TNT-Audio Readers' Corner
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September 2003

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Lead or Sand in Speaker Stands (or indeed both)
I have owned my Quad ESL 63 speakers for a number of years and continue to be delighted with them. Recently I was able to purchase S/H a pair of USA made Arcici stand which have been well reviewed for being specifically designed to work with the Quads.
My quandary, which raises a general point on speaker stands, is what, if anything, to fill them with. The makers say sand or lead shot. They would take 34Kg of lead shot in total.
A single stand is 6.8Kg (being composed of two parts one for each end of the Quad speaker) Thus the final weight would dramatically increase from 18.7 Kg for a speaker to 42.5 Kg.
Sand, would, I calculate, give a weight of around 31Kg. In the experience of the review group does the anedoctal evidence support (no pun) the lead to give maximum weight but alleged "ringing" of the stand or sand to "deaden" the structure at the expense of mass?
Of course I have read one should use a mixture of both but how to mix and fill evenly and prevent the eventual settling of the lead to the base over time?
Cost wise the lead is dramatically more expensive although sharp or silver sand, dried of course, is recommended so no quick beach trip.
This does not lead to quick AB comparisons but a straw poll would be illuminating. I may even grasp the matter and do both with a review.
Best Wishes,
Christopher Livsey - E-mail:

Dear Christopher,
I'm no big fun of lead shots, no matter their use :-(
First of all, don't forget lead is toxic and I'd prefer to avoid having tons of it at home, if possible.
Sand is a much better no-nonsense alternative, in my opinion. Just choose river sand (no beach sand), dry it carefully and you're done.
I'm not knocking lead shots down...only, my personal preference goes to sand. Sand-filled speakers stands do _not_ ring, have a reasonable mass and, most of all, are environmentally safe.
Hope this helped,
Lucio Cadeddu

Still NAD 3020 after all these years
I have a 3020A I would like to use as my phono stage between my Thorens table and tube preamp, what is the best method for doing this or should I forget the whole idea and buy a separate phono preamp like the Lehmann Black Cube or another you may recommend? I would like the flexibility of using both MM and MC.
My second question is in regards to one of my Thorens TD-160B MKII with a Linn Basik LV V s-shaped arm. I would like to use a Denon DL-103 cartridge on this table, should I upgrade the arm to say an Audioquest PT-9 or some other arm you may suggest. The other option is use the Denon on the Linn arm. Your thoughts would be much appreciated.
Lou Ciardullo - E-mail:

Dear Lou,
you can use the phono stage of your 3020 this way: connect the t-table to the 3020, then plug the TAPE OUT RCA's of the 3020 to any AUX/line level input of your preamp. That's it.
Obviously a separated good quality phono stage as the Lehmann Black Cube would sound MUCH better.
As for the DL-103...try it on the old _should_ be a decent partner.
Hope this helped,
Lucio Cadeddu

New CD player...
Dear Lucio,
This follows up a previous mail about moving back from HT to pure stereo (cfr. last May Readers' Corner).
Some 2 months ago, by chance, I came across a very little shop that happened to be the local CAIRN dealer. Hey, that reminded me of an advice from you I almost skipped because of the price attached to it. "If your budget allows the extra effort, consider (even second hand!) a Cairn Fog + Soft (...), a really outstanding 24/192 CD player (...)"
Lucky me, it was the sales period. I got this wonderful player, barely broken in (it played 50 hours) for just 10% more than the Atoll CD 100 silver + remote I had in mind.
The first day I had this player, I revisited my entire CD collection for 8 hours at once, just interrupting to load disks. I think that's sufficient to describe the impression this player made on me. It has the most natural sound I've ever heard... and the worst ergonomics I ever heard about. :-)
With an accent like in "the Godfather" : ) "Lucio my friend,... thank you ! "
Now it comes to the amplifier. Well, I think I've paid enough for blinking diodes, DSPs, GUIs and other on screen displays. For my music, I want enjoyable sound, nothing less, nothing more. As you can imagine, I'm now fond of simple (read minimalist) amps. Give me a volume knob, an input selector (not even really needed) and plenty of good music. On my short list:

I can't help but ask your opinion. It's been so helpful, the first time... Regarding the speakers, I think I'll keep my Tannoy MX3 for some more time. If not, I'd go for a pair of Tannoy Sensys DC2 or KEF Q5.
Olivier Latte - E-mail:

Dear Oliver,
glad you're enjoying so much the good vibes from the (excellent) Cairn Fog.
You should hear how much good Music it can play with a better pair of loudspeakers...not that your MX-3's aren't adequate...but - trust me - you're hearing just a small portion of the sound of that player :-)
This leads me to a question: are you planning to upgrade these, as well? If yes, perhaps you should re-think your schedule and buy a second hand amplifier and _immediately after_ a good pair of speakers (those you cited are very good options). A good second-hand amplifier could be one of the 3 you listed, or something else like a Nait 3, a Cyrus (from 2 up) or a Densen Beat 100.
Listen to as many amps as you can, then let me know,
Lucio Cadeddu

