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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November 2009

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Jamo speakers
Hello Mark,
I have gone through the TNT website and think it has a comprehensive list of review that is unbiased. However, I was trying to compare the Jamo C809 and Monitor Audio RX6 / 8, but did not find it on the website.
What is your take on these?
Thomas -E-mail: earthling86 (at)

Hi Thomas
It seems like none of us have made this comparison, or indeed tested them individually.
I'm familiar with various Monitor Audio speakers over the years and they've been very well designed. MA tend to be consistently low colouration and reasonably lively & dynamic.
On the other hand, Jamo was founded as a premium brand and I have heard some of them sounding great, the best in their class, but others mediocre with no pattern to suggest which will be which.
So it really depends what you want. If, for whatever reasons you have already narrowed the shortlist down to these two, I say you've done most of the tedious research and now have the joy of going and listening to them!
Happy listening,
Mark Wheeler

CD player choice
Hello Mr Cadeddu,
My name is Jerome, I live in Cape Town, South Africa.
I have a pair of Quad 12l's (thinking of upgrading to the 22l's) I have a Pathos Classic one mk2.
I want to match it with a good cd player and am thinking of the following three options:

It is difficult to arrange a test of these with my own set up at home and therefore hard to compare as listening comparison. I am a newbie to this field.
I listen mainly to vocal and jazz but have fair collection of rock, blues and pop. In your experience, which of the above choices would be a better match with my existing amp and speakers?
Why would make that choice?
I hope that I am allowed to send you a mail like this and hope that you have the time to respond.
Kind regards,
Jerome - E-mail: labourlaw (at)

Dear Jerome,
it is always hard to choose a component for someone else, without knowing his taste, listening room etc. My personal take would be the Quad CDP-2 or even a second hand Quad 99 of a couple of years ago. This way you could also save some money to upgrade the speakers too. Quad CD players all have a distinctive family sound and since you seem to love the Quad 12L speakers this CD would be the most logical choice, in my opinion.
Hope this helped,
Lucio Cadeddu

RCMs review
Dear Arvind,
Loved your review on the three RCMs. However, the only one of the three available here in India is the Nitty Gritty - that too at an insane price. There is another one though - the Kuzma RCM. Unlike the ones in your review, the Kuzma has a rather unique design in the sense that it does not allow surface contact of the freshly cleaned side when turned over. This very aspect has appealed to me but there are hardly any reviews online (or offline, for that matter). Would love if you checked this one out too. And followed up your review with the same.
Shahrukh - E-mail: shahrukhd (at)

Hello Shahrukh,
I had not heard of the Kuzma RCM till now. Actually, the manufacturer does not seem to have it on their own website!!!??? I did manage to find a few pics online, but not much other detail. If the unit doesn't have a substantial platter on which the record can rest while being thoroughly scrubbed, then stay away from the unit. As I conclude in my review, scrubbing is the most important part of the cleaning!
Arvind Kohli

RCMs review - II
Thanks Arvind for your review of the Nitty Gritty, Clear Audio and VPI machines in the latest TNT newsletter.
I am rather dissapointed that the Nitty Gritty did not do better as I think that the designer has attempted to solve one of the problems in cleaning that I have always thought about.
Machines that have a turntable platter and some sort of mat run the risk of having the platter contaminated when you put the dirty side of a record down in order to clean the first side. You then reverse sides and put the newly cleaned side down on the contaminated platter: or do you have some means of cleaning the platter after a dirty side has been placed on it?
The Nitty Gritty seems to tackle this problem by keeping the underside of the record completely free from contact while cleaning the top side. I can see though that stability is a problem and not being able to apply any down force for scrubbing except in a very tiny area. Perhaps also the vaccuum brush is not applied with enough force to give some scrubbing action.
Maybe I'm splitting hairs here, but when we are talking about contamination in terms of microscopic particles as Arvid describes then it seems like you also need some additional method to pre-wash both sides of the record before putting it on the machine.
For many years I have used a Knosti Disco-Antistat hand-driven cleaner. This solves the problems I mention above by cleaning both sides of the record at the same time.
You clamp the record on to a spindle that is then spun by hand in a bath of cleaner, the level of the cleaner being in line with the innermost groove of the record in order to avoid wetting the lable. It's only disadvantage as I see it is that you cannot clean many records before you need to refresh the cleaning liquid, but as I make up my own liquid using the American Library of Congress recommended formula at a fraction of the cost of commercially available cleaners then the cost of cleaner is quite acceptable. And besides, the Knosti also only costs a fraction of the price of motorised vacuum machines!
Have you tried the Knosti Arvid?
Mike - E-mail: michael_shanahan (at)

