Fine Tunes #13 Letters

A letter in response appeared in the November 1999 issue of Stereophile:

Maybe not
Editor: Despite its slender profile, the July Stereophile was packed with useful information. In Sam Tellig's column, I read about the "snoring" of transformers in tube amps. My amplifier snores like my father used to do during Saturday naps. Next, in Jonathan Scull's column, I learned how to cure snoring. I had an old butcher block in the kitchen, so I slipped it and a set of DH Labs Jumbo Cones under my Dyna/VanAlstine Stereo 70.

Presto! The snoring stopped. (I also think I hear improvements in the sound from my Meadowlark Kestrels, but those improvements are subtle.) J-10 didn't say anything about phono-cartridge bodies, but I suspect that they resonate like a cheap drum. So I applied a few dots of damping material to the sides and bottom of my cartridge, being careful not to use more than a half a gram. The results were also impressive.

It's things like these that make Stereophile worth reading every month, not hot-air opinion pieces and cutesy columns by the spouses of neurotic thumbsucker audiophiles.---Bill Huey, Atlanta, GA,

We also received the following letter in response to this edition of "Fine Tunes," but it did not appear in the magazine:

Damped & Confused?
Editor: In the July 1999 "Fine Tunes," Jonathan Scull mixes the concepts of coupling, decoupling and damping resonances in such a way as to confuse the reader. He jumps from talking about Tiptoes in one paragraph to "Another cost-effective decoupling material is..." in the next!

Perhaps this is just a matter of sloppy editing, but what conclusions are we to draw from this column? Do we just experiment by buying a bunch of overpriced air bags and sand boxes to see what works, and throw out what doesn't? No wonder people are skeptical of the audiophile press.---Dan Lauritsen,

Dan, I'm sorry for whatever confusion my column has caused you. In spite of the mostly positive comments I've received regarding "Fine Tunes," there are always those exceptions that prove the rule. In fact, JA warned me when I began "Fine Tunes" that it's best to stick to one basic idea per column.

Resonance tuning turned out to be such a large subject that it took several columns to lay it all out. Towards the end, I realized there were still a few more items to cover, and I did so. Unhappily, I jumped around in an "Oh yeah, I forgot to mention" way that seems to have come off slightly chaotic in your eyes, and probably in other reader's minds as well.

I appreciate your feedback and will try to be more focused in future. We do listen to our readers. I hope you find upcoming "Fine Tunes" to be more productive and useful. As regards "overpriced air bags and sand boxes", the point is to try bubble wrap, inexpensive cones, etc. to find out what works. Then, if you wish, you can try more costly products like the Bright Star pieces I mentioned (which aren't, in my book, actually very expensive at all). In any case, best of luck, and enjoy.---J-10