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Readers' Corner - June 2000

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Goldring 1042
Dear Lucio,
I discovered your site several years ago and think it is the best. Based on your reviews I recently had my 25 year old Rega Planar 2 cleaned up and the Goldring 1042 cartridge installed, based on your review of some time back.
The tonearm is a Linn Basik LV X (would be nice to upgrade someday). I also just installed the Lehmann "Black Cube". What a great sound. The vinyl sounds better than the cd but I am sure you hear that all the time.

One problem is the very low clearance on the Goldring stylus. I find that many of my records have a raised ridge around the outer edge. If I place the stylus in the grooves just before the first cut, the cartridge will sometimes be catch on the record edge and be caught there. Have you heard of this problem? Any suggestions?
Again, enjoy your magazine.
Blair Thompson - E-mail: bthomp@uniserve.com

Dear Blair,
the problem is well known and sometimes it is caused by the suspension of the cantilever being too soft. You can try with a lower tracking force and see what happens. Also, you may need to check the VTA (Vertical Tracking Angle) i.e. the height of the arm pillar. If too high, the cartridge could be not perfectly parallel to the disc. If this is the case, try lowering the arm. If all else fails...change the cart!
Oh well, a final advice, sometimes a good disc clamp may help, since it flattens the disc.
Let me know!
Lucio Cadeddu

Some Advice needed on Tweeking a pair of B&W speakers
Dear Editor,
I have just finished tweaking a pair of B&W DM 1400 speakers which I have had for about seventeen years. I used tips and advice from the TNT site quite extensively and the results have been unimaginably good.

There is one last point on which I want to consult you or anyone of the people at TNT. The crossovers of the speakers are mounted on the inside bottom of the cabinet, below the bass driver.
I would imagine that the crossover circuit board is subject to quite a bit of vibration due to the pressure built up by the bass driver. Should one dampen the crossovers and if so what material is best at absorbing the vibration?
Thanks in advance for you advice.
Syed Asif Hasnain - E-mail: hasnains@uninet.net.id

Dear Asif,
there are many ways to dampen the crossover components. The most used one is to cover the whole network with a black resin (tar) which dries in few hours. Among others, Sonus Faber uses this approach. Then you can use something like the Noise Killer, a damping spray compound that is very used in the automotive and car audio industry. Qualified car stereo installators should sell this product or something similar. The only problem with this approach is that you can't go back easily or service the crossover (if you need to change a cap or so) once the damping compound has dried.
You can then use some self adhesive damping sheet which is easier to remove. Again, car stereo and automotive parts stores are the natural sources for this kind of stuff.
Happy tweaking!
Lucio Cadeddu

Tweaking old turnatbles, the Vinyl Planet discovery
Mr. Cadeddu,
Thank you so much for your very useful story on tweaking the Garrard Zero 100, I nearly threw the old dinosaur out, but after some sessions of cutting, screwing and wiring I'm simply amazed about the improvement; now I'm going through the old vinyl collection and am amazed about the quality which beats in some resepects - clarity, dynamics - my cd player Marantz cd67OSE, which I considered quite good - not so much anymore.
Now I realise what old vinyl maniacs are talking about.
Thanks again and keep up the good work!
Jan Sennema - E-mail: sennechaos@zonnet.nl

Dear Jan,
happy to hear you're enjoying your LPs more than your CD's :-)
The Garrard is a good player but I'm sure you can get something better out of your vinyl. Consider a Garrard 301/401, for example. Excellent vintage stuff.
Get into the groove!
Lucio Cadeddu

NAD 306 - what speakers
It is so proud to see a PRO audio review on the Internet. The TNT site is unique and impressive. I am not an audiophile but I like to be and might be one day.

