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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September 2002

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Cambridge Audio CD 500SE
Hello
I own the Cambridge Audio D500 special edition CD player. The other day I noticed that there is "HDCD" and "Locked" written on the front of the CD player. I know that the CD player does not have the capabilities of HDCD and I have no idea what the Locked is in reference to but am somewhat curious.
My question to you is will this CD player have an upgrade to HDCD? I am interested in any information that you may have.
Jim Harrison - E-mail: jvthree@dsl-only.net

NF
Hi Jim,
Thanks for your letter. The Cambridge Audio D-500SE is designed to be modular, which as advancements become available, new boards can be added or the old board replaced to keep up with technology. This is an excellent concept, designed, of course, to ward off obsolescence.
However, I am unaware of a HDCD board option for the D-500SE.
I am forwarding this letter to John Bevier of Audio Plus Services, the North American distributor, for clarification.
I hope this is of assistance.

From: John Bevier - E-mail: j.bevier@worldnet.att.net
Hello Nels,
Sharp eyed audiophile! The display board chosen for the D500 SE does have an HDCD section, but no plans exist for upgrading a D500 SE to encompass HDCD decoding. No sense in buying different displays when one can be used for all models and save money - a good example of how Cambridge Audio passes on great performance for a low cost.
Thanks - our best - John Bevier/APS

Nels Ferré

Tubes lifetime
Dear Sir,
I am about to decide on which amp to buy. I am thinking of buying JD502 and want to know the avarage or estimated working hours of the tubes. Do you have an idea about the lifetime of the tubes that this amp uses?
Thanks,
Koray PARS - E-mail: kpars@ford.com.tr

NF
Hi Koray,
Thanks for your letter.
According to JoLida, the output tubes (6550 or KT-88) should last for approximately 2 years, the small signal tubes approximately 5 years.
Nels Ferré

Your Stereo System, who'da thunk
I have a P3 (similar to the Systemdek), with Lazarus Cascade basic pre, and an Arcam Diva 78 CD (Very good). I was wanting to hear about the Regas through a low gain preamp. I still can't quite decide between the super Elys, Exact, or Benz ace. I'll take your article in TNT as advice.
I am looking to replace the jacks on my preamp, any advice?
John R. Gossman - E-mail: JohnGossman@hcrec.com

SF
Hi John,
Sounds like your system is pretty similar to mine (although I've since retired my Lazarus in favor of the Korato KVP-10). The Lazarus is a pretty decent tubed pre-amp, best part is it's affordable (when you can find them). The Rega Super Elys is a very nice cartridge for the money. Unfortunately I haven't auditioned the Exact or the Benz Ace so I would only be speculating.

When it comes to replacing the RCA's in your Lazarus those little buggers are crammed in there pretty tight. The typical after market RCA is going to have a bigger footprint than the ones that are installed in the back of the unit currently. I'm afraid you are going to forced to remove the plate that holds the old RCA's and fashion a new one from some sort of high density plastic or metal.
Chances are you will have to enlarge (widen) the opening provided in the back of the unit to accomodate the larger footprint of the new RCA's. I would use a Dremmel tool and widen the opening toward the turntable grounding screw. You can always remove it and relocate it to a different area on the back panel.

When you go shopping for RCA's you can go one of two routes. You can go for the premium parts like WBT or you can look at something a bit more reasonable from a company like Parts Express (www.partsexpress.com)
The Parts Express RCA's are the ones that I use, both male and female. They are good quality, solid copper, with gold plating to inhibit corrosion. They work well and sound just fine.
Good luck with your tweaks and be sure to keep us updated.
Best Regards,
Scott Faller

Speakers and TosLink cables
May I ask some advise on the system I'm trying to setup? I have the Fase PF-30 (50w/ch at 8ohms and 70w/ch at 4ohms). I have an old Pioneer PD-S705 CD Player whose digital out is ported to an Audio Alchemy ULTRADac. Interconnect is my old Monster M850.

