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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Pasquale Taraffo harp-guitar genius

Such a weird instrument only randomly played by a bunch of daredevils, late Michael Hedges, Muriel Anderson, Travis Bowman, Don Alder, Andy McKee, Stephen Bennett, Alex de Grassi and a few others, had in Italian-born Pasquale Taraffo THE most prominent virtuoso.

Talking about 1920/1933, folks!

Read here and learn more about such an unique musician... grab the out-of-print double disks set, as I did, while supplies last... it's a time-machine experience!

A musician whose influence and wizardry go on and on to our present days.

Italians does it better;-)

Monday, March 28, 2016

Dummy at Work - binaural recording revamped!

... not a coming-and-going passion, but something to stay strong in my mikes stable.

If Chesky Bros. choose to dedicate a series to Binaural recording, well... it's renaissance of such a great, seldom seen and used technique.

Results are NOT only great through ear-speakers, but also while listening to speakers...

Buy as I did a cheap, pre-owned Sennheiser MKE 2002, or a nice price Soundman OKM or buy a slightly more expensive 3Dio's from Japan or invest an arm and a leg for a Neumann KU100 or sell a kidney for a B&K 4100 head/torso...

... and enjoy recording the world as our ears hears it... or so.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Ishtar, Easter, Ostara, Aphrodite, Spring... whatever...

Ishtar, Easter, Ostara...  an historic hoax or pure esoteric truth, don't know... intriguing matter, anyhow... and, to some extent - the proof religions - someway - copy-catted previous myths and deities.

Happy day everyone, whatever you think or believe...

It's re-birth, springtime, brave new world, resurrection... and sure women-related, as our ladies are the origin of life.

Enjoy... let's think positive, let's make love, NOT war! Let's seek for peace!!!

That's Easter.

... and to loose those rabbits and eggs!

That's for kids;-)

Friday, March 25, 2016

A shame: Grind at Faroe Islands... killing pilot whales as a joke!

Traditions, they call it... a deadly tradition, centuries old, where men, women, kids... stop their daily activities to transform themselves into a cohort of assassins, chasing and hunting these mammals and then cutting them in pieces... only as a joke!

No food needed... no... only as a joke! Hundreds and hundreds of them, every year!

Violence is a virus, folks!

Such a shame! Only Sea Shepherd voluntaries try to fight this sick people and their ill-fated habits... while Danish army and police simply and de-facto agrees about Grindadrap, protecting and blessing these barbarians! Guilty as well and more, as international and european laws speaks clearly on the matter!


Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Think Pink

Pink Moon is my own Desert Island disc…  and not only because it’s on… Island record label;-)


I bought my first copy in mid-seventies, when I was working as a part-time salesman during summer, at a local disc shop… it was a shock and instant love.


After Pink Moon I got Bryter Layter and the first one… but the naked beauty of Pink Moon remains shiny in my heart and discotheque.


I only several years later the a.m. purchase realized I got a sought-after first, very early pressing of this seminal gem!


Textured cover, palm tree label,  ILPS 9184-A/B-1U-matrix… the real thing.


The disc is in mint conditions as I always respected every disc in my collection and this one more than the others…  


The collector’s frenzy brought me - some years ago – to also buy all three classic Nick Drake’s discs on 200 grams Japanese pressings, with OBI and everything at its place and… God forgive me… also the Swedish pressing on… pink colored wax.

 The disc, I’ve been told, is a bootleg… a boots, a fake, unauthorized by the Nick Drake Estate… but… it’s such a lovely, cute disc.


The sound quality isn’t comparable to the first pressing, the real thing… reportedly, the above pink vinyl copy was mastered… from a CD!


Also the super cool, exotic Japanese pressings of Pink Moon, Bryter Layter and Nick Drake aren’t as good as the original English first pressings, also if sporting silky, smooth textured covers and all… simply the sound on the heavy weight discs is someway, yet slightly veiled and less airy than originals.


… but, nonetheless and everything considered, I love that pink vinyl Pink Moon pirate disc.  

Amarcord - David Bowie and Steven Wilson

Amarcord... remembering, fondly...

The pleasure when in my early teens, usually on Saturday afternoon, going to the disc shop and purchasing one disc, the one I read about or I listened at the radio.

Cherishing it while going home and placing on the turntable... closing my eyes and flying... or rocking... or...

A new disc was pure happiness!

Now, buying a lot of discs, sometimes only having one side per disc and then placing them on a shelf, waiting for a further listen, which sometimes doesn't happen...