I have got a NAD 306 about five years ago and I rarely listen to it because I did not even know how to get a good "England made" British speakers for it. And I know it is not a RAW sound speakers which I like most for POP and Clubs music.
But I know it is so Goood for female vocal and Jazz or ambient, does AR or KEF match the BEST with this amp, I GUESS the KEF Cresta series may perfectly match to my amp?
Lawrence - E-mail: lsmkoo@nowonder.com

Dear Lawrence,
you shouldn't be concerned with the choice of a speaker that matches the NAD 306...choose the loudspeaker you like most and that's it. Your NAD will drive it, no problem even if the "load" is difficult.
The Cresta is a good speaker but I'd suggest you to spend a few bucks more to afford the Coda 9.2, still from KEF. It is a small floorstander that will free you from the need of expensive speakers stands and will deliver more bass. But please remember it is your ear to decide, so go out and listen!
All the best,
Lucio Cadeddu

TTS DIY mains cable
I have now made up a 3m "Snake" using three lengths of RG213 coax - and I'm listening to it right now!! Boy, it certainly is a thick cable .... but it looks really good encased in grey plastic braided sheathing. I have fitted an IEC plug to one end and a 3-core, 10amp plug to the other but, in my new house, this thick cable is the one I will use to connect a 15amp mains socket to an extension plug board, and then use thinner cable for the power cord from the plug board to each component.
The RG213 (with 4mm^2 core) is really too thick to be able to screw into the IEC plug connections.

At the moment, I have the one Snake plugged into my pre-amp ... so, like you with your first one, I cannot get the full good effect. I need 4 of these Snakes in all - for my 2 x NAIM Hicap power supplies, which power my preamp and my Prefix phono stage, and for my 2 x NAIM 250 power amps (I bi-amp my Maggies).

But, even just using the Snake on my pre-amp, I do believe it is giving a good effect, like you specified. A bit more air around instruments and also a bit more depth in the soundstage (which is something I think I have been lacking!).
Also, maybe, the noise floor has dropped? But, as I already have a better-than-normal power setup, by having a dedicated cable for my hi-fi components going straight back to the switchboard, the Snake probably doesn't make as big a difference (with only one component powered) as someone who just has any old mains circuit!

When I make up the Snakes which I will use to connect each component to the plug board, I want to use thinner cable than the RG213. Do you know of the product code (or type code) of a suitable coaxial cable which has a 2.5mm^2 core?
The CT125 cable which another article in TNT said could be used for mains cables (though I don't think as good as yours!) only has a 1.5mm^2 core - so I figured that a slightly thicker core would be better .... say 2.5mm^2. But I don't know a suitable cable!

By the way (even though it does sound good!!), I have a question about the braiding. If each core is shielded - whether you have two conductors in each core like you had, or just one like I have - then how can braiding the cables make a beneficial sound difference .... as no signal is getting outside of the shield to respond to being braided??

Have you ever tried braiding the 3 insulated wires - earth, active and neutral - and then putting them inside a copper braid to act as an overall shield?
Here the 3 wires with no individual shielding would interact with each other when braided .... so isn't this the way of "taming" the power line interference and grunge?

By the way, since you obviously like "tweaks", a tweak which I did recently - which I read about in "enjoythemusic.com" - I thoroughly recommend (and it is supposed to make a difference even for CD players like you have). It certainly makes a helluva good difference for an LP turntable like I have!!

Just first of all - as it's cheap - get a concrete paving slab (say 400mm by 400mm - anyway, big enough to support your CD player). Rest this on 6-8 tennis balls .... and you have a poor man's Vibraplane isolation platform.
The theory of this is that it filters out the very low frequency vibrations which are endemic to our environment (from trucks going past your house etc.) and lets the stylus do a better job of extracting the information from the LP grooves. But it is also supposed to be good for CD players as it isolates the laser and so helps to pick up the sound pits better.

