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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May 2006

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I do not present myself to be an audio or technical expert. I am a drummer by birth with a passion for almost all music.
I have a very expensive and rare Pink Floyd vinyl collection. I am interested in purchasing a turntable for my own entertainment. I do not want to damage the vinyl by using an inferior turntable. I also do not wish to spend thousands of dollars...any suggestions?
Scott - E-mail: gatewaygroup (at)

Hi Scott,
Thanks for the mail. First and probably most important to you is that no new "quality turntable/cartridge" will damage your records. By quality I mean anything from one of the big manufacturers so anything costing more than 150euro should be fine - the only thing that will damage records is damaged stylii and/or arms which are tracking at far too high or low a downforce or otherwise maladjusted by poor manufacturing or poor set-up.
Beyond that is how much you want to spend and what quality you want:-- Personally I'd look at the cheapest Rega, Project and Music Hall turntable/arm/cartridge combinations as a starting point, or a Technics sl1200 is an old and faithfull favourite?
Geoff Husband

"Real Stereo", a campaign for the obsolete
To whom it may concern,
It's good to see anyone with a goal and a cause doing something about it. But your efforts are misguided, the obvious advantages of surround sound for music playback has been ignored by the "high end" audio crowd for too long. It is almost ridiculous the lengths those in the pursuit of High Fidelity will go to ignore the obvious.
Your campaign is to maintain a long known inferior playback mechanism should be reconsidered and re-evaluated. I have made a living clobbering "High End" two channel systems with basic surround systems often costing significantly less. If you look at a Blumlien Array it receives sound from 360 degrees, thus it records in surround sound, and their nothing you can do about it. So to recommend listening without the ambient field captured by the microphone array cannot be considered the highest quality sound.
Take another look at your cause, I believe the answer to your pursuit is between mass fi theater in a box, and some 1952 tube harmonic distortion machine being fed by the sounds of a vinyl disc gradually being destroyed by a diamond stylus.
It is our duty as audio aficionados to present the future of audio, not the excellence of the past if we as a group are to grow the interest in this rewarding hobby.
You're welcome for the FYI.
Doug - E-mail: velocitydls (at)

Dear Doug,
perhaps stereo isn't the best possible system one can think of but for sure it is, in our humble opinion, the most logical one. Anyway, if you wish to add some "ambience" to the sound of plain stereo, you could just add a "center channel" (like Mr. Paul W. Klipsch did so many decades ago!!!) which reproduces the signal L-R, for example. The same thing was suggested by Brian Eno in the early Eighties.
You may already know the Klipsch Heresy was designed in 1955 exactly to serve to this goal, a non-corner center channel between two Klipschorns. As you see, nothing's really new under the Sun...and stereo proves to be "good enough" for our needs. It is not a matter of refusing new technology, it is just choosing the most logical solution to a simple problem: two ears = two channels. If you fancy, you can use three as suggested by the genius himself, Paul W. Klipsch. That was in the Fifties. Amusing, I'd say.
Thanks for the feedback!
Lucio Cadeddu

A piece of audio happiness shared...
Hi all!
Just wanted to share a piece of audio happiness with you, since you all know the feeling when something sounds "just right" when you put a record on, and you just can't leave your seat except for changing record.
Last week I received a NOS DAC Sigtone from Derek Shek (Monica2 will be tried sometime). At the same time I changed a pair of Linn K20 speaker cables against a pair of Supra Ply 2.0. I have a very modest set-up: Sony DVD => Supra Trico => the new Sigtone DAC => DH Labs BL1 => unmoddified T-Amp => Supra Ply 2.0 => Snell K original (but with new woofer). After two-three awful days of running in of the cables, yesterday everything started to change ... And now I hear music as I have never heard it before.
The music just pours forth, tight, present and swinging but still laid back, and certainly with lots of air and a soundstage just filling the room. You sing along, tap your feet, dream away and smile when Joni, Muddy, Ludvig, and Dmitri are in the room with you. And the best of all you don't need records of high technical quality, the music fills the room, swings and is full of its original emotion all the same.
The Sigtone was great out of the box but just keeps getting better (good hifi qualities: soundstage, details, focus, bass etc.) but first of all it makes great music. And the cables are now really starting to make the Snells bloom in a way the Linn K20 didn't.
Thanks TNT-Audio for directing me to the T-Amp and to Supra cables. Try the Sigtone NOS DAC by Derek Shek out! And the Snell Ks seem to be a T-Amps best friend :o)
The "T-system" cost me about 490 EURO (some things new, some used).
Cheers to all!
Johan - E-mail: johan.lofstrom (at)