Advent 3 loudspeakers
I enjoy what you are doing at TNT very much. I haven't built anything since I built and painted a plastic model of a red-headed woodpecker 40 years ago, but in the attic I have a pair of Advent/3 bookshelf speakers that I got in about 1979.
They seemed to be pretty good speakers then, and they probably still are. Would they make a good tweak/upgrade project? What would you recommend?
Thanks if you can answer this,
Chris Garrison - E-mail:

Dear Chris,
first of all, inspect the drivers carefully. Chances are the woofers rubber suspension has evaporated. If so, try searching for the original woofers and ask for a repair in the meantime (there are many speaker repair gurus out there). Compare the prices and decide: anything above 200$ seems too much to me and not worth the trouble, IMHO.
Then you can: 1) internally rewire them with CAT 5 speakers cables (FFRC, Triple T etc), replace all the caps with same value-better quality ones and carefully inspect all the contacts in the signal path: binding posts, soldering joints, faston connectors etc.
You may need to dampen the boxes a little bit by adding sheets of tar-like material to the internal sides of the cabinet. I would't do anything more than that.
Hope this helped,
Lucio Cadeddu

NAD C350 review... the best, passionate review of an amplifier i have read in years. I think You have put a great effort ,in a 5.1 (or more) channel period, in giving an idea of what "music" or "musical" means in an amplifier. Thanks.
Since I have got a limited budget and have been looking around for at least an year for my amplifier, I think that I have got a choice and will check it pretty soon. Which loudspeakers would You put on it???? I love Monitor Audio sound (especially the silver towers :-) but have a small room. I would be very glad to recive an advice since it is impossible (in Rome) to listen to the NAD 350 with many of the available loudspeakers.
Thanks again
And sorry about my terrible english

Dear Giorgio,
If you like the Monitor Audio sound but have a small room and want to keep costs reasonably contained, then try the new KEF Codas (see review of these also). They offer a detailed, relatively wide bandwidth sound which will work well in a small / medium sized room. Compared with the small MA speakers, the KEFs have a little more depth, very good imaging, perhaps a slightly "drier" sound, and are easily driven (especially by the NAD amplifier). They are also available for considerably less money than many equivalent speakers - a bargain indeed. They also have nice real veneer cabinets.
Kind regards,
Julian Ashbourn

Norh SM 6.9
Dear sir,
which are the differences between the earlier versions made from monkey pod and the newer marble versions?
what amplifier power would you recommend to drive the speaker?
is this good for jazz or for heavy metal/pop music?
Cody - E-mail:

Hello Cody,
I do not know what other changes were made, if any, when nOrh began using the synthetic marble. You need to inquire to nOrh for that information.
The SM6.9 has a rather complex crossover that tends to use quite a bit of power, so low-powered SET amps are not compatible. The lowest power tube amp I used that worked well was a 35-wpc push-pull Dynaco. An old Marantz 2245 (solid state, 45wpc) also sounded very good, but seemed to be pushing its limits.
The lowest power solid state I would recommend for the SM6.9 would be 75wpc or better. However, you would be better off with high quality 50wpc, than cheap 100wpc! Norh's own Le Amp (now sold only as the IRD MB-100) works very well with these speakers.
The SM6.9s sound excellent with metal/pop, with great dynamic range for orchestrated music. I don't think they reproduce delicate enough sound for the best jazz, reproduction, but they will work fine. While they are good, all around speakers, if you primarily to listen to jazz, these may not be your best choice.
Richard George

We Support Real Stereo - feedback
Hi Julian,
While I agree with what you're saying about 'true' stereo recordings, there don't seem to be a lot of proper 'true' stereo software coming out but remastered, re-realeases of older materials. Apart from acoustic Jazz, Opera and orchestra recordings, most other recordings are made in a sound-dead recording studio with no reverb from the room itself. After the recording is made, it will then have be artificialy processed to 're-create' an artificial stereo recording, with mostly smoothed out and brushed up vocals (if not even sped up and/or morphed).

Of course there are the 'true' bands that do live for the music and the experience, they always manage to create a (still artificially created) nice and sometimes even very good and involving sound field from a multi-mic and multi-track studio recording.

