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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October 2010

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DIY speaker cables
Hi TNT-Audio,
Having followed your pages with regard to mains cables - I am now turning my thoughts towards speaker cables. As I have (or will have shortly) stacked ESL57s I am interested in making cables "that will be an all out assault on the state of the art" with very low capacitance, as low as possible inductance and moderately low resistance. Because they are electrostatics I think capacitance will be the most critical factor.
I am planning a coaxial design - single core copper wire (10 to 12 AWG) in a 5 mm silicon tube (a high value dielectric) with a copper or aluminium sheet screen with the same thickness copper wire incorporated into the screen - a heat shrink outer to hold the whole lot together.
The problem for me is getting a low capacitance at the same time as a low impedance which is the reason why I am thinking along the lines of a coaxial design. I am no expert and doubt that I will have the time to make up a number of different cables.
Do you have any advice?
All the best
Jeremy - E-mail: j.d.hutchings (at) iakh.uio.no

LC
Dear Jeremy,
trying to keep L, R, C low all at the same time is quite a difficult task. Braided cables (Kimber-style) offer low capacitance and resistance, while keeping inductance reasonably low. There are many braided DIY designs on the net, just browse it with Google and appropriate keyword (DIY braided cable, for example :-)).
Other designs try to keep low inductance, and reasonably low capacitance (e.g. Supra). In my opinion, with ESL's it is better to use low inductance cables, as built-in transformers have their own inductance! Since capacitance is already high (on an ESL) the transformer inductance creates a LC filter which might resonate at high frequencies, causing a bright sound. For this reason transformers (and, hence, speakers cables) inductance has to be kept low. Consequently I'd suggest you to try our U-Byte 2 DIY design.
In any case, the amplifiers you'll use play a crucial role as some might prefer high capacitance cables, others might not.
Happy DIYing!
Lucio Cadeddu

Suggestions
Dear Lucio, I'am a fan of TNT. The staff does a great job of reviewing products that most people have never heard of. I noticed at the end of your latest review of the Scythe speakers you had a link to a Kool and the Gang video...I offer you a band you may not know: The Houserockers of Yokohama, a Japanese cover band who love funk and jazz funk (on Youtube, check out "Rockslide" and the other 103 videos), they are fantastic.
Go to ebay and check out the Indeed Hi-Fi Labs amazing Tube Buffer stage (Mk.III version with the Electro Harmonix gold pin 6922 tube), for $70 US, and free shipping, there is nothing out there that can improve the sound of one's stereo than this amazing device. I have the old Mk.I with a Jan Philips 6922 which totaled $140 Canadian (the MkIII is improved and so much cheaper). Also, get a copy of the Rudy Van Der Gelder engineered Stan Getz LP: Focus circa 1959. I think it may be the most dynamic LP EVER recorded, totally unmatched for speed, image size and explosive dynamic range. I've played at 12 o'clock on the watch dial (amp starting at 6) and had people jump in fear as the sound explodes out of the speakers into the room.
Thanks again for a great online magazine.
Sincerely yours,
Bow - E-mail: bow_160 (at) hotmail.com

LC
Dear Bow,
thanks for your kind words and for your suggestions. Here's an instrumental version of Jerry Butler's I stand accused played by the cover band you suggest. Happy listening!

Lucio Cadeddu

AAAVT SM-12B
Dear Mark
allow me to quote your saying in your review of the AAAVT SM-12B phono pre-amplifier in December 2009 - "Watch this space soon for Stage 1 tuning requiring no cutting/shutting or soldering."
Any news about this subject?
I thank you in advance for your reply.
Best regards
Ilidio - E-mail: imfos (at) netcabo.pt

MW
Hi Ilido,
Sadly so many projects have consumed so much time that I haven't finished that one yet as space under the lid prevented insertion of the capacitors I originally planned (stage 2). Juicing up that ECC82 with more current removed some of the grey sterility of the line stage (stage 3).
Stage 1 was easy and worked. Removing the screws from the circuit board and supporting the board between 2 sets of BrightStar IsoNodes. This removed some of the grain and opened up the soundstage, but had most effect at high frequencies.
Anyone suitably qualified (electrical engineer) to try this, or to arrange a suitably person to undertake the work for on their behalf to lift the performance of the AAAVT SM-12B (or one of its cousins) will notice a difference.
Happy Listening
Mark Wheeler

Pompous writer
Hi Mark,
You have to be the most pompous, self absorbed writer ever!
I love to read a review of music but your style is so boring and ridiculous, without ever really getting to the point, that I had to change web site. Wow, do you really get paid to write that garbage ?!
Not a fan and no need to reply,
Jim - E-mail: jimbosw007 (at) comcast.net

MW
Hi Jim
Good to hear from you!
Thanks for the critique; I couldn't agree more.
I wish I did get paid to write this pompous self absorbed drivel, but sadly I'm a volunteer pompous self absorbed scribbler. If you hear of any openings for paid pompous self absorbed scribblers, then I'm your man.
Perhaps I can use you as a reference?
Kind regards,
Pompous but poor,
Mark Wheeler

