TNT-Audio Readers' Corner
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October 2006

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TNT StoneBlocks
I asked my wife to get me 2 of those blocks from your site as described because I am very willing to try these, under the amp (not for my feet, yet).
But I have some questions and perhaps one of you can advise:

Just some thoughts...
Thanks for a reply,
Erik - E-mail: Erik.Duursma@natoil.com

LC
Dear Erik,
that kind of porous material the StoneBlocks are made of is very, very easy to cut. You can try them under the stock feet first, then you can try placing them directly underneath the amp cabinet. If they sound better this way, remove the stock feet. I don't understand question #3. They work by means of energy dissipation, for this reason they should be put in direct contact with the cabinet.
Hope this helped,
Lucio Cadeddu

Origin Live shelf
Mr Wheeler excuse me so much but I think that you are the unique person that can help me. I wrote you a month ago but it is possible that I seems too invasive with my request, I try another time. I want to make an improved version of the Origin Live wall shelf, I wrote to the manifacturer but they haven't digital pics, I try to draw a project based on your pics edited of your TNT article but is difficult, can you help me?
Thank so much,
Francesco - E-mail: francesco.azzaroni (at) tin.it

MW
Hi Francesco,
I am sorry I did not reply. I have trouble with my internet service provider and I had to delete all my inbox remotely (there were 2000 spam emails blocking my inbox), I now have to use an expensive & slow dial-up connection. I do not know where you would be able to buy an Origin Live wall shelf, because Mark Baker stopped making them some years ago when he began making turntables.
There used to be 2 versions of the Origin Live shelf:

Mark Baker made just 1 sample of a third Ultra model using modifications he learned from the Ultra Table. He made the Ultra shelf for me because I asked him to! There are differences in design between Basic and Super tables, shelves and speaker-stands, but the main differences between Super and Ultra are materials.
Ultra had a triangular 18mm higher-density fibreboard (Medite) shelf, while Super had a 12mm medium-density fibreboard (MDF) triangular shelf and basic had a 12mm oblong shelf, if I remember correctly.
The Ultra stands and frames had some kind of hardening process applied to the steel, but I can only guess that it might have been heat-treatment. I am sorry if the English is complicated and technical, I hope you can understand.
The unique design idea of the Origin Live wall-shelf is that it uses a central point-load to the wall. The Super & Ultra shelves also have 2 outrigger points that may be adjusted for preload tension.
This affects the sound. The Linn Sondek is very sensitive to this preload adjustment, but the Mitchell Orbe is not so sensitive. The shelf is suspended on two nylon cords that isolate it from vibration transmitted through the wall. I have replaced these cords with chains that do sound slightly better.
I have replaced the triangular shelf with a rectangular laminated-glass shelf. The triangle could not support my Orbe SE motor. I tried various materials and the laminated glass was best (toughened glass was very bad).
I do know that Mark Orr makes Something Solid wall shelves that might be good. I have not tried them but I have tried his 4 shelf rack and it is excellent. Is everyone in British audio named Mark?
If you do wish to make a copy of the Origin Live shelf, you will need to be able to weld 25mm square section steel.
I hope this information helps,
Kind regards
Mark Wheeler

Stand-by mania
Hi Lucio,
Firstly an excellent piece on switching hi fi off, much food for thought. I have been trying to do this for a while but it ain't easy. I have Krell equipment so on standby it uses a couple of light bulbs an hour! I have started switching most of it off each evening but my supplier says, strongly, that I should leave the preamp on.
Still, given the number of visitors to your site, if 20% of us turn more kit off that is quite a lot of CO2 not being dumped in the atmosphere so well done.
A while ago I thought I read that you were building a new listening room and that you would report on it. Did this ever happen? I believe that more time and effort spent on room control would be an excellent investment and potentially quite a cheap upgrade. Have you thought about some articles?
I have done some experimentation with positive results. I have rather large kit in a relatively small, resonant, room, and there are definite improvements to be made. I know that other users of the same room can have concerns and care is needed.
Do keep the site going, it is very useful and a lot of fun.
Regards,
Michael - E-mail: CHolmes (at) productive.co.uk