I personally am a movie/videophile (and a Hi-Fi enthousiast not an Audiophile) and therefore have - apart from the screen which is a little out of the monetary reach at the moment - invested quite a substantial amount of money in my Home Entertainment gear. I prefer the term Home Entertainment to HomeTheatre.
The reason I prefer this, is, while I have carefully selected the components for Home Cinema/Theatre, it is set up and geared towards proper stereo and SACD multi-channel music as well.
While it is true that if I wanted proper true stereo, I could have spent far less (and far more too of course) than I have now, but I would not have the 'benefits' of HomeCinema/Theatre.

Starting out modest, I've now upgraded to a more Home Entertainment system with a better source and better speakers, namely the Pioneer DV-747A (DVD/DVD-A/CD/SACD) - recently modified by Van Medevoort - and B&W DM600 range speakers.
Where I first spent 95% of my free 'home entertainment' time in DVD movies, this has gone to about 55% movies and 45% music due to the better source and the fine musically sounding B&W speakers. I can now experience all formats of music, movies, soundtracks etc. etc. making it a Home Entertainment experience instead of Home Theatre or Stereo only experience.

There are some very good 4.0 channel SACD recordings of classical music, aswell as 5.1 new popular music. Yes, the sound of the 5.1 music is artificial but that doesn't mean its not good. I know HiFi means High Fidelity, and since the music in 5.1 is not 'natural' music, it cannot be called Hi-Fi, but I do believe it can broaden the listening experience. If classical music / opera is your thing then its of no use, but if you like more, new and different kinds of music, it can be beneficial.
Its all about the total listening experience, not just the music. Just like you can enjoy the ever so slight crackle of a not perfectly clean vinyl record, it has nothing to do with the music, but everything to do with the experience.
Walter van der Schee - E-mail:

Hi Walter,
Yes, I absolutely agree that if any format brings pleasure to the user and opens up new experiences of the "arts" in general, then that is in itself worthwhile. I am certainly not against home theatre or multi-channel music.
What I am against is the marketing confidence trick which somehow suggests this is better quality when it clearly isn't (just as I am against DAB radio for the same reason). I also believe that proper 2 channel stereo, played through well designed equipment, is enough to create enjoyable and realistic listening experiences in the domestic setting.
We must remember that the primary reason for Sony and Philips to come up with a new format was that the patents were expiring on CD, so they thought multi-channel would be a good wheeze to fool people all over again. I would have preferred 2 channel SACD with the emphasis on proper high quality stereo recordings - but it is easier and cheaper (especially for popular music) to simply remaster existing multi-track recordings into 5.1 channels and sell them all over again - even better if the original artists are dead or the copyright has expired.
This is what I am against. If you have the opportunity to listen to a really good quality recording on high speed (30ips) 2 track analogue tape, you will readily appreciate that neither CD nor SACD or DVDA comes anywhere close - but actually, "standard" CD, if properly engineered and mastered in stereo can sound very good indeed.
The fact that it rarely does, is down to the record companies. Switching to SACD / DVDA doesn't change anything in this respect. A poor recording remains a poor recording whatever format it is on, or how many channels you play it through. A good recording of a good performance will always be more rewarding to listen to, and you don't need more than 2 channels in a domestic setting to enjoy it. However, home theatre is another thing entirely and I readily acknowledge that many may enjoy the special effects offered by contemporary systems.
Thanks for your feedback,
Kind regards,
Julian Ashbourn

CD player advice
I have been in the market for a new cd player. I have a pretty modest system (~$3000), so the CD player will have to be about as modest too. I have found two players that interest me, but I'm having a hard time deciding.
I enjoyed your review of the Cambridge Audio D500. It is a serious contender for me. However I'm also very interested in the Rotel RCD-1070. I know you didn't write the review for the Rotel, but I wanted to get your opinion on the two CD players. Is it worth the extra $250 for the Rotel, or do you think that the D500 will suffice?
Thanks in advance for any help you can give me.
James - E-mail:

Dear James,
I hope you are referring to the Cambridge D500SE, and not to the D500 _I_ reviewed. Indeed, while the SE is a fine sounding player, the old D500 has some serious drawbacks.
Given that price difference between the Rotel and the Cambridge, I'd choose the latter. Then you can invest part of sum (250$, that is) in a good interconnect cable. Another option could be to search the Rotel in the second hand market :-)
Hope this helped,
Lucio Cadeddu

Thiele and Small :-)
I have just started a web site dedicated to loudspeaker data. I have added a link to your page and hope you can add one to mine.
Jan Fredriksson

Dear Jan,
very nice and helpful website! Congrats!!! It looks like it will become a goldmine for speakers DIYers.
Keep up the good work!
Lucio Cadeddu

