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Saturday, September 5, 2015

Lesotho Journey



... leaving today for Johannesburg... then, in a couple of days: Lesotho, thanking my pal Philippe who will lend to me one of his BMWs'...








I look forward to Milky Way astounding views while in the countryside and to broad landscapes... looking forward to admire whales, in Hermanus, near Cape Town, as well.




Thursday, September 3, 2015

The last audio cassettes factory




Cassettes, compact cassettes, tapes running at 4,75 cm/s in cheap portable tape decks has been for me and millions people worldwide the second source of music... first usually being radio.



They humbly served as the cheapest way to share music, radio shows recordings, vinyl albums dubs, whatever among friends.



My Philips tape recorder was - with my Grundig radio - my personal musical goldmine when in my teens.





Later...

I used my Sony WM6D-C to record music at concerts... every concert: jazz, classical... whatever... with Sony stereo electret mike... and - later -  with Neumann U67s... obtaining an amazing quality, of course: I still cherishes these master-tapes.

My Nakamichi is still kept in working conditions and... well, you got it: I still love cassettes!

Going underground, me and many others, kept the cassettes party, the flame - I dare - alive.

Buying cassettes has recently been an Ebay chasing for N.O.S. batches... but... BUT now we know a factory still exists... yes!

Long live the humble cassettes.




Monday, August 31, 2015

Homebuilt Hi End - where the boundaries simply doesn't exist!



This site is a long-term fave of mine and of several thousands audio lovers...

I simply find the creations shown among the most classy, unique, elegant ever... and everything isn't mass produced, but the fruit of care and dedication, cost- and time-no-object masterpieces.



Peter's PTP "Lenco"











I could kill for such a beauty using 304TL!



I quite often browse its pages and... every time I find some nuggets.

Glad to share for the few who aren't aware of Homebuilt!

Enjoy!











Thursday, August 20, 2015

Site of the Week... ahem: Month - Joe Boyd's




Cannot resist: Joe Boyd's site is a goldmine!

He quotes in the recently shared BBC interview he's podcasting his music of choice in alphabetical order... A and B are out... the remaining letters (and songs) will follow.



The site tells a HUGE load of trivia and iconic musical history.

Enjoy!







Joe Boyd freewheeling on BBC Radio



The right man at the right place most of his life, from Aretha Franklin to Newport Folk Festival - the electric Bob Dylan evening, too - to bringing Muddy Waters to Bristol in early '60s to Whichseason, Fotheringay, Incredible String Band, Soft Machine, Pink Floyd, Sandy Denny, Nick Drake, among his most beloved studio work and production... and, and, and...  last but not least: White Bicycles, the book... a must!



Enjoy, as I did the interview... it's a very, very juicy half an hour interview, so rich and entertaining.

Thanks to BBC and to Joe Boyd!




RIP for Prof. Khaled al-Asaad from Syria




He loved "his" Palmyra more than his life and he was murdered for his goodwill in saving and preserving the ancient beauties of the unique city in the desert I was honored to visit and enjoy, years ago: so powerful place of beauty!


Condolences to his family and sure his name will never been forgotten.




History will find a way to explain all "this craziness", one day.





Hats and religions




Thanking JC and our chattings...



... and atheism, as a non religion? Don't we deserve a way to express our freedom of mind? Our goodwill and love for whole humankind? Not superseding others? Blaming on who's promising virgins a-plenty or honey and ambrosia rivers... only after life?

I choose, with JC's support, the beret...



... from now on, not only an utilitarian, everyday ordinary hat, but a statement!

Sure my own, forever.


Thanking Kongo Shokai Ltd, manufacturer of Deer Basques since 1928, in Japan.

Among the best...while supplies last.







Wednesday, August 19, 2015

A Journey with Arvo Part - the movie




Dedicated to the great Estonian composer, followed for one year of his life by the director.




An homage to a genius and a poet.



Hic et nunc



... last Saturday morning, at the park...




... while practicing with my new Ricoh GXR's 24-85 lens.







Friday, August 14, 2015

Analog Street Art










Snippers or Nipper?



Pure audio and pup cruelty!






What's better?




The Tape Project




Open-reel renaissance, don't you?

After tons of shitty music recorded in superb sonics, on premium open-reel tape, here is "something"...





Jerry Garcia and David Grisman, from original 30 IPS master-tapes...

WOW!



Toroidy from Poland




Worth browsing their site!





Monday, August 10, 2015

GZ Media in Lodenice - Czech vinyl village




... an extract from New York Times...

"But he was smart enough to keep a vinyl record factory here, a relic of the Communist era, through all those years when albums gave way to CDs and then to iTunes and streaming, and to be ready when vinyl suddenly got hot again.
And that is why this village of 1,800, nestled in a lush furl of the Bohemian hills, improbably finds itself a world leader in the production of vinyl albums."


