LM3886 Gainclone

Hello Colin. Can you enlighten me please? I’m building a LM3886 Gainclone design for a second system, and have a few questions on the best types of passive components to choose. As it’s a second system, not looking for any exotic/expensive components, just want to make best choice of sensibly priced options, while trying to […]

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Accurate & cheap capacitance meters – are there any?

Dear Colin, Accurate & cheap capacitance meters – are there any? Have decided a capacitance meter will come in handy for taking some of the ‘guess work’ out of cartridge loading, in terms of being able to measure the real-world capacitance if my phono cable/head shell wires/connectors together. Only problem is one of budget :/ […]

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Top resistors?

Dear Colin, Top resistors. Many threads with opinions on boutique coupling capacitors, but very little consolidated information on the sonics of resistors. Do you care to share your thoughts on the attributes of their favorite brands & types for specific tube and SS applications? How much of a difference does a good resistor make? My […]

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Do very good interconnects compensate for an only so-so CD player?

Dear Colin, An audiophile friend made the following argument to me: “Stop looking for a new CD player. With a very good to excellent high-end interconnect you will not only improve the performance of the CD, but other downstream components.” I had to disagree with my friend claiming a $400 or $500 IC is not […]

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The value of mains regeneration?

Hello Colin and may I congratulate you on your resurrection. My question is this. As it is generally agreed that as a consequence of the variation of the mains waveform systems sound different at different times of any twenty four hours, do you do your fine-tuning at a similar time each day for continuity? Or […]

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Impedance match of preamp and main amp

Dear Colin, impedance match of preamp and main amp. I am considering mating a McIntosh Mc602 with a Bat Vk 51se. I noticed the input impedance on the Mc602 is 10K. While most Bat amps are much higher. Do you see a problem with this? It seems I remember at Stereophile I used to know […]

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TRANSFORMER NOISE ….. through speakers when switched off!

Dear Colin, step up transformer noise. I purchased an amp from Europe that needs 240v [ I am on north American voltage].. I bought a step up/step down transformer to equalize the voltage. it works, but the transformer produces noise through the speakers, even when the amp is turned off. the transformer I bought was […]

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Sanyo Oscon

Dear Colin, Solid organic polymer capacitors such as the Sanyo Oscon series have a very good reputation for digital decoupling and I’d like to use some when refurbishing an old CD player of mine as I’ve got plenty in my parts stash. Before I go fitting any I’ve got a couple of questions:  1)   A […]

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The fine art (or science, or both?) of cable design

Colin, what are the current design and materials limitations that confront all intelligent skilled speaker cable designers today? It is not materials! it’s understanding that block A can go with block Z. The complex nature of the cable is not a easy thing to write here about.  And I will not be writing about the […]

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How often do we have to turn off our equipment?

Dear Colin, power supply question. How often do we have to turn off our equipment such as power amp, pre amp. cd player , power conditioner ……? Can we leave them on for days while listening on and off or do we have to turn them off after every session of listening? As a general […]

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4-Pin DIN plugs to construct an interconnect for a Quad 33/303

Dear Colin, I’ve ordered a pair of 4-Pin DIN plugs to construct an interconnect for a Quad 33/303 system. Do both the channels need to be individually shielded, or is crosstalk not an issue here, and one could use something like this with just an overall shield? http://www.van-damme.com/14.html Failing that, can you recommend a really […]

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Popping noise on turn off

Q: Hello Colin. The unit in question is a Lafayette 4 channel decoder. When turning off my system, there is a popping noise from the rear speakers unless I turn the volume down on the decoder first (I’m only using the rear outputs). I’d like to eliminate the problem. I’ve searched bypass capacitor and coupling […]

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What really are computer grade parts?

Dear Colin, Computer grade parts? What are computer grade parts.. such as Computer grade power-supply caps? Are these type of parts an upgrade and/or better than audiophile grade parts? For example, I’ve heard some people say, “I’ve upgraded my power supply caps in my amp to computer grade caps”. I don’t think I’d want computer […]

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STEP DOWN CONVERTERS: Do they degrade the sound?

Dear Colin, I recently saw a 240v integrated amp from the UK and was wondering if it is ok to use with a Step Down Converter? What are the pros and cons of using a step down device? Does it affect the sound and am I in jeopardy of blowing the transformer or ruining the […]

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Microphony, fact or fiction?

Colin. I appreciate your no-bullshit approach to providing answers. I am counting one now because I cannot get a credible answer elsewhere re microphony in amps. I appreciate that all objects vibrate and each has a fundamental mechanical resonance. So if microphony affects the sonic performance, then how and why – in general? How would […]

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DIY interconnects using Teflon braided hose

Hi Colin. I love your ‘clinic’. Neil promised that you might be offering education for us novices. So may I ask – have you ever thought about using braided hose to run your interconnects. I am talking about type usually found as brake lines on motorbikes and car braking systems, i was messing around with […]

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Sources used in product development?

Hello Colin What sources and speakers does you use in development and why please? Thanks. Mike Hi Mike, Now that is a tricky question I like my old Ruark Sabres, they are old friends made for me by my old friend. I also use Spendors, and borrow others makes depending on what I am designing. […]

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That elusive valve sound?

Hello Colin, please be patient with me because although I am an experienced listener I’m not very conversant with the technology that is available today. By this I mean I really just plug in and just listen. However recently I started to think about some of the units I use, In particular a Musical Fidelity […]

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Hum and woofer oscillation

Q: Colin – help required please! Hum and woofer oscillation… I have just rearranged my system and entire room. This has lead me to run my Pioneer PL-707 with Denon DL-301II through an AU-320 SUT to my (freshly recapped) Accuphase C-200 and on to my little Cayin TA30. It’s the smallest amp I have and […]

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Do slow blow t2 250v fuses blow for no reason?

Hi Colin. Just had a crackle in a left channel (nothing you’ve built by the way), fade to nothing, then that stench of death. Took the lid off my Crimson mono (a simple oblong) and all looks healthy in fact like new, the only thing that’s gone is the fuse. Could it be a mains […]

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Tim de Paravicini – The Stereophile star interview

Originally published October 2009 Stereophile: You are president of Esoteric Audio Research, a British manufacturer of tube amplifiers, and a world-renowned designer of tube equipment and output transformers. I thought we’d begin with a little background. Where were you born? What kind of education did you get to prepare you for a career in audio? […]

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