LC
Dear Michael,
I'm glad you enjoyed my editorial on stand-by. Regardless of what your supplier says, you can turn off even that Krell preamp! If it was meant to stay permanently on...why put an on/off switch then?
You remember correctly, I'm working on my new listening room. It's almost finished: I still have to hang a carpet on the wall behind the loudspeakers and also add two new listening chairs...
I've tried several tweaks in order to tame a sound that wasn't acceptable by my (relatively high) standards. The goal was to make a room good for HiFi without filling it with obtrusive acoustic treatment devices. Carpets, curtains, "tweaked" oil on canvas paintings...everything has been carefully selected for a good acoustic result. I'm almost finished (and exhausted :-)). And yes, I plan to write at least an article on this subject. Room acoustic problems are too often neglected by audiophiles. And they affect the final result by a 50% factor, to say the least.
Hope this helped,
Lucio Cadeddu

T-Preamp
Dear Lucio,
I wonder if I could bother you with a stupid question since I am quite nave about electronics and audio equipment. I bought a Super T-amp originally thinking that I was going to make a small system for my deck with it. But it sounds noticeable better than the integrated receiver in our main system so based on your review I decided to get the TC 754 pre-amp to provide multiple inputs so I could use the Super T-amp for our main system (DVD audio, CD, turntable).
When doing this, I saw that you recommend setting the T-amp volume control to its max and using the TC 754 control to adjust volume. I suspect that one reason is that the basic T-amp has a cheap volume control. Now for my stupid question: the Super T-amp, unlike the basic T-amp, has a nice volume control and I suspect it is superior to the TC 754. If I want to use the Super T-amp for adjusting volume do I set the TC 754 to max volume and do the reverse power up procedure (first the power amp then the pre amp)?
Thanks for any info and sorry to bother you,
Tedd - E-mail: TElich (at) cropsolution.com

LC
Dear Tedd,
feel free to experiment both solutions: use the Super T-Amp volume control and set the other to its max or viceversa. Decide which one is better (I suspect the Super-T pot is better than the T-Preamp one).
As for power-on "step" procedure: the rule is "first preamp then power amp". Viceversa when switching off.
Since you own a Super T-Amp (review on this site soon to appear) you might enjoy Wes Phillips review on Stereophile (just put online).
Hope this helped,
Lucio Cadeddu

Technics SL 1200 review
Dear mr Ogiers, I'm sending this mail from Italy to sincerely thank you for your wonderful job. I've been an hi-fi lover and records collector for years, owned different types of hi-fi turntables and since 1992 I'm a fan of the SL1200 that I use together with my current system composed by Thorens TD160 Marantz 1060 amp and AR 3a speakers. Gotta say that the SL1200 has always sounded extremely good, and the Thorens and all the other decks of the same category I used never did better.
Always liked the quality of its construction but I saw that all the "experts" were always talking bad about this deck. Anyway I noticed that none of them had listened to it. They simply say that it's a pro turntable. That's very unprofessional. All the SL1200 fans in the hi-fi world were take for a joke. Anyway none of them for what I know have stopped to state what the truth is, AND THE TRUTH ON THIS WONDERFUL DECK IS EXACTLY WHAT YOU STATED IN YOUR REVIEW.
I'm very happy that TNT is not afraid to speak the truth loud. I'd like to know if you have tested the SL1200 with the hi-fi mats, to see if that lush and warm sound can be improved. I can't wait to upgrade my deck in the better way, so I hope you could help me. Thanks.
I can't wait to read your future reviews!
Regards.
Alfonso - E-mail reserved

WO
Dear Alfonso,
thank you for your letter. Indeed, as soon as one drops one's prejudices and listens it appears that the SL1200 MkII in its basic form is perfectly competitive in sound and in price with more fashionable products. All it needs is a suitable cartridge and some care in set-up. But this rule applies to any record player.
When I reviewed the SL1200 many moons ago I did so in conjunction with the AQVOX phonostage. As it happened both reviews cost me a lot of time and effort, and after this period I was not right away in the mood for another big-effort review of four or five different mats for the Technics deck. The SL1200 review sample left the house shorly after, and the mat review was postponed. I may pick up this thread in the future, but don't hold your breath. I find myself with increasingly less spare time (and still 27 years to go before I can retire), and the prospect of spending it on "just mats" for a turntable I don't even own myself seems not very appealing. I am sorry if this disappoints you.
Kind regards,
Werner Ogiers

