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Readers' Corner - April 2002

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RadioShack Digital Sound Level meter
Dear Mr. Cadeddu (or to whom it may concern),
I found your article on the SPL meter very informative. I purchased the same meter about 2 months ago for speaker building and system tuning. Hearing damage was only briefly mentioned.
I suffer from some hearing loss from working in construction for 5 years, too many rock concerts/discos and too many hours with headphones blasting. I have an intermittent ringing in my ears, loss of clarity when there is background noise and high frequency roll off. While I was involved with occupational safety, I found the US government's noise exposure standard.
This may find helpful to your readers. Please consider adding this you your very fine article.

TNT-Audio is an outstanding site with excellent reviews. I am a long-time reader of Stereophile, Listener and Audio magazines, but I find your review style refreshingly succinct and insightful.
This is the link to the OSHA Standard and below I attached just the values.
OSHA Sound Exposure Limits Before Permanent Hearing Loss

Exposure Time - Exposure Level (measured in dB SPL)
8 Hours                   90 dB SPL
6 Hours                   92 dB SPL
4 Hours                   95 dB SPL
3 Hours                   97 dB SPL
2 Hours                  100 dB SPL
1.5 Hours                102 dB SPL
1 Hours                  105 dB SPL
.5 Hours                 110 dB SPL
<.25 Hours               115 dB SPL

Victor Vivaudou - E-mail: vvivaudou (at) exchange.ml.com

Dear Victor,
thanks for appreciating our writing style and our reviews. With respect to hearing damage due to long exposition to high sound pressure levels, let me remark (again) that highly compressed Music (and raw noise, of course) can be very dangerous to the ear because of high AVERAGE SPL.
Real Music with plenty of "peaks" causes no trouble to our ears...so you can get 120 dB of max SPL (peak) frequently and have no problem while 100 dB CONTINUOUS levels can be destructive on the long term.
Keep reading!
Lucio Cadeddu

Unsatisfied Cambridge D500 SE owners - 1
Dear Nels,
with interest I have read your review on the Cambridge D500SE CD-Player from Feb. 2002. I've bought the player a week ago and I agree with your conclusion. It's a very good sounding CD-Player for a good price.
However, I have a BIG problem with my player: It's not the sound it sends to my speakers (Magnepan), it's the sound the drive makes (or what ever is responsible for this sound). Haven't you noticed it?
If you start running a CD this player starts to produce a very high-frequent sound that drives you mad. It sounds like a cheap CD-ROM drive. When you skip tracks the sound gets louder (I don't care about that) and in-between two tracks it fades.
As soon as the music starts this peep starts again. I can hardly listen to music. It's not that the sound is that loud, it's the high frequency that makes it impossible to stand it more than 15 min..
I know that I have sensitive ears, but even my "non audiophile" friends can hear it. I tested a few other (cheaper) CD-Players if they make this sounds and I haven't found one. what's wrong with my player? Haven't you got the same problems with yours?
Thomas Scheider - E-mail: thomas (at) scheider.org

Hi Thomas,
Thank you for your letter.
The review sample (returned to the distributor) exibited none of the noise that you speak of. This leads me to believe that your machine is defective, and should be returned to your dealer for replacement or service.
Most dealers will give you another unit in exchange, as your unit is only 1 week old. It sounds as if the transport is defective on your unit.
I hope this is helpful.
Nels Ferré

Unsatisfied Cambridge D500 SE owners - 2
I purchased the D500 SE based on all the good reviews. The first unit I received would play for two minuites then stop. It was returned for another. The second unit works fine however after some serious burning in (about 120 hours) I did an A/B with my eight year old Onkyo Integra CD player and was quite dissatisfied with the sonic characteristics of the Cambridge. The soundstage was not as distinct, vocals seemed slightly muted. The low end was not nearly as punchy.

I replaced the power cord as suggested by many of the reviewers on AudioReview and there was a large improvement, however not enough to warrant spending the money to replace my old unit. I don't know how anyone could have reviewed this player favorably without changing the power cord. I would have to say that I believe Lucio's review of the older D500 to be more representative of this unit also. I may now look at the AH! player and see if the extra bucks provide an audible upgrade.

