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Friday, July 20, 2018

... more Misho Myronov's WoodenAmp

This afternoon I felt the time was come to bring the Wooden (power) Amp from the shelf where it was for the last few days...

Disconnected the RCAs and speakers cables from the Partridge/300B mono blocks and connected Misho's line stage to his stereo power amp, straight to the 1965 Tandberg 114-116-8 coaxials.


The immediate sensation was like "Hey! THIS AMP IS SOOO QUIET... DEADLY SILENT!"

... then sound came...

The amp is gorgeously built, every detail, wooden feet (x3) are lathed from birch plywood, every screw and hex nut is chosen and best quality parts and workmanship pour from this piece of handcrafted gear.

... the Sound, then...

The combo of Audio Antiquary's line-stage and power-amp sounds so modern, quick, untubey, I'd dare!

Sure the sought-after Siemens C3M tubes used in line stage are guilty of this feature I so much admire on a tube-based gear - i.e. introspection, unveiled, hyper-detailing and natural, free-wheeling, breathing sound... the matching with the 3,5 power amp is just perfect...

I know and am well aware I'm quite naive and primitive in my description, but - please - forgive me for a moment about lessical shortcomings as I truly wish to write what I wrote...

Yes, perfect... p e r f e c t... P E R F E C T!

Please note not saying Misho's is the best in world, the most expensive (sure it's not, so kindly priced at a earthly EUR 4,000.00, N.O.S. premium, matched tubes included), and hypes and hypes a-plenty...

No, folks... I'm just meaning that this moderately priced combo used with moderately priced ancillaries in my studio sounds flawlessly natural, dynamic and correct... thus, perfect.

... not wishing any other sound aesthetic of sort or any other gears...

Meaning - better yet - I didn't miss nor my exotic 300B mono blocks, neither the larger Gotorama... I only wished to listen to every note and pause and tiny details coming from the Tandbergs'... hic et nunc, here and now!

Someone will guess I'm softening and becoming more and more - while getting older - easy to enthusiasm or something...

Let me decline on above: I'm lately even more fussy, instead: immediately recognizing unmusical systems, lean or hi-fi-ish or too romantic - i.e. forgiving - sounding.

What happened, sound-wise... I sort-of felt as something cool to do choosing some music from Eastern Europe and the superb, music- and sound-wise Purpura Echo by Sousedi came to me from the disks shelves.

The disk and music on it is of seldom heard quality, a mix of smooth electric guitar and cello, where the gentle humming and buzzing of the tube guitar amp is functional to music, like a bow stroke or an organ air flowing give a sense of reality and expecting next note and dynamic.

The level of resolution of the combo is truly stellar... I was in awe when listening to end of any track and fading down down down to the barely audible whispering...

Every note came with a sense of life... strange enough my pal Misho insists in saying again and again the amp is brand new and giving some hours of playing it will blossom further... I can barely imagine where will be going after breaking-in!

Some technical details:

driver tubes are EF86 (originally they were EF12, but those are too old, rare and problematic).

EF86 is used in triode mode driving EL12N in triode mode. EF86 coupled to EL12N by the very specially designed and made interstage transformer.
The output transformer is big enough to insure the full power frequency range starting from 10 Hz.

The rectifier - mostly unknown but extremely great tube - is EYY13 tube.

Well... I only listened to two disks, following with Burnt Friedman & Jaki Liebezeit's Secret Rhythms...  percussions, explosive vibes and thundering bass... the blossoming to full bloom is subtle but sure my enjoyment increased during the two hours long listening session...

Was just me or the amp?

Am I really listening to a 3,5W amp?

Is matching among gears everything's needed?

I don't know or care... what I know for sure is this very combo will give to me goosebumps and shivers for the next weeks and I'll be gladly forced to soon listen to Misho's phono-stage, as well...

What cannot say but... I'm in love for the beauty of these pieces of art... these music man-made machines gives to yours truly such an enthusiasm to further and further explore any possible combination among different ancillaries.

A Statement coming from Varna, Bulgaria...  a land of strong contrasts and long history, a crossroad of people and history, the land of roses in bloom... the home of WoodenAmp, made by Men for Men with care and love for details.

I had to push me out of studietto, homebound, again... cannot stop listening, having had such a... perfect evening!


Monday, July 16, 2018

Misho Myronov's WoodenAmp landed at my studietto

My pal Misho paid a visit to yours truly on his way in his roundtrip to another common friend, Markus Klug in Bavaria... he was accompanied by his wife Irina and his son, Misho.

Misho Myronov, Misho Jr. and... Gotorama.

He was able to squeeze in his car trunk the full WoodenAmps' monty - i.e. the world - at least among discerning, braveheart audiophiles in Australia, Philippines and... Italy - renowned birch plywood chassis tubes pieces of gear using seldom seen valves.

