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 2012

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Miniwatt N3 - Gain stage
I would just like to say I really enjoy your reviews at TNT. I have one question though. Do you think the Trends PA-1 will be a good pre amp for the Miniwatt N3?
I am kinda confused as I've read that Kingrex pre amp would be good to go with miniwatt N3 and Trends PA-1 would be good to go with a T-amp or a chip amp? So will the Trends PA-1 actually go well with Miniwatt N3?
Would you recommend any other pre amp that would go well with Miniwatt N3 that's not too big?
Derek - E-mail: genevievekchow (at)

Hi Derek,
It is difficult to say for sure what will work for you because a big factor is the output level of your source, and the sensitivity of your speakers. And of course, how loud you wish to play your music.
I have used the Trends pre amp with the Miniwatt N3, using my MS Pageant speakers that are around 89 dB sensitive, and that just went loud enough in a smallish room. I like the Audiodigit Tube Pre if you don't mind a bit of DIY work, and there are various pre amp modules offered on Ebay although I have no experience of those.
I'm sorry that I can't offer you a more complete answer but each system is different. You may be able to get a better answer on one of the hi-fi forums from an N3 owner.
Happy listening!
Nick Whetstone

Yarland FV-34C
Dear Nick,
I own Yarland FV-34C, thank you for your very nice review about it. I would like to ask how you managed to connect solid state amp to drive your woofer separately. It must be very good improvement and I just do not know how to connect it. This is the quote from your review:

"The main system consisted of a modified Logitech SB3 feeding a DHDT Labs Havana NOS DAC, with an active filter and separate solid -state amplifier for the woofer sections of the Hawthorne Audio open-baffle speakers. Having adjusted the output level of the FV-34C to obtain the right balance with the woofers, I put on the same playlist that I had used in the other system."
Thank you for your kind reply.
Best regards,
Tomislav - E-mail: Tomislav.Capo (at)

Hi Tomislav,
To use the system that I wrote about, you must split the signal into two. I do that on the output of my pre amp. One signal goes to the power amp (eg Yarland FV-34B) and the other to an active filter. The one I use is a 4th order with a variable frequency point. I built this myself around opamps. The output from the filter goes to the amp powering the woofers.
Please note that this works only if you don't need to roll off your mid-range as well. If you do then you need an active crossover.
You could build a crossover using a MiniDSP module, or perhaps look on Ebay for something 'ready-to-go'. Just be aware that many active crossovers are made for use in cars, or PA's, and may not be up to hi-fi standards.
I hope this helps but if you need more information, please ask.
Happy listening!
Nick Whetstone

Garrard Zero 100 issues
Dear Mr. Lucio Cadeddu,
I have read your article with interest. I am also undertaking a restoration on a similar TT. One of the major repairs was replacing the lower brass bush on the tone arm bearing (the tone arm had too much clearance when (gently) pulled and pushed forward and backwards. Now the clearance is reduced to microns. All the rest of the mechanics sounds good I guess.
The TT came with a Pioneer PC-50 cartridge. Is this an acceptable starter's cartridge?
Can you tell me if the protractor you have mentioned (Steven Rocklin's) is the best suited and, if this is the case, how can I order it (since the list of dealers you have mentioned does not have an email).
I have downloaded the "AccuTrak Universal Protractor", the "Chpratz protractor", the "Kearns protractor", the "Stevenson protractor", the "Stuff protractor" and the "Stupid protractor"... from the vynilengine website.
Do you think any of these might work?
Do I need to know the tone arm's effective length?
Do I need Garrard's standard part clear plastic setting gauge # 75291?
My TT came with the chassis supported on a plastic casing (surrounded by an aluminium white trim). Do you think it will be a good idea to glue the tar damping material you have referred to on the bottom and surroundings of the same?
Do you have any other advise you can give me?
Best regards,
Pedro - E-mail: pedrom_marques (at)