I also constructed the TNT Triple T and plan to use it. Thank you by the way for the design - I can't wait to try it out!
On my speaker shortlist are: Mission M72, JM Lab Chorus 706, Acoustic Energy Aegis 1. I will demo the Aegis one tonight but so far, I prefer the Chorus to the M72.
I might also demo the Heybrook HB-1 and AE Aesprit 300c. Between these 5 speakers, which would mate well with my Fase and CDP?
Could you please give me advise on the choice of speakers? Room is a small area of my living room. I listen to vocals (mostly female), jazz, classical, pop. No rock.

Secondly, is it true that there is no audible difference between different brands of Toslink optical cables? That's what a local dealer said. So far, my choices are Quantum Goldrush 2000 (Taiwan made), Tara Labs 101d, Monster Lightspeed 100, Apature Optic GG Series, Kimber Opt1 (most expensive). Please help. I value your advise very much.
Thank you and more power to TnT-Audio!
Grant - E-mail: mozilla168@yahoo.com

LC
Dear Grant,
my personal preference would go to a real classic, the Heybrook HB-1. Please audition this speaker carefully and compare!!!
As for toslink cables, they are not all the same (the quality of the connections rules here). My choice would be Kimber or Monster Lightspeed. Of course, take these suggestions with a grain of salt: in the end it is a matter of personal tastes so you should judge by yourself!
Lucio Cadeddu

Garrarditis
Hello again,
I don't know if you will remember me, but I have a Garrard Z2000B turntable which is, from all that I can find, almost the same as the Zero model. Being as you are the reigning champ on the web for the most knowledge on the Zero, I would like to ask you a few questions.
First off, concerning the Zero's tone arm. At the base of the tone arm on the left is some kind of adjustment screw with a vertical number line. What is this and how do I use it properly? I've attached a picture of this to clarify.

Secondly, the cartridge that came with my TT is some type of Audio Technica that I am fairly positive has been there sense the beginning. I would like to upgrade, but am new to the hi-fi game. I've heard that the Grado Green is adequate for my setup. Do you recommend this, or one of similar price range (less than $70.00 US).

I also would like to give you much applause for keeping such a wonderful site that is void of any advertisement. It is rare in this era to have such a break from consumerism. Thanks!
Your new fan,
PS- When I was first born my Dad named me Garrard. My Mom didn't approve so they settled on Gerad. I often wonder if I was originally named after my Dad's turntable.
Gerad - E-mail: reverend@sysmatrix.net

LC
Dear Gerad,
that adjustment screw isn't available on all Zero's and it should serve as a fine tuning of the automatism of the arm. I set it all the way up and had no troubles. To adjust it you need to free the arm from its locking position.
Secondly, feel free to use a Grado Green if you like (great value per dollar) or some easier to find Shure. You won't be disappointed. If I understand well yours is a pulley-driven Zero, a bit noisier than the belt driven models. Since you seem a Garrard fan, try finding an old 301 or 401 instead. These were really GREAT record players.
Finally, thanks for your kind words, our only reward,
Lucio Cadeddu

TNT Piano 6/1 DIY cables are great
Stefano,
Just wanted to share my experience with you on this GREAT project. Having caught the DIY bug, I decided to give the Piano 6/1 cable design a go.
After tracking down the cable and some appropriate quality RCA connectors, I built 3 pair of these cables. Having given them about two weeks time to burn in, I thought that it was good time to do a direct comparison to some well known cable manufacturer's fare. To do the comparison I went to a friend's home to do the comparison on his rather revealing system and qued up one of our favorites, Pink Floyd's The Wall.
The cable that my friend had hooked up to his CD player was a pretty pricey (about $200) TaraLabs. The music kicked in and we listened to "Young Lust" two or three times to get a feel for the sound before changing the cables.
Once we were satisfied that we had a fairly good grasp on the sound of the song we changed cables. The second the music began my friend's jaw hit the ground. The difference in the sound was so startling that after the initial "WOW!!", my friend grabbed for his check book and asked me how much I wanted for my cables.
Compared to the TaraLabs, the Piano 6/1s had a very clear and detailed upper end. The cymbals on the track sounded as they should, metallic and crisp, the midrange seemed to open up, and the lows never seemed to loose any of their presence (the one strength I could perceive in the TaraLabs).
Needless to say, I have replaced all of my cables with Piano 6/1s, and have made a couple more sets for my friend's system. Best part of it is, that I probably spent less money on the 15 or so sets that I have made for myself than I would have spent on a couple of sets of these big buck manufacturers' offerings. I'm sure that somewhere out there is a cable that outperforms this design, but in the performance/price category, the Piano 6/1s are hard to beat. Andrea, thank you for a superb cable design
Sincerely,
Lee Poleski