Yesterday I got the new Steve Wilson's "4 1/2" vinyl-disc on Kscope and, after someway digesting the pain for David Bowie untimely death, also had the "Blackstar" 180 grams gem, ready for a listen... I wasn't having Gotorama in a week or so, so when I turned ON the large system, I got the usual emotional shock... sort-of "Hey, sounds soooo goooood!"

... and - cannot say why this happens, once in a while - I felt younger, in my teens... like on a Saturday afternoon, in my little, single-bed room, with a brand-new disc.

Steve Wilson's skills - as a musician and a producer and a studio maven, so fond of old, good sounds - i.e. mellotron, ARP and mini-moog, tubes amps and compressors, tape, analog recorders and acoustic guitars to die for! - are first class.

He's able in virtually ALL his records to sound brand new and to suggest in a few notes, the very best of CSNY, King Crimson, Gentle Giant, Caravan... no copycatting the above, just hinting and making heart beating stronger...

Waiting for next song, to repeat the magic...

The recording is superb, sounds so right... dynamics are awesome.


Blackstar... Lazarus... the David Bowie's last disc, his testament was played by yours truly like a pagan ceremony, a loving act for a musician who represented for myself and millions of others a best friend, a mentor, a big brother and a father, an endless inspiration and a safe harbor...

I took off the 180 grams vinyl slab from the potentially scratching thick transparent inner-sleeve and placed it in a Nagaoka rice-paper premium sleeve, I handled the black thing only after carefully washing my hands, to avoid fingerprints on the delicate black-mat cover.

Only after this preparatory moments and care, I placed the disc on the Garrardzilla's platter, centered the TTWeight peripheral-ring, then the bronze clamp and...

Tears... after decades and dozens of discs... how such a masterpiece is possible?

Where such an inspiration comes from?

Was David Bowie human or extraterrestrial? Why he so much loves humankind?

Is Tony Visconti a medium?

... not kidding: I was in tears while listening, at last, to Lazarus... no more in low-fi radio or while driving, but in glorious majesty, in my studio... with my system.

Felt blessed... enriched... better... and soooo sad.


Monday, March 21, 2016

Twogoodears goes Mono & Stereo

... or is it Mono & Stereo which goes Twogoodears, sometimes...

Both and none of the above, maybe.

Yet, I've been a loyal and hungry reader of Matej Isak's great site for years, now... I sipped great inspiration from him, as I recognized Matej to be among the very, very few to have an untamed passion and interest about everything music and audio, yes, this is the right order to be kept, IMO...

His industry insight is really unique and himself, like me, uses the social networks to be 24/24-7/7-365/365 connected to the world, as both a sharing and inspiring place, better: a plaza where to gather and enjoy and have good time.

The esteem is reciprocal, of course, and Matej is a friend... and a very talented one.

Matej, myself and (only) a few others I'm aware of, consider our passion as a part of us, much more than a mere hobby, as important as an arm or the ears, themselves.

We're not slaves of the market... the doubt and the improving is something I'm seeking for and - hopefully - I will never consider me as "done!" or "arrived".

The path I'm walking - like Matej, I'm pretty sure - is much more rewarding, so full of interesting, amazing people and experiences than any piece of gears.

Music is bonding, peaceful, incredibly mysterious humus for life.

So, folks... see you more and more on Mono & Stereo pages, as an invited contributing writer/reviewer.


Mr. Sennheiser - more thoughts...

The best companion, folks… Mr. Sennheiser is always silent, patient and passionate about music and an avid concert-goer like yours truly.

The Sennheiser MKE-2002 dummy-head and matching binaural microphones is always with me since I recently purchased it, about one month ago.

Thanking this seldom seen microphone, I re-discovered the pleasure to record the several live concerts going on in my town during springtime: classical, ancient music, jazz… I could spend almost everyday recording at concerts during March, April and next May… and everyone is so curious about the dummy-head and the technical background.

Mr. Sennheiser is an extremely classy gent and loves people chatting near and about him;-)

As an example, last Saturday I got at noon a cembalo Bach, Couperin, Scarlatti and Mozart concert… at 3 P.M., a viole da gamba consort (Bach) and at 5 P.M. Baroque lute and violin…

Mr. Sennheiser, with his blue, Tuareg-like head, is flawlessly capturing a sparkling and zesty sound at 24bit/96hhz via the Apogee Duet… straight into my Mini iPad… a quite light and easy recording rig compared to moving my G36/de Parravicini or the Nagra IV-S.

I previously recorded, last Tuesday, a double-bass and piano duo, playing music of Bottesini and, well… the extreme dynamics peaks of the duo weren’t the easier to be captured and sure the digital +0db isn’t the best if you recorded for decades on tape…

Yet, digital recording and friendly use is better than no recording, at all.