Dear Johan,
glad to read you're so satisfied with such a low investment. It proves once again you don't need to be a zillionaire to enjoy good Music reproduction at home.
We will try to test the DAC you suggest, as you may know we're always looking for T-components :-)
Happy listening!
Lucio Cadeddu

Cables reviews
Hi Mark,
I have read your article published on TNT Audio, "BITS OF WIRE & PIECES OF STRING": To consider the cable as the only factor responsible of the change of the sound is a mistake.
The cable connects 2 HI-FI components, what we feel then of difference is the interaction between the two componenents and the cable. The studies of the physics applied to the cables can be useful, but cannot explain the sound of the cables, what we commonly call sound of the cables is an improper affirmation.
Every cable has one influence on sound due to the geometry and the materials used, but also the HI-FI components have much variable behaviour coupled together by the cable.
Best regards,
Valter - E-mail: valtergio (at)

Hi Valter Thank you for your response to my argument that cable reviews are almost useless.
I am so pleased to hear from you that it is the interaction between the two audio components via the wire that has the most audible effects, and that the material properties of the wire have less influence. If more audio enthusiasts remained aware of the interface between audio components there would be much less pseudo-science in the online-journals and paper-comics.
Music matters much more than wire.
Happy listening,
Mark Wheeler

TNT April 2006 editorial
just some comments.
You write: "The T-Amp case is emblematic of this concept, indeed. Its planetary success, initially generated by a couple of good online reviews (SixMoon's and ours), has been created by worldwide almost unanimous appreciation. All of this without a single word from the manufacturer! It is true that advertising should play a role (and it does, indeed) but excessive hype is dangerous and self-destructive. False claims and vapourware will ruin the reputation of a product or of a manufacturer...forever, no matter how good the product is."
In case of the T-Amp there is no reputation of the manufacturer to ruin. ;-)
But to be fair, the T-Amp does not sound much worse than the expensive digtial amps from Accuphase of the 1980ies. ;)
I would suggest the TNT crew would publish tech specs of e.g. Speakers that will be a good match for the T-Amp, in my experience low (but linear) impedance - eg. 4 Ohm. The T-Amp has problems with the voltage swing required by 16 Ohm (or higher) speakers. It would be also fine to examine different sources that work well with this amp (maybe impedance related).
Personally I made my peace with it, other "highend publishers" use a Sony Playstation 1 as CD player. Must be a matter of taste ;-)
However, back to the editorial: I do not think it is a good point out your independency and that you only write what you hear. It cannot be denied, that if you do not get review samples, you had not so many pieces of equippment to write about. And without enough reviews, the number of readers will decrease. So while you are not financially dependent to readers or manufacturers, there is some kind of dependency. And you are human, the reviews will be subjective. As an example, in case of the T-Amp, I do not think you write what you hear, I think you just fell in love with this thing!
It is like with a woman, if you love her, she does not have to be rich or beautiful. If you read the reviews carefully, you find where a reviewer is "in love" with the equippment. That is ok, nobody has a problem with that, it is only natural. But that should be clearly mentioned. The commercial magazines try to present themselves as neutral, objective reviewers, but they are not. You are not either, nobody could be that. TNT Audio is no scientific theses that requires to follow every antitheses to be scientific. It is the hard work of music lovers and hifi fans that spend lots of their spare time with their hobby and try to let others participate.
Your last sentence "Simply put, we don't need to. Who else can claim the same?" is in my opinion unnecessary. You compare TNT Audio with the usual hifi magazines. You should not do that, you do not need that, you are better, a different - higher - class then they are.
However, I think I made my point clear, even if I could continue to explain what I mean for hours. I just want to finish with some nice words:
AC/DC sung: "Some balls are held for charity, and some for fancy dress, but when they're held for pleasure, they are the balls that I like best" - now, TNT Audio is such a case, where "the balls are held for pleasure"! ;-)
Thomas - E-mail: thomas (at)

