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Readers' Corner - September 2001

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On the road to DIY
Hello! I'm a new member, signed up (our Forum) maybe a month ago. Just wanted to thank you and let you know that I've completed my first DIY project, the TNT Triple T speaker cable! I know it's not too complicated but the satisfaction was something else.
The braid look had a high WAF. I think this gets me on the road of DIY. Will work on a pair interconnects first. Then 2 more pairs of speaker cable, will probably try other designs. Vinyl cleaning machine. Tube pre-amp. etc. Thanks for giving my hobby bug a second lease on life!
Lyndon Lukban - E-mail: lll@prudentialife.com

Dear Lyndon,
glad to hear you've been caught by the DIY bug :-)
Many of our DIY designs have been published having in mind guys like you who never thought they could DIY something. Once one starts with easy stuff it is hard to stop.
Stay tuned for more DIY fun :-) and don't forget this is the one and only HiFi magazine that lets you discover the joy of DIYing ;-)
Lucio Cadeddu

Piano 6/1 diy interconnects
I'm very interested to try making this interconnect. As english is not my native language I'm just asking to be sure what happens with the negative pole. I mean, of course you have 4 wires on every side, 2 of them are connected in the rca for the signal. Should the other 2 be left disconnected?
Thanks in advance for your response.
Armand Simon - E-mail: g.a.simon@chello.nl

Dear Armand,
here is an excerpt from the Piano 6/1 article:

Decide which pair of the joined conductors you want to dedicate to the positive pole, and which to the negative (for example, the RED/BLACK pair for the positive, and the GREEN/ORANGE one for the negative).

Isn't it clear enough? This means: two conductors for positive, 2 for the negative, following the colour scheme (red + black = positive, green + orange = negative or viceversa). That's it.
Hope this helps and let us know your findings,
Lucio Cadeddu

Looooong interconnect, or???
Dear Lucio,
I'm moving in about a month and I have to re-install my audio equipment in my new living room. The lay-out of the room (with its furniture) is so that I have to place my record player (a Project Debut II) a few meters (about 4) away from my phono-stage equipped amplifier (Marantz PM-68). The phono-cable on the player isn't long enough of course. Do you have any ideas to solve this problem?
Thanks in advance!
Heroen Hartjes - E-mail: Heroen.Hartjes@Interbrew.com

Dear Heroen,
long phono interconnects are a NO-GO! It is better to have long interconnects carrying a line level signal (e.g. from CD player to amp).
Hence, if you can't move the amp closer to the turntable I see only one solution: buy a separate phono preamp (the sound quality will benefit, too) and place it as close as possible to the turntable. Then run a pair of interconnect cables from the phono preamp to an AUX input of your Marantz.
Hope this helps,
Lucio Cadeddu

Polk Audio RT 2000i - fake ARC
After being through a long period of buying a new set of loudspeakers for my system I finally settled for the Polk rt2000i. This decision was based primarily on my own listening tests of their little brother, the rt1000i but also on your excellent review.
I have had them for only a short time, and so far I'm satisfied with the sound. The problem is that I am of a very curious nature and have a strong urge to find out how everything works. So I decided to open up my speakers to find out what they looked like on the inside.
The first thing I did was to have a look at the amplifier. Here I discovered cheap quality wiring and a physically very small amplifier. Then I decided to have a look at the "patented ARC port" that is designed to minimize cabinet resonance. And to my big disappointment, it does not exist.
The hole under the midwoofer that gives the impression of being something important (i.e.. the ARC port) is nothing more than a piece of "sponge" put into a little grove in the front baffle... In other words: it's a fake, a dud, a big nothing!!
This is really disappointing from a well renowned and big brand like Polk Audio, and goes to prove that you really cannot trust anyone. But I still have to say that the sound quality of these speakers is very good.
I hope you can share this information with the audio community.
Keep up the excellent work!
Tom Nikolaisen - E-mail: tom-harald.nikolaisen@cgey.com

