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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Paris>Istanbul>Shanghai>Texas - Joel Grare's Barock'n'Roll music



Enjoyed this disk greatly, this evening... Gotorama was truly giving its best... great music played on theorbo, double-bass, assorted percussions and bells, chinese erhu, cello...

The recording is also amazingly good, spacious, deep and airy... and music reminds... yes, you bet it: Ry Cooder's Paris,Texas... at least in some atmospheres and intent.





A lovely disk, issued on Alpha label, in 2007... brand new for yours truly... and for everyone who will decide to grab it.




The Dalai Lama is having the best time at Glastonbury festival.



His Holiness the Dalai Lama goes rock'n'roll...




Forever young...







Bernd & Hilla Becher - the shape of things





Love this German couple pictures... their vision belongs to artistry and  weirdness realm, the genius meaning finding the intrinsic poetry in ordinary buildings and their shapes... better: shape & function.


















Genius & obsession...




Saturday, June 20, 2015

Stephan the Nomad



Here is the new, upcoming 21st ECM disk by Stephan Micus... never tiring and always sounding brand-new, both modern and ancient.




Instant buy, for both my ears and soul.




Stephan driving his moped...









Tuesday, June 16, 2015

KLEI™gZero20 ICs cable or only the fool have no doubts!



During my recent cable trials activities, I had the rare opportunity to listen to the KLEI gZero20 from Australia, a premium quality cable which was handled directly from the hands of KL Eichmann, during MOC 2015, in Munchen.

Something should have clicked  - and maybe it did… - as KL was REALLY pushing me hard – proudly  so – to listen and taste and enjoy his new top-quality cable and to give it the time to mature and blossom, as copper crystals should stabilize… etc. etc.

You know, the usual blah, blah of getting accustomed to a new cable in a new environment/audio system…

I’m experiencing these days a periodic, sort-of tiredness re. Audio, its lingo and drama and the related dynamics among WEB-zines, magazines, Blogs and friends and shop chattings.

Everyone owns the Truth and wish to – literally – indoctrinate and convince everyone about this or that, quite boring for yours truly, actually.

I’m full of doubts, not truth, folks, as only the fool knows it all and never have doubts, ever!  

What I’m writing here is something I truly experienced, humbly...  these are my first hand, unreported findings and feelings.

Honestly said.

KL was so proud and confident about the stellar quality of his cable I felt reassured and connected my – I guess – more sensitive – signal-wise – area – i.e. the phono LCR/MC transformer/line-stage.

Listened - when still playing only few days ago with Musto’s Wazari and Yuko silver cables - for about 10 hours… I usually hate voodoo also if I do care about cables layout and some burning-in, I felt it was just OK expressing my very personal  thumb-up or down about the sonic strengths or weakness of the KLEI’s.

I expressed my very first thoughts and listening impressions to KL during a short email conversation and he – always calm and positive - simply told me… listen to them more and more…

Don’t get me wrong:  the nice sonic qualities were audible, but… some weeks ago I wished for more…

The KLEI cable wasn’t flashy, only extremely natural...



I decided to follow my instinct and, most of all, the maker wise suggestion… I changed the position of the gZero's in my system from phono/analog rig to digital and simply forgot about the cable… I listened to it every day for the last month or so… 3-4 minimum hours a-day…

A rough-counting… I reached about 100+ hours listening, now…

The sound from my Meridian’s DAC and transport sounded, both suddenly and abruptly, natural, open, clear  and detailed.

The first two parameters were, SURE were, lesser in the brand new cable… the continuous playing made something and the sound became day after day different and improving.

Will try to better explain myself with the following, instead of using the usual audio hypes…

My system is sounding to me like a Rudy Van Gelder’s recording: despite he used tubes mikes, he seeked and obtained a clear, detailed sound, maybe enhanced by the wooden domed studio the Master Recordist used most of his life.

The balance of the Van Gelder’s recording are a very delicate mix of smoothness and details… and everything must be preserved to get this beauty intact.

If I insert a “blanket” or a "curtain" somewhere in the chain, the slowness is immediately apparent.

Horns, violins, voices must keep their crispness and overtones… romantic sound isn’t nothing BUT an excuse for average sound… please forgive me: that’s my opinion.

The best reproduced sound is luscious and detailed... music or mood can be romantic... instruments aren't romantic, yet a rolled-off and forgiving sound can be defined as romantic if you feel "romantic"... definitely not my cup of tea.

All recordings must sound different from the previous and the next…

The sound in my system with KLEI gZero20 cable is something to be heard to be believed… the correctness, overall beauty of my digital rig, the broad and deep soundstage, the palpable presence of musicians, the size of musicians, instruments and recording venues is greatly improved to the limits of my discerning abilities, as I still cannot imagine if the improving will go on and on or I’ll get it a stop!

I also re-checked the KLEI’s between MC transformer and LCR and the result didn’t change from previous great results in digital rig: Rudy Van Gelder’s sound was preserved, untamed, liquid, crispy and effortless!

Tried with Partridge 300B mono blocks and Luxman AT-3000 passive preamp and Cabasse and... WOW!