Hello Michael,
Glad you enjoyed the review, and sorry one of your expectations was disappointed - but that indeed is what I experienced. Sometimes a first hand investigation does help to put manufacturer's claims into perspective.
While I can envision that a dirty side contaminating the platter in turn could then contaminate a clean side (theoretically speaking), but the real question is what the magnitude of this contamination is in reality. And I am not sure there really is any way of answering that. It certainly did not affect the results of my tests enough to be noticed.
I have read of others who have the same concern as yours, and solve for it by keeping a clean spare disc that they use to prevent the contamination you speak of, sounds like a clever solution to me. Moreover I would at least wipe down a dirty record before putting it on an RCM - since if I had to guess this cross-contamination would only originate from loose particles that could mostly be eliminated with a damp wipe. The "baked in" grunge is where the RCM really comes into play.
No, I have never tried the Knosti, it does sound intesting and Brother Geoff did review it a few years ago (see link).
Arvind Kohli

Linux kernels
Hello Nick,
I have read your last article on TNT-Audio about three USB DACs, you tell that you use Ubuntu to listen music. I am not an hi-fi expert, but I know that the Linux kernel is a non real time. I think that is better to use a low latency Linux kernel. There are various linux path and distributions like the old (not more maintained) Dynebolic. What do you think?
Other info:
Mario - E-mail: moromario (at)

Hi Mario,
Thank you for your email. I have also heard about low latency Linux kernels. But computer audio is already becoming too complex for me to follow all the options. There simply isn't enough time to do all the research, and try all the options.
So for now, I will stick to Ubuntu as it is because that works well enough for me with flac files. Let's hope that as time goes by, we will be able to use PC's for audio without needing a degree in science to get the 'best' sound out of them!
Nick Whetstone

Bookshelf loudspeakers
Aloha Lucio,
Check out North Creek Music. Founded by a former speaker designer at AR and later Apogee. Here's one of their bookself speakers:
More on the Founder: I myself built and own one of the Ikemo D-25 kits near the bottom of this page. It's not bad. Acoustic instruments and womens' voices are best. They were cheap - $199 a pair or something. The sound sounds like it's coming from the box, not the air around it (with mens' voices anyway), but near-field on a bookshelf - pretty good!
Rod - E-mail: rruggier (at)

Hi Rod,
my last article on bookshelf loudspeakers is starting to raise some interest, I see :-)
I truly appreciate and embrace North Creek Music design philosophy but I do hope other "big names" in the audio industry start designing bookshelf speakers to be really placed on bookshelves and not as freestanders. The entry-level niche of this market needs inexpensive (sub-500$) speakers that can sound decently even on a shelf. DIY KITs are good but we need something easier to buy.
Thanks for the precious feedback!
Lucio Cadeddu

J.A. Michell Transcriptor parts
Hello Mark,
I am looking for someone who might have parts available for Michell you have any clues?
Fab - E-mail: fpoato (at)

Hi Fab from Vancouver
What a great abbreviation for your name!
John Michell made the Hydraulic Reference under licence from Transcriptors when the original firm was moved to Ireland by its founder David Gammon. Michell developed their own turntable (the Gyrodec) and ceased producing their version of the Hydraulic Reference. Meanwhile back at Transcriptors David Gammon had moved on to produce the amazing Round Table (priced to compete with the then ubiquitous Garrard SP25 and now fetching collectors' values) and the Skeleton and Transcriber models.
My interview with the present bearer of the Transcriptor torch has more information on the history of the company and the excellent spares availability. Michael only lives down the road from me so if you'll pay my fare I'll pick the parts up and bring them myself as I love Vancouver :-)
Happy listening,
Mark Wheeler

Amps choice
Thank You very much David for Your time and precious advices. Now I'll have a look at ROTEL amps and the bookshelf speakers You have mentioned.
I've forget to ask You previously about Your opinion on CREEK 4330 model or 4140. I've seen that they are within my budget and I've heard some good opinion before.
Przemek - E-mail: przemek (at)

