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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, 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.




Compliments...







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.





Only for Apple 3S (for the grunge among us;-)), 4S and 5S...








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!




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…







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.

Yes.






Thursday, June 9, 2016

It's a wonderful world...




... when you listen to this wonderful music...






... what a superb listening I had!!!


Has been like everything was singing unison and Abdullah, Johnny and Paul were chez moi... heavenly, indeed.


Find these discs, pals... you won't regret.



I haaaad a Dreeeeaaammm! - Open Reel in a (bad) RIAA free world!!!




Yes, indeed! 

These days my listening diet is about 50% open reel tapes, 30% vinyl and 20% digital disk…  but the percentage varies, depending on mood and new discs, and… time available, of course – i.e. using my open reel recorders is such a pleasure, but as a ceremony, it needs time and attitude to par.

A new cat’s in town, folks: Open Reel, omen nomen;-)

I met these incredibly motivated and smart guys at MOC 2016 and I was so gladly given a complimentary copy of their Sampler 2015 containing several tracks from their best
Production – small scale classical, jazz combo, Monk in Milan… the one and only MONK, captured alive, yessss! and solo violin and acoustic guitar and voice… a very useful pout-pourri where to choose the music and reel-tape of choice, to appreciate the recording and music, of course.

That’s the way to go.

Very classy, Mauro and Marco. 

Clever!

… but let me share the funny part of the matter, as it both amused me and frightened at the same time.

After last May MOC I was quite busy, so when I finally got the time to listen to some Horch House, Opus 3 and Open Reel’s tapes I used my old, faithful, Giorgio Foschi’s maintained my Studer B67VU high-speed machine.

First of the batch was, out of curiosity, the Italian tape, classy archival-like custom box and Pyral tape in cine, black plastic reel… I played on my Gotorama large system the whole tape and… well, had a sort-of mixed feeling: some tracks were nice to excellent, some others were just rolled off on highs and blurred on mids and lows.

I immediately shared my first impressions with Mauro and I didn’t think about this for some weeks, now…  had sooooo many precious and cool vinyl discs to be listened to and TdP’s The Head back in my system(s) and… simply too busy to be back on tapes and the like.


Few days ago, rainy weather and some spare time, I handled again the new tapes and placed, this time, the Open Reel’s Sampler 2015 on the mighty Telefunken M15A… changed the DIN tape mount to Cine adapters and… so I went.







I almost fell from my listening chair, believe me!

The mixed feeling I had on my first and only quick listening was gone, poooff!


Vanished!!!


The sound coming from my Gotorama and the tape spinning in front of the M15’s Butterfly heads was sparkling, zest-like, quick and eerie, dynamic and life-like…

… so, what’s happened?

How could a so-so impression change this way?

I was back to my ol’ B67… then, only then I realized the following: I previously used, to my pal Arnaldo’s insistence and pushing, a NOS Ampex reel on it to dub - having the Studer B62 as the player – some my own live recordings.

After only a couple of minutes spinning, the monitor from B67 was muddy, blurred sounding and fast-forwarding the tape was quite painful, slow, possibly due to the usual shitty, sticky Ampex’ old tape, always in need of oven baking to be played/used… only once!

I yelled like a badass and… simply swapped to a brand new Pyral to complete my dubbing… then forgot the episode.

When I used again the Studer B67 it was… yessss, you got it!... with the Open Reel Sampler’s.


OMG… only then I realized the blurred, frequency limited sound was due to the sticky, almost invisible filthiness coming from the *@§@@]**^$£§ (fucking;-)) Ampex’!!!

I had to use chisel & hammer… kidding, just cleaning liquid and some cleaning wool felt and cotton sticks with acetone on heads… and isopropil alcohol on rubber guides, two times, plus a good demagnetizing on heads and capstan and guides and rollers…  

Then repeated the listening and… voilà!

Gone was the limited bandwidth sensation… back was the glorious sound I already experienced from the M15A.



My fault, Ampex’ fault… silly me, fucking Ampex… who cares… ears works as they should and any experienced fault has an explanation and a cure.

I really was sooooo happy and satisfied I had to share my findings with (Open Reel’s) Mauro, apologizing and – again – damning and yelling about those plague-like, apparently perfect, brand-new, yet sticky Ampex’.