Cool...
Thanking New York Times and Rick Lyman.



Sunday, August 9, 2015

Vinyl & Ashes - the extreme frontier for the die-hard record collector




... yes, for the die-hard record collector...



Want to preserve yourself after death but can’t afford to be cryogenically frozen? How about getting your ashes pressed to a custom-made vinyl LP? That’s exactly what the folks at And Vinyly are offering.
The company are giving mortality-aware music fans the chance to pick their own artwork, 24 minutes of audio and more for a lump sum of £3,000 for 30 copies of a custom-made record. An extra £500 will also buy a commission from National Portrait Gallery-featured British painter James Hague to design the artwork for you.
Other services the company offer are similar dead vinyl LPs for deceased pets, talks and music presentations at your funeral for £10,000 and even having your record distributed at various record shops worldwide (at an unspecified price).


THE ultimate Neil Young's masterpiece - Harvest (Reprise MS 2032 - 1972)



... you know "... moooore baaaaarn!"




Apparently, such a boring, decades old disc and topic... yet, I... dare, we never stop learning something new.

I always felt Neil's disc is a masterpiece, both musically and sonically...

It's airy, beefy, lively, dynamic and true to life... voices, guitars, low end... strings and ambience... everything is top notch.

Someone, more clever than me out there, found that the VERY top quality, sought after, superb sounding copies are - not by chance - showing an "LH" engraved in dead wax,  a "Steamboat" label and no WEA on label -  i.e. - Lee Hulko at Sterling Mastering made a true labour of love, or - better - just a careful, proudly-made job with artisanal skill and care... like it used to be.






When I recently read about the above mentioned collector's trivia, I immediately checked my "Harvest" three copies...



Two are on Harvest MS 2032, issued on 1972 LH Sterling with parchment cover and insert... Steamboat label and no WEA... first issues... sound is THE Sound you remember, the one in DNA...

Third copy (call me a lunatic...) is a European reissue (three colors label yellow, pale blue, white, don't remember more) and sound is somehow more zinghy and someway unnatural, ambience and sibilants are completely different from LH's... lesser.

Go and check your copies, folks...

LHs' are worth some pretty serious bucks, now,  but most important, they're worth your care and knowledge and your premium turntable, arm and cartridge analog combos.

Dig it!

... and enjoy a timeless classic.



Saturday, August 8, 2015

Jeffrey Jackson's Wheel Fi



A new cat's in town... actually the cats are three, or six... Jeffrey, Robert and Christoph... plus Kurt, Waylon and Lisa and they're in the Catskills, NY.

The location isn't by chance, for the above mentioned cats...

Look at the making of these horns... and amps... and...




Old world workmanship and care for details...

Clever as usually, folks... and more!

Best wishes for the new adventure, Jeffrey and pals.





Records cleaning - that's the way!




The 8 Step Cleaning Process

Step 1 - Use a precleaner to remove the largest particles and get the record base ready for a steam cleaning.

Step 2 - Vacuum the record, both sides, using my Modified VPI cleaning machine.

Step 3 - Use steam from Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs PURE Water to clean the vinyl grooves - 3 rotations each side. Use DAK Brush to get steam into the grooves.

Step 4 - Vacuum the record again, both sides-4-5 rotations until completely dry.

Step 5 - Using one of my two Ultrasonic machines (Audiodesk or Ultrasonic V-8), run them through a 10-15 minute cleaning cycle where it removes all the dirt the VPI machine could not. It also removes smoke remnants and detergents from past washings.

Step 6 - Using MFSL Pure Water, rinse record using a different MFSL velvet brush and let it spin for 3-5 rotations.

Step 7 - Vacuum the record a final time, both sides until bone dry.

Step 8 - Use the Anti-Static gun twice on each side of the record for removal of any static electricity.






Cleaning records is not a new idea, but it is a good idea! For us audio nuts, we want the best sound quality from any source. Vinyl is the best analog source available besides the master tape, so in order for it to be as good as possible, it must be clean. The stylus that "reads" the grooves must not have interference in order for pure, rich sound to come from your speakers or headphones. We have been cleaning records for over a decade using the most basic methods, like the disc washer brush and even the sink with dish washing detergent! We have tried many methods over the years to really perfect our system.

In September of 2013, we purchased two ULTRASONIC cleaning machines to compare steam cleaning with the ultrasonic method. We bought a V-8 Ultrasonic Machine and an Audio Desk machine. They both work VERY WELL. We changed our method of cleaning records to include the machines now. The  8 step method we perform is the ABSOLUTE best way to get audiophile sound from these records. First pressings, especially, have AMAZING sound! As for vacuum machines, what we have found is that VPI makes the best record cleaning machines for the money. I have used the 16.5, 17, and the Typhoon machines. We mainly use the 16.5 which was modified to control the speed, and we also added a cooling fan. Mobile Fidelity Sound Labs, or MFSL, makes excellent cleaning solutions, and Disc Doctor makes a fantastic post wash called "Miracle Fluid" that really improves the sound quality. Most recently we have been steam cleaning records to quiet the backgrounds and get years of grime, dirt, and smoke out of the grooves. 

