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 2007

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Full Naim?
Hi,
I am presently using a nice Nait 1 recently acquired. I read your review, and am wondering if you have an opinion on a nice complimentary cd player. I am considering a Naim 3.5 or perhaps a 5. I don't know if current production Naims will best suit the original Nait's charms. Your feelings?
I may have found a Thorens TD320 to use with the Naim as well, along with an AT110e. Should provide some great sound for the cash.
I have an original copy of the manual that came with the Nait 1. Interestingly, Naim states that if you do not wish to use the cable A4, use either 12 or 14 gauge multistrand single core with 4 twists per meter instead. No minimum length is stated.
Thanks,
Joe - E-mail: joemudry (at) sbcglobal.net

LC
Dear Joe,
a CD 3.5 would be a nice partner for the Nait. Even better, an old CDI, if you dare buying "vintage" CD players.
As for cables...of course you can use bare wire, provided this is of sufficient cross-section. The "twist" (4 per meter) should give the Nait what it needs to remain stable under load. On the other hand, the NAC-A4 or A5 is a very good all-around speaker wire that can be bought for peanuts on Ebay (used). There's no reason for choosing something less.
Finally, congrats on your TD320 purchase, it is a very good and solid performer.
Hope this helped,
Lucio Cadeddu

T-Amp sounding harsh
Lucio,
I received the T-amp from my bro for a birthday present. I am trying to connect a pair of Infinity Bookshelf speakers to this amp and using my macbook as the music source. I am not getting good sound from the T-amp. I'm guessing it could be a number of things. I am using a 12v Adapter that is about 13 years old. It use to power a cordless phone. Is there another adapter which would work better? I am using the earphone jack from my computer as a audio out. I read one review where you shouldn't do this so I turned off the preamp on my computer.
I am getting a muffled sound and clipping from time to time. I have the t-amp set at 10 o'clock. The speakers are pretty old as well. It seem that softer songs sound ok and louder songs that may include distortion sound bad. Let me know if you can help and I do appreciate it. Thanks. By the way I have only used this device for a couple hours and you said you need to break it in. I'm just wondering if the T-amp is damaged or something. Thanks for your time.
Mike - E-mail: mjevans3 (at) gmail.com

LC
Dear Mike,
a cordless phone AC/DC adapter is certainly NOT enough to give the T-Amp all the power it needs. Check its rating...the T-Amp needs at least a 3A power supply!!! Buy a good and powerful adapter and your T-Amp will start to sing. Be careful to respect correct polarity!
Keep me updated,
Lucio Cadeddu

Oh, no, say it ain't so
I am a big fan and loyal reader since 2000. However, I read with dismay your current issue. TNT is now reviewing a mini monitor speaker that is (A) super expensive, $2,500, (B) crosses over at a horrible point, 4000hz, (C) has no bass, 3db down at 49 hz "on axis", and (D) looks like an ash tray? Ye Gods, why???
Then when I check the other article, it's borderline soft-core porn.
This was the first time in 7 years I've read TNT and thought "oh no!"
Kevin - E-mail: angus (at) ou.edu

LC
Dear Kevin,
believe it or not you're the first one who complains! I think the review of the B&W 805S is an extremely interesting one. First of all, this is a widely appreciated and acclaimed speaker...that gets a not-so positive review on TNT-Audio. To be more precise, it is the first time I read a partially-negative review of the 805's. Arvind didn't like these speakers much and I couldn't agree more with his findings either (never been a big B&W fan myself). Secondly, we can't please everyone everytime. Perhaps other readers might have found uninteresting other reviews you've found exciting! That's life :-)
Thirdly, I can't understand why you define the Malene Mortensen albums review as "soft-core porn". The review tries to describe the Music contained into those ambums, not the beauty of the singer. We've published the pics of the album covers...what else could we do? The fact Malene is - incidentally - a very nice girl isn't essential at this point.
Anyway, if you think this is soft-core porn...we'll try to do our best publishing some hard-core porn sometime ;-)
Jokes aside, thanks for your feedback, it is highly appreciated,
Lucio Cadeddu

