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Thursday, June 30, 2016

.... more R. Crumb's...


Robert Crumb's priorities...

... which I totally agree.

Jean Hiraga's new reviewing effort...

I recently got this email from M. Jean Hiraga:

Hello Stefano,

How are you ?

You know probably french audio magazine Vumetre in which editing staff come partly from NRDS and Stereo Prestige.

On last issue N°5, may june 2016,  there is an article titled " "Secrets of Musicality in Audio".  In the past, we had only few days for writing a paper in L'Audiophile or in NRDS magazine. For this one, I had to spend more than six months to write it, to find in my precious archives collected from the 70's related details.

Vumetre editor staff informed me today that this issue has a great success and that only few copies are available now, just few days after his launching few days ago. I have just one copy for me. You can buy one copy at : 

Best regards,

Jean  Hiraga

I suggest everyone in the mood or having the right amount of curiosity for the always enriching Hiraga's essays to take the chance and order nr. 5 issue of Vumetre magazine, while supplies last.

You won't regret.

Thanking Jean Hiraga for consideration and for his wisdom and absolute passion about everything music and audio.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

When insults had class

 These glorious insults are from an era before the English language got boiled down to 4-letter words.

A Member of Parliament to Disraeli: "Sir, you will either die on the gallows or of some unspeakable disease."
"That depends, Sir," said Disraeli, "whether I embrace your policies or your mistress."

"He had delusions of adequacy." - Walter Kerr

"He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire." - Winston Churchill

 "I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure." - Clarence Darrow

"He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary." - William Faulkner ( about Ernest Hemingway ).

"Thank you for sending me a copy of your book; I'll waste no time reading it." - Moses Hadas

"I didn't attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it." - Mark Twain

"He has no enemies, but is intensely disliked by his friends." - Oscar Wilde

 "I am enclosing two tickets to the first night of my new play; bring a friend ... if you have one." - George Bernard Shaw to Winston Churchill.
"Cannot possibly attend first night, will attend second.... if there is one." - Winston Churchill, in response.

"I feel so miserable without you; it's almost like having you here." - Stephen Bishop

"He is a self-made man and worships his creator." - John Bright

"I've just learned about his illness. Let's hope it's nothing trivial." - Irvin S. Cobb

"He is not only dull himself; he is the cause of dullness in others." - Samuel Johnson

"He is simply a shiver looking for a spine to run up." - Paul Keating

"In order to avoid being called a flirt, she always yielded easily." - Charles, Count Talleyrand

"He loves nature in spite of what it did to him." - Forrest Tucker

"Why do you sit there looking like an envelope without any address on it ?" - Mark Twain

"His mother should have thrown him away and kept the stork." - Mae West

"Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go." - Oscar Wilde

"He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp-posts ... for support rather than illumination." - Andrew Lang ( 1844 - 1912 )

"He has Van Gogh's ear for music." - Billy Wilder

"I've had a perfectly wonderful evening. But this wasn't it." - Groucho Marx

"Let us not accept mediocrity in the guise of building self esteem."

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

June 27th

... yesterday -  June 27th - was just a nice evenience for yours truly - i.e. my birthday... but... what happens if while I browsed in my discotheque for some music, to have a relaxed listen before dinner... I randomly picked up my mono copy of Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention's "Freak Out!" on Verve?

Nothing... it's only a seminal, cool, great double discs-set by one of the most beloved musicians and composers, ever...

... but... ho, hooo... hey!

It was originally issued... right-on June 27th, 1966.

Only a chance?

So... happy birthday, Freak Out!... and happy birthday to me...

... just a little mind-boggled, I continued my FZ's-moment-listening with "Lumpy Gravy" first side.

Strange world it is!

Saturday, June 25, 2016

New sonic myths - Elton Dean (CBS S-64539 - 1971)

... of course it's provoking... a 1971 disc cannot be, per-se, new... or not?

New is - to me - if it now sounds like-new to my ears, shining and amazingly satisfying and new - as well - to many of you, so...

