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TNT-Audio Editor's corner - June 2003


Author: Lucio Cadeddu


Writing about HiFi when temperatures exceed +40 C (that's >100 F, dudes!) becomes extremely difficult. All I want to do is ....swim! In this part of the World, when Summer begins, it does that waaaay seriously. A colleague from Dakar (Africa) has told me the climate in his Country is colder than here, these days. Go figure!
Now, Italy is such a lovely Country and Sardinia is such a cool place to stay, with palm trees everywhere, nice women, sandy beaches and a gorgeous sea BUT!!! Enough is enough! We had several energy black-outs in the past weeks because of the excessive load on the electric distribution system! Everyone was using an air conditioner to survive...

I'm sure you'll agree this is NOT the perfect climate for HiFi testing or, even, Music listening. Our HiFi systems run very hot, either because of vacuum tubes or Class A power amplifiers...and there's no air conditioner that can help. Moreover, air conditioning isn't a solution, from the audiophile point of view. It is noisy and introduces interferences in the mains supply, to say the least.
The worst thing is the noise floor. With an air conditioner the noise floor goes up and hence the overall dynamic ability of our stereo systems goes down. Ok, you can turn the volume up to compensate the higher noise floor but this solves the problem only during the pianissimo's. Indeed, you can still hear delicate passages at very low levels thanks to the increased volume level but when the orchestra plays a fortissimo (or when you fav rock band decides to...scream!) you are in trouble since the volume becomes immediately too high, possibly causing distortion, clipping or every other kind of well-known problem with your neighbourhoods :-)

This is one of the reasons why listening at night normally is a better solution: the lower the noise floor, the cleaner the mains supply, the better your system will sound (increased dynamics, detail and finesse).
Moreover, the reduced load on the electric distribution system allows the voltage to remain stable and closer to the nominal one. During these days of extreme heat, because of the excessive load, I've seen the mains voltage drop till 195 V (nominal voltage should be 230V!).

Hence, what a reviewer should do? Turn everything off and go swimming? Well, maybe. Anyway, I've found a partial cure for these days of excessive heat. A fresh (dare I say cool? ;-)) HiFi system.
Among all HiFi components, the hottest (pun not intended) ones are the amplifiers. I had to stay far from vacuum tubes and Class A power stages. Looking at my (quite) vast collection of HiFi gear an idea suddenly came to my mind: Naim!!! Yes, some of the coldest-running amplifiers ever made!!!
Because of their Class B (very low bias current, that is) operating mode these amps tend to stay cold even at high listening levels. The same can be said for certain Linn amplifiers, not to mention those extremely cool (pun intended) Klimax's!
That said, considering Naim preamps do not have a power supply (being fed directly by the power amps), it seemed the best choice to me. In other words, a pre-power combo at the cost (in terms of heat build-up) of an integrated amp.
Then I had to choose the source. Mmmmh, that was going to be easier. Forget CD players with class A output stages or hot vacuum tubes....it was time for a serious ...cooling fan! What about a simple analogue turntable? No external hot power supplies, just a small synchronous motor that turns a platter slowly at 33 rpm. And what about the cooling fan effect caused by the spinning platter? :-)
Few minutes later my vintage ERA turntable was up and running, smoothly and...silently.
That system has allowed me to listen to my fav Music (and to make some evaluation test in the meanwhile) for hours and hours....without making the room temperature increase of a single digit!

At the end of it all, I'm still wondering why I created an audio webzine. Wouldn't it be good to review ice-creams, instead? Just imagine a site like TNT-Audio, entirely devoted to ice-creams: evaluation...tests, DIY...recipes, factory....yum...tours and...ehm...reportages from ice-cream fairs worldwide. Sometimes I feel I chose the wrong hobby ;-)

© Copyright 2003 Lucio Cadeddu - www.tnt-audio.com

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