Cult e-zine hits right note

August 3, 2001

Six years ago a Sardinian mathematician with a passion for music started a free hi-fi web magazine aimed at cutting through the hype of the commercial press.

Now www.tnt-audio.com boasts 1.5 million contacts a month and is a recognised international authority on audiophile products. It carries no "corrupting" advertising and offers hundreds of candid, often scathing, product reviews for free.

Lucio Cadeddu, 35, teaches in the physics department of the University of Cagliari. The website is financed by Professor Cadeddu, at a cost of about £1,200 a year, and is supported by a dedicated team of volunteers in Italy, Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Belgium and Serbia.

"At first we were viewed with suspicion by distributors, producers and particularly by mainstream hi-fi magazines," Professor Cadeddu said. "Now manufacturers are coming to us to have their products reviewed. We have to turn a lot down.

"Some of the commercial magazines are reprinting our articles and manufacturers quote our reviews in their advertising."

TNT-Audio, which is published in Italian and English, will not touch what is disparagingly referred to as "consumer electronics". Its chosen field is audiophile and high-end products. But it is not aimed exclusively at the well-heeled stereo enthusiast.

On the contrary, there are reviews of cheap products that play exceptionally well, instructions for using household items instead of costly hi-fi accessories and projects to make electronic equipment that, it is claimed, sound as good as many that are sold for hundreds of pounds.

"The reviewers and translators are unpaid enthusiasts," Professor Cadeddu said. "The trouble with the commercial hi-fi press is that advertising covers most of their budget and this can substantially condition what is written. We can freely say what we really think."

Professor Cadeddu is satisfied with the way TNT-Audio works. "We are not looking for advertising, the only thing is that I would like to have a few more correspondents, obviously volunteers, in other countries."

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