I unwrapped the carefully bubble-plastic cocooned line-stage, phono-stage and PSU and 3,5W amp and... simply admired the care for details, the smooth surfaces, the hex-nuts choices, even the smell of this freshly brewed handicrafts, carefully hand-made in Bulgaria.

First of all, as I plan to take my time to taste and enjoy the above mentioned electronics, I was sooo curious about the Siemens C3M tubes' based line-stage and I immediately connected to the smaller system, swapping it for the ex-residing Luxman AT-3000 passive preamp.

The first disk I enjoyed was a Stefan Micus' ECM... I immediately appreciated a sense of free-flowing easiness, a definite improved headroom and an impressive load of highly realistic detailing: the Stefan's shakuhachi has impressively dynamic, the before-the-note breathing and inspiring was absolutely true-to-life, as well.

The one of a kind, variable-strings classical guitar had a voice superbly various, rich in texture, decay and loudness, with extremely precise and dramatic dynamic changes...

The strong sensation of an inspired musician playing, improvising, breathing in front of me was nothing short of awesome.

The Partridge 300Bs mono blocks were like they found a new partner, a companion... a lover!

... and the WoodenAmp line-stage proved to be a truly fantastic lover: it owns one of the rarest capabilities - i.e. to work so well with amps it seems they were done one for each other.

I listened to the smaller, Tandberg System 11/300B/Meridian based system since yesterday early morning, for about 5 hours, now... tand he overall sound seems to blossom at every track, on and on...

This evening, I swapped the Foundation Designer/Tandberg System 11 for the larger Tandberg 114-116-8 speakers, sweating and puffing just to learn more and find confirmation of the merits of the just added Misho's line-stage.

Something really special whose building quality is up-to-par with its superb sound qualities, a single-stage with a 6x amplifying factor using a sought-after, great sounding, transparent Siemens tube used decades ago by German Post for trans-oceanic, long distance telephone calls.

The tubes were extremely expensive at DM 200 each, when a Volkswagen was DM 5,000.00... but what impresses is the transparency, resolution and dynamics... everything is so fresh and beefy.

I look forward in the next tasting on Gotorama, with RIAA phono-stage and Neumann DST and Tim de Paravicini's The Head, The Peak arm and Garrardzilla... my dream-system.

Ohhh, yes!

Bravo to Misho and his Audio Antiquary's partner Yanislav... his success and worldwide recognition as a first-class builder of bespoke, hand-made gears is my sincere wish to a friend and a man of integrity.

Personally knowing who de-facto winded the transformers used in these units only adds some drama to the whole matter... but, hey!... sounds and music first: the technical aspects are functional to the musical result, NOT a per-se exercise of hype & complication, as sometimes (too often?) happens...

Something which definitely I find quite boring and annoying these days.

Someway wrong, I should better say...

... stay tuned for more Misho's, folks; it will be worthwhile!

P.S. - forgetting to say this  a w e s o m e  unit is conservatively priced at EUR 3,200.00... including the premium, N.O.S. tubes! A bargain of HUGE proportions, IMHO.

Jaap Pees taking care of Zach's EMT 930st

Jaap is someone I truly admire since we knew about 15 years ago... he's an accomplished technician, passionate, skilled and careful to bring his beloved Thorens, EMT and Studer gears back to factory specs.

 The revised, cleaned and realigned motor... the 100hz vibe is gone!

The unrevised motor and it's harmonic visual report... the 100hz vibe is embarrassingly visible...

He recently - on my request - took care of an EMT 930st, a turntable which originally was located in France, resided in Italy for some years at a friend's home and now will fly to USA for its third to-date life.

A Bruel & Kjaer acceloremeter for vibes measurement... 

I asked for Jaap's great support as the EMT's worked for its last years with a Siemens Micromaster 420, so without the precision caps on third motor phase, taming the vibes which could plague the mighty broadcasting turntable if poorly maintained.

... as a last step, a bespoke HAT 2 power-supply ready for 60hz/117V U.S. mains will be fitted as an outboard necessory.

I'm very satisfied for the results as per Jaap's revision photographic story-board.

In a few days the beast will be temporarily back home to be - finally - carefully crated and shipped to its final proud owner.

Definitely, Dutch do it better, indeed.

Friday, July 6, 2018

12 strings acoustic guitar & morphic fields - Maurizio Angeletti's new book

Maurizio changed my musical life, 35 years ago... a record - Window over the Stream - and a single piece - Out of the Game - were enough to make me sick about 12 strings acoustic guitar... forever.

Maurizio's records reviews on L'Ultimo Buscadero magazine about Robbie Basho, John Fahey, Peter Lang, Daniel Hecht, Alex De Grassi, William Ackerman and other superb guitar players opened my eyes and ears, further and further.

