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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November 2008

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First system for 700 €?
Hi Lucio,
Just wanted to send a huge "thanks" mail for you and all the guys free-working to keep TNT-Audio up and running. I've discovered the site a while ago -few months- and must say I instantly became a fan of the reviews. Just love the insane descriptions and the professional information. I've herd about the site thanks to the little miracle called T-Amp and from then on I was hooked and you were on my professional-audio-review-sites reference list, on the podium.
Needless to say I arrived at your site because I am a 'sound'-fan, but since reading the reviews, especially amps and speakers, I found out a whole new way in how to look at sound. Words like break-in and soundstage where completly out of my knowledge, so from that point of view count me as a junior audiophile fan, but a keen learner, I like the technical stuff a lot.
After reading many of your reviews (the ones like "AM Audio A 50 Reference - class A power amp", "Klipsch RF-3 - floorstanding loudspeakers", Nu-Force amps, "Cadence Anina Loudspeakers" and of course "Sonic Impact T-Amp - integrated amplifier" being on my oldies & goldies list, re-reading them from time to time) I decided I need to get a real sound system and stop being on the other side of the fence just reading and imagining, cause what I have now is quite pitoresque but unfortunately audiophile murder (a Sharp minisystem 2x20WRMS and sound from comp through a wired cassette as the minisystem doesn't have audio-in).
So as I'm at the beginning and also not money-unlimited actually the contrary - the budget is around 700Euro. My main goal is of course sound quality (as best as possible) but also power. Regarding the amp I am undecided between T-HiFi iPower125 (2x60W 8ohm, 20-20k Hz, 0.003%THD, 120dB) and VirtueAudio Virtue.ONE (2x45W 4ohm with 30V, <1%THD).
You reviewed T-HiFi and Nick the Virtue.ONE so I'm asking for a choice here. My first option I have to say would be iPower125 as it is capable of 8ohm, thus better clarity, also more power, MUCH more if we take in consideration 4ohm comparison & last but not least the THD at 1kHz/1W is lower for the T-HiFi so it will output better sound quality at high volumes.
I saw on the T-HiFi site that the T-Class amp chip is made by Bang & Olufsen so that's another plus for sound quality & consistence for T-HiFi, but you already know that. On the other side are Nick's comments regarding Virtue.ONE which he saids is more accurate and not 'forgiving' at all. So I'm undecided here.
The other part are the loudspeakers. I never liked the Home Theater all-scattered-around speakers design and was from the begining a fan of the 2 speakers design so after reading your Real Stereo manifest you convinced me I was right, this is the path to follow.
Thus for the rest of the money I found the Magnat Monitor Supreme 1000 (180x2 8ohm, 19-38k Hz, 92dB) with some promising reviews, though others have said the bass is too strong (hope not muddy). I understand the figures they put on their site are very optimistic (19-35k Hz) though I say -by comparing with similar products- that they would go to around 35-40 Hz down.
Also not sure the 92 dB is realistic or not. Hope it is. Another thing is the fact that they incorporate 2 crossovers (at 500 & at 3500 Hz with phase correction, don't know if they're with capacitors) which I think should make the speakers work in their optimum frequency range thus putting out performance with ease.
Don't know if that phase correction addendum is on the better side or worse cause if it's not done correctly will kill the clarity of the sound in the mids and highs. And another minus would be the lack of bi-wiring. Herd from "Adorn Concerto 3 loudspeakers" review this could have a big impact in some type of loudspeakers. Just wanted to ask you what should I choose from the 2 amps and if I'm making the right choice with the speakers, in case you heard them playing. Any idea or input is very appreciated.
Promise I'll send a junior-review of the system when I'll have it installed and working, of course after the break-in :-)
Best regards,
Cristi - E-mail: cristi_ei (at)

Dear Cristi,
I can't help you decide which amp to choose as I've not auditioned the Virtue.ONE yet. Either way I think you can't go wrong. Loudspeakers choice is far more relevant for the sound of your system, though. I suggest you to focus your attention on speakers you can ACTUALLY evaluate personally. Forget the tech specs (and the silly biwiring feature) and LISTEN!
I'm not familiar with the Magnats you cite but I'm pretty sure those tech specs are extremely optimistic. 19 Hz is a frequency that very few high-end monsters can reproduce flat (or at -3dB) namely Wilson Watt+Puppy, some Von Schweickert floorstanders, B&W 800's etc. If you wish strong and deep bass, impact and lively performance have a listen to some inexpensive Klipsch tower, for example. Some of these can be bought even second-hand for extremely low prices. Also, consider Wharfedale and Mission as extremely interesting alternatives.
Do not forget the second-hand market. Nowadays it is quite easy to find real bargains both in stores and on the Bay.
Hope this helped,
Lucio Cadeddu