SM
I'm glad to share your experience with all TNT-Audio readers. And please let me renew my own congrats to Andrea for his very good DIY design!
Stefano Monteferri

TNT-Iso
Dear Lucio,
Over the weekend I have tried out my idea of an isolator using cheap and easy to find items. Well to start with I have a pair of Roksan RokOne sitting on Atacam Nexus 6 speaker stands. I wanted to improve the stands, so I have put small blobs of blu-tack (the sticky stuff use to stick posters) on four corners of the top platform of the stands. It does improve the speaker performance marginally.
So what I have tried next is to put a 1p coin on each blob of blu-tack, followed by another small blob of blu-tack. Next I take 8 thumbtacks or drawing pins. Since the cap is round it will be useful as an isolator. I cut off the nail and I put the round cap taken from thumbtack on each of the blu-tack.
Now what I have are isolators on four corners of the top platform. These isolators should provide minimum contact to the speaker. Well, I was surprise with the improvements that I got. The speakers sound more focused, the treble improves significantly. Encouraged by these changes I wonder what else can I do with these isolators which I shall call TNT-iso if you don't mind.
My next experiment was to put the TNT-iso under the TNT-stone block that you recommended. In my opinion, it further improves the TNT-stone block due to better isolation. I am not sure if I am imagining the improvements. Perhaps there is someone in the TNT-Audio website who like to try these out?
Finally I have also created a simple to build isolation platform making use of the 8 TNT-iso. 4 of them sandwiched between two pieces of glass (approximately the size of Hi-fi components) and another 4 under the bottom glass. This simple isolation platform also improve the overall sound of my system when I put them under my Musical Fidelity XA2 amplifier. It will be nice to compare this isolation platform with comercial ones but I don't have any. That's all for now.
Regards,
Chee Hing Tan - E-mail: tancheehing@hotmail.com

LC
Hi Chee Hing,
Thanks for the tips! As you may know, we're planning to build a DIY-devoted website for projects like this one. I strongly suggest other readers to try your tweak and eventually keep us updated with the results.
Lucio Cadeddu

TNT-Iso
Hi Stefano!
I just wanted to tell you that I'm really amazed of what the TNT Triple T has done to my stereo. I built it yesterday and tested them today...building was just time consuming...by no means hard....just fun ......by the time I started the CD Player I finally understood what you were writing about on your website!
I have a T&A Pulsar 1000 ac CD-player connected to a Marantz PM 17 which is driving the new KEF Q5 ....Nordost interconnect and your Triple T speaker cable....an amazing level of detail and holographic soundstaging...and as you wrote the sound is revealing, has amazing timing, air, a totally dry sound with sweet hights and articulated bass...
I wanna thank you so much for saving me a lot of Euros!...It just fits in I don't want anything different (until this hifi-bugbites me again ...of course)

A last thing....I love TNT Audio (cheerz to all the other autors)..the Idea behind it is the point..I don't like those fancy magazines where everything that'sexpensive ormade by thebig brandsis a best buy!....independence is most important!
Thank you very much Friedrich - E-mail: friedrich.schiller@chello.at

SM
Dear Friedrich,
thank you very much for your words. We only try to share our experiences. And, as you know, your pleasure is our pleasure.
Stefano Monteferri

Successful DIY cabling
Hi,
I would like to thank you for all the DIY tips on tnt-audio. Since discovering this wonderful source of hifi site I have tried out some of the projects.
I am very impressed with the results of TNT X3 and TNT X1.5 interconnect which has transformed my system. My Roksan RokOne speaker, driven by a Musical Fidelity XA2 amp sound a little soft and lacking detail. However the RokOne sound much better when I replaced my Audioquest Topaz II interconnect. I have also replaced my Audioquest Indigoplus speaker cable with the TNT Triple T speaker cables. These DIY speaker cables and interconnects really transformed my system.