Dear Tom,
first of all, let me say I'm glad you're satisfied with the sound of your pair of RT 2000i, this means my review wasn't purely subjective. As I always say, accurate and extensive listening tests perfomed by experienced listeners CAN partially avoid subjectivity and get closer to the real thing (i.e. how a component sounds like).
Secondly, let me point out that you will be surprised to know how many "hi-end" designs (be it a loudspeaker, an amplifier, a CD player etc.) even those costing thousand of dollars, make use of ridiculously poor internal cabling, not to mention cheap and confuse layout and so on.
The real point is: does this stuff sound good? If yes, forget the rest. A loudspeaker is a very complex design, with several aspects (and compromises) that concour to the final result. Actually, fine sounding speakers may even NOT benefit from tweaking (such as rewiring) since you could easily BREAK their equilibrium in an unpredictable way.
Finally, with respect to the fake ARC port: I normally do not disassemble a component under test. First of all, I do not want to risk of breaking something and secondly I do not want to know how the component has been made as I want to be objective as possible when judging its sound.
Perhaps I should have done this AFTER the review...but I was in a hurry for returning the speakers (4 large floorstanders into the same listening room are not always welcomed by my relevant second other :-)).
Anyway, here's the official reply from Paul DiComo at Polk Audio Inc. I think it clarifies everything.
Enjoy the Music!
Lucio Cadeddu

Dear Mr. Nikolaisen,
First, thank you for choosing Polk speakers. And thank you for bringing up "The Case of the Missing ARC Port". After a bit of investigation I found that the guilty person here is me and me alone, as you will shortly see.

In fact, the RT2000i has no ARC port, nor do we (Polk Audio) claim that it does. The hole at the bottom of the bezel is in fact a false hole. It is there because, for reasons of economy, we use the same driver bezel on several models. In most cases it acts as the flared end of an ARC port tube.
In the case of the RT1000i and RT2000i it goes nowhere. You might wonder why we do not use this technology feature on two of our more expensive products. In both of those models the midrange driver is loaded into a small sealed enclosure that is very shallow. Because of the shallow depth the internal enclosure resonance is high in frequency and is easily absorbed by the Dacron stuffing material and no ARC port is needed to suppress that resonance.

So how did you get the impression that the RT2000i has an ARC port? I checked our website and literature and neither makes mention of ARC in reference to the RT2000i. I then looked at Lucio's review of the RT2000i and lo and behold this line of text is in the review: "The mid-woofer and the tweeter are mounted into an (ugly) anti-diffraction baffle which also hosts the ARC vented port, designed to minimize cabinet resonancy". Where did Lucio get the impression that an ARC port is used in that speaker? It is very possible that I gave Lucio a technical document on the RT2000i that mistakenly claimed the RT2000i had an ARC port - probably as a result of sloppy "cut and paste" document writing. The root of the error is beside the point as it is clearly my responsibility.
Lucio gave me an opportunity to check the review for technical and factual accuracy and I blew it and missed that error. To Lucio and the readers of TNT Audio, I apologize.

As for the wire we use - our goal is to offer the best possible sound for the money. To meet that goal we have to make choices as to where to spend money to get the greatest "bang for the buck".
While we believe that audiophile internal wire can make a performance difference, the difference is small in comparison to the difference made by using a better quality driver or tweeter. If we practiced cost-no-object design and engineering our products would cost more and be accessible to fewer people. People who want (and can afford) cost-no-object products, have many fine brands to choose from.
We are very proud of the performance of Polk speakers and feel they offer superior sound quality for a fair and reasonable price. Reviewers around the world such as Lucio Cadeddu and Richard George of TNT, Robert Reina of Stereophile and dozens of others have attested to the performance and value of Polk speakers despite our use of generic wire. They focused on the result, not the means.

I am happy to hear that you are enjoying the sound of your RT2000i's. As they break in with use I think you will become even more pleased with their sound. And if you want to experiment and take on a little tweak project - by all means go ahead and upgrade the internal wiring of the speakers. If you need any technical advice or if I can serve you in any way, please contact me directly - E-mail: pdicomo@polkaudio.com.

Thank you again for choosing Polk speakers and for bringing this error to our attention.
Paul DiComo
Polk Audio, Inc.

NorthStar Model 192 dac
Hi Lucio,
I'm Ramesh from Singapore! I read and enjoyed your review on the above dac! At present, I'm thinking of upgrading my present MSB Link III dac to either the MSB Gold Link III with upsampling to 132 and future to 192 or the NorthStar.
If I may inquire:

  1. When you did the review of the NorthStar, what digital cable & transport did you use!
  2. Did you have a chance to compare the NorthStar 192 to the MSB Gold Link III or any other dac's!
Would appreciate your comments! Thanks!
Ramesh Sanjay Jamal - E-mail: ramesh23@singnet.com.sg

