Reviews of Attainable Hi-Fi & Home-Theater Equipment

Reviews of Attainable Hi-Fi & Home-Theater Equipment

Please send all questions to All questions sent to this e-mail address will be replied to online. If you do not wish to share your e-mail with other readers, please do not send it. But if you have a question, chances are others are wondering the same thing. Therefore, you will be helping not only yourself, but other readers as well when your question gets answered here.

To Doug Schneider,

I haven’t bought any stereo equipment in years. What do you recommend for a good floorstanding loudspeaker under $1000 per pair?

David Richards

I can recommend many, but, in the end, it’s you who has to live with them and who must ultimately decide. I won’t recommend any models, only brands I’d consider first if I were in your shoes: Aperion Audio, Axiom Audio, Paradigm, PSB, and B&W. . . . Doug Schneider

To Doug Schneider,

My CD player and DAC have RCA coaxial and TosLink optical connectors. Which one is the best to use?

Mark H.

In general, audiophiles favor the coax over optical because it usually has lower jitter (i.e., less timing errors). In reality, though, it also depends on the implementation with each component. Therefore, to really know you’d have to try each one out. . . . Doug Schneider

To Doug Schneider,

I confess that I really didn’t know what I was doing when I started ripping CDs. It was only after 100 or so discs that I realized that I was making MP3s. I know that I am supposed to rip to WAV or FLAC. Is there any way to convert these MP3 files to WAV or FLAC?

Thomas Hart

MP3 is a “lossy” format, meaning that it discards data during the ripping process that cannot be retrieved later. WAV and FLAC are “lossless” formats, meaning that no data is lost during the rip. Although you can convert an MP3 file into a WAV or FLAC file, it won’t bring back the data that was already discarded. Unfortunately, what you’re going to have to do is go through the ripping process again for all those discs, if you want the resolution that the original CD offered. . . . Doug Schneider

To Doug Schneider,

Whenever I play bass-heavy music, I hear a scratching sound in one woofer, as if metal is scraping. I don’t have to play it loud to make it happen. Do you have any idea what it is?

Robert Regan

Yes, I had a similar thing happen with bass-heavy music with one of my speakers that I owned about 25 years ago. One track that I could always play and hear it with was “Fallen Angel” from Robbie Robertson’s self-titled 1987 release. That track opens with very deep bass and little else, so it's easy to isolate the problem. Your description mirrors what I heard -- a metal-on-metal scraping sound. The technician I took it to thought it was the woofer's voice coil scraping against the magnet. The company replaced the driver and the problem was fixed. . . . Doug Schneider

To Doug Schneider,

Please can you guide me if the Heco Victa 501 speakers are good for a room size of 10 x 11. Also, some reviews on performance would be great.


I don’t really know anything about Heco, so I looked at their website and ended up downloading their PDF-based catalog to find out about the company and their speakers. I learned from the site that they’re a German company and they have quite a few speakers across a number of lines. Their speakers look interesting.

Victa appears to be their entry-level line and the 501 is their smallest floorstander in it. The 501 is a two-and-a-half-way design with a frequency response rated from 28Hz to 38kHz. I am guessing that the “10 x 11” in your letter refers to the length and width of your room in feet and not meters. That’s a pretty small room; however, with careful setup of the speakers it could work well enough. If that’s actually meters, then that’s well over 30’ x 40’ and you’d likely need a much larger speaker to pressurize the room appropriately. We obviously don’t have any past reviews of Heco and don’t have any future ones with this brand lined up. Sorry I can’t be of more help. . . . Doug Schneider

To Doug Schneider,

I enjoyed the review of Dual CS 435-1 turntable by John Crossett, published August 2008. I have been looking for a new or “like-new” Dual CS 435 for some time and cannot find one. If there is anybody who knows of a retail source for Dual turntables, I would greatly appreciate it if they would pass this information along to me. Thanks for your help with this.