Congratulations
Dear Lucio,
I found TNT site looking for an inexpensive amplifier. I live in Croatia, and I just could not find anything that I could either afford or that satisfied my criteria in regard to sound and aesthetics (as an artist I am sensitive to both). After I realized that a used audio equipment dealer tried to trick me into buying a thirty year old Onix amp under a claim that it is three years old for $500, I got so tired of the whole thing I wanted to give up on quality audio and listen to my computer speakers. However, searching for an inexpensive amplifier on the net I found your article on the T-amp. Thanks. I was not able to get one so far, but at least I know that my audio listening has a future :-)
But this was just a few words of introduction. What I really wanted to tell you was that you are doing a wonderful thing. There are very few people around who would put love above the money and made it a public example through pursuing chosen course in action the way that you did. Congratulations.
I am doing a similar thing but I have nothing to show yet. I also congratulate you on your writing. I rarely read things on the internet as I search for different things, but your writing is very engaging.
A question: Are you maybe one of Babaji's Italians. You don't have to answer this question if you do not feel like, but everything that you do fits his life anthem perfectly: Truth, Love and Simplicity.
Ljubomir - E-mail: ljubomir.rastovski (at) zg.htnet.hr

LC
Dear Ljubomir,
thanks for your kind words, I'm just Passion-driven, that should explain everything. If you can wait for a couple of months your quest for a new, nice & inexpensive amplifier might come to an end. I'm going to review another class-T amplifier, with the same TA2024 T-Amp chipset, put into a much nicer and smaller (!!!) cabinet. Good RCA's and binding posts, audiophile components and a nice outboard power supply complete the package. And no, it is NOT the Super T-Amp. As said it's much smaller (probably half the size of the original T-Amp!!!) and costs half the price of the Super T-Amp.
Also, I'm going to review another intergrated amp, with 60 watt Class-T chipset, three line inputs etc. at a price that should be very, very interesting (perhaps below 400$).
So....stay tuned!
Lucio Cadeddu

Xavian...again
Hi David,
I've read about Xavian loudspeakers on TNT, then I went to a big Hi-Fi shop in Milano (Spinelli) to see some floorstanding loudspeakers and they suggested me... Xavian! The Duetto model (floorstanding). Do you know them? If yes, what do you think about? I'm thinking about buying them becouse I liked them very much since I found all the pro's you identified for the Mia II model and about any con's (exept for a litte lack of very deep bass).
Bye,
Mario - E-mail: mariolagorio (at) yahoo.it

DH
Hi Mario,
Nice to hear from you. I have not seen or heard the Duetto floorstanders--as Xavian does not have a distribution network in the UK, yet. But as you know I was impressed by the balance (maturity?) of the Mia IIs, and I have recently heard from a TNT reader in the Netherlands who is very happy with his XN125 with Xavian stands (with an NAD L-73 DVD receiver), so I would think you will not go far wrong with the Duettos. If the shop can let you audition them at home, that will give you the best idea if they are for you.
If not, maybe you can take your own CD player and amp to the shop to test them there.
Regards,
David Holgate

Dali 505
Dear Lucio,
I'm an avid reader of TNT-Audio and find it both a great reference for hi-fi equipment and has helped my occupy some of my rare free weekends.
This isn't the first email I've sent. What I'd really like to know is, if yourself or any of your colleagues know of a pair of speakers - Dali 505. I purchased them about one month ago (second hand) for 60 (GBP). They are great speakers and compliment my Rega Brio very well indeed. However, I can not find any information about them anywhere - including the Dali website. I believe they are about 15 years old - I'd like to know more about them (and possibly your thoughts on them...).
Best Wishes,
Dan - E-mail: dbcarney (at) googlemail.com

LC
Dear Dan,
if I remind well the 505's are floorstanding speakers equipped with two mid-sized woofers and a tweeter. They were quite inexpensive at the time, considering their size. Frankly, I can't remember how they sounded like but if you're happy with them...I see no reason for searching for further infos :-)
At 60 GBP they are a true bargain! Perhaps you'll find some customer review on audioreview.com (search with Google, using its cache, eventually).
Hope this helped,
Lucio Cadeddu

Xavian loudspeakers
David, good afternoon from the Netherlands.
I read quite a lot of those reviews and tests, and it helped to make a decision on the purchase of a set of Xavian XN125 last year. And I enjoy it daily since that day. Even more after another purchase early this year, the NAD L-73 DVD Receiver. These 2 match perfectly. And the vdHul CS122 cable lets all details go through very smoothly.
But it took me about a year (!!) to line up the speakers perfectly...because at start I had the urge to shift with them with every CD since they all are differendly recorded and mastered of course. Now I found the best spot for my sweetspot in our small livingroom. So may I ask, on your latest Xavian Mia test, how these were placed??? Width toe_in from the side and backwall...
Would be helpful to me...
Thanks in advance and regards,
Erik - E-mail: Erik.Duursma (at) natoil.com

