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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September 2005

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Intellectual property
Dear Lucio,
I thought I should bring it to your attention that someone going by the e-bay name of acrilistands (or a name very similar to this) is using TNT's design as the basis for a business. I personally am of the opinion that this is definitely not on, as TNT is made available to the world through the kind generosity of yourselves.
You can find this listing on the UK E-BAY site if you wish to pursue the matter.
Kind regards,
Matthew - E-mail: parabolica (at)

Dear Matthew,
this is not the first time our "free" DIY designs get exploited for commercial purposes...and it won't be the last. This is certainly not welcomed but we don't want to start a war to protect our intellectual property. The only thing we want to state clear (ONCE AGAIN) is that we NEVER gave our consensus (implicit or explicit) to exploit our designs...commercially.
In my opinion, being the rack listed above of the 4-legs kind the guys at Salamander racks should be much more concerned and worried about this e-bay store activity ;-)
Thanks for your feedback!
Lucio Cadeddu

T-Amp reboxing
Sorry to bother you with this - I'm not entirely sure if I this is the sort of reason your email is published on the end, but I am a complete novice where electronics are concerned.
I've just read your article on re-boxing the T-Amp, and it looks great! I've just got one on ebay, and I can't wait to play with it. Apart from my speakers (I've got a pair of Norh 5.1's which aren't really as sensitive as the T-Amp might like) the only niggle I can see with it is that it's only got a single input. Is there any reason why I shouldn't add a few sets of extra inputs and a simple selector switch?
Best wishes,
Philip - E-mail: philip.angell (at)

No reason at all, except that an extra switch may degrade the sound very slightly. A good idea to add further versatility. A friend of mine uses an external input selector, but your idea is neater.
Best wishes,
David Holgate

Boycott China!
Saw your review of the T-amp (linked through Boing Boing). While I appreciate equipment that works well for value, your review gave the compelling evidence early on, in the statement "production is located in China".
At this point, the amp becomes a "No Sale" in my eyes. It matters not what it will do or the specs. If it's made in china, it does not get purchased. A country that rounds up women and forces them to undergo abortions at gunpoint does not deserve any of our business.
Thank you for your time,
Robert - E-mail: boycottchina1 (at)

Dear Robert,
if only things were that simple! Almost everything on this planet is made in China, even when this is not stated clear on a product. Furthermore, even on "made elsewhere" products there could be parts that are made in China or in the Far East. It is almost impossible to avoid to purchase products that are not made there. Even on luxurious "Made in Italy" loudspeakers drive units may come from China, for example. And on excellent high-end American amplifiers PCB's and passive components may arrive from "there".
In both cases, the products may actually be "Made in italy" or in the "USA". As you see, it is very difficult to decide.
On the other hand, while it may appear terrible to do our business with Countries where employees are "exploited", there remains a question that puzzles my mind: from those employees' point of view is it better to be underpaid and exploited or is it better to starve? It is a very difficult point and I admit not to have a clear answer.
Thanks for the precious comment, it is matter for thought anyway.
Lucio Cadeddu

Speakers choice
Dear Lucio,
hi, I'm trying to find speakers for my Primaluna 1 amplifier. The rest of my system: cdp NAD 521bee and Kenwood LS-F3 speakers. Have you heard or own the speakers which I'm planning to audition? The speakers are: 1) Usher x-718 or 520. 2) Kef iQ3 3) Epos els3. The size of my room is limited (about 13-16 square metres and I don't think speakers such as Dali suite 2.8 or Triangle Heliades would help as I think for bigger rooms) and the music I listen to is 60's rock, garage rock, psychedelia,(garage)- punk,new wave, ethnic-world.
If you would like to comment upon the music characteristics of these speakers it would also be a great help. I was also thinking Dulcet reference 3a or Da Capo (because of their high sensitivity) but their away from my budget. What do you say to those suggesting high sensitivity speakers for Primaluna1?
Your opinion could be a great help as where I live there isn't any store with speakers and I'm planning to make a 10 hour trip to Athens so I'm trying to narrow my choices.
Thanks again and feel free to make any suggestions.
Vangelis - E-mail: vmylonas2 (at)

