Gershman Acoustic Sonogram Loudspeaker

So there I was, driving past the hi-fi store, so I "popped" in just to see what they had. Here, take a listen to this pair of Gershman's...
Wouldn't you know it! - just 10 seconds later and there was my amp sitting on the stand playing music (OK - so I had to go home to get it, but that was one fast driveHappy - yes they actually sounded THAT GOOD!!! - errr - honey guess what I heard today?

Gershman Acoustics Sonogram Speaker has a sensitivity 89 dB @ 1w/1m, an Impedance of 6 ohms, frequency response 28Hz-20kHz, with recommended Power 40-250 watts. But they are pretty easy to drive.

They are a full range tower speaker unlike any other in the Gershman line-up, in that they are "normal" to look at
i.e. they are a simple box-tower design - not the usual "pyramid style" Gershman is known for.

This is their "entry level" (by that, I only mean it's the first one in their stereo speaker line-up), but this does not reflect on their absolutely superb audio performance and qualities.

They are one of the most "invisible" speakers, certainly at this level, that I have ever listened to. They are also very easy to set-up and eliminating those pesky low frequency standing waves is just a matter of adjusting the amount of toe-in (i.e. in MY listening room)

I have the walnut finish and they have a very "antique-y" hand finished appearance, with slightly rounded corners - unlike most speakers today that have very sharp corners. Removing the baffles reveals a 2" domed midrange - it looks a little strange, but it sounds amazing. I have auditioned the next model up, but I can honestly say I prefer the Sonograms. It isn't until you get to the Gap 828 model that I found an improvement in sound. Although at $15k, was it really that much better?

But their best feature by far is just how easy it is to position them in my room. I am not going to get into the science, but suffice to say they do not take a degree in acoustics to achieve a truly superb sound.

Once they are playing, you simply sit back and let them envelope you in glorious music! They have an amazing depth to the soundstage, reaching far back beyond the wall behind them and the detailed reproduction of the acoustics of the concert hall makes you believe you are right there - in the concert, or the jazz club or wherever else!

that's what a good speaker should be all about!

Two Thumbs-up

Naim Nait 5i mkII Review

What a cracking little amp the Nait 5i has turned out to be. I've had it for a couple of years now and it just keeps getting better.

If you are not thirsting for bags of power, but are a details kind of person, then this is the amp for you.

This is an incredibly "articulate" and "dynamic" integrated unit, which is conservatively rated at 50 watts - but those are Naim-Watts
It is really quite small and only has a volume control and 4 input switches - what more do you want?
- oh yes - it comes with a remote control Happy

The "pre" section is passive (i.e. no amplification) and that is one of the reasons this amp is so good.

It has an incredible depth to it's bass, superbly smooth middle and a very accurate top end that is neither too bright or harsh.

AND - it accomplishes this without getting any warmer than room temperature - i.e. cool to the touch - REALLY!!!
When I first got it i kept walking over to feel the temperature. Now I leave it on 24/365 and in it's dormant state it only uses 10 watts!!!

It’s a Naim - so like the rest of their amps it does not like high capacitance speaker cables, but it is a little more tolerant than some of the others in their line-up. The Naim cables are of course the best match, but the cables that I have listed in this blog are an extremely good match also.

Driving the Gershman Acoustic Sonogram speakers is accomplished with amazing ease. The Sonograms have a sensitivity 89 dB @ 1w/1m, an Impedance of 6 ohms, frequency response 28Hz-20kHz, with recommended Power 40-250 watts. and the Naim has no problem exercising these speakers across their entire frequency range.

Perhaps the most stunning music to listen to on this system is organ music with it's full spectrum sound - the superbly controlled bass can easily rattle the crockery - so bolt them down.

But it is equally at home bringing a delicate voice front and centre into your listening room, with amazingly life like performances.

To get this level of performance you will need at least a 10 gauge high quality power cord.

Thanks Naim

page6_blog_entry40-two-thumbs-up A highly recommended product!

My System - Current Build

Hi Fi Stand - by Lovan
Three legs, black steel with MDF shelves.
- Each shelf can support up to 200 lbs (not gonna test that one)

I've added 2 - 3/4" MDF Shelves for the Turntable and the amp

    • There are granite tiles under each component with drawer liner underneath to eliminate all induced vibrations in the shelf.

