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Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Raw materials, ingredients... audio and a soup: same receipt?


Years ago, when still an happy, innocent, virgin Forumer, after reading about people so pompously talking about their impressive lists of gears and speakers and cables, I was in a quite magmatic, fluid audio status - i.e. several coming and going gears, all my own, accumulated thanks my Chip'n'dale syndrome...

So I felt appropriate and (someway) dadaist listing my audio system "destructured", as a list of raw materials... nonetheless, resulting in the Music Making at home, in a sort-of "no-global/no-brand" approach.

The list was something like this:

aluminium, iron, permalloy, glass, thoriated-tungsten, mercury vapors, plywood, wood, stainless steel, nickel, cobalt, copper, slate, graphite, felt, rubber, plastic, plexiglas, paper, titanium, bronze, FRP, brass, permendule, bakelite, silk, cotton, silver...

It sure sounded - at least - impressive in variety;-)

One of the wittiest comments the list received was: "Most important ALL these be in the right order!"

That's it... my grand-ma used to transform an humble ingredients list, mostly vegetables, in an heavenly dish.

The list would have been: beans, potatoes, tomatoes, onions, olive oil, salt, pepper.

The result was named "pasta e fagioli" - i.e. a vegetables soup... pale brown in colour, pasta, some beans and potatoes still visible and keeping their shapes, the rest mostly a cream of paradisiac good taste.

Humble ingredients in good (proper) order... great objective result.

In the kitchen like in audio... I know people swearing about a superbly well done soldering with 98 % silver alloy, without eating garlic for two years to do not disturb amps assemblying with "garlic vapors"... then they use cheap cassette players and own old bookshelf-speakers and a dozen battered cassettes...

Blame on them!;-)

I'm - more and more as time passes - an holistic man.

I prefere using (or having someone hired and following my instructions) a sensitive balance, the right amount of care, without being obsessed... more "doing" things, than "chatting" about doing things.

I recently had several changes and improvements made in my audio system: new drivers, preamps, horns, arm, tubes and amps... same approach, almost ALL new gears.

The most difficult was keeping the good character, my very own sonic footprint of choice, already well tailored to my tastes and listening habits and musical tastes.

Like my grand-ma was able to manage different potatoes quality to obtain that creamy quality so appreciated by me, my brothers and all family (objectively superb soup), I learned to keep the direction with my very own "musical compass" during those apparently easy "changes" of audio components.

The variables playing their role are so various, almost endless... yet I find MUCH more impressive in overall musical result of my system, one inch in aligning upper horns ways, than using the last, most exotic "novelty" in CES-approved cartridge or turntable!

My friend Thomas Schick was (and still is...) able to infuse in his so simple design a sonic quality which greatly, I mean GREATLY, trascends the cost of raw materials: cheap aluminium and brass, felt and wood... nonetheless his 12 inches arms are among the VERY best, keeping a great respect of music and overtones and dynamics, both micro and macro... and friendly priced, too.

... another Thomas, always from Germany, actually my friend Thomas Mayer, despite using quite normal irons, Tango, Lundhal and some well done, German-made transformers, some N.O.S. paper-in-oil caps and classic tube-rectifiers, in Graetz-bridge shape - through his sensitivity, Meccano-like building technique and good taste, is able to conceive and assemble extremely beautiful and good-sounding amps and pre-amps... also for him, same as above: the cost for these musical machines is nor cheap, neither expensive, but simply correct.

I have other examples, but the above are pretty "right" for the topic: balance, knowldege, skill and istinct, love for music, educated tastes and harmony. All is well represented here.

Sure having "more" is possible: important to understand what's "more" - i.e. weight, cost, status-symbol, exotic, power, waiting-list, elusiveness?!?

... but after my Japanese audio adventures, the boundary between classy, well-crafted, finely tuned, good sounding systems and craziness is quite subtle;-) and should be avoided like a Deadly No-Trespass Area.

Going to concerts, playing an instrument... that helps keeping a relative sanity and balance... like keeping good muscles tone having light jogging regimen and a good, balanced, excesses-free diet.

My lighthouse is my grand-ma's "pasta e fagioli"... no truffles, no ultra-expensive ingredients or esoteric olive oil from Gethsemane's hills trees: only good ingredients and love.

Quality is holistic... it's in results.

Music.

Pleasure.

Slurp & Ommmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm...

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