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Friday, July 29, 2016

His Bobness Chronichles - motorbike wreck anniversary

It was July 29th, 1966, near Woodstock... many versions of the mishappen circulated in the meantime... he fell, he slipped on oil... who knows?

Whatever... Bob Dylan's music changed after his 9 months long recovery.

Intriguing topic... almost a mistery;-)

Disk of the Month - Trost im Leid - C.P.E. Bach - Ensemble Precipitation (Psalmus)

A masterpiece... a must-have... an humble one, yet... such a beauty!

Love this disk... music-wise and, YES! the recording is ***** (DSD, ecc.)

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

God is in the Irons - Audio Consulting's Silver Rock AVC - handmade in Switzerland

I got my 2004 pre-owned Audio Consulting's Silver Rock AVC passive line-preamp... connected to my Partridge/Allen Bradley/300B mono blocks feeding the Cabasses' and Meridian's digital...

... and listened...

At the very beginning,  still remembering when Luxman AT 3000 was in place, the sensation was of a fuller-body, thicker overall sound.

I immediately felt the difference, yet fearful the sound was a bit slower than with AT 3000's... ahem, no!
Thickness or... less bass-shy...

These were just the first minutes listening... a sensation which lasted an eye-blink.

I began to swap discs... David Tibet's Current 93's Honeysuckle Aeons (unbelivable quality), female vocals and lute, electric guitars duo with cello by Sousedi (unbelivable quality!!!), double bass and acoustic 12 strings and classical guitars (Gary Peacock/Ralph Towner's Oracle on ECM... a must-have!).

The more I listened the more I enjoyed the result: the apparent thickness suddenly disappeared and the resolution improved... more and more...

What thrilled me was that, when going louder and louder, the volume wasn't absolutely affecting the size of instruments... an acoustic guitar was just louder, not larger.
A truly important feature!

When I got conscious of the above, I better dig and paid attention to the phenomenon on more disks; furthermore, studio noises were very present and naturally blended with music.

The loudness improved: loud was really loud and clean, effortlessly sounding, free of glare and smooth... loud, but not annoying or hurting... never, also when reaching a truly high climax!

The sense of clarity and naturalness become almost painful... I had some business, and simply had to force me hard to stop listening to more and more and more disks and go... quite embarrassing;-)

Summing up: clarity, resolution, inner- and inter-notes silence, natural imaging and depth and an additive, strong overall beauty feeling... in my opinion, all these aspects are top class...

The Luxman AT 3000 and Fidelity Research AS 1 sure are top contenders... but with the Silver Rock the extremely low noise-floor makes you so easily aware of instruments decay, mixer on and off, guitar amps hums, artists breathing...  everything is so lively.

Audio Consulting's previous moniker was Silver Rock... a slightly opinable brand-name...

... but a younger Serge Schmidlin wasn't that wrong!

Silver is silver wire used in coils... Rock... well: it's the rock-solid sensation of rightness... making me pretty sure I nicely spent my money for such a result.

I really love this box: only two hand-wound irons and two gold contacts Elna's 24 positions rotary switches!

Someone will think - plainly said - why paying considerable amount of money for a passive AVC gizmo...  hey, it's only a couple of irons... but... BUT!

As Serge once told me during a conversation, Switzerland doesn't own oil, carbon, gold, diamonds or other precious materials... mountains, lakes and... people learned to work wood and watches and clocks and improved their skills in micro-mechanic... Vacheron-Constantin, Rolex, Nagra, Stellavox, Da Vinci, Audio Consulting... all them and more represents the peak in human-sized  manufacturing, the old style, by hand, one at a time, painstackingly.

The winding care and skill involved in the making and materials used in coils (super thin magnetic layers) and wire are everything's needed to make the difference between a transformer and a great iron, music-wise.

Such a musical device, a good iron, is worth its weight in gold: as God is in details, so audio/music-wise, it's in the Irons:-)))!

Thanking Pierre and Serge... and Dick Olsher for his SR's review: I agree on every word he spent on the matter.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Silver Rock AVC Passive preamp

A little, humble masterpiece, from Serge Schmidlin.... a 2004 vintage AVC.

... a truly nice add to my little passive preamps collection... next add?

A Meteor AVC, of course;-)))

Yes! Thanking Serge Schmidlin.

Stay tuned...

