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Friday, May 2, 2014

Audioqette - user's instructions




I recently discovered something which frightened me... audio is pure elusiveness and every audio-related item which hasn't a relationship, of human beings touching each others, isn't worth my attention... no, even worst: doesn't minimally attract me. 

Many years ago, I was attracted by specs, last technology, novelties... then found vintage... then bespoke... next?

I realized I personally know 99% of the people who built or modified or worked on my music/audio system... it was sort-of a shock. 

Jean Hiraga, Thomas Mayer, Serge Schmidlin, Franz Hinterlehner, Miyajima-san, Shinichi Tanaka-san, Reiner Glass, Thomas Schick, James Grant, Chiaki Kikuchi-san... and last but not least, myself... as the proud maker of my analog turntable, arm and plinth.

Everyone above mentioned, with their projects, soldering, twisting cables, woodworking, bending aluminium tubes, lathing, sanding and polishing put some of their soul, aehm, truest essence... with some part of business, skills, compromising or no-compromising, empathy, cleverness, boldness and humbleness... these artisans spent hours of their lifetime conceiving and building from scratch their handicrafts.

On my part, I had to work hours to earn the money necessary to pay the bills, in a sort-of pocket-to-pocket osmosis.

Their electronics, cables, speakers, record cleaning machines, arms and cartridges are the expression of their vision and our deal was an expression of getting in touch, meeting, sharing the way to approach, to (someway) settle and interpretate the elusiveness of music reproduction at home.

The growing success of RMAF, Munchen Hi-End and other audio fairs shows that, crisis or not, a well-heeled niche of daredevils still consider worthwhile the involved-silliness of seating on a chair in front of some electronics and boxes to listen to something so moving and invisible to be painful, a mysterious irreality called Music.

Only someone who never experienced the moving qualities of best music reproduction could call us "lunatics".

Tantalizing... 

I do not type on a computer, nor I read or watch to any silent TV program while listening to music... some years ago I used to use my racing bike indoor on training rollers, sweating and puffing like a elk, but I only used AC/DC, Opeth and Deep Purple... using above muscular music, only... well, for some reason, both - indoor spinning and listening - soon annoyed me... I felt a sort-of hamster... and I went cycling outdoor, again.



Yet, directing an invisible orchestra, playing air guitar or singing along a singer can be part of the politically-correct, possible activities in front of our audio-systems while enjoying music.

Respect... behaviours, habits or...






Audioquette? 

Why not...   chatting with our hosts/friends is allowed but in small doses and only during music pauses, or when changing vinyls or source, from open-reel to disk to disc... during arm lifting, especially if done the old way, without arm-lifter, by hand... everyone should respectfully remain silent.

Using an open-reel tape machine also involves some care and attention... damaging a precious master-tape or -dub could REALLY extract the very worst from everyone, so... silence.

Same when gently brushing the stylus, undusting our cartridges.

Touching gears isn't allowed... also best friends should avoid this... dust on gears get apparent and someway embarassing, after touching and fingerprints on, say, a shiny surface or an hot triode can be harmful and inappropriate, as well.

Cables of any form shouldn't be stepped, also if under a carpet.

Asking to listen to Megadeth during or shortly after a Boccherini's quartet listening session isn't allowed: there is something rude and utterly wrong doing so... but it happens.

Only few days ago I was into a great ECM evening with some friends and, suddenly and not apologizing, a friend's friend asked for swapping with a disk he brought...  a CD-R disco-funk which made us laughing and laughing... after we blamed the guy for his tastes.

Smoking is strictly forbidden... also Thomas Mayer's cigars remains unlighted, in a music room.

Money-related chatting should be kept at a minimum: asking about this or that piece of gears cost or a constant referring to hideous price-tags by anyone, landlord or hosts, isn't polite or advisable.

Asking to bring, or, even worst, bringing straight, unannounced, any audio gear for swapping in host audio system is considered rude, if practiced during the weekdays... the more complex the linking to the existing gears, the most likely the host will avoid future invitations.

Trials involving soldering or cartridges swapping is enough to break a friendship:-)))!

These sparingly, interesting trials should be planned ahead and better done during weekends... for yours truly, on Saturday afternoon, only:-)

The sweet spot seat should be gladly offered by the landlord to the younger attendee, to improve his listening experience to the maximum pleasure, but then not kept indefinitely, but swapped with others... the landlord should stay in second row in favor of hosts.

When other gears are quoted and discussed, is not polite to offer definitive opinions, blaming this or that: to some extent isn't a gentleman behavior spitting on other audio systems or gears... never, ever. 

Asking for vinyls records or CDs loans is considered unpolite and rude...

The loan is only offered by the landlord and returning the goodies should be made timely and unrequested by the owner/loaner.

Music chosen for the listening should be a mix of different genres and the discs asked by friends should be found, if possible... the interplay among the people attending the listening should be preserved, as different people makes different evenings...

... something to be cherished as "the" reason which makes a truly empathic evening so special...

A gathering of souls, sharing knowledge and beauty.

As a proud owner and user of an Audio Desk Systeme's vinyl discs washing machine, I experienced a mixed-bag of behaviour from friends... mild interest, compassion eyes and, sometimes, the unpolite/extravagant practice of arriving with a couple of trolley-luggages loaded with dirty, filthy, straight-from the flea-market, cheap '80s not sought-after vinyls...

A smile and the request for "a quick cleaning" of the lot, usually followed, shortly after arriving... sometimes accompanied by the request for the toilet.

Last time I experienced the above... I waited for my friend, nervously tapping my foot, out-of-time with the Miles Davis' disc playing...

I firmly, yet smiling, declined the request for records cleaning, as, math-handy, a 9 minutes cleaning/washing per disc makes 90 minutes total - one hour and a half - for ten records, involving noise and care in handling and changing the inner sleeves and... and... 

As my daily job doesn't allow me to be the kindest of hosts, at least during weekdays... my grin and stone-like logic makes also the most die-hard vinyl-discs freak to, well, understand.

... more, folks?

Bringing a friend should be asked for... no unannounced surprises or non empathic generic visits allowed...

Schmucks aren't - usually - welcome:-)

My wife is always surprised by my lacking of appropriate hosting with closer friends... no foods and liquors in my music room, but... after or before the listening session it's more than OK having a dinner or a beer.





Fulfilling the above makes sense, as we're after music, gentleman, and our music rooms are our shrines... not a soccer-stadium... would you ask to priest for the toilet, during a mass:-)))?

BTW... forgetting something hilariously obvious, but... farting isn't - definitely - allowed to both landlord and hosts, also during loudest music climaxes and orchestral fortissimos... 






Ha!







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