Dear Thomas,
nothing to add re: T-Amp, just let me say something on the second part of your letter. First of all, it is a good thing to state clear, from time to time, why we are so different from the rest. Some weeks ago, for example, an audiophile wrote in a public forum (speaking of a review of ours) he knows that all reviewers get paid by manufacturers to write positive reviews. Clearly he hadn't an idea of what his fingers were typing (it happens frequently on web forums) but we hate when these things happen, considering the amount of unpaid work we put into this hobby and website.
Novice readers may think ALL HiFi mags (be it online or not) are equal. NOT SO. So let me state the concept LOUD and CLEAR from time to time. It is necessary!
Secondly, I didn't write our reviews are "objective". No! I just wrote our "opinions" (let's call them for what they are) are independent, in the sense that we don't have manufacturers - or advertising contracts - to please. Which mag or website can claim the same?
We write opinions, for sure, not objective facts.
Thirdly, you are not aware of the fact that there's an embarassingly long queue of products waiting to be reviewed by us. An ever-increasing number of HiFi Companies is asking us to review their products. Some of these offers (regarding cables, for example) have been even kindly refused! We don't need more products to review, just more spare time to review what we receive :-)
Finally, since this is NOT our job and since our income does not depend on the number of visitors our website has, we are not afraid to lose readers or products to review. I can see this is the hardest concept to understand! If you wish to try just keep in mind a simple thing: DO NOT APPLY usual market rules to us. We are not into this market. We are proud to be different.
Thanks for the feedback!
Lucio Cadeddu

Triamp with T-Amps
Hi Lucio,
Thanks for a great magazine. I just wanted to contribute to the discussion about T-Amps because I'm using an approach giving me great results without needing the very highest sensitivity speakers.
I use a Cambridge Audio Azur 640C v2 (another TNT-Audio recommendation!) and a Rega Planar 3 via an old Arcam Alpha 8, now just used as a phono preamp or passively for source switching. I take the Tape Out from the Arcam (to get the pure unamplified signal) to a Musical Fidelity X-Cans v2 headphone amp (upgraded with Harma valves) which provides a preamp amplification stage.
Then, using a variety of connectors & interconnects, I split the headphone out from the X-Cans to feed three T-Amps. The amps drive a pair of Acoustic Energy 509 speakers. The 509s are three way speakers, rated at 91db, 6ohms. Reasonably, but not greatly sensitive and, at 6ohms, pretty current hungry. They used to challenge the Alpha 8/Alpha 9 Power combo used before.
I bought the speakers when they were discontinued a couple of years ago for £450 (having been about twice that originally). Now, one T-Amp drives the woofers, one the mids and one the tweeters. The amps are powered by a 13.8v 7amp supply from Maplin which supplies all three amps without strain. I normally have the T-Amp volume controls at 12 o'clock and that on the X-Cans at about 9 o'clock. Occasionally I'll boost the bass or treble a little to bring a recording closer to my taste - the balance between the amps gives control over tone without extra filtration.
The key thing about this setup is that by using three T-Amps it is able to deliver enough current to really bring the speakers to life. I started with one, then two, then three amps. And each time it showed a marked improvement as the current requirement from each amp was reduced. The modified X-Cans adds just a little hi-end valve tone to the arrangement and gives more gain than the T-Amps alone.
So how does this sound? I've certainly no complaints about dynamics. Music like the Kodo drummers delivers a real physical impact. Punchy and fast. Detail retrieval is very good, soundstage deep and stable. With a well recorded CD you get believable depth and a convincing sense of space and atmosphere. Vocals capture the centre of the stage and sing out beautifully. Of course it's not perfect. It can be driven to distortion (though not at bearable listening levels in my 20'x16' room). I'm not convinced I'm hearing every last ounce of bass detail and there is occasional bloom in the upper bass, although these shortcomings could be the result of factors other than the amps. The wiring, of course, is a nightmare! But for what this system has cost the performance is astonishing and if your readers have existing bi or tri wirable speakers I'd certainly recommended trying this approach.
Best wishes,
Andy - E-mail: andy.c.norman (at)

Dear Andy,
thanks for the interesting and intriguing tri-amp experience. You may wish to evaluate some higher-powered Tripath-based amp as well. You would get the same tonal balance and transparency with some extra "kick" in the bass (and in the dynamics department). See, for example, our comparison test of different Tripath-based amps by Nick Whetstone.
Lucio Cadeddu

could you please tell me how to get an attic or rooftop aerial as the one you recommended?
Mauro - E-mail: pontesp (at)

You have to have the correct type of aerial for your local conditions and for the transmitter you wish to receive. If reception of FM is usually good with your portable radio, you will only need a small aerial. If your house in not in a deep valley you could use a simple "3 element aerial"either attached to a high point on the outside of your house, or even in the attic if your attic is higher than the highest part of your neighbours' roofs.
The basic part of the FM aerial that picks-up the signal is called the "dipole". This is an oval loop of metal whose 2 ends are close to each other but not touching. The flat oval is usually about 35cm long and 5cm wide and the two ends are about 5cm apart at the centre of 1 side of the oval.
These are connected to plus & minus of the aerial downlead.
Sometimes there is a narrower piece of metal a few cm in front of the dipole, this is called the "collector" and it helps the aerial to be more directional.
A longer piece of metal behind the dipole is called the "reflector" and it helps reduce the signals interfering from the rear of the aerial. Now you have a 3 element aerial. An extra collector makes it a 4 element aerial, but there is rarely an extra reflector even if there are 6 collectors. More elements makes a more directional aerial with higher gain, but it must be more accurately aimed at the transmitter.
The front collector must be aimed at the transmitter from which you wish to receive signals.
A local TV shop should be able to tell you where you can buy aerials. A local radio club would also be happy to help. Ciao
Mark Wheeler

