TNT-Audio Readers' Corner
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November 2005

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Advice on Paganini CD Player
Dear Mr. Lucio Cadeddu
I read you review with great interest. Living as I do in the city of Jaipur (India) I cannot listen to anything before a purchase a decision. My twelve year old sony Cd ES333 player has given up the Ghost. I plan to buy a new CD player may be a Marantz or NAD. But after reading the review I began to think about the Paganini. Audio Analogue has a very good and reliable dealer in Bombay. What is your opinion on the New Paganini Cd player.
I listen to classical symphonic music (Hayden, Brahms, Mahler) and chamber music, along with Jazz and Indian classical vocal. The Cd player should read well, because I have many old discs. If I buy the Paganini it will have to be a ten year purchase, for its price is my three months salary. My equipment is an integrated Lyrita twenty five watt valve amp (one person Indian manufacturer but good), and ancient Cyrus 780 speakers which I plan to upgrade some time.
Please do find some time to advise me. Some months ago I had sought the advice of Geoff Husband which was very useful. This time it is a much bigger purchase and your opinion will be very valuable.
Thanking you in advance
Sincerely
Purnendu - E-mail: pskavoori (at) idsj.org

LC
Dear friend,
it is always embarassing to suggest a purchase to someone who can't listen to anything and compare on his own. Even worse if you consider this purchase is expected to be satisfactory for the next 10 years to come! Yes, the Paganini would be a wise choice but it all depends on its price tag in India, which I ignore. It costs 1000 € approximately here in Italy, for example. For 1000 € it is a very good buy, for much more than that...I'd better be doubtful :-)
Perhaps even a cheaper NAD C542 will suffice, it reads anything and has HDCD also.
Hope this helped!
Lucio Cadeddu

Turntable questions
Dear Sir,
I just got an old JVC Turntable. I am new to Turntable. I am not clear on the followings. Would you please help?

  1. What is Anti Skating, what is the measure to adjust for it, I mean when to adjust at what scale ? How shall I know differences?
  2. Also when to adjust for the Tone Arm Weight ? How shall I know the difference ?
  3. Do these two have any correlation?
  4. I find that my TEAC CDP-1250 CD player plays louder that the Turntable at the same voulume and bass/treble settings. Is this Ok or my turntable is playing it bad because age has got hold of it?
  5. It has a Shure Encore cartridge. I think it is not sound the same on the left speaker. Do I need to change the pin or the whole cartridge?
  6. Can you please tell me what is overhang. My machine has a mark as "overhang" but nothing else. What does it mean.
Keep mailing,
Russell - E-mail: tareq2163 (at) yahoo.com

DH
Dear Russell,
Welcome to the world of vinyl! Here are some short answers to get you going. You will find a lot of information on the internet. Check here to start: http://www.theanalogdept.com/analog_links.htm
The main thing you need to set is the tracking weight of your cartridge.

Questions 1-3: The tracking weight of the cartridge should be 1-2 grams. Try 1.5 to start. You do this by first adjusting the tone arm so that it balances freely, and then dialling in the weight you want. Or you can use a small scale for this. Ortofon makes a cheap one. The anti-skating should be set at the same as this. It is to compensate for the pull of the stylus towards the centre of the record.

4) Does your amp have phono inputs? If not, you will need a phono preamp. Project and NAD sell cheap ones, or you can look for others on the net. Older amps have phono inputs, which boost the signal up to the same as the 'line level' output of your CD player.

5) If your cartridge is an old one, you will need a new stylus (pin) at least. Better still, try a new basic cartridge (e.g. AT 110E) to get you going.