Turntable: Rega Planar II - i.e. in a former life

Micrometer VTA Adjuster


I have made the following "upgrades"...
- A custom built plinth - 3 sheets of bonded MDF - with Sorbothane "earthquake suspension" feet.
- Audiomods “Classic” tonearm with silver litz continuous lead
- Isokinetik Sub platter
- Rega 2 motor upgrade
- Soundsmith modified Denon DL-103 Moving CoilCartridge
- SRM/TECH Deluxe Acrylic Platter
- MDF isolation deck - on the shelf under the turntable

Turntable Mod's for details

The Other Bits

Simaudio MOON LP5.3 RS Phono Stage
MM/MC Phono Stage


Blusound NODE 2
Ethernet connected music streamer

With the right IC’s and power cables it even brings 16/44 recording to life, with more of everything

Naim Audio: NAIT 5i mkII - Integrated Amp
An integrated amp with a passive pre-amp section and a front panel mini-jack for Ipod type devices


Power Distribution Box

Dist Box
This is a very simple unit containing two switched Pass and Seymour MRI grade wall outlets and one non switched hospital grade wall outlet.

The box is protected with a 15 amp pushbutton breaker and for all the internal wiring I used Furutech mains cable conductors.

The power cable into this unit is my latest DIY power cord with cryo-treated silver plated copper connectors, which made a noticeable improvement in the performance of the attached source units



My own DIY Analogue Interconnect Cables

These are exceptional performers that I use throughout my system.

Their design is quite simple and they are quite affordable

My own DIY Speaker Cables

These are exceptional performers that I use throughout my various systems.

Their design is quite simple and they are quite affordable

Power Cables...

The Cheering Section!

Gershman Acoustics Sonogram
full range tower loudspeaker

Specifications are
- sensitivity 89 dB @ 1w/1m,
- Impedance 6 ohms,
- frequency response 28Hz-20kHz
- with recommended Power 40-250 watts.

The Sonograms are three-way ported designs with an eight-inch woofer made to Gershman specs, a three-inch Israeli-made Morel midrange driver and a one-inch Vifa soft-dome tweeter.

The speakers have a 2” x 8” rectangular port located at the bottom rear of the enclosure.

The listening Room...

Listening Room
The room is 15’ 6" wide, 40’ long with an 7.5’ ceiling
- The speakers have 8ft behind them
- There’s another 20ft of open section behind the 2 chairs

The two large screens behind the speakers either side of the system are acoustic baffles that eliminate echo at this end of the room

They also double as "mood lighting" - High on the WAF scale Happy

Favourite Places and Products

Please note I have no affiliation to these companies, but I have used them or their products and found them to provide high quality products and services - so these are generally the first places I return to when shopping!

Self Help...

Power related topic FAQ's -

Cable Manufacturers...

Van Den Hul - superb industrial strength cables and ultra fine phono cartridges
DH Labs - high quality cables suited to home audio
Furutech - - superb industrial strength cables and connectors
Stager Sound Systems - solid silver interconnects
Signal Cable - exceptional quality and value for all cable types

Links to Products Used...

Power Related

NOTE: for Canadian readers - all DH Labs product I order from Parts Connexion

Interconnect Related

Turntable and Phono Related
Speaker and Cables Related

On-line ordering Favourites...

Take Five Audio - DIY parts and tonearm rewire + lots more - great product and prices!
Isokinetik - Turntable upgrades and tweaks - excellent product/service!
Parts Connexion - audio parts supply in Burlington, Canada - excellent service!
Needle Doctor - everything phono stage related - huge selection - timely delivery!
Michell Engineering - turntable specialists + upgrades and tweaks - excellent product/service
SRM/TECH - turntable specialists + upgrades and tweaks - excellent product/service

Repairs and Electronics Upgrades - component upgrades, circuit assessments and crossover rebuilds - excellent service

Toronto Area Audio Stores

AudioExcellence (Vaughan)
  • great prices on bulk cables, outlets and connectors
  • extensive product lineup (large McIntosh selection)
  • A/V consultants/specialists
  • willing to audition