Small system
Hi, I haven't really been into audio lately, but decided to dig up your website since I am looking for something right now. You won't remember this, but I am Bart who's setup you showed here: Letters Sept. 2004). Still have that same stuff and it has been great. What I am looking for at the moment is a small system to hook my iPhone up to. Looking for pretty decent quality, easy iPod integration, not concerned with portability... Let me know if you have any recommendations - thanks!!
Bart - E-mail: BTHollingsworth (at)

Dear Bart,
there are many iPod docking stations in the market right now but I haven't had the possibility to evaluate them. You can choose a pair of active loudspeakers like the Wharfedale PRO ACTIVE DIAMOND 8.1 or 8.2. They cost nearly 250 USD (8.1, pair) and do sound extremely good. You just need to connect a line level source to them, such as your iPod, and you're done. For more expensive alternatives have a look at the Genelec catalogue. For something even easier (but more expensive) which includes speakers, amps, CD player, iPod docking station and FM tuner all into one single box (YES!!!) I suggest you to wait a couple of weeks as I'm going to publish a review of a weird component that might suit your needs. Perhaps not the ultimate in audiophile sound damn easy to use and with a WAF score which is simply unbeatable!
Hope this helped,
Lucio Cadeddu

Low output?
Hello Lucio,
My phono preamp is a Project PhonoBox SE. Gain: 36.5, Output voltage: 200mv. The sound of my turntable is quite low compared to the cd player. Is it because of the low output voltage of the preamp which is 200mv? (All Project new phono preamps are now 300mv and 40dB of gain).
Thank you.
Tal - E-mail: tal_d (at)

Dear Tal,
actually, the output of the Phonobox is quite low but it should be sufficient to drive any line level input. And yes, it is quite impossible to have CD and PHONO levels equal. Why is this a problem? Just turn the volume up a little bit more, when needed! Consider that volume pots DO sound better near their full clockwise position.
Hope this helped,
Lucio Cadeddu

Pathos Classic One Question
Hello Mr. Cadeddu,
I hope my English is good enough for my question. I want to buy a Pathos Classic One Mk III and search for a suitable speaker. Problem: The speaker has to stand very close to the wall. Max. about 20 cm. before the wall. The listening position is about 3 and 3,5 Meters.
Can you help me? I love the Diapason, the Opera, the Triangle and the Sonus Faber. But it can be also another make...
The listening session is very hard for me because I can't go outside my room. Im very ill and that is the problem. I can handle one listening session - but that more than enough...
Thank you for helping.
PS - The price for the speaker should be round about like the price for the Pathos. Can you tell me where I can get it cheaper - maybe in Italy?
Volkmar - E-mail: volkmar01 (at)

Dear Volkmar,
first of all please accept our warmest wishes for your health. I hope listening to good quality Music will help you somehow. As for speakers: considering how close to the wall you need to place them I'd suggest to avoid free standmounting speakers like the ones you cited. You'd better choose something which has been designed having in mind exactly that kind of installation, namely Linn, Naim and, in some sense, Rega. Linn Tukan or Katan might be a good all-around choice. Naim n-SAT might be another wise move, especially when paired to their n-SUB subwoofer.
Rega R-1 is another loudspeaker that will work well close to the rear wall. Using speakers which have been designed for a free standmounting installation close to the rear wall will generate boomy bass and a muddy mid-high range.
Hope this helped,
Lucio Cadeddu

T-Preamp power supply
I have recently purchased the TC-754. I have also purchase the recommended Pyramid 12V 3Amp power supply. I have been trying to find some information as to how I hook this power supply to the TC-754. I am assuming I cut the supplied power supply wire that came with the TC-754, strip the ends and place in the screw in terminal connectors on the Pyramid power supply. There must be a positive and negative however, how do I know what is what? I do not what to mess up my new pre-amp!
Thank you for the help.
Glen - E-mail: roeters (at)