Sennheiser MKE-2002… well, the small 9V-fed condenser mikes are surprising in quality… not as sexy as the super-expensive in-ear capsules Neumann KU-100 (Mr. Fritz), the Sennheiser’s sound is special through earspeakers, but, as also Chesky Bros. do, when recording with B&K 4100 torso/head dummy, the listening experience through speakers is strange and incredibly rewarding; sound is slightly boxy, at times, but very, VERY natural… ambience is AWESOME… the uncompressed 24bit/96khz sound is so different from our conventional disks… native, uncompromised digital may sound as good as best analog, to my old ears…  

B&K 4100

A small, personal revolution… waiting for Santa’s gift… I already asked him for a Sound Device 633 or 722T.

Living music is… IS!  

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

John Fahey forever!

I've been - and still I am after more than 40 years - a John Fahey scholar and lover... his music changed my life, I dare saying without shame...

After decades of enjoying and digging his countless discs, reading his dadaist prose and the like, in 2014 I bought Claudio Guerrieri's JF Handbook Vol. 1.

I was stoned by Claudio's so in-deep dissecting of Fahey's opus... down to the tiniest detail in cover, crossed references to race-records, episcopal hymns, poetry and assorted literature.

A read which doesn't end with reading the last page of the bulky, thick book, but continues for years of re-re-reading pleasure.

Few days ago, I learned that Vol 2 was published and... voilà... I got it.

Dr. Claudio Guerrieri made it, again!

The book is always a thick, juicy volume, to par with Vol. 1, full of cool stories and pixies and a detailed, complete gigography of the Man and... and... and...

I'm reading, untired since the book arrived... this reading propelled a new interest in re-listening to some records in my almost complete Fahey's discography and... what a Genius he was, folks!

Thanking Dr. Claudio Guerrieri for this true statement and the effort in researching... no artist ever got such an in-deep treatment and comments about his art, not Bob Dylan or other seminal artists.

The books aren't cheap, but they're worth every bucks... so grab them: they're an investment, as well.

P.S. - a new, revised version of Vol.1 is available... maybe worth buying this, now...

Sunday, March 6, 2016

A.T.A.S.™ - The glorious sound of an All Tube Audio System™

A.T.A.S.... yes, All Tube Audio System... just kidding on trademark, folks;-)))

Yesterday afternoon, a lazy, super lazy rainy saturday afternoon, I connected the mighty Revox/De Paravicini's G-36 High Speed to Thomas Mayer/Cunningham CX-310 Line stage and Partridge 300B mono blocks, straight to the Cabasse Dinghy 221... listened to some master dubs and... well, Baron De Paravicini made something on this machine!

The sound is so perfect... lots of details that also MUCH more expensive, famous and sought after open-reels cannot beat... getting near, but not beat, period!

So, to anyone interested in purchasing this very one-of-a-kind G-36 on steroids, as I stupidly advertised on the recent Spring Yard Sale... thanks for your interest and feedback, but the recorder stays with me.

... yes, Norman, you're right: never sell something you like only because you have too many gears which you do not use this often... you'll regret this for rest of your life... and this is the case.

People asking for rebates, dreamers, wannabes, time-wasters.. no, thank you!

Premium audio is for tough people, only... and this G 36 is too good to let it go;-)

The beauty of a full tube system is something seldom heard, folks: the sense of rightness is amazing... everything is so quick, natural and smooth.... despite (or thanking) the single speaker, crossover-less Cabasses'!

So, nor sell good, beloved gears without giving a last, careful listen, neither mixing tubes and solid-state!

Lesson of the day - I will not mix Thomas Mayer's triodes preamps with Hiragas',  anymore... write it 100 times on the blackboard, Bart... ahem, Bertoncello;-)

Thanks to my friend Norman S. for empathy.

I owe you a beer, pal.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

The Human Folia - breathing, living, playing...

On last Tuesday, at the local Conservatory of music concert, one more time, I had a silly, humble illumination of-sort… attending at a concert, everyone notice that musicians, from top concertists to just graduated musicians, they look at each others and, after taking a deep breathe, they begin to play.

This breathing is something deeply linked, connected to time – both as music time signature and clock-related -  and playing, both solo or ensemble, no difference.

Being also a guitar player, I noticed how taking a breathe before playing a tune, also for pleasure or rehearsing, changes the overall performance, truly affecting the tone, concentration and self-consciousness, I dare.

A young, handsome cello player, Cristina Vidoni, showed this soooo well: last evening she was so much concentrated when taking her breathes… she almost transfigured herself into a quieter, yet feverish persona, her face both relaxed and anxious, taut.