Executive Stereo (Toronto)
  • large current vinyl selection
  • some very nice 'vinyl centric" products on display
  • very willing to audition

Audio Eden (Aurora)
  • very helpful with respect to discussing product choices
  • good/current vinyl selection (good prices)
  • some very nice high-end product on display
  • large selection of "previously enjoyed" items on display
  • very willing to audition

Around Again Records (Toronto)
  • a vast wall-to-wall selection of new and "previously enjoyed" vinyl and CD's - it's cram-packed!!!
  • great prices
  • most "good quality" used albums are in very good condition and clean (i.e. those not the $1.00 box)
  • new inner and outer sleeves are provided on the better albums
  • a turntable + headphones are available to listen to used albums before you buyHappy

Digital Interfaces - Which is Best?

My very latest delving has been into Fibre optic cables - i.e. Toslinks

It started by me placing an order for a DH Lab's "
Deluxe Toslink Optical Cable"

Wondering whether I'd done the right thing - I went searching...
  • Toslink has the advantage of not suffering from RF interference - so it is the better solution from that perspective
  • I started with my favourite cable maker Van Den Hul (aka VDH)
  • their OPTOCOUPLER II is a killer cable that "Guarantees" 250Mbps
  • I looked back at the DH Labs cable which states 150Mbps - Hmmm - not bad at all since it is less than half the price!
  • I then went looking at other manufacturers - e.g. my existing Chord toslink is 50Mbps
  • most of them didn't even publish their numbers

What about S/PDIF?
  • A different kettle of fish altogether...
  • The problem of RF pollution comes back into the equation, so I looked for cables with adequate shielding
  • Once again I went to VDH and found their Digicoupler - a triple screened cable with a performance of 3 Ghz
  • Once again - right there was DH Labs with their Silver Sonic D-75 and D110 with a performance of "beyond 2 Ghz"
  • and then there was the rest - not telling me the information I needed to know
  • The best performance in a brand name SPDIF cable I’ve found to date is from KLE Innovations - their gZero2D and gZero3D, which are extremely adept a transferring a digital signal
  • But the very best SPDIF I have used to date is my DIY Interconnect Cables - The "Helix Mark V" which seems to eclipse the the gZero3D by a smidgeon in clarity and imaging

What About USB?
  • Well, this can be an exceptional interface, but comes with caveats
  • The computers USB power is often used to power a DAC’s internal USB circuits - this can be quite unstable and impacts performance.
  • The USB cable itself contains both signal and power conductors which can cause noise and hence jitter - use a dual cable like this one
  • Also use a separate power adapter like this one
  • With the above additions, the USB interface will operate to the level of S/PDIF

If you are looking at digital interfaces - be sure that the cable(s) you select has a performance level somewhere near those above!

Good Huntin'

Why Good Power Cords Make A Difference

WARNING: unless you are an experienced electrical professional do not attempt to build/fix anything that uses mains voltage electricity — consult a technician

This debate has been ongoing for many years and until now I have never seen an adequate reasoning!

I've just completed updating all of my power cables — and YES! — it does work — for both Audio and Video

Maybe this example will explain why...

Screen shot 2012-01-26 at 3.29.31 PM

So what happens inside the amp if the dynamic current peaks cannot be accommodated?

If power supply within the amp cannot supply the current required at the speed required to amplify the signal to it's required levels...
  • the voltage within the circuit will fluctuate ever so slightly.
  • the fluctuations can result in distortions being introduced into the amplified signal.
  • also, remember there are two amplifiers operating in a stereo system, so the fluctuations will not be exactly the same.
  • this can result is subtle changes to the phase of the two signals of the LR channels.
  • changes in phase tend to alter the stereo image such that the image becomes "smeared" or "unfocused”.
  • In exotic amp designs the power transformers tend to be very large, are made from great quality copper and have lots of "headroom" — that's why the sound better:
    • "headroom" is the excess capacity available to address the peaks in power demand
    • the transformers are also designed to be very efficient,
    • Therefore peaks in current demand are accommodated by their ability to supply the required current from the power supply directly and when that is exhausted, from the main supply.
  • If there is a tiny little power cord attached to the amp then the “effective supply, i.e. as seen by the power supply of the amp, is unable provide the required current in time.
  • The amp will not perform up to it's “fullest potential" and
  • The stereo image and dynamic response will not be as good as what is actually achievable.

