Recommended Components Addendum

Recommended Components Addendum

FM Tuners
Day-Sequerra FM Reference Signature Modification: $1680 (+ cost of tuner) David Day's Signature Mod effectively addresses this ultimate FM tuner's cathode-ray tube's tendency to burn out. Switching circuitry has been added to allow the CRT to turn off when not needed. The Signature Mod also replaces the tuner's incandescent bulbs with longer-lasting LEDs, and uses hand-matched, low-group-delay filters for lower distortion and better channel separation. LG noted punchy, quick bass response, a deeper soundstage, and a more transparent midrange. "The new CRT's greater range of brightness and longer life expectancy makes the Signature Modification essential for owners of the DaySequerra FM tuner." (Vol.12 No.6, Vol.14 No.12, Vol.21 No.6, FM Reference; Vol.29 No.9, Signature Modification)

Editor's Note: There are currently no Class B FM tuners listed.
Harman Kardon HK 3480: $449
One of the few two-channel receivers still available. See "Integrated Amplifiers" (Vol.27 No.11 Review)

Music Hall RDR-1 Table Radio: $200
"RDR" stands for "Radio Done Right," and Roy Hall's table radio, made in the same factory as the Sangean WR2 and based on that model, features a 3" horn-loaded speaker and 7W amp. Relatively large (9.4" W by 4.5" H by 7.1" D), the RDR-1 offers FM and AM presets (five each), an Aux input, and doubles as a clock radio. Its many features take some getting used to, but ST loved the RDR-1 for its "exceptionally quiet" AM reception, an area in which the Music Hall trounced the Tivolis. "Highly recommended," he said. (Vol.29 No.8)

Outlaw RR2150: $649
One of the few low-cost, high-performance, two-channel receivers still available. See "Integrated Amplifiers" (Vol.29 No3 Review)

Sony ICF-M1000: $150
This sleek, modern table radio has a cabinet of vinyl-covered MDF finished in handsome piano-black lacquer and offers a tone control, a line input for portable music players, and a 1/8" stereo headphone minijack. There are no station presets and no alarm. ST preferred the Sony's FM sound over that of the Tivoli Model One, but found the Sony's AM reception to be inferior to that of the Music Hall RDR-1. However, the combination of the Sony's excellent overall sound, ease of use, and elegant styling make it a winner. Sam bought one for his wife. (Vol.29 No.12)

Tivoli Audio Model Two stereo table radio: $200
Just like the Model One, but on "stereo-oids," the Model Two uses the same 3" speaker and the same vernier tuning dial, but adds a dedicated Aux position. Its AM reception is slightly better than the original's, though still not great. ST: "If you want the best AM radio possible, you should probably tune elsewhere." He sums up: "Non-fatiguing-perhaps contoured to boost the upper bass a little and roll off the treble, but okay by me. Nuts to neutrality, especially in what is basically a radio." He admires the Model Two for what it is, and for not pretending to be what it isn't. (Vol.25 No.4)

Tivoli Audio PAL portable radio: $150
Designed by the late Henry Kloss, the PAL, measuring 6.2" H by 3.6" W by 3.6" D, is a Tivoli Model One FM/AM table radio in a plastic case with a rechargeable onboard NiMH battery to make it all portable. Sound quality through the built-in 2.25" speaker was very good, though not quite up to par with that of the Model One, which has a 2.75" speaker and a wooden cabinet. ST uses his PAL in the backyard or when visiting in-laws, and has also used it as a tuner. Replacement battery costs $25; carrying bag adds $29.99. (Vol.27 No.12)

Tivoli Audio Model One table radio: $120
"The Tivoli Model One is a radio stripped to its essentials: no stereo, no station memories, no remote control, no tone controls," said ST. This design from the late Henry Kloss didn't like being played very loud, ST discovered, but was "plenty loud for a typical office, and, ultimately, loud enough for me." He heard "a richness, a warmth, a generosity of tone, and a clarity that made for enjoyable listening. I was never fatigued." "A bit boomy," says JA, "but pleasantly so." AD connected the Model One's record-out jack to his preamp inputs, then muted its speaker. Matching the Tivoli with a RadioShack 15-2163 FM antenna, he found that "the combination has been nothing short of wonderful in my system: a flexible, great-sounding monophonic source for a combined price of only $124." (Vol.24 No.3, Vol.27 No.7 Review)

Magnum Dynalab MD-206.

Fanfare FT-1A not auditioned in a long time.

FM Antenna

Editor's Note: No indoor antenna can compete with a good roof or mast-mounted outdoor antenna, but because apartment dwellers often don't have a choice, we list the following indoor models that we have found to work well: AudioPrism 8500 ($499.99, Vol.14 No.6), AudioPrism 7500 ($299.99, Vol.12 No.5), Magnum Dynalab 205 FM Booster ($399, Vol.10 No.6), RadioShack amplified indoor FM antenna ($31.99, Vol.19 No.11), RadioShack 15-2163 FM antenna (Vol.27 No.7), and Fanfare FM-2G ($99, Vol.20 No.12). Outdoor antennae we have reviewed and recommended are the Antenna Performance Specialties Sniper ($595) and Antenna Performance Specialties APS-13 FM ($199), the original versions of which were reviewed in Vol.19 No.3.