This cable, physically unassuming, correctly, honestly priced and sized is like the superb KLEI plugs already in my system: I cannot think of my system without this balance, anymore.

A cable is only a brick of the whole system, but you know a badly conceived corner brick can destroy also most perfect building stability.

KL Eichmann’s cables are a statement of cable making art… only, PLEASE, as per KL Eichmann's suggestion: do not play them for less than 50-60 hours as settling-time, because the KLEI cables always require settling-time and also a long burn-in, pals!


This is very important, as burn-in time is >400hrs and even >500hrs, while settling-time is >6hrs and preferably >48hrs (once plugged and replugged).


Settling-time is the time between plugging in (connecting) the ICs between two components, then unplugging (unconnecting) the ICs. Even moving the ICs around may require fresh period of settling-time.


KLEI literature states the KLEI™gZero20 ICs require 48 hours settling time to properly settle and 60+ hours if you want superb results.


... so - hopefully - I do expect for even better and better;-)

Time and settling/burning-in and everything will blossom like I very seldom experienced, period.

A true pleasure, indeed and another Gotorama’s brick-in-place.



Thursday, June 11, 2015

R.I.P. Dept. - Ornette Coleman passed away.




He was 85... saw him in 1971, with Billy Higgins... 't-was in Padua, Italy: what a concert... a younger me was blown away by the free-form energy coming from his horn...


I still have his autograph inside a disc...


He - who invented free-jazz - is now free forever, now.






R.I.P. Ornette... your iconic yellow plastic sax will shine forever, as well.


Hip!






Karlheinz Stockhausen - The Man who came from Sirius




... it's how he defined himself... Karlheinz Stockhausen and his musique concrete were... ARE what almost desperately got nearer to the sound of the stars, of creation, of nucleus dividing and multiplying...



I own several of his Deutsche Gramophone discs and also if I listened to them once or twice, his ideal of manipulating and someway, literally, handling the music and its elements, the bricks it's made of, well... I'm so fond of this composer and his weird, uneasy opus.

Nonetheless, life isn't easy...




My love for open reel tape recorders maybe blossomed after seeing KHS and his Telefunken M10, who knows...

Here you can find of some interest knowing his performance tapes are available for... performance, only.





Saturday, June 6, 2015

CM2/Andrea Musto Silver cables - a must!




Cable making is like dicks and opinions: everyone has its own!

So, every tiniest town has a cable maker and the cliche is quite common - i.e. sometimes a retired or semi-retired gentleman in his sixties who's milking friends and friend of friends' wallets...

The thicker, the bulkiest, the better, usually... as a macho-oriented market diktat: if not being the thicker and most expensive cable, costing $$$$ it cannot be good enough!

If and when you have a chance to inspect inside an exotic, expensive cable, the surprise is... no surprise, at all: parts coming from plumbing, tailor, electric or automotive industries... never, ever any proprietary parts searched and auditioned, only hypes and bulkiness and high price tags to impress the wealthy gonzos.

The above is sure a pessimistic point of view, a possible scenery, but shit happens, and I'm aware of it as I saw the above with my own eyes.

... and ears?

What about sound?

As a rule of thumb, sound changes are audible also on short-runs, despite what some people is saying and same cable changes its sonic footprint depending on where it's used in a given system...

Nothing new under the sun, don't you?

I own several premium cables and still have a plethora of fine wires in my stable: Isoda, VdH, XLO, Cardas, Actinote, Mundorf, KLEI, Yamamura, Audio Consulting and... CM2/Musto.

Silver wires, since I established my Gotorama system, are my cables of choice, used in KLEI superb RCA plugs and signal and speakers wires, both cryo-treated, by Audio Consulting of Switzerland, the very best.

If going silver, copper cables should not be mixed, possibly... so, full silver cabled system is paramount for best sonic results... or so...

Litz is the most similar sounding cable to silver ones and I wisely and sparingly mixed this material with silver, to get just a tad of warmth: I only use Litz in digital domain - i.e. among disk-transports and DACs and line-stage preamp, all using great KLEI plugs.

Litz is clear, yet natural sounding: unboomy, yet beefy and rich both harmonically and emotionally.

Silver is about the same: surprising and involving, highs and mids are extremely detailed and smooth, but never veiled or too romantic.

Sounding right with both small and large scale music, electric, electronica, acoustic, jazz, folk or classical, everything should - and it does - click right and easy to the ears.

Again, nothing new from yours truly... the lingo and hypes are the usual BS... you know.

Enters Andrea Musto, a friend from Udine, Northern Italy, and his CM2 company: he's making audio goodies of highest quality in small quantities, using local artisans and utmost care for details.

A consummate audiophile and a golden eared gentleman, Mr. Musto is also a curious, skilled DIYer who began several years ago to twist and fiddle and twist cables as a passion and out of necessity, being chronic as an unsatisfied customer of industry made products, cables in primis.

Some years ago he mixed his knowledge of DIYer and his passion for music and using best available raw materials and some voodoo - i.e. 6N and 7N silver wire from Singapore, carbon fibre from UK, black tourmaline powder from Australia, silk flakes for the dielectric from China and some proprietary lacquer he found somewhere, he was in business.