6) Overhang is the distance the stylus extends beyond the centre of the record. This link explains things well. http://www.retrohifi.co.uk/tracking_error.html
You don't say which JVC turntable you've got, but you may also want to check the belt (if it is a belt drive) and drop a little light oil into the mail bearing (if the platter lifts off easily).
Good luck with your new hobby,
David Holgate

Difference between CD transports
Hi,
I was discussing a matter with some friends and found this webpage about hifi issues. I have a question tha that I hope you would voice your opinion in.
Two cd-players:

  1. Is a very expensive NAD player. For some reason it will only accept mint condition CDs. No burned CDs or minor scratches or it won't play.
  2. Is a very inexpensive Kenwood CD-player. This player however accepts almost any CD without regards to the CDs condition.
They both have DIGITAL OUT. If I connect these digitally (!!) to a very good Receiver of mine, shouldn't the sound be excactly the same???
Best Regards,
Claus - E-mail: claus (at) lfilm.dk

LC
Dear Claus,
the answer is just straightforward: why don't you just TRY this by yourself? :-) It is a strange attitude to "ask the experts" while having the possibility to do the tests at home...
Anyway, CD players are NOT equal and, when used as pure digital transports, some difference may occour, namely because of different jitter levels. The final result depends on how well the two players match the DAC on your receiver (provided it has a DIGITAL IN input) and on the quality of the digital cable used (remember: 75 ohm of characteristic impedance).
Chances are, if the system isn't "transparent" enough, you won't hear a difference. That won't prove the difference doesn't exist, though :-)
Hope this helped!
Lucio Cadeddu

T-amp, Y-Splitter for Bi-amping?
Hi, Thanks a lot for your very helpful advice on your site. My system now almost sounds like I want it after 10 years of trying various amplifiers like Naim Nait 5 etc and what a revelation the T-amp is, especially on low volume! It also has what I describe as "complete channel separation" giving excellent stereo detail! The only complaints I have are the somewhat weak bass (that I can live without) and sometime the sound is harsh on higher volumes, especially after I added a pre-amplifier.
I have followed your normal recommendations re 13.8V etc but I have not done any modding as I am not a DIY person. I now have a Musical Fidelity X-Ray V3, Chord DAC64 (that enhances the sound a little, I am thinking about selling the DAC64 as the MF is better than my previous CD player), Musical Fidelity X-Pre V3, 2 T-amps, and Epos M12 (87 db sensitivity) connected with VDH the first (CD/Pre) and 2 VDH D102 (Pre/T-amps) interconnects. Speaker cable is QED Silver Anniversary. I plan to Bi-amp each speaker and have bought some cheap Y-splitters for 4 each as the X-Pre only have 1 pre output. My questions are:

  1. The Y-splitters seem to degrade the sound somewhat (tried on 1 amp). I have checked on the internet but have not found anyone that sells any good ones for audio use. Do you know of any suppliers that might have better ones?
  2. Should the T-amp be on full volume, or around 75% up where they started distorting before the use of the X-pre? Any general advice would be appreciated as I cannot hear that much of a difference (but I want to reduce the "harshness" as much as possible on higher volumes)
  3. For speaker cable I was thinking of either Chord Carnival Silver Plus, or Chord Odyssey 2 or 4. I before have heard that speaker cables does not matter that much. Do you agree to that (so I can save money...) or should I just splash out and stop worrying?
  4. Speakers: I have a small room and the speakers' sensitivity works quite well with one T-amp but think that I maybe should listen to more efficient speakers. Are there any standmount or small floorstanding speakers with 90 db+ that you can recommend, as I cannot find that many except for Klipsh, Triangle and KEFs. Any others you can think of?
  5. : Last question: The X-pre only have a few line-level inputs and for my Tuner and my Dolby Digital processor I was thinking about using a Y-splitter and use the same input for these. For these sources I don't care about if the sound is good or not, but is there a risk that I will blow up any of the sources? I will of course not sue you if you are wrong, but do you have any knowledge if this can be done?
Thanks a lot for your help!
Best regards,
Paul - E-mail: Paul.Bjernklo (at) globalbeach.com

LC
Dear Paul,
point to point, here are my answers:

  1. Y-splitters shouldn't degrade the sound, if contacts are OK. Try some contact enhancing fluid, like CAIG Power Booster or similar stuff.
  2. Put the T-Amp volume at its max, this way you minimize the influence of the T-Amp (cheap) volume pot. Then use the preamp volume to control listening level.
  3. Speaker cables DO make a difference. But the REAL point is: can you hear such a difference? If not, save your money for other upgrades or new discs :-)
  4. The speakers you mention are almost the only ones to have decent sensitivity, letting aside weird designs with Lowthers etc. Try Triangle's.
  5. The safest way to connect two sources to one single input is...to connect one of these at a time. Avoid Y-splitters! Buy a QED MA28 inputs commutator, instead. For few quids it gets that job done just nicely.
Hope this helped somehow,
Lucio Cadeddu

New power amp?
Hi Lucio,
Well, you seem to have started a bit of a collection habit here. I read your review of the Sonic T-Amp and started to buy equipment to go along with it: a Benchmark DAC1, AudioVector MI-1, Avantgarde speakers (88db). If you have the time I would very much value your opinion on something.
Do you think I'm better off using the Sonic-T as an integrated amp with the DAC1 or using the DAC1 as a pre-amp with another power amp? If the power amp is going to be the best option is there anything in particular that you would recommend (my budget would be around Euro 2500). Sound, not money is my main concern.
Many thanks for your time.
Brian - E-mail: Bryan.MacErlean (at) singers.co.uk

LC
Dear Brian,
it all depends on your need in terms of sound pressure (and hence, power). You can try with two T-Amps (see letter above) to see if the power increase suits your needs. Otherwise you can try new Tripath-based amps of higher power. If the new Class-D (or T) amps sound suits you, look no further than to NuForce power amps (soon on TNT-Audio): all the power you need (and then some) with a sound quality that seems too good to be true (dare I say it).
Hope this helped,
Lucio Cadeddu

DIY cables resources
Dear TNT,
I've just completed two of your TTS mains cables and must admit they are as good as you claim. I had some trouble locating the various parts required and guessed that other UK readers must have the same trouble, so I'm emailing you with details of what I was able to locate in the UK.
I have found high quality double shielded 1.5mm mains cable. The company is Flexible and Specialist Cables Ltd (http://www.fscables.com). They actually have several 1.5mm or larger 240v capable cables with shielding, but the most suitable for creating something like the TTS is the LF-420 (fscables >> Cable Finder >> LSHF >> LF420 >> http://www.fscables.com/lsh-420.htm). They do versions from 2x0.75mm up to 4x2.5mm, so some experimentation is possible here. The 2x1.5mm is 0.86/m.
Also, you mention Maplin a few times for ferrites, but while you can buy off-the-shelf, they are quite pricy. A cheaper alternative is CPC Farnell (http://www.cpc.co.uk) who do 5 packs of 10 x 25 x 30mm ferrites for like 1.50. They also do the nice expandable nylon braiding for finishing off the cables in practical 5m lengths.
Finally, very high quality IEC medical/hospital-type sockets (very similar to the 20 a throw Wattgate) are available on eBay from a guy called eAudioGuy/18audioguy for 6 each delivered. They are the funky clear bodied type, about 50mm wide. http://search.ebay.co.uk/_W0QQfgtpZ1QQfrppZ25QQsassZ18audioguyQQssPageNameZSTRKQ3aMEWNQ3aMESOI
Hope this is of some use to your UK readers.
Keep up the good work! The CAT5 speaker cable is my next project!
Mike - E-mail: michael.redfern (at) talk21.com

LC
Dear Mike,
this is exactly what I had in mind when creating TNT-Audio 10 years ago: 2 cents of knowledge from everyone to make the whole audio community richer.
Thanks for the precious feedback!
Lucio Cadeddu