Trends Audio TA 10.1
Dear Lucio,
I enjoyed your article about the Trends Audio TA 10.1. I have made the same observations after using it for 8 weeks. After that I sent it to have it upgraded to a Trends Audio TA 10.1 with the Michael Mardis 2.0 modifications (see also Audiomagus).
These modifications puts the TA 10.1 in the category of low power amps among the very top of this class at ANY PRICE.
If you ever have a chance to review the Mardis 2.0 modified TA - I'm sure your readers will be delighted to read about it.
Very best regards,
Markus - E-mail: mrufer (at) earthlink.net

LC
Dear Markus,
thanks for the suggestion. We'll try to test even these modified TA 10's (something similar is also available in Italy). It is very hard to keep up with all the new "class D"-based releases.
Happy listening!
Lucio Cadeddu

NAD 3020
Lucio, I was reading your old review of the NAD 3020 at TNT ( I have the euro version NAD 3020e) I purchased mine in 85 in Canada. I am planning to build fullrange Zigmahornets with FE 103's. If I use this amp how do you think this will sound? I'm not a huge audiophile but do like very natural sounding music. The Zigmas are an easy build but cash and time are tight for extras like building a S.E.T. amp, so for now I will use the NAD. I know your busy so reply at your leisure!
Thanks,
Mark - E-mail: bazinets (at) eastlink.ca

LC
Dear Mark,
the NAD 3020 will be adequate for the FE103's. Considering its warm character I assume the match will be very good. If you wish, try a Trends Audio TA 10.1 instead of the NAD3020...the results will be even better.
Happy listening!
Lucio Cadeddu

Lehmann Stamp review
Don't you think the Lehmann Stamp at 675 E ($925) is comparatively expensive for a T amp? The Charlize2 is $110 and the KingRex t20 with power supply is about $400. I am sure it is a fine amp, so what I guess bothers me is that the T amps started out as something that was very affordable and that was part of the panache.
Now, here we go. If you don't spend the big bucks then you are playing second fiddle. I admire your reviews more than most, so review the two amps mentioned above. Please.
Greg - E-mail: gfredsen (at) embarqmail.com

GH
Hi Greg,
Thanks for the mail and the kind words. I think if you look at my piece in Lucio's original review of the T-amp you'll see I made a very similar comment. However my enthusiasm for the little beast isn't limitless, as I do find it just too pushy for my personal taste long term (but this might be improved with other speakers), and the bass certainly seems rolled off. But I've heard 8000 Euro amps I like less and some of the qualities are remarkeable at any price. It is also a true hi-fi amp for $30...
I actually have the KingRex amp here (a review of the KingRex T20 will appear soon on TNT-Audio - Ed.) as I write and it's beautifully made and sounds better than the 'T' by some margin - less mechanical for example, but basically it sounds like an improved 'T'. However the Lehmann doesn't sound at all like the 'T', is much warmer and more powerful sounding all together and I would happily live with it long term.
Looking at layout, component quality and the fact it's made in Germany rather than in the Far east all goes some way to justifying its higher price. I certainly don't think it's profiteering on Lehmanns part for example, no 'T' amp board in a fancy case :-)
Pricing of all things made by man is a complex subject and only sometimes do I find components where the price is out of all proportion with the manufacturing cost, then I'll let you know...
Cheers
Geoff Husband

Rega turntables
Mark,
I am the proud owner of a Rega P2 and can not afford the Michell of this world. I find it very strange that in your article you snubbed us at the poor end of the audiophile hierarchy. Don't you think given the thousands Rega owners of the Hifi world you should have extended your testing of the supports to a rigid plinth turntable?
All you could mention to our regards just to try out the examples of each type under the Rega! As if we could go and buy them for peanuts and throw them away if they are no good or borrow them from the suppliers to try out at home...Is this feasible in the real world? It's a real pity that such a good review would end up so poorly!
Regards
Louis - E-mail: lvivier (at) optusnet.com.au

MW
Hi Louis,
I am so sorry that you feel I do not consider the "poor end of the audiophile hierarchy". I am especially sorry because my own audio explorations, including those written on TNT-audio have been obsessed with achieving the most musical sounds for the least money. My whole anti-vibration series has been devoted to this philosophy and its breadth is obvious from the TNT-audio.com accessories index page. If you read that series starting from part 1 you get the opportunity to travel with me as I unravel the Gordian knot of vibration control.