Previous weeks letters

Entry-level system
Dear Mr Direttore,
I gladly discovered your site today. I found your reviews are very technically detailed but nice and easy to read. I wonder if you can give some hint. I intend to buy a new "low-entry" Hi-Fi system so if possible your advice will be very useful for me. My total budget is about 1,200 EUROS I want basically get one integrated amplifier + CD player + one speakers set. I’m not interested in fancy gadgets.

  1. Could you suggest me a bottom up configuration?
  2. My second choice might be one NAD C720 BEE as the core of my system; could you recommend me some matching speakers for it plus a CD player?
Thanks in advance for your help and congratulations again for your funny and professional site.
Héctor - E-mail: hvaldez (at)

Dear Hector,
you forgot to specify some relevant info, e.g. the size of the room, type of speakers (bookshelf or floorstanders) and musical preferences. Without these infos it is hard to give a hint.
Anyway, just to play it safe, I'd choose some NAD or Rotel combo, for example C521 + C320, and try to match some bookshelf loudspeaker according to your taste. Since budget is tight, I'd look for second-hand items. KEF, Triangle, B&W might be nice partners, each one with its own personality...up to you to choose which one you prefer after a direct comparison.
Alternatively, considering your budget, you could save hundreds of $$$ buying a T-Amp and better speakers of decent sensitivity (e.g. Triangle, Klipsch).
I'm afraid I can't help you more.
Lucio Cadeddu

3 negative feedbacks on our Resolution S.U.H.T.L loudspeakers review

DIY T-Speakers
Hello Lucio,
No doubt, the Super T-Amp, big brother of the original T-amp, could be The audiophile little wonder. I'm coming from DIY valve amps, and I must admit that this STA astonishes me everyday I listen to music.
I've read that many of the audiophiles here seem to have question about speaker matching. Here's what I've done for my system. Probably not the best match you can do, but it works soooooo fine.
For the bass and low mids and a part of the mids: Philips AD1265M4. It's a vintage philips speaker, 12', wide band, with a flat impedance curve from 40 Hz up to 4K of 4Ohm. It's built in a sealed enclosure of 100l with some paper stuffing, something quite similar to what can be found on the vintage elipson-supravox speakers.
And on top of these speakers, for the last part of the mids and the highs, I put a Heil AMT V1.flat 3,2Ohm impedance from 1k up to...oh, anyway, you CAN'T hear these frequencies.
The crossover is a simple 6dB/O with a 0,15mH on the bass, and a 12,2 cap for the tweeter. This leads to a cutting frequency around 4K. It works !!! Nothing else to say! Either you listen to Pink Floyd's Meddle, or Esbjorg Svenson Trio, or Jeff Beck, or Vinicius de Moraes, or WORKS!!
You could say that it represents a lot of money for the speakers vs the amp. But it's worth the money it costs. And you can find these speakers on ebay for a decent price. I'm...satisfied. Have reached some kind of Nirvana. But I want more. Always more. SO here is the next step: sctive bi-amping with 2 super T-amps, and an active XO with 18dB/O. ANd for the cutting frequencies, I will use the JM Le Cleac's method. Should work pretty well, whadayathink?
Thanks for having reviewed the T-Amp. It's a real Giant Step for audioholics.
Eric - E-mail: eric.lindenbaum (at)

Dear Eric,
thanks for the DIY suggestion. Of course it isn't everyone's cup of tea but I'm happy you've found it so involving. Biamping with 2 Super T-Amps is the way to go, even without an electronic crossover!
For an easier and cheaper alternative, look no further than to Geoff Husband's T-Speakers! with Audio Nirvana full-range drivers.
Stay tuned!
Lucio Cadeddu

Entry-level system
Dear Lucio,
Hi. I wrote to you many months back - in December actually - and you posted my letter in the Reader's Corner. "System choice under $3000". Anyway - since then my budget has come crashing down - and I have decided to put together a really really quirky system - it's a couple of "winners" that should work together in the real world.