My system consists of a Marantz PM7000 integrated, modified with upgraded opamps, metal film resistors and Panasonic caps, per Dejans recommendations. Onkyo Integra CD player. Kef 103/3 speakers with Kube, DH Labs BL-1 interconnects, and Audio Magic Xstream speaker cables.
Keith R. Shelton - E-mail: happijack (at) aaahawk.com

Hi Keith,
I am sorry that you are not happy with your player. Hopefully, you bought it under some type of "home audition period".
If you look at my review again you will see that I did change the power cord, and recommended that a potential buyer budget for a power cord replacement.

As far as the Ah! Tjoeb 4000, Scott Faller reviewed it quite favorably, and in fact, purchsed the review sample. While I do not have first hand experience with the Ah! Tjoeb, I do trust Scott's opinion. Keep in mind however, the price difference in the US, $579 for the Ah! Tjoeb, while the Cambridge Audio machine is widely discounted (I've seen it numerous places advertised for $399.) I should hope there is a big performance difference between the Ah! Tjoeb and the Cambridge Audio players for the $180 (31%) difference in cost.

While Scott bought the review sample of the Ah! Tjoeb, I am, reviewing the Jolida JD-100A ($900, review to be published shortly) which I will be keeping. Best Regards,
Nels Ferré

I'd like to add just few words about these two letters concerning the Cambridge D500SE CD player.
First of all, all complaints for defective units should be addressed to the manufacturer or to the distributor/dealer. We review test samples as we receive 'em, over a period which rarely exceeds six months, unless the reviewer buys the unit for his own system. This means that we can't foresee problems caused by long term use.

Secondly, HiFi gear, exactly as trousers, should be bought only AFTER a home (auditioning) test, if possible. Actually, I'm not surprised the Onkyo Integra CD player sounded better than the Cambridge D500. Though several years passed, such a good CD player can easily outperform entry-level CD players today available in the market.
While it is true that D/A conversion has been improved (though old TDA 1541 chipsets are still DAMN good!), output stages (and transports), which make the largest difference in sound, have been just made CHEAPER by means of el cheapo opamps instead of using hi-quality discrete circuits and plastic transports instead of solid metallic ones.
So, before buying a new CD player to "upgrade" your old one, be sure to compare them head to head. Chances are that, if your old CD player was of the expensive kind, the new player will be trashed by the old guy.
As I always say, don't believe the hype!
Lucio Cadeddu

Satisfied reader
Mr. Cadeddu,
First off, I wanted to thank you for your hard work and expense you bear in putting out your most excellent e-publication!
I have read several of the reviews, and made some Cat-5 braided speaker cable a while back ...

I currently use a tweaked Dyna SCA-35 int. amp into B&W DM-601 (original series) speakers, with an NHT SubOne for <55Hz fill-in. I currently use AQ Slate bi-wire speaker cables, as audio advisor had a close-out sale I couldn't pass up!
I have on order (pant, pant!) an AA Puccini SE and a pair of Titus 202 EX (Ebony(?) veneered) speakers ... supposed to arrive at the end of this month. I am happy to see a new review on the Titus!
I am curious about whether it is recommended to use blu-tack (or maybe Vibrapods) between the Tituses and my Target 60cm sand-filled & floor-spiked stands, or more spikes?
I currently have "blu-tack" type stuff (but yellow!) in there ... my room is 13' wide x 23' long x 10' ceiling (about 4m x 7m x 3m), with concrete slab foundation (floor) and 1cm padded wall-to-wall carpeting (as many American homes are done these days).
The spikes pierce the carpet to the concrete slab below ...
My main source these days is a Heart CD-5000 tube-modified CD player, I also have an old Thorens TD-145 turntable w/ Shure M-95HE (? or something) cartridge, and a Dyna FM-3 tuner. I need to replace the TT tonearm-to-amp cables (one has a poor RCA jack connection ...) and will be motivated to do so once the AA amp comes in!
Other system recommendations welcome ...
Thanks again,
Rick Young - E-mail: rkjyoung (at) attbi.com

