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Friday, January 30, 2009

Cambodian audiophile scene... "Horns around the World" trip goes on...

My wife just returned from her two weeks in Laos and Cambodia's trip... she was quite scared to come back... no, not worried about home and her beloved little hairy dog Chicco (or myself, despite my several defects and flaws;-))... but well-tuned to the different clocking character of life in these exotic, so different places.
I had to manage about 1500+ digital pixes she shot, so had the rare opportunity, scaled down, to feel what she saw and smelled and tasted.
... BUT of the several images I saw, some really intrigued and knocked me: a threesome monks group in a Cambodia old monastery... playing Carlos Santana's cool guitar solos through a grunge, FANTASTIC, humble, cool little horn mono-system: a Temple-Blaster.
... no joints-smoke involved, but youth and music and audio gears are something which bond people everywhere.
... dedicated to the detractors of horns: strange also in those secluded places, someone took his ass out to build such a scary naked, but nonetheless, HORN-BASED mono system to enjoy music with guts and soul!
A cheaper, easier single speaker would have worked the same... but NO! They used horn speakers and, super-cool, battery fed amps... no surprise... an audiophile is an audiophile, everywhere!
Those young monks used an old battered, Mekong-river rescued metal horn and driver... maybe dumped and repaired... rust and mud inside the crappy amp, BUT music flowed, my wife told me... who knows the full story about this pieces of gear!?!
... enjoy, music-lover friends... and thanks, Mariella for the pictures and story!

... and Death always & unfortunately scores and wins: John Martyn died on Jan. 29th, 2009!

John martyn, the great singer, guitar player, musician, the author of "Solid Air" and others immortal songs, died yesterday Jan. 29th, 2009.

John Martyn

... few, VERY few musicians were so influential, yet free to follow their ispiration and soul... Bless the weather, Inside Out, Solid Air (dedicated to his friend Nick Drake), The Tumbler and many others tunes are deeply carved in my memory and have been a soundtrack to my life... again, World is a poorer place since yesterday.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Rocky Mountain Audio Festival 2008 and Consumer Electronic Show 2009 reports


An interesting, truly magnificient report from last Audio Consumer Show...

CES 2009's report with HD pixes 2D4


from last October 2008 RMAF...

RMAF 2008's report - please notice Schick's arm with Kimura Labs RS-3 Rotary-headshell and Otono-Edison Miyajima Labs. "Shilabe" cartridge... WOW!

... hey, pals... as we go, we MUST talk about first rate gears... like when chatting about cars, it's MUCH more intriguing and cool to talk about the last Porsche 911 or Ferrari... instead of a shitty, old, battered ".........." (instructions: fill-in the blank with your personal idea of such an "hens-cage mobile";-)))

Thanks to Loredana Livolsi, Robin Wyatt, Joe Roberts and Roman Bessnow.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Grand Canyon Syndrome

Everyone who had the breeze - yours truly, humbly, included - to play alive in front of an audience, small or large isn't important... well, those know what I'm talking about!
The Grand Canyon Syndrome, which is illness and drug together, happens at first notes, no... few milliseconds before the first notes.
I experienced it twice in my life as a part-time musician: you don't see anyone in the audience because of the lights, and your senses are experiencing an utmost attention, you hear the electrons in the air;-), feel, more than smelling, the heavy purple colour curtain in front of you, while it's ineluttably opening... it's like you're on the threshold of the Grand Canyon, with no ropes or parachute... instead with an uneseful wooden instrument in yr. hands... as inappropriate as wearing a scuba-suit while going at yr. first date with a lady.
I swear I "felt" this... and you know people is over there, in the dark, dozens and dozens eyes, brains, hearts all waiting for anything you'll decide to do: you can freaky go laughing, playing with a reversed guitar, farting... you feel omnipotent, invincible and SOOOOO naked... by convention, tradition and common sense, anyone seated at the center of a stage with an acoustic guitar is perceived as a musician, not a juggler or a freak... so the vertigo, the threshold-like sensation, like it came, it goes... and fingers go and sound spreads... like World goes on.
I recently acquired from a friend the complete series of EMI "Reflexe" - "Stationen Europaischer Musik" in ten record-boxes... about 70 records in 120 percent unplayed conditions, which my friend purchased back in the '70s - one every month, as they were quite expensive in their hey days - because, as he told me: "... he liked the covers..."
I had, bought in the years, maybe a dozen sparse issues from this huge goldmine of good taste, good music and good playing and care for details (cloth covered boxes, recording, liner notes, playing) truly coming from a lesser rushy time... but when I finally purchased the whole lot, I felt like I finally closed a circle.
I'm lovingly, fondly exploring this "opus magna" with respect, like walking in a temple where monks meditate... and... amazing, I'm playing on my turntable a disc of lute duets: Paul O'Dette and Hopkinson Smith and, to my surprise... I feel, clearly hear and feel, the above sense of (musicians) being behind a threshold, like in real life... a palpable sense of wait before the first note flowing, the air at the recording venue is thick, solid... not noisy, despite the usual beloved (of mine) birds singing in the background, but "still"... like before it rains.
... when Music flows, at last... it's an orgasm, a fire which gently move the air in my music room, as well... air which is about 30 years old, but real air; in the record(s) pauses the sense of an "event", more than simply a "listening" is dramatic.
Like Frank Zappa's Peter Occhiogrosso bio reading, they should play these records in the primary schools... sure more and more youngers would choose music, instead of... a lesser life in a lesser world.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Music, analog audio and the art of cooking