Saturday, July 16, 2016

A miniature

A micro B/W still-life, on the beach-towel...

Cute, lazy self-indulging silliness... my fault.

John Cage - Lettera a uno sconosciuto (1996)

I'm reading the 575 pages book about (and by) John Cage and his endless interviews, collected by Richard Kostelanetz (Edizioni Socrates, 1996 1st italian edition - original title - "Conversing with Cage" 1987).

It's an extremely interesting and enlightening essay, full of stories and quotes and ideas.

A goldmine.

On page 58 I read the following (about Cage and chess-playing with Marcel Duchamp in Paris):

"Mettiamo, ad esempio, di andare a Parigi e di passare tutto il nostro tempo a fare i turisti, andando nei luoghi famosi, ecc. Ecco, ho sempre avuto la sensazione che in questo modo non si possa imparare nulla su Parigi. Il modo migliore per conoscere Parigi è proprio quello di non avere alcuna intenzione di imparare alcunché, limitandosi semplicemente a viverci come se fossimo francesi. Nessun francese si sognerebbe di andare, diciamo, a Notre Dame.

E lei ha cercato di fare questo con Duchamp, cioè di vivere a Parigi evitando i giri turistici?

La mia intenzione è stata proprio quella: stare insieme a lui il più possibile, lasciando che le cose accadessero piuttosto che provocando il loro accadere*. Questo è un altro concetto orientale. Meister Eckart disse che possiamo raggiungere la perfezione non attraverso ciò che facciamo, ma attraverso ciò che ci accade*. Così sono riuscito a conoscere Duchamp non facendogli domande, ma stando semplicemente con lui."

The lacking of intention makes things and life purer...  or * (... letting things happening instead of provoking their happening... and ... we may be able to reach perfection not through what we do, but through what happens to us.): it's not Zen or whatever.

 Thanking Roberto Masotti for his superb JC's 1979 NYC 6th Street loft pix.

John Cage and Revox A77.

It's simply how I also humbly feel and so heartfelty agree with Cage... and Meister Eckart: applying wishes or desire or feverish seeking to our choices someway make them dirty, second-hand-ish, pre-owned and definitely, not our very own, becoming a part of us...

Things and meetings simply happening are like gold nuggets we step while walking in the countryside, by chance...  making us supremely un-Caged;-)

A priceless humble summer satori.

Will go ahead in reading this superb book, loosing myself among Cage & mushrooms, Merce Cunningham, Peggy Guggenheim, plants and... (silence).

Friday, July 1, 2016

Site of the Day - Wiki Woodstock - everything Woodstock!

Amazing site... everything (I mean much more than I previously knew) is covered on this site.

I was amazed, almost baffled - for example - to learn that my beloved Paul Motian, drummer extraordinaire.... was on stage with Arlo Guthrie!!!

... and Glen Moore on double bass and Ralph Towner on guitar were also on-stage, accompanying a stoned Tim Hardin!!!

... and...

... and more, much more trivia.

Dig it and enjoy... as I do!

Thursday, June 30, 2016

.... more R. Crumb's...


Robert Crumb's priorities...

... which I totally agree.

Jean Hiraga's new reviewing effort...

I recently got this email from M. Jean Hiraga:

Hello Stefano,

How are you ?

You know probably french audio magazine Vumetre in which editing staff come partly from NRDS and Stereo Prestige.

On last issue N°5, may june 2016,  there is an article titled " "Secrets of Musicality in Audio".  In the past, we had only few days for writing a paper in L'Audiophile or in NRDS magazine. For this one, I had to spend more than six months to write it, to find in my precious archives collected from the 70's related details.

Vumetre editor staff informed me today that this issue has a great success and that only few copies are available now, just few days after his launching few days ago. I have just one copy for me. You can buy one copy at : 

Best regards,

Jean  Hiraga

I suggest everyone in the mood or having the right amount of curiosity for the always enriching Hiraga's essays to take the chance and order nr. 5 issue of Vumetre magazine, while supplies last.

You won't regret.

Thanking Jean Hiraga for consideration and for his wisdom and absolute passion about everything music and audio.


Wednesday, June 29, 2016

When insults had class

 These glorious insults are from an era before the English language got boiled down to 4-letter words.