CD versus MD
Dear Lucio,
I think you know that I am reading your webmag for a long time and love to ask questions. Again I have a strange confusion. My system is: Jolida 502B amp, Audio Note AN-CD2 cd player, Sony QS 940 MD deck, Tannoy Saturn S8 speakers and van den hul D102 Mk3 interconnects in between. I use vibrapods underneath my CD and Amp (not under MD). I transfer the digital info from AN-CD2 to MD players 24 bit DAC through van den hul Bay C5 coaxial cable (which is a goog quality one) and make a A/B comparison between AN-CD2 Dac (18 bit tube output etc. I have to concentrate really hard to understand the differance. Ok, in the end I realize that AN-CD2 has resolution, the instruments are better outlined, seperated or maybe I force myself to hear a differance.
Before I could be able to figure out the vibration dampening and cable differances after a short test but here there must be a clear differance I think. AN-CD2 is a multi thousand dolars player with vibration dampening feets and van den hul D 102 Mk3 interconnect the other is 300 dolars MD player with a monster cable mk400 interconnect. Is it me who expects more or my system limits the differance? (speakers, speaker cables.. etc). Ok the MD player is a new model with higher bits and Hz but this must not be the case? What can be the limiting factor, my ears or the system?
Looking forward to your reply,
Sincerely yours,
Koray Pars - E-mail:

Dear Koray,
if you make direct and quick A-B comparisons (source vs recorded) it is natural you don't get any difference. The ears need more time to investigate, they're not as quick as, say, the eyes.
If you are not referring to A-B comparisons...then I do not know....the difference between source and MD-recorded should be huge. Perhaps you're not using revealing software. I mean, simple musical programs pass through data compression with ease. When you start to record complex musical programs (orchestras with huge dynamic variations and complex 3D image informations) then the compression algorythm starts to show all its weaknesses.
Certainly, your system isn't the limiting factor (provded it has been installed properly).
Hope this helped,
Lucio Cadeddu

HiFi from Kazakhstan
Dear Lucio,
Have recently come across your site and been mightily impressed. Till then had only heard about HIFI. So after reading from your site for about 3 months, I bought my own very first amp – the NAD 370, a deck – technics and a DVD player – Pioneer. The speakers are Radiotehnika. I am an Indian but am living in Kazakhstan (Don't know whether you’ve even heard of it) but it was once a part of the soviet union. I work there as a marketing manager. The Radiotehnikas are speakers manufactured in Latvia. I am very interested in knowing whether anybody at TNT has heard of them and what is their reaction?
Plan to buy my very first record player in a short while and for all of this I thank you guys at TNT. Music never sounded like this before on my compact system.
Aneep - E-mail:

Dear Aneep,
I certainly know where Kazakhstan is as some very good pro cyclist comes from there :-)
Alas, I do not know your speakers and I admit I've never heard of that brand. Perhaps, who knows?, it may be worth investigating. Do they have a website? Do they sell abroad?
Good luck on your next record case you may need some advice, the TNT crew is here to help you.
Lucio Cadeddu

Stylus tracking force
I read your article about the necessity of guagin' the proper weight on your styli. I had one question. Is it bad if you have your stylus tracking weight too light? or is it bad if you have it too heavy?
I know one or both are bad. I don't have a scale, but I keep my tracking weight as light as possible before it affects the sound.
Any advice would be greatly apprectiated.
Kind regards.
Shaw - E-mail:

Dear Shaw,
as a rule of thumb, too light is worse than too heavy. The reason should be clear: a too light load on the stylus would let it "jump" freely over the grooves, destroying them and itself very quickly. When the weight is excessive the stylus may wear the grooves faster than normal but - at least - it won't jump like a jo-jo on 'em.
If the tonearm has a graded scale on the counterweight just refer to it, these are sufficiently accurate. Find a position of the counterweight so that the arm stays perfectly parallel to the platter, and mark it as "zero". Turn the counterweight till it reads 2 grams (a mean value that works well with most carts).
Anyway, since LPs are precious and don't last forever, do them a favour and buy a scale. There are inexpensive alternatives, such as the 25$ Shure SFG-2.
Hope this helped,
Lucio Cadeddu

Phono preamp upgrade
Hallo Geoff, I'm a TNT fan and of course read all of your reviews.
I'm trying to upgrade my LP setup, to achieve at least the performances of my CD960 Philips with zero-oversampling mod, and I'm sure your help can be relevant. I am using a Spark734 tube integrated amp, driving KEF103/4 speakers. My old TT was that Micro-Seiki (see picture from e-bay) and I got last week a Shure V15-IV which is a big improve over my old M97HE.
I don't know how this MB-14 can be evaluated against current decks in my budget (let say 400 Euro, i.e. used Rega, Project ....), but I feel it is silent; so I would like first to use part of the budget (200Euro) in upgrading the pre-phono. Actually I use the Audio Analogue Puccini basic amp as a pre-phono, and it allows me to check the differences in cartrdges and in tonearm settings. Puccini phono is better than cheap NAD or Project phonos, but what can I have more for 200 Euro?
GramAmp 2 is one chance, other are on the used market (Black Cube, or Rega....or cheap pre-amps like old Linn) I just loose a bid at 160 Euro for a 1st series Black Cube (without labels on the box ?!), should I be angry?
I hope you have few minutes to support me, to advise if GramAmp can be compared with BC, and if I could try to sell at 100Euro the TT+M97HE and go with a Planar 2 for instance (or Project...)
Thank you very much and enjoy the vinyls
Gabriele - E-mail:

Hi Gabriele,
For me the GramAmp2 can't be beaten for the money (and quite a lot more). It only works with MM cartridges but it will be perfect with the V15. Why pay more for an MC stage you won't use? As for selling your turntable, I'm loath to comment too much because I've not heard yours.
However I'd be tempted to keep it and wait, I suspect that the Planar 2 is better, but not hugely so. Better to be happy, buy records and then in a while, when money allows, to buy something really good like an LP12/ITTOK for 700e. Cheers,
Geoff Husband

Armonia CD1 Player Reference review?
Hi Lucio,
I read with great pleasure Giorgio his review of the Armonia HiFi CD N.1 - CD transport kit. Now Armonia offers the CD1 Player Reference don't you think it is time to review it?
I own a Musical Fidelity NuVista 3CD player, but I don't like the transport of this player, it is from Sony and is made of quite cheap plastic as far as I can see. I would like to have a player with a Philips CD PRO 2 transport. The Bow ZZEight I find too expensive. The Audio Research CD3 is not available in the Netherlands, but also too expensive in my opinion. That leaves me with the EC EMC1up and the NorthStar transport and Dac and the austere looks of the Armonia CD1 Player Reference. I am really interested in the sound of this player. Do you think the NorthStar combo and the Armonia CD 1 are in the same league as the Nuvista?
The rest of my system consists of Quad ESL 57, Audio Research LS8, Pass Labs Aleph 30, the Pass Volksamp successor of the Aleph 3.
Hope to hear soon from you.
Best regards,
Herman - E-mail:

Dear Herman,
oh well, it is about time we review a lot of other interesting things as well :-)
I haven't heard from the Armonia guys for a while, perhaps we can try asking for a new test sample to review (lazy, we are lazy guys, ya know :-)).
As for the comparison between your Nuvista and the other digital combos you cited I'm afraid I can't shed much light on this topic as I do not know the Nuvista that well.
All you can do is try to audition the NorthStar combo, at least, as I imagine it should be easily available in the Netherlands (not so the Armonia, I guess).
Keep me updated,
Lucio Cadeddu

MAD amps
Hi Scott,
I've just read your review of the MAD Ultra 4A preamp. I've been thinking about getting the 2A SE to insert in a system with solid state amp, a Blue Circle BC22 MKII that puts out 125 Wpc. Based on you experience with the 4A, do you believe this would be a good match?
Perhaps this is not something you can answer, if you've not heard this combination, but if you have any thoughts I'd be grateful. Thanks in advance.
Max - E-mail:

Hi Max,
Unfortunately I haven't had the occasion to hear the Blue Circle amp. It would be really tough for me to guess how it would sound in your system. One thing is for sure, if you've ever heard the "classic tube sound" and enjoyed it, the MAD pre will definately deliver it to you.
Personally, I rather enjoyed the sound. The MAD provided enough detail to satisfy our audiophile side while giving loads of warmth to what can be cold and sterile recordings. If you decide to go for it, don't expect an overly detailed "audiophile" sound, because it isn't. If you are looking to enjoy music again rather than listening to your system flaws, the MAD might be just what you are looking for.
That wasn't much help was it? Sorry.
Scott Faller

Lust for money? No, Lust for life!
Hello to everyone at TNT, great site and completly free, what's the catch? (only kidding), I guess there isn't one, just my cynical mind working overtime (too many years stuck in the hi-fi web, dealing with deceit and dishonourable people), anyway enough about this, I just wanted say that I feel privileged to have such a wealth of unbiased reviews & information at my finger tips, all for free! (is there really a catch??). I have especially found the forum to be of great help, saving me lots of money, just by taking the advice of a member, and simple moving my speakers around until I found the optimum place for them to work, this has made a huge difference and should not be understated. All this for free? I'm lost for words, apart from keep up the good work we need you (hope I'm not sucking up to much).
All the best,
Dean - E-mail:

once you realize the best things in life are free (your sons' love, your love for 'em etc.) you will understand why this site is free and truly 100% independent. I know it sounds weird, especially for someone who worked in the field, like you, but open your eyes to a completely different perspective, life will appear happier than it seems.
We have Lust for Life (cf. Iggy Pop's album) not...Lust for Money.
Lucio Cadeddu

Amp choice
Hello direttore,
just wanted to congratulate on your site. I am a newcomer to Hi-Fi world and I was looking for some quality and objective Hi-Fi information and yours was the only web site that offered good content without advertising.
This promises that your Hi-Fi reviews are objective and not payed by advertisers. Therefore, this is a great and unique web site!

