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,

How do I know what makes a good-quality speaker and how much it will cost? I need speakers for an expo. It will be busy and noisy, so they need to be good quality. They can’t be too loud, just clean and crisp and clear. It would be great if I could get some help! 

Elsa H. 

What makes a speaker “good” varies depending on the situation. Your situation is different than that of a home. If you’re going to be using the speakers at an expo where it’s noisy, they will have to play quite loud to overcome the sound around them, and they’ll also have to be very durable as well as easy to carry around. With that in mind, I’d recommend looking at speakers from companies that cater to the pro-audio/public-address side of things such as Peavey, Roland and Yamaha. I looked up what they’re currently offering and found some powered speakers in their lines that aren’t too expensive and would likely suit your needs quite nicely. . . . Doug Schneider

To Doug Schneider,

Have you ever heard of the NAD 3140 integrated amplifier? I saw one at a garage sale and I am wondering if it’s any good.

Shawn R.

Have I heard of it? I used to own one -- in 1981. It was considered a great amp for the price back then; however, that was 30 years ago, so I’m not sure how it would stack up today. My biggest concern nowadays wouldn’t be how good it is, but, rather, if it still works. Integrated amps last a long, long time, but many of the components in them do deteriorate and wear out. . . . Doug Schneider

To Doug Schneider,

[I need a] sound system for my husband’s 1986 Ford F150 truck. He loves the old truck, but it only has an AM radio and one working door speaker in it.

Cathy B. 

We don’t deal with car audio, only home audio, but I can tell you this: pretty much any half-decent car stereo is going to be better than what your husband has now. My suggestion is to go to a car audio retailer and ask them for the cheapest system they can recommend and have them install it. Chances are it will have an AM/FM radio, a CD player, and something to connect an iPod to. I suspect that if your husband likes the truck as much as you say, he’ll find a way to keep it running and the small investment you make in his sound system will be worthwhile. . . . Doug Schneider

To Doug Schneider,

I bought a pair of speakers just over a year ago and the wood veneer is starting to come loose and peel away. Is this normal? Is this covered under warranty? What should I do?


It’s not normal and it should definitely be covered under your warranty. First, contact the store that you bought them from and they should take care of it. If you can’t get satisfaction that way, go directly to the manufacturer. If it’s a reputable company, they’ll get it straightened away. . . . Doug Schneider

To Doug Schneider,

Are you still recommending the NAD C 565BEE CD player?

Bill Grant

Yes, of course -- in fact, I own one. The only thing that’s different between now and when I reviewed it (on SoundStage! in December 2009) is that there are probably some other competitors on the market that can be considered. But if you get (or have) the C 565BEE, you can rest assured that it’s still an outstanding player. Also, be aware that it’s capable of accepting high-resolution audio up to 24-bit/192kHz through the TosLink digital input on the back panel in case you want to hook it up to your computer system (your computer would have to have a TosLink output or you can use a USB-to-TosLink converter, which is what I use). . . . Doug Schneider

To Doug Schneider,

I want to thank you for your response to my question in October about the Harman Kardon 990 integrated amp. I’m thinking about getting it but have not heard it as of yet because we have no dealers in Atlanta. Even though it has its own phono section, I have my own phono preamp from Cary Audio that I would use instead. What do you think about my tube phono preamp being used with this solid-state amp?

Ron Arceneaux 

There’s no reason you can’t use your tube-based phono stage with the 990 -- people often get tube-based products to achieve a particular sound, which is probably why you want to use the Cary. What you’ll need to do is simply connect the turntable to the phono stage, and then the phono stage to one of the 990’s line-level inputs. . . . Doug Schneider

To Doug Blackburn,

I am trying to find the infrared (IR) sensor on [the Sony CDP-CE375 CD player].  I have a universal IR remote control I need to attach to the product.


The remote sensor is in the lower-left corner of the display area. If you have any trouble locating it, you can put a piece of aluminum foil over the front of the component's handheld remote control and put a pinhole in the aluminum foil directly in front of the LED IR emitter. The small pinhole will localize the IR remote signals enough so that you will have to precisely aim the remote control at the sensor to get a response from the component. Within a few tries, you should be able to pinpoint the exact “aim point” you need for an IR emitter. . . . Doug Blackburn

To Doug Schneider,

The connectors on the back of my Yamaha receiver are looking pretty grungy. It’s probably not doing my system any good. What do you recommend for cleaning them? 

Leonard MacDonald 

The connectors on the back of my old Nakamichi receiver need cleaning quite regularly. I know it because the audio quality deteriorates significantly to the point that it sometimes cuts out completely. DeoxIT from CAIG Laboratories works great to clean them. . . . Doug Schneider

To Doug Schneider,

I only came upon your article today and I am in complete agreement that blind tests obtain more accurate and unbiased results. I plan to attend the 2011 Son et Image in Montreal at the beginning of April. I have been reading various speaker reviews online in preparation. However, after reading your editorial I now seriously doubt whether I am going to be wasting my time listening to various speakers one at a time. From previous experiences at this show I know there won't be any tests of speakers in the manner you described. Do you have any suggestions as to how I could, as much as possible, minimize the effects of the non-blind nature of this a show or, indeed, any other audio show?

Ross Richardson

Don’t miss out on Son et Image because there are no blind tests; it’s still a very good show and well worth your time if you’re shopping for speakers. Besides, no show I’ve ever been to has featured blind listening tests, although I think it would be fascinating and informative for visitors to take part in a well-conducted one. Even so, there are things that you can do to reduce your bias when listening there, the key component of what a blind listening test brings, which can help make the show-going experience more worthwhile.

One thing to try to do is listening to a system without first learning its price. This is the opposite of what many people do -- they ask the price of the components and then sit down and listen, so they’re biased right from the start. Another thing is to ignore the opinions of others, particularly the person who is conducting the demo. There are various designers and salespeople who will blather endlessly about various aspects of the components, but then only play music for a minute or two. They usually talk that much to convince you the components are worth what they’re asking, but, frankly, they should let the system playing music do the talking if it’s really up to what they say. Finally, take what you learn from Son et Image and use that to narrow down your speaker selections. Afterwards, proceed to seek out these products in order to evaluate them under conditions that allow for more critical listening. I’ve found that at Son et Image, it’s not just manufacturers and distributors exhibiting, but retailers who will invite you to their stores to listen more before you ultimately decide what to buy. . . . Doug Schneider

To Doug Schneider,

I picked up a CK-1 preamp made by [C.K. Audio Ltd.]. It sounds great.

I was wondering if you have any knowledge of this product/company?


I looked at the pictures you sent and can see that the unit is made in Canada -- Sardis, BC, which is near Vancouver. I live in Canada and have seen a lot of what’s made here; however, I’ve never heard of this company, nor have I seen anything that looks like this piece. Since I can’t help you more, I’ve included the photos below and we’ll see if any readers can identify it (if so, please write in to Canada is known for quite a few rare things, but that’s usually confined to wildlife. Perhaps that should also include preamps. . . . Doug Schneider


To Doug Schneider,

I moved my speakers to another part of the room and now they don’t sound the same. They used to sound full, but now they sound almost muted and with less bass. Does the room make that big of a difference? Did I damage something? 

Richard Collins

It sounds like you have your speakers hooked up out of phase. In other words, the positive and the negative leads are reversed on one of the speakers and you’re hearing the cancellations that this can cause. Go and check all your connections very carefully at the speakers and at the amplifier. I’m 99 percent sure that’s the culprit. If not, write back. . . . Doug Schneider