If you like the result and want to make it visually and sonically better, then use squash balls instead of tennis balls (more flexible walls) and buy a slab of granite, marble or slate. You need about 15-20kgs weight .... and I have 36 squash balls supporting my slab.
It made an immense difference - it was like a pane of dirty glass was removed from in front of the music! And bass becomes so much more defined!
Anyway - ciao.
Andy - E-mail: Andy.Redwood@aspect.com.au

Hi Andy,
thank you for your email. I am really pleased with your results.
Yes, a cable which has a 2.5mm^2 core is better then a cable which has a 1.5mm^2 core. Unfortunately, I don't know any product/type code.
With regard to "braiding" the cables, are you sure that no signal is getting outside of the shield? Shielding effectiveness is not absolute, but usually indicated using a percentage value. This is the reason why some cables, to obtain better results, use a double/triple shielding technique.
Unfortunately, those cables are expensive and difficult to manage, and this is the reason why I suggest to twist the TNT-TTS (I've never tried them or something like your suggestion).
The twisting technique is also useful to fit together all three cables and to obtain a mains cable with a good looks! :-)
Finally, let me thank you for your suggestions. Unluckily, I'm not a tennis/squash player... :-)
Stefano Monteferri

Questions on Lowthers
Thanks for a great website, wonder if you can help me further?
I have Lowther Acoustas which are as a friend puts it "horribly coloured" I think that's a bit strong. I find most other speakers "horribly muddy". I use a Reichert 300b which matches the Lowthers a treat. However, playing a sine wave sweep I get too much sound at the 2 to 5 khz range.
This may be my hearing, as I get it on Tannoy 611's and Linn Helixes too. The amp is relatively linear at these levels, playing the same signals through it to an output meter, it starts to tail off at 12khz but isn't boosted as above.
What tweaks are there for the Lowthers? Do you stick car sound deadening pads against the back where the reflected mids from the driver bounce back? Have you any contacts in the Lowther tweakery field?
Paul Barker - paulbarker@westbourne-park.freeserve.co.uk

Dear Paul,
I do not know about the peak you get in the range 2-5 kHz, normally these things are HARD to spot as they depend mainly by the position of the microphone, which is mostly relevant when measuring single cone drivers as Lowthers. Slight variations off the axis can cause large variations in frequency response and sound pressure at certain frequencies.
So, turn off your microphone and turn on your ears: if you like their sound, then what's the deal? Is it because a friend says they are coloured???? It is YOUR ear to decide, not his.
Many widerange single drivers are referred to as "coloured" (and sometimes this is true ;-)) but the audiophiles who choose 'em should be ready to pay something in terms of neutrality so to get more in the efficency and dynamics departments. It is always a "give and take" game.
As for tweaks on Lowthers, I strongly suggest you to contact Bert Doppenberg of the Lowther Club in NL. You can read his inteview here on TNT-Audio.
Hope this helps.
Lucio Cadeddu

Various comments
Hi Mr. Director,
I have read your statement and happy to say that I enjoy what you offer to the world of audio design and audiophile development. I am a full time self employed worker of audio, doing speaker and pcb design. If I am not mistaken, your might love to see a world where the consumers of the world is of the enlighten kind, and not a usual aesthetic oriented mass who is either being educated wrongly or just plain unconscious of the prime objective in enjoying audio and its related equipment.
It is here that I myself tried to lift up what they should know more by setting up my web site, at least for my local people here, so in order for them to learn more on the technical side of owning a respectable piece of sound equipment.
It is for this reason that I ask you to take a look at my web site, where it is still in a very simple stage, and let me know what you think.
I will have to uplift it when I can, as to let them know how to understand a bit technical graph and diagrams, together with writings on good reasoning about audio.
I believe consumers today need more than what they know from any commercial source, in order to be the more knowledgeable kind .My web site is at www.crosswinds.net/~sunrock/preface.html.
We have thousands of salesman here, but they don't even know what they are talking about.
Choong - E-mail: sunrock@tm.net.my

Dear Choong,
thanks for your E-mail, I've visited your web site and found it quite interesting. I hope you'll find the time to keep it updated on a regular basis, one of the main problems of websites is that they don't get frequent updates. Keep up the good work!
Lucio Cadeddu

XLR to RCA Interconnects
Dear Dr. Cadeddu,
Your answer to the reader who enquired about an RCA to XLR interconnect is not quite complete, although balanced signal transmission is a complex subject. In this reader's case he had an amplifier with balanced inputs and a source with unbalanced (RCA) output. There may still be an advantage in using the balanced inputs.