DH
Hi Erik
Thank you for writing; I have not met other Xavian owners before. It is also very interesting to me to hear that they match your NAD L-73 well. This is important information, as component matching is often overlooked in my view.
The placement of speakers is of course important because every listening room is different. I tested the MIAs in my small sitting room where they had to be 15cm from the back wall, and 30cm from one side wall and about 90cm from the other. Here they had to be on shelves (real world constraints!). In my dining room/listening room, they were on stands (toed in) about 90 cm from each side wall with the L 60 cm from a bookcase in a wall recess, and the R about 30 cm from the back wall. Again, this is not optimal, and the table further obstructs the sound waves. So, I moved the speakers (and myself) around a lot during the tests.
I don't worry too much about listening position in practice because in real life people move about in rooms. Often music is playing at the same time as other things, or the person listening is doing other things, even while focusing mainly on the music.
You don't say what stands you are using, and whether these are the Xavian ones or others. If they are the Xavian ones, I would be interested to hear your view on them. Again, the stands used affect the sound of standmount speakers! Hope this helps. You have good speakers there--enjoy them.
David Holgate

Still on Cayin
Hello Arvind,
I am considering the Cayin 265ai after reading your old review on hometheatrehifi and various other places. Do you still use it as your reference amp? Also available to me is a used simaudio i-5 for not much more than a new cayin 265ai. I believe you previously also reviewed the i-5 and I know it is a great piece. Would it be safe for me to presume the cayin is better than the sim i-5? And lastly do you have any opinions on the Unison Unico hybrid amp?
It also has gathered stellar reviews. If you know of any other integrated amps you can heartily recommend to me then I'm all ears.
Thank you,
Brian - E-mail: bryoung (at) gmail.com

AK
Hello Brian,
Yes, I still have that amp as my reference, and am still happy enough that I have not tried any other amps since that review. You are correct, I did also review the Sim i5, but did not directly compare them directly, and therefore cannot comment on which I would prefer. I recall there was a technical glitch with that amp, that kept me away from it. I also have no experience with the Unico, sorry.
The magic with the Cayin is that it is pure class-a, is built very well and is quite cheap. There are many other class-a amps, and I suspect some of the competing chinese ones will offer about what the Cayin does.
I am a little curious about the PS Audio integrateds, especially their volume control design. But my curiosity has not yet grown into an itch that must be scratched.
Regards,
Arvind Kohli

You asked about alternatives to Isonodes
Hi Mark,
I may have a candidate for your cheap alternative to Isonodes from the world of computer case quieting. I haven't had mine come through yet but the forum buzz seems positive and they are solo cheap they must be worth a punt. They go by the name of acousticfeet and come in a number of different grades for different weight applications(interesting) find them at http://www.quietpc.com/gb-en-gbp/products/caseaccessories/acoustifeet.
I also have a question regarding where to get my newly acquired gyrodeck/QC/rb300 serviced without going to the original makers, as I haven't got the original packaging so it means driving them down and then back again. The deck is in good overall condition but needs an oil change and I would like to know the bearing etc is in good nick before I spend any more money on it. I am interested in the bluetack armboard trick from TNT but I believe you should take one step at a time in these types of things.
It doesn't compare to my Spacedeck/Mentor arm combo at the moment but is an excellent visual match for the lounge with high WAF.
Cheers,
Russell - E-mail: russell_i_jones (at) yahoo.co.uk

MW
Hi Russell,
Good to hear from you. Servicing a Gyro is so straightforward that if you can change the oil in your car and put up a level shelf you can also service a gyro. All the myths about turntable set-up come from the old days of Linn hype, and even that was exaggerated.
I was lucky enough to be taught how to do it by someone who had also instructed some of the Linn Klinik crew. The unique thing about Linn servicing was how many small parts (like motor screws) would stretch or wear out because they were under such loads in the evolving Linn set-up.
If your Gyro's more than a couple of years old, buy a new set of springs & plastic washers..
Buy a vial of oil (it holds a little more than you need).
I don't subscribe to the naked Gyro springs story. I suspect the little covers have no effect as long as they are a snug fit, if not, a smear of silicone will make them a snug fit and relatively inert.
If Mitchell are willing to sell you some densoglop, or whatever it is that they call the black-tack that goes on the gyro subchassis, it is a worthwhile upgrade. John Mitchell told me, at the Chesterfield show in the Orbe's first year, that the platter made about a third of the difference between Gyro and Orbe, the double isolation also a third, but the glop was surprisingly equally an effective third of the difference. So applying the glop is very cost-effective. And easy.
Thanks for the tip about Acoustifeet. I'll try them.
Cheers
Mark Wheeler