Questions on Garrard Zero 100SB
Dear Lucio,
I recently bought a Garrard Zero 100SB for no less than 5 from a stack of old HiFi gear on a market with the Shure M75ED cartridge still on it. No possibility to check if anything worked, but when I got home and hooked it on my system, I was really amazed. It sounded really well out-of-the-market! So first of all: I want to thank you for your page. I knew Garrard was a good brand, but when I saw this one on the market, I checked your page first to find out if it was any good. And it was!
I do not have a manual though and have not been able to find one. Would you know where to find information on:

(*) I have seen the slide on top of the perspex square and I guess that is where I set the anti-skating force. At the moment though the weight was set at 2.25 g and the anti-skating force at 1.5. I don't know if anti-skating has to be set to the same value. The other thing is the small wheel at the left side of the perspex square. It operates (clicks) a perspex part inside. Would that operate the VTA or something else?
You mention in your article it would be a good idead to replace the existing rubber mat with the TNT Janus. In the article on the TNT Janus you suggest not to use a heavy mat on a subchassis turntable because this influences the resonance frequency. But the Zero is a subchassis turntable. Would you suggest I use the Janus after all?
I would be very grateful if you could help me here!
Regards,
Henk - E-mail: weeteringh (at) overtaal.nl

LC
Dear Henk,
glad to know you've found our pages on the Zero 100 quite useful.
Changing the cartridge is very easy: the plastic support that holds the cart to the arm is a sliding piece: just pull it out and unscrew the two screws that hold the cart. Any standard-mount cartridge will fit.
As a general rule of thumb, antiskating and weight should be set at the same value. And yes, the antiskating adjustment is exactly that slide on the top of the perspex square of the arm.
Anyway, you'll find any further information you might need on the original owner's manual that can be downloaded directly at Vinyl Engine.
As for the TNT Janus mat, just do it! It won't affect the way the Zero subchassis works (been there, done that).
Happy listening,
Lucio Cadeddu

In real time
Dear Mark,
at the end of your review of the Canor Precision Tube phono amp, you list Fairport Convention's In Real Time amongst the review music saying; "your old scribe was at the gig and is in the audience photo so knows what it sounded like".
I too was at this gig but said LP was not recorded there at all. It's a studio effort with crowd noise dubbed on. Fairport themselves have quite openely admitted this for some time:
Regards,
Phil - E-mail: philmch (at) onetel.com

MW
Hi Phil
Thanks for this information, it's bust a myth I've assumed for years and none of my friends who are Fairporters have ever mentioned this, and I must assume they've never noticed. I used to go every year with a crowd of friends who were variously folkies, Fairport Convention fans and world music fans so it was on the Summer timetable. I haven't been to the Fairport Convention Annual Reunion for 15 years, but they still go.
What surprises me then is how well a 'live' sound has been achieved in terms of minimal compression, some peak limiting and EQ more similar to a PA feed than than something designed for vinyl cutting. I don't know whether to applaud the engineering or feel cheated. The original sleeve notes acknowledge that "Meet on The Ledge" is a studio version and credit musicians for overdubs (like many albums such as David Bowie's Stage) or it begs the question why did they bother with the subterfuge?
It just demonstrates that we hear what we expect to hear, regardless of our listening experience and regardless of the seemingly endless succession of splendid gear that wafts through one's listening room.
Happy listening, live or recorded,
Mark Wheeler


Hello mr.Kohli,
I'am an audiophile and I agreed with your opinion on cables till one year ago. Before the differences among commercial cables were so subtle not to justify so different prices. But now I can say that cables are fundamental on equipment that can reveal the differences. I write from Naples in Italy were I met the Italian import agent of "BOCCHINO AUDIO CONNECTORS" that revealed me a new world of quality in listening to music using this connectors and cables. Starting from ac power chord adding the other cables you can ear a greater quality even more evident than that you can get by upgrading with more expensive components!
Reading your last review on TNT is evident you are skeptic on this argument, but let me say there's always time for learing more! First, it is necessary not to have prejudices, second a long time to spend on this kind of experiments so to have clearer ideas.
For example, I think that the method you used for the test is not reliable: using a cable on the left and another one on the right. It's true that this hobby has a strange appeal for strange people but you are not obliged to write on it if your experiences, technical knowledge or your equipment aren't good enough.
Excuse for my english.
Best regards,
Filippo - E-mail: filippo.colacicco (at) dentaris-dentalcare.com

AK
Dear Filippo,
Thanks for your feedback, and I am glad to hear you were so impressed by these cables/connectors.
I am having difficulty interpreting your tone along with some of the content of your email, and hence will give you the benefit of the doubt that your message to me is not intended to be as aggressive as it may seem.
So let me put my perspective in as objective terms as I can, and respond to the general gist of your email - at least as I understood it. Your experiences do not have to be mine, and you don't have to agree with my experiences. I write to relate my experiences, as I satisfy my curiosities in my own way. I do not write to answer the questions, or to satisfy the standards or philosophies of others.
I may consider doing that for a full wage, but as long as I am doing this for free it is strictly on my terms. Simple as that.
Regards,
Arvind Kohli

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