Dear Glen,
both the Pyramid power supply and the TC-754 indicate which are the positive and the negative poles (for the TC-754 it's the internal one). Hence connecting it to the external PSU is simple, once you know the wire which leads to the positive pole is the one with a white strip running along the cable :-)
This is standard on each and any external PSU, the white striped wire always represents the positive pole. Hence cut the TC-754 PSU wire and connect the white striped cable to the red output post of your Pyramid PSU.
Hope this helped,
Lucio Cadeddu

Naim Nait 1
Hi Lucio,
I just browsed your review on Naim Nait 1. It is a very informative and interesting article in my opinion. I got two questions:

  1. Do you think Nait 1 works well with 11 ohm LS-3/5A? Some webmates told me that Nait 1 is one of very few small-power ampifiers which able to drive very power-hungry speakers well, including LS-3/5A (82db sensitivity) and ATC SCM20.
  2. Why you recommend to use NAIM A4, A5 speaker cables in 3.5m or longer? As far as speaker cables, my understanding is that "shorter the better". I really want to know the reasons to choose 3.5m or longer speaker cables to pair with Nait 1.
Ricky - E-mail: rickycmchoi (at)

Dear Ricky,
I see no problem for the Nait to drive the small LS 3/5A but, of course, you shouldn't expect very high sound pressure levels. The Nait isn't extremely powerful and this, paired with the lowish 82 dB sensitivity of the Rogers and their highish 11 ohm impedance, won't allow you to organize a dance party in your listening room. After all, with the LS 3/5A there's no possibility to get high listening levels even with more powerful amplifiers (low sensitivity AND low max SPL output!).
As for cables, my recommendation follows from the usual Naim one (pls refer to their website): since Naim amplifiers don't use a Zobel network they need certain values of R, L and C to remain stable under load. These values are guaranteed by using quite long (> 3.5 meters) Naim NACA cables. In this case... "longer is better" :-)
Hope this helped,
Lucio Cadeddu

About PRaT
Dear Sir,
Well done! Thanks for your work.
Shannon - E-mail: magosylvian (at)

Dear Shannon
Thank you very much for your kind words.
Happy listening with riddim in time
Mark Wheeler

Monica 3 DAC review
Aloha Nick,
That box the M3 in is just plain ugly! No woodworking skills involved. On a $350 piece of equipment... anyway, the Damar varnish may impart a tiny bit of damping, but lacquer would really really damp the vibration a lot more (as does the linseed oil most probably). Why people put lacquer on acoustic instruments is a mystery...I guess they like shiney things.
Anyway, thanks for the reviews. The M3 itself probably sounds good, but that box is hideous.
Rod - E-mail: rruggier (at)

Hi Roddy,
Well I said in the review that it wouldn't be to everybody's taste! Perhaps a better course of action is to relate your opinion to the supplier. There's nothing like feedback to guide a manufacturer toward offering something that you may like better.
Nick Whetstone

SRA help
Dear Mr. Husband,
I hope I'm not imposing by sending this e-mail, I just finished reading your article in TNT from 2004, I am ignorant to many setup procedures for tonearm and cartridge, after reading your take on VTA/SRA I am encouraged to pursue my turntable, arm/cart. setup.
I've read so many differing arguments that I was in analog limbo and afraid to do anything on my own, move arm up .3mm listen, move up again and so on. If you could explain one thing to me I would be eternally grateful. I have installed new cartridge and balanced arm, I have measured arm height along length of arm and it is fairly consistent or in other words level with stylus resting on record. You say you can be happy setting arm height within +/- 1mm or greater, please forgive my ignorance but I don't understand to what reference point when you say within +/- 1mm of what?
Thank you so much Mr. Husband for your time and consideration, I look so forward to your reply.
Best regards...
Jeffrey - E-mail: j.nordi (at)

