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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May 2007

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Consonance CD 120
Hi Mark,
I enjoyed your review on the consonance cd120. I have a cambridge audio 640c v2. How do the 2 compare soundwise? I found the Ca 640c v2 sometimes clinical sounding. Is the consonance far superior? Also I heard sometimes there are problems with the drawer of the consonance. Did you have any trouble with that model?
Any feedback would be great as the consonance is a good price at the moment.
Thanks.
Steve - E-mail: stephenn (at) alphalink.com.au

MW
Hi Steve,
I have not heard the Cambridge 640c V2 so I cannot compare. The Consonance CD120 could not be described as clinical, even compared to my familiar refernces (modified Shanling CDT100c; Avondale AA5; Rotel RCD965BXdiscrete) so I cannot imagine it sounding clinical in any comparison. I would describe some of the old 'best buys' as shouty or forward and some of the first and second generation of high-end players (by the price standards of the day) as clinical, but the Consonance is linear enough for me to believe a version with a tube (valve) output stage would sound too similar to bother with the extra cost.
I had no trouble with the cd120 drawer (I would have mentioned it in the review if I had, even if I believed it to be a one-off problem), or any other part of the player. I did take the lid off and inspect the parts and they all looked like well-above-average off-the-shelf items, including the transport. I imagine the transport is a local development of the design it superfcially resembles.
As I said in my review, if timing and musical cues are important to you, this is a star player, but look elsewhere if bombast and grandiosity are needed in your system.
Happy listening,
Mark Wheeler

Discovering TNT-Audio...
Dear Lucio,
we don't know each other but we share the same love for quality sound recreation.
So I took some a minute to tell you that your site is really helping me putting together my "new-old" HiFi system. Geoff Husband's HiFi Buying Guide is a great starting point.
By the way, I found your useful site on "www.theanalogdept.com/analog_classifieds.htm".
Keep on the good work!
Alexandre - E-mail: alex (at) degagne.ca

LC
Dear Alex,
glad you've found our website useful. Thanks for your words of appreciation.
Happy listening,
Lucio Cadeddu

C37 Lack
Hello Lucio,
I will apply the c 37 lack to my Tannoy HPD 15's. Will it be worth?
I am happy with my system now, aren't paper cones better than plastic ones? After applying the lack how will it be more natural than paper?
I am afraid to get an aggressive sound. And it (c 37) adds some mass to the cones, could there be losses in the bass range or elsewhere ??
Could you make some recomendations?!
Regards,
Murat - E-mail: muratakbay2005 (at) ttnet.net.tr

LC
Dear Murat,
it is very hard to predict how the Tannoys HPD's will react to the C37 lack experiment. The treatment adds some mass, that's for sure so one might expect a slight decrease in driver speed (perhaps negligible). Anyway, the results may vary so greatly that I can't guarantee you will like the C37 effect. Perhaps it would be safer to test it on some less expensive drivers first. This would give you an idea of the results.
Keep me updated,
Lucio Cadeddu

Flamenco!
Hi, my name is Michele, TNT reader from Italy.
I bougth the Tao Ruspoli's album before having read your article, and I bought it only because I needed the 4th if I wanted the discount (in the second way because last August I went to Andalusia 3 weeks in holiday...).
In the 4th album I had the surprise to discover that it was the best, and not only about the quality of the recording, but also as artistic job.
Michele - E-mail: mantovani-m (at) fklengineering.com

AK
Hello Michele,
glad you like the review, even happier you liked the album. I hope you got the reggae album "Ras mek peace" from Mapleshade, it is now my all time fav reggae album. In flamenco may also like;

And if you're into vinyl, there is a wealth of Carlos Montoya and Sabicas stuff that is just to die for.
Happy listening,
Arvind Kohli

TNT upgrades...
Dear Lucio,
Yesterday we have been with friends listening and comparing some NOS tubes and DIY TNT Mains filter. First of all we were all amazed by the sudden results of the mains filter, thank you for such an incredible offer. I, now, have to build 3 for my friends :-). During listening to some tracks my friend offered to swap speaker terminals since he thought the bass was not tight. This changed bass phase and we all think that the bass is much tighter and more controlled. I could not really understand the theory, is it possible for a combination (speaker, amp .. etc) to sound better when red to black, black to red terminated?
Does it harm the speaker? Is it possible to get the same effect if I switch the mains plug rather than reverse terminating the speakers? Or is it only related with room acoustics?
Looking forward to your reply,
Sincerely yours,
Koray - E-mail: kpars (at) dostelmakina.com

LC
Dear Koray,
thanks for the feedback on our DIY mains filter, I'm glad you enjoyed the upgrade!
As for switching phase on your speakers here are some answers:

  1. The procedure doesn't damage the speakers nor the amplifier, it only changes the way woofers move (inside/out)
  2. It is possible that some component of your system is of the "inverting" kind. If that's the case, all speaker terminals should be reversed. Also, try doing the same to the mid/high section of your speakers and carefully evaluate the effect on soundstaging.
  3. This procedure has NOTHING to do with mains phase, which is an entirely different matter. The effects of mains polarity change are much more "elusive" and greatly vary from component to component.
  4. Room acoustics and speakers placement certainly play a role here. For this reason many active subwoofers have a switch that allows phase inversion (0-180 degrees).
Hope this helped somehow,
Lucio Cadeddu