When all is done properly, in the right order, the records sound MUCH BETTER! Most noticeabley, bass is much smoother and deeper. Dynamics are MUCH stronger, and you have the entire human hearing range, 20Hz to 20,000Hz, represented clearly. The background noise is silenced, and all you hear is a quiet hush between songs. We have never heard how good vinyl can sound until we heard clean records. Even NEW records need to be cleaned from all the oils and pollutants from the factory they were made in.

The most common and cheap record cleaning fluids use alcohol as their main cleaning agent. The problem with that is they leave chemicals behind after they are rinsed or dried off. Our cleaning system uses no alcohol in the cleaning agents. We enjoy cleaning records and comparing the sound before and after. That resulted in our ARCHIVE MASTER Audiophile LP that are sold on our site and on eBay.

After going through all 8 steps, your record is completely clean. It should now have improved DYNAMICS, FIDELITY, STAGING, and be MUCH QUIETER in the background. The only thing it won't remove are scratches or groove wear. In my experience, the dirt is what causes most of the problems with vinyl. A scratch can be tracked without noise in most cases.
Here is a good link to DAK Industries, which sells a good Carbon Fiber Brush that is excellent for dry-cleaning records AFTER they have been cleaned on a machine. It is not a good 1 step cleaner, but used in conjunction with a vacuum cleaning machine, it is an excellent tool. The site has excellent pictures on the grooves before and after cleaning. AS I said before, the cleanings on the pictures were done with a machine, not just the brush.

 Review of the Ultrasonic V8 Cleaning Machine


Thanking ClevelandVinyl's hints... 




Thursday, July 30, 2015

A new Robbie Basho recording re-appeared...




Thanking Kyle Fosburgh and Grass Tops recording...





"Single from our compilation entitled 'Portrait Of Basho As A Young Dragoon', which documents some of Robbie's most exploratory early career live material.


Date and title written on tape : 5-13-67 (Santa Cruz, CA) "Ives Paints Modern America"
PLEASE NOTE : This recording was sourced from Robbie Basho's personal collection. Assembled throughout his career, our archive of live performances were documented by amateurs and were never intended for commercial release. The most sophisticated technology has been carefully applied to reveal the music and minimize the inherent shortcomings of tape almost 50 years old. Our mission is to let you enjoy and appreciate some of Robbie's greatest early performances.
It'll be released on the compilation mentioned above as part of a CD/coffee table book set, featuring a collection of early photographs of Robbie from 1967. This track alone, however, is far too long for a 7 inch single. Otherwise we'd consider that too. Max length for a 7 inch is about 6 mins.
Composed by Robbie Basho
Mastered by Joe Churchich
Sound Engineering by Radiance Recordings and Kyle Fosburgh
Cover design by Kyle Fosburgh

You made my day, Kyle.



Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Giorgio Foschi and his reel-to-reel recorders Man's Cave
























Yesterday evening I brought my Studer B62 - needing some attention - to Giorgio Foschi, the italian Gran Mogol and maven of everything open-reel tape recorder.


I know Giorgio since a long time and every, EVERY tape machine passing under his careful, skilled  hands has a sort-of added value - i.e. the machines he overhauls are given a brand-new status, up to factory specs, and everything shines, again.


Everytime I enter his workshop and studio, I feel me blessed, as have the rare opportunity to touch and appreciate the details of a long-gone era of care and dedication.


Looking to a Stellavox TD9 or that super exotic, sought-after Philips EL3501 (used in Polygram and Decca Mastering facilities, where only THE VERY BEST counted)  makes me almost uninvolved at looking to the several Studer A820s!


The machines in the studio, including tons of Telefunken 15s' and smaller Studers' are nothing compared to the pleasure of chatting with Giorgio... himself is a Living Treasure, he worked knee-to-knee with George Quellet and m. Kudelski and Gurtner, his training was at Studer in Switzerland and his holy hands are at the service of corporates and private people with the passion.


Music-wise - as let's do not forget, these amazing machines are after music - he's going ahead with his mastertapes 1:1 projects...  Hemiolia and 4AP (aka Analog Four Phases) are the new home for accurately engineered and dubbed mastertapes!


I listened to Daniele Mencarelli's Originals tape and... folks, my jaws dropped at the superb, SUPERB recording quality and beauty of music.


You cannot own a Ferrari without good quality gasoline... owning a Studer C37 or a Telefunken M15A or a NagraT without such a tapes is... senseless!


Stay tuned with yours truly as on next September a new crop of freshly produced mastertapes will be available...




Thanking Giorgio for hosting, empathy, skills and... for being Giorgio Foschi.