Dear Pedro,
definitely, you have TOO MANY Protractors :-) Any two null-point protractor will do the trick, forget the rest :-)
First, you need a better cartridge, the Pioneer you use isn't worth mentioning. Try something from Grado, AudioTechnica, Ortofon...the best one your budget allows to purchase.
I have no idea on what the pastic setting gauge is...but if the turntable works chances are you don't really need it :-)
As for damping: yes that is a good idea, considering the plastic plinth your Garrard sits onto. Other advices? Just install everything and start playing some music: tweaks and further upgrades will follow if really needed!
Happy listening!
Lucio Cadeddu

Miniwatt N3 and speakers
I have just bought the Miniwatt n3 and now I need input source will be an iMac connected through a DAC (HRT music streamer II ). Since it would be a desktop system I need speakers as small as possible...I'm thinking on Cambridge audio S30 or Klipsch RB41 II (but they have a low frequency response of 85Hz :-( ...). What do you think and suggest (max price I can afford is 300 euro)?
Emanuele - E-mail: emarob (at)

Hi Emanuele,
The problem you have is that the Miniwatt really needs to be used with efficient speakers, and they will tend to be the larger type, rather than "desktop". I don't have a lot of experience with smaller speakers, although I was impressed with the Trends SA-10's.
Perhaps our other reviewers, or readers can come up with some recommendations.
Also, depending on the output level of your DAC (and how loud you like to listen), you MAY need an intermediate stage with some extra gain.
Nick Whetstone

Yaqin MS-12B
Hi, Mark,
I loved your colorful review of the Yaqin MS-12B! I am very new to audio and on a budget, but I have a Marantz 2226B vintage receiver that I wanted to augment with tubes. First I started looking at the Yaqin buffers, cd1-3, then I saw the MS-12B. I want the well-regarded phono stage, but would want to use the line stage, as well You don't seem to like the line stage, and I wondered if a buffer would sound better at the line stage on the Marantz.
I could always get a phono stage like the 22B (I wonder if is the same as the 12B, without the line stage?). I imagine this will go directly into your trash bin, but I would love a word of advice if you have time. Thanks!
John - E-mail: signaljw (at)

Hi John
Thanks for the compliment and the question about the 12B. This keeps your emails from the trash box!
That vintage Marantz is a great find. If you're a listener, rather than a collector, you should replace the electrolytic capacitors with modern ones; any good commercial grade will be better than ancient ones that are now degraded and noisy.
If you mount the 12B very close to the Marantz you could hard wire it from the phono stage to one of the inputs and use the Marantz as both buffer and line stage. Your question implies you are sufficiently trained and experienced to play with valve amplifier voltages safely. I haven't tried a 22b so have no idea what lies under the hood and my experience of current commercial practice implies that we can never assume anything as logical as the use of identical amplifier stages in two models from the same factory.
Good luck with the project and please let us know how you get on.
Happy listening,
Mark Wheeler

CD lens cleaner
Hi Sir,
I have read your article on the above product with interest. My cd player is skipping (miss a beat) more often than usual although it does not happen to every disc I play. So, I thought I should try the lens cleaner. However, I am so disappointed to see so much negative comments on the effects of lens cleaners on cd laser lens, until I saw your article. It gives me some hope!
I wish to ask if the TDK lens cleaner or Maxell lens cleaner are as effective just in case I cannot find the Allsop lens cleaner in my country.
Thanks and best regards,
Roy - E-mail: roynceng (at)

Dear Roy,
gentle lens cleaners work well and don't damage the laser lens. A better way to clean the CD lens would be manual cleaning: open the CD player cabinet and gently remove the dirt from the laser lens, with a soft cloth or with a small manual air pump which is normally used to clean cameras. Anyway, the TDK and the Maxell CD lens cleaners should work fine.
Another reason for CD skipping might be the laser beam itself: either it is out of focus or it has reached the end of its lifespan. In both cases only a good technician can cure the problem, though it might become (too) expensive.
Lucio Cadeddu

