Welcome to the audio world's most famous audio advice section. Inaugurated with issue No.1 back in 1982, this section isn't afraid to name names. Much of UHF's reputation for neutrality is due to this section, which many readers say they turn to before reading anything else.

You can ask your own questions through e-mail, at uhfmail@uhfmag.com. To get a reply, you must supply your full name, and your home town, as well as your e-mail address (for replies from us--we won't publish it). We will reply to most questions as soon as we can via this section. Of course, some periods are especially busy for us (stop by our blog to see what we're currently up to), and during those times we may have to put other work aside.

IMPORTANT: One reason for maintaining this on-line section is to feed the equivalent section in the magazine. If you choose to submit a question, you are thereby giving us permission to use your question not only on-line but in UHF itself.

My two power amps run at different temperature.
     Doing a very crude temp reading there is about a seven-degree difference. I'm biamping . So I switched them around, left channel for right channel. One of the amplifiers was still running hot, especialy underneath. The other amp seems to stay fairly cool all the time . NAD told me it’s nothing to be concerned about, but I am.
     I use horizontal  biamplification. I have NAD C275’s, NAD C165 preamp, MOON 300D, Cambridge Audio Azure 540 C  as a transporter.
     I dont play loud, as I unfortunately live in an apartment now. Any ideas what I should do about the heat problem?
Archie Macdonald, ST. PETERS, NS

Archie, a small temperature difference is probably not worth worrying about, as NAD says, but it is that small? You don’t mention whether the seven-degree difference is in Celsius or in Fahrenheit. Celsius degrees are nearly twice the size. We would worry more about the absolute value of the temperature, and specifically about the temperature of the hotter one.
     For the benefit of those not familiar with the principles of biamplification, horizontal biamplification means using one amplifier for the low frequencies of both channels, and the other for the highs. That’s what you’re doing. In vertical biamplification, each amplifier handles one channel, both the lows and the highs. Vertical biamplification is the preferred method, because it gives each amplifier half the tough role, namely handling the energy-rich low frequencies.
     In short, one of your amplifiers is working harder than the other, and the temperature difference is almost certainly normal. If you’re convinced the two amplifiers are truly identical, we would go to vertical biamplification.

You used to have a YBA1 (Delta?) as a reference amplifier with Totem Mani 2's. Was it the high-current version? I have the Mani 2's but my YBA 1 Delta is rated at 85W, and is not high-current.
     I was wondering if the Mani 2's would sound even better with a more robust amplifier. Everything sounds great, but I wonder if I am overpowering the amplifier.
David Ebertt, DRAYTON, ON

David, we had the very first version of the YBA One, even before it picked up its "Alpha" designation. At one point, parts were beginning to wear out, especially the connectors (we plug and unplug things a lot), and we asked to have our amplifier upgraded to the HC version.
     Now bear in mind that we're describing only our own experience, but it was not a happy one. The HC version sounded very good, but we no longer considered it to be of reference quality. We sold it at a low price (the buyer was delighted -- no surprise there), and we substituted a Moon W-5LE, which is still in our Alpha reference system.
     The Mani-2 speakers are rather finicky about amplifiers, and can even be damaged by a bad one, but it's easy to exaggerate that. When we reviewed the very first Mani-2's many years ago, we broke them in with a 60 watt amplifier and had no problems. We then did the listening with -- you guessed it -- our YBA One. We even took the Mani-2's, along with the YBA, to the Montreal show (back in the days when we were exhibiting). The ambient noise at a show requires running a system louder than you might at home. You know what? They sounded terrific.

I have a 2007 desktop iMac and I listen to a lot of music online. The computer is connected to a $179 Logitech speaker set. A hi-fi shop recommended the NAD D 3020 Hybrid Digital amp and a set of good quality speakers.
     I would also like - if possible - to play through the same speakers my CD/LP/cassettes/78 collection (none of it yet transferred to digital), besides my music on iTunes.
     My budget for this purpose is modest (more or less $2000). Is there anything you recommend? Your magazine is the most trustworthy source I feel I can turn to. Everyone else seems to be reaching into my back pocket before I finish asking a question. As you will have discerned, I have no idea
where to start...
David Waite, SUTTON, ON

