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Readers' Corner - February 2002

Please take a moment to review the How to use the Readers' Corner manual

Cheap Speaker Tweak
Hi Lucio
Thought you (and other readers) might like to know about the tweak I applied to a pair of Tannoy Mercury M2. I bought these used for my second system and found that due to overtightening the woofer chassis had cracked (it's plastic) and vibrated badly at high volume bass.
So I set to taking the bass unit out and covered the whole of the plastic chassis with blu-tack and screwed it back in - it still vibrated! So I did the same with the tweeter and also the rear bass port. Still vibration!! I took out 4 of the 6 bass unit screws and the vibration disappeared (the blu-tak was holding it in place with no problem).
But what I noticed now was the treated speaker sounded very different to the untreated one. Deeper and more controlled bass, more metallic and less "tizzy" cymbals, sweeter highs - altogether more musical.
So I treated the other speaker to blu-tak as well (used about 5 packs altogether) and now they sound way, way better than they did in standard form.
It's amazing what a load of damping can do.
Malcolm Coulson - E-mail: malcolm.coulson@ntlworld.com

Dear Malcom,
entry-level speakers greatly benefit from damping tweaks. Cabinets and drivers can be successfully damped by means of blue-tac (or similar stuff) and the results can be astonishing.
Have you considered rewiring 'em with better cables? THAT makes a difference! For example, you can start with the very same speaker cables you use. Beware! Rewiring is not always recommended on more expensive designs as one can modify the tonal balance of the speaker.
Thanks for the precious feedback!
Lucio Cadeddu

Biwiring or not?
I just got my first pair of Klipsch speakers and like you said in your review for the price they kickass!!! But I'm not sure if I should spend the extra money on speaker wire to bi-wire my RF-7 . Do you think it works to bi-wire?
I've been on line checking out some reviews on bi-wiring and some say do it and others say don't waste my money on the extra wire!! One guy even said it could trash my equipment!
Jeff - E-mail: suttons@cfl.rr.com

Dear Jeff,
my opinion on biwiring is that if you already have a second pair of speakers cables you should definitely biwire! Otherwise, it is better to buy a better cable and monowire.
Simple as that.
Lucio Cadeddu

Audio Research preamp
Pre-amp death match: Audio Research SP-9 MKIII vs. Audio Research LS-22 (less than $2k!). (Both in B1 or better condition.)
If the prices were about $1,000 different, and you had the $$, which would you choose. I'm gonna buy one or the other in less than two days. I'm just waiting for a few expert opinions including yours.
PS - I have no phono and my mono-blocks have balanced connectors. Thanks!
(If you're ever in Tokyo, come on by for a listen. The room is a bit too small at 1,350 sq. ft. or so, but the sofa is comfy).
David Rudolph - E-mail: dhrudolph@japan.email.ne.jp

Hi Dave,
Considering the fact that you do not have a turntable, and your monoblocks have balanced inputs, the LS-22 is the way to go, in my opinion. The best thing to do, of course, would be to listen to both in your system.
Hopefully, you can buy them with a "home audition period", like I did with all of my equipment. I bought the SP-9 and truly love it. Although it got a negative review early on in Stereophile, it went on to become one of ARC's most popular products, with over 7,000 sold.
I would not, however, call my opinion "expert." I'm just another music lover, like yourself. Only your ears can tell you what you like. Trust them. Although I think it highly unlikely that I will find myself in Tokyo, if I do I'll let you know. Please let me know which one you decide upon, and how you like it.
Nels Ferré

Jolida 602 CD player
You mentioned the Jolida CD player in your well written review of the Cambridge D500 player. You briefly mentioned this players midrange while pointing out the Cambridge player's midrange qualities.
Have you, or anyone on the TNT staff written a review of the Jolida player? I wish perhaps that you would have mentioned the bottom and top ends of the Jolida player in comparison to the Cambridge also, even if just a sentence or so.
Again, the review (choice of words, structure, etc) was really good.
Neal Hood - E-mail: neal.hood@mindspring.com

Hi Neal,
Thanks for your letter. I am glad that you appreciated my work.
A review of the 603 was never written, as a replacement was in the works, and it is now discontunued. Jolida's replacement model, the JD-100, retails for $900.
As far as other comparisons, you are right, I should have made them. The bass frequencies on the Cambridge Audio D-500SE, is tighter, and higher in amplitude, in comparison to the Jolida. The upper ranges were very close between the two machines.
By the way, I reviewed the D-500SE, Lucio reviewed its predecessor, the D-500.
Enjoy your tunes,
Nels Ferré

WOW! CD tweaks that worked wonders
Hi Lucio,
I had sprayed the damping spray ($30 US) and added rubber feet ($5 US) to my new Teac CD recorder ($220 US). The improvement was *amazing*! Everything came into focus, and I think the bass improved a lot too. Only problem was I ended up listenting to music late into the night, and upset my wife very much. You guys should have a section on how to deal with wives and show us the light in that critical area too :-)

I felt like I was taking a risk with my brand new CD player (though only $220, I can't return it anymore). The improvement was so great that I would try anything you suggest without any hesitation :-)

I couldn't get the door stoppers for the rubber feet. I tried at Home Depot. I bought some rubber pieces, that Pep Boys was selling to improve sagging suspension springs of cars. The rubber pieces are stuck in between the spring coils to improve tension. These were very high density rubber, and so I assumed they would be OK for the feet. I sprayed the damping material on the inside of the cover, and also on the bottom of the CD player. I did both these tweaks at once, and so I don't know which tweak made what improvement. The overall improvement is just amazing! I wonder why companies don't do such simple things, which can improve the sound so much.
I also added a RFI mains filter ($5 US) that I bought at Radio Shack. It is a 6 outlet spike protector which also has a RFI filter.
I plan to build an interconnect cable and probably try to build an isolation platform, or media rack of some form. Right now I have the CD player stacked on top of my integrated amp. I am not sure if I can squeze out any more performance from my budget components (TEAC CD recorder, Polk RT25i, and used Audioanalyse PA60). Your advice?
Thank you very much for the tweaks and the info, you guys are great,
Chinna N.R. Pellacuru - E-mail: pcn@cisco.com