A lesson to be remembered, pals: I felt quite stupid and limited in my skills and knowledge to do not immediately recognize the issue… yet, I also felt very satisfied, as… hey! Italians do it better, folks!

After pizza, pasta and mandolino… yesss! open reel tapes are a specialty, as well… like my good friend River Yu found and nicely collected and catalogued in his great Blog, Italy - my country to date - counts more open reel houses than other countries in the world.

No, it’s not only money-concerned – i.e. tape dubs are quite expensive and niche-like stuffs, accordingly priced… no!

It’s about quality, musical and audio… that’s why I strongly dream… aehm…. drreeeeaaammm;-) about a (bad) RIAA-free world, where the average audiophile and music lover will be able to taste and enjoy the liquidness and naturalness of a good 15 IPS CCIR ¼ inch master dub.

I’m not jealous and simply wish you and everyone to be able to sip pure music straight from the spring!



   

Disc of the Month - Dave Holland Quintet - The Razor's Edge







Amazing, a m a z i n g, AMAZING, A M A Z I N G, A M A Z I N G music and recording on ECM... Digital, BUT... who cares if it sound like this!!!

imagine Mike Westbrook, John Surman, Centipede, Keith Tippets and other British jazz giants... Dave Holland's double bass is just WOW! and the trombone... Robin Eubanks gives shivers!

... and Kenny Wheelers' flugelhorn... yessss!

Find your copy of this masterpiece!

Go!


Saturday, June 4, 2016

Eargasm or music induced skin orgasm





Yes... eargasm;-)
Have you ever been listening to a great piece of music and felt a chill run up your spine? Or goosebumps tickle your arms and shoulders?


The experience is called frisson (pronounced free-sawn), a French term meaning "aesthetic chills," and it feels like waves of pleasure running all over your skin. Some researchers have even dubbed it a 'skin orgasm.'
Had many, many times! Such a pleasure.

RIP










Miles' apartment in NYC UWS for sale...




Yes... history is for sale...




Iconic elegance for USD 495,000.00... just find annoying the USD 1,025 a month maintenance fees...

;-)






Monday, May 30, 2016

Tim de Paravicini's The Head TX4 universal MC transformer (1979)




I owned this sought-after MC transformer for years... then, one day,  please don't ask me why, I sold it... and regret ever since!
Baron Tim de Paravicini



I remember I possibly sold as I was using at the time a Convergent Audio Technology CAT SL1 preamplifier with built in MC phono stage... it was back in early nineties or so...

I searched for another The Head sampler for years... I was missing its majestic outlook, imposing and classic, yet no frills both aesthetically and technically... and a sound to par, of course.

In the meantime,  prices sky-rocketed higher and higher...

I recently found a pristine, undented, unscratched, unmodded unit which a gent from Sweden was selling... no, NOT at the inflated today prices, but at the very same price I stupidly sold mine, some twenty years ago!




I got it and when I connected to he smaller, all tubes system, I immediately told myself how an idiot I've been selling my previous TX4!

Used with my EMT 930st, EMT/Ortofon RMA229 and Neumann DST, with 4 chassis Thomas Mayer's preamp, my Partridge/300B mono blocks and Cabasse Dinghy 221, the system literally began to fly in a very seldom heard and experienced way!



I - plain and simple - felt I had to ask Baron Tim de Paravicini more about his four kilos pup...




Here is the unedited FB's Messenger dialogue I had yesterday, hoping and trusting TdP will forgive me for sharing... for the sake of it...

Thanking Tim and, yes!,  Johan from Stockholm, as well.

Hello Tim… hope all be OK… I need some support from you… I'm going to write something on my Blog about your The Head MC transformer… could you please let me know something more about it? How many units made, which core and technology and maker behind the transformers inside the box and the like… also, if you have some original literature/brochure scan, by any chance… thanks for your time and… WOW… I had and used it years ago, sold it maybe 15 years ago and only recently bought another sampler… it's truly nice, NICE sounding… and I'm comparing with Triad K241 and WE 618B with my Neumann DST cartridge… thanks and all the VERY best. Greetings from Italy. Stefano