I already own a CD player and an i-pod. A "Music Hall MMF 5" will be added with a "Rolls Bellari tube phono amp" when I have more money. So - what do YOU think?? Will it work? Will it give me the sweet sound I am craving for?
Is there any way someone on your team somewhere can test them together, just to see if theory meets reality - if there is any merit in the reviews and the numbers and the awards??
Just so you know - my situation is - I have no money!!!! But I want an audiophile level system. The AMP is decided - the Sonic Impact T-Amp !! But I am VERY confused about the speakers - I don't really care if the speakers are Axiom 3Ti (award winners), or full range Fostex driver based like the Loth-x Ion BS-1, or the Magnepan MMG (also winners).
I am seeking - great detail, clean full range sound, and good sound staging.
Please help.
Adil - E-mail: adil.jain (at)

Dear Adil,
if you have already decided for the t-Amp, steer away from the Magnepans!!! Definitely NOT the kind of speaker the T-Amp loves to drive, in my opinion.
A full-range Fostex is a far better match, indeed. Or even a pair of Triangle Titus (easy to find even second-hand)...
Anyway, if you're NOT against DIY you may wait for a design Geoff Husband is putting together (hopefully online next week!) he refers to this as being the ideal "T-Speaker".
Stay tuned, just in case.
Lucio Cadeddu

Any chance of a USB-DAC test in the near future?
I would really appreciate a USB-DAC test, with perhaps a highlight over the discussion whether or nor jitter exist (hot topic in some forums). Especially since my Edirol UA2-Imac combinations seems to outclass my Mission DAD3 Q hands down. And this is only a 250EURO DA-AD-converter!! Am I right or am I deceived? I rely, as always, on your objective and professional judgement.
And keep on the good work!!
Jean - E-mail: jean.coumans (at)

Dear Jean,
you suggest an interesting field of research. I've been looking at USB DACS for a while but I just haven't found the time to put things in the right perspective. As I always say "Sooo many things, sooo little time"... So the answer to your question is "Yes, we'll try" but we can't tell you WHEN :-) The queue of (albeit interesting) items waiting to be reviewed is pretty long, unfortunately.
As for jitter reduction, if you have followed our technical articles on this kind of "digital distortion" (say so) you may know that it is not a big issue. There are so many factors that can heavily influence digital reproduction that jitter can't be considered the key factor. Sometimes, units with higher jitter sound better than low-jittered ones.
Stay tuned,
Lucio Cadeddu

Atoll IN 80
Dear Lucio,
I have had an Atoll In 80 for five years now. It is teamed up with a Cambridge Audio D 500 SE and a pair of JM Lab Chorus 715's. For the past five years I have loved this set up. For the total investment of 2,500 $ Canadian, I don't think I could acquire much more detail and realism. The super strength of my system has to be the upper mids to the highest frequency. Smooth, balanced and real. No overly pronounced and harsh sssssss's out of this system. The bass as you stipulate in your review is deep and tight. Much tighter now that I have the TNT Triple T's. The criticism that I have with the Atoll is the lower mid's. You mention controversy when it comes to the bass, as I thought that was what the problem was as well. After attending the Son et Image Festival in Montreal and grabbing a listen to a system that I fell in love with at more than double the price, Musical Fidelity's A3 line up and Monitor Audio's silver S6, I instantly found what I had been missing for years.
Lower mid extension into the bass range. Maynard Fergusson's trumpet sounded complete for the first time. Raule Midone's guitar sounded rich and his voice mature. Joss Stone was presented in all her glory. Don't get me wrong, I still stand by my Atoll, for it is what it is, warm, natural and lightning fast, yet not quite rich.
I just wanted to pass on this information because I too, along with many in my entourage, thought that bass was an issue with this Amp. Although now a little disappointed with the overall presentation with my system I am happy to have accurately identified the missing piece of the musical puzzle, lower mid range. Now it is just a matter of convincing my wife that this is a pressing matter.
To many more good years of listening euphoria.
Alan - E-mail: alanbourdon (at)

Dear Alan,
there's nothing such a thing as a "perfect amplifier", at ANY price range. The Atoll IN 80 is a fine performer but please do not forget its retail price! Of course, do not forget you listened to a completely different system...the better mid bass could be "somewhere else": source, speakers, cables...who knows? Perhaps the Atoll IN 80 is 100% innocent. What about your source and cables, for example? Or speakers position into your listening room? Or room acustics? Too many factors!!! Go on investigating before changing your amp with another one.
Hope this helped somehow,
Lucio Cadeddu

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