Rare, expensive, sought after... but would you eat a raw white truffle? Was thinking about this no-reply question... a no-problem, would say. Why?
As you know I'm an avid music lover and an humble audio experimenter and searcher, (almost) never afraid or worried to try, be wrong first to be right later on... knowing, learning, trying and trying again... and thinking and being curious about things.
My limit, maybe, the words to explain my findings, but tireless and sincere, nonetheless.
The above to be better understood, 'cause something strange is going on, folks... music listening at home and the noble art of analog audio fine tuning isn't sure the bigger problem humanity has these days... Israel, recession, air-wrecks, crisis, wars... yes, I know: world isn't a quiet place and my chatting could prove too light... but I'm sure that like my mother told decades ago, if people love (more) flowers (nature), Music, pets (nature again)and cooking there would not be wars anymore... I love ALL the above and, I'm - pretty sure - not alone.
Cooking: I quoted above... it's a matter of care, luck, science, adventure and art... the greatest recipes came from chefs who tried a lot, worked hard to learn their skill, but most of all, they did their homeworks: respectfully leaerned and loved tradition, then re-reworked it, sometimes combining unfriendly stuffs - i.e. salt and sweet, fruit and vegetables, fish and meat, local and ethnic, too... eating awful, filthy meals, maybe, to find the rarest of rare: haute-cuisine, creative cooking - i.e. best raw ingredients with most proper aesthetic, quantity and perfect tasting, a nectar, a summa, a great dish is able to hint memories of childhood, travels, a love.. and still being palatable to any non-esoteric mouth and wallet. Easy, isn't it?!?
But... what about the above mentioned white truffles?... who in the world would eat such a gem out of the dirt?... a truffle needs a fresh egg, a pasta to be at its best, complete.
... so, analog audio art of fine tuning: arm, turntable, cartridge and related stuffs sound, NOW, much better and noble and "right", isn't it?!? It's not in any given part, but in the sum of them.
I was thinking quite often since some weeks ago to give a try to an accessory I guessed would have improved my 301 Shindo: a Micro CU-180 copper mat, weird, expensive, weighting 1800 grams, or if you prefere 1,8 kilos and costing an arm and a leg.
Must be crazy, I guessed... then my friend Alessandro posted a pix of one of his 301 with... a CU-180!
Beautiful it sure was, but he didn't say nothing about the sound he obtained.... and curiosity kills the cat, pals;-)
I took a pause, then, few days ago, after some WEB surfing, I found the most variable price-tags... say from EUR 300 to 1K... found an affordable deal and I bought it... voilà!
My CU-180 arrived in nice shape, and after cleaning it from fingerprints of previous owner, I gave a first listen, at last.
My 301 Shindo uses a gun-metal 6 kilos platter and a leaded cloth mat weighting 800 grams... I was using one of my piano-red felt mat, then the Shindo mat, then a pig-skin mat, then record... WOW... completely nut, you'll say, but it's like combining a recipe, blending components for a dish... I listened to several combinations and the one I described above was the last and better sounding.
... I began to change mats, like ingredients of a recipe, and newly combine them, with the new CU-180: platter, Shindo's mat, CU-180... blaaaaah... awful results.
OK, I've been wrong and wasted money... it's a cool mat, BUT doesn't work, I guessed... re-try: platter, wool, CU-180 and pig-skin... better, slightly better, BUT still prefering the previously used combo... enough for this evening, I told myself, a couple days ago.
This evening, in the right mood, gave a re-try: here we go... platter, wool felt mat, pig-skin AND CU-180... gave a listen and I'm listening right now...
... I'd must say... EUREKA... always same VTA, so no possiblity to be fooled... it's a matter of materials matching, taming or resonating in a different way, vinyl and cartridge make a lot of... confusion, sometimes.
So what? I'm amazed, I began listening to a couple of well-known records: lute music, Toyohiko Satoh on Telefunken playing Mouton, de Visee and other French composers... recorded in a church in Haarlem, The Netherlands and my beloved "birds and lute" disc... Anthony Bailes on German EMI Reflexe and again french composers... Tonmeister Johann-Nikolaus Matthes did a masterpiece, in transparence and trueness, BUT most of all... the masterpiece is what I'm able to listen to... it's not a merit of a single "ingredient", but an holy, heavenly match found by chance!
I can't describe the TONS of air and inner micro-details appears like new... from a recording I VERY intimately know... the sensation, the feeling is like I'm able to walk behind the musician, I swear, and hear utterly clear birds singing, being able to understand if their singing come from the roof of recording venue or lower, out of the window... and cars and people chatting during a pause in the recording which I NEVER heard before... Incredibile! Staggering! Mind-boggling! Epoustouflant!
Would describe it as a lysergic experience... better: an "open-chakra mode" kind-of experience... the problem, I told you, are the words.
Nothing special, anyway... as a chef I found the right butter and the freshest egg for a magnificient white truffle my dog found in the wood. It's no hype, just hearing... plain and simple as breathing.
What's utterly important is - again - I'm a step nearer to Music.
That's it and nothing matters than this.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

More interesting stuffs from the WEB...

Hi folks... here is a modest contribution to audio advancement and good taste, shaped as quoting some links I found while browsing and surfing the Net... they're truly useful, entertaining and displaying seldom seen items and infos.

David's Treasure Cave

Western Electric replicas from China

An interesting, well done, polite Forum: Audio for Gentlemen

An incredible collection (and some very nice newly made stuffs)

Slate Plinths

Charlie's site: dandy, gourmet, bespoken audio

... and some audio musings, why not:

Drew Daniels' audio bewares - right or wrong, a worthy reading

Thanks to Charlie Azzolina, David Beetles, Steve Clarke and Drew Daniels.


Monday, January 5, 2009

Maybe the best Web find in 2008!

The Magic World of Lukasz Fikus, aka Dr. Lampizator
After several late evening chatting with my friend Christian from Munchen, I was someway forced to re-purchase the old, humble Philips CD-104 disk player from the early '80s.
An hard task expected the old player... winning on my reference "Just Quality - Proudly Made in China" 24 bit disk player... and in fact, no surprise, it lost in every parameter where JQ is a winner, a wolf in sheep skin... EUR 39,99... the inner clock or what the hell it is clicking while playing, sometimes a disk isn't palatable to JQ's... BUT it's - since now - my top player... more than Studer A-730, more than EMT 982... AH!
The CD-104 was hi-fish sounding, no lysergic inner details as I'm used to... but... "drums in the background"... 'twas now, while browsing, I found Dr Lampizator!
He's a good taste master and a knowledge-well and it's so amusing reading his nice english - euro-style, like we all write in Europe... audio Esperanto;-)))
His endless, untired and untiring surveys and try and mods and tweaks and soldering and listening are giving to him a WEB-King status - i.e. spreading, like himself call himself;-) a self-named Prometheus... and sharing and being polite and kind and well informed and true and not using knowledge as a weapon but as a friendly and friendship instrument... and witty enough to avoid a deprecable, boring self-incensation: he evaluated dozens CD players, from the humblest to the noblest or most expensive and what he founds is AMAZING!!! Every nuance in sound, schematics, parts is carefully, lovingly discussed and analyzed for every disk player... a truly SUPERB job!
Browse at yr. convenience... it's a true goldmine;-)))
Thanks a lot, Lukasz: I'm learning a lot from you.
Greetings from Italy to Poland and Happy New Year!