You are correct that I omitted to mention my solid plinth turntable test in my recent review of the Something Solid XR4.
My review, already overlong in 2 parts, needed some fierce editing and I cut several whole paragraphs before submitting it to our esteemed editor. I made the mistake removing all mention of solid plinth turntables on this rack. The XR4 worked really well under my ancient Garrard 401, even though I had to use paired (back-to-back) cones on top of the shelf to allow the Garrard motor to clear the shelf, because the Garrard normally lives on an open frame support.
In part 2 of my vibration control series I uncovered an anxiety provoking phenomenon in that a vibration device that worked well in many contexts, actually upset the performance of the Michell Gyro SE. It was this experience that led me to undertake the over-long investigation of the XR4 rack with the Orbe SE. Suspended subchassis turntables are very common and notoriously support sensitive, despite the theoretical advantage of the suspension. The whole turntable coffee-table caper started in the late 70s because the then ubiquitous Linn could sound OK in one place and dreadful in another.
Perhaps you might be refering to part 3 of the series when I did suggest owners of Regas try different vibration control products for themselves. Later, my own experiments with a Planar 3 did suggest that your support preference might be dictated by your musical priorities, which is why I am unable to make blanket recommendations. It is the usual dilemma of flat-earth priorities vs audiophile detailing; rhythm vs imaging etc because individual products tend to favour differing priorities. I am a big fan of getting the noise-floor as low as possible while preserving rhythm.
Chris Orchard, who designed the high-end solid plinth Rivelin Eclipse that failed to have any commercial success at all in the late 80s and early 90s, favoured sorbothane as getting the best of both worlds most effectively. I have tried it and I agree. A thick sheet of Sorbothane under a foot-less Rega works really well, the Reag's superb rhythm and timing remain intact while the noise floor drops so individual note envelopes are more explicit.

Wall shelf mounting is usually regarded as best for Regas, and I believe usually best for most turntables.

Did you know it's rumoured that Rega used to subcontract to Amstrad to make their turntable with a 3-legged platter, memorably described in their advertising blurb as "the trilateral platter produces an equiponderate counterbalancing force". Roughly translated, this means the platter doesn't wobble much when it goes round. Despite much scorn from audio afficionadoes, the little Rega sourced Amstrad actually sounded fine.

The Rega P2 and P3 remain two of the finest turntables available at any price, despite being virtually unchanged for over 30 years. I have spent many hours enjoying tunes from Regas at friends houses, and those Regas are often there because I suggested my friends go and audition them. I don't own one myself (because I can not afford to own an example of everything I like, and have to pick a favourite), but if my 3 turntables were replaced by a Rega I would still love listening to vinyl.

No way would I ever "snub" anyone for not owning something, I detest consumerism and I believe that your happiness is not dependent on owning things. Quite the reverse, owning more stuff is more likeley to lead to anxiety. HiFi is only important in its capacity to offer us an experience of musical perfromance that gves us pleasure, food for thought and uplifting or emotionally engaging experiences. In any other respect, all HiFi equipment, whatever its price, is just junk gathering dust. If I could attend gigs by my favourite artists every night I would not own any audio equipment at all.
Enjoy listening to your Rega,
Mark Wheeler