Marsh Adams

It’s funny that you mention Dual because I was thinking about the brand the other day when I was trying to recall the name of the Canadian distributor that was showing their turntables at Salon Son & Image 2010 in Montreal. The Dual brand obviously goes way, way back. The distributor’s name is AudioScape and they can be found online at You might also want to check out Doctor Dual, which is located in Canada as well. I found Doctor Dual through a Google search and it seems that they recondition Dual turntables. . . . Doug Schneider

To Ron Doering,

I enjoyed reading your review of the Musical Fidelity M6i integrated amplifier, and was pleased to learn the power doubles into 4 ohms and again into 2 ohms. I am using the Aerial Acoustics Model 6 speaker, which likes lots of power.

I was wondering if you are also familiar with Musical Fidelity’s M6PRE preamp and M6PRX power amp, and if they offer major sonic advantages over the M6i? I will not be able to compare the integrated and separates.  The company claims the amp produces 260Wpc, and two lab tests I found measured 220Wpc and 230Wpc, but maybe other specs are more important.

Mark Lombardi

Thanks so much. I have not heard the M6 separates, but I don’t think power alone is enough of a differential to make the case for them. Sixty watts simply is not going to be sufficient to make a significant audible difference. However, there are features offered in the M6PRE that are not available in the M6i, including a phono stage (MM/MC) and an additional set of balanced inputs. If these features are important to you then I think the M6 separates become a more compelling option. Good luck! . . . Ron Doering

To Doug Schneider,

Can you recommend an inexpensive DAC to get into computer audio with? I don’t want to spend over $500. Also, please recommend an inexpensive USB cable.


We actually answered a similar question to this one on April 30, and today our answer would still be the same. We suggest looking at the High Resolution Technology Music Streamer series as well as the Hegel HD2. You can use any ol’ USB cable to start with, but if you want to get into something “audiophile approved,” then look at the offerings from AudioQuest -- their Forest USB cable is only $30. . . . Doug Schneider

To Doug Schneider,

I am a neophyte fan of hi-fi. I bought the TEAC CR-H500NT a few months ago and I’m interested in understanding how [Thom Moon] used the Linn Majik 1p integrated amplifier in his test. Can I use the CR-H500NT as a preamplifier?

Thank you very much for your attention.

Mr. Luca Cattaneo
Milan, Italy

You might be new to hi-fi, but you started with a fine piece of equipment -- TEAC’s CR-H500NT is excellent. Thom Moon didn’t actually use the Linn integrated amplifier with the TEAC unit; instead, he used it as a comparison piece to assess performance.

As for using the CR-H500NT as a preamplifier, it was not designed for that purpose. It was designed as an all-in-one receiver that has built-in amplifier and preamplifier stages, can play CDs, and has an AM/FM tuner, in addition to many other features. Enjoy it for as long as you can, then, if one day you aspire to upgrade, look at a dedicated preamplifier and amplifier at that time. . . . Doug Schneider

To Doug Schneider,

I bought the same preamp [as John] from Big Bird Sound in Vancouver a number of years ago. I don’t know the specs, but I am very happy with it. The sound is excellent. I would like to find the company again to see what else they have, but they may be gone ‘cause I cannot find them.

Jerry K.

The origins and current whereabouts of C.K. Audio are mysteries. We posted that e-mail that came in from John along with a picture, but no one wrote in to give us any additional information. We’ve also searched for them and found nothing. So we’re posting your e-mail and maybe someone can tell us more about C.K. Audio, including whether or not they’re around now. . . . Doug Schneider

To Doug Schneider,

I want to add a USB-capable DAC to my laptop to try out computer audio, but I only have a few hundred dollars to spend. What do you recommend?

Jim D.

High Resolution Technology’s Music Streamer DACs are inexpensive and very popular. Howard Kneller recently reviewed the $149.95 Music Streamer II on SoundStage! Hi-Fi and quite liked it. A new and interesting low-priced DAC is the HD2 from Hegel of Norway. It’s priced at $350. We hope to get the HD2 in for review on GoodSound! soon. . . . Doug Schneider