In the true pro audio use of the word balanced, we mean that a balanced input device is a subtractor that only responds to the difference in voltages on the two balanced lines of the XLR (H and L) and pays no attention at all to any "common mode" signals that exist on H and L with respect to circuit common or earth. The RCA circuit cannot do this having only two wires, one of the wires connects the circuit commons of the source and the destination equipment together as well as providing the return path for the signal.

In an ideal world where no interference was around and everything was powered by batteries this would work just peachy but in the practical world AC leakage through power supplies and many other sources results in the chassis or commons of various pieces of equipment not being at the same potential. When joined by an RCA cable unwanted current flows in the return lead and may corrupt the desired signal.
Balanced transmission, as you are aware, fixes this by routing the unwanted common mode currents thrugh a third wire and presenting the wanted signals to the differencing amplifier at the balanced input.
Even in the case of an unbalanced source there still is an advantage because if the XLR input is a true differencing input because the common mode voltage existing between the CD source and the amplifier can be ignored. To make this work you construct the XLR-RCA lead as follows:
You must use twin-ax cable, ie. twisted pair inner conductors surrounded by an outer shield:

XLR (hot) - inner twisted pair 1 - RCA (tip)
XLR(cold) - inner twisted pair 2 - RCA (body)
XLR(gnd) - shield - - - - - - - - RCA (body)

or if you can join the amp to the source with a separate grounding wire this is even better:
XLR (hot) - inner twisted pair 1 - RCA (tip)
XLR(cold) - inner twisted pair 2 - RCA (body)
XLR (ground) - shield - no connection at source end

There are also cases where if a balanced output is a true differential floating (like in pro audio) balanced output, designed to emulate a transformer, it can be advantageously connected to an unbalanced input, but I have probably bored everyone enough for now.
BTW: I couldn't figure out the correct email address here so I sent it to you, the letters page did not seem to have an email address for it?
Dave Mate - E-mail: engpc@solid-state-logic.com

Dear Dave,
many thanks for the tip. I still believe it is better to use a real XLR-XLR connection - hence an XLR equipped CD player in this case - but your scheme seems worth trying.
Thanks again for the precious info, and yes, that was the correct e-mail address :-)
Lucio Cadeddu

Congratulations and PC Audio
This email is to say Thanks and Well Done! TNT is very interesting and stimulating - I have been looking for information about cables, interconnects etcetcetc and now I have found it!
I have been shopping at Maplins and other places and will shortly be able to tell what difference the wires will make to my music.
I use Quad stuff except for a Musical Fidelity The Preamp, and am enjoying Pat Metheney at the moment - I am starting to experiment with using my PC as a signal source - the MP3Jukebox! - any plans for stuff about music and computers?
Thank you for all you efforts...
Simon Painter - E-mail: simon_painter@talk21.com

Dear Simon,
thanks for the appreciation! No, we won't ever have a section devoted to "music & computers" apart from single articles every now and then. We prefer to remain strictly HiFi-oriented, with a traditionalist approach.
We believe MP3 has nothing to do with High Fidelity (as any other digital compression) and as soon as Internet connections will get faster and storage easier, MP3 will disappear. In a word where everything can be stored in digital uncompressed files (thanks to larger than life hard disks, RAMs modules etc.) there will be no longer need for lossy compression.
Let us know about your findings on DIY cables.
Lucio Cadeddu

RCA-XLR interconnect
Dear Sir,
Thank you for a great site.
I noticed a letter in your April issue of the Reader's Corner regarding the above but I do think I have a somewhat different question.
My cd player (Musical Fidelity X-Ray) comes with only RCA terminals but my amplifier (Pathos Classic One) is fitted with both RCA and XLR connections.

