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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December 2002

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Atoll IN80
I would like to start by saying that your review was one of the best I have ever read, taking into account that I have been a Stereophile reader for five years now, the fifth being the last. It was nice to read a review without the snobby and pretentious attitude taken when reviewing lower budget components.
I started out with a Copland CSA 8 with Paradigm Reference studio 60s' but I had to unfortunately down size due to the budget constraints of buying a house.
I had purchased my Copland for 1500$ and my Paradigms for 1500$, the deal of the century here in Montreal. How to get compatible sound for a 1000 dollars less seemed impossible. Extremely saddened by the departure of my dream system, I was left to search high and low for something that I could live with for the next five years without going into depression.
Behold, the entrance of Atoll on to the Canadian market. Just prior to testing the Atoll, I had taken out a Simaudio Celest for a try for giggles at 2000$, took the time to really listen to it and I said to myself, disaster in comparison to my departed Copland.
Then out came the Atoll for 800$, matched with a pair of JM Lab chorous 715s for 900$. A match made in heaven, best bang for buck, music to my ears. Your review expressed everything I was feeling and hearing into words. Finally, proof that I had made a good decision.
Alan Bourdon - E-mail:

Dear Alan,
I'm glad to read you've found my review of the Atoll IN 80 honest and straight to the point. As always, we try to report exactly what we feel and hear, and while this isn't always appreciated by the manufacturers (I'm pretty sure Atoll didn't like my review of their CD player ;-)) it is the only way we know to write reviews. It is relieving to find audiophiles who confirm our findings. At least, it seems we're not 100% deaf :-)
Lucio Cadeddu

Expensive HiFi
Dear Lucio and all at TNT,
Congratulations on a fantastic website; I have been a regular reader but this is my first letter to you. I just wanted to comment on Geoff Husband's editorial on HiFi a priori all other household purchases. I agree with him that these days there can be many demands on our money for spending on entertainment, whether it be televisions, cars, holidays, etc.
Like him and many others, HiFi for us falls third behind the house and car(s), but I would rather spend a little more on good HiFi than a better(!) car, which quite frankly doesn't give as much enjoyment as the HiFi at home. Indeed, is there anything worse than listening to discs in your car! (I can expect the barrage from in-car listeners now, who presumably like to mix their music with car engine noise, road surface noise, horns and other manifestations of road-rage!).
I can understand that many reviews of very high-end, and I mean in cost, not necessarily in quality, equipment is for the majority of us only to dream about. However, we can all get very good reproduction without spending a fortune, and TNT is to be congratulated on a good mix of reviews for our all pockets. Keep up the excellent work, and a Merry Xmas and New year to you all.
Myron Christodoulides, Ph.D. - E-mail:

Dear Myron,
I, for one, prefer the SOUND of those 220 bhp's roaring when I drive my car more than the tunes from my car stereo set-up :-)
Anyway, life is a delicate balancing act.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you and your family!
Lucio Cadeddu

Rounded spikes!
Dear Lucio,
I saw many of your reader looking for all kind of "home made" rounded speaker spikes to protect their floor. I am personally using Round Head Square Neck Bolts (not slotted). They are rounded, very strong, come in all kind of size, easy to adjust and they are treaded.
Did I mention that you can find them in any hardware store and that they cost only a few cents? The rounded shape protects the floor and at the same time allows for an almost pinpoint contact for a very stable and acoustic support.
One last good point (pun intended): My home being very old, floor level is less then perfect (one full inch of level difference for my speaker base!), most spikes are not able to cope with this kind of leveling, but the bolts being made at different length can adapt perfectly.
Best regards,
Ans Beaulieu - E-mail: abeaulieu@MEGABLOKS.COM

Dear Ans,
as usual, thanks for the precious feedback!
Lucio Cadeddu

B&W CDM 1 SE and the others - please opinion
My name is Olek, I'm from Poland, I'm reading TNT on www very often and I like your articles very much.
I have a little problem, I have Marantz CD-6000, Marantz amplifier PM-63, Siltech SQ28G, Sonik AST-200. My room is 15m2. My fav music is rock, blues, acoustic, like: Clapton, Sting, Led Zeppelin, Dire Straits, Joe Cocker, Lenny Kravitz, hits of the sixties, etc..

I'm looking for a monitor loudspeaker (no floorstand), two-way, with bassreflex port in front (they have to stand by the wall about 25 cm). I'm reading, looking, listening to some models. Which is the best choice to universal applying of music, to relaxing listening, no noise, with warm sound, no increase mid or high tones, with good stage and stereo?
I'm talking about good-average level, because I don't listen classical and jazz music, but I like detail and audiophile sound. My choice is among teh following:

  1. Infinity Alpha 20
  2. B&W CDM 1 SE
  3. Celestion Impact 15 (15 I)
  4. Cabasse Antiqua MT222
  5. Canton LE 103
Please say something about these models and the matching with my system (little bright, good dynamic, good speed, but no aggressive).

P.S. Is there a sense in changing my Marantz amplifier PM-63 with a Marantz PM-7000? I want one company segments because I want to use only one remote and the amplifier is turned on by a timer in the Marantz ST-6000 tuner (something like alarm clock).
Can I hear differences in sound between the PM-63 and the PM-7000 (maybe this model will be better to drive CDM 1SE ?).
Thank you very much for any information and suggestion.
Best Regards,
Olek Jelonek - E-mail:

Dear Olek,
first of all, your selection of speakers is pretty strange and "inhomogeneous", to say the least. Anyway, among those, the B&W CDM 1 SE appear to be a good choice. Anyway, you MUST listen to those speakers and COMPARE.
Secondly, I wouldn't change your PM 63 with the newer PM 7000. Just save some extra money for a much better amp, instead (Marantz PM 17, for example).
Hope this helped,
Lucio Cadeddu

Triangle Dangle :-)
Ciao again, Lucio!
I'm a 'bit confused after reading Stefano's review about the Comete 202. He described it as a warm, perhaps euphonic sounding, and you made it clear that the Titus is nowhere near a warm and forgiving sound, sounding a bit dry.
I heard the oldest Titus and I tend to agree with you, but, do Comete 202's sound that different? And it's almost the same!
I was wondering if I should consider these Triangle speakers because I'm a set fan; I could probably get away with a 2A3 amp with Comete's. Any thoughts?
I currently own JMLab 706's and a MF Class A amp.
Dalibor Bauernfrajnd - E-mail:

Dear Dalibor,
the Comete - compared to the Titus - have a bigger midwoofer into a larger enclosure. According to Stefano, the sound tends to be warmer exactly because of the mid-bass "tilt" caused by the bigger mid-woofer. He also recommends using warm and relaxed amplifiers. This means the Comete mid-high range is similar to the Titus one, not a surprise, considering they share the very same tweeter.
In the end, if you liked the Titus, I'm pretty sure you'll enjoy the Comete with your tube amp. Anyway, soon we'll publish the review of the floorstanding Triangle Celius 202.
Stay tuned & keep me updated!
Lucio Cadeddu

Problems with turntable
Good morning Mr. Geoff Husband,
I'm Marco Fongaro from Candia Canavese (near Turin) - Italy. Every week I hope to find your turntable tests on TNT-Audio. Now I need your help!
Last september I bought a new Rega P3 2000 with RB300 and Elys; my amplifer is a Symphonic Line RG9 mk3 with pre-phono. When I listen to some records (new or second hand), sometimes (at the beginning of the soprano sax solo or soprano voice) I hear distorsions.
This problem is very very hard with "Upon Reflection" by John Surman (Ecm Records). It's impossible to listen the first track, from the middle until the end, when Surman plays the soprano sax. From the tweeter arrive not clear sounds or music but only incredible distorsions.
In the Hi-Fi shop where I bought the turntable, we tried to listen this record with a new turntable Klimo - only good music !
We tried to listen to my turntable with a Rega and Klimo pre-phono but it's the same. We also tried to change the cartridge with a new Rega Elys but nothing. Next week-end we will try to change the arm. What is your opinion ? It's possible that the Rega P3 has these problems to read some records of good quality?
Excuse me but my English is not very good!
Thank you for the answer.
Best regards
M. Fongaro - E-mail:

Thanks for the mail.
Normally this sort of distortion is at the end of a record where the groove passes slowest and so groove "wiggles" are sharpest, or 2/3 the way through where alignment is poorest. Both usually come from a worn stylus (most likely after 500 hours+) or poorly aligned cartridge. A dirty stylus is a possibility.
However in your case it's the first track so that points elsewhere. VTA will be spot on because you use a Rega cartridge and I assume alignment/tracking weight is also correct. Therefore we are left with two possibles. First that the Rega cartridges (I have no experience of them) are just not able to track the sort of levels the record has and that those levels only occur at this point on the record.
If so try another make of cartridge, Goldrings track pretty well. The second is that there may be a fault with the RB300, probably bearings.
Rest assured that though the sax and female vocal are difficult you do have a fault of some kind and as your tt is still under guarentee than it's up to the dealer to fix it...
You English is excellent :-)
Geoff Husband

Banana Plugs or What?
Dear Sir,
I really searched the readers letters but there were too many. So the question might have been asked but I will ask again. Some people around thinks that banana plugs or plugs must be used with speaker cables.
They say that bare wire oxidises and the connection looses its performance. In my opinion if another plug is used between the terminal and cable many parameters will also get in the business. (quality, coating, material.. etc)
Also I know that one must solder the cable to prevent oxidation. What is your opinion?
Koray Pars - E-mail:

Dear Koray,
since this seems a frequently asked question I hope replying publicly will help others with the same doubts.
Wire oxidation is a fact, caused by the contact between oxygen and metal. There's NO WAY to prevent this, apart from tin plating the cable (a la Supra Ply). If you use bananas or other plugs you can't avoid wire oxidation. That's a fact.
The MAIN reason why many audiophiles prefer bananas is that these are SO lovely to plug/unplug. Actually, they add contact resistance and insert an obstacle to current transit: brass isn't a good conductor BTW, and the vast majority of bananas is made out of brass.
So, if you want to prevent oxidation, you can use tin plating (or tin plated cables) or even pure silver or silver plated wires. Even silver oxidates...but silver oxide is HIGHLY no problem!
Hope this helped,
Lucio Cadeddu

More info for TT lovers
have had the chance to try out cheap turntables recently, Music Hall's bottom of the line, and an old (circa 1980) Akai, and a few other cheap japanese brands as well, some on Direct drive, and others on belt drive.
Tried 3 diff. cartridges on these TTs....a Denon 103 D, a Stanton 881 s, and finally a really cheap Stanton 500E mark 2. And realized the following ....
As the turntables increased in (quietness/ allowing more total dynamic range , especially more true of the belt drives) the merits of the 103 D and the 881s shone thru....
In other words, on the really bottom end direct drives, even the USD 35- stanton 500e mk 2 was Very Good !! The other two carts were better, but it seemed a waste...until these better carts were used on better turntables..
Do try this cheapie cartridge, esp if you are going into a less than 150 dollar is good engineering, a nice elliptical diamond, and it does the job very nicely!
Oon some amps and TT combinations, you might need to "earth" the two together, also. Would recommend any cheap TT, (dd or belt) with this 500e mk2 and with the Rotel 931mk2, it sounds Very Nice and on a nice tight budget too! Be sure to get Clean LPs! Do wash and vacuum, if possible ...
Enjoy the Music!
Kishore - E-mail:

Dear Kishore,
if you are serious about Music listening through vinyl, forget cheap all-plastic Japanese direct-driven turntables. A good choice and match for the Stanton 500 is any old and cheap Thorens belt turntable (TD 166, for example). These are easy to find and don't cost an arm and a leg. Also, they can support even more expensive carts.
Hope this helped,
Lucio Cadeddu

Which upgrade path?
Dear Lucio,
I found your site just over a year ago and have found the articles and tweaks interesting, informative and above all practical. I recently built my second set of Triple T speaker cables for my son who was so impressed with my first set. We are about to embark on an interconnect. Hi-fi to unite the family!

I would appreciate your view on my next upgrade. My system is currently as follows: Linn LP12/Valhalla/Akito/Dynavector10X4, Rotel 965LE Discrete (Kimber Silver Streak), Naim Nait 3 (with pre-out) as pre amp, Naim Nap 90.3 and Opera III speakers with Triple T cables.
My next upgrade was to be the Origin Live replacement motor and power supply followed by the Origin Live modified Rega RB250 arm to replace the Akito arm.
However, it has been suggested that I should sort out the amplification first and go for a Naim Nac 72 with a Naim Nap 140. What would you recommend?
Many thanks and keep up the good work.
Kind regards,
Fergus Taylor - E-mail:

Dear Fergus,
perhaps you can upgrade buying a NAP 140 power amp first, using the good preamp section of your Nait 3. The Opera III's definitely need POWER, drive and control of their woofers. The 90.3 is good...but the 140 is way better.
Just a comment: I'm surprised you had no troubles using the high-capacity Triple T cable with the power section of your Naim. Naim amps are known NOT to welcome highly-capacitive cables.
Have you compared our Triple T with a set of Naim NACA's wires? The electrical parameters of a set of NACA's (for lenghts above 2.5 meters per channel) have been set to offer the best possible load to Naim power sections. They may be worth a try.
Keep me updated!
Lucio Cadeddu

A humble request
Greetings! You were very helpful to me back in March 2000, when I was trying to select a new CD player. (I ended up with an NAD C540, and I've been very happy with it.) Well, it's upgrade time again, and again I'd like to ask your opinion.

For about 12 years, I've had a Revolver turntable. I have their "Rebel" model, which came with an arm and cartridge. For years, I have been very happy with it. There's no question it was a big improvement over the Thorens and Denon turntables I had used previously.

However, about 3 years ago the motor began making noise. Complete disassembly, cleaning, and lubrication failed to correct the problem. If anything, it became even noisier.

I know I can buy an Origin Live motor upgrade kit for about $300 (US). Due to the Revolver's odd split-plinth design, installing the new motor would take some special engineering on my part; it would not be a quick replacement, but I could probably manage it.
However, the greater question is this: is the Revolver even worth the upgrade? Or would I be better off putting that money toward a better turntable? I can get a VPI HW-19 "Junior" for about $600, less arm and cartridge.
How would you approach this matter? Any opinion you can offer will be most appreciated.
I hope all is well with you and yours. And best wishes for the holidays.
Don Riemer - E-mail:

Dear Don,
I'm happy you found my previous suggestion useful for your listening pleasure.
I know your turntable very well. Indeed, I happen to use, from time to time, on my B system, the very same tonearm (installed on a modified ERA turntable)
Spending 300$ for the Origin Live kit is a NO-NO, in your situation. I'm pretty sure you can disassembly the motor again, take it to any good electronics parts store and ask for a replacement. Even many hi-end turtables use "real life" motors.
So, before doing anything else, try replacing the motor. With the correct tech specs (these should be written on the motor body or near it) you can even search for a clone on the Net (RS Components, Maplin etc.). This will cost you just a few bucks.
Anyway, if you were already planning an upgrade, that VPI Junior seems to be a good deal.
Let me know,
Lucio Cadeddu

Re: Softspikes for speakers on wooden floors
Hi Lucio
I read the letter by Manuel Pousada about his problem with spikes on a wooden floor. I got an idea, but I don't know if it will work. In the sport of fencing they put round tips on the ends of their sabres. I think it's called a pommel, and they are relative inexpensive.
Maybe Manuel can try putting some of these on his spikes. Here is a link to what I am talking about:
If this does not work, or is not feasable, simply get some small, round metal discs (some use coins, but I won't suggest this). With a metal punch, make a dent in the middle. Your spike can now rest on this. To help that the speaker does not go wandering aroung, a bit of rubber can be put on the underside of the disc.
This can easily be cut from the old inner tube of a bicycle (you can also get some from any shop that sells and changes car tyres).
Enjoy, Deon Cruywagen - E-mail:

Dear Deon,
thanks for the tip. Using coins as feet for spikes is a tweak that works. Another idea that allows moving heavy speakers around, saving wooden floors and carpets, is the one I suggested here on TNT: Teflon coated disks by GlisDome. That's what I use when I have to move heavy loudspeakers in search of the perfect listening poistion.
Lucio Cadeddu

Loudspeakers spikes - alternatives
Ciao Lucio,
I live in Portugal, and recently I have decided to buy a new hi-fi system, having also a concern to AV aspect. The system consists on a basic one, since the money hasn't that much.

In the future I am considering to change the front loudspeaker cables, add a subwoofer, and if possible, add and power for the front, and a back central loudspeaker for the 6.1 system that the receiver can give me... If you have any ideas please inform me...

But the reason for this mail is the following. My floor is a wood one, and to avoid the scratches, I have replaced the metallic spikes of the loudspeakers, with ones that I have found the golf shop... Yes a golf shop.

Some golf shoes allow you to change the spikes (for different types of pavement, almost like the spikes used for the football shoes) and I have found some with metallic thread of 6 mm, from the company softspikes, called Black Widow, that seem to work pretty well at the beggining.
The only thing was that the loudspeaker rocks a lot, and from the same company I have found another model a bit stiffer...
Have you, or some one tried this solution?

This a economic solution, and I would like, if possible, a review of these materials, to see if they work as well as I think they do...
Best Regards
Manuel Pousada - E-mail:

Dear Manuel,
I haven't tried these spikes, I certainly will as soon as I can get my hands on 'em. Thanks for the tip.
As for your system: forget adding another (!!!) speaker in order to get 6.1 sound. It is already a pain in the neck to set everything right with just TWO (2) speakers...go figure with 6!
Add a subwoofer instead (possibly a B&W model)...this is extremely necessary in any Home Theater environment.
Lucio Cadeddu

Looking for a small amp
I found your contact info through the TNT-audio web page. I need your help. Hopefully you can point me in the right direction. I just purchased a condo that has two built-in 4" x 8" 50-watt flush-mounted speakers in the ceiling in two different rooms (one room is on the first floor, the other in on the third floor).
I am looking for an inexpensive 50-watt stereo amp. to power the speakers for each room. I will use my television or cable box as the source. I've been to several stereo stores and music shops and have also surfed the net for solution. Any suggestions.
Dave D. Cecil - E-mail:

Hi David,
Thanks for your letter. While I have a nice system in my listening room, I have an additional (much) smaller system in my den for television duties. I've used a Harman/Kardon HK-550VXi receiver in this setup (45 watts per channel) for many years with excellent results. A search of a few brands on EBay (Harman/Kardon, NAD, Denon, or Onkyo) should produce a good number of excellent candidates.

Alternatively, if you have some skills with a soldering iron, check my review of the AKSA 55 Amplifier Modules. It would be easy to add level controls to this design; alternatively, you could use your TV remote control for volume duties, connecting to the amp via the "Variable Audio Output" RCA jacks, like those on my Sony 27" TV.
You haven't given me a point of reference as far as price other than "inexpensive." Inexpensive is really a relative term. Doing some looking online you should be able to find something that will meet your needs for $350 or less, assuming that you are open to the idea of pre-owned gear, which can be an excellent value.
I hope this is of some assistance.
Nels Ferré

Lucio, your sandblaster is FOR sure nice BUT...
As soon as I saw the TNT SandBlaster I remebered my beggining in pro audio:  When I was in my EE second course, back in the  70s,  I stared working for Beyma speakers in the summmers and for a guy that mounted Disco sound too.

We made a lot of Horns those days and they really sounded nice, BUT one day my friend called me and told me: "I have the ultimate system the: EV Jumbo"  It had a big 2x10 folded horn, two exponential horns and four teeters each. Coupled to a bridged BOSE 1200 amp each  THEY WHERE AWESOME.

Till the day I die, I will remember the first track we played, at  2 am just after finishing the wiring. It was "Pars" from Grace Jones and the Jumbos where incredible. I felt one of those sensations that will be with you forever.  THAT'S WHAT MUSIC IS ALL ABOUT. BUT  I will get again to the sandblaster story: the bass was so powerful that the Lenco L-75 turntables where unable to cope with the vibration and passed it to the stylus!!!! .  When you get more than 140dbs  vibration usually finds a path !!!
BUT after many tests we found a cure:  We built a 50x50x100cm box full with beach sand and put the Lenco's over the sand and voila!!! Pure and feedback bass.
I will always remember the sun coming out while we where at the beach filling boxes with sand !!!!
At 8am  the system sounded so good that I will never forget it.
I now use silica ULTRA fine sand for my bases.
Eduardo Abril de Fontcuberta - Spain - E-mail:

Dear Eduardo,
as already explained in the SandBlaster article, sand-filled boxes aren't a new idea in HiFi. These have been around for years. Not surprisingly you built one for your Lenco's. One drawback of sand-filled boxes (our SandBlaster included) is that their damping properties tend to decrease as time passes and sand becomes more and more compact. One may need to "shake" it from time to time :-)
Lucio Cadeddu

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