Most hi-end stereo equipment is designed with sufficient "headroom" in the power supply, but the power cord may be insufficient to deal with the peak transient demands that the internal circuitry and components are capable of.

More modestly priced components tend to skimp a little on the components in their power supply because they are designed to a “price point”.
  • However, their internal circuitry and components are often very capable of a significantly higher level of performance if only the power supply were more “capable”

In either case — having quality power cabling, connectors , etc., will allow all audio components to perform to a significantly higher level.

What can you do to ensure the equipment is working to it's fullest abilities?
  • Ensure that the outlet into which the equipment is plugged into is at least a hospital grade outlet — but you don't need to go nuts...
    • I have a 20 amp hospital grade MRI outlet from Take Five Audio - it has much stronger clamping abilities.
    • Even a 15 amp hospital grade outlet will be better than a standard outlet.
  • Ensure that all mains leads are of sufficient gauge and made from high quality copper.
    • 10 gauge minimum for amps.
    • Even larger for those very big mono-block amps or very high powered amps (say, 1000 watts and up).
    • 12-15 gauge minimum for source components .
  • Ensure that all plugs are of a reasonable quality — again you don't have to go nuts.
    • SONAR QUEST CRYO Ag Audio Grade Silver plated connectors are very good and reasonably priced.
  • For added safety/security I crimp spade connectors to the conductors.
    • This ensures maximum electrical contact and the wire should remain securely attached.

The same applies to TV's also — the better the cord the better the image!

So why doesn't the manufacturer provide good power cords?
  • All amps are designed to a "price point”.
  • the manufacturer knows that if they include a good cord it will up their price compared to the competition.
  • they also know that the informed consumer will buy a better cord anyway.
  • NAIM did have a slightly better cord included, but it falls very short from the cables that really makes it "shine”.

There’s a question out there on the web which asks-

“How can a 5ft quality built power cable make any difference?”

After all...

  • There’s all sorts of noise on transmission lines.
  • Add to that the noise in old transformers on hydro poles and all those poor connections.
  • The crappy quality wire in the walls of your house/apartment doesn’t help.
  • and don’t forget all those noisy household appliances.

To answer that question you first have to understand electricity a little...

A mistake often made is equating the flow of electrical current to the flow of water through a hose, which is not the case.

AC stands for Alternating Current but, in reality it’s alternating voltage — the voltage is a sine wave that cycles to +120v and -120v either side of a zero voltage point at 50/60 cycles a second.

When a circuit is completed by turning on a switch, some electrical energy is transferred — however
  • The reality is — the loosely coupled Valence Electrons in the cable, shift in one direction — but only for one half of the cycle
  • As the voltage enters the other half of the cycle the Valence Electrons - shifts in the other direction
  • So there is no “flow of electrons” as such — they just shuffle back and forth — however, there is a transfer of energy
  • This means all that noise in the transmission lines and house wiring never ACTUALLY arrive at your components
  • The noise that does get to your components is in the last 5ft of the supply line
  • YES! - YOUR power cables!

So, if you can clean up this section, the power coming to the components will be clean and allow them to perform to the best of their abilities.

What causes all this noise?

Primarily -
poor power cable design!

Let me explain - If you have two wires in parallel and side by side, i.e. just as in a power cable having a conventional architecture...
  • when you pass electricity through one wire i.e. the live wire...
  • noise is induced into the other wire(s) i.e. the neutral and the ground
  • The ground wire is not too much of an issue, since it goes directly to ground and is only really connected to the components chassis as a safety consideration
  • BUT - if the noise gets into the Neutral wire — it can impact the actual operation of the components circuit
  • if you can interrupt the induction process you can clean up the power in that last 5ft of power cable

How can you clean up the last 5ft?
  • Well, as stated above — the wires have to be adjacent and parallel for induction to take effect.
  • You could just separate them by about one inch, but that’s not really a convenient solution.
  • But one very simple method is to braid the conductors — the tighter the braid the better they perform.
  • In a braid, the wires cross each other at an angle between 30-50 degrees .
  • This is enough to reduce the effect of the induction process.
  • resulting in a significant reduction in noise.