Two weeks ago I have tried spraying some antistatic liquid on my CD and WOW! the CD replay was dramatically improved, as if a layer of sound barrier has been removed. The liquid that I used can be obtained from Maplin UK (called antistatic spray costing 2.99).
Many thanks and looking forward to read more articles on TNT-Audio,
Chee Hing Tan - E-mail: tancheehing@hotmail.com

LC
Hi Chee Hing,
thanks for the precious and always welcomed feedback. Glad to hear I'm not the only one to hear improvements with anti-static sprays on CDs :-)
Lucio Cadeddu

DIY cables and speakers
Dear Lucio Cadeddu,
I have just discovered TNT-AUDIO (Fantastic) and have started building the TNT NUES Loudspeakers. While I am waiting for the parts to arrive from Audiokit would like to make up some speaker cables and as I am new to all this thought the TNT Star would be a good start.
Could you please give me a Maplin reference number for a suitable cable. I have tried to find one online but not sure what to buy. I am living in France at present so am not able to go to their stores, but they will deliver here.
Thanks again for a wonderful Site
Tony Coggins - E-mail: ACog818508@aol.com

LC
Dear Tony,
first of all please keep us updated on your TNT Nues project. Secondly, unfortunately I do not know a Maplin code for a suitable cable for the TNT Star but I'm sure you'll find it easily at any electric/electronic parts store. Just ask for a shielded 4 conductors 2.5 (or less) mm2 cable. If in trouble, build the TNT FFRC or the TNT Triple T (see letter above) which - normally - give better results especially in the mid/high region.
The needed wires are even easier to find, considering these are plain CAT 5 cables.
Keep us updated!
Lucio Cadeddu

CD players
Hello,
I have been reading through your site, and I wanted to tell you that I think it is wonderful that you have spent the time to put up such an informative website.
I have built a TNT Flexy table and received numerous compliments on it. I have been looking around for a new CD player. I have actually been looking for a while but when I saw the arrival of SACD and DVD-A I wanted to wait. It doesn't seem like these formats will be commercially popular for a while, so I figure I will upgrade my bottom-of-the-line Sony CD player to a higher end one.
I have a few possibilities in mind. I don't want to spend a great amount of money. I was thinking about buying a Marantz CD-67SE, and modifying it as you did. I also had a (probably overambitious) idea of buying a Philips CDM-9 PRO transport and making a "replica" of the Burmester 969, but this is probably far beyond my abilities. I did in my searches, however, find this: http://www.daisy-laser.nl/homeoptics/
It's a DIY CD kit. I was wondering if you could give me your opinion on this kit. I would greatly appreciate any info you could give me. It seems like this kit has a lot of potential and perhaps could be even better if it was made as a separate transport with a external DAC, and all high quality components in the power supply.
Thank you for your time.
Warm Regards,
Ken Talanian - E-mail: Nehandi@aol.com

LC
Dear Ken,
if you're good at DIY I strongly suggest the kit you've found at Daisy Lasers. Nico Thevissen (info@daisy-laser.nl) is a very friendly guy and - for sure - will lend you a hand in case of troubles. Good DIYing!
keep tweakin'
Lucio Cadeddu

Arcam AVR-100 Review
Scott,
Just a quick note to say how much I enjoyed reading your review of MY amp.
I am a family man and while I often wish I could go nuts and purchase high end separates, my kids need clothes, college money etc... I started off entering the music first world of Home Theatre with NAD's competitive product (that amp actually blew up and sent sparks all over the place).
I purchased the NAD because I was/am so happy with the CD player I purchased from them (515) and positive reviews. When I brought the NAD back to my dealer, he said it would take several weeks to get a replacement. He said he was willing to swap me his Arcam AVR 100 demo unit if I needed something sooner. I agreed and with the exception of my REL Stratus sub, this is my favorite piece of gear. Just awesome for music!!! The AVR replaced another GREAT buy the NAD c340 integrated amp.
I sincerely hope company's like ARCAM and NAD can continue to produce high quality music first, detail driven gear. I have also heard good things about Musical Fidelity but not heard anything from them.
The ONLY knock I have on the AVR save the remote is that I think my BW 804's need a bit more power. I have thought about bi-amping and using my NAD C-340 for the high's - any thoughts on that combination?
Great read!
Sincerely
Tim Peterson - E-mail: td.peterson@cox.net

