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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June 2015

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Audio reviewing
Dear Editors, I'd really appreciate if you could make some commentary and perspective on Floyd Toole's talk:
Is this going to affect your methodology? Is there much sense in doing audio reviews the way you/we do? How do we get some assurance that audio reviews differ from reviews of homeopathic medicine?
I'm not being negative - I really like your site and have been reading your reviews for many many years. And I'd like to continue doing that. But I think it would be beneficial to get your stance on this new topic.
Because I am now wondering so many things: if there is such huge variance in speakers, not only between various speaker types, but even speaker placement, and how the speaker and the room interact together, how seriously can then one trust a review. Or are we about to admit, that it is no point in testing the 0.000001% flat response difference in interconnect cables, when there are multi-decibel differences in speaker reproduction curves.
Here are some more interesting talks:

(or maybe you could make a section of TNT site where you'd publish more such references). And a couple of products I'd vote to get reviewed: Keen regards,
Peter - E-mail: peter.kese (at)

Hi Peter,
Here is my reply, and thoughts on what you wrote. I could have written an awful lot more, but simply don't have the time right now. Other TNT staff may have different opinions!

I'd really appreciate if you could make some commentary and perspective on: Floyd Toole's talk

I found that video hard going, not because the points made by Mr Toole weren't valid, but because it went over ground that was covered many years ago.

Is this going to affect your methodology?

Not in the slightest. You have to be aware that we are simply music lovers much like yourself. We don't have access to an anechoic chamber, or expensive testing equipment. Al we can do is say whether something works well enough for us to recommend it.

Is there much sense in doing audio reviews the way you/we do?

It depends what you want from a hi-fi review. If you are seeking a definitive answer as to whether a particular piece of hi-fi will give you your ideal listening experience, then probably not. But if that is the case, the only review that will be valid is one that you do for yourself.

How do we get some assurance that audio reviews differ from reviews of homeopathic medicine?

That's not really a fair comparison, unless perhaps you are referring to reviews of Peter Belt type hi-fi products. But as you have chosen to compare hi-fi reviews to those of homoeopathic medicine, then I would say the similarity is that what pleases one person as regards hi-fi may not work for another, just as one homoeopathic remedy may work for some people but not others (if you assume that any homoeopathic remedy does work).

What all this boils down to is that appreciation of music (and music reproduction) is subjective. Back in the 1970's there was almost a war between the 'objectivists' and the subjectivists about hi-fi reviewing. I think that it is fair to say that eventually the subjectivists won, and although measurements of hi-fi equipment didn't completely disappear, it is far less common today to rely on measurements, than it is to read what the reviewer says about the equipment.

Because I am now wondering so many things: If there is such huge variance in speakers, not only between various speaker types, but even speaker placement, and how the speaker and the room interact together, how seriously can then one trust a review.

The reviewer can only tell you if something is capable of producing an acceptable performance in their system, used with their equipment, in their room. Again, I remind you that we are simply keen audiophiles, working from our homes, unpaid, and without vast financial or technical resources. Some of us may have extra equipment that we may feel is useful to substitute in a system in order to find out if the review item works better or worse with it. Even if we had access to an anechoic chamber, unless you have one at your home, testing the review item in those conditions would be more meaningless than doing the review in our living rooms, which are presumably much more like yours than an anechoic chamber.

Or are we about to admit, that it is no point in testing the 0.000001% flat response difference in interconnect cables, when there are multi-decibel differences in speaker reproduction curves.

I hope that we have all admitted that a long time ago. TNT has a loose policy of not reviewing cables anyway. But why be obsessed about frequency response to that degree anyway when it a;most certainly isn't audible. Think about listening to live music. The venue will have an affect on that music, and is highly unlikely in resulting in a flat frequency response. What a good hi-fi should do is enable us to enjoy the music that we like listening to live, as much as possible on our hi-fi systems at home. And think about yourself listening to your favourite music. Are you really thinking about the frequency response of your system, or the cables? Some of the best hi-fi though history has measured poorly but sounded great - and visa versa. Don't get me wrong, I don't want a system that is so 'coloured' it sounds wrong, but these days, most of the items that come my way for reviewing, and clearly 'flat' enough not to adversely affect the sound of the system.