Real Stereo
I just read the article on Real Stereo and I totally agree about the pathetic multi-speaker rubbish. I used to have a top of the range amstrad tower deck in the early 80's which when i set it up properly with the equalizer the sound was incredibly realistic. I could hear a phantom image from between the speakers and it would travel from left to right and also from the speakers to u and also had a slight incline too. I could hear every sound being played on the records. It didn't matter where you sat in the room the sound would still come from the center and would always travel in the intended distance/direction. The image would twist and follow u. I could hear a slight twist in the image when you move left or right due to the single way speakers but the image was very impressive. I've also heard a professional stereo system to do the job as close to perfection as possible and I believe that real stereo sound is the only way to go.
Ben - E-mail: benfeltham (at) msn.com

LC
Dear Ben,
I totally agree with you. Properly installed multichannel (music) systems are impressive too but prices tend to go up by a 3X factor, at least, when compared to an equivalent two-channel system. And I'm not even considering all the troubles to properly mix and match (and install) 5 or 6 speakers instead of two.
Hence Real Stereo rulez :-)
Lucio Cadeddu

All-Time 1000 Albums
David,
I have just read your thoughtful review of the year 2000 edition. It seems such a long time ago that I purchased it. Do you know if it's been updated? I consider the box set guide very helpful and the listing of albums by major artist and genre to also be very interesting.
I really hope that a new edition is available.
Regards.
Robert - E-mail: robertclaxton (at) optusnet.com.au

DH
Hi Robert
I wanted to update my report and wrote to Colin Larkin about an update in 2006. He promised that a new edition would be ready for Christmas 2006, but this never materialised. I agree that it is one of the most useful album guides (I've got nearly all the others too). The only ones to match it (but very different) are those by Robert Christgau.
Regards,
David Holgate

Trends Audio TA 10.1
Lucio,
Once again you alerted us to another excellent product through TNT. Thanks for your pointer to the TA-10.1. I obtained one from a UK supplier and have been enjoying it over the last 6 weeks with my Klipsch Forte IIs (very efficient). I purchased a 7Ah battery to power it, which sounds better than the provided DC supply. I'm bypassing the volume pot with the internal links, and using my PAS-02 passive preamp.
The level of detail is extremely good. Bass is solid, treble is clear, midrange is clear if a little clinical. It is much more musical, and flows better, than the original T-amp. I stuck with my pair of Leak Stereo 20 monobloks after listening to the T-amp, but with the TA-10.1 I'm really torn. The Leaks provide a more dense sound that may be more "attractive" and with some music is better, but in general I find the clarity of the TA-10.1 more satisfying. One thing I found today. I felt that the sound had gone off a bit recently. I also noticed that there was some switch-on thump. I decided to adjust the DC offsets to remove the thump, and found that the sound quality returned to normal. It is therefore very important to get this right, or the amp sounds flat and uninteresting (unmusical).
For something that cost me about 90 to be seriously challenging my Leaks -- maintained and improved over the years by Glenn Croft and whose Mullards are worth far more than that on their own -- just shows the potential of this technology. No, it doesn't sound the same as valves, but become accustomed to it and it sounds musical and inviting. I could easily live with the sound, and I may yet decide that I will. Anyone want a pair of beautifully upgraded, amazing-sounding Leak Stereo 20s?
Kind regards,
Peter - E-mail: peter-ward (at) btconnect.com

LC
Dear Peter,
you're not alone. I, for one, could easily live with a Trends Audio TA 10.1 and a pair of good, efficient loudspeakers. Think at all the money you can save and invest on records or better partners (speakers, source ecc.).
Perhaps it is not perfect (of course it is not!) but it allows us to "move" most of the budget on speakers. Worth a tought.
Happy listening!
Lucio Cadeddu