I had this very wax for many decades, now... but only recently, as today, I'm fully, completely able to enjoy it from first to last groove, as in my aural memory it sounded like an extremely heavy listening experience: ultra dynamic, live recorded at Advision Studios in London in May 1971, the shimmering cymbals are very life-like and loud, VERY loud... sure not an easy task for smaller tweeters as someone so often simply forget that high frequencies aren't less loud than miss or lows!

Now completed Gotorama sings with aplomb and ease... an awesome performance, indeed.

I suspect only my cherry-picked, sought after, beloved Lumiere DST and Neumann DST be really able to so well render the impressive blend of drums, cornet, sax, electric piano and electric and double bass without blurring and confusing this beauty.

On the long first side first track "Ooglenovastrome" music is truly lysergic (like the title itself;-)), a so English free-jazz, and the audio system is asked for its very best to stand killer dynamics and non blurring the climax...

You should be able to follow with no effort all the layers and instruments inter-vowing to each others back and forth.

Soundstage is extremely broad and far exceeding speakers side boundaries, still keeping a rock-solid center-stage.

Marvellous, timeless music!

This disc makes to my ears the pair with Hugh Hopper - always a Soft Machine's member and a long-time friend and collaborator of Elton Dean in several, different combos - and his "1984".

This music - like electric Miles' - sounds to me like the perfect soundtrack for my actual mood: makes my blood flowing at a different speed and makes me happy.

I was almost in tears listening to last album track "Part: The Last"... just wanted more and more!

Isn't music about this, uh?

Find your copy and enjoy music and sonics, pals.


It's me... and my oblomovism is thankful;-)

The Ecotono ceramic iPhone horn

Made in Italy... hand-made, nice, elegant, cheap, small footprint... high WTF... enjoying right now.

For Apple 3S (for the grunge among us;-)), 4S, 5S and 6S... and similar sized mobiles.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

The DST revamped... Audio Technica AT-ART 1000 Direct Power Stereo cartridge

Everybody goes Direct, these days, folks…

In cartridges world, after boron and ruby cantilevers, agatha and lapislazuli bodies, and silver-wire coils, the Nirvana is DST aka DPS – i.e. just a few turns of ultrathin OFC wire to obtain a non-magnetic core coil placed within the minuscule 0,6 mm gap of a powerful magnetic circuit.

Where I already read about this approach?

Is it a new patent, or…?

Of course it’s not!

Look at the coils!

From Neumann DST and DST 62 to Victor MC L-1000, from Lumiere DST to Leonid Sinitsin’s Tzar DST to Audio Technica AT-ART1000, all the above uses the above briefly described concept and building approach.

… but it’s not only the shortest distance from diamond to coils, as also Deccas’ and Ikeda 9 are very rigidly built,  cantileverless designs… so what?

The uniqueness of the above mentioned cartridges is the VERY precision job needed in turning the micro-coils and aligning in the gap… unbalance and inconsistency in Left/Right balance and frequency at 1khz is quite common and varies quite worrying and wildly from sampler to sampler…

VTF, for example is always an issue in virtually all DST’s carts: Neumann DST are 6.5 grams, DST 62 5 grams, but I heard a superbly tracking white DST working at 4,5 grams… one of my two Lumieres’ goes at 3,5 grams, the other at 5 grams… AT-ART 1000 is individually measured (of course) and VTF varies from sampler to sampler between 2 and 2,5 grams… Tzar is reportedly giving its best at 3,8 grams, as well.

Maybe, only Neumann and Audio Technica has been able to tame the L/R unbalance… Lumiere and Tzar are hot-rod artisanal cartridges, so you may have the real Magik (A. Crowley will forgive me...) and the average, so-so samplers, like on the Kikuchi's Lumiere DST: owned several and all, say ALL sounded different… from sublime to... talking about consistency!

What I find worth pinpointing is the return of such a difficult to properly manage, exotic and esoteric designs, almost getting a mythical status among analog lovers and scholars…

Nothing new under the sun, apparently…

Hideo Matsushita-san, Audio Technica's founder, a pictures I took at last MOC 2016.