And a couple of products I'd vote to get reviewed:

We don't have too much choice in what we review, less so these days since the economic downturn affected the amount of new products in the hi-fi industry. I have done a couple of articles on the DSP stuff though.
Nick Whetstone

Miniwatt N3 & N4
Hi Nick,
Even if here the hi-fi market is booming, the majority of the dealers sells famous (and often expensive) brands. All the rest is sold online and an audition prior the purchase is almost impossible (I already aknowledged that I was asking something stupid). Probably the only opportunity that I have to listen to the Miniwatt with a couple of small loudspeakers is to go to Hong Kong, as both companies are in from HK and there there are retailers with all the products available for testing.
By the way the N4 is not the upgrade of the N3, but it is a DAC/Headphone amp combo. Therefore the amplifier equipped with the two 6AD10 is not sold as a Miniwatt, even if maybe the manufacturer is the same.
Thank you very much for your suggestions and for the activity that you do at TNT Audio.
I am looking forward to reading the next week's review.
Kind regards,
Fabrizio - E-mail: fab_ferrari (at)

Dear Fabrizio,
thanks for the feedback! Stay tuned for more reviews...
Lucio Cadeddu

Oppo players wanted!
I've read that the Oppo players are great for deinterlacing and upscaling... I was even thinking about Oppo Dvd players or older Blueray players. Because I'm a budget buyer :) I've read that the DV-983H is the best dvd player ever made...
I'm planning on having the Oppo doing the deinterlacing, my iScan Mini the upscaling and the Darbee Darblet, the enhancements. If you know of any of this older models for sale, feel free to contact me, please! Specially the DV-983H as it will be cheaper! :) I can't find it anywhere!
Thank You Very Much!
Warm Regards from Portugal!
António - E-mail: antmdm (at)

Dear Antonio,
browsing the second-hand market is always a good idea! There are many places where you can find good deals, at least here in Europe. For example, Audiomarkt is one of the best second-hand places for HiFi, with many offers from private sellers and HiFi dealers. If German languages puzzles you a bit, try Ex-dem, a very good UK-based search engine for second-hand HiFi. It is one of my favourites. I imagine you've already searched on Ebay, of course!!!
Perhaps some of our readers has an Oppo for sale... :-)
Hope this helped,
Lucio Cadeddu

LogiTech Media Server and JPlay
Hi Nick,
I read your review on JPlay. I currently use Logitech Media Server to play a Squeezebox Touch and Squeeze Commander on a tablet to select music. How would JPlay fit into this system? What would it replace. Would JRiver Media Center replace Logitech Media Server?
Not sure how different players work together with Touch.
Thanks for any help you have!
Dan - E-mail: Dan.Bare (at)

Hi Dan,
I really don't know how JPlay would fit in on your system. I can only point you to the Logitech forum, or the JPlay forum, where I am sure that you will find an answer. and
Nick Whetstone

Original Miniwatt N3 or the model year 2015?
Dear Mr. Whetstone,
I have been reading your reviews on TNT Audio since many years and recently I read again the one on the Miniwatt N3 as I decided it could be my choice for my office desk set-up, maybe driven by another gain-stage (Ifi Audio - Micro iTube).
I am resident in China and recently the supposedly manufacturer of the Miniwatt, a local company based in Shenzhen named APPJ, has launched a version with only two 6AD10 tubes and no more impedance differentiated speakers outlets. For your prompt reference please check the webpage as per the following link.
It is understood that the best way to decide which one suits best my personal taste is listening to both of them, maybe connected with a pair of mini speakers, but in the area where I live it is almost impossible to find a dealer. Also I am not an expert of Hi-Fi, nor a tube connoisseur, as this will be my first tube amp.
Thus, I decided to ask you your opinion whether the new configuration would be a real improvement or not (at least in theory). In case of doubts, I will certainly adopt a conservative approach: buy the original Miniwatt N3 (unless you have other suggestions) and enjoy the music.
Your reply will be greeted as an act of courtesy from your side, and I won't feel offended if you will decide to decline to make comments to my somehow stupid question.
Kind regards
Fabrizio - E-mail: fab_ferrari (at)