Re: TAOC stuff
Lucio,
Thanks for publishing my letter and your reply in TNT Reader's Corner. You have stated that "spikes should always point downwards as per natural order ..." and here I want to share my "logical conclusions and practical observations" with the amplifier on Taoc stand and footers.
Starting with the stand, it consists of an aluminium frame with spiked feet, all spikes pointing downwards on the floor. On the frame support, there are four "spike pins" which can be screwed with the tips of the pins pointing upwards. The 5-layer shelf rests on these pins. So logically, the frame spikes pointing down arrest vibrations from the floor to the stand and the "spike pins" pointing up further reduce vibrations transmitted to the shelf itself.
Therefore, the logical conclusion is that the amplifier footers should point upwards from the shelf to the equipment chassis for further reduction of vibrations transmitted to the amplifier itself. Any disagreement here?
Now, I started with the spikes of the footers pointing down as you also suggest and the sound was good. Then I reversed the footers with the spikes upwards (there are plates provided between the spike points and contact surface and so no scratches) and bingo, the soundstage just broke free! Very good depth and width, and in fact the depth is what really stands out by which you can feel instruments and musicians layer by layer.
I had observed a very similar effect on depth and width when I shifted my CD player and tube preamp to a Solid Tech Rack of Silence. My source is an Arcam CD-192, not even their best FMJ series, and the preamp a VTL 5.5, but these on the ROS and with now the Ayre power amp on a Taoc stand and footers sound so good that I am really convinced of significant improvements by good racks and stands and footers. At the same time, the solid state power amp sounded a bit loose on the ROS but really firms up and tightens on the Taoc stand.
Just sharing my real life experiences and once again, thanks a lot for your interest.
Best regards.
G. Chidambaram - E-mail: chidambaramg (at) eth.net

LC
Dear reader,
you are not considering a fundamental fact: vibrations reach HiFi components through air, as they are mainly generated by the loudspeakers. With spikes pointing upward you don't let vibrations go elsewhere...they simply hit the component and (mostly) remain there!
This is why soft feet, most of the times, are more effective than spikes. Vibrations, no matter where they come from, are transformed into heat.
Anyway, if your system sounds better with the spikes pointing upwards...let them stay that way!
Happy listening!
Lucio Cadeddu

Previous weeks letters

TAOC stuff
Hello Lucio,
Please recall the following communication we had a few months ago. Mainly because of the difficulty in getting a Solid Steel shelf from India, I finally went with a Taoc AS-3 stand from Japan. Taoc is very well known in audiophile circles in Japan and they make cast iron powder based shelfs and you can find some reviews in English in positive feedback.
Anyway, I find their stand very good and a significant performance improvement of my system, especially the power amplifier on a separate Taoc AS-1 stand (If you buy directly from Japanese dealers, these stands cost almost half of what the US and European dealers sell!!!).
Recently I also got a set of footers from them for the amplifier. Each footer is in two pieces, a pin and a plate. Based on your expertise in reviewing footers, I would request you to kindly take a look at them and let me know your views regarding how to place them under the amplifier. Either the pin above over which the plate sits (ie. plate between pin and amplifier casing), or the pin inverted in which case the plate sits on the shelf. I presume the pin should fit in the dimple on the plate in both cases and also that these footers should not be placed below the stock footers of the amp (Ayre V-5xe).
Your scientific thoughts will be most welcome.
Thanks and regards.
G. Chidambaram - E-mail: chidambaramg (at) eth.net

LC
Dear friend,
spikes should always point downwards, in order to respect the priciple of the so-called "mechanical diode" (vibrations go down and can't go back to the component). In the real world this principle has many theorical and practical flaws but sometimes it works, depending on the components you use and the results you wish to achieve. Furthermore, generally, any kind of "foot" should be placed directly in contact with the chassis, avoiding the contact with stock feet.
In any case, since you can perform any kind of experiment by yourself, feel free to test these feet both ways (even pointing them upwards!). You'll learn more from these experiments than from reading dozens of webpages or paper mags.
Keep us updated!
Lucio Cadeddu

Trends Audio TA 10.1
Dear Mr. Cadeddu,
Only few months ago I bought a Trends Audio TA 10.1 and this was love at the first sight. However this love even getting more passionate after the very fist sounds ( CD- Ayo- Down on my knees ) came out from 28 years old Wharferdale E 70 loudspeakers / 8 ohms/ 95 dB.
I was enjoying reading Your comments regarding TA 10.1.
With kind regards,
Milorad - E-mail: Milorad.Martinovic (at) Quintiles.com