Vinyl experience
Geoff I hope you have a way of putting this out somewhere.
I got all the bits today and tried them out and wow what a difference...
Firstly I moved the Deck onto a substantial table and place it on three large speaker spikes, the glass systemdek platter has already been replaced by my own home made contraption of plastic chopping boards and mouse mats in a sandwich design (acoustically dead but looks could be better). I put the denon pra1100 to the right about 8 inches away and the Velleman Kt4040 the other side (the side away from the arm (I have modded the velleman removing the large power transformer out of the case and into its own screened metal box this sits on the floor well away for the amp itself (no hum)).
So to listening I tried my old goldring 1012gx first what a difference where had all that Bass been hiding? I suspect the Cambridge phono amp I was using.
It was like some one had switched on a loudness button and turned the bass dial up full but no I had it all set to bypass all tone controls. Yes the bass was there in bucketloads abd very deep I was hearing lows trhgat just were not there before even with the sub woofer and this was out of play now, but it was a bit boomy, a lift around 200-300hz (the cartridge I presume) however that aside it was deep and a very bloomy warm sound a lot better than before the highs were more controlled and less splashy and there was a sparkle that had been missing it was like a cloth had been taken off my ears. The midrange was where it scored big time with Robbie Williams swing when your winning 200 gram capitol version spinning, I though he had popped by for a jam session it was like he was there in my room, the definition was stunning the instruments and voices all pin point accurate in presentation I was blown away.
I tried Suzanne Vega's "Solitude standing" this is direct metal master and it shows, even better than the Robbie fare, her voice was magical and the guitars all sat rock solid in their appointed pace of the sound stage. It did sound brash though a little over the top in the upper spectrum above 1500 hz, however I got the impression that everything had moved forward away from the speakers and the music filled the room closing ones eyes and it was easy to forget that this was being produced by electronic equipment I suppose this is the goal of audiophile Hi Fi.
The Denon dl 304 was then fitted after carefully aligning everything and setting the weight at 1.2 gms as recommended I played the same two records Robbie and Suzanne vega. At first I had to play the albums twice I thought the bass had gone away but it hadn't it just got a lot better behaved, all the boominess had gone it was tight and controlled and went very very deep. I checked the cone for flap and there was none so there goes the MC high energy and compliance thing with low mass arms out the window. Everything was even more coherent now the midrange and treble was even better if that was possible IMHO, the sparkle I noted on the goldring was there but with a openness I'd not heard ever before, it was like everything was breathing of its own accord.
It was altogether an untiring experience even at loud levels. I started getting more and more albums out, brothers in arms, the hounds of love Kate bush's wailing sounded sublime and marks grating voice was earthy the guitar work on brothers in arms came alive and had oodles of attack and speed. I compared it with a DVDA of santanas shaman. This was directly played into the Denon PRA 1100 and using the Stereo tracks not the 5.1 tracks, the boominess came back it was still a lot better than before though but DVD audio does not break the analogue back like it supposed to. The SACD version of war of the worlds was better, closer to the turntable sound but not near enough to be serious threat.
So there you have it IMO the Denon DL304 is a very very good match for the SME 3009 mk 11, it blew the Goldrings socks off, the Denon PRA1100 is an awesome piece of electronics from a bygone age the early 80's, it is very sensitive 0.2mv on the MC input, has MM/MC input with or with a 16hz subsonic filter, two tape monitor inputs, the usual tuner, CD and Aux inputstwo power amp outputs two 15v dc outputs to switch active speakers on, the tech spec is awesome, the MC spec is RIAA 1hz-300khz 0.1 db-/+ s/n ratio -79db I've never seen a frequency response like that.
If your after a some serious Hi Fi at a low price I got the PRA 1100 for just over 100 from Germany on Ebay and of all this lot that is the best buy, and the denon dl304 for the same with only 50hrs use, the SME for 150 and it's new, the Systemdek with its linn arm and goldring cart for 150 and the Rogers a couple of years ago for 100 with their original stands.
I started putting this system together a year ago and so far the whole lot has cost no more than 500 Quid. Research indicates that at new prices I would have shelled out well over 2000 for this lot the second hand Turntable scene is very alive and kicking and vinyl is making a serious comeback just look at how many artists release albums on vinyl now Oasis, coldplay Williams, bush etc etc
Long Live vinyl it's a more intimate musical experience and sounds a whole lot better too.
Tony - E-mail reserved