Dear Vangelis,
I believe it is always wrong to choose the speakers AFTER the amplifier. Considering most of the sound of a system is highly speakers-dependent I would choose these FIRST.
Anyway, considering you seem to prefer small boxes (though you could even use floorstanders in your room!) I'll suggest something you haven't considered: a pair of Triangle Titus (new or used). These babies are easy to drive, sensitive enough even for low-powered amps and extremely involving with any musical genre.
Hope this helped,
Lucio Cadeddu

T-Amp questions
I read your (by now famous!) article about the Sonic T-Amp earlier this year and on its strength, I recently bought one. I am now writing to you to see if you'd be good enough to give me a few pointers as iI don't really know much about these things.
Basically, I am trying to get it up and running but need some information about the product before I can. I live in Dublin, Ireland and I am afraid that I'll use too much power or get the polarity wrong and so damage the amp. I think that the American manufacturers weren't really taking us europeans into account when they were writing the instruction manual!
Therefore, can you perhaps answer the following questions for me:

  1. What current (in amps) does it take?
  2. Is the amp's polarity positive or negative?
  3. My Technics CD player doesn't have an input for the jack supplied with the amp. Can i just get an adaptor jack and plug the amp into the headphones input?
If you could help me out, that would be great (me and my mates are dying to hear the sound out of it having read so much about it!!).
Darach - Email: darachj (at)

Dear Darach,
I can't understand what difference does it make to be Europeans or Americans, with respect to the T-Amp :-) Just use a 12V AC/DC adapter capable of 2 amperes of current AT LEAST. Then remember the positive is the center pin and you can't go wrong. Before hooking up the AC/DC converter, measure its output voltage with a tester. Sometimes these components put out much more volts than claimed. Excessive voltage can kill the T-Amp.
As for connecting the CD player to the just need a minijack/RCA adapter as the one displayed on the original T-Amp article. Read CAREFULLY that piece at least TWICE before connecting the unit to your system.
Hope this helped,
Lucio Cadeddu

CD player upgrade
I'm no audiophile. My wife has a very lovely pair of KEF reference series speakers she bought in 1982, linked to a Nakamichi amp. Makes a nice noise, but she is the one with the ears. I'm afraid I'm a digital music person - my music collection has been reopened by the freedom that my iPod has given to me to listen to music in all sorts of places.
I was looking at buying a Klipsch HiFi system to connect my iPod to play in the office. Then I stumbled across your review of the T-Amp. The Klipsch system is about USD 400. For USD 60 (including shipping) I could get what is clearly a superb amp. Throw in USD 30 for a power adaptor. That leaves USD 300 for speakers.
What should these be? (Or where could I go to get ideas about what these should be?)
Jestyn - E-mail: jestyn.thirkell-white (at)

Dear Jestyn,
for 300 $ you can get a pair of (passive) Klipsch speakers, perhaps even a pair of small floorstanders (new or used). Then ask your wife to listen to your system ;-)
Hope this helped,
Lucio Cadeddu

