Tandbergs a listen before making such an aloof statement. Great article otherwise. And thank you for the exposure :)
Jason - E-mail: jasonnewell (at) hotmail.com

LC
Dear Jason,
I own a Nakamichi DR2 deck, which isn't all that bad :-) but I tend to disagree: a copy can't sound better than the original. It's a copy!!! Can a picture look more real than the real thing? Of course not. The point you raise is interesting, though: if a copy sounds “better” than the original, clearly something, during the recording process, gets lost: some harshness, perhaps, some excess of high frequencies, some hard to handle dynamics. And this filter can make music more enjoyable...but it is MyFi, not HiFi.
Compact Cassettes on good decks can sound extremely good, but if my aim is getting a perfect copy of the original stuff, and considering I can make a bit-perfect copy of any digital track, why should I search for something different?
Anyway, enjoy your Naks! :-) And stay tuned for another upcoming article on Compact Cassettes...
Lucio Cadeddu

On Compact Cassettes - 2
Dear Lucio,
Thanks for your editorial about the comeback in compact cassettes. I agree with you that in general the sound quality from pre-recorded cassettes does not match vinyl or hi-res digital files but the cassettes have their uses. Thanks to a local library I have access to more than a thousand CDs of mostly classical music. Initially I made a few CD copies of these using iTunes but the results were disappointing. Copies made on cassette (CrO2/Dolby B were smoother and just easier on the ear-due no doubt to some high-frequency rolloff which eliminated the digital edginess. The music on cassette was not hi-res but it was enjoyable!
Also, I have occasionally found a pre-recorded cassette that sounds better than either the LP or CD version. If you can find it try Mozart Piano Concerto 23 with Ashkenazy/Philharmonia on Decca. I have all three versions and the cassette is the best by some margin. (see the Penguin guide for confirmation). Done properly the humble cassette can be a very good source of music. Unfortunately many cassettes of rock/pop music were/are not done properly which is why they are dismissed as inferior sources.
Raymond - E-mail: rmahoney (at) foodsci.umass.edu

LC
Dear Raymond,
thanks for the kind and precious feedback! I agree with you on making copies via iTunes, they normally sound bad because of the very high compression ratio! And I can understand why copies made on cassettes might sound more enjoyable, it happened the same in the Seventies, when cassette copies “seemed” to sound better than the original LP pressing! This is exactly bacause of some added smoothness in the mid-high range, together with a slight dynamic compression. One shouldn't forget that “more enjoyable” doesn't necessarily mean “more faithful to the real thing”. Real music is often harsh (a trumpet, for example, or a violin).
Finally, it's good to know there are better sounding versions of some Mozart piano concertos, when recorded on Compact Cassette. I wonder how can this be possible (I'd have a couple of questions for the recording/mastering engineer) :-)
Thanks for the input!
Lucio Cadeddu

Novaudio Classic 8 Reference review
Deat TNT-Audio,
these are very close to the Novaudio Classic 8 Reference you've just reviewed, but more cheap: Wilmslow Audio HB1 kit
Juan - E-mail: coutodominguez (at) yahoo.es

LC
Dear Juan,
thanks for the feedback and link! The Wilmslow Audio HB1 kit is, quoting their website, “based on the original Heybrook HB1 designed over 30 years ago and has been brought back to life due to customer requests”. And yes, they are very close to the Novaudio Classic 8 I reviewed. Their cost, when purchased as a whole (with walnut finished cabinet and installed drivers and crossover) is 810 UKP, that is 926€, much less than the Novaudio Classic 8 (1900€). To make a fairer comparison, it should be considered that the cabinet of the Wilmslow Audio kit is MDF with added walnut finish, though the Novaudio one is from solid beechwood and real Italian walnut finish. This adds some value but, I agree with you, the difference is still impressive. I'd love to compare the Wilmslow Audio kit to the Novaudio Classic 8 I tested!
Thanks for the precious feedback,
Lucio Cadeddu

TNT StoneBlocks not only for your feet
Hi Lucio,
I have been looking at the TNT StoneBlocks and had a hard time finding these artificial pumice blocks. However the Italian page mentions a company Farmamed. Looking at these spugna abrasiva, I saw “100% vetro” on the package. Googling further I found this is cellular glass, or in other words foam glass. Nothing less than an excellent building material. See this site. This stuff is very easy to cut, weighs hardly anything (165 kg/m3), is very pressure resistent (with Foamglass Perinsul even walls are built from this material). This would make the price for the blocks even lower, and this Foamglass is readily available, also in Italy!
Just wanted to let you know. And I enjoy reading the site and plan to implement some DIY!
Regards,
Henk - E-mail: weeteringhoff (at) gmail.com

LC
Dear Henk,
thanks for the precious feedback! This stuff seems extremely interesting, indeed!
Keep us updated on your DIY projects! :-)
Lucio Cadeddu

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