The playing on Vivaldi’s “La Folia” was awesomely intricated and exceedingly complicate… fingering and positions on cello fingerboard were so various and an high-speed playing was required.

The breathing was accelerated, sure following music tempo…

Yesterday,  I tried myself in front of a large mirror I use when rehearsing, at home… my Lowden S-35 and me, seated, at late night, in the silent house, dimmed lights… I was playing some my own (little) compositions and… well: taking a deep unison breathe with the first notes plucked gave to me a deep connection with the action, itself… like a root to Earth, through the feet, then to the hands and the strings and wooden instrument.

It’s so natural and embarrassingly easy… I tried to play very same tunes without taking a breathe at the beginning and… I played worst than before.

I guess I’ll begin to listen to music taking a deep breathe before the beginning of a track, as well… who knows?

Maybe it will sound different… or, when I so enjoy a listening session, I take, automatically, a breathe and this enhances things…

Maybe that's crazy... the human folia.

Mr. Sennheiser or the healing of an ill dummy head

Maybe also a dummy has a soul... I remember some cool footages where the yellow/black heads dummies where sort-of breaking before hitting the wall at full throttle...

With these images in my mind, I recently purchased a Sennheiser MKE 2002 dummy-head and matching binaural condenser microphones, to record the weekly concerts at the local conservatory of music or, shame on me, to document my solo guitar elucubrations.

The price was good, but... the dummy-head had a dip on top, an hollow.

Nothing to stop my purchase, yet... when I got the parcel and handled the "damaged" head, I began to think "how" to solve the issue.

The ash-tray-like dip...

While I was only tinkering on the matter, when I shared the above with my pal Lo, he immediately noticed a small hole near the threaded hole for mike-boom and instead of saying "let's try with a metal bar" he said "I'll try with some compressed-air!"

The day after I got a detailed description of the procedure he used to solve the dip.

... because, YES, he definitely was successful!

Lo used some air-compressor, but also if the dip was moving, it returned back as a depression... like a flat, punctured soccer-ball pumping.

What he made - genious - was heating with a paint-shop heavy-duty heater the top of the hollow head to soften the stiff blue plastic and using compressed-air, in the meantime, both to pump the head from the underside hole and to cool down the previously heated part... repeating the process several times, the dipped surface returned round like it should be.

The sphinx-like face of the Sennheiser's dummy-head changed - to my eyes - his raw, shapeless face into a lips-less subtle smile;-)

Thanking Lo...

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Spring Yard Sale - Westrex, Marantz, Tannoy Gold, Tannoy Red, etc.

After recently posting the sale of Ohm F omni-speakers pair, a trusty and loyal friend of mine, is going to sell more of his carefully chosen and lovingly kept nuggets.

Will post hi-rez pixies, soon...

Interested parties: please contact yours truly at stefanocello<at>gmail<dot>com for further instructions re. payment, crating, shipping, etc.

For the moment, here is a preview list, just to make you mouth-watering;-)

- Hiraga/Le Monstre original kit 4-chassis 8W Class A, ready for automotive battery feeding;
- Rappaport J-fet preamp 117V - the real one!
- single Quad II with Mullard tubes
- Ohm F omni-speakers (yes, still for sale)
- Scott 350 tuner 117V
- Philips 800 ohm wide-band
- Tannoy HPD rubber surround 10"
- Tannoy Gold 10" paper surround - gorgeous
- Tannoy Red 15" with crossover - gorgeous
- 15 x NOS/NIB Mullard EL38
- 2 x STCC 6V6G '30s
- Wadia 2000 4-chassis digital converter
- Dynavector DV6A Silver MC step-up
- Fidelity Research XF-1 Low MC step-up
- 1972 Fender Pro Reverb amp (USA), perfect!


... and some of my own cherry-picked goodies for sale, as well: also downsizing my stable, but... not for cheap;-)

- Marantz 10B 117V with cabinet
- Marantz 7C 220V with cabinet
- TacT RCS 2.2 XP Silver 220V NIB
- Garrard 301 grey hammertone/silver platter (with early grease-shaped oil bearing) in 35 kilos birch plinth, silver automotive painting, ready for 12" arm
- Radford HD-250 integrated amp
- Westrex 15" 2080 pair - gorgeous, extremely rare
- Ortofon RMG 309i NOS/NIB, with original Blue 8N TSW1000 cable

Stay tuned for pixies... prices are EXTREMELY interesting!

Upon request, a minimum, given price-tag will be stated, but O.N.O. or O.B.O. will be evaluated; by end of March the auction will end.

First come, first served.