Tube amps
Hi Geoff,
I wonder if you can help?
For the past 10 years or so I've had a Naim NAC72 / NAP140 pre-power combo which I've generally been very pleased with. I tend to want to just listen to music and don't get the opportunity to compare different hi-fi systems or components so I stick with what I have. I picked them up secondhand with MM and MC phono boards and have been running my new Project X-Pack deck through them which sounds great together with my Quad 22L floor standers (89dB, 6ohm).
However recently I got married to a classical musician who already had some hi-fi equipment so we did some comparisons and much to my surprise decided that her Arcam Alpha CD62 sounded better than my Naim CD3 (giving a far more natural sound especially on classical strings), but that we'd stick with my Naim amps rather than her Arcam one.
A friend of mine has recently become a valve convert when he bought an Affordable Valve company EL34 triode connection amp. He then upgraded to a WAD design, but since he needed a CD player, offered to swap his EL34 amp for my CD3.
Thus I've recently been comparing the EL34 with my Naims. I LOVE the realism of the mid range of the valve amp. It is what I'd always wanted from a hi-fi. Voices and acoustic guitar just sound like they're in the room. The Naims in my opinion don't come close.
However as my wife has pointed out, the EL34 bass is hopelessly slow and lacking in control. Listening to the final movement of Beethoven's violin concerto, proved the point. We both loved the tone of the solo violin. You could almost hear the bow on the strings and the woodiness, but when the full orchestra came in with fast stop/start chords it all fell apart with not enough depth, control and speed in the bass sounds.
If we had to choose now, I'd choose the EL34, but my wife would choose the Naims as she doesn't expect hi-fi to sound like the real thing, but does expect it to play the music how it should be in terms of timing!
We are at a point in our lives where we could afford to spend may be 2000 on a new or second hand amplifier as a long term one off purchase since we both love listening to music (mainly classical, acoustic pop, jazz and occasional rock).
I've been reading about class A amps such as Sugden's A21SE and wondering if this would please us both, but I once had a Musical Fidelity A1 which I always found rather too polite for me. I have a feeling that having heard valves, I don't want to go back to solid state.
Are there any valve amps that would give at least some of the timing and bass control that we get with the Naims for our budget or should we look for a class A compromise?
Thanks for any help you can give,
Duncan - E-mail undisclosed

GH
Hi Duncan.
Many thanks for the mail and an interesting question. Also congratulations on having an actively involved partner - here my wife gave up on me long ago but complains bitterly if the sound isn't 'just-right'...
To your question. You love that valve sound but the bass control is poor - it's a classic problem and the solution is also pretty straightforward. The amp you've bought is a pretty cheap and if I'm correct about the model, pretty low powered affair. However I've heard good things about the Affordable Valve company and despite their rather hype filled site would be happy to recommend them. A friend has their 300b PP amp and is currently using it to drive a pair of avantguarde duo speakers which are about 6000 worth and the sound is superb.
That little triode connected EL34 is probably pushing out less than 15 watts per channel and less into low frequencies - the Quad speakers are only average efficiency and probably not the easiest load in the world. That means you need more power and more control to drive them properly, or you change the speakers, or both speakers and amp :-)
With 2000 to play with you have plenty of scope and I think that if you like the general sound of the Affordable Valve amps with your Quads then a change to the same amp as my mate would make a big improvement - i.e. the 300b PP. This is 30 watts and has better driving ability. This will take 1100 of your budget and the company might take your old amp in part exchange. This leaves 900 for your speakers.
Next step - install the new amp and listen to it for a month (there's a 30 day money-back guarentee) - you may well find that it is the answer to all your problems which saves you 900 for a weekend in Paris with all the trimmings. OR if it's better but not quite what you want, you need to think about changing the speakers for a more valve friendly pair, and here the list is very long and you need to hear them. In my opinion if you have a pair of speakers that suite your ears and room then getting rid of them is a difficult path to follow. If the 300b does the trick I'd leave a long period before taking the plunge and listen to as much as you can before you make a descision. I'd also try second hand as with each change, if you don't like the result in the end, you can sell on at little cost. If you get to this stage email again for recommendations.
The other alternative is to start from scratch and get all 'hair shirty', buy a single ended amp (again the Affordable Valve company would be a good bet) and speakers to match. However my fear is that you then change two variables in one go and you could face months of misery trying to get the balance right.
Good luck and keep me posted
Happy listening,
Geoff Husband

Cayin 265AI
Hi Arvind,
I am interested in buying the above amp. I don't believe it is available in Canada.
Can you please give me some leads as to whom I can contact in the US? Philip - E-mail: philip.dsouza (at) cmp.cpii.com

AK
Philip,
back when I reviewed the Cayin, it was imported and distributed by 'allied tv and sound' in hamilton, ontario. They have long since exited the audio industry. I think the brand was then picked up by 'acoustic sounds' who reported did a pretty poor job based on feedback from some readers. They still seem to carry the stuff, but vas audio maybe the importer now try contacting them.
I would also suggest that you may get similar results with any well built class-a integrated. There are several other chinese brands who do so, in addition to sugden and old MF stuff.
Cheers,
Arvind Kohli

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