SF
Hi Tim,
Sorry it took so long to get back to you. Summer is my busy season at my regular job :-)
First, thanks for the praise. It's always nice to know that our efforts are appreciated. The Arcam does do a really nice job on music. I was pleasently surprised. When it comes to bi-amping using your NAD, absolutely go for it. I'd use the NAD on the woofer though. Experiment with different types of DIY wire. Everything from simple Monster stranded to CAT 5 on the woofers, maybe even something a little more exotic like silver plated copper. One of the combinations should work pretty well.
Good luck,
Best regards,
Scott Faller

Successful tweaking
Hi TNT-Audio,
I just want to say thanks to the TNT team as you've just saved me 1000! I've got 2 cd players, Sony XB940 and Cambridge Audio D500, the Sony is in for repair and I've been looking to buy either an Exposure 2010, Arcam FMJ or Sony SCD333/555. Anyways, seeing as the Sony is in for repair for the second time with a view to being able to part ex it I've had to get my Cambridge out of the loft to bide me over, I found your site a while ago and just went back to have a read as to what i could do to tweak the sound a little.
I found the article on dampening, where the bloke puts a block of wood and heavy lamp base on top of his cd player. Well, after working out a quicker way to do it Ive just cut up an old mouse mat and placed 2 dumbell weights on top, as my Cambridge is residing in a rack it doesn't look as bad as you may think, the weights are silver that match the rest of my kit and stand anyway. The difference is astounding, it really is!
I've always thought that the Cambridge sounded a little lightweight but the bass has filled up beautifully and due to that getting sorted the rest of the mid and top end has been kicked into place too, totally amazing that something so simple has made such an improvement!
I had ordered 2 new power leads from Russ Andrews for my Arcam A85 and P85 power amp but you can bet that one of the leads is going to find home in the Cambridge as its staying put in my set up and not going back into the loft ! lol.
So, thanks again for all the work you put into the site and pass on my thanks to the rest of the team, I don't know how much feedback you get for your efforts but it's always nice to get compliments and good feedback so I thought it would be good of me to pass on mine!
Cheers and Many thanks,
David O'Hare - E-mail: D4VE7@wash79.freeserve.co.uk

LC
Hi David,
thanks for the precious and always welcomed feedback. Stay tuned and keep tweakin'
Lucio Cadeddu

JoLida JD502B
Hello Scott,
I want to thank you for an excellent article on TNT TNT Bullet Spikes.
I made a few sets and the improvement to my system was wonderful!
My system consists of:

I am also an avid competition pistol shooter who reloads his own ammunition. I can't tell you what a joy it was to be able to combine the two activities I love most when building your spikes.
I listen mainly to classical music so I was not concerned about high volume listening. The improvement to my system even at low volume was impressive. I have a suggestion about bullet selection. I had trouble finding the Barnes projectiles so I substituted Speer 230 grain Gold Dot Hollow point bullets in .45acp size. They are .451 in diameter (the same diameter as the Barnes) with a large hollow cavity.
At about $13 per hundred they are much cheaper than the Barnes and available mail order from www.midwayusa.com. (product number 199129).
They also carry the Barnes bullets but are often out of stock on them. I found that the bullets by themselves made an improvement over the "tip toes" (cone shaped dampers) I was using but when I added the silicone, BB, washer, and rope caulk, the sonic improvement was impressive.
I have recently constructed a variation of your theme using a "BB" from a "00" buckshot shotgun shell. The "00" buck shot projectile is about .30 inches in diameter, is copper plated, and does not fit inside the cavity of the hollow point bullet, but rides on the silicone that fills the cavity. I intend to use this on heavier equipment when the silicone dries (in about a week).
If you are interested, I will let you know the results.
Thanks again,
Stephen E. Ellis - E-mail: sellis003@sprintmail.com

SF
Hi Stephen,
Glad to hear you enjoyed this inexpensive and easy tweak. As you mentioned, any number of different bullets will work for this project. One of the key factors to sucess is that the silicon drys completely. This process may actually take more than a week as I have discovered. Two weeks is probably the right amount of time for it to dry completely.