The Audio Technica AT ART 1000 literature claims the following:

Audio expertise with cutting-edge materials and design – incorporating a Direct Power System, often viewed as a theoretical ideal in cartridge development – which renders the most subtle sonic details and delivers unsurpassed transient response, vividly reproducing the finest sonic details, incredibly accurate medium and low frequencies and delivering unsurpassed transient response”.

If not being a long time user and owner of this mighty design, owning, listening to and highly appreciating my Neumann DST, DST 62 and Lumiere DST’s I would think the above statement to be pure bullshit and audio hype at its best, but… it’s DST (or DPS) design perfectly described in few words!!!

Historically, this kind of design was strongly needed and advocated by Neumann itself for their studio work, where the comparison had to be made was between master-tape, lacquer and vinyl test-pressing… nothing would have been able, back in the ‘60s and now, to stand the task, sure not a compressed sound coming from some home system cartridge.

I’m not surprised that all the above mentioned cartridges are in the proud hands of people also enjoying open reel tapes and – quite often – rigidly mounted, not springs or rubber mounted idler-wheel or direct driven turntables.

Everything in the audio chain must be painstackingly considered and tuned, but this overall rigidity – i.e. cantileverless cart, heavy. Rigid, heavy turntable, solid state Class A and high efficient drivers and horns, etc. etc. abruptly blossoms as… smoothness and silkiness and highly uncolored, unbleached sound.

Long live DST and its declinations… I look forward a cheap DST in the future, as I cannot stand this unique beauty is only for tycoons or... stereo kichigais;-), like myself!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Back in town...

... small joys!

After ten days of iPhone/earspeakers casual music, turning on again my audio system aka Gotorama makes me so satisfied, folks...

Music shines and shines and everything sounds so natural and smooth and life-like...

Cymbals and drums and acoustic instruments harmonics are just awesome.

God (ahem: whatever...) bless the artisans and skilled hands who built the single pieces which composes this... humble statement.


Thursday, June 9, 2016

It's a wonderful world...

... when you listen to this wonderful music...

... what a superb listening I had!!!

Has been like everything was singing unison and Abdullah, Johnny and Paul were chez moi... heavenly, indeed.

Find these discs, pals... you won't regret.

I haaaad a Dreeeeaaammm! - Open Reel in a (bad) RIAA free world!!!

Yes, indeed! 

These days my listening diet is about 50% open reel tapes, 30% vinyl and 20% digital disk…  but the percentage varies, depending on mood and new discs, and… time available, of course – i.e. using my open reel recorders is such a pleasure, but as a ceremony, it needs time and attitude to par.

A new cat’s in town, folks: Open Reel, omen nomen;-)

I met these incredibly motivated and smart guys at MOC 2016 and I was so gladly given a complimentary copy of their Sampler 2015 containing several tracks from their best
Production – small scale classical, jazz combo, Monk in Milan… the one and only MONK, captured alive, yessss! and solo violin and acoustic guitar and voice… a very useful pout-pourri where to choose the music and reel-tape of choice, to appreciate the recording and music, of course.

That’s the way to go.

Very classy, Mauro and Marco. 


… but let me share the funny part of the matter, as it both amused me and frightened at the same time.

After last May MOC I was quite busy, so when I finally got the time to listen to some Horch House, Opus 3 and Open Reel’s tapes I used my old, faithful, Giorgio Foschi’s maintained my Studer B67VU high-speed machine.

First of the batch was, out of curiosity, the Italian tape, classy archival-like custom box and Pyral tape in cine, black plastic reel… I played on my Gotorama large system the whole tape and… well, had a sort-of mixed feeling: some tracks were nice to excellent, some others were just rolled off on highs and blurred on mids and lows.

I immediately shared my first impressions with Mauro and I didn’t think about this for some weeks, now…  had sooooo many precious and cool vinyl discs to be listened to and TdP’s The Head back in my system(s) and… simply too busy to be back on tapes and the like.

