Q: I have an Audio-Technica AT-LP120-USB turntable. I bought the pre-mounted LP Gear the Vessel A3SE cartridge after reading your review and recommendation. The sound is great, but the volume dropped compared with the original cartridge (an Audio-Technica AT95E). Is this normal, or is something wrong?
A: Nothing is wrong. The A3SE creates less voltage than your original cartridge, so it will produce less volume. The exact specifications are 3.0 millivolts (mv) for the A3SE and 3.5mv for the AT95E, so no matter what turntable or amplifier you're using, you'll need to turn up the volume a bit more with the Vessel to get the same volume level. If you had switched to a cartridge with higher voltage, you would have to turn down the amp to get the same volume level.
But don't complain about having to turn up the amp. The slightly lower output is part of the reason the Vessel cartridges have such great sound and continue to win awards. Lower voltage means less moving mass inside the cartridge, and less moving mass means the cartridge can read the record more precisely. The most expensive, audiophile cartridges are moving-coil (MC) cartridges with extremely low voltage output, well below 1mv. The voltage is so low they require a preamplifier with a special MC setting to use them.
Q: My wife and I have trouble discerning dialogue when we watch television programs. We have an expensive 7.1-channel surround sound system with a Pioneer HDMI receiver. The sound effects are great, and we can understand movie dialogue just fine. But, we cannot understand TV program dialogue very well. The receiver has settings that are supposed to help you understand spoken voices, but they don't seem to work. You wrote recently about a sale for the ZVOX AccuVoice AV200 TV speaker, and how it makes dialogue easier to understand. Do you think this speaker would help us? And how would we hook it up to work with our system?
A: I do think the AccuVoice speaker would make the dialogue easier for you to understand. What it won't do is create a home theater experience like your 7.1 system. Unfortunately, the two are not designed to be used together. It is one or the other.
Because your surround sound system uses HDMI and the ZVOX uses an optical cable, at least you don't have to worry about disconnecting and reconnecting them each time you want to use one of them. Leave the surround system connected via HDMI and connect the AccuVoice speaker directly to the TV with an optical cable. When you are watching TV shows, mute the volume on your Pioneer receiver and use the ZVOX as your sound system. When watching movies, either streamed or on disc, turn off the ZVOX speaker and use the surround sound system.
If you're thinking about making this move, this is the time to do it. The ZVOX speaker is on sale for $179, reduced from $249, through June 19. ZVOX (zvox.com) has a 60-day home trial period, so you can return it for a refund if you're not happy with it.
Send questions to Don Lindich at email@example.com. Get recommendations and read past columns at soundadvicenews.com.