Dear Chinna,
glad to hear our tweaks worked that good. Since you ask, here's a trick for "dealing with wives" ;-)
Since our tweaks are inexpensive and can improve a system better than a change of a component, think at all the money our tweaks made you save and spend that virtual amount of cash buying a nice gift for your wife. Then add a small card "With compliments of TNT-Audio" :-))) It works!
The next step to improve your system is our DIY FleXy rack: it looks cool and it makes wonders, especially in your case, since you're placing the CD on top of your amp (bad!!!!!!!!).
Then DIY cables...you can't imagine how good they can make for just few bucks.
Keep us updated,
Lucio Cadeddu

WOW! CD tweaks that worked wonders - 2
Dear Lucio,
First of all congratulations with the great site you've got. Here is my experience with the Marantz Cd63SE modifications from your tweakings page. I took some of LLE tweaks and some of Thorstens tweaks.
- the cabinet was dampened by glueing on laed (Pb) sheet. This I had done before I even knew the TNT site, after reading and article on a Chord integrated amp, using a aluminium laed sandwich cabinet. The cabinet now sounds extremely dead and the sound improvements are OK.
- CD transport got the same treatment.
- AC cord is a TNT Merlino.
- the DAC has got the LLE modification.
- Muting transistors were removed.
These mods were done about a year ago and the overall result was already quite impresive.
Not so long ago I decided (after reading Phonosophie installs blue leds on their cd6000 based machines) to have a look again where blue leds can be installed. A year ago I had the same problem as Thorsten did, not finding a place where to put them and on how to power them. Finally I ended up installing three 9V bleu diodes in series powered by a 10V external power supply scavenged from an old printer.
The leds were glued into a 3 by 1 cm transparent plastic piece. This piece then was glued with superglue to the outside of the transport on the side where the small motor sits moving the laser.
Furthermore I made a 1 by 4 cm slot out in the cd tray to allow the light to pass. As I noticed that too much light made the sound thiner and shaper, a 2k ohm potmeter was installed to be able to vary the intencity of the light to my taste.
Potmeter and the small socket for the external power supply found a place at the back of the unit (drill 2 extra holes). Make shure the wires powering the leds can not get caught by the moving tray.
The sonic result of this last mod is really worth the trouble. The soundstage becomes wider and deeper, but especially the detail and the placing of the instruments improved dramatically. This was also very noticable on live recordings (eg Harry Bellafontes "Matilda" or The Eagles "Hell freezes over" between track 14 and 15) where indivual screams, whissels, handclaps etc. really come out.
The latest modification I did is one I did not like at all. From Thorsten's package to remove C655, C656, C657 and C658 and to use them to replace the output buffer PSU capacitors C651 to C654. The sound all of a sudden became little better than a decent CD walkman (except for the dynamics). The sound stage was reduced to a plane, the placing of the instruments wasn't there anymore. This mod was undone and the magic was back.

Most of the other modifications I have not performed as I can't find the high(er) quality components, but I'm still looking to find them. With these modifications the unit sounds really more open and controlled with a lot more dynimics. And bass has improved drastically. Now it really goes very low.
Thanks a lot for these fine tips.
Harald Oorts- E-mail: tractebel@terra.es

Dear Harald,
thanks for sharing your experiences with us (the blue leds tweak sounds crazy :-)
Lucio Cadeddu

Ariston PSU - again
Thank you very much for answering my question, but here is the missing info you may require. My turntable is an Ariston RD80SL, it has an AC Syncronous motor the one with four wires two red & two grey. At present it goes through two capacitors and one resistor. If any one else is reading this and may be able to help me in making a psu for this turntable then please do. Bye for now and Many Thanks to everyone at TNT.
Tony Taylor - E-mail: mail@psycophobia.fsnet.co.uk

Dear Tony,
first of all plan to use a mains filter. Even the one we suggest will give you benefits. If not sufficient, try with a 1:1 mains isolation transformer (of the shielded kind). Beware to keep this as far as possible from the turntable! A 100 VA unit should be enough. Then replace the caps with better and bigger units. Use a shielded mains cable like or TNT TTS.
Keep me updated!
Lucio Cadeddu

TNT Bullet Spikes
Hi Scott,
we can't buy bullets in England without a firearms certificate which is nearly impossible to obtain, but your idea is great.
Ken - E-mail: kenneth.jordan1@ntlworld.com

Hi Ken,
Thanks for the support. It's always nice to know that you guys out there like the site.
Hey, have you thought about this? Since you can't get bullets (without a permit), why not try this idea, Concentric Washers. Basically, take four washers of varying diameters (each one getting smaller) and epoxy them together forming a cone of sorts. Then take the assembed (and dryed) cone of washers, place them large washer down on a piece of wax paper.
Then fill the void inside the cone of washers with that same silicone caulk. Then top that all off with a BB (very small ball bearing about 2.5mm in diameter). Let that dry for four to five days (because of the greater amount of caulk used) then affix that to your equipment with some blue tak or rope caulk.
The basic priciple is the same plus these will give you a lower profile than the bullets. I haven't tried this, but it should work the same way plus it's nice and cheap too.
If you decide to try it this way, let me know how they sound.
Best regards,
Scott Faller

Stager Solid review - negative feedback
Dear Editor,
I have just finished reading your review of the Stager silver interconnects. I have never heard them, and I really don't know the company. But I was shocked to read a quite amateurish review that verged on comedy.