Buzzing noise
Dear Lucio,
Greetings!
I've just added to my system a Musical Fidelity MVT preamp (Mk, 3 I think, but it doesn't say that anywhere. Casework is brushed steel, grayish tone) and Studio T power amp. Both are used items, one owner previously, and serviced by a high end shop prior to delivery.
I'm not sure about placement of these items. At the moment, I placed the preamp's external power supply next to my Thorhauge MC preamp, and both sit on top of a huge cabinet of a 12" full-range loudspeaker. The preamp is directly behind the same speaker, and the power amp is on the floor.
Pre, power, two turntables, 1 DVD player and 1 audio signal enhancer (for the DVD player) all draw power from the same source.
Is this OK? After playing CDs for a few hours, the preamp started to buzz. The buzzing could be heard even after the power amp was switched off. I think the buzzing is independent of inputs, because it was audible and continuous, in varying intensity, as I switched the selector knob around. CD produced the most audible buzz, but it was mostly distracting if you sit in front of the speakers, or listen in the wee hours.
The preamp came without a manual, and I was wondering what the differences were between 'Loading' and 'Input' for the preamp's MC and MM phono stages.
Is it normal for a power amp to still send signals to the speakers after it has been switched off? If you touch the RCA input jacks on the power amp after it has been turned off, you can hear crackles emanating from the speaker. Yes, even 5 minutes after shutting down the entire system.
(Update) 1. Buzzing/hum can still be heard when you switch on the pre. Now the level of the buzz is the same whatever the input.
2. I have moved the preamp's power supply to the floor, but not next to the power amp. This did not remove the buzz/hum.
Many thanks for your input.
Raz - E-mail: razzwill (at) gmail.com

LC
Dear Raz,
as a rule of thumb, power supplies should be placed as far as possible, never close to other components. Also, HiFi gear shouldn't be placed on top of loudspeakers! As for mains connection...it should be better to use two separated and independent mains lines, one for sources and one for amplifiers. If this is impossible, try adding anti-RFI filters to each HiFi component (sources first).
That said, I think there's some electrical fault in the amplifier. Certainly it is NOT normal you can hear "noise" coming from the speakers after it has been turned off! This may happen for seconds, until the PS caps discharge...not after 5 minutes!!!!
I do not know your power amp, unfortunately. Try to contact the manufacturer for infos. Try a different power amp, just to be sure (ask a friend or a dealer for a loan).
As for your phono preamp: the inputs "Loading" and "Input" shouldn't be different (probably connected in parallel), one ("Loading") has to be used to vary, by means of calibrated RCA's, the load seen by the cartridge (R or C or both, useful mainly for MC carts).
Hope this helped,
Lucio Cadeddu

Cayin
Hi Arvind,
On you review I bought a Cayin for my Dyna MK III's. Needless to say, I am quite pleased with the results. I have no idea why people aren't raving about these things. Due to space and room, I had to give up my long term love with tubes. While the Cayin does not exactly have a tube sound, (what SS does?), it gets me close enough that I can live with it.
Since you have had the amplifier for a while now, is there anything that you have found in the way of cables and/or power cords that work well with it?
Thanks, and keep up the great work,
Regards,
Leo - E-mail reserved

AK
Leo,
glad you found the review useful and are enjoying the amp, I still have mine and will probably have it for a long time to come. Others that have tried these have also liked them, but it has not caught on like I thought it might. I don't think there is any special magic with Cayin; just that they built a pure class-a integrated, built it well and sold it for a song.
If folks want to spend a similar amount of money on MF, Creek, etc inspite of my reviews, then that is their choice. Frankly, I am quite skeptical of cables, PCs, etc; but that is said without having spent any effort investigating them.
So I remain opinionless on the topic for now, and seeing as there are so many other things I want to discover first, I probably will remain in the dark for a long time to come.
The one thing that has had the biggest impact on me since the Cayin, though, is vinyl. I have been working on a series at TNT, and am about to publish the finale in a few weeks. If you have not tried it yet, the background noise does take some getting used to, but it is very pleasureable.
Regards,
Arvind Kohli

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