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Friday, July 27, 2018

The source

… it took years. Years of thinking and rethinking... dealing with the signals of such a low level... if 1 mV is 0dB level, I want -90dB to be perfect... this is something you do not really think about but yes. even -100dB. Yes, below the own noise level, yes, much below the surface noise level. just because we do hear it - otherwise humans will be extinct many eons ago. useful info - we can hear it effectively with the levels much less than the surrounding noise level... and the range.... where the top frequency just 1000 times more than the low...

The first tube - ECC808 by Telefunken is probably the best tube from the 12AX7/ECC83 family - with different pinout, so not interchangeable. has a very low noise floor, so withDC filament I was able to achieve -80dB noise floor of the whole preamp. Second tube is ECC82, quite usual, I'm using 5963 military version. and good in some application russian 6N6Pi as an output tube. Power supply has separate power rails for different stages, with own dedicated DC filters. Rectifiers used are Mullard EZ80

Well... my friend and partner Yanislav Yankov almost forced me to build first prototype, than the real one that we can offer. I'm still not sure if I'll be able to make many of such a RIAA pre amps, too much work, too much attention, too much precise tuning, too much of energy and life I have to put into each one I make... “

Misho so wrote about my far too short pre-review of his RIAA phono-stage and power supply.

On my part, I humbly try to describe the first-ear impressions as I experienced while listening to my system…

A Blogger like yours truly is only after sharing his passion – no Adsense or other ads to disturb the reader… and the Blogger himself…and no money, whatsover… I’m usually talking about something I own, bought or experienced, first-hand… or seldom get on loan from friends or… the friend-maker, like recently happened with Misho’s stuffs.

Trying to say I’m and remain out-of-mainstream audio industry like an elf at the borders of Dark Forest… I don’t care making any money with my sharing, I swear… yet, if I’m able, with my primitive writing to make people curious about this or that, well… I’m more than happy, as I also got enthusiasm and gladly like to share it.

Misho has been a long-time pal at a distance and we shared some common friends,  experiences and background music-wise… meeting him in person has been a 2018 highlight… the guy knows his business and is skilