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Saturday, May 30, 2015

Where have all the flowers gone?





Like a traditional I sang and (badly) played when in my teens, after listening and learning it from Joan Baez... where have all the pre-owned gears gone?

Pre-owned, previously-cared for, second-hand… whatever: I was just remembering about all the gear I owned in the past… talking about 44 years of audio passion…



When an Audiomart subscriber and community member, I had several sought-after pieces of gears: something - aehm, most of them - are gone – i.e. Marantz 9, Marantz 1, Marantz 3, Radford STA15 and SC 22, Quad ESL and Quad II,, Stax F81, Futtermann H3AAA, KLH 9, Audio Research SP6B and Audio Research SP 10, others are still my own - on a shelf, actually - like Marantz 7C and 10B… gone are several Garrard 301, Technics SP10 mkII, SME 3012R, Koetsu Rosewood Signature and several Revox A77 and B77 and Basis Debut and Studer C37 and  Linn Sondek LP12 and EMT 927st and… and… and…






Some piece of gears are deeply missed, some not... how I wish I kept EMT 927st, Studer C 37 and Marantz 1s, Model 3 and Marantz 9... they were almost cheap, thirty some years ago... and now are so sought after and almost impossible to be afforded.  




... but I don't need'em, anyway.

I feel like I spent zillions in all these years… maybe I wasted zillions, yet I learned a lot…

… sure  that I’m not after collecting, but experimenting…

So, just wondering... where are my pre-owned piece of gears, now?

Sold, re-sold and re-re-sold or still in same hands?

Trashed or in nice shape?

Strange or not, I’m still very fond of my very first stereo, the one my mom bought and which played my first 7” 45 rpm… it lasted ‘til I bought Thorens TD 160… and so I began my career as an audio addict.

No problem in tracing where my first stereo went... in pieces, broken by my younger twin brothers... like my toy train and my toy cars... much more difficult for the other gears...

Just curious... mmmmhhhh...



Thursday, May 28, 2015

WJAAS - A Japanese Adventure




These gentlemen, namely Jean Hiraga, Jean Laurent Veys, Andre Klein and Reinhard Huttenburg recently visited Japan for an audio full-immersion trip, a true, veritable adventure of a life: more than twenty premium horn loaded systems were visited and gatherings happened with lots of kampai, music and empathy...








Please read the trip chronicle here... more and more pixes and prose will be uploaded in the very next days, so stay tuned and follow the story.

Enjoy.




Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Tyran Grillo's achievement: reviewing ALL ECM's ever issued!



Bingo!

A life achievement for Tyran, who, so humbly like only truest greats are, was self-impressed by how many words he wrote...

I sincerely replicated that it's not a matter of quantity, BUT of quality... the quality this gifted gentleman put on every of his essays, from the shortest to the more complex.

Here (just click the orange/yellow push-button) is Tyran's Blog, for the few aren't aware of his... yes, I dare: genius.

A statement of journalism and creative writing.

A big, BIG thank you, Tyran!

... and my apologies for unashamedly cutting & pasting the following and its pouring heartfelt proudness...








Synchronicity


To my dear readers, old and new:
Five years, three months, and 16 days ago—on 10 February 2010, to be exact—I began this blog with the intention of reviewing every proper ECM and ECM New Series album ever produced. Over 800,000 words and exactly 1330 posts later (1331 if you count this one), I can now lay claim to that goal in earnest. (For those keeping score, I’m following the U.S. release schedule. I also have an additional review, specifically of Robin Williamson’s Trusting In The Rising Light, written but forthcoming elsewhere.) During that time, people have often asked me: What do you get out of this? To answer that would require just as many words as I’ve written for this project, and so I would humbly refer you to my past posts. Suffice it to say that ECM has given me more than any other label in a life already brimming with sounds and that my reviews, such as they are, can only meet its contributions halfway as reciprocation.
On that note, there are many people without whom these words would not be appearing on your screen. First and foremost, I must acknowledge everyone at ECM. Their kindness and generosity have validated my endeavors here every step of the way, and their acknowledgment of my work has led not only to my traveling to Munich and even writing liner notes for an album (see Terje Rypdal’s Melodic Warrior), but more importantly has created a lifelong relationship of mutual respect. My dedication in reviewing them all—daunting as it may seem in retrospect—is nothing compared to that of releasing them all, and we must all be grateful to ECM for its incalculable enrichments. I particularly want to thank, in Munich, Manfred Eicher for trusting me to serve as an unofficial mouthpiece for the label’s oeuvre; Steve Lake for his wise words and counsel, and for always making the time to accommodate my many requests for out-of-print and otherwise hard-to-find releases and interviews; Guido Gorna for coming through with scans of other rare materials and digital booklets when physical CDs were nowhere to be found; Christian Stolberg for sharing his love for ECM during my pilgrimage to Germany; and Sun Chung for believing in me not only as a fan, but also as a human being. Although not in Munich, I also consider writer Paul Griffiths to be a major part of the ECM family, seeing as he has almost singlehandedly shaped the voice of the New Series imprint with his peerless CD booklet essays and reflections. I am proud to call him my friend and have benefited immeasurably from his critical mind and way of looking at listening. In New York City, I bow to ECM Records publicist Tina Pelikan, not just for what she has done for me—providing all the materials I ever needed for review, arranging press tickets for ECM concerts, etc.—but more importantly for the unfathomable work she has done to promote especially New Series artists in the U.S. Also in New York, my hat goes off to ECM Records USA label head Sarah Humphries, a rock of inspiration to musicians and fans alike for both shaping and maintaining the integrity of the label’s international profile.
I must also thank the many ECM artists whom I have befriended these past five years and their unwavering support of my writing. It’s always nerve-wracking for me to share my thoughts with the musicians about whom I’m opining, and I can count myself lucky for having met no resistance to my hyperbole-prone musings.
In addition, in am indebted to those who have supported my project from day one, especially Paul Geffen, whose ECM Discography served as an invaluable resource and whose generous promotion of my work continues to draw new support across social networks. And on the journalism side of things, I gratefully acknowledge music writer extraordinaire and fellow obsessive John Kelman, Michael Ricci of All About Jazz, Cliff Furnald of RootsWorld, and Steve Layton of Sequenza 21 for providing alternative venues to my ramblings. There are countless more of you in this vein whom I will never forget. You know who you are.
Of course, no such acknowledgments list would be complete without my deepest, most heartfelt expression of faith in all of you who have read my words—some from the very beginning—with such enthusiasm and genuine interest. I’ve enjoyed getting to know you all in various capacities and look forward to strengthening these new friendships as our shared love for ECM brings us closer. It’s for your eyes as much as for my soul that I do what I do on between sound and space.
I feel it only appropriate that my last review before reaching this point should have been of Keith Jarrett’s Creation. For me, it says everything and more about how ECM has changed the recorded landscape and the musicians who so tirelessly work its soil. And because, fortunately, ECM shows no signs of slowing down (the label is, in fact, releasing more than ever), I will continue tilling right alongside them so long as there is music to be heard and those of us around to hear it.
–Tyran Grillo
Summer 2015




Friday, May 22, 2015

Studer B 62 - back to the roots!




Love this reel to reel recorder... a no-frills classic also loved by the like of John Lennon, who used it both as a studio - had two - and home playback machine, and Brian Eno, a personal hero and a renowned open reel user and collector, who used it vertical, baffle mounted... very elegant.







... back into use in my studio after some years spent at a friend's home... will clean it, soon... yet preserving its workhorse, slightly battered patina.









Woodstock forever!





The couple hugging under the blanket from the Woodstock album cover are still together, 46 years later!






Love this kind of news...



Passive Multivocal Resonator - further thoughts and experiences





… fiddle, fiddle… listen, listen…  fiddleagain, fiddleagain… relisten, relisten...  my experience with PMR Referenz is going on, folks, thanking the monsoon-like heavy rains so ideal for music and audio activities.

Yesterday I had another listening session… first with Gotorama and vinyl playback.

Mixed feeling…

The positioning of the Referenz when listening to the larger system isn’t so easy… I listened to a nice Malcolm Arnold EMI I bought in Munchen, very dynamic, horns and tympanis and assorted percussions, a truly great recording Goosens/Bournemouth Orchestra, when I took away the PMR, the sound was sort-of (slightly, but audibly) tilted on highs…




Meaning I got better orchestra overall sound without any resonator in the room... yes, I had to "throw away" them all, placing them in an annex.

Far away.

Out of sight and, most of all, ear.

Something I didn’t noticed or experienced when listening to 300B and Cabasse, where the balance was pretty right, even better as I recently shared, as the slightly rolled-off highs of Cabasse were a little improved, apparently.

The Goto SG160 tweeter (maybe) simply doesn’t need any “enhancing”.

So… four days after the first PMR trial I’m now able to say that, in my studio, a Referenz is really, mean REALLY useful and blessed when using the smaller system, conveying music and improving soundstage to a truly unexpected level.

A blessing, indeed.

With larger Gotorama… just guessing: I’m phisically unable to place the resonator as suggested by the maker – i.e. between speakers, a little back-stage, as the EMT 930, Mayer’s preamp(s) and CD player and DAC make busy the area where to ideally place the Referenz  PMR.

The vertical placement is paramount with these passive devices… height, something I immediately noticed… should mandatorily be at slightly more than ear level (height).

If lower, the soundstage collapses, worsening the sans-PMR…

… but also the horizontal placement is really important and something to be not under-considered!

The so-so results with larger system where it’s impossibile to place properly is the demonstration.

I must honestly point it out that the above vertical/horizontal tips are, in my humble opinion, referred to the reflective properties of the Referenz, while the vibrating character made me confident the polished highs, which sounded a little bit excessive with larger system… well, I’ve no solutions in my room…



I suspect, by gut feeling, also if moving around like a perfect idiot trying to reach same “magic” so easily reached with smaller system, I should dismantle whole system and back wall!

… not doubtful, only my straightforwardness makes me to say: beware!

The “mature audio/musical knowledge and system” I quoted in the previous prose on the matter, makes me affirming that - with such a device and our different audio system layout, listening tastes and habits, rooms, etc. -  a before-the-deal loan should be invoked and strongly perused and obtained.

Not me or other reviewers, no Web hypes should be enough to handle the wallet, pronto.

Make your own experience, pals.

This and previous post are related to my own, very own experience and system in my room and my own ears.

Consider the above advice necessary with such an expensive, exotic, esoteric and voodoo item.



Thursday, May 21, 2015

PMR Mk II Referenz by HighEndNovum



I'm a believer, folks.

Call me a lunatic, easily influenced and always ready to ride this or that audio tweaks of the day... maybe it's so, yet I much more prefer to call myself a truth seeker, humbly unashamed and braveheart enough to be unworried by critics.

It's my journey... so I choose the rules, period.

Nuff said?

... well, ahem... hell, NO!

Last week, while going to Munchen by car, I was listening to some music on my car audio system when - after some heavy rain from Brennerpass to Munchen - a pale sun made its appearance.

I moved the sunshade to protect my eyes from sunshine and the music sounded different while I moved the sunshade...

... as I moved the sunshade, I was sort-of able to move the music... I mean enhancing focusing with a a simple 40 x 15 cm "wing" and moving it up and down.

The surprise of noticing the above was superseded by reaching my hotel, looking ahead to reach M.O.C. etc.

It was 9,30 A.M. in Munchen.

When I entered the audio fair, only one hour later, something happened: first of all I headed to my vinyl pushers of choice - i.e. Fenn and Blue Danube... I found some VERY nice waxes, indeed: the three sought after discs by Pete Seeger, Willie Dixon and Memphis Slim live in NYC, 1962 on Folkways... a truly magic recordings set of unbelievable art and clarity and musical trueness as a plus.

... and one dozen of Harmonia Mundis' and more goodies.

After saying hello to Axinia Shaffer, next to her booth, I got attracted, almost captured, by some strange standing platters which were blinking to me, shiny, friendly and antique looking, also if seldom seen.

Immediately stopped by... it was about one hour after the opening of M.O.C. 2015, the Press/Trade First Day at M.O.C. and there were only some visitors around.

I chatted with those young German gentlemen, Andreas, Christoph and Elmar... they immediately appeared as very passionate and knowledged smart guys, yet almost apologizing for their weird goodies on display: premium quality fuses, for example and... yes...YES!



PMR = Passive Multivocal Resonators!

These large and smaller platters... cups... gongs... tibetan bowls... whatever!

They explained the mystic behind the bowls, carefully made by hand and tuned after Dieter Ennemoser's teaching and theories.

"Herr C-37 varnish" audio/luthiery visionary rang a bell in my head... and the more I looked at the larger dish - i.e.  the PMR Mk II Referenz, the more I not only thinked to resonance devices, like Andreas called the platters, but also to some ancient Archimede's specchi ustori - i.e. the war mirrors conveying sunshine powerful rays against enemies and their ships and burning at a distance.

Cheating and chatting, I found myself discussing the loan of these finely made bronze handicrafts, which was not only accepted but also gladly trusted and praised.

Christoph Oester, the maker of this sculpture claimed them to resonate and improve musical overall experience, really was plucking my strings, in the same way the empathy between Andreas and Michael and Christoph and yours truly naturally blossomed.





The next, second M.O.C. day, we arranged to complete the bona-fide deal and the heavy Referenz PMR and its smaller brother Initium, plus an LP One bronze clamp shaped like the larger resonators, were safely in my car trunk, carefully crated, bounding southbound to my studio.