Dear Rick,
thanks for your support and appreciation. I think blue-tack (or yellow tack) could be a good solution for the Titus, but you can experiment different solutions. If you want a tighter sound you could go for spikes, if you want warmer and softer bass you can try with Vibrapods (or soft door stoppers). Up to you to choose!
Speaking of upgrades for your system, I'd try a new cartridge for your turntable. If you like the "Shure" tonal balance you can search for a Shure V15. Older (and cheaper) V15 models are still available as NOS gear.
Let me know,
Lucio Cadeddu

Satisfied DIYer
I have made the TNT Triple T however I have a problem. I cannot use banana connectors on two of my amps, a NAD 3150 and 3020. The amps use spring clips both like the 3020 that you have. The cables are too big to fit in the little spring clip holes.
I'm considering either drilling the holes bigger or soldering one of the bi-wire cable ends to the other to reduce the wire size going into the clip hole or soldering the wires to a standard pin type connector. Should I be concerned about using the solder and/or creating additional resistance by reducing the size of the wire into the clip hole?
In the meantime, I have put together a variation of the Triple T with only 3 cat 5 cables per side. Even with this cable I have had very good results. The bass is very extended, the soundstage seems to have widened and the overall clarity of each instrument is better. One negative is that the highs on my Rotel amp are sometimes a little too much.
I was using the best of the Radio Shack zip cord.

I was very skeptical about getting any changes from this new wiring, but I must say that you guys know your stuff.... Thank you.
George Furtado - E-mail: gfurtado (at) kapaluamaui.com

Dear George,
glad to hear you liked our DIY TNT Triple T cable. You can use "pin" terminations which are exactly meant for king-size cables used into spring clips speakers outputs. I remember Supra made these...but it should be easy to find 'em at any RadioShack-like store.
In any case, soldering won't heavily affect the performance of the cable.
Lucio Cadeddu

Satisfied reader
I am writing simply because I came across your website and upon reading the Who Pays For TNT page I found something which is all too rare: an ad-free site that exists just because the people doing it are into it.
That is so refreshing to see! I love it! No banners, pop-up windows or any of that crap. The reviews that I have read have all been very informative and the writing is very conversational and sometimes humorous.
So basically I just have to say that you guys are great and that I think TNT-Audio is doing a great service. We need more websites with your approach! Thank you!
Nathan Marciniak - E-mail: saruman (at) execpc.com

Dear Nathan,
it is so refreshing to read letters like yours and see there are readers who understand our total and honest commitment to this hobby.
Keep reading,
Lucio Cadeddu

CD Player...which one?
Hi Editor,
Great site, thanx. Decision time?

Will be teamed up with a Yamaha AX 1090 integrated amp and B&W DM 602's spkrs. I am leaning to the Marantz, but worry I am wasting $ for no gain. Your advice?
Aaron Bunch - E-mail: aaron.bunch (at) showads.com.au

Dear Aaron,
considering you already have a pretty bright system (Yamaha + B&W) I'd avoid Marantz and Rotel. You could get a more "balanced" match buying the Cambridge Audio D500 SE or even the NAD C541.
Anyway, if possible, try to audition them with your system.
Let me know.
Lucio Cadeddu

Mysterious damping stuff
firstly, a big thank you to all involved with TNT. I have gone from "plug and play" to "what shall I have a go at next". What continues to astound me (and my now enthusiast girlfriend) is that we continually get improvements in sound, often very significant.

Anyway, to the point. I recently purchased a small roll of rubber mat. It is marketed as a non slip product and it appears to be made by dipping a mesh of thread in a very soft & grippy elastomer.
As a large degree of my tweaking is centered on turntables I immediately thought of using it as a mat on one of my rapidly growing collection (I am trying to get this under control). I used this as a direct exchange for the felt mat on a recently acquired standard Rega Planar 2.
It was a significant improvement. I suspect it isolates and possibly damps the record. Have you seen or heard of this product?
The only negative issue is the edge when cut round. If you are interested I will try to find out the trade name and manufacturer as unfortunately the roll I purchased had a badly damaged label on it.