Another more advanced and effective method...

Is to wrap the Neutral and Ground conductors around the Live Conductor in a helix
  • This is the most effective approach because the neutral and ground conductors are almost at 90 degrees to the live conductor
  • There is virtually no noise induced into the neutral or ground conductors.
  • The neutral and ground conductors also interrupt RFI/EMI pollution of the Live conductor.
  • The resulting power is virtually clean.
  • But, this “winding process” is much more complex to implement.
  • And more than doubles the amount of wire required.
    • Probably the main reason why it is seldom used.
  • Typically, for a Ft 5 power cord I would use 12-14 Ft of wire for each of the neutral and ground conductors.
  • There is one upside — the wire used for the Neutral and Ground wires does not have to be of the same high quality as the wire for the Live Conductor.

I found that for both Ground and Neutral conductors,
  • using a stiffer wire allows it to “hold” the helix shape once it has been formed and it does not have to be of the same high quality copper as the Live Conductor.
  • You can then insert a high quality, more flexible “live” conductor, like those available from Furutech or DH Labs, into the helix to complete the three conductors required for mains cables.
  • The higher purity copper used in the live conductor will provide a much faster response to transient demands, i.e., better dynamic response.

To form the helix...
  • an easy approach is to wind the conductors around a wooden dowel.
  • the resulting helix is like a spring and quite flexible.
  • This also reduces the likelihood of the less flexible wires from cracking or breaking
  • See DIY Power Cables - The “POWER HELIX"

Of all of the power cable architectures I have tried to date, I have found the helix architecture to provide the most detailed and dynamic performance.

For more theory pertaining to this see Electromagnetic Interference - Considerations in Structured Cabling Systems from Siemens

WARNING: if you attempt this there are a couple of issues you have to address...
  • Ensure the cable is rated for mains use - I use cable capable of handling >=600v at 200 celsius .
  • the gauge you select must be able to carry the power required by the component.
  • DO NOT use Romex House Wire for prolonged use — it will crack and fail with use.
  • Ensure you get the polarity correct when connecting the MAINS/IEC plugs.
    • Reversing the polarity could result in degraded performance.
    • It can also result in electrical shock.

For added security I always crimp small plated copper spades on the ends of each wire and then fasten those into the mains connectors. They are about the safest method, other than soldering, of ensuring the wires will not pull out. The other benefit is that they appear to assist in the transmission process — the net result being improved dynamic performance.

What is the optimum length of a power cable?...

  • Most of my cables are between 4 and Ft 6 long.
  • I have one helix cable that is only 3ft long and it works extremely well.
    • But I would not personally make them any shorter than 3ft Happy
    • Longer than Ft 6 becomes a bit unmanageable to build


Failure to connect plugs using the correct polarity can result in electric shock resulting in death or may cause equipment to malfunction, resulting in fire!

If you have not had adequate training in the maintenance of electrical appliances, mains electricity or power electrical theories - DO NOT attempt to maintain or build power related products!



The Story so far

It's taken over 30 years to get to this point in my Hi-Fi Journey

For most of it I have been
"in the dark" and had to rely on audio stores to educate me in the finer points.

With the advent of the internet and the many excellent manufacturers providing some incredible sources of information, thankfully this is no longer the case.

I have been able to acquire knowledge that would have otherwise required me to be in the industry.

Some of this knowledge I already possessed after completing an Apprenticeship in Electrical Engineering

For many years I tinkered with various electronic circuits, like amps and guitar sound effects
On the digital side, considerable knowledge was gained when I completed a degree in Computer Science (with a bias towards hardware design)

I have been sharing my experiences with friends and a few forum members, who suggested it would be good to have it all in one place!

- My very own Blog! - So here it is...


To document tweaks that have proven to extract every last ounce of performance from my existing components!!!

That's me in a nutshell - enjoy the blog


I take the promotion of products very seriously.
If a company's product is identified on this blog it is solely based on that products
exceptional performance.
I do not receive any payment for products mentioned on this blog