Some foreword are necessary, at this point: no english literature was available at Munchen fair, so my interest was only coming from sincere attraction for these audio sculptures.

Love at first sight, I'd dare.



The more I think about the nice, elegant, weird PMR Mk II Referenz, the more I think to Sun Ra's stage costumes and hats.



I chatted with some pals about my findings, but I got mild, so-so reactions from them, so I preferred to keep my experiment-to-come for myself, when back home.

... and so I did.

After the M.O.C. days of gathering and chatting, on last Sunday I carefully unpacked the resonators, using the safety cotton gloves found in the carton box, to avoid fingerprints on shiny PMR surface... whatever they were, they appeared extremely well made: the ringing of the Referenz was strongly reminding to me my old, trusty Tibetan bell, the one I use to perform my (only decent) harmonic, two tones chant in David Hykes and Tibetan tradition.

A nice tone came from the Referenz when gently hitted, with a quite short decay, compared to a bell, for example.

The shape of the dish is stepped in six inner/five outer different diameter rings and the platter holder is keeping platter someway loose, free to vibrate.

I was so curious to hear the claimed merits of these handicrafts which I simply didn't read anything on Hi End Novum site... choosing senses vs. well informed/biased guessing.

I only read Clement Perry and Sam Telling already tried these, but the German-only leaflets only told me their names... you know, I don't read or speak any German, shame on me.

Passive Multivocal Resonator... mmmhhh...

Back to my uncrating...

I mounted - as per easy instructions - the resonators legs and placed the Referenz centre between the Cabasse at ear level, as per maker suggestions.





The smaller Initium was placed at the side, behind the listening sweet spot, always following installations tips.



First disc I played on the Studer A 730 was "Sousedi": guitar, cello and female voice.

I not so suddenly almost immediately noticed something going on: centerstage was rock-like and side and outer side speakers was broader I remembered.

Repeated a couple of time same track to better understand.

The room was so different than previous times.

Changed to an Harmonia Mundi's of Zarb (Iranian drum) solo... I felt so silly, folks!

The overall sound was so focused, more, much more focused and direct and dynamics and even more natural than sans-PMRs' system.

The drum was so rich in overtones and hands brushing the drum leather and several other recording venue noises blossomed... talking about a recording I often listen to.

Low end was slightly drier than I remembered but very detailed and various, non boring and untiring... not a note was a boom, but nuances improved greatly.

The installing/user's manual was suggesting ear height for the PMR Referenz, but I began to move the resonator up and down, from say 50 cm to 100 cm.




The different heights changed scene height, as well.

Very easily, naturally...

No vodoo, no hypes... effective and well here, audible differences, no doubts.

After playing with the PMR in place for about three hours, I had to try to take them away.

I took off from center-stage and placed it on a corner, on the floor, covered by the brown blanket I found in the crate, and the aural beauty, the incredibly nice sensation of a 3D image and depth was simply back to the everyday one, as I know it to be my system voice.

... but not the same as only a few minutes before.

What was going on?

I turned off the 300B/Cabasse system and turned on the Gotorama... and replaced the PMR Referenz centerstage.

Same Sousedi's disk and repeated the listening, almost hoping to do not hear the magic I heard before.

Same feeling of astonishment, surprise and enjoyment... an audibly improved listening experience.

Ennemoser... and you Jungblut Bros. and Christoph Oester, you made a Devil's Pact... or maybe it's plainly said we audiophiles aren't aware of physic and acoustic laws and always surprised by the ineffable which seldom happens, unexpected as it can be.

What the hell: the PMR - acting like my car sunshade - isn't only a resonator, but also and more, a music focus enhancer, keeping the music texture intact without coloring or equalizing it, yet transforming any recording into the ideal recording...

This appears to be true as when moving the PMR up and down also of some centimeters, the scene rises and lowers... something which isn't related with resonance, apparently.

Also light and reflections are weird acting, while looking at center placed dish... a strobe-like interaction effect with room light, also in dimmed light, is strangely blinking, hypnotizing, too.

I felt like my ideal of The Perfect Recording became true and easy to get.

Both smaller and larger system improved to an extent I wasn't prepared.

The Referenz PMR is not going to return to Germany, be sure.

Best audio pals whom I shared my findings 'til yesterday replied to my enthusiasm with mixed reactions from you're a silly motherfucker pimp to yawn, another tweak for wealthy gonzos to uh, why not to cannot stand in my shoes waiting to join you in listening and experiencing your findings.

Me, well, the gonzo... ahem... the musical bliss seeker, I am as embarrassed as everyone reading above essay.

Take my responsibility deadly seriously on this, folks.