A Member of Parliament to Disraeli: "Sir, you will either die on the gallows or of some unspeakable disease."
"That depends, Sir," said Disraeli, "whether I embrace your policies or your mistress."

"He had delusions of adequacy." - Walter Kerr

"He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire." - Winston Churchill

 "I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure." - Clarence Darrow

"He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary." - William Faulkner ( about Ernest Hemingway ).

"Thank you for sending me a copy of your book; I'll waste no time reading it." - Moses Hadas

"I didn't attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it." - Mark Twain

"He has no enemies, but is intensely disliked by his friends." - Oscar Wilde

 "I am enclosing two tickets to the first night of my new play; bring a friend ... if you have one." - George Bernard Shaw to Winston Churchill.
"Cannot possibly attend first night, will attend second.... if there is one." - Winston Churchill, in response.

"I feel so miserable without you; it's almost like having you here." - Stephen Bishop

"He is a self-made man and worships his creator." - John Bright

"I've just learned about his illness. Let's hope it's nothing trivial." - Irvin S. Cobb

"He is not only dull himself; he is the cause of dullness in others." - Samuel Johnson

"He is simply a shiver looking for a spine to run up." - Paul Keating

"In order to avoid being called a flirt, she always yielded easily." - Charles, Count Talleyrand

"He loves nature in spite of what it did to him." - Forrest Tucker

"Why do you sit there looking like an envelope without any address on it ?" - Mark Twain

"His mother should have thrown him away and kept the stork." - Mae West

"Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go." - Oscar Wilde

"He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp-posts ... for support rather than illumination." - Andrew Lang ( 1844 - 1912 )

"He has Van Gogh's ear for music." - Billy Wilder

"I've had a perfectly wonderful evening. But this wasn't it." - Groucho Marx

"Let us not accept mediocrity in the guise of building self esteem."

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

June 27th

... yesterday -  June 27th - was just a nice evenience for yours truly - i.e. my birthday... but... what happens if while I browsed in my discotheque for some music, to have a relaxed listen before dinner... I randomly picked up my mono copy of Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention's "Freak Out!" on Verve?

Nothing... it's only a seminal, cool, great double discs-set by one of the most beloved musicians and composers, ever...

... but... ho, hooo... hey!

It was originally issued... right-on June 27th, 1966.

Only a chance?

So... happy birthday, Freak Out!... and happy birthday to me...

... just a little mind-boggled, I continued my FZ's-moment-listening with "Lumpy Gravy" first side.

Strange world it is!

Saturday, June 25, 2016

New sonic myths - Elton Dean (CBS S-64539 - 1971)

... of course it's provoking... a 1971 disc cannot be, per-se, new... or not?

New is - to me - if it now sounds like-new to my ears, shining and amazingly satisfying and new - as well - to many of you, so...

I had this very wax for many decades, now... but only recently, as today, I'm fully, completely able to enjoy it from first to last groove, as in my aural memory it sounded like an extremely heavy listening experience: ultra dynamic, live recorded at Advision Studios in London in May 1971, the shimmering cymbals are very life-like and loud, VERY loud... sure not an easy task for smaller tweeters as someone so often simply forget that high frequencies aren't less loud than miss or lows!

Now completed Gotorama sings with aplomb and ease... an awesome performance, indeed.

I suspect only my cherry-picked, sought after, beloved Lumiere DST and Neumann DST be really able to so well render the impressive blend of drums, cornet, sax, electric piano and electric and double bass without blurring and confusing this beauty.

On the long first side first track "Ooglenovastrome" music is truly lysergic (like the title itself;-)), a so English free-jazz, and the audio system is asked for its very best to stand killer dynamics and non blurring the climax...

You should be able to follow with no effort all the layers and instruments inter-vowing to each others back and forth.

Soundstage is extremely broad and far exceeding speakers side boundaries, still keeping a rock-solid center-stage.

Marvellous, timeless music!

This disc makes to my ears the pair with Hugh Hopper - always a Soft Machine's member and a long-time friend and collaborator of Elton Dean in several, different combos - and his "1984".

This music - like electric Miles' - sounds to me like the perfect soundtrack for my actual mood: makes my blood flowing at a different speed and makes me happy.

I was almost in tears listening to last album track "Part: The Last"... just wanted more and more!

Isn't music about this, uh?

Find your copy and enjoy music and sonics, pals.