I would like to take full advantage of the Pathos XLR terminals and recently noticed a company (purenote.com) that produces an interconnect with RCA connectors on the cd side and XLR connectors on the amp side.
These silver interconnects could be the answer to my "problem".

Thank you for your help,
Michel - E-mail: BGK.cgmunich@t-online.de

Dear Michel,
balanced connections (XLR) have nothing to do with the connectors which can be used, it is a whole different way to transport the audio signal that NEEDS both the source and the "receiver" to be built as "balanced". So you can use the XLR connector but you wouldn't have a real balanced connection, as long as your CD player has NO XLR outputs.
So, to take full advantage of the XLR terminals on your Pathos amp...you need a balanced CD player with XLR outputs.
Lucio Cadeddu

TTS DIY mains cable
I found the TNT site for the first time last weekend - fantastic! I am currently reading many articles which I printed off, from the "Tweaks and DIY" section.
You wrote some articles about the "Snake" power cable. I have some questions and I would be very grateful if you would be able to answer them for me:
Firstly - Does the length of the "Snake" power cord matter?

You made a 3m long power cord (at least your second one, for the CD player was, because you said you found a 9m length of the Pirelli cable in the shop).
Would a 5m length have been better - in other words would a 5m Snake do more of the "good things" which it does to the power supply, whereas a 1m length would do less .... or what?

Secondly, I am still a bit confused as to how a length of power cord can do "good things" when the electrician's wire which you have in your walls running from the central circuit-breaker board to the power socket is full of "bad" power and line interference. .... I know, I know, you listened to the difference!!!
I assume the Snake must actually be "taming" these bad things and stopping them reaching the hi-fi component - so I would have thought you have to have a certain length of Snake cable to allow it to work its magic??

The reason for these questions is that I am about to build a house .... so this is the opportunity for me to get the "best" power to my hi-fi that I can devise! I am going to have a dedicated power circuit for my hi-fi, straight from the circuit breaker board - ie. with nothing else plugged into it - so I have two alternatives:

If the Snake is "taming" the hash and grunge then the power going into these 8 power sockets should be "Snake-quality" and I can use normal power cords on each component??
Are you able to help me?
Andy Redwood - E-mail: Andy.Redwood@aspect.com.au

Hi Andy!
The lenght of the TTS-Snake power cord is important because of its "filtering action". The filtering action is more obvious if you use a long GOOD cable.
I use 3 meters cables for all my equipment + a 3 meters multi-plug. Six meters in total!
You can use a good shielded cable with a good section (at least 2.5 mm2, better if more) for a dedicated power line, but you MUST also use a special cable like the TNT-TTS for your HiFi components power connection to avoid EMI interferences where those are more dangerous (i.e. near your system! :-)).
Hope this helps,
Stefano Monteferri

DC Supply for 300B Heaters
Dear TNT-Audio,
Thank you for giving us a HiFi site that is truly REAL and PRACTICAL. Your untiring effort to keep the site Up-To-Date and Fun to visit is very much appreciated. Thanks A Million.
I like to change my integrated SE parallel 300B heater supply from 5.0VAC to 5.0VDC. I have built an external regulated 5Vdc power supply to do the job but is unsure of the connection to the 300Bs.
Is there a polarity to connect it? If yes, please let me know which pin is +ve and which is Gnd. Is there an advantage in using four separate supplies over a single unit?
My other valves are 12AT7 x1 & 6SN7 x2 and I intend to group these valves together with one 6.3Vdc supply. Your valuable input on this subject is very much appreciated.
Looking forward to your reply soon and all the best to you and your family.
Best regards,
HC Moey - moeyhc@tm.net.my

There is no polarity indication for the DC filament supply on 300B data sheets, so you should not worry; instead, be careful to precisely set the current at 5V, as this is the voltage the tube was designed for, so 5V is better than any higher, but even any lower, voltage!