I'm a believer... a sincere believer and a scholar, unafraid of learning something new.

P.S. - only on last Monday - i.e. the day after the above described trials - I finally read on Audiophile Audio Produkte's site some English and Google-translated German reviews about the PMRs... be assured that after reading Clement Perry and Sam Tellig's reviews I felt much less alone... I mean I can also confirm their findings and highly praise and recommend these incredible, esoteric gizmos to anyone with sincere and mature experience and audio systems and open enough ears and mind to appreciate the final tweak which put to shame other audio craziness...

In the craziest of ways... working as promised, with no hypes and no need to smoke dope to be felt and appreciated.



Thanks to Andreas Jungblut, Christoph Oester and Elmar for their kindness and trusting in yours truly... and to Dieter Ennemoser for being the visionary he is.

All in the name of Music.


A cherry on the cake, folks?


I just got the confirmation that US - distributor http://highend-electronics.com/ will show the resonators next week in Newport Beach www.theshownewport.com and that the maker and all the distributors (mentioned on www.highendnovum.de) offer free 14-day trials for interested listeners.


Nothing can stop everyone to take a chance...






Sunday, May 17, 2015

World Premiere - The Point One Van den Hul's Turntable!





Ok, ok... maybe it's not world premiere;-)... yet.... WOW!

What a beauty... magnetic suspended, super low friction and highest known feedback-proof.



Look at the IMPRESSIVE platter...








Sorin Oancea, van den Hul's agent for Romania, who gladly took the pixies of Mr. Van den Hul and myself. Thanks Sorin.

Love this turntable... also if it's not an idler-wheel design.




Saturday, May 16, 2015

Arlo Guthrie Alice's Restaurant Anniversary...




I love this kind of apparently silly anniversaries... unimportant to most, Arlo Guthrie's original 1967 two-tones label Reprise disc is in my discotheque since my boyhood and how many times I laughed in the years when Arlo is playing the lunatic at the Army trying to quit Vietnam...






Jumping and screaming "Shrink, I want to see blood, blood and veins in my teeth... etc. etc..."


Pure young genius... eighteen minutes of purest non-sense... yet making A LOT OF sense if considering the America it was when Alice's Massacree happened...


Here is the anniversary as per recent Arlo's words...


May 16, 2015 - The Church - Van Deusenville

Van Deusenville is a hamlet within the village of Housatonic, which is within the town of Great Barrington, which is within the state of Massachusetts. The church (The Guthrie Center) is also known locally as the Old Trinity Church and is ground zero for the 50th Anniversary of the song "The Alice's Restaurant Massacree." This is where it all began 50 years ago this coming Thanksgiving (2015).


I got back to the church for our 3 day revival to find this newly painted VW Microbus on the front lawn. What a great surprise! The vehicle was donated to the church and painted just a few days ago to coincide with our appearance. 





The photo was taken by my friend and neighbor, Jaane Doe, and I did a quick (and not so great) fix to remove the wires which run down the street in front of the old building. George Laye, our director and I go back decades as friends, and he really went to great lengths to get this thing done in time. Freaking great!

It's become the new photo-op for many of our visitors, and will likely remain there all summer - or until we get the thing registered - whichever comes first. Once it's got plates I might wanna drive down to Washington, DC and start taking out the garbage there... It worked out well the first time, although this time we might need a fleet. The VW Microbus is now relegated to history. Maybe you just had to be there. More than just remembering, history can instill generations with a sense of the inevitable triumph of what is right, just and joyful.

On a side note: There will be a small fleet of registered VW Microbuses coming to the church on Sunday to help ferry participants of the “Garbage Trail Walk to Massacree HD” around. For more - http://www.garbagetrailwalk.org/GarbageTrailWalk/Welcome.html

Peace and Love are not empty words or slogans... It's the reality beyond comprehension and understanding. It's what actually exists whether or not you can see through the trash. With that in mind, it's good to have a vehicle handy to take out the garbage."


Thanking Arlo for sharing this and most of all for these four chords progression and story-telling...



Lovely memories dating back to 1967... another world it was!





Home Sweet Home




This morning... 


 ... and four and a half hours later...



Home... safe & sound.


Thanking my beloved wife for the warm welcome.



Reel-to-reel renaissance at M.O.C.





Reel to reel, open reel... tape recorders... whatever you want to call them... 

They are impressive, sexy, elegant, timeless machines... my first love in audio, since I was 6 or 7 years old...

Still the best sounding, maybe...
















Sure the coolest... and prices are increasing.

Impressive, indeed: do not trow away your open-reel recorders... dig their capabilities, instead.

Enjoy!