I will try to find old literature , how dare you say I did not design lock stock and barrel everything in the HEAD TX4? I do all my own transformers not like my competitors who go to mr transformer man please make me transformer! I designed the step up device in 1979 to be the best in the world period. More bandwidth more headroom better square wave etc. Still no one has matched it. If I had to market today I would have to price it at £3000. I made about 200 units. I will not disclose winding details or core type other than usual mumetal 78% Nickel. The highest inductance core material.
HA!... you're right, Tim... how could I only dare think you didn't make your (wonderful) own way... thankyouthankyouthankyou... I just ended an extremely pleasing listening session with TX4 in place... it's so dynamic and detailed and full bodied... thanks for yr. support... at yr. convenience.
am I correct remembering you used very same trannies in yr. G88?
No, the G88 had space and ultimately cost consideration. The G88 uses what essentially is the current MC4. A small notch down from the HEAD.
The listening tells everything, Tim...
Thanks, sincerely for yr. commitment to music...

So folks... here is from the living voice of The Master himself how good The Head was and still is... cost no object, I dare... putting to shame very, very prized, famous and sought-after transformers, vintage and brand new... I suspect "The Head" is just the nickname for "The Headroom"... truly impressive, like most of TdP's creations... unique like the Man, himself.
Thanks, Tim.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Only for musicians...




A musically uneducated person designed this clock. Where are the dotted notes - dotted minims, dotted semibreves, etc, and even double-dotted notes? And what about breves? 









Yet, I like it…










Supertramp's Supergranny




Supertramp's "Breakfast in America" waitress Kate Murtagh is now 95 years old, and still super cheery…







Classy!






Friday, May 27, 2016

4'33"






I still remember when a student, eons ago, I had to choose a poem and to comment it with my Italian Literature teacher.

In my (early) oblomovism, instead of choosing a lengthy poem, I choose an haiku-like short, minimal poem by Giuseppe Ungaretti: “Mattino”.



“Mattino: m’illumino d’immenso” (transl. Morning: I enlighten in immensity)

The poem itself is a timeless look at the miracle that every morning happens, again and again and again…

Explaining the deep meaning, the life, the mystery… well… I got a lesson, at school: a (good) short thing – i.e. a poem, in this very case, can be worth a book.

I applied this on many aspects of my life… a love can last a day or one hour, but can be as deep and perfect and satisfying as a distract life-long thing…  a 1,30’ tune by – say – Bert Jansch, i.e. – the superb Bright New Year comes to my mind, owns such a dignity and beauty well worth a symphony.

4’33”

John Cage’s seminal piece of “music”, the so-called silence piece where embarrassed audience coughs and snoozes and breathes nervously while the musician on the stage, most likely a pianist, looks at an empty music sheet, turning the pages of the only-pauses written music.



I recently read a few millimeters thick booklet by Leonardo Vittorio Arena, titled "La durata infinita del non suono" on Mimesis Eterotopie (2013) which, like it happened in my teens with above mentioned Ungaretti’s haiku, dissected and commented and deepened the John Cage’s piece, giving it an historic and cultural contestualization.



Learning from the well-informed author about the wabi and wabito, wu-wei and no action, Zen and music interactions, well… I fell so, SO enriched, folks…

To some extent, this very booklet represented a sort-of epiphany for yours truly!

I found cleverly and clearly expressed in written form “how” life facts and perceptions work… no less… in Ozu's spirit.

A nugget: the best EUR 4,90 I ever spent!   

I strongly suggest everyone wishing to understand, to search for this booklet… silence will not be the same, anymore. 

… forgetting: only in Italian:-)




Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Zappa vs. Toyota?







So it seems... or hopefully not...





... always missing him...




Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Brown Rice






One of my Desert Island discs... enjoy!








Universal music by Don Cherry.


Friday, May 13, 2016

Audiocirc - new Eckart's Blog







Here you'll find new Eckart's Blog, after the recent splitting of T & E team and partnership and closing for new posts of old, superb audio16...








Best wishes to Eckart!


Yeah!











13sound, new Tim Gurney's Blog





... recently splitting from the tandem team Blog Audio16, with his (common) pal E., Tim will be now persuing his very own path and obsessions - i.e. WE and bespoke horns making by hand, and everything audio and music.


Not a sad new, indeed.









Consider that instead of one cool audio Blog, we will now onward have two.


Good luck for your new project, Tim and... all fun, pal!