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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March 2011

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Cartridge choice around 250/300 €
Hi Mark,
I want to ask you some questions. I bought a turntable, The Wilson Benesch Circle with carbon arm, Act 0,5:

Now I want to buy a cartridge around the price 250/300 euros, bearing in mind that the rest of my system is amplified by Naim Nait xs, phono pre-amp Trichord Dino+ and speakers are Wilson Benesch Square two. Which cartridge do you recommend?
Many thanks
Damiano - E-mail: damiano.daq (at)

Hi Damiano
These are very good questions, but I can only answer them after I have asked you some questions!
What is most important to you when listening to music?
From your equipment list I guess you favour some of the Flat Earth priorities, as well as low colouration. I assume you have the linear DC Dino+ power supply rather than the 40va AC supply or the Michell 'Never Connected' supply. I suspect it makes more difference with low output moving coil cartridges and the Dino+ supply probably widens your choice. The Dino Plus starts with a 80va toroidal transformer, smooths with 4x1800uF to offer plus and minus 22V at 0.75A of DC, keeping the PS noise down before it enters the phono-stage; it will be important to keep the component positions and cable dressing optimised if low output MC's are to be shortlisted.

Did you see my colleague Geoff's review?
Geoff uses Dynavector MC's, which are favoured by many as offering good pace and rhythm, as are the Audio Technica models in the price range you suggest. With 4 load resistance options and 5 gain options, you will have no problems finding a good electrical match with such mid price MC's or with moving Iron (Grado and Decca spring to mind) or Moving Magnet. The key question will therefore be arm matching. I am unfamiliar with the Wilson Benesch turntable set up, knowing it uses isolation but not suspension, and therefore wonder whether to go for the conventional (8Hz-12Hz) or the Ladegaard recommendations (15Hz upwards) for arm-cartridge fundamental resonance. The Act 0.5 is halfway between the ultra-lites (represented by the SME 3009 III and its contemporaries) and the heavyweights (like the whopping Fidelity Research spanners).

Typical 8-10g cartridges are going to need to have compliance less than 12 X 10^-6 CM/Dyne to keep the fundamental resonance above 10Hz, but for compliance (pun-groan) with Paul Ladegaard's seminal 70s papers compliance would have to be even lower. Decca's would be fine if you like that sort of thing, but otherwise mid price MC's are more likely to be in the correct range.
The big question is why not go for the Wilson Benesch Ply cartridge (slightly more money) that they designed expressly to match this turntable and arm combination?
Does this help?
Happy Listening,
Mark Wheeler

Class D amps for a novice
Dear Lucio and TNT team,
I am hoping you might be able to help me out. I have noted the general enthusiasm for D class/T amp's at the budget end of the market - for example Dayton, Trends, Nuforce etc.
I have noticed that a lot of the writing about these products appears to be driven by the pleasant surprise at the sound quality for the comparatively low price, plus a lot of the discussion around them is in the context of computer based audio. As someone who is about to start over from scratch putting together a budget system (Maximum spend of 1,500 Euros) with no interest in computer audio, the commentary on D Class amps has made me curious, after all who does not want a legitimate bargain - more money to spend on music!
As someone who is unable to hear any of the D Class amp's in action without getting on a plane I am curious to know if it is possible for you to make a general observation about the sound quality of D Class amp's compared to entry level amp's from the various British and Japanese companies?
Am I being too optimistic in thinking that a well matched source, D Class/Tamp and speakers could be a main system with a comparable to or superior sound to a 'traditional' system?
Naturally, if i decide to break the golden rule of hi fi, "audition, audition, audition!" and purchase something unheard and am disappointed, that is down to me, not you!
Martin - E-mail: jbmarken (at)