Dear Ramesh,
unfortunately I haven't had the chance to compare the 192 with the MSB Gold so I can't comment on this. As transport I've used a Wadia with various coaxial cables (a digital cable shootout is scheduled for the next months). I think there's no need to add anything to what I wrote in that review: the Northstar 192 is a very fine piece of equipment with a stellar quality/price ratio (at least here in Europe), I'm sure you won't be disappointed.
Anyway, don't take my words as gospel and try to test listen to it, possibly INTO your system.
Hope this helps,
Lucio Cadeddu

New speakers
Dear Lucio,
Greetings! My search still continues...
Lucio, I could get JBL LX 50s which is certainly an improvement on the TLX 400 I'm using now. I do think that this is the best I can get hold of in Nairobi in absence of any other dealer.
Please enlighten me with your valuable advise.
I'am extremely sorry to bother you with this on your busy schedule.
Thanks a million,
Best Regards,
Gireesh - E-mail: Gireesh@irckenya.org

Dear Gireesh,
yes, the LX 50 is a far better speaker than the TLX 400, that's for sure. Anyway, I'd like to suggest you to have a look abroad and buy online, provided this is not a hassle in your Country (customs fees too high etc.).
I'm pretty sure you can find something better second-hand (or ex-demo) both in the US and here in Europe. Have a look at online stores (if you don't want to bear with online auctions, sometimes risky) and eventually contact me as soon as you seem to have found something interesting.
Lucio Cadeddu

Polk Audio stuff
I recently picked up a pair of the Polk Rt2000's you reviewed in April of 2001...this based largely on your review...
Upon conferring w/Polk Engineers, they recommended the "Kiss" principle to hook up the speakers, i.e, use the conventional method. Not being an expert in audio, can you tell me a couple of things?

  1. What do I lose by conventional?
  2. I do not have a pre-amp, but do have sub out for use of the Dolby electronic (?) xover.
My listening is fairly even between traditional audio and HT
Roger Kluthe - E-mail: rkluthe@nortelnetworks.com

Dear Roger,
in my opinion it is better to use the internal amps of the RT 2000i in order to get the best from those woofers, unless you have some really big power amp to drive the whole loudspeaker.
If you do have a "sub output" and this is adjustable by means of a master volume (that is to say, if it not of the "fixed" kind) then PLEASE use it to connect the woofers of the RT 2000i.
I guess you are using an integrated HT amplifier (or a receiver). If yes, use its "sub outputs" to drive the internal amps of the Polk Audio RT 2000i. Also, let me remind you these speakers are damn good for the money, they can only get better with better (possibly HiFi) amps.
Hope this helps,
Lucio Cadeddu

Stereovox I/Cs review
Hi M.L.G.,

Have a musical day
Ian - E-mail: tube-lover@isat.co.za

Dear Ian
Thanks for your note. I have never and will never play the game of "here's my reference." -or- "I used this or that preamp." Those facts are truly useless to the reader as well as boring.
Does the reader have my room? My LP and CD collection? My ears? My taste? My biases? A review is but a tool, or a starting point.
It is borne of simple and honest observation rather than conclusion. The only question that matters is whether after reading the review you want to hear the cables: It is your job to judge the validity of my review by hearing the cables for yourself, if my observations have caught your interest.

As far as the design of the connectors or the materials used in the cables, I advise that you check out the Stereovox web site, or ask Mr. Sommovigo himself. I'm sure he'd be more than happy to provide the information that you seek.
I know that my reply and my review are uncoventional. But, both are as I have intended. My goal is to build my reader's trust in their own ears even over my own. Let me know how you like the cables...
Best Regards,

P.S. Nice email address: Tell me about some of the tube gear you've owned, or still own. There's a subject both near and dear to my heart.
M.L. Gneier

Vibrations on Hi-Fi Components
An excellent article, when reading it one thing came to mind, "Thread Locking compound" (it refers to our recent editorial by DVV devoted to vibrations on HiFi components).
This is a liquid compound that when applied to screw threads, it will prevent loosening by vibration. It can easily be undone with a screwdriver. I first came across it in the aircraft industry where it is widely employed. I haven't used it on hifi components (yet), but have successfully used it in a number of areas where screws, nuts, etc were coming undone due to vibration. It is available for a few pounds from RS components on the web.
An excellent magazine, keep up the good work!
Stuart Bridger - E-mail: SBridger@acalfcs.com

Dear Stuart,
the same stuff is used on race bikes wheels (both road and mountain bikes) to prevent spokes loosening. It can be bought at any GOOD bike shop.
Thanks for the tip!
Lucio Cadeddu