LC
Dear Milorad,
thanks for the precious feedback! This diminutive amplifier is a true gem, indeed.
Happy listening!
Lucio Cadeddu

Trends Audio TA 10.1 - speakers matching
Hello,
I recently acquired a small, low powered t class amplifier namely, the Trends Audio TA-10. I am aware of the high sensitivity speakers needed to really highlight the potential of this little and as of yet un-modified amplifier, but in the UK, am struggling to find really good, reasonably priced loudspeakers. If you know the Amplifier, you may well be aware of the problem!
Preferentially, and because of the space that I have available, I would prefer floor stander spreakers, other than that I have pretty much come down on the side of Loth X bs1's.
Your thoughts would be much appreciated.
With Thanks
James - E-mail: jimmy.bourne (at) virgin.net

LC
Dear James,
since you are located in the UK put on your wish list a pair of Audio Note AZ-2 (AZ Two) floorstanders. They have a 93 dB sensitivity (good for the TA 10.1!) and can be placed close to the rear wall, even in corners! Alternatively, you can consider Klipsh floorstanders of the "F" line (F-1, for example): they have a good sensitivity and a sound which is surprinsigly smooth, considering the horn-loaded tweeter.
Hope this helped somehow,
Lucio Cadeddu

Trends Audio TA 10.1 as monoblocks (passive biamping)
Hello Lucio,
After reading your review of the TA-10 I have bought a second so that I can use the amps as monoblocks. I have looked at the trends site for information on how to do this but I am still confused. My intention is to use both of the Right outputs of my preamp to the L+R inputs of one TA-10 and the Left outputs to the other TA-10. Then I hope to connect the biwire cable to Left positive and Right negative binding posts, one amp per speaker. The trend forum does not mention using biwire cables but has MONO in capital letters. Can you tell me if the method I have described will be safe to carry out
. Best Regards,
. Paul - E-mail: pross (at) texon.com

LC
Dear Paul,
you can make passive bi-amping in two ways:

  1. One power amp connected to the bass binding posts (of a biwireable loudspeaker) and the other to the tweeters. In this case each power amp receives a stereo (L & R) signal from the preamp.
  2. One power amp per speaker. In this case one power amp should receive a single channel signal only (R for the right speaker, L for the left speaker).
If your preamp has two pairs of outputs you're a lucky guy. Otherwise you need to use a Y (or T) RCA splitter so to have double preamp outputs.
Hope this helped,
Lucio Cadeddu

Upgrade with 2000$
Lucio,
I have written to you a couple of times in past and thanks a lot for your suggestions.
First, about my current setup. It includes a NAD C542 connected to C352 by Monster 400MKII and the speaker cable is Supra Ply 3.4S. The speakers are Tannoy Sensys DC2. The listening room size is 12' X 10'. I am happy with this setup but as always feel that there is scope of improvement.
I like to know as how would you rate the setup as an HIFI? I feel sometimes that mids are bit restrained. Does this setup has the capability to give me what recording engineer wanted us to hear? If I like to go for an upgrade with an investment of $2000 then what would you recommendations be.
Thanks,
GopalJee - E-mail: GopalJee_Nigam (at) Countrywide.Com

LC
Dear GopalJee,
it is hard to classify a component or a system as "HiFi" per se. That word is damn elusive :-)
What I can say is that your system is a nice combination of good components which should match well together. Of course there's room for improvement, since any HiFi system can be upgraded indeed!
Perhaps you don't like the sound of your speakers (those are responsible for the 50% of the sound you hear, at least) so I'd rather think to upgrade those. Before than that, think at your room, it may be the real culprit of what you hear. Try placing your speakers in a different way, for example...or try clapping your hands around your room to detect sound interactions and behave accordingly (placing carpets, oil on canvas paintings, heavy curtains, pillows etc.).
When all else fails, try auditioning new speakers, for example something from ProAC, Monitor Audio, KEF...they all make floorstanders in that price range.
Hope this helped somehow,
Lucio Cadeddu

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