Dear Martin,
just to start, I invite you to read what purchasers of the original T-Amp wrote about comparisons they made with their traditional amplifiers. And we're talking of the original T-Amp, which is now so clearly outperformed by many other new Class D amps. There's no doubt you can build you new HiFi system around a small, inexpensive Class D amplifier, provided you don't need the extra features traditional amps offer (multiple inputs, remote etc.).
I suggest you to start with the Dayton DTA 100a: lots of power (which many Class D competitors lack), extremely good sound and incredibly low price. It can be compared to traditional amps costing much more. You won't be disappointed.
Hope this helped somehow,
Lucio Cadeddu

SP/DIF output on PCs
Dear Lucio,
I started using the SPDIF built in the Dell docking station - quite unusable, to say it polite. That was a built-in SPDIF - USB was the remedy for that, not nonsense.
As I didn't have other built-in SPDIF (the signal my DAC needs), I looked for alternative - USB-to-SPDIF was an option. First USB to SPDIF converter was an Edirol UA-1EX. Ok. Better than built-in sound card (which didn't apply to the built in SPDIF). As HiFace came out, I couldn't resist (having a different quarz for 44.1 and 48 kHz is almost a must) - much more controlled sound. Improving the supply voltage of that Hiface further improved the quality.
So, I just concluded a built-in SPDIF might not be the answer in every case...
Perfectly fine, if you do not share this view.
Kind regards,
Ulli - E-mail: modmix (at)

Dear Ulli,
if that docking station takes the SP/DIF signal directly out from the SP/DIF output of the laptop, I can't see why it should sound bad. I'd love to see which kind of SP/DIF output does it have and how does it work. In my previous reply I was referring to pure and simple SP/DIF outputs coming out directly from the laptop or the desktop PC (or their audio boards), which doesn't seem to be your case. I might assume that if your PC doesn't have a SP/DIF output (and it doesn't, from what it seems) while your docking station has one, chances are the signal is being taken from another output and then processed somehow. This might explain why it sounds so bad.
So perhaps the SP/DIF isn't ALWAYS the best solution but if it is available on your PC, try that one first, before using USB (or USB-->SP/DIF conversion).
Thanks for the feedback!
Lucio Cadeddu

The TNT Stoneblocks: anti-vibration graphite blocks clones
Hello Lucio,
I read about your TNT Stoneblocks, but go confused at what they are. You mention you can get these in the supermarket. What section of the supermarket would I find this? (cleaning, detergent, hardware ?) Is this like soapstone?
Do you suppose the TNT SandBlaster will work for small bookshelf speakers I have on my desk?
I really enjoy your site.
John - E-mail: enushalu (at)

Dear John,
you should find those at the cleaning/personal care & detergent section of any supermarket, near band-aids and the like. It is _not_ like soapstone, it is purely synthetic stuff which is very similar to the natural pumice stone. If you can find natural pumice, that would be even better!
And yes, you can try these feet under your bookshelf loudspeakers (and even CD player, if you wish).
Hope this helped somehow,
Lucio Cadeddu

Needles & Spins store
Hi Mark,
Firstly I would like to commend you on your dedication to quality audio production!
The reason I am contacting you is that I have recently inherited my father's old record player, for which needed a replacement stylus. I ordered a stylus of the UK based website Needles and Spins ;
After a two or so week wait, still nothing had arrived in the post and so I contacted them last week requesting an explanation etc. I also saw that there were site reviews online, declaring the site a phony. I got an email today however from the owner explaining that he experienced recently a personal crisis, and so had been out of action for the past few weeks etc. this being the time when the negative reviews had been made.
I appreciate the apparent dedication of the site to quality audio production, and their fair prices and so feel I should give them another chance. But I am still wary.
I noticed that TNT had a list of "we support quality stereo" stamped websites, this site being included. I was hoping then, that you or a member of your team would have some idea of the authenticity of this site?
Any help would be much appreciated!
Fin - E-mail: oceallf (at)

Hi Fin,
Quick response, so excuse my brevity.
Thanks for the very kind words; dedication to sound quality at home is exactly what we're about, so I am glad it works!
I have no knowledge of this site and cannot reccommend other stylus supply sites as I have not 'tested' them. I do know that many are supplying 'pattern' styli for old classics that the manufacturers no longer service. This has gone on for many years and is no slur on the quality of pattern parts (as those of who run classic cars and motorcycles know) even if they are sometimes not the cosmetic equals of the OEM items.