I assume that you are very busy and don't mean to take up a lot of your time, but, I would be very grateful if you could give me advice on amplifier selection. I have ALR Jordan 3M loudspeakers 120W/89dB, that have 4 Ohm Impedance.
I am looking for a good and affordable stereo amplifier. Local dealer of the Hi-Fi equipment offers me 8 Ohm Rotel RA-1060 Amplifier to match with these speakers. My questions are:

  1. Is it smart to get 8 Ohm amplifier for 4 Ohm laudspeakers?
  2. Do you think that Rotel RA-1060 amplifier is a good choice?
  3. Can you suggest any other (it could be second-hand) amplifier in that price range?
Thank you, once again, for your time and advice.
Best regards,
Darijan - E-mail:

Dear Darijan,
thanks for your kind words, they fill up our heart with joy.
Regarding your question, don't be afraid to run your ALR's with the RA 1060: this is a kind of "no fear" amplifier, it will drive those babies like crazy :-) despite they are claimed to be 4 Ohms. Good amplifiers can drive loads as low as 2 ohms, so.....
In that price range you can have a look at S/H NADs, for example...and don't forget one of my favourites, the Naim Nait (3, for example).
Keep me updated,
Lucio Cadeddu

Need some advise on Atoll IN 80
first of all, thank you for this site and the wish of sharing such information with everyone.
I'm sorry for my english, as I'm not used to write in english. When I came back to see what was new in the HiFi world (I'm not so old, but still a student with a limted budget), I was vey pleased to read the informations on web sites, like TNT audio! Especially the DIY part.
I'm writing to you, looking for some help, as I'm not able to hear this "so famous" Atoll IN 80, and I've heared and read so many good comments on this amp, that I decided that it's going to be my next buy.
But, several years ago, I've met the Triangle loudspeakers, and found their sound very pleasant, and one can buy some models in kit (which is a big advantage for me), and some people on FAQs, sayed the Antal from Triangle doesn't match with the IN80, what do you think about this.
An other question is about the matching of my CD player and the IN 80. I was one of the first to buy the CD 723 from Philips. I thought I can tweak it and/or buy an second hand external DAC. But some say that it doesn't sound good with the Atoll!
So, as you can imagine, I'm a bit lost. And some advise from you will help me to find out "the right way". Thank you for all, and hope you will have a few minutes to answer me, even if you have no idea,
Jean-Jacques Favory - E-mail:

Dear JJ,
considering the tonal balance of the IN 80 and of the Triangle speakers, the final result may be a bit on the bright side. It mainly depends on personal taste, so I still suggest you to audition the IN 80.
As for the 723, forget what those experts say :-)) and start tweaking it or upgrading with an outboard DAC. Also, plan to spend LESS on the amp (perhaps a IN 50 will fit your needs better) and concentrate on the source.
Keep me updated,
Lucio Cadeddu

Just thanks
Just discovered the site and love it. Thanks for a place where a person who is interested in Hi Fi can go and check out info without having to wade through two tonnes of bullsh*t to come up with an idea and and honest answer.
I have immediately improved the sound of my Alphason Orpheus speakers by connecting the tweaters out of phase so thanks for that and all the other wonderful stuff on the site.
Bernie Cavanagh - E-mail:

Dear Bernie,
glad to be of some service. The fact we are truly and completely no-profit and ad-free is too often overlooked.
Lucio Cadeddu

Tube amp choice
Hi Richard,
I'm Raphael, I write you from Italy. I' ve read right now your article about the SE84B Zen Triode. I love music, and I would like to start to buy a "cheap" good Hi-Fi (not like my actual Yamaha) based on the ZEN Amp.
With the "SE84B Zen Triode" amp, what kind of speeakers do you suggest to buy for a budget near 300 - 400 €?
I listen only to rock-electronic music (like nineinchnails, massive attack, placebo, deftones, bjork...)
Sorry for my bad english.
Thank you
Raph - E-mail:

The SE84C (the latest version of the SE84) is indeed a wonderful amplifier, providing more detail, better imaging, and sweeter sound than anything I have yet heard in its price class.
Unfortunately, it has a major flaw - it has very little power. When used with 8-ohm speakers, it has a maximum power output of 1.8 watts per channel RMS. This means that you must combine the SE84C with very efficient speakers.
Typical speakers in the 86dB to 89dB range will not work well. In the price class you are considering, I only know of a few options. Probably the best speaker I know of for this amplifier in your price range is the Loth-X BS-1 (94dB efficiency). Geoff Husband did a review of one a couple years ago.
Another speaker that would sound very good in your price range would be the Omega TS-3. At 93dB effiency, it would also work quite well. However, because of your need for a lot of bass with the music you listen to, the Loth-X would probably be a better choice. Unless you add a subwoofer. If your budget can go a bit higher, both companies offer slightly larger, more efficient speakers that would work better than the cheaper ones. Loth-X has the Amaze, and Omega has the TS1 and TS2. However, because of the low power of this amp, there is one thing to consider.
That is, how loud do you wish to play your music? Even with a 94dB speaker, the peak sound level output will only be about 96dB, which may not be enough. There are other tube amplifiers on the market in the price range of the Decware that will deliver substantially more power, though not quite the quality. A few examples include the nOrh SE-9, Antique Sound Labs Wave 8 (10 watts each) and AV20 (20 watts each) monoblocs. These would give much more "slam" and strength to the music, while sacrificing only a little detail, imaging, and presence. What you choose depends on how you want your system to sound.
By the way, your English is much better than my Italian!!
Richard George

Nad 3020
Just read your article on the Nad 3020. I purchased it the month it came on the market and what a beautiful amp it is, I've had other amps over the years Rotel early 80's Kenwood late 80's Denon early 90's and Pioneer A4 late 90's, but I still have my trusty 3020, in fact I'm looking at it now in immaculate condition thinking it was probably the best bargain I've ever had.

With my 3020 amp I had a dual 505 t/table, Akai tape deck with the new dolby system to reduce tape hiss, my Tuner a Denon TU 260L, still giving a wonderful warm sound& finally a pair of Mission speakers AR #'*/. I forget the number, and in the other room a big upright brilliant sound 4 track reel-reel with some beautiful revox/teac reels I can't describe the sound.
Being a keen Opera nut I used to tape the Opera's on radio 3 with not having to worry about turning the tape over, and knowing it was going to sound as good as the engineers was going to get.
ps. I have purchased a piece of hardware so that I can put my vinyls & tapes on to my hard-drive without having to make a 40 odd minute Wav file, my query is that with the supplied RCA cable you plug into hardware (purchased) then (a usb lead goe's into the computer) insert the other end into line out rear of Nad 3020, as you know there is no line out on the 3020, could I use the Pre-amp out or one of the other RCA phono's Aux etc, it as been suggested that I might be able to get away with plugging into the rec out on the tape side of amp. The item by the way is a Xitel INport have a look at it at Regards,
Peter J Slater - E-mail:

Dear Peter,
I can't agree more, the NAD 3020 has been one of the best bargains ever and definitely one of my all time favourites. If you want to upgrade it and are willing to stay with small integrated amps....look around for a Naim Nait 1 or 2. Chances are it will harass your 3020 :-)
With respect to your query, yes, you can use the preamp-out.
All the best,
Lucio Cadeddu

ACI Emeralds
I just HAD to write you to thank you for one of the most thorough reviews/impressions of a speaker I've ever read. As an Emerald owner, I'd have to agree with most everything you've said. The only thing I would have included (IF you've got the microphone, software, etc) is a frequency response chart. Other than that, DAMNED thorough review.
Great work.
ps-I'd love to read your impressions of the new Onix Ref. 1 speaker ( if you ever get the chance.
Randy - E-mail:

Hi Randy,
Hey, thanks for the support! I'm glad to see that I hear the same things everybody else does. Actually, I did measure the speakers. In fact I measure all of the speakers that pass through my room. I do it just to verify what I hear. I listen and write first, then measure to verify. I'm using the Sencore SP295c. It's a kick ass meter. It's a pro-sound measuring device that is completely integrated (except the speaker).
I can measure and record RT60, it has a full 3rd octave RTA (real time analyzer) and loads of other features. If you are interested (and have a spare $3500 sitting around) here's the link.
Only thing about the meter and graphing the response, at TNT-Audio we try not to get caught up in measurements. They can be completely deceptive. Take your typical SET tube amp with no negative feedback, you are lucky if they measure less than 3% THD. When you listen, you'd never know (or hear) it had distortion. We try to focus more on what we hear rather than how it measures. In other words, we trust our ears before we trust specs.
It talked to Walter at AV123 not too long ago about the Onyx's. Right now my plate is a little full with other speakers but you never know what the future will bring.
Thanks again,
Scott Faller

System upgrade
Dear Lucio,
Thanks you very much for giving me an insight on audio. I enjoy reading articles on TNT, a great on line magazine and best of all, it's free.
I need advice on my existing system which consist of the following: H/K AVR 5500, Infinity IL40 main, IL10 rear and IL25C center, Marantz CD6000ose, Pioneer DVD533k, inter-connect by Atlas equitor and speaker cable by Supra Rondo biwire. I plan to buy an integrated amplifier but not sure which one is better for my speakers. I have short-listed a few such Creek 5350SE, Musical Fidelity A3.2 and Roksan Caspian.