These records were quite difficult to be found at your local records store, so Carù Dischi in Gallarate and its mail service were extremely useful in these pre-WEB days.

Same as with analog photography, from ordering by phone to get the disc a couple of weeks were the norm... and the pleasure, after the wait, like looking at the pictures shot weeks before, was huge!

Maurizio wrote a seminal book, American Guitar, about his and my own heroes, not copy-catting infos around but visiting all of them, at their places, in the USA...

The effect of Maurizio Angeletti on me (and many other musicians friends I'm aware of) was incredible and, in 1983, I simply had to know him in person...

... same as when I spent three hours with the late Davey Graham in Camden Town, London or when I visited John Renbourn in Kingswear, Devon... it wasn't so difficult... a phone call and this alone usually worked!

... same happened with Maurizio... I arranged to take some lessons from him, at his house in Milan...

Every Saturday, for some months, I took my train bound to Milan with a cheap Ibanez jumbo to reach Maurizio and he shared licks and expression chatting and... I was like a sponge.


35 years after, I got an email from Maurizio, himself... out of the blue.


I wasn't 100% sure he remembered our previous, so far away connection... yet... Maurizio was announcing around the freshly issued 2-volumes book about his findings and thoughts on the weird, unique, difficult, seldom found 12 strings acoustic guitar... not a louder 6 strings guitar or an harpsichord, but as he wisely wrote in his foreword, a one of a kind, well-defined instrument.

I immediately ordered my copy which arrived in a few hours... it really was my perfect birthday present, which I gladly paid for, of course.

The book - in Italian only, but full of diagrams, TABs, pictures - is made of a thicker tome of 450+ pages of technical, musical and aesthetic in-deep and well-informed prose with its highlights about composing and interpretations and playing dynamics and a spiral-bound TABs only book of 30 transcriptions for 12 strings acoustic guitar, all arranged or composed by Maurizio, himself.

A goldmine more than a book... it will give - to me and to everyone into this elusive, yet wonderful world of the mighty 12 strings guitar - many years of enjoyment and musical pleasure.

The one of a kind Marco Cavedon 12 strings acoustic guitar used by Maurizio in early '80s.

Please, if interested, drop Maurizio himself a note at mangeletti12corde-AT-gmai-DOT-com

A quite recent pix of the Author.

You won't regret doing so and spending every single cent of the price-tag of this opus magna.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Tandberg 114-116-8 Alnico Coaxial speakers

Repetita juvant, folks... I already talked about these lovely 1965 vintage Tandberg's speakers... their transparency and zestness put to shame many high regarded so-called hi-end speakers.

They were the top-of-the-line model back then.

I repeat myself showing such a lovely family picture: the truly ugly-named 114-116-8 and System 11 on Foundation Designer speakers-stands.

Beauties from a long-gone era.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Happy Birthday to the 12" disc...

Happy birthday to the LP record, turning 70 today.

LP developer Peter Goldmark of Columbia Records holds the initial LP launch catalog, while standing next to the same music on 78s. Picture taken on June 18, 1948 at Waldorf Astoria Hotel in NYC.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

A young luthier came to town

When a young luthier, after getting his laurel at Cremona renown luthiery academy, opens his workshop in old downtown, well... I'm both moved and thrilled... church bells ring and music have one more chance top be spread as the most peaceful of human artefacts.

Best wishes to Giacomo for his new adventure... and, WOW!... compliments, indeed, for the nice classical guitar I had the pleasure to briefly taste, his first instrument, French polish finished and nice, mellow sound, full of harmonics.

Good luck!

Monday, June 11, 2018

When worlds collides in a musical way of beauty

My good friend Klaus Speth today hosted some Japanese and Thailandese pals at his place...

Klaus is a family-man and he loves his life and enjoys his music system and music... no Audio Fairs, no international meetings... he's a true master and to get a master you have to get his place... secluded, in the hills out of Koln...

These pixies represent a sort-of miracle: Klaus' system and Yuki, Moriyama's daughter in a nice, NICE shot taken by another Japanese pal, the maker of superb WE 13A replicas, Yasutoshi Sasamato-san.

Germany, Japan, Thailand, France... people come from different parts of the world, yet sharing same passion for music and beauty and friendship.

Love it...

... and yes: proud to know these nice people, all.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

June Flea-Market ephemeral joys

... only a glimpse of the 26 records I found... early morning, as usual, fresh air, black birds singing and only die-hard sellers and buyers, around...

 Japanese pressing

... was searching for this bastard for eons...

Japanese pressing 

 ... maybe the best piano recording I ever listened to: engineered by J.F. Pontefract in 1986

His Bobness best disc? Maybe... sure a PERFECT copy, 1st Japanese pressing.