CD player upgrade
Hello Lucio
Thank you for your feedback/advise on amplifier upgrade! Regarding the CD player, I used to own a Naim CDS-Mk. 1 CD player but finally sold it because of the almost availability of the original Philips CDM-4 transport as well as the future service problem!
I managed to purchase the Sony player in view of its very sturdy transport and its more relistic price. What kind of separate DAC would you recommend for further upgrade (with AES/EBU or balanced digital input, since my Sony CD player does not have normal co-axial digital out)? I listen to all kind of music, including classical (mainly piano), rock & roll, jazz, & pop! Although I liked the Naim CDS-Mk. 1 very much for its PRAT performance, unfortunately, it was at the expense of masking out a lot of fine details!
The Sony player offers much more fine detail with good dynamic pitch and transient, however, its sonic coherence does not quite match that offered by the aforementioned Naim player! I am not too concerned with absolute soundstage width or depth nor the other so-called audiophile effects, and I mainly favors lively/energetic sound with good PRAT and dynamic, somewhat similar to what I had experienced in a concert hall at approx. 10th row behind the stage (although it is unrealistic to expect a stereo system to perform like a live performance, I really enjoyed the powerful sense of music performance heard in the city hall). Would professional DAC such as Apogee PSX-1000 or Benchmark DAC work well with my set up? Would older McIntosh MCD-7000 series CD player be competitive with Naim's counterpart in PRAT and overall balanced sound?
Thank you again for your advise!
Best regards,
Hing - E-mail: yumanhing (at)

Dear Hing,
a DAC with AES/EBU digital inputs you might consider is the Lehmann DAC+, even second-hand. Perhaps not the ultimate in modern digital technology (considering upsampling etc.) but definitely a very rhythmic and detailed DAC with an excellent bass range. I've not tested the Benchmark DAC yet, so I can't comment, but general consensus seems to rate this unit very highly.
Even if a bit more expensive there's also the ElectroCompaniet ECD-1 or, of course, the highly praised North Star Model 192 (see our review). In any case, forget the "live" experience. First of all it is not a DAC that will change the sound of your system so radically. Secondly, a "live" experience at home is almost impossible to get. Not because of system's or room's limitations...mainly because of recording's faults!
Hope this helped,
Lucio Cadeddu

Forum and class T with headphones
Many thanks for your excellent online magazine. I look forward to each issue, and especially enjoy the 'experimental' construction projects. I am writing firstly to congratulate you on the start of your TNT Discussion Forum - a great idea, and just the right "guidance" regarding submissions, I think :-) I have signed up, and look forward to many interesting discussions.
I would also like to add a note to previous comments about the use of the SI class-T amp with headphones: it's important to remember that the "negative" loudspeaker terminals are not commoned, and must be run individually to each transducer to avoid damaging the amp. Many headphones have a three-wire connection; this must be replaced with a four conductor lead and connector before using them with this amp.
Best wishes,
Dave - E-mail: DNSey (at)

Dear Dave,
thanks for the kind feedback! The "warning" about common grounds was already written on the original T-Amp review.
All the best,
Lucio Cadeddu

Possible upgrade of Naim Nait 1 integrated amp
Hello Lucio,
I have read your internet review with great interest, and would like to ask for your advise on whether I should upgrade my current system. I have a listening room (rather small) measured at 13'(D) x 9'(W) x 9'(H). My current system comprises of the following:

While I like my existing system with good speed, pitch & dynamic, despite some shortfall on frequency extremes, do you feel that the purchase of a second hand Naim power amp, such as 140, or 250 will yield much better sound than my existing Nait 1? Given the fact that I do not listen at loud volume (mostly the volume setting is never pass 9 o'clock position on my Nait 1, partly because of high balanced output from both source components) and my speakers are fairly efficient, I do not need powerful amp! Besides, would any other brand of tube or solid state power amp (such as Linn LK280, Meridian 105, 605) be a good match with my idled Naim NAC-42 pre-amp? My musical preference is to have a sound with even, full tonal balance, good pace and rhythm, pitch and overall dynamic!
Thank you for your assistance and advise!
Best regards,
Hing - E-mail: yumanhing (at)

Dear Hing,
if you like the Naim sound you shouldn't look elsewhere. The most logical upgrade would be a Naim power amp, possibly a 250. You would get mostly the same tonal balance with better dynamics, more bass and increased transparency and detail. Even at low listening levels. Shortly, you will get a "bigger" sound. If you wish to stay "close" to the Naim Nait 1 tonal balance look no further than to an old chrome-edged NAP 250.
Hope this helped,
Lucio Cadeddu

LP cleaning
Very interesting your TNT section about LP liquid cleaners. As time goes by, specially for those not frequently cleaned up recordings some micro-fungi and other living micro-organisms start populating the LP grooves. Some drops of an enzymatic solution such as found in many contact lens cleaners added to a distilled water-alcohol mix has given me the best results while cleaning my precious vinyl.
Jose - E-mail: naturelsound (at)

Dear Jose,
thanks for the tip! Just one warning: some contact lens cleaners may have vinyl-aggressive ingredients and I'm not sure they won't have long-term harmful effects on grooves.
Lucio Cadeddu

Another FleXy rack...
Just to say thank you for this great idea, that your Flexy Hifi rack is. I finished mine yesterday (18mm mdf / 16"steelrods) and is currently only used as a "display" rack for my '70's B&O receivers and some Thorens tt's... Very pleased with the result (cost : 25 euro and 3 hours work).
As a tip: always use some woodoil on the MDF (if you don't want to paint it of course)!! The colour gets better (deeper, darker) and it makes the mdf better resistant against stains and also more easy to wipe clean!
Best regards,
Bart - E-mail: denbever (at)

[Flexy Rack]

Dear Bart,
thanks for the precious feedback and the nice pic! Your Flexy DOES look cool!
Lucio Cadeddu

Zobel network with Merlins
Dear Mr. Cadeddu,
as a owner of a the new Merlin VSM-MX I read your article about the smaller brother with interest. Some years ago I bought a second hand Merlin EXL II, after listening to them in an audio studio in Zurich, Switzerland. In former times there was a general importer to Switzerland and in Zurich 3 stores which had Merlin products. I directly got in contact with Bobby because I was interested to know something about the new VSM and he made me such a fantastic offer I could not resist. And so I am listening my music with these extraordinary speakers.
I have a preamplifier Perreaux SM2 from New Zealand and a Mark Levinson No 29 (and a Conrad Johnson MV 75). In the beginning a have tried with and without this outboard Zobel network. But I didn't hear a difference. Since then I have listened always with, because I thought these american amplifiers don't have an inbuilt Zobel. After your article I will try again to hear a difference. I couln't find any remarks whether these amplifiers have an zobel or not. So I will trust my ears. Or what is your suggestion?
With many thanks and greetings,
Felix - E-mail: FTapernoux (at)

Dear Felix,
my advice is to trust your ears only. It is nearly IMPOSSIBLE you can't hear a difference with/without since this is NOT small. Try to focus your attention on precision of details and soundstage width as these are two parameters greatly affected by the Zobel network.
Anyway, if you still can't hear a difference after several careful tests...why bother? The crucial point is enjoying our favourite Music!
Hope this helped and keep me updated!
Lucio Cadeddu

Loudspeaker purchase!
Hello there Lucio.
You said to write back when I upgraded my speakers. I have finally done so and am happy it is a substantial upgrade. I did listen to some of the loudspeakers you mentioned but decided on AURUM CANTUS AC-782 2005 Classic Edition. Pictures of it on my system can be shown at:
To be honest I committed cardinal sin and brought speakers unseen and unheard direct from China. I researched them by internet feedback and on what I considered important to me in a speaker. I am happy with them, my wife said, "How did you do it? You sold your old EVO 30's and got these for the same price and they look a 100 times better and sound better". How right she was, she is a little jealous methinks!
Reasons why the new speakers are an UPGRADE.

  1. The finish is astonishing! 10 coats of hand cut lacquer. Real wood veneer. HUGE Brass spikes.
  2. The ribbon tweeter. It creates an air to the music that was missing before. The fact it goes to 40,000 Hz may help.
  3. Dynamics. IT has what the Cult of Naim calls the PRAT factor. They are very very fast and dynamic.
  4. Detail and slightly dry compared to Wharfedale EVo 30's which were slightly warm in midrange.
  5. I am happy.
They are a true three way which is what I wanted too, and the Ribbon Tweeter is amazing. Comparing these to Wharfedale EVO 30, which is only other loudspeaker other than EVO 40 that has spent more than a week or two on my system, I have to say this is a Major step up in sound.
Was I unhappy with EVO 30? Only slightly, but these speakers ROCK!
Colin - E-mail: colnmary (at)

Dear Colin,
thanks for the feedback! Actually, several Chinese HiFi products are quite interesting and do have a price/quality ratio that is hard, very hard to beat. It is a reality we all have to face with. Soon on TNT-Audio the review of an incredible pair of bookshelf speakers from China. Stay tuned!
Lucio Cadeddu

Upgrading my amp
I purchased a good used set of speakers Alon ll's by Acarian: 3 way 87db sensitivity with a minimum 4 ohm load. The rx-777 is similar to the ax592 as far as the power source is concerned. I never put the volume above 10:00 on the dial, and this is plenty loud for me. I didn't notice the difference between cd direct and non direct that you mentioned in the article.
Here's my 2 questions: I want to upgrade but not all at once. Do you feel that the amp section is sufficient to improve my pre-amp 1st, or, am I running the risk of hurting my beloved speakers by using the Yamaha amp, in which case I could use the Yamaha pre-amp and upgrade the amp 1st! I am actually pretty happy with the Yamaha...but it's not well thought of by the experts. Do I suffer from pier pressure? Please let me know your thoughts.
Thanks for your time.
Steven - E-mail: steves (at)

Dear Steven,
if you feel the need for an upgrade, plan to buy a new integrated amp instead. Browse the second-hand market: it's plenty of good "audiophile" integrated amplifiers! Upgrading part of your Yamaha wouldn't help much and the cost of the whole operation would be high, at the end of it all.
You can look for a Naim Nait 3 or 5, YBA Integré or even a Krell KAV 300 (easy to find in the US at bargain prices). Trust me, it would be a GIANT leap forward in sound quality.
Hope this helped,
Lucio Cadeddu

Tannoy M2 upgrade
I've read your (excellent) review of Tannoy M2 speakers on from 1999. I've had my pair of them for years now and while I'm not a really big audiophille, I thought you'd be the right person to ask for advice on improving their sound a bit.
Recently, I've finally managed to buy a pair of (inexpensive) stands for them and now I have the possibility to experiment with their position in the room. Before I start lugging all the heavy furniture around, I'd like to ask you for your reccomendations for their placement, specifically:

I'd also like to mention that the room they'll be used in is: I have an inexpensive entry-level stereo: the aformentioned Tannoys, Rotel RA-970BX integrated amplifier, inexpensive Technics CD-player (at the time of purchase round 200€), and a very cheap Yamada DVD-player, MITerminator 2-series interconnect cables and inexpensive speaker cables.
I realize that there are limitations to the stereo setup that I have, but I can't help to think that particularly in the bass department they are lacking beyond the price limitations. I'm not a bass freak, but I do like strong and dynamic bass.
The variety of music that I listen to is so eclectic that I won't even bother you with it.
Any advice you could offer would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks in advance and greetings from Slovenia,
Blaz - E-mail: blaz (at)

Dear Blaz,
proper speaker placement is both an art and a science :-) You should start with the WASP method we described here on TNT-Audio quite several years ago. Then you should experiment by yourself. Normally, placing the speakers close to the rear wall increases bass and adds distortion in the mids. You should try to find your favourite compromise.
As for tweaking, you can try reinforcing the cabinet (with braces and damping mats, internally) and adding some damping stuff to the woofer basket (blue-tack etc.). While you're there you can even rewire them, internally, with the same speaker cable you use. If you're after DIYing, you can try building our own speaker cables (TNT Triple T or FFRC for example). When you're done tweaking, you should browse the S/H market for a decent CD player. For 300/400 euros you can make a STELLAR jump in sound quality (Rega Planet, Linn Mimik etc.).
Hope this helped a bit,
Lucio Cadeddu

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