As you can see I am still at the lower end of HiFi (at the moment)

Very best regards,
Brian - E-mail: BRKnight (at) ricardo.com

Dear Brian,
I'd suggest trying our double-sided TNT Janus DIY mat. You can decide what kind of sound do you want by simply choosing one of the sides.
As for your damping material, you have sent me two HUGE JPG's and I normally DO NOT DOWNLOAD attachments this large. If you succeed finding the manufacturer, I'd be happy to publish it here for others to test.
Glad to hear TNT-Audio has helped upgrading your system.
PS. DO NOT SELL the 3120, it's a gem.
Lucio Cadeddu

About Triangle Titus 202
About the Triangle Titus 202 bookshelf, I think it could be interesting for TNT-Audio readers to know that Triangle is a manufacturer open to DIY.
The equivalent of Titus 202 is knowed as Musa 202 (same tweeter, bass/midrange, size and, I guess, filter). Actually, it is not deep DIY work but rather finish-it-yourself since package includes drivers, nuts and filter. Since the box is very simple this is very interesting (and maybe a good way to enter DIY...).

Unfortunately, I do not know whether Triangle kits are distributed outside France, since the information for kits are only available from the french sub-part of their Web pages. For those who can read french (it is mostly parts lists and plans anyway), the kit list is at http://www.triangle-fr.com/easyline.htm
Eric - by e-mail

Dear Eric,
I was well aware Triangle makes DIY kits with its drivers but couldn't find that info on the English Homepage, so I preferred not to cite that info. Also, I'd like to remark that the binding posts on the Titus SEEM to not accept bananas. Actually, as it is quickly becoming common practice, one can unscrew the bolts of the posts and throw away the plastic caps that hide the holes for banana plugs.
As this is against CE safety rules, I haven't cited it into the review.
Lucio Cadeddu

Arcam Alpha 7SE CD player review
This message was stimulated by your recent review of this player. I bought my machine in January 2000 after a lengthy evaluation of the Arcam 9 and comparable Music Fidelity players. I was on a limited budget and with the new format players on the horizon did not want to get an expensive player that might have soon become obsolete.
To my surprise the longer I've owned this player the more I like it. (My previous player was the Philips 850 mark 2).
Many cds which I had thought to be poorly recorded have now been revealed by the Arcam as quite good. I also like the transparency of sound, the excellent low-level detail, without it being over-etched in the high frequency region. And I like the thought that when funds allow it can be up-graded.
Russell Finnemore - E-mail: r.finnemore (at) timatanga.net.nz

Dear Russell,
glad to hear you're enjoying your Music with the Arcam. Your previous Philips CD 850 mkII wasn't all that bad either ;-)
Lucio Cadeddu

Oldies but Goldies
I'm first time on Your site and I like it, congratulations :-)
Small question - why there is so few oldier but goldies amplifiers? I think than much more people buy good hi-fi used than new (for understable reasons).
I'm looking for my first good hi-fi and I have problems with finding descriptions of components which I find in second hand. EG. amplifiers: Marantz PM55, Luxman L-190
I would like to have comparison between old Marantz and Luxman models, and for example Pioneer A 400 X. Are You going to enlarge this part of Your page?
You can write a few words about such comparison generally?
Best regards
Aleksander Frontczak - E-mail: aleksfront (at) poczta.onet.pl

Dear Alek,
we have published a second hand buying guide that includes some recommendation on S/H amplifiers. Also, I'm planning to write more articles on HiFi gear of, say, 20 years ago as I'm a collector of this stuff.
The problem is that these things take a lot of time and we are struggling hard to find the needed spare time to review even the new stuff we receive!
With respect to the amps you have mentioned...I'd say the Pioneer A 400 beats both 'em hands down. The PM 55 wasn't an outstanding performer (actually, mediocre) and the Luxman was just slightly better.
Hope this helps,
Lucio Cadeddu

DIY: Triple T + TTS
Thanks again for all the useful information you share on the tnt-audio site, and for answering my question regarding the TTS mains cord.
A friend of mine, Christopher, and I, had what turned out to be an all night DIY cable session yesterday, which resulted in two TTS mains cords (ferrites and all :) and one set of 2x3m Triple T cat5-based loudspeaker cable.