Hi Jeffrey
Thanks for the mail I hope the following helps:
First thing is that cartridges can vary in the accuracy of their stylus alignment by a full degree or more between two identical models, more expensive models are supposed to be better but in my experiance that isn't always the case. That means that to say 'arm should be level' as a baseline may well be misleading as one degree equates to 4 mm or so arm height adjustment depending on the length of the arm.
So really that means that you need to start with the arm level, but then experiment with quite large variations in the arm height until you get to the area where the arm is cartridge is at its best. Once you've found that area I find personally that variations due to record thickness etc are not critical (and I can't be bothered to chase them). The big problem is that with many arms (low slung unipivots in particular) such variations in height will also make large differences in tracking force so you can't be sure that any differences you are hearing is due to that or SRA unless you have a very accurate downforce gauge...
My advice is not to get to paranoid about all this. Unless you have a micrometric VTA adjuster (which I'm not a huge fan or because they compromise the arm) it's very difficult to try all this in a repeatable manner, in fact many arms allow easy downforce adjustment and it's here that you can alter SRA as well. I suppose it's not a very satisfactory response to you question, but in the end you just fiddle until it sounds good to you then leave it alone and listen to music.
One last thing is that if SRA isn't optimised the stylus will still track the record and sound OK, you are merely trying to get the last 5% out of the system. Lateral alignment on the other hand can leave you with horribly distorted music at the end of side (or often 3/4 of the way through) coupled with mistracking which can damage a disc and yet it's a subject that gets covered far less than SRA, and which arm manufacturers generally seem to ignor. Spend time with a decent overhang gauge and it'll be worth while, an alignment gauge to get the cantilever correctly aligned is also essential, though again you need to fiddle afterwards due to possible misalignment of the stylus on assembly.
Sorry to depress you but fiddling is part of the fun.
Geoff Husband

Class D module?
Hi, I wasn't sure who to direct this so I went straight to the top. TNT has done a lot on the Sonic T and really keep up with current digital amps. I'm looking for the site for a Chinese T-amp (guessing 2024 chip) module.
It has RCA inputs, BP's outs with multiple output caps. Was very cheap; thought I remembered $22 each.
My bookmarks are scattered all over the air waves. I searched web; no find.
I thought I saw on Ebay, also. Can you help or direct me to someone that can?
Zene - E-mail: zene (at)

Dear Zene,
there are many Tripath-based amp modules out there, from AutoCostruire to 41Hz etc. I hope someone reading your request might lend a hand.
Hope this helped,
Lucio Cadeddu

Re: KEF 104
Hello Mark,
Thank you for the information about Kef 104. I have decided to sell them here in Canada as I am returning to the UK and shipping costs are expensive. It is hard to downsize and let old possessions go but now is the time to do it. As I said to David I would like to get a system that is made in the UK not China. I will just have to find speakers with a similar sound and then get the rest of the system to suit.
I just found TNT's site a couple of weeks ago and like the honest reviews. Obviously good people with a passion for good audio and not fancy surround systems.
Appreciate the advice.
Willie - E-mail: woods.willie (at)

Hi again Willie
The answer would be to buy used when you get to Britain. There's a thriving used audio trade here, and you lose less whenever you decide to upgrade. Then when you know exactly what you want you could buy new, or make your own speakers.
I just want to add that Falcon Electroacoustics in Norfolk (England not Virginia) make upgraded & replacement crossovers for the 104. Malcolm Jones, the proprietor, designed the ab (=acoustic Butterworth) crossover for Kef so he knows a thing or two about these speakers. When we had them at a studio in '78 or '79 we dropped the new crossovers in & the difference was really obvious, they were much more accurate.
On the other hand I dislike the T27 so who am to comment! There's a drop in replacement Vifa 19mm I prefer.
Happy hunting and listening
Mark Wheeler

Cambridge 640p and AT OC9II
I have a Cambridge 640p and I am thinking of getting an AT OC9II, AT 150MLX or a Denon DL160 cartridge. From what I can make out of the specs the 640p would match best with the AT 150MLX. The Denon as high output MC would not have enough gain in MM and too much in MC on the 640p. The AT OC9II also seems mismatched based on impedance matching, to the 640p however if you got good sound out of it and sufficient gain it could also be worth considering. I'd appreciate your thoughts on a good cartridge match to the 640p.
Nicholas - E-mail: nkoulbanis (at)

I have not had the opportunity to compare very many cartridges. But of that very small population, the one I've liked the best and am still using is the Goldring Elite. Mind you, it is also the most expensive cartridge I have tried in my system.
Arvind Kohli

Dear Nicholas,
let me add that, in my opinion, the Audio Technica OC9-II would be your best choice, considering the alternatives you mentioned. The OC-9 is a kind of ever-green classic with an excellent audiophile reputation. Impedance mismatch is no big deal, actually, as differences are subtle. The OC9 requires a 20 Ohm load or higher so it's pretty universal.
Hope this helped,
Lucio Cadeddu

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