Hi again Przemek,
My local hifi shop (I know them well) recommends the small Monitor Audio bookshelf speakers and the current Wharfedales. Creek amps? I used to have a 4040, but didn't really like it, compared with a NAD 3120. I don't know the 4140 or the 4330, but I would go for the 4330 if I was buying without hearing. But always listen first, if you can.
David Holgate

TNT Shoestrings
Dear Nick (if I may)
I am writing to thank you for posting your recipe for TNT Shoestring Interconnects. I made up a pair today using only what I had to hand, since the nearest shop selling decent phono plugs is 20 miles away. Even so, the results are stunning.
Recently I decided to put all my music (from LP, tape, minidisc and CD) on a computer. Setting up the system, I began to get interested in hi-fi again, and while browsing the net I came across TNT Audio and your recipe.
I am an inveterate hoarder of useful bits and pieces and had "in stock" a few metres of spare aerial cable and oddments of BT -- or maybe even GPO -- telephone cable which had once served a redundant socket, together with a cigar box full of various audio junk, including a few unused phono plugs dating back to about Noah's Ark!
I followed your recipe but used the BT cable instead of CAT5. The individual BT wires seem to be 0.5 mm gauge and silvered. As I had no suitable shoelaces I cut the hem off an old curtain-lining: my equipment sits in a cupboard, so once installed the interconnects can't be seen. Total cost: 0p, or maybe 5p if you factor in the solder :-)
My basic system is hopelessly out of date, and was definitely at the budget end of the market when I bought it: Celestion Ditton 15 speakers, Philips CD610 CD player, Pioneer A300X amp. It did sound better than most micro systems up to about £500: now, with your interconnects, one must up that to £750 at least.
Previously the stereo image had been a bit wobbly. Now it is absolutely rock solid and beautifully defined. That alone would be enough, but the whole frequency range has been opened up and extended. I had no idea that the Dittons were capable of producing such tight but sepulchral bass or such delicate high frequencies. The sound is airier, purer, more detailed, and, above all, more natural and enjoyable. I had always been a bit sceptical about interconnects, replacement mains supplies, equipment racks, all that -- but now I begin to see the light!
My next job is to make three pairs of your interconnects using high quality phono plugs, for the CD player, tuner, and the computer sound-card. I'm so pleased with the BT cable that I'll probably stick with it.
Thanks again for going to the trouble of posting your instructions, and please know that you have a very satisfied customer here!
Best wishes,
Jonathan - E-mail: jonathanrbarnes (at)

Hi Jonathan,
I'm sure that I speak for all of us at TNT when I say how pleasing it is to get this sort of feedback. Everybody likes a bargain, and apart from reviewing commercial equipment we have tried to provide some ideas to save money by using DIY.
You can now see that the name that I chose for those IC's has a double meaning. And it is particularly good to hear that yours made such a big improvement to what you say is a budget system.
The actual conductors are not too critical and you appear to have found a winner in your parts box. Like you, I hoard just about anything that may come in useful in future, so these smaller DIY projects often do cost almost nothing to try.
I hope that you continue to find TNT useful as you proceed on your hi-fi journey. We have got you hooked now, so don't turn off that soldering iron. ;-)
Nick Whetstone

Speakers impedance
Hi Mark,
I decided to buy a pair of Wharfedale Diamond 9.1 speakers. My amplifier has 4 and 8 ohm choices at his back while the speakers are 6 ohms. Is it possible to connect these speakers with my amplifier?
If yes, which one of the two choices shall I use or shall I have to look for other speakers?
Kind Regards,
Kerem - E-mail: keremnturan (at)

Hi Karem
Yes it is possible to connect 6 ohm speakers to amplifiers with 4 and 8 ohm settings. I assume your amplifier is probably a valve amplifier and that these are output transformer taps. Typical specified impedance for loudspeakers is "nominal", which means in name only. I have encountered so-called 8 ohm speakers with wild slopes to the impedance curve, crossing the 8 ohm line at perhaps four or five frequencies and dropping as low as 2 ohms and peaking as high as 30 ohms. Anything other than a straight line parallel to the X-axis is reactive, behaving like a capacitor or an inductor rather than as a resistor as implied by measurement in ohms.

If an amplifier has been designed down to the wire even a nominal 8 ohms speaker will perform better on the 4 ohm tap. Otherwise the frequency response will look like the impedance curve.

Even where the amplifier has designed in plenty of capacity for reactive loads it is my experience that frequency response can still be flatter and bass more rhythmic and accurate with a 4 ohm tap selected with a nominal 8 ohm speaker. I have tried this with every valve amplifier I have owned or tested and it has been true from my first Quad II to my present modified Assemblage SET300B SE. So do use the 4 ohm tap.