In short, the TNT TTS so far sounds the equivalent of another, simpler design, namely a 3x2,5 mm2 solid core mains cable which is popular for DIY'ing in Norway. I expect this to change for the better during the next few days, which certainly was the case with the 3x2,5mm2 cable.

The real shocker was the TNT Triple T - a quick comparison with my Alpha-Core Goertz silver AG-1 biwire cables did not reveal any weaknesses on the Triple T's part. The story might be a different one in a better setup, but still... it's amazing.
The differences between e.g. AG-1 and MI-1 are quite apparent in my setup, so I guess the Triple T beats the MI-1, at any rate.
We are very excited to see what the Triple T amounts to in a few days, when it's broken in a bit.
Best regards,

PS! We used cheap CEAM cat5 enhanced lan cable w/ rip cord (CPR6707UTP) for the Triple T. Thus, the basic cost for the unterminated Triple T-set was $14... :-)
Cato Feness - E-mail: catof (at) ifi.uio.no

Dear Cato,
Thanks for sharing your experience with us. Keep DIYing!
Stefano Monteferri

Beer tweak :-)
[Beer tweak]
This tweak is very simple. Get 4 empty beer bottles (if you have only full ones, empty them but beware of excessive alcohol intake!) You must find those glass bottles that have ceramic "corks" held with a wire clip (see picture).
Remove the wire holder and then place the ceramic corks under your cd player and other elements.
The problem is the top is rounded and so is the bottom (this makes the contact surface between support and cd-player insignificant and stops colorations). In order to ensure maximum stability, I place 2 bricks with a concave slot on the stand where the cd-player lies and insert the bottom part of the "cones" into the slot, but not entirely. You may find other gimmick of your own to stabilize the corks.
What difference should you hear? The same difference between 256 colors pictures and 16 millions ones. From the medium and low range frequencies it will emerge a crowd of new hues and harmonics you never noticed before.
You will hear the music with your heart and not with your ears. This is the only music that should be heard. But for those who prefer the sound of their equipment more than the sound of the music, this tweak may turn to be disappointing.
Daniel Andre - E-mail: danane (at) free.fr

Dear Daniel,
Thanks for the alcoholic tweak (hic!). We will (hic) definetely (burp!) try it :-)))
Does the kind of beer influence the sonic result? Will a strong Ale sound better?
Keep DIYing!
Lucio Cadeddu

Cable madness!!
Dear Lucio,
My name is Joseph Diliberto and I live in Chicago. I have been reading your articles on TNT-Audio for about a month now and I am hooked, they are genius! We need more web-sites and publications of this magnitude.
I do have one question then I will let you go; any help that you could offer would be greatly appreciated. I recently purchased a pair of Magnepan MMGs and they sound great. I do, however, want to hook some bigger cables up to them than I already have, they would sound better, and was considering the option of just going out and buying some 10 gauge run of the mill Tributaries speaker wire.
If I decide to make my own, the TNT Star cables, in your opinion would using an eight conductor instead of a four conductor wire be a bad idea?
Here, the negative and positive speaker terminals would each get four conductors a piece, each conductor being thirteen gauge! A company named ProCo makes the wire. Would the resistance of such a big cable drop too low for my Crown DC300A series 2 amp to handle?
Any drawbacks, or should I just stick with your "star" four conductor design?
Sleepless in Chicago.
Joe Diliberto - E-mail: loudmusic2 (at) msn.com

Dear Joe,
I have no experience with a 8 conductor Star-like cable. The principle why the Star cable works is that connecting 4 wires in such a configuration helps lowering the inductance of the cable and minimizes electro-magnetic interactions.
I'm not sure how do you want to connect the 8 wires...just try to mimick the "star" configuration as close as possible. Then let me know your findings.
Lowering the resistance of the cable is NO problem, after all it is negligible when compared to the impedance "offered" by the loudspeakers...
Keep DIYing and keep us updated!
Lucio Cadeddu

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