Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Sad news for NHT

CEPro published the following statement regarding NHT

February 23, 2009

Dear Friends of NHT,

It's time to turn down the lights: NHT is going quiet.

Over the next 60 days we're going to sell the remaining professional and consumer inventory through our existing dealers and distributors, pay our bills, and then spend time rethinking the future of NHT. However, you should know that we are not bankrupt. Everybody here is fine and no, the car didn't get hit by a train. In a way this difficult economy provided the right opportunity for the change in strategy we felt has been necessary for some time.

One thing that is for sure is that this is not about our love for or commitment to the brand. It isn't about the audio business, either. It's all about the realities of the world and how consumer attitudes are changing, and how we as a brand and an industry can best respond to the need for real invention. We're anxious to get moving. When we do, it will be in the right direction.

NHT has always stood for something more than a great speaker. Our philosophy has to do with a way of thinking – about value, about fair play, about paying attention to what matters, about integrity. For us, it's a way of life.

We have a colorful history that included our share of distractions, but we hope we have made the speaker industry a little more interesting and helped in raising the bar.

We believe March 31, 2009 is to be the last day of "regular" business, at least for now. We intend to offer customer service and repair services for both in and out of warranty, available ongoing. Keep an eye on our website ( for more details and the occasional update.

Remember, this isn't good-bye, it's just "see you on the other side"

Thanks for everything!

Chris, John and the entire NHT gang"

Stereophile's Jason Victor Serinus was able to get Mr. Byrne to elaborate a bit more in this news item. It's like being "on a break" in a relationship or "seeing other people" it isn't officially the end but in reality it usually is. Think of how the dealers feel. They have supported this brand for years, put in the hard work to build the brand name in their markets, made it a priority ,and then when they need NHT the most it isn't there for them. They will have to sell all of their demos at a huge discount (because many customers will read the statement as NHT is out of business) and pick up a new line to fill the void. How big of a check are their dealers going to have to write to start doing business with a new manufacturer? Can the average Mom and Pop audio store afford it right now? They just torched a lot of bridges. If they do come back everyone in the industry will be wary of doing business with them again for quite some time. Very strange. It's being discussed on Stereophile's Forum right now.

Friday, February 20, 2009

In my system

I know that my system is listed in the side bar but how everything is used and connected together isn't perfectly clear. I recently typed out a detailed description for a thread on Stereophile's forum and thought I'd post it here too.

-Digital Front End-

-Transport: Primare D20 CD player with three Black Diamond Racing cones. Transparent Power Link Plus Power cord. Custom made 75ohm digital coaxial cable with particular attention to proper termination and shielding connects it to the DAC.

-Digital to Analog Converter: Theta DS Pro Basic III "Version A" with three Ayre wood blocks. Audioquest Panther RCA interconnects to preamp. Transparent Power Link Plus Power cord.

-Analog Sources-

-Turntable: Pro-Ject 1.2 Turntable fitted with Audioquest Sorbothane record mat mounted with a Grado Gold Cartridge. Sitting on a maple butcher block with five Racquetball halves between that and the top of the rack. A single Audioquest Sorbothane footer sits on the plinth when playing and on top of the dust cover when not playing. Dust cover is removed during playback.

-Phono Stage: Pro-ject Phono Box sitting on a single Audioquest Sorbothane puck. Wall wart power supply is fitted with Audioquest noise stopper. Audioquest Ruby interconnect to preamp.

-FM Tuner: Tandberg 3011A FM Tuner sitting on three Ayre wood blocks. Standard power cord because of non standard AC inlet. Audioquest Quartz to preamp

-Preamplifier: Adcom GFP-750 (with unused inputs shorted) sitting on three Ayre wood blocks. A single Audioquest Sorbothane footer is on the top cover to reduce resonance. Transparent Power Link Plus power cord. Audioquest Panther XLR to amp.

-Amplifier: Threshold Stasis S550e sitting on three Ayre wood blocks with a single Audioquest Sorbothane footer on the top cover to reduce resonance Transparent Power Link Plus Power cord. Audioquest Gibraltar speaker cables (pre DBS version)to speakers.

-Speakers: Martin Logan CLS with Martin Logan Energy Transfer Coupler spikes. Audioquest AC-15 power cords.

-Power Conditioner: Panamax Max-5510 with Transparent Power Link Plus power cord. Top panel has magazines stacked on top to reduce resonance.

-Eagle Hospital Grade outlet with ceramic outlet cover to power the system.