However, the alignment, polish, fit and finish of a stylus is probably more important than its profile and size (within reason). Hence the prolific variations between the styli of great classics cartridges, some being mere cones with hemispherical ends and others being multi-faceted line contact proifiles with each cartridge having their devotees. Wahta you will find in common with these favoured cartridges, regardless of anything else, is good well poliushed styli, correctly aligned in relation to the cantilever and cartridge top.

Signatories to our Campaign for Real Stereo are signing up to support the fight against multi-formats, declining dynamic range and the conflation of home cinema with real music. Signatories are not signing up for a code of ethics, nor are they signing up for any kind of audio dealer bonding arrangement. Many specialist audio retaliers are one or two man (rareley women) bands these days, so personal circumstances can affect performance out of all proportion compared with anything larger than a corner shop.

I am sorry this is not really an answer to your question, but I hope it helps.
Hopefully happy listening soon,
Mark Wheeler

NAD 3020 upgrade
Dear Mr. Holgate,
I have been reading your article about the 3020 upgrade, thank you! Extremely interesting! I recently inherited a 3020i and I was very excited to play my old LPs again!
The only problem is that if I plug the turntable in the phono input the volume is extremely low, almost like if is not preamplified anymore. Do you have any idea on what is more likely to be wrong when somethig like this happen? dust? preamplifier section dead? all the other input (aux/tape etc. are in perfectly working condition).
Thank you and have a nice sunday.
Paolo - E-mail: ppolzella (at)

Hi Paolo,
Thanks for your letter. Coincidence: I took one of the same model amp to my local hifi shop to sell today. It is a great amp, but I don't need two and I like the idea of another person enjoying good sound.
It's hard to say what could be causing this problem. Definitely not dust. Are your inputs from your turntable correctly wired, and making good contact? I would check this first. Try the tt with another amp with a working phono stage (maybe a friend can help you).
Are you sure the phono plugs are in the tt input, and that the phono switch is pushed on the front. Basic checks I know, but I wasted a whole day troubleshooting a tube amp, only to find the RCA input plug was faulty.
It is worth checking the fuses inside too. Only do this if you are confident with opening up an amp and please don't apply power till you have closed it again.
If you like this amp, I can obviously recommend the company that did the upgrades for our review. (I have no link with them.) If there is a fault they could fix this at the same time as doing the upgrade. Or our own tnt-audioaddicts forum could also help you trace the fault.
Enjoy your amp,
David Holgate

FLAC playing on Windows 7
Hi Nick,
I would ask to you if you know a good configuration to setting Windows 7 to listening FLAC and others lossless files with Foobar2000 and how to configure ASIO drivers and so. I have a SuperPro DAC 707 connected to my ASUS Notebook, it's very good for me (the DAC).
Another question: I have noticed that when I connect the DAC, via USB, to Netbook from Control Panel ==> Sound & Hardware ==> Management audio devices ==> I see Two Speakers in the list, when I select USB PNP speakers device (it is the DAC connected via USB) I click on Properties ==> Advanced and I can see select the Frequency but I can select only 16 bit 44100 Hz (CD) or 16 bit 48000 Hz (DVD), why isn't it possible to select 24 bit 192 Khz?
In this way, does my DAC upsampling the music to 24 bit and 192 Khz? The blue LED on my DAC is flashing.
Anthony - E-mail: tonyboy00 (at)

Hi Antonio,
I have no experience of Windows7 so I can only suggest that you Google for your answer. Here's one link that I found that I hope is useful for you. I am not sure about the other issue that you mention. May I suggest that you contact your dealer and ask him. I do know that some 24/192 USB DACs require special drivers.
Nick Whetstone

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