     Actually, David, we rather like Logitech speakers, but they are what they are...and what they are is nothing close to high fidelity. The shop you mention no doubt recommends NAD because that's what it carries, but it's a logical upgrade. The original NAD 3020 came out many years ago, and was one of the most affordable really good integrated amplifiers you could then get. So successful was it that the company has kept the model name in the new D series.
     Time marches on, of course, and the new version has a built-in digital-to-analog converter, which means it has digital inputs as well as the usual analog inputs. You can connect it to your iMac through its USB bus, and the quality from digital music stored on your computer hard drive, in either lossless or uncompressed form, will stun you. You won't need to add a CD player to the system. As for the cassette player, it's very much a legacy product, but if you have important material on cassette, you'll need one.
     We noted, however, that you're looking at a couple of turntables. The 3020 does not have a phono input. It can easily be added, however, as an outboard unit.
     The Magnum Dynalab Signal Sleuth is a tunable amplifier for the front end of your FM tuner. We reviewed it many years ago, and (along with our own Super Antenna) it pulled in distant stations with excellent quality. You won't need it for nearby stations, but if you have a favorite that's a long way off, we'd go for it.

I have a number of used CDs that hail from the 80’s. The box sets back then included foam inserts to protect the CD from rattling in the case. Over time, those foam pieces disintegrated or, worse, glued themselves on the CD itself, thereby making an ugly mess of the labelling on the CD. Is there a safe way to remove this without damaging the top part of the CD? 
Nick Lakoumentas, NEW YORK, NY

It's a delicate operation, Nick. Though it's popularly assumed that a CD is a polycarbonate sandwich, in fact the top (label) part of the CD is extremely vulnerable. What you see, other than the label information, is a layer of lacquer overtop the aluminum or gold leaf that reflects the light during playback. Destroy the reflector, and you've destroyed the disc. We would suggest using pure water with a very small amount of detergent in it, to be applied on the surface only. Use a soft sponge to remove the foam. The CD may work fine even if there's an unsightly residue.
     If you manage to make that work, we would suggest copying the disc content onto a hard drive, and from there to a blank disc.

I'm hoping for some guidance from you. I purchased a London Reference cartridge from your Audiophile Store back in 2008. Though it is now sixish years old, it has low hours on it to date. It is mounted in an Alphason HR-100S HCS in a Linn LP12, sitting on a wall mounted Target turntable stand.  It is connected to the outboard Lingo, with an Audiomat 1.5 Phonostage fed to my Copland CTA305 and on to my Moon W5-LE and finally Living Voice speakers.
     As soon as it was mounted, there was a noticeable hum when the LP would finish playing (with the cartridge close to the spindle). It’s bearable, though annoying.  I did notice the hum diminished as the tone arm was moved away from the spindle to its resting mount.
     Recently I moved the system to a smaller room, and and the hum is overbearing!!  I tried the ground on vs off (worse yet when it’s off). When it’s connected straight to the Copland's phono stage there’s no difference.  When the cartridge wires were disconnected the hum decreased dramatically.
     Therefore it does appear the cartridge itself is the problem.  I noticed in the paperwork that came with the cartridge it mentioned "aftercare Service" and to "return to us" (Great Britain that is!).
     Given I purchased it through you, it has had minimal hours of use, not positive as to whether the cartridge is failing or fixable, I want to resolve this issue, can you please help me with next steps?  What would you do if this was your issue?
Lawrence Vande Vyvere, WINNIPEG, MB

Lawrence, as you know we have the same cartridge, the same tone arm, and the same turntable. We think it's extremely unlikely that the cartridge is the source of the hum, except indirectly: there is AC induction from the turntable motor to the cartridge. When the cartridge is close to the spindle, it is also close to the motor.
     It seems likely that the motor is not properly grounded. The ground connection is inside the turntable plinth. If this is a problem that has not always existed, we would guess that the motor's ground connection has come loose or broken.
     But try one thing first. Try connecting the turntable ground wire to one of the Audiomat 1.5's chassis screws. Its ground lug, unfortunately, is not a proper ground. We advised Audiomat of this when we reviewed the unit. It was, indeed, our only criticism.


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