It's me... and my oblomovism is thankful;-)

The Ecotono ceramic iPhone horn

Made in Italy... hand-made, nice, elegant, cheap, small footprint... high WTF... enjoying right now.

For Apple 3S (for the grunge among us;-)), 4S, 5S and 6S... and similar sized mobiles.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

The DST revamped... Audio Technica AT-ART 1000 Direct Power Stereo cartridge

Everybody goes Direct, these days, folks…

In cartridges world, after boron and ruby cantilevers, agatha and lapislazuli bodies, and silver-wire coils, the Nirvana is DST aka DPS – i.e. just a few turns of ultrathin OFC wire to obtain a non-magnetic core coil placed within the minuscule 0,6 mm gap of a powerful magnetic circuit.

Where I already read about this approach?

Is it a new patent, or…?

Of course it’s not!

Look at the coils!

From Neumann DST and DST 62 to Victor MC L-1000, from Lumiere DST to Leonid Sinitsin’s Tzar DST to Audio Technica AT-ART1000, all the above uses the above briefly described concept and building approach.

… but it’s not only the shortest distance from diamond to coils, as also Deccas’ and Ikeda 9 are very rigidly built,  cantileverless designs… so what?

The uniqueness of the above mentioned cartridges is the VERY precision job needed in turning the micro-coils and aligning in the gap… unbalance and inconsistency in Left/Right balance and frequency at 1khz is quite common and varies quite worrying and wildly from sampler to sampler…

VTF, for example is always an issue in virtually all DST’s carts: Neumann DST are 6.5 grams, DST 62 5 grams, but I heard a superbly tracking white DST working at 4,5 grams… one of my two Lumieres’ goes at 3,5 grams, the other at 5 grams… AT-ART 1000 is individually measured (of course) and VTF varies from sampler to sampler between 2 and 2,5 grams… Tzar is reportedly using 3,5-4 grams, as well.

Maybe, only Neumann and Audio Technica has been able to tame the L/R unbalance… Lumiere and Tzar are hot-rod artisanal cartridges, so you may have the real Magik (A. Crowley will forgive me...) and the average, so-so samplers on both brands…

What I find worth pinpointing is the return of such a difficult to properly manage, exotic and esoteric designs, almost getting a mythical status among analog lovers and scholars…

Nothing new under the sun, apparently…

Hideo Matsushita-san, Audio Technica's founder, a pictures I took at last MOC 2016.

The Audio Technica AT ART 1000 literature claims the following:

Audio expertise with cutting-edge materials and design – incorporating a Direct Power System, often viewed as a theoretical ideal in cartridge development – which renders the most subtle sonic details and delivers unsurpassed transient response, vividly reproducing the finest sonic details, incredibly accurate medium and low frequencies and delivering unsurpassed transient response”.

If not being a long time user and owner of this mighty design, owning, listening to and highly appreciating my Neumann DST, DST 62 and Lumiere DST’s I would think the above statement to be pure bullshit and audio hype at its best, but… it’s DST (or DPS) design perfectly described in few words!!!

Historically, this kind of design was strongly needed and advocated by Neumann itself for their studio work, where the comparison had to be made was between master-tape, lacquer and vinyl test-pressing… nothing would have been able, back in the ‘60s and now, to stand the task, sure not a compressed sound coming from some home system cartridge.

I’m not surprised that all the above mentioned cartridges are in the proud hands of people also enjoying open reel tapes and – quite often – rigidly mounted, not springs or rubber mounted idler-wheel or direct driven turntables.

Everything in the audio chain must be painstackingly considered and tuned, but this overall rigidity – i.e. cantileverless cart, heavy. Rigid, heavy turntable, solid state Class A and high efficient drivers and horns, etc. etc. abruptly blossoms as… smoothness and silkiness and highly uncolored, unbleached sound.

Long live DST and its declinations… I look forward a cheap DST in the future, as I cannot stand this unique beauty is only for tycoons or... stereo kichigais;-), like myself!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Back in town...

... small joys!

After ten days of iPhone/earspeakers casual music, turning on again my audio system aka Gotorama makes me so satisfied, folks...

Music shines and shines and everything sounds so natural and smooth and life-like...

Cymbals and drums and acoustic instruments harmonics are just awesome.

God (ahem: whatever...) bless the artisans and skilled hands who built the single pieces which composes this... humble statement.