Are your readers so stupid that they would take a review seriously in which the reviewer doesn't even know that crossing an unshielded cable with a power cord will produce hum? It really leads the reader to take the reviewer as what this one clearly is - a person who wouldn't know quality audio from an electric fan.
This reviewer was not even aware that his preamp was not a tube unit. Also, he uses equipment which has been universally trashed as mediocre sounding - then pronounces the product under review as poor value for the money. I suggest that the evidence is that he was suckered into buying an amp and preamp which have been regarded as monumentally poor value for money.

He then goes on to suggest that it would be simple to build a pair of similar interconnects as a cheap DIY project. I shudder to think of the results this incompetent would obtain, as he cannot seem to be able to plug things in properly.

All in all, this review is written on a grade 6 level, little above toilet graffiti. I don't think it harms the manufacturer, whose comments were very well considered given the incompetence in the review. While I can determine nothing about the product, hence the review has no value, I can determine a lot about the reviewer.
I truly hope you will not publish such juvenile stuff again, I like your magazine, but this type of article has such severe negative credibility that it damages every other legitimate article you publish.
Robert Hutton - E-mail: Robert.Hutton@cmres.com

Hi Robert,
Thanks for your e-mail.
Gee, my review seemed to really get "under your skin." Not everyone will, or should, agree with my opinion, but I do not understand where the personal attacks are coming from. I do not pretend to know everything, or to have heard everything. If you can do a better job, Robert, by all means, contact Lucio and ask to come on board. Of course, this would involve revealing the components in your system. I'm sure that I, and others, can find fault with one or more components that you own.

You wrote, "Are your readers so stupid that they would take a review seriously in which the reviewer doesn't even know that crossing an unshielded cable with a power cord will produce hum?"
Robert, I am human. I am not perfect, like yourself. Of course I know that laying an interconnect cable on a power cord (shielded or unshielded) can induce hum. This was a case of not being able to see the forest for the trees. Some of our readers, however, may not be aware of this, and it was put in the review in an attempt to be helpful.
They may not be aware that this phonomenon can occur. I do not believe our readers are stupid, in fact, far from it. However, some may not have achieved your high level of knowledge.

Concerning my preamp, yes, Mr. Stager is correct, it is a hybrid design, with 2 twin triode 6922's inside, in the audio circuit. In case you weren't aware, 6922's are vacuum tubes. Stereophile didn't like my preamp. So what? Like my review, it's just an opinion. Does Mr. Stager quiz his customers before selling them his cables? I highly doubt it. I really don't think the McIntosh amp is in question here for anyone except Mr. Stager. Yes, it does have limiting circuits, similar to NAD's "Soft Clipping" circuit. At any rational listening level, it doesn't come into play.

As far as my abilities with a soldering iron, I did write 2 reviews for TNT Audio on preamp kits. I'm fairly certain I could handle interconnect cables.
And as far as the sound of the cables? Robert, feel free to spend $20 and build your own, or spend $120 and buy some from the manufacturer. They do, after all, come with a 30 day money back guarantee. It's your choice.

You say my review "verged on comedy". The funny thing is that I have spent far more time on writing the review, and answering the subsequent letters concerning it, than the manufacturer admittedly spent building them in the first place. That is quite sad, in my opinion.
While I was surprised at the unprofessionalism of Mr. Stager's comments, yours really take the cake. You are, however, entitled to your opinion.....
Enjoy your tunes,
Nels Ferré

Editor's reply:
There's no need to add more these wise words from Nels. Readers (and manufacturers) are entitled to their own opinions, of course. In our opinion, manufacturers, instead of complaining, should work to improve their products, when they get a not completely positive review.
Being free from adverstising support, TNT-Audio is able to publish exactly what our reviewers think. This implies we publish even negative reviews (though, by our standards, the cited review wasn't entirely negative).
...and it seems some of our readers have felt the same (see letters below).
Lucio Cadeddu

Stager Solid review - positive feedback
Hi Nels, Lucio, etc al
I love the TNT site and make it a point to visit it weekly. I also appreciate the fact that you (Nels) stated your views as you saw things.
After reading the Stager review, I was surprised by the manufacturer's reaction as I did not at anytime think in the overall context that the review was, sound-wise, negative, let alone especially or unfairly negative. To quote you: "Sonically, these cables are good performers, but not exactly my cup of tea. Not that they do anything "wrong" mind you, it's just that different cables sound, well, different".

That hits the nail on the head. Also, if your system can reveal the attributes of the Analysis and the JPS cables in earlier reviews (assuming it was the same gear), there can't be that much wrong with it for reviewing purposes, can it?
In spite of what some critics think of the review components, it is my understanding that quite a few units of them were sold and presumably, still give their owners pleasure. The manufacturer hasn't done himself any favours. It would be to my surprise if the owners look favourably at the manafucturer's product (Yay! Let's all go out and buy cables from the guy who roasted our gear on-line!), which is sad as it has nothing to do with the cable's merits, because your comments do point to the fact that it is a pretty decent sounding cable.
[Just for the record, based on my memory of hearing it all those years ago, I happen to agree with the critics' (and, I assume, although he has not at any time expressly stated he has personally used/heard the SP9, the manufacturer's) comments on the SP9. I may not rate it highly, but it is NOT such a piece of junk that one can blast you, its owner, for using it in a USD100+ cable review.]
I sympathise with the manafucturer - after a glowing review from Soundstage!, he probably didn't expect this. And having reviewers criticise one's products when one is passionate about them is akin to having unknown strangers criticise one's favourite child. But this is the audiophile realm, and putting a product up for review means one should expect criticism.
I commend the manafucturer for his passion and wish him the best with his product, but I think Nels (and TNT) is entitled to the opinions expressed, which given the context, this reader would not call "an embarrassment of a review".
Best Rgds and Long May You Run.
PS. Do you (or any one at TNT) qualify as a "professional" audio equipment reviewer when it is my understanding TNT contributors do this for free? (or, well, at least for the fun of having bits of audio gear take up temporary residence in their systems for free).
Lim Tim Lee - E-mail: tllim@ocbc.com.my

Hi Mr Lim,
Thank you for your accurate and concise letter.
The most difficult aspect of writing a review is to try to attempt to be even handed to both the products and the manufacturer, while being true to the reader. This becomes especially difficult for me when the product "isn't exactly my cup of tea." I'm glad that you feel that I handled it well. Reader's opinions mean far more to me than that of a manufacturer.

You are correct, I am allowed my own opinion, as is TNT Audio. Just the same, Mr. Stager is allowed his. I was, however, shocked at his comments. Considering the review wasn't a "rave", I expected something along the lines of "What I was trying to accomplish is..... and remember we offer a 30 day money back guarantee, thank you for your time." Instead, I got what you read. I can handle that. If I can't, I don't need to be a reviewer. Keep in mind, every manufacturer wants his or her gear, like a child, to be branded "the best." Unfortunately, in audio gear, there is no such thing.

My system has changed (and improved) since my JPS and Analysis Plus reviews. I do feel, however, that given the gear I was using then, I would have come to the same conclusion concerning the Stager Silver Solids.
And as always, TNT Audio has a no advertising policy, and no one affiliated with TNT Audio is paid for their work. When I first started with TNT Audio in 1999, my favorite part was getting to hear new and different gear. That, however, has changed. My best reward now is getting letters from readers like you. Readers are, after all, the reason for TNT Audio's existence.
Enjoy your tunes!
Nels Ferré

Stager Solid review - positive feedback
Dear Sirs,
I read with interest the review from Nels and the response from Marc on the Stager Silver cable. As a "Novice" to the world of Hifi I would like to share my thought with your fans.

  1. If I tested an interconnect and it sounded good to me (I don't care what the reviewer says) I'll buy it when the price is right.
  2. The suggestion of "upgrading" system components to suit an interconnect is totally out of this world. I cannot understand the logic of throwing away your beloved system so that you can keep a $100 cable. If the cable is only made for "perfect" system I don't want it. A cable should enhance my set-up and only I decide who gets thrown out...
  3. The $100 price is reasonable if the product is made in the USA and especially when it is "handmade/hand-assembled". I have paid more for a pair of branded RCA.
Lastly, it is a good review and both parties were frank and direct to the point. To all your fans, believe your own ears because there are no substitutes for it. Thank TNT for this wonderful site. Best regards,
Moey HC - E-mail: moeyhc@tm.net.my

Hi HC,
Thank you for your letter.
Of all the letters I have received this week, yours is my favorite. Why? Because while we are not in total agreement (pricing), my review got you to stop and consider what is important to you. It made you reflect on your priorities. That is my intention with any review I write.

One should never make purchase decision solely based upon any review, whether positive or negative. You may be a "novice" but you nailed it when you said "If I tested an interconnect and it sounded good to me...".
This is most important with any component under consideration. While the Stager Silver Solids were not to my liking in its intended use, another listener may love them. You have a firm grasp on the fact that we all hear differently, and have different tastes.
I commend you for your insight.
Enjoy your tunes,
Nels Ferré

Stager Cable Review - negative feedback
Stager's comments were right on the money. You should seriously reconsider your "reviewing" methodology.
Doak Wattigney - E-mail: doak@cox.net

Hi Doak,
Thank you for your note.
While I don't agree with you or Mr. Stager, I can't see the value of a mediocre cable at an inflated price. To use another example, when I go to a restaurant, I go to eat a dinner than I am unable to make at home. I do not see the value in a $10 sandwich that I could easily make at home for $2. Instead of spending time writing the rebuttal he wrote, along with the associated "research", maybe he should have gone to work on developing a better cable or possibly re-evaluating his pricing structure.
Enjoy your tunes,
Nels Ferré

Dynavector question
Dear Mr. Ferré,
I'm at the cusp of purchasing a new cartridge to replace the well-worn Blue Point. I have an LP12, Valhalla, Ittok table and have pretty much decided that I will have the boys at Music Direct (which is little more than a mile down the street) mount up a Dynavector 10X4.
I have one question. Music Direct have sung the praises of the "Gold" version of this cartridge. It's another $100 (although they told me last week that they'd discount it a bit more than the catalog states) and they swear sounds even better. They don't let me listen to compare. I've read your 10X4 review. Have you heard of this limited edition "Gold" update to the cartridge? I wonder if it's worth the $100. I'm nearly broke, but have squirreled away some dough to replace the Blue Point (it's six years old and heavily used).
I could, if it's truly a worthy step up in some sonic realm, consider the extra $$.
Thanks in advance and thanks for the good writing.
M. - E-mail: mgenett@earthlink.net

Hi M.,
Thanks for your letter, I'm glad you found my review helpful.
While I have not heard the Limited Edition Gold version of the DV-10x4MkII, I do know a bit about it. There are actually two versions, a Low Output (L) and a High Output (H). The Low Output version will require the use of a MC Head Amplifier, or the MC inputs on your preamp, if so equipped.
The differences between the "regular" DV-10x4MkII and the Gold models are an upgraded cantilever material in the Gold, as well as a different, more advanced cut of diamond tip. The DV-10x4 is unfussy as far as set up (i.e. VTA). The Gold version will require precise set up to sound it's best, due to the different cut of diamond.

Please be aware, the DV series cartridges are not retipped at the end of their useful lives, or in the event of accident. Usually, the worn or damaged unit is traded for credit towards an identical unit or upgraded, if you desire, towards another Dynavector cartridge.
The Gold series is different. This will be a cartridge you buy once. There will be no more. I got a bit curious as to what the owner will experience at replacement, so I contacted Mike Pranka, the U.S. distributor for Dynavector, on your behalf.
His remarks:
"For N. America, 15 H's and 15 L's came in. That's it. I have a couple of each on hand for possible warranty issues over the next year. If there's a warranty issue and a replacement Gold isn't still available (unlikely), the customer would be bumped up to 20X (of course at no charge).
The under $1K DV's, when old or damaged, can be traded in for a discount toward any new model. True, the Gold won't be available again as a new model, but it's figured that most folks (if they're keen on DV's) will likely move up the line when it's time- whether with a 20X or farther up."
And as far as performance Mike said, "The Gold is a nice step up in performance."
Either way, I think you will get a big performance boost over your Blue Point.
Please keep in mind, these cartridges will require about 75 hours of break in to sound their best. Please do let me know what you decide, and what you think of your new cartridge.
I hope this has been of assistance.
Enjoy your tunes!
Nels Ferré

Volume problems
Dear Lucio,
I read your answer to a question regarding output level for headphones where the general idea is that all amplifiers are better at louder volumes ("a common problem with EVERY kind of potentiometer", quote). If I understand correctly, this applies to amps driving loudspeakers, as well.
Well, I often noticed that at hi-fi demonstrations the volume is always loud. At home I use much more moderation. I usually have the volume knob at 9 o'clock maximum for most CDs and I only go up a little for large orchestral ensembles. When listening to LPs I set the volume between 8 and 9 o'clock (with a Dynavector 10x4 and a Black Cube preamp). I'm using a moderate output integrated amp (YBA Intégré DT, rated at 50 WPC) driving tall dynamic floorstanding speakers (93 db/ 4 ohms). At the mentioned volumes I get strong SPLs for my small room (19 square meters).
With many records I feel the sound is soft and lacks some punch unless I crank up the volume. But I cannot do this because I live in a city apartment (hence the small room) and I don't want to drive my neighbours mad.
I have tried monitor speakers in my room and they deliver a crisp punchy sound at moderate levels. But I don't want monitors because they lack realistic scale and show evident compression playing choral / orchestral music.
Now here's the question: will I get all that I need with low sensitivity floorstanders like Dynaudios (86 db/4 ohms)? I mean, would my amp perform better if it were to play at louder volumes to drive demanding speakers?
Please give me some clues. I'll welcome any kind of suggestion.
Mille grazie.
Nuno Vidal - E-mail: nuvid@ip.pt

Dear Nuno,
the problem I was referring to is hardly audible, indeed. The one you report is of a whole different kind. First of all, I'm pretty sure it's a problem of room acoustics. I mean, your room may eat the bass frequencies for breakfast so, to get some impact, you need to crank that volume up...and the system tends to sound shouty. Before changing speakers, I'd suggest adding heavy carpets and pillows to your room.
Secondly, perhaps your speakers need to be played loud to perform at their best, who knows? If working on the acoustic response of your room fails, you may try different speakers. I'd suggest Opera (Platea, Terza, SuperPavarotti) or even Polk Audio (RT series, powered woofers ones).
Let me know,
Lucio Cadeddu

Cambridge D500 review - feedback
First of all, I would like to commend TNT for another great article, this time, on the Cambridge D500.
After reading your review, I get the feeling that the D500 is another one of those highly tweakable players. Then again, maybe all entry level players are very tweakable?
My question is, are there any plans to write a tweaking article for this player, much like the ones for the Marantz players? If not, I could like to suggest that such an article be considered.
In fact, I would like to see more DIY and tweaking articles in general. I really enjoy reading all of them!
Thanks for the wonderful site,
David Zhang - E-mail: g1zhang@cdf.toronto.edu

Dear David,
thanks for the feedback! I can announce we're going to publish a review of the "factory-tweaked" D500, the SE edition. As for home-made tweakings, let me explain how the whole thing works. We can tweak components that we actually own, not test samples! Of course, the largest part of reviewed items are "test samples" we should return to the manufacturer/distributor, so we can't touch them.
On the other hand, simple tweaks like feet, internal damping, transformer damping and mains cable can be successfully applied to ANY CD player and the results are strongly encouraging. So I'm afraid I won't publish a tewaking session for the D500, as I don't own that player :-)
As for general DIY articles....stay tuned, as we're going to publish three new loudspeakers projects (these things take time, pls be patient), one battery-operated solid state phono stage, upgrades for the Convertus DAC and, perhaps (if things work as they should) even some solid state DIY amplification (pre + power amp).
Please remember this is a pure labour of love, DIY is expensive and highly time consuming, we do what we can. After all, we're are to have fun, not to fill our website with tons of designs. We publish only what we feel worth it.
Lucio Cadeddu

Upgraditis still going strong
I wrote about upgrading a few weeks ago, I am the one with 5 children and 2 cats, and a wife, which makes money short. However we splashed out and bought a pair of Wharfedale Pacific 40's. I took my DVD player and Nad 3240pe amp and listened to 4 Tannoys, some 603.5 B&Ws. I liked the Whafedales so brought them, about US$ 650.
When they came home I bi-wired them. The sound difference from my old Studio Monitors was amazing, it was like a veil being removed!!! I heard things I had NEVER heard on my cds before.
Last night for some fun, I biwired the speakers using A&B speaker terminals to bi wire the speakers. This tightened up my bass and made it quicker, and the sound stage became clearer.
You did recommend I bought a cd player instead of using my Hitachi DVD player, so when I save some more, I will buy one. Do you think the Nad 521 or 541 will a show significant difference in sound???
Thank you for listening,
Colin R Hopper - E-mail: colnmary@ihug.co.nz

Dear Colin,
I'm happy you're enjoying your Music better than before, now. As for CD player, in my opinion the 541 would be a significant upgrade over your DVD player but do not expect something of the same order as with speakers upgrade. Speakers always made the largest difference, when upgrading. I'd suggest to try better cables, before changing components.
Try some of our zero-cost DIY designs, you'll be amazed!
Lucio Cadeddu