-Lovan Equipment Rack

-Various DIY acoustic treatment

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Sony begins shipping new product

I thought that "The Onion" did parodies; not hard hitting, fact based news stories. ;) Language warning don't watch this with small children around or at work!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Have you heard the buzz?

If there is hum or buzz in your audio system diagnosing the cause is often a frustrating task. Begin by asking yourself some questions. Is the hum at 60Hz? If you have a test CD that has a 60Hz tone use that as a reference for comparison. If yes you are certainly dealing with an electrical issue.

If it's only on your phono input. How close is it to other equipment? One thing to always keep in mind is that the signals that phono preamps are dealing with are absolutely tiny. Much smaller than the line out of a CD player for example, about a tenth the size. The wiring in a tone arm and the interconnects that come from the turntable are likewise vulnerable. I ran out of rack space and instead of stacking my phono pre on top of or behind something I placed it on an adjacent book shelf which did two things. First, it made sure that the unit wasn’t close to the power supplies of other components. Second, it kept the interconnects from the ’table to the phono stage away from all of the other cables in the system. You might also try turning off Digital components when listening to the analog front end because they put out a lot of RFI and EMI.

Hum is normally caused by different grounding potentials. Many times it’s because a video monitor that is connected to cable TV is also connected to an audio system. Is your system connected to a video source? The Cable and satellite Companies are required to ground THEIR system and of course the electrical system has it’s own ground already. This, of course leads to the possibility of two different grounding potentials. Electricity, like water flows to the path of least resistance and that is what causes the hum. Another thing to think of with old wiring is that you might have grounded outlets that aren’t properly grounded because the original wiring job is two wires (hot and neutral) and the conversion wasn’t done properly. This can be tested by a $5 tester that can be purchased at any hardware store. It plugs into the outlet and through a series of lights can diagnose bad grounds, hot/neutral swaps, and a number of other conditions. It’s a small price to pay for piece of mind

Are the audio outputs of TV, Cable box, or the DVD player hooked up to the audio system? If so the audio cable's ground is introducing the second ground. As a diagnostic step try disconnecting the coaxial cable that carries the TV signal that goes from the wall into the cable box. If the hum goes away then we know that the hum was caused by having two grounds with different potential.

If the ground is the problem try:

Xantech 634-00-This one is only about $9 but it tends to knock out higher TV stations in digital cable systems and negatively affect pay-per-view and movie on demand capabilities. It's cheap enough to try and throw away if it doesn't work. But in my experience it usually causes some kind of problem. I only mention it to present all options.

Mondial Magic Box-It's about $100. Which is expensive by comparison but because of it's greater bandwidth tends not to knock out higher TV stations in digital cable systems. Nor does it usually cause problems with pay-per-view and on demand functions.

Tributaries used to make one but it doesn't look like it's available any more. It worked as well as the Mondial.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Did the Grammy Awards get something right?

For years I haven't watched the Grammy Awards. For the most it's because the awards are more about music that sells a huge number of units or sentimental/political favorites than about truly great music. Like when the Dixie Chicks swept the awards because they were being boycotted by Country music fans for slamming President Bush or when Jethro Tull beat Metallica for the first Heavy Metal Grammy. My faith in the Grammy electorate is extremely low. However, this year they awarded a total of five awards to Robert Plant and Allison Krauss' collaboration "Raising Sand" including Record of the Year for "Please Read The Letter," Album of the Year for "Raising Sand," Best Pop Collaboration with Vocals for "Rich Woman, " Best Country Collaboration with Vocals for "Killing The Blues," and Best Contemporary Folk/Americana Album for "Raising Sand." I'm really looking forward to the follow up album.

If they aren't careful the Grammy awards might actually become relevant to good music.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Audio in Unexpected Places

The audiophile pursuit is so isolated from the "real world" that it's always a pleasant surprise when there is a mention of the hobby in the main stream media. Below is a clip from Mystery Science Theater 3000, know as MST3K to fans.

Unfortunately the robots reactions mirror the attitudes of the general public a little too closely. My favorite part is when he is seen applying the green pen tweak to a CD. Mike Nelson is an audio enthusiast having written for Home Theater magazine in the past and having seen selling used gear on Ebay. I wonder if the system that he named in the clip was his dream system or his actual system at the time. Being from Minnesota he really should be have mentioned Magnepan and Audio Research to give some good people who make stellar gear a bit of free publicity.