Let me know about the double ought spikes after you finish them. It sounds like they should work pretty well. The other possibility is to use several washers that fit a 5/8" or 3/4" bolt, epoxyed together, then filled with silicone. That way, your double ought buck shot will be held within the confines of the washers. Then you could take some flat black paint and paint the washers to cover up the fact that they are washers. Half of the copper buck shot visible against the flat black paint should look pretty cool actually.

Heck, that sounds like a pretty good idea actually. The more I think about it, I may just try that one myself. I could use something for my heavier gear. The domed rubber doorstops work pretty well but over time they perminetly deform and loose their effectiveness.

Keep in touch and let me know how things turn out.
Best Regards,
Scott Faller

Jolida CD player
Hello, In reference to your review of the JD-100A, you mentioned that you thought the sound of the earlier Jolida CD was too laid back and uninvolving for you. Did you decide that this is just an inherit characteristic of that player, or did you possibly try different brands of 12AX7 in that machine, to see if it improved? One independent reviewer even recommended the lower gain 12AU7 in that machine. Thanks for your advise,
Tom Sherwood - E-mail: tsherwood@in-touch.net

NF
Hello Tom,
Thanks for your e-mail.
I came to the conclusion that the JoLida JD-603 was indeed too laid back and uninvolving for my tastes. I had changed the factory Chinese tubes for a pair of Sovtek 12AX7LPS tubes, which I found to be an improvement. I did not try the 12AU7.
The JD-100A is a far better machine, in my opinion, regardless of the tubes used.
Best regards,
Nels Ferré

TNT Akropolis stands
I now have a pair of TNT Akropolis stands gracing my living room - they were all about 100 in garden centres round here (seriously) but I managed to find a guy who makes them and it came to less than 50 for the pair, he also created a 4cm diameter cabling duct running through the middle and out of the bottom - much tidier looking and presumably free insulation for the cables too!
Perhaps you could pass that little tip on, also mine are simply concrete which is fine and cheaper (mine are a bit thicker too though) and I just painted them cream with emulsion.
One question - the room has a very bouncy and uneven floor (it is upstairs in an old cottage) however the walls are 30cm solid clay lump (no vibes from them) would you agree with my feeling that I'd be better to wall-mount everything - amps, turntable, CD the lot?? Or.... could i get away with just the CD player and the turntable?
I find it hard to believe that vibrations can do much to a solid-state amp or a power supply (my setup is Musical Fidelity MVT Mk. 2 preamp and P-270 Mk. 2 power) wouldn't the money be better spent on power conditioning?
Well, thanks for a great site and any advice you can give,
Regards,
Oliver - E-mail: OLLY911@aol.com

LC
Dear Oliver,
glad you enjoyed the TNT Akropolis stands idea. If your floor is "bouncy" try wall-mounted racks or shelves for, at least, your turntable and CD player. This will give better results than power conditioning, considering good, universal power conditioners are really hard to find.
Anti-EMI and RFI filters + good DIY mains cables should cure most of the worst problems of your power supply.
Hope this helped,
Lucio Cadeddu

New interesting site
As a long-time reader of TNT-Audio online, it is my pleasure to announce a service which may be of use to my fellow hi-fi enthusiasts. I've created a Web site called RecordStoreReview.com (http://www.recordstorereview.com) which is to become a worldwide directory and review of record stores.
It is my hope that music lovers around the world will contribute to and benefit from the information in the directory and make it the standard for anyone looking for that next elusive gem. Please take the time to stop by.
Thank you,
Gunnar Van Vliet - E-mail: info@recordstorereview.com

LC
Dear Gunnar,
thanks for the interesting message. It sounds like a very good idea!
Lucio Cadeddu

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