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Sunday, July 14, 2013

Jean Hiraga meets Gotorama...

... but smaller, La Scala's based system was playing better*...

After our recent German gatherings and meetings and so, even more, appreciating Jean Hiraga's passion, skill, humanity and down-to-earth approach, always friendly and supportive with (sincere) music and audio scholars and lovers worldwide, it was discussed about the possibility for Jean - eventually joined by other French gentlemen like Julien Sullerot and Andre Klein, for example - for an Italian grand-tour visiting my own and other nice audio/music systems in my Country.

The above conversation happened on last November, in Lindlar, Germany.

Jean and myself then swapped some emails, and Hiraga-sensei-san confirmed to be a goldmine of hints and tips, music- and technical-wise... not surprisingly.

I regretfully missed the last June Lindlar's gathering which, as per superb Reinhard's recent chronicle, then confirmed by Jean himself, proved the superbness of Doede Douma's digital efforts and research and of Klaus' system uniqueness.

Months passed and, suddenly, only few weeks ago, I got an email,  sort-of "Hey, Stefano, are you available on July?'

I was, freshly unstressed back home after some seaside weeks, and not disturbed that much about wet, hot Northern Italy awful weather.

... and so was Jean... available, I mean:-)

I was sooooo thrilled and HAPPY - yes, HAPPY - the old (yet forever young!) master was interested in joining some hours listening and evaluating my humble system... he, the man who listened to 330+ of the VERY best systems in Europe and Japan.

I was both worried and like a first-schoolday kid - i.e - am I the only one to think my system plays Music? Will Jean understand some technical and gears and room-correction choices I did in thelast  years?

Will JH enjoy as I do and will he have same good time he had at Klaus' and Reinhard's and Bernd's places, in Germany's so nicely oversized auditoriums?

All the above mixed feelings immediately vanished when I met Jean at my town railway station, on last Friday night... fresh, unstained, enthusiast and athletic like a man in his thirties; we headed to the B&B and then, in few minutes walk, we were chatting and chatting and sipping delicious "Carmenere" by Inama (love this wine and italian producer) red wine and eating and enjoying delicate lemon tasting and scented steam-cooked vegetables, veal fillets with a weird, yet great tuna-fish sauce and almonds, and a fresh gaspacho with burrata (super fresh mozzarella) and basil and extra-vergine olive oil...

Empathy is a specialty,  for JH!

After dinner, we had a relaxed walk in old town, few meters from my little, tiny studio: walking and chatting (no audio, only architecture, history and the like) I noticed - at first guessed it was a single case, but...  - he captured details I never, ever noticed in 28 years living in town!

"Look at this! It's lead between stone and brick... to better stabilize building..." or... "Look there: 1622! An hidden date on a wall, in the shadow"... and more and more...

Incredible eagle, razor-like sight... not only 10/10 eyes/sight,  but attention and love for the details, history, virtually everything (worthwhile) around.

I looked at the wristwatch and... oh, oh... 0,04 A.M.!

Three hours blown away... swoooosh, like a breeze!

It only happens when having good time... while feverishly waiting for a doctor visiting, one minute lasts hours, as shit happens!

We reached my studietto in few minutes and... after deciding to listen to the "small" system (Thomas Mayer's line-stage with Cunnigham CX 310 (1929 vintage), Studer A 730 disk player, my own all Partridge's irons and coils, bespoke monoblocks and Emission Labs "mesh-plate" 300Bs, all feeding my old trusty, '69 vintage, Klipsch's "La Scala"... it was double-bass, classical guitar, harpsichord, theorbo, voice, male and female, sax and flugelhorn... classical, folk and jazz a go-go.

Jean, the living treasure and audio and music encyclopedia, after listening to a superb "The King's  Singers" performance, quietly, almost casually, whispered "I'm floating!"

A very nice performance.

At 2,05 A.M.... we agreed, very naturally, it had be a looong day for both:-) and we headed in the fresh night air, in a De Chirico-like town, only lights and shadows and two individuals sharing same love for life: Music.

The day after, it was yesterday, we met at B&B, had a breakfast Jean and myself enjoyed, and... ready for more audio?

Definitely not:-)))

We visited a famous theater, a masterpiece from 16th century and a very old, ancient church, appreciating mosaics, furniture, atmosphere and mood of the places:  as I told Jean, I was looking at places I (guessed) I knew quite well, with completely brand-new eyes... more focused, sharper-looking... thanking (again and again) my long-time mentor.

Chatting was an interesting mix of random audio tales and anedoctes, witty comments about this or that... a TRUE pleasure spending some time with JH... as only veritable greats do, he knows VERY well how to adapt himself to his hosts, as I already knew from our German meetings: he understood immediately I'm into acoustic jazz, ECM, ancient music and when I tried to play some "La Bamba",  Lindlar-style, looking at him, I got it wasn't the case, as we both knew VERY well it wasn't my cup of tea:-)))

At about 10,30 A.M. we headed to the studio for some Gotorama's

Jean remembered - to my VERY surprise - every disk we played the night before and he wished to replicate the aural memories he had with Gotorama on the same tracks... ears and mind, with soul:-)

My host sported his typical audio-grin and attention to capture nuances and understand the several parameters involved in my larger system: he appreciated - as he asked for in a last email before leaving France heading Southbound - I prepared for him a synopsys of system gears and links and descriptions, etc.

I must honestly said that I was a little surprised when Jean expressed his wish to listen to my system and publishing an essay about it: I guessed that his spotless, immaculate integrity and humbleness was - sort-of - not allowing him considering an audio system with such a load of his own old company gears (these huge red-caps La Maison de l'Audiophile's Le Classe' A solid-state Class A amplifiers)!

This proved to be not an issue, only my own erroneous guessing, nothing more...

*Yes, better - unfortunately, Gotorama's sound was a bit flawed by Garrardzilla's 301 missing, actually not sounding for further improvements and refinements and overall sound wasn't up to par for some crossover troubles I'm working out: Jean also noticed this, of course.
After some looong months of great satisfaction, the level of naturalness and detailing of Mayer's and La Scala's is teaching me I can ask for "more" to my Gotorama and I'm working on the matter.

He focused a lot to sound, then he took pixes of disks covers, listened again, and so on and on...

Sometimes, he stopped, looked in his Eega Beeva-like hand luggage, and some cool disk or paper about Japanese oil for turntables bearing or disk again or a little present he had for yours truly.


When time came, as we had a train to catch to reach together Bologna and a new audio experience (more later and soon...), the journalist took place of Jean, the down-to-earth music lover: HE TOOK TONS OF PIXES... a true professional and so strange looking at HOW FAST he changed into this new persona!

Details, whole, everything... dozens pictures, indeed.


At his very own convenience, he will (possibly) publish in his superb, cool "Stereo Prestige" magazine a report of the listening sessions we shared at my place... this tiny, unassuming room I fondly call  "STUDIETTO" since three years ago, when I decided to go hot-rod with my audio passion, only worried and paying attention to my tastes, my wallet and possibilities, 100% WAF-unaffected:-)))

Thanking Jean Hiraga for... being Jean Hiraga, a Wise Man, loving laughing and having good time, a master and a scholar... 'cause he well knows one life cannot last to know and learn everything!


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