  1. Please advice which one is the best for my speaker.
  2. How can I improve my marantz, clocking, etc?
Best Regards and Thank you
Nik S - E-mail:

Dear Nik,
the real problem is not which amp is the "best" for your speakers but, considering their overall quality, which one of the three amps mentioned suits your taste better. I wouldn't choose without a direct test with your speakers. Bring the speakers with you at your local HiFi dealer and ask for a comparison test of the three amps. If not possible (because the amps are sold by different dealers) even a single test (without direct comparison) will shed some light.
My _personal_ perference goes to the Roksan Caspian but your mileage may vary.

As for the Marantz 6000 OSE: yes, you can try some tweaking, such as cabinet damping, feet upgrading, new mains cable etc, as suggested on our articles on CD players mods. You can even think of having it tweaked by the guys at Heart (see our test of their Heart CD 6000). Perhaps the whole operation will become a bit expensive (considering you live outside Europe) but I think it could be worth a try. Otherwise, you can even sell it and buy something better, on the second-hand market.
Hope this helped,
Lucio Cadeddu

Turntable Shelf...
I have built the TNT Sandblaster and I am very happy with it. But, it has me thinking about more DIY projects. I have an extra turntable that I don't have room for on my Flexy Rack. I have been looking at wall mount shelfs but some are pretty expensive and they aren't always the best looking.
What I was wondering is if there was some extensive engineering that went in to these things. They don't seem to be very complicated. I thought if I could do one myself I would use some cherry MDF (to match the Sandblaster and Flexy) and use some spikes to separate it from the arms of the rack...
Just curious if you had any input...
Thanks...and thanks for such a great keeps all of my free time occupied...
Brooks Harris - E-mail:

Dear Brooks,
you're not alone. If TNT keeps all of your free time occupied...wonder what happens to my free time :-)))
Wall shelves for turntables. Good question. The first thing you have to check is the solidity of the wall where you want to install the shelf. If too thin and "flexible" I wouldn't recommend using a wall shelf. It has to be stiff and solid. Secondly, try searching for stiff (steel) rack arms, such those intended for suspending micro-wave ovens, for example. Above of those, a good MDF shelf is the way to go. Spikes aren't mandatory, I'd suggest something that will allow you to micro-level the shelf, in order to get the perfect horizontal position for your TT. Hence, threaded bolts (a la FleXy) seem natural to me.
Keep me updated,
Lucio Cadeddu

Pro-Ject PhonoBox
Dear Lucio
I read your review (& subsequent letter from Patrick Phillips) on the Pro-Ject Phono amp with great interest having used one (until earlier this year) for about 2 years with great success. I note and understand your comments on how appropriate it is (isn't) to have a mc input on an amp of this price however I bought this amp for precisely this reason and was very pleased with it as a temporary solution.
I needed a cheap but worthwhile mc phono stage until I could come up with enough cash and reviewing time to make the correct leap. The Pro-Ject met this expectation perfectly! I still haven't got the mc stage and have managed to find a better alternative to the Pro-Ject but this isn't commercially available.
The Pro-Ject worked well my LP12/Ekos I/Ortofon MC20 Supreme/Mitchell Argo/power stage of a Myst TMA3/Quad ESL63's until I ripped out the mc phono stage from the Myst TMA3 integrated and ran that from multiple AA batteries.
The TMA3 power stage is about to be replaced by a pair Williams Hart mono amps, now bought but only partly built, at which stage I can now save up for that phono amp and have a system suitable for phono amp comparisons.
Have you had any experiance of the Williams Hart Phono Amp? I am always reluctant to spend serious money on HiFi (although I want the rewards!!) and either this kit or assembly looks good value. Most of the above system has been obtained on the cheap (together with other items e.g. a Revox B77 for £4) and I am very happy with the sound. It would be very nice to put in a serious phono amp with the same philosphy. Any other suggestions?
Keep up the good work.
Howard Wheeler - E-mail:

Dear Howard,
I have no experience with the Williams Hart power stages, sorry I can't help you to take a good decision. Since you seem an avid DIYer why don't you plan to build our TNT InDiscreet phono preamp? It is in the same league of a Lehmann Black Cube + PWX, it can be battery powered (if you like that solution) and is extremely inexpensive.
Keep me updated,
Lucio Cadeddu

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