Soliloquy 6.2
Hello from Tokyo.
I was wondering if you've had a chance to listen to the Soliloquy 6.3s? They're about 20% more expensive than the 6.2s, but probably offer a fuller sound and may be an even better value for the money.
What do you think? Is it worth the extra $500 and 10lbs. per unit? (My back is gonna be in a world of pain if I buy 'em and try and set them up myself, but a sacrifice I'll willingly make if it's worth it).
Thanks for your time.
Dave Rudolph - E-mail: dhrudolph@japan.email.ne.jp

Hi Dave,
I've never heard the Soliloquy 6.3's so I can't say whether they are worth it or not. The best I can suggest is to try them at a dealer's, to hopefully get an idea if you like them. Also, make sure that you have very high quality electronics driving them, as they will not be forgiving at all when it comes to source components or amplification.
You have one thing right though: your back will be in a "world of pain". Do yourself and your back a favor and have a friend assist you should you decide to make a purchase.
I hope this is of some help.
Nels Ferré

Still Jolida
I read your review for JoLida JD-502B Integrated Amplifier, but my question is, if you know, what do you think about JOLIDA 801A ?
Thank you in advance,
Boris - E-mail: Yra@aol.com

Hi Boris,
I have heard every amp that Jolida currently markets, and for the most part, I like them all. All if the pure tube amps are really good, in my opinion. Be aware, however that I only listened to the 302B and 502B long term, the others were listened to over an afternoon at most.
Their hybrid amps do not sound nearly as good, however they cost far less, (the top amp in this series is only $650) and are a good bit better over mass market Japanese gear.
Also, if you are using a subwoofer, there may be compatibility issues between the amp and your subwoofer. The subwoofer out option (if so fitted) may or may not have enough output. If I am correct, the 802B will be a bit more difficult to set up.
To the best of my memory, the bias adjustments for this amp are on the underside, which means you will have to put the unit on its backside, powered up, speakers connected, while making the bias adjustments.
You may want to have a friend help you stabilise things so that the amp doesn't do toppling over. This would not deter me from a purchase, but I thought you would want to know.
I hope this is of assistance.
Nels Ferré

Great site
Hi Lucio Cadeddu,
A great site. I don't know whether I was obsessed with audio and started reading your site, or whether I started reading your site and became obsessive with audio. I think it's the latter :-)
I think you folks are doing a great job, by honestly sharing your reviews. Keeping the site and the whole enterprise commercial free definitely adds to the authenticity.

I particularly like your willingness to look for value in "budget" and used components. Not everyone can afford, or are willing to spend a lot of money on highly priced "audiophile" components.
After reading your site, I bought a used Audioanalyse PA-60 ($150 US). I am also planning to buy a Teac CD recorder ($200 US). I built the FFRC cable. I am also planning to try and tweak the CD recorder by using the damping spray and the soft feet. I also bought a pair of Polk RT25i bookshelfs ($180 US, this particular purchase was also in part because of the good review by Stereophile).
The review of Audioanalyse PA-60 on your site is only in Italian. I translated it using the translater on altavista.com. The translation was pathetic. But, I bought it anyway because it was in your good used components list. One question: my Audioanalyse PA-60 doesn't run hot. Even if I run it for hours, it is not even warm. It sounds good though. Did the later version of this amplifier somehow rectify the heat problem, or is my amplifier not working properly?
You guys are great, and thanks very much,
Chinna N.R. Pellacuru - E-mail: pcn@cisco.com

Dear Chinna,
thanks for your kind words. The PA 60 should run pretty hot, as it was a high polarization amplifier. Either your version has a lower polarization or it has been modified. Anyway, if it sounds good and you're satisfied with it, just enjoy it! At 150$ it was one hell of a bargain!
Let us know how your tweaks work into your system,
Lucio Cadeddu

To drive an AC Motor
HI I've just come across your site and I must say it is superb.
You seem to cover a lot for the diy enthusiasts, but can you help me. I'm after a diy circuit to build a precision mains suppy for my ageing Ariston turntable. I don't really want to start spending money on something this old, so I thought about going the diy route and have a bit of fun on the way and enjoy the final creation.
If you have any info, I would be very greatful. I have searched the net for something like this but nothing has turned up so you are my only hope.
Many Thanks,
Tony Taylor - E-mail: tony@psycophobia.fsnet.co.uk

Dear Tony,
first of all you need to know the tech specs of the motor of your turntable, eventually you can have a look at the way it is powered now and try to do something similar with better components.
Unluckly, I don't have tech infos on your turntable (you don't even specify which model of Ariston is it!) so I can't comment any further. Perhaps some reader owns a similar model and can lend a hand.
Generally speaking, even if this may sound weird, changing the mains cable with something better than stock (like our DIY ones) can improve the performance of any turntable.
Another meaningful tweak consists of motor damping via small amounts of blue-tac (or similar stuff).
Lucio Cadeddu

Philips CD 960
Dear Lucio,
I believe my recent speaker purchase (H. Kloss's Ensemble-not the audiofile's dream but exceptional when great care is taken in speaker location / I am currently using near field set up for the satellites) has rekindled my audio interest for the first time since about 1989.
This I believe is because of the articulation of the newer speaker, having used large Advents, stacked, single so on since their creation. My CD 960 was probably tamed-smoothed out by their use, now it sounds a little harsh on the high end in some places (particularly the high end of horns: Copland Applation Spring /Telarc- Atlanta Symphony (Louis Lane) CD-80078- Rodeo and Brubeck- Take 5 are examples. The rest of Take 5 for example sounds incredible particulary the drums. Other compliant is the piano could use more body and presence (Brubeck's Greatest hits/columbia legacy ck 65417).