New Class D amplifier
Hi Lucio, I read with great interest your article on the Scythe sd1100 amplifier which I promptly went and purchased, as a result I'm selling my Tag Mclaren set up PA10 and 60p. I also purchased an ICON audio ps1.2 phono amp as well (jaw dropping), which now serves as my pre amp, I only need a phono set up. I can't believe the sound this thing puts out. I paid 19 uk pounds for it on an amazon sale.
I'm in the middle of upgrading and am about to get a Micro Benz Wood SL to replace my AT33 ptg, I'm also wondering where do I go to better the Scythe. I looked at the new 2000 model with a few extra inputs but essentially the same beast. Well I could play my digital library through it. There is a lot of stuff I can't get on vinyl doh!
What I want is more power, I'm using B & W dm4's which are very efficient 96 ish dB, I get the impression the Scythe runs out of steam. I don't want to spend loads so things like Bel Canto's are out of reach, but I would like a bit of a nudge in the right direction. I have shortlisted some.

Can't seem to find any other amps based on the Scythe's Yamaha chip anywhere. Although you do mention some other higher powered examples. Yamaha being one. There is an offering from Musical Fidelity, the m1, but the jury seems out on that and its 700 pounds plus.
I'm just a little confused there are some many out there, in a nut shell I want the sound that the scythe is giving me with a bit more oomph.
Tony - E-mail: tigiblet (at)

Dear Tony,
your B&W DM4 are nowhere near 94 dB/w/m. They should be way below 90 dB/w/m...for this reason the Scythe sounds underpowered to you...! Your speakers need nearly 5 watts to produce a 95 dB sound pressure at 1 meter (sensitivity specs were given differently in the '70s).
That said, there's a way to get the same sound quality (even slightly better) and much (MUCH!) more oomph for nearly the same money: it is the Dayton DTA 100A integrated amp: Tripath sound, high power and low cost!
The only problem is that it offers just two line inputs...if you need more, browse the second hand market for a NuForce won't be disappointed! The first releases of this Class D amp are becoming available for 500-600$ or so.
NuForce stuff can be hard to find in the UK because, as far as I know, there's no official distribution yet, but since these amps can work with ANY mains supply you can purchase a second hand item from the USA or the rest of the world.
Hope this helped somehow!
Lucio Cadeddu

Temple Audio Bantam amps
Hello Nick,
I've been looking for the Temple AudioBbantam Gold amp for quite some times now, and as you are one of the rare reviewer, I wanted to know if, as time passes by. Do you still thinks the Bantam gold is as good as Virtue one/two amplifier Did you find better amp in the budget category?
But as Virtue will reveal new products in fall, I may better wait for it. I can understand that you have a busy schedule, but if you have a couple of seconds for me, your insight will be more than welcome.
Best regards.
Quentin - E-mail: dookie182 (at)

Hi Quentin,
I still listen to the Bantam Gold, and Sensation, and still have the same (positive) opinion of them as I did when writing the reviews. The Sensation of course offers more facilities (at a cost) than the Bantam.
I do understand that Virtue have some new products in the pipe-line but don't know for sure what they are.
Nick Whetstone

Adding a subwoofer
I recently purchased a Linn Majik amp with matching Linn bookshelf speakers. Great sound! But w/out tone controls and my room as a higher ceiling the bass is not full. I'm looking for a sub woofer to balance out the sound.
Does the amp support a sub or is there a way to adapt? What sub might you reccomend? Thanks for your time and input!
Larry - E-mail: lgsmiledds (at)

Dear Larry,
I'd prefer to purchase floorstanding speakers instead of adding a subwoofer! If you can't do this because of lack of space, I'm sure any active subwoofer will partially solve your problem. As for connections, look for the pre ut/main in RCAsinthe rear. Otherwise, you can connect the subwofer directly to the speakers outputs of the Majik and then connect the bokkshelf speakers directly to the subwoofer. Many subwoofers offer this possibility (high level input)...just have a look at REL, Velodyne, Klipsch, KEF...
Hope this helped!
Lucio Cadeddu

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