Cable-making workmanship is purest, humble, unashamed home brewed while being soaked in Andrea's beloved classical music: time consuming, someway boring activities performed with old-time, by-hand work in an unstressed, friendly homely workshop.

Marketing?

Naaaahhh!!!

Andrea is not exception: he annoyed to death;-))) friends and friends of friends, as per above mentioned cliche, you know... begging for a trial, looking forward for a deal... maybe.

Hard work only partially alleviated by its part-time side job nature, an alternative to Mr. Musto daily job, actually.

A couple of years ago I had a "Yuko" 80 cm long, bespoke made cable, to be specifically used as an umbilical between Mayer's line and phono stages, as I also was looking for something more.

Andrea twisted and twisted and after about one month he delivered an impressive snake about 6 cm in diameter: this arc-shaped cable is something almost laughable and an eye-capturing thing in my whole system - more than Gotorama's horns - and sure a conversation topic, much more impressive thinking a minimalist AWG 20 (1 mm) 7N Solid silver cable is used throughout, well hidden inside the Yuko, itself.

Why such a monster-like, embarrassing size?

Silver solid wire is turmaline-powder coated by hand and stabilized with a lacquer, and soft silk flakes are used to stuff the inside of large outer fabric tube, making dielectric -  de facto - more physically airy than usually found in mass made, well-packed, stiff audiophile cables.

Yuko?

Mr. Musto is an accomplished judo-practicer since his boyhood and he uses judo-scoring japanese words to describe the class of merit and the sonic excellence reached by his creations.

Yuko entered in my system and... what happened?

Nothing and everything... a no-brainer and an addictive adding, as I immediately recognized The Sound of Music as supremely right... no way, the on-loan cable was purchased, pronto.

Every aspect was improved and enhanced vs. my previous references: Yamamura and XLO Reference Phono, namely.

... and Yuko was thereafter part of a complex system called Gotorama.




......

Yesterday, I got a visit from Andrea Musto who had in his briefcase an already broken-in cable, his last creation: Wazari, again using AWG 20 silver cable, this time a 6N wire and again Furutech RCA plugs, less bulky and extreme in appearance vs. my beloved Yuko's.

Me and the maker, himself, began a tandem-tasting, you know... same gain level and disc and track, plug & play the cables in same system position and repeating the procedure again and again...

The Wazari sounded - always used between Mayers' - less beefy and full-bodied on mid-low, yet a ton of improved detailing appeared from recording venue and musicians moving themselves in front of the mikes.





Wazari proved to sound surprisingly well and like its bulkier brother - my own Yuko - so neutral and not homogenized and able to differentiate among track and track of same disc, telling if mike positioning or recording venue was changed and the like.

A truly nice performance.

When back to Yuko (the BIG one), the Anthony Bailes' theorbo piece played with Wazari in place was easily forgotten, as it is part of my sound and Gotorama and DNA.

Swapping again to Wazari, it was 100% clear the clarity and airiness were someway improved, maybe at the expense of a lightness which makes the newer cable more sensitive to recordings quality, yet never becoming razor-like; the listening of my reference 45 rpm Sarastro's La Verite du Clavecin was proofing the excellence of the performance with an extremely difficult, yet superb recording.

A quality or a shortcoming being so recordings sensitive?

It depends: for the mature audiophile I am, this is cherry on the cake and a much appreciated challenge to find the balance between the Yuko's awesome body & detail and Wazari's detail & air.

What I did next was so easy to be lapalissian: I swapped again to Yuko between Mayers' and linked Triad K241 MC transformers and WE 437A Mayer's phono stage, replacing my old, trusty XLO Reference Phono.





Voilà!

Immediately the balance slightly but well audibly tilted on lightness of Wazari, yet keeping the Yuko full-bodied, so detailed and beefy sound: just that ounce of more I felt as possible when only tasting the Wazari, alone.

An XLO Phono Reference will be for sale, soon.

Andrea Musto's cables, his honesty, care for details and MOST OF ALL, sheer musical bliss obtainable with his wires, the above mentioned Yuko and Wazari, well... are truly a rare find, these flawed days.

When sharing my impressions during and after our listening, yesterday, in my studio, Mr. Musto briefly talked about his next level of excellence which will be possibly called Ippon, another judo-scoring term, meaning a full point of excellence.

The very best.

A good idea, indeed as... also my Wikipedia search confirmed the progression... Yuko, Wazari, Ippon.

Cool!

... but I nonetheless suggested to my pal a less exotic name and milieu... silly me ;-)

CM2/Musto MUST premium cables... only after this statement, will be OK quoting the Japanese judo-related names.

Jokes apart, believe me... it will sure prove worthwhile contacting Mr. Musto at andrea<DOT>musto<AT>mustocta<DOT>it if searching/seeking for the ultimate, bespoke cable.






Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Ikea Turntable




... aehm, actually made of Ikea-sourced parts... yet, SUPERB and clever...










Cool!