Few authors reported that a regulated DC power supply on filament sounds worse than an unregulated one, but for sure there should be a little less noise, so it becomes a problem of balancing tradeoffs, as usual; anyway, should you feel, listening to the new version, that it sounds worse then before, take into account that you are not the first one...

There should be no problem with using a single, regulated heater supply for all the low power tubes. Note that all tubes you are using are indirectly heated tubes, in which the filament circuit is completely isolated from the signal circuit.
In theory there might even be some diaphony between one tube and the other, but only through capacitive coupling, and given the very low impedance of the filament circuit, it should cause definiltely no practical problem.
In practice the added cost of a separate filament supply for each tube would prevent any commercial manufacturer from using it, and they would be probably right.
Remember anyway to connect the 6.3V filament circuit to ground somewhere.
Thanks for your appreciation.
Giorgio Pozzoli

Readers' Corner tips & tweakings - TNT Stoneblocks
Dear Lucio,
thanks for your tips & tweaks corner, btw that's where all got started for me! I've just tried the "graphite block clone" feet and am so pleased. It seems other means are not able to combine coupling with clean hights.
I use them under my CD player for ages now - natural and clean, similar to taking off resonant parts. Now that I tried them under my monitor speakers I am even more fascinated.
Cymbals are more palpable, like a change from soft dome to titanium tweeters, without harshness and precise, like with my cdplayer - problems seem bigger with speakers.
I plan to build some feet for use under spiked speakers now; and if I could find out what material this is, I will try to build new cabinets with this as a core..
As I feel there is a lo to find out, I wonder if there could be something like a steady reader corner in the tips &tweakings section, dedicated to each tweak.
Like the Ariel speakers, an open project... (as things look to me, there is lots room for detailed improvements)...
Philipp Gussmann - E-mail: philipp.gussmann@stud.uni-muenchen.de

Dear Philipp,
the TNT Stoneblocks are made out of a synthetic foam, as far as I know but you can find some of these even in pure abrasive rock. So I do not really know where to find the same material in large quantities...
As for the Tips and Tweaks corner, well, this is one, for example. Then we have a vivid mailing list where to discuss about tweaks and other topics. But, if I understand well, you would like to see a kind of new section devoted to modifications of already published DIY projects and tweaks. Well, this depends on you, mainly.
For example, our Italian mailing list has now a fully devoted website (managed by a listmember)... you can find DIY projects, advices and even a buy/sell section! The webmaster is just waiting for a fellow webmaster to manage an English version of it (only seriously interested proposals, please!). You can find the site at HiFi Friends, feel free to contact Andrea Cattolico for collaborations anytime.
For example, one of the recent projects on that site is a no-crossover Monacor-widerange tower loudspeaker. I suggested the driver (Monacor SP 155X), a listmate made the cabinet!
Think about it, we can't DO EVERYTHING.
Lucio Cadeddu

Magic matching
Hi Lucio (or whoever you decide will be able to answer this question),
in your report on Milano's '99 HiFi Show you mention the updated remote-controlled Puccini SE was driving a French Triangle speaker.
Which model from Triangle was it and did it sing?
I'm always keen to learn about magic matches. In my imagination I would assume that Puccini's fluidity may blend well with Triangle's fast dynamics and good definition. Or would you have any other magically matching (medium sized floorstanding) speaker in mind for the new Puccini SE?
Other question: does "entirely remote controlled" mean volume and source?
Thanks for letting me know,
JaiPee - E-mail: jpkolly@freesurf.ch

Dear reader,
I can't remember the model of Triangle driven by the Puccini but for sure it was a big floorstander. BUT!!!!!! Please have in mind that the Triangle speakers sold in Italy have a modified crossover, with a resistor to attenuate the tweeter, so to fit Italians' taste better (???) or so the Triangle distributor (Audio Analogue, that is) once told me.
So, your mileage may seriously vary.
Another well-known magic match is the Sonus Faber Concertino.
And yes, entirely remote controlled means volume and inputs.
Lucio Cadeddu

© Copyright 2000 Lucio Cadeddu - https://www.tnt-audio.com

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