The only benefit with the 8 ohms tap is that there can be a few dB of extra volume and headroom with a well matched speaker load, for example one with a load matching crossover network. A high sensitivity full range driver with a zobel network might be a case in point.

If you are using a modestly powered valve amplifier the Wharfedale Diamond 9.1 sensitivity is VERY low at 86dB/W, and the 6 ohm voice coils already boost a couple of dB over an 8 ohm design at the expense of nearly a third more current demand. The diamond really needs a 50wpc solid-state amp to sing, and 30w minimum. If you have a modestly powered valve amplifier look elsewhere for speakers from companies like Triangle or Klipsch or Lowther.

An old valve amplifier designer's adage is that the glass (the valves) is only there to drive the iron (the output transformer), which emphasises the importance of the output transformer. If you already have the Wharfedales and a valve amplifier with multi-tapped output transformer, try both settings and make listening notes using my judging system and share the differences with readers.
Happy Listening
Mark Wheeler

Dear Lucio,
What to do if you have an old Garrard? What to do if you want to check the correct tracking error angle? In other words I do not own the plastic setting gauge. I do own the Hifi News LP protractor.
With kind regards,
Ivan - E-mail: ivanmodder (at)

Dear Ivan,
if your turntable is the Zero 100 or uses the same "zero-tracking error" kind of tonearm there's not much to do with a protractor, indeed. Just install the cartridge parallel to the headshell and you're done. If the tonearm is standard (not of the "zero tracking" kind) just use the HiFi News protractor.
Hope this helped,
Lucio Cadeddu

NAD high gain
Dear Lucio,
recently I bought second hand Nad 306 amplifier in excellent condition and I am really satisfied with its sound. Speakers are pair of Celestion 3 from 1989 and cd player is Philips cd 614. Since there is a big lack of information for this amp on internet (I spent 2 days searching) I thought maybe you could answer me on this matter. I am sending this email to you, I see that there are some other contacts, but if it is not much trouble for you, you could forward it to your colleagues who perhaps could know about this amp.
On the front panel there is a button High Gain. Information I need is: what this switch does and is there a problem if I use it all the time? When this switch is turned ON, the sound has higher volume level. The guy from whom I bought this amp told me something like this feature change the class from AB to A, by this way: when the switch is ON amp works in AB class, and when this switch is OFF amp works in A class. I personaly doubt that. What you think?
My main question is: is it safe to use the amp all time this way?
Thank you for considering my questions,
Best regards,
Aleksandar - E-mail: saletrotter (at)

Dear Aleksandar,
the Class A/AB switch story isn't reliable. The High Gain switch doesn't work this way. I think the switch only modifies the gain of the preamp section, so to make the amp easier to partner with low output sources. Actually, it doesn't increase power output, just makes you use a lower volume pot setting. That's all. I suggest comparing the sound with/without high gain (adjusting volume accordingly each time!) and decide which setting sounds better (I assume the low gain setting should sound better).
Hope this helped,
Lucio Cadeddu

LP audiophile questions - cartridges and turntables
Bon giorno Senior Lucio,
I am reading your site with great interest and even found an article about Technics MK2 on tnt, where you saying many good words about it. I am wondering about MK5G: is it in the same level as Rega5, as example sound wise? Will you recommend to make additional modifications from standard model to let's say options proposed by Kabusa?
For people on a budget, what preamp you can recommend to replace Dynaco PAS3 preamp to use with Dynaco ST 70? (I listened PrimaLuna several times in some shops and was not sure if I like it, as there was unusually too sweet vibrating sound, comparing to Dynaco or to old solids Sansui G5500 or harman/kardon 430.
May be some old, but good model can be recommended?
I'd like to ask your opinion on a phono catridge, as I failed to find shops with option to listen various cartridges: it's usually only one kind in all shop that works....
For Set:

What catridge you will recommend in bracket to $350 - or max $400?
Mostly will listen: classic rock/pop (Fleedwood Mac, Elton John, Abba, Toto Cotonio, Pink Floyd, ELO, etc), Classical (barocco, romantics), Jazz (big bands) / vocals.
Please, be so kind to advise on my questions as it will helps a lot in my quest as I am value your opinion a lot.
Kim - E-mail: kmnuskin (at)