Few days ago, rainy weather and some spare time, I handled again the new tapes and placed, this time, the Open Reel’s Sampler 2015 on the mighty Telefunken M15A… changed the DIN tape mount to Cine adapters and… so I went.

I almost fell from my listening chair, believe me!

The mixed feeling I had on my first and only quick listening was gone, poooff!


The sound coming from my Gotorama and the tape spinning in front of the M15’s Butterfly heads was sparkling, zest-like, quick and eerie, dynamic and life-like…

… so, what’s happened?

How could a so-so impression change this way?

I was back to my ol’ B67… then, only then I realized the following: I previously used, to my pal Arnaldo’s insistence and pushing, a NOS Ampex reel on it to dub - having the Studer B62 as the player – some my own live recordings.

After only a couple of minutes spinning, the monitor from B67 was muddy, blurred sounding and fast-forwarding the tape was quite painful, slow, possibly due to the usual shitty, sticky Ampex’ old tape, always in need of oven baking to be played/used… only once!

I yelled like a badass and… simply swapped to a brand new Pyral to complete my dubbing… then forgot the episode.

When I used again the Studer B67 it was… yessss, you got it!... with the Open Reel Sampler’s.

OMG… only then I realized the blurred, frequency limited sound was due to the sticky, almost invisible filthiness coming from the *@§@@]**^$£§ (fucking;-)) Ampex’!!!

I had to use chisel & hammer… kidding, just cleaning liquid and some cleaning wool felt and cotton sticks with acetone on heads… and isopropil alcohol on rubber guides, two times, plus a good demagnetizing on heads and capstan and guides and rollers…  

Then repeated the listening and… voilà!

Gone was the limited bandwidth sensation… back was the glorious sound I already experienced from the M15A.

My fault, Ampex’ fault… silly me, fucking Ampex… who cares… ears works as they should and any experienced fault has an explanation and a cure.

I really was sooooo happy and satisfied I had to share my findings with (Open Reel’s) Mauro, apologizing and – again – damning and yelling about those plague-like, apparently perfect, brand-new, yet sticky Ampex’.

A lesson to be remembered, pals: I felt quite stupid and limited in my skills and knowledge to do not immediately recognize the issue… yet, I also felt very satisfied, as… hey! Italians do it better, folks!

After pizza, pasta and mandolino… yesss! open reel tapes are a specialty, as well… like my good friend River Yu found and nicely collected and catalogued in his great Blog, Italy - my country to date - counts more open reel houses than other countries in the world.

No, it’s not only money-concerned – i.e. tape dubs are quite expensive and niche-like stuffs, accordingly priced… no!

It’s about quality, musical and audio… that’s why I strongly dream… aehm…. drreeeeaaammm;-) about a (bad) RIAA-free world, where the average audiophile and music lover will be able to taste and enjoy the liquidness and naturalness of a good 15 IPS CCIR ¼ inch master dub.

I’m not jealous and simply wish you and everyone to be able to sip pure music straight from the spring!


Disc of the Month - Dave Holland Quintet - The Razor's Edge

Amazing, a m a z i n g, AMAZING, A M A Z I N G, A M A Z I N G music and recording on ECM... Digital, BUT... who cares if it sound like this!!!

imagine Mike Westbrook, John Surman, Centipede, Keith Tippets and other British jazz giants... Dave Holland's double bass is just WOW! and the trombone... Robin Eubanks gives shivers!

... and Kenny Wheelers' flugelhorn... yessss!

Find your copy of this masterpiece!


Saturday, June 4, 2016

Eargasm or music induced skin orgasm

Yes... eargasm;-)
Have you ever been listening to a great piece of music and felt a chill run up your spine? Or goosebumps tickle your arms and shoulders?

The experience is called frisson (pronounced free-sawn), a French term meaning "aesthetic chills," and it feels like waves of pleasure running all over your skin. Some researchers have even dubbed it a 'skin orgasm.'
Had many, many times! Such a pleasure.


Miles' apartment in NYC UWS for sale...

Yes... history is for sale...

Iconic elegance for USD 495,000.00... just find annoying the USD 1,025 a month maintenance fees...