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Sunday, October 30, 2016

Audio Consulting Meteor Toroidal AVC or the passive line-stage preamps survey - the final challenge?

I spent again some very pleasant hours with Dr. Serge Schmidlin of Audio Consulting fame...

His conversation is always so interesting, he's always witty, curious and well informed.

Only difference from the other times we were together in Munchen or at his Commugny, Switzerland buen retiro, yesterday we were at my place, in beautiful Veneto, Italy, few kilometres from Venice.

Good food, good wine, good company and chatting... we ended completing the good... list listening to some good;-) master tapes played on the mighty (freshly restored, up-to-specs by master technician Giorgio Foschi) Telefunken M15A on my Gotorama...

... and surprise-surprise, from a small carrier-bag, an egg-shaped thing appeared: a Meteor toroidal top of the line all silver AVCs passive preamp!

This sought after, seldom seen, masterfully built piece of gear is made out of two American walnut shells with a Macassar ebony centre "ring" and the exotic hand wound toroidal silver wire toroidal is impregnated, better incapsulated, in natural bee-wax.

Nothing more, nothing less...

This is an expensive - someone could say hideously expensive - piece of gear... yet, I can fully understand Serge's approach: it is not about avidity, as quality, hand-made quality costs, but this wouldn't be enough to explain everything.

A comparison comes to my mind: who would dare saying anything rude about a luthier job and his masterpieces cost?

Think about an acoustic pre-WW1 Martin or a Bottelli classical guitars... they both are about 600 grams selected woods assembly whose cost is almost negligible!

Why these beauties cost nowadays 5-digits sums?

... because if you place same raw woods on a table surface, they're not sounding, they're not giving music!

So, isn't it correct, appropriate, right to give a value, a money-related one, I mean to all the above immaterial added-value?

A luthier precisely tailors woods, details and bespoke care to meet the musician needs... Audio Consulting does the very same, adding the magic to silver wire, nickel cores and woods making them able - like a stellar quality musical instrument - to play music.

Give to all this a price-tag! You can only buy it or don't buy it... love or hate it!

It's my strong, sincere opinion you simply cannot appreciate the lacking of colorstions, the overall sense of beauty, something so pleasantly easy and true to life.

Just after a couple hours listening sessions, music and nuances are blossoming at every minute passing.


I'm only now beginning my journey in tasting the Meteor: the preamps survey will include a truly challenging tournament, where Luxman AT 3000 will be judged vs. Fidelity Research AS 1 vs. Audio Consulting Silver Rock vs. Audio Consulting Meteor vs. Thomas Mayer 4 chassis vs. Le Solstice vs. Marantz 7C, so also adding to the trial three conventional (or so) preamps I have handy for good measure and personal enjoyment.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Disk of the Month - Shackleton with Ernesto Tomasini - Devotional Songs (Honest Jon's Records - 2016)

Epic, thrilling, devotional, deep, ancient and new...

Dig it!

Disk of the Day - Coils - The Ape of Naples (2005)

Lovely, l o v e l y music...

... and cover art.

They remind me some Current 93's stuff with a falsetto Tom Waits' singing (Swordfishtrombones' style).

Get it!

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Disc of the Day - UB40 - Tyler (45 rpm 12")

A nice, ska/reggae disc from the '80s... superbly and fresh sounding... reportedly recorded on a tube Revox G36.

Love it!

Tapes, tapes, tapes...

... I found myself transformed into a tapes-junkie, folks!

The sound of these old relics makes my heartbeat faster and my mouth watering.

... just change the above R. Crumb's "records" with "tapes";-)

Gimme more!

Saturday, October 22, 2016

The Rolling Stones' trivia - Their Satanic Majesties Request 3D

... not the most perfect of The Rolling Stones' albums, yet its 3D cover made it an instant sought-after collector item.

After recently getting a 19 cm/s pre-recorded original tape on a 18 cm diam. plastic reel, whose box sports the VERY same 3D lenticular plastic gimmick as the vinyl 1st pressing in my possession.

Strange, I told myself...

I checked Wikipedia on the matter and found this:

"The original cover design called for the lenticular image to take up the entire front cover,[20] but finding this to be prohibitively expensive it was decided to reduce the size of the photo and surround it with the blue-and-white graphic design."

Put side-by-side, the tape and the vinyl plaque are the very same, so, apparently Decca/London spent an arm and a leg for this 3D plaque and decided to do not go over-budget using the same size on the 30 cm sized cover and making a clouds/sky frame to fix the 3D smallish size.

Tapes were quite expensive in the hey days also if not as expensive as they are now... this very pre-recorded tape is fetching USD 200+ price-tags... the reel to reel sold poorly, so when they weren't more in demand, out of stock, deleted, etc. Decca possibly stopped to make the 3Ds and the 2nd vinyl disc reissues had the color cover-art replaced by a cheaper pix of the 3D itself.

Such an innocent satisfaction sort-of correcting the always great, useful and supportive Wikipedia.


Meredith Monk's new disk on ECM

We are thrilled to announce the highly anticipated release of  Meredith's newest CD, On Behalf of Nature.

Digital release is available today on  iTunes.

Pre-ordering for the official release on November 4th  is available through  Amazon .

Featured on the ECM Records homepage.

"a rapturous new work...some of the finest music Monk has yet written."
- Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times

For six decades, vocalist-composer Meredith Monk has explored what she calls "primordial utterance," or non-verbal vocal sounds that lay beneath and beyond language, expressing "that for which we have no words." 
This exploration has led her to create music that The New Yorker describes as simultaneously "visceral and ethereal, raw and rapt," an art that "sings, dances and meditates on timeless forces."
With her latest, multivalent ECM New Series album, Monk aimed to address ecology and climate change, she says: "Believing that music speaks more directly than words, I worked to make a piece with a fluid, perceptual field that could expand awareness of what we are in danger of losing. On Behalf of Nature is a meditation on our intimate connection to nature, its inner structures, the fragility of its ecology and our interdependence." 
Voices and instruments have equal weight: sometimes each is heard alone; sometimes they are blended to form a new, mysterious sound; sometimes they are combined to create intricate, layered, yet transparent sonic landscapes. 

We hope you will join us in celebrating the release by purchasing today!

Album cover photo: Julieta Cervantes

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Achref Chargui Trio - Tajaliyat

Great contaminations... fresh music... 

... and great cover art.

Best vinyl shops in Europe

Cool disc-boutiques list...

Cool indeed...

Here is a list of records shop in Moscow... spasiba to my pal Serge Schmidlin for the link.

Friday, October 14, 2016