Dear Kim,
the Technics SL1200 MK5 offers minor changes which are, generally, not essential for HiFi use. I hope the new antiskipping tonearm device doesn't affect sound performance, instead. The sensible parts of the turntable remain virtually unchanged. I see no reason for buying the new version when old MK2's can be found for much less.
Of course, Kabusa upgrades still make sense.
Now, why should you replace the Dynaco preamp? What's wrong with it? I strongly suggest you to upgrade/rebuild your PAS3 following the advices you can find on our article referred to Van Alstine mods or have a look directly at the Dynaco PAS3 Van Alstine page.
Do not replace this fine preamp, especially if you're going to use its natural partner (the ST70 power amp).
As for cartridges, have a look at something from Grado or Goldring, they make some fine carts in any price range.
Hope this helped,
Lucio Cadeddu

Thumbs up for the Miniwatt!
Caro Lucio Cadeddu,
I am a usual reader of TNT-Audio, every week, from Berga, Barcelona. Last week I read the review by Nick Whetstone about Miniwatt tube amplifier, and I agreed on that same night my buying it so I'm impressed. It sounds very well, and I have tested it with some Celestion SL 600 S with only 82 dB. I expect to be able to test them with some boxes of better quality (by the way, can someone advise me for something similarly priced as the Miniwatt?). Finally, let me add that I placed the order on Monday 19 October, and the amp has arrived at home today Saturday 24 October, faster is impossible!
A thumbs up for the product and for the review by Nick Whetstone.
And thumbs up for TNT-Audio!!
Jordi - E-mail: satnup (at)

Dear Jordi,
I wonder how - on Earth - 2.5 watts on a 82 dB loudspeaker can sound sufficiently loud. Of course they can't. Anyway, loudness isn't everything, many audiophiles listen to their set-ups at extremely moderate levels (not me, thanks :-)). I'm glad to know you're so satisfied with the small Miniwatt amplifier. As for speakers, considering its extremely low power output I'd suggest Triangle or Klipsch, NOT in the price range of the amp, unfortunately. Otherwise, you should look for some high-sensitivity horn-loaded fullrange speaker. Possibly a kit like this.
Hope this helped,
Lucio Cadeddu

Miniwatt amplifier
Hi Nick,
Greetings from Venice, Italy. I'm a big fan of TNT-Audio. I've just read your review of the Miniwatt and it intrigued me a lot. So I'm considering ordering one. I have a copule of questions. Do you know if it can be bridged? If so I could start with one and then add another one if needed. I have a pair of DIY speakers that I built around a fullrange driver. They are more or less the size of an LS3/5 and they sound ok with a T-Aamp (but they would need a little more power).
Do you think the Miniwatt could be ok for them? I'm planning to use this 'toy' system in my bedroom or maybe at the beach-house (just to have some music) with an IPOD.
My main system is a pretty one with Michell Gyro, Krell sacd, Classč Audio amps and Sonus Faber speakers.
Thanking you for your attention, I send you my warmest regards.
P.S. Keep up the good work !!!
Roberto - E-mail: robertosantini9 (at)

Hi Roberto,
I am not sure about bridged but you could always ask the manufacturer who is very helpful.
It's impossible for me to guess how well the Miniwatt would work with your speakers. But if they sound OK with one of the 12 volt class-T amps, then I think that you will find the Miniwatt is fine with them, especially if you are using them in a small room.
Nick Whetstone

Trends Audio system
Hi Nick,
I really enjoyed reading your reviews of the Trends UD-10 and PA-10.
I rather stupidly purchased a TA-10.2P having meant to get the 10.2 integrated amp. Now that I've got the power amp, is it best to combine it with the 10.2 integrated amp or the PA-10 headphone/preamp?
If there is a significant difference that an audio-idiot like me could understand and if so could you tell me what it is?
Thanks so much,
David - E-mail: david.leask (at)

Hi David,
Thank you for your kind comments regarding my reviews.
You should use the PA-10 pre amp to control the TA-10.2P. That is because you need to 'feed' the TA-10.2 with a low level signal. What comes out of a power amp is a high level signal because it has already been amplified. The TA-10 integrated does not have a low level signal output so you can not use that with a TA-10.2P.
The PA-10 also gives you the functions of a headphone amp, but perhaps more importantly, adds a valve into the circuit, something that I believe works very well in conjunction with a class-T amplifier.
Nick Whetstone

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