Thank you for a wonderful site (obviously a labor of love), it has been a real thrill to find such a great resourse unaffected by advertising. I own a Philips CD 960 and am considering the purchase of a used DAC, (I have been reading great user reviews of Van Alstine's Omega 4 DAC) could you please tell me about this DAC and briefly suggest some others that might do well with my Philips (bought new in 1987/1988) and such places I might begin to look for them.
I am also curious if you might share briefly your musical and any comments on the CD 960, I have never really heard any.
Primary gear:
NAD rec. 7175PE (considering using one NAD 214 or even 2 bridged as the future amp section and the 7175 as the pre amp??)
CD-Philips CD 960 (on the way to me-monster interlink 400 MK II / Statmat CDi Blue / new Aurex mat / Viprapods in use and being considered for my other pieces)
CSW H. Kloss ensemble (2 sats on stands and 2 passive subs, biwired: one complete cable to each cabinet) also considering HSU VTF-2 subwoofer for the very bottom.
Limited budget
Thanks in advance for any help you might be able to give me.
George Elsasser - E-mail: wedart@elsasserphoto.com

Dear George,
the CD 960, as cited in my recent review of the Philips CD 723, is still a fine CD player, especially thanks to its super CD transport. The DAC section is - perhaps - a bit too old so an upgrade may be welcomed.
Unfortunately, I don't know the Van Alstine DAC, so I can't comment (perhaps we can get one of these for test).
The reason for the harsh sound could be different, though, as I can't remember the 960 sounding harsh in the highs. Also, please consider that REAL horns DO sound HARSH, almost unbearable. Try to listen to one of these a few meters from it...you'll be lucky if your ears won't bleed :-)))

Furthermore, if you're not using decent interconnects and speaker cables...you should upgrade these, first.
As for your NAD receiver...instead of upgrading its power section with a separate power amp...it should be better to consider a new integrated amp, instead, more "audiophile" oriented. Still from NAD, if you like that kind of sound, or alternatives from Rotel, Harman Kardon, Arcam, Musical Fidelity.
Keep me updated!
Lucio Cadeddu

Just thank you
Thank you all for putting together a site that is the most worthwhile I have been able to find. I am not an audiophile; just a novice. After close to 15 years of listening to a compact system, I am once again, putting together a system for listening pleasure.
Your Tweakings section is most helpful, as well as the Buying Guide.
Please continue to provide us with this kind of information.
George Furtado - E-mail: gfurtado@kapaluamaui.com

Dear George,
definitely, we will.
Lucio Cadeddu

Subject: About Marantz CD-6000 - Help me please
I have a big (content-related and technical)) problem to resolve. Nobody doesn't know or are wrong in this subject. Maybe specialist and expert like You can help me, please.
Namely: is that true, volume control on the headphones socket (and on analog cinch outputs) in Marantz CD player CD-6000 is digital or analog (I mean on the remote control + and - volume) ? And when I control volume lower (- on remote) in my Sennheiser HD-580 connected directly to CD-6000 headphones socket can I lose and miss some bits from the signal and voice from CD record?
Maybe this is only digital control of resistance like traditional analog potentiometer (without losing resolution and details)? Does resolution of sound fall down when I decrease volume on the CD ? Must be always maximum for the best sound?

This is very important for me because when I connect my headphones to amplifier socket the sound (details, space,...) is worse. But when I connect my HD-580 directly to CD-6000 socket the sound is wonderful for me. I know, the best choice is a Headphones Amplifier (like x-can, creek, ...), but I'm not super audiophile and I'm listening rather rock music, acoustic guitars, unplugged, blues, etc, a little classical music. This quality with directly CD-6000 and Sennheiser HD-580 is sufficient for me.
Therefore I'm asking about loss and miss some bits from the signal in my music when I control lower volume from the remote in my Headphones directly connected to CD-6000 socket (not to apmlifier).
Will be the sound better when I adjust volume in my Marantz to maximum and connect headphones to socked in good integrated amplifier (I have Onkyo A-8820, unfortunately, but maybe in the future I change it to better, maybe you advise what good and no expensive integrated amplifier can I buy, for example Pioneer A505R, 209R, Marantz 6010, 7000, 66, NAD, etc...???, my interconnects are: Monster 400 MK II, my speakers are 60W/8 ohm, but generaly I'm using headphones, and in the night only (little child, you know)).
Please help me and explain about losing sound or bits (or not) during decreasing volume from remote control in my CD-6000 headphones socket, when I'm listening directly connected HD-580 to CD-6000.
Sorry for a long and boring letter, but I can't find any information about that.
Thank you very much, best regards Aleksander Jelonek, Poland
E-mail: olekj@pro.bsb.com.pl

Dear Alek,
very strange question, indeed. You're satisfied with the sound you get from the phones output of your CD player...so, what's the deal? Use it and enjoy the Music!
Anyway, the volume control doesn't work in the digital domain so, you won't lose bits :-)
The problem with CD players volume controls is that - normally - they are of poor quality so the sound gets worse at high attenuation levels (low volume). This is a common problem with EVERY kind of potentiometer, actually, that's why I always recommend to PLAY IT LOUD!!! :-))))))
The best situation is achieved with the volume control set for the max output. This holds true both for the phones output and for the line RCA outputs. If you can, do not use the volume setting of the CD player to adjust the volume. Set it to max and leave it so.
Finally, it is very strange you get a poor sound using the phones output of your amp, this normally happens with very bad sounding/designed amplifiers.
In case of need, try upgrading your amp with a NAD, Rotel or Harman Kardon model.
Lucio Cadeddu

Old CD players
Dear sir,
in a recent review of a Philips CD player, you seemed to have a grasp on the Philips vintage, mentioning the 960. I wonder if you can tell me anything about the CD-80. I have one I am using as a transport and am pleased with it. The only tweaking I did was to dampen the behemoth with Dynamat and I use a damper on top of each Cd I play.
Thanks for any opionion
Bob Charlanza - E-mail: epcn@poconorecord.com
(Originally Chiarolanza from Rome, long before I got it).