Hi Fabrizio,
As I have not heard the new Miniwatt amplifier, I can't offer any comment as to whether it is a better amplifier for you than the N4. I do think that the iTube and N4 would work well together, and if you want some decent small speakers, the Trends SA-10's worked fine with the Miniwatt N3 when I tried them together.
I hope that this helps as it is never easy to buy hi-fi when you can't hear it first.
Nick Whetstone

Mains leads conditioners?
Dear Lucio,
You've been very helpful with advice in the past and I regularly check some of the articles on your site. I have a Project RS into an Audionote Dac1 into a Soro s.e. I have noticed some clicks and pops recently and it's all being supplied by a very cheap DSE power board. In my hunt for something better I discovered at least three different price points, most promising dramatic improvements in sound. I've always been rather doubtful on the coax cable/interconnect cables and same applies here I suppose...
Being a musician I often see almost exact products in the music field that are half the price to exotic Audio brands. The Audio Energy 700 seems like a lovely product and also this local one here in Australia, but would it be superior to these below?

All these have different models also. If you get a spare moment anytime soon let me know your thoughts. I realise you probably get many queries so anytime that suits would be ideal,
Kind Regards,
Anthony - E-mail: abarkwith (at)

Dear Anthony,
it is almost impossible to guess which one works better because it all depends on the quality of the built-in filters: frequency range, filter slope, shielding etc. Before spending your hard earned cash I'd suggest you to install a simple Schaffner IEC filter on each component. It is an almost free tweak, especially if you can reuse those filtered sockets that sometimes are found on home PCs (even old ones). Otherwise these filtered sockets can be purchased on Ebay for as low as 5$ each. Just put iec inlet filter on Ebay and browse through the results. With 15$ you filter three electronic components, exactly where filtering is needed most (close to the circuits!). Using a remote filter can be less effective, since you have to take into account the distance between the filter/distributor and the HiFi component (plus the mains lead).
Worth a try, in my opinion.
Hope this helped somehow,
Lucio Cadeddu

Jplay review -- a suggestion
Hi Nick,
I am quite interested in computer audio but I have gone the Squeezbox route so I am not running a PC [I have squeezserver on a qnap box]. But I am ripping my CD's with EAC etc ... so I have some idea of what is involved.
However I wonder have you heard of ...MQN, which is a free minimalist PC player [you have to have everything in WAV -- no FLAC -- and can just play the tracks you store im memory]. It's totally free and is getting rave reviews. Here is a blog that has an installation guide.
As I say, I have not tried it [basically I don't have a laptop I could use and I am happy with squeezserver] and I just want to make you aware of it. Maybe write a review [I have no connection with the author and I have not even tried it].
James - E-mail: j.hamilton (at)

Hi James,
Thanks for the heads-up about MQN. I've had a look at a few pages of that very long thread, but can't make out exactly what it is, or how it works. Is it a replacement for JPlay, ie it works with something like Foobar to improve sound quality? I guess there is more info in the blog, but I'm a bit concerned that it doesn't seem to work with all FLAC files, and most of my music is stored in that format.
At present, I have run out of computers to try out this sort of software, and am reluctant to uninstall other stuff that is working well. I will get Lucio to put this correspondence on the letters page at TNT though, so readers (and staff) will at least get to know that MQN exists.
Thanks again,
Nick Whetstone

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