Infinity Kappa 90
I've read your review about Soliloquy in which you mentioned your Infinity 6.2. I wonder if you have ever listened to the Infinity K90. I would like to receive your opinion about these K90. I listen to classical music.
Best regards.
David-Emilio Nerucci - E-mail: David.Emilio.NERUCCI@snamprogetti.eni.it

Hi David,
I have not heard the K-90. However, I have yet to hear a Kappa series speaker (the series now, unfortunately discontinued) that I did not like. I still enjoy my Kappa 6.2's and have never regretted their purchase, some eight years ago.
I hope this is of assistance.
Nels Ferré

DIY Interconnects
Hi Lucio,
I work offshore, and one of the many activities available is jewellery making. This involves spinning of silver wire into springs, which are then sawn axially to make rings. These rings are then meshed together in different patterns to make some very nice necklaces etc.
One day the idea struck me of making some interconnects out of the same solid core silver. This comes in different thicknesses from 0.5mm to 1.2mm. What I thought I could do, was, wrap the two lengths of silver in PTFE thread tape, solder on some decent RCA plugs and encapsulate the whole in rubber shrink tubing. Whaddya think? Which thickness would you use? Would you twist the conductors after wrapping in PTFE? Would you use a third conductor to make them semi-balanced? Any ideas you may have would be much appreciated.
Best regards,
Robert Hoggett - E-mail: bobwbs@hotmail.com

Dear Robert,
I've already heard of cables made following the same idea. So far, it seems the results have been encouraging. I'd suggest 1 - 1.2 mm thick wires, PTFE tape, then some TWISTING! You can experiment with different twisting techniques: loose twisting, tight twisting and even braiding, following our TNT Triple T DIY speakers cable. If possible, avoid rubber and PVC in general as outer jacket, Teflon being the stuff to prefer.
To get a semi-balanced version of the cable a third conductor isn't sufficient since you need a shield instead. The twisting should keep interferences far enough, anyway, though I'd not recommend a non shielded cable as phono interconnects (no problems with line level signal such as CD player, though).
Now, like many other DIY ideas we receive daily, your design could be included into a DIY TNT-related website we're planning to create. So, please keep us updated on your experiments.
Lucio Cadeddu

Home Made Brew
Hi from Québec, Canada.
I would like to thank you for your good work, this is a fantastic site.
Just to tell you that I've just finished some of your cable designs, mainly the Cat 5, the U-Byte speaker cables and they sound great. I use the Cat 5 on the woofer and the Ubyte on the tweeter in a by-wiring scheme. I also made the TTS reference mains cable using 2 runs of shielded mains from an old IBM main frame computer, awsome sound. It does not get any better for that kind of money.
Great job again and continue the good work
Daniel Tremblay - E-mail: tremblaydan@videotron.ca

Dear Daniel,
thanks for the appreciation! Since you seem an avid DIYer, I'd suggest you not to miss the next weekly updates of this site as we're goung to publish more DIY fancy stuff. As promised, a sand-filled isolation base and two loudspeakers designs (a basic one + something of the hi-end kind). We published a DIY passive preamp design last week.
Stay tuned with TNT-Audio!
Lucio Cadeddu

I am from Singapore and I really enjoy your review section. I have also selected a few CDs which you have recommended and will get all at once next month.
It will be great if you are able to do a few reviews of headphones. I am thinking of buying one soon as the wife and kid will be sleeping and I'm still wanting to have some more music :-P
Hope to hear from you soon and keep up the good work.
Best regards,
Chua Puay Chew - E-mail: puaychew@pacific.net.sg

Dear Chua,
till now, we haven't reviewed headphones yet. The reason being, maybe, because we don't use (or like) them. Anyway, we have reviewed a pretty good and interesting headphone amp, the Graham Slee Headphone Amp so I won't be surprised to read some headphone review sooner or later :-)
Anyway, following my (little) experience in the field I'd recommend Grado headphones, very good quality for a reasonable price.
Stay tuned!
Lucio Cadeddu

Oval-9 peers?
Dear Nels,
Have you heard any speaker cables that can equal or exceed the Analysis Plus Oval-9 price/performance ratio?
Best Regards,
Vance Chiang - E-mail: vancechiang@yahoo.com

Hi Vance,
I won't pretend that I've heard nearly everything, but I still like the Oval 9 cables a lot. I couldn't imagine anyone being unhappy with them. In fact, after my review, I read that Michael Fremer of Stereophile preferred them to his reference, a cable which is no longer manufactured, which cost a staggering $6000 per pair.
Nels Ferré

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