Dear Bob,
the CD 80 you mention is from Marantz, I guess (sometimes referred as Philips CD 80 in some Countries). If so, it made use of a very good transport and excellent, solid cabinet so I'd suggest to keep using it so (I mean, as transport). As for upgrades, try a set of Vibrapods in lieu of the stock feet.
Finally, stay tuned on TNT-Audio...as a quite interesting digital cables shootout test will soon be published.
Lucio Cadeddu

Cheap speaker stands
[DIY Speaker stands]
Dear friends,
here is a suggestion for all of you who want to buy speakers stands. Please, don't throw your money away on expensive "hi-tech-super-ultra-de luxe" stands. Take your time, and read this article, please.

Few weeks ago I bought second hand B&W 602 speakers and decided to make proper stands for them. So, I went to the nearest house building stuff shop, and bought YTONG syporex blocks, which are sold in various dimensions. Those blocks are pretty heavy and very cheap. For example, block 60X25X30 cm is about 25 kilos and here, in Croatia, price is about 5 Euro/piece and they are very easy to work with.
To isolate stands from the floor, I used screws for metal (flat head) 10 cm long, 5mm in diameter, with proper bolts, and rounded metal plates about 2 cm in diameter, with a hole in a centre (you can take 8 coins of the same size and make 6 mm hole in each). So you need 8 screws, 8 bolts and 8 plates, which will cost you about 3 Euro. If you want to spend more money, buy normal spikes.

Talking about tools, you need wood-saw, electric drill (I used screwdriver), the level, ruler and pencil. I wanted to make stands about 50 cm tall, so I need to saw-off about 10 cm of each block. It is very easy to do, so if you are doing that carefully, You will need 5 minutes per block.
When sawing there will be a lot of dust (your wife will be very happy, of course), but that's the way it is. After that, with the electric drill make holes at the bottom of the stands, about 2 cm from each edge. Screw the bolt on the screw, put the rounded plate on the top and insert into the holes. Then take the level and adjust to be horizontal.
And, that is all, my friends, within 30 minutes You will have very good stands for the price of one CD. Put the speakers on the stands and enjoy your music.
To make stands heavier I put granite slab (2 cm thick) on each stand.
If you have any suggestions or improvements, please contact me.
Thank you for your time.
Damir Hlobik - E-mail: Damir.Hlobik@pliva.hr

Dear Damir,
thanks for the precious tip (good for our next-to-come DIY website).
Lucio Cadeddu

Jolida 302B with a subwoofer
I am considering purchasing either a Jolida 502B or 302B and found your review extremely helpful. I, too, listen to a wide variety of music (classical, jazz, latin and rock). While considering which amp to choose, I've been going back and forth over the same issues you mentioned.
Currently, I have a set of B&W DM 23 3-way monitors and an Angstrom subwoofer. So, I was especially interested in your suggestion about the 302/subwoofer combination. Have you had a chance to hear that combination?
Also, how do you like your 502? I would appreciate any help you could give me in my decision. Thanks.
Dan Baschkopf - E-mail: dbaschop@maine.rr.com

Hi Dan,
Thanks for you letter. I am glad you found my review helpful.
I have not yet had the chance to hear the Jolida 302B/subwoofer combination. It's just a case of no subwoofers for review.
It has come to my attention, however, that some people have had issues with the Jolida amps with the subwoofer option. It seems that the output from the subwoofer jacks may be too low. I would suggest a home audition if at all possible. I think I'd still prefer the 302B option over the 502B, assuming the 302B mates well with your subwoofer. The 302B just seems to get the midrange absolutely right. Of course, a 502B fitted with KT-88's would be a fantastic choice, assumung you get a good set of tubes.

I still own my Jolida 502B, and I still like it. I still think it's a great value for the money, but not in the league of my Audio Research preamp / McIntosh power amp combination.
That's OK, though, we are talking a price increase more than double over the Jolida, even considering buying preowned on the preamp, and getting a healthy discount on the power amp.
Either way, a home audition, in light of the subwoofer in your system, is strongly recommended.
I hope this is helpful.
Nels Ferré

Budget amp
Hi Scott
due to financial reasons, I had to let go of my Ray Lumley mono blocks, my MA 120 B's. Audio Research spa, Accustom 1 + 's, AD T 1000, 7000 series 3 with hdcd.
Given a budget of $600 which integrated amp would you buy? The Arcam Alpha One or the NAD 350...???
Steve - E-mail: shencze@cogeco.ca

That must have hurt!
Well, this is my personal opinion but I'd go with the Arcam. It's a really nice piece with great sound. But before you commit to the Alpha one check out Audiophile Systems Limited. Gary and the boys there are the North American importers for Arcam. They have an "Nearly Perfect Sale" area which is essentially "B" stock that comes with a full manufacturers warranty plus local dealer support. Here's the link; www.aslgroup.com/audiophile/nearlyperfect.htm.
Take a look at what they have to offer. In fact I saw an Alpha 7r for $411. That's a great price for a "new" unit. You can keep a couple of those bucks in your pocket that way. The 7r is 45 wpc rather than 35wpc of the Alpha One, plus you get an integrated phono stage that sounds fairly decent (ya gotta love vinyl :-)
Then after you save for a bit for some decent speakers, go for the DynAudio Audience 42's. They are a great pairing with the Arcam amps. Through in a Njoe Tjoeb from Kevin at Upscale (to warm the system up a bit) and you will have a system that will rival those costing (literally) thousands more.
Don't worry at all about the "B" stock. I've bought "B" stock from these guys before and they stand behind the product fully. Reason I say that, I had a minor problem with my AVR100 and they shipped me a new unit without a question (via my local dealer of course).
Nels has also had good luck with "B" stock too. It's a great way to save a few bucks and still get a new, fully warrantied, piece of gear.
Hopefully that helps,
Scott Faller

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