GH
Hi Tony,
Really glad it worked out OK - it all adds to the "font of knowledge". Interesting that the Goldring gave a lift at 300 Hz, maybe it doesn't like the SME!
But what you've shown is how on the sort of money that would buy a new entry level system, you've been able to amass some serios hi-fi. It also shows the value of 'good housekeeping' regarding where and how you place things.
Re cone flap, I wonder if the Denon uses the standard RIAA curve with the warp filter - this stops cone flap, but then as it also has a 16 Hz sub filter that would seem to be overkill... Either way if it works it's good!
Keep having fun, I know well the buzz of having picked up a bargain, record sleeves strewn aroung the room - ah! heaven :-)
Cheers,
Geoff Husband

Re: Nait upgrade
Hello Lucio
Your previous recommendation advised that I should look for a second hand Naim NAP-250 power amp to go with my modified Naim NAC-42 (with Avondale 6-channels PSU) pre-amp (currently being left idle), if I look for overall improvement on my Nait 1 integrated amp. However, after extensive searching, the second hand price of Naim NAP-250 (chrome version) is rather expensive at approx. GBP500.00 given its age, despite its better potential of system matching with my Naim pre-amp!
After reading several TNT articles on the Tripath T-Amp, I am tempted to give it a try because of its decent price! Do you feel that the T-Amp will match with my Naim pre-amp, given the fact that my listening room is small (9'W x 13'D) and I do not listen at loud volume, and my TAD TSM-300 loudspeakers are also easy to drive!
According to your extensive experience with Naim products, is there any decent alternative with similar PRAT performance to their power amplifier at more affordable price?
Thank you again for your advise!
Best regards,
Hing - E-mail: yumanhing (at) netvigator.com

LC
Dear Hing,
I've compared the T-Amp face-to-face with a chrome series Naim NAP 250. Well, brute force and overall dynamics aside (all in favour to the 250) I have to admit the T-Amp was embarassingly good in terms of transparency (better than the 250) and vocals (clearer and much more refined). Of course, you need a good power supply (3 A at least) and quite sensitive speakers, otherwise you're going to feel the need for more power. Eventually, you can use two T-Amps in a bi-amping configuration (one per channel, for example). Even better, you could use one of the Tripath kits we've recently reviewed: they offer a reasonable power output though keeping the same T-Amp feeling.
Hope this helped,
Lucio Cadeddu

T-Amping headphones?
Hi Lucio,
Forgive me for bothering you, I have been an avid reader of TNT for years - making your cables etc etc. Bought a T-amp on your recommendation (pleased to see you in Hifiworld as well) added 13.8 power supply and with Triangle speakers it was stunning - sold Croft preamp and Class A power amp, the T-Amp was better!
I am however moving from speakers to headphones (senn 650 - stefan audio cables) and am probably going to buy a Meier audio pre-amp. I read in your website that you are "tweaking" a t-amp for headphones.
Should I wait?
Regards,
Dave - E-mail: dave_ashenhurst (at) hotmail.com

LC
Dear Dave,
there's nothing to tweak: just separate the negatives on your headphones cables and you're done. Your 650's have a quite highish impedance, not the right one for the T-Amp. It should be better to use low impedance headphones. Otherwise, you need to modify the output filter accordingly (ask a trained technician).
Hope this helped,
Lucio Cadeddu

Snell speakers
Hi Geoff,
I wrote you some months ago about buying a pair of Snell KII to match with a Musical Fidelity A1...after a few weeks I've bought a pair.
I was immediatly fascinated because of transparence, openess, tonal purity, dynamic...I felt in love :-) I didn't expected so much at this price, simply. Some month later I was lucky enough to find a Pioneer SM83 (truly an unknown giant killer...should have been listened by you!), '67 tube integrated amp, 16+16w, that substitued the MF A1. It was absolutely a big upgrade, and....now those speakers are shining!!!
I really love to hear such a sweet, clean, involved sound... I just would like to thank you for your advice on KII :-)
Happy music!
Angelo - By e-mail

GH
Hi Angelo,
Glad everything worked out - Snells generally made wonderful partners for valve amps and your amp find just goes to show how much progress has been made in the last 50 years (not a lot...).
I'd also say it'd be fun, when you have $30 burning a hole in your pocket, go and buy a T-amp, the Snells will love it :-)
Cheers
Geoff Husband

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