Miscellaneous Accessories

Audio Research Tube Damping Rings: $3.95 each
Damping rings for all AR products are now available to the public at large. They're made of a proprietary polymer material that converts kinetic energy to heat, and their improvements are not subtle, exclaims BJR: tighter, cleaner, deeper, more dynamic bass; more coherent transient attacks; crisper, more extended highs; plus "improvements in the reproduction of subtle gradations of low-level dynamics." Give 'em a whirl-the cost is minimal. (Vol.23 No.2, Vol.26 No.8)

AudioPrism Noise Sniffer RFI/EMI detector: $249.95
An "electronic detective in the campaign to eliminate noise," said Chief Barry Willis. "Simply plug it in and turn up the volume-its small built-in loudspeaker will reveal where your problem outlets are." Then you can turn to AudioPrism's QuietLine Parallel AC line filter for a cure. "A must-own product, period," says BD. "10-4," adds J-10. (Vol.21 No.12)

AudioQuest binding-post wrench: $10.00
A great idea improved-similar to the original Postman, but with a metal sleeve reinforcing the sockets. (Vol.20 No.9)

CAIG DeoxIT GOLD Wipes: $18.75/25ct, $35.50/50ct
For cleaning electrical connections, available from JM: "A small but powerful stocking-stuffer.... You'll feel like a pro!" (Vol.25 No.12 Review)

Eichmann Bullet Plugs: $40 in copper (set of 4), $99 in silver (set of 4)
RCA connector using a clever design in which the hot signal is conducted by a hollow rather than a solid pin, and where a smaller, solid pin at the connector's periphery takes the place of an unnecessarily massive ground sleeve. AD heard "a more open and explicit sound" with a "deeper, more open, and more inviting" soundfield. Silver Bullet Plugs made the difference "clearer, more explicit, and even smoother." (Vol.27 No.12 Review)

Sound Alignment Systems by American Recorder Technologies, P770 laser alignment tool: $250
"The ideal device for positioning speakers," RD said energetically, agreeing with LB that it should be "in the tool chest of every audiophile who wants to get the best sound from loudspeakers." It's easy to use-just turn it on, hold it against the speaker's front panel, then adjust the speaker's position until the "appropriate toe-in and vertical orientation are obtained"-and is much more effective than "eyeballing the speaker from the listening position." (Vol.21 Nos.1 & 11, Vol.24 No.8 Review)

Stabilant 22 contact enhancer: $55/5ml bottle, with 5ml concentrate, 15ml mixing bottle, applicator, microbrush
Used to increase the reliability of contacts, available from JM: "An initially nonconductive complex block polymer liquid that, under the influence of electricity, becomes conductive. Furthermore, it does not cross-link to form sludge. Pretty nifty!" (Vol.25 No.12 Review)

Townshend Audio Maximum Super Tweeter: $1500/pair
This ribbon driver, built into a small stainless-steel case, operates in parallel with a full-range loudspeaker to extend the frequency response to a claimed 100kHz. When he used the Townshends with his original Quad speakers, AD found the Super Tweeters "contributed a near-perfect dose of texture, color, and spatial believability," the greatest improvement being in the reproduction of singing voices. Improvements were not quite as dramatic with newer Quads. Home auditioning with "other insufficiently tweety" loudspeakers is recommended. (Vol.27 No.11 Review)

WBT 0101 RCA plugs: $134/4 or $32 each
For a long time the best, although the original steel locking collett, now replaced by brass, gave rise to neurosis. WBT 0144 RCA plugs cost $80/4. Distributed in the US by Kimber Kable. Both now include a complete set of strain-relief ferrules and a length of WBT 4% silver solder, hence the price change. (NR, but see "Industry Update," Vol.12 No.9.)

WBT Nextgen Signature phono plugs: $49 each; $199/4
"A breeze to install," these phono plugs feature reduced conductor mass in an effort to create a true 75-ohm RCA connector, and have a two-part polymer structure that, when snapped together, holds the machined central plug and partial outer sleeve tightly in place. "The Nextgen Signatures had a nice effect on my system's high-frequency performance in particular," said AD. (Vol.29 No.3)

Mondial MAGIC video ground isolator no longer available

Digital Data Interconnects

Apogee Electronics Wyde-Eye: $59.95/0.5m; $69.95/1m; $79.95/2m; $89.95/3m; $99.95/5m; $109.95/10m $$$
"If you haven't heard this 110 ohm balanced data cable, you're missing out!" crows LL, adding that it's "more transparent, more musically honest than any I've heard—and it's ridiculously cheap!" JA is also impressed, and uses 50' lengths for his Stereophile recording sessions. KR, however, while agreeing that Wyde-Eye is an excellent value, notes that it is less transparent-sounding than the (much more expensive) Illuminations (Kimber). Also available for the same price in a 75 ohm version for S/PDIF applications, using Canare's true 75 ohm RCAs. (NR)

AudioQuest OptiLink Pro 2: $350/1m, with AT&T-ST termination
Expensive ST datalink that JA and JE recommend highly. Excellent bass performance, with power, clarity, and dynamic contrast, says JE. Rich sound. ST terminations can be fragile, adds JA. (Vol.16 No.11)

Canare DigiFlex Gold model RCAPOO3F: approx. $11.12/3ft $$$
Before you try any of the expensive coaxial links, CG advises trying this inexpensive, true 75 ohm cable with Canare crimp RCA connectors. He rates it as his first choice in a digital cable at any price, even preferring it to the Kimber AGDL. JA uses the 110-ohm version in various lengths for CD mastering. (Vol.16 No.7)

Kimber Orchid: $580/1m
Expensive, but the best AES/EBU link JA has used. J-10 loved the Orchid's midrange liquidity and detail, but preferred Illumination's S/PDIF cable overall. SD (almost) doesn't equivocate: "Probably the best out there for now....A stunner!" RH and RD are also fans. New lower price usefully brings this cable in reach of more music lovers. (Vol.19 No.5)

Kubala-Sosna Expression: $925/m, $200/additional meter
A KR favorite. See "Loudspeaker Cables." (Vol.29 No.7)

Stereovox HDXV2: $150/m
"Chris Sommovigo does it again with another and better and cheaper digital coax!" cries KR. This BNC-BNC S/PDIF cable comes with RCA adapters and is sturdy enough for a reviewer's constant reconnecting and neutral enough to reveal the subtleties of the connected equipment. "$100? I cannot imagine spending more!" decides Dr. Kal. JA

AudioQuest Optilink-5, Audience Au24, DH Labs Silver Sonic D-110.

Books & Computer Software

David Moulton's Playback Platinum Test CDs: $44.95 each if purchased separately, $159.80 for the set of 4
Four-volume lecture series that covers the fundamentals of audio from a popular-music production standpoint: Vol.1, Loudness, Compression, Distortion; Vol.2, Stereo Miking; Vol.3, Equalization; Vol.4, Digital Audio: Sensory Listening Tests. Each volume is on a separate CD, which comes in a hardbound, textbook-sized book that includes about 50 pages of additional text keyed to each track of each lecture. JM: "I'm impressed with how Moulton & Co. take material that has the potential to be dauntingly dry, and make it enjoyable and memorable by adopting at times a 'radio drama' approach." (Vol.26 No.5 Review)

Digital Recordings Audio-CD Hearing Test: $39.95
This system permits useful evaluation of hearing thresholds with only a CD player and a pair of headphones. KR reported that it reveals any significant gaps in your hearing. (His own results were "close to ideal, especially considering my age and usual haunts." Whew.) "Ever wonder why others don't hear what you do? This simple test will tell you, even though you may not like the answer." Such a card. (Vol.23 No.1 Review)

ELAC Technische Software CARA REL 2.1 Plus program: $74.95
To use CARA, one must create a full three-dimensional model of the listening room, using the program's CARACAD module. KR: "By 'full,' I mean that all room dimensions and surfaces are defined: doors, windows, furniture, soffits, bays, etc." Kal found it time-effective to reduce the complexity of the model (eg remove smaller objects) and the order of reflections (3–4) for the early iterations, at which point the number of possible speaker and user positions is large—an 800MHz Pentium III can take 48 hours or more to run even that modest a set of variables. "Several simplified runs will tell you which arrangements deserve more investigation. After that, you can limit the range of positions for speakers and listener while progressively increasing the number of reflections and adding more feature details, as a confirmation of the optimum arrangement." Checking predictions against the results with ETF or with TacT RCS measurements confirmed CARA's conclusions to an amazing degree. KR: "Wouldn't you like to know how well a speaker might work in your room before you buy it? I would." Runs under Windows. Web: (Vol.24 No.9 Review)

RPG Diffusor Systems Room Optimizer Software: $99
When MF moved to a new home with bare, reflective walls, he was faced wit the question of where to plunk the speakers? RPG Diffusor Systems' Room Optimizer Software—available from, among others, Audio Advisor—to the rescue. Plug in the room's dimensions (they must be rectangular) and the program will output the location where the modal response is flattest and the speaker-boundary interference is minimized. It'll also tell you where to sit! (Vol.22 No.11)

Visual Ears: $89, plus $3 S&H
Inexpensive but excellent computer program for PCs and Macs. Available from KB Acoustics, P.O. Box 50206, Eugene, OR 97405. Tel: (541) 935-7022. Allows an audiophile to move simulated loudspeakers and a simulated listening seat around a simulation of his or her room (in three dimensions) to find the position that gives optimal performance below 200Hz or so. (Vol.13 No.12, DOS; see "Industry Update" in Vol.19 No.4 and "Fine Tunes" in Vol.21 No.8, Windows.)

FuzzMeasure Pro, SignalScope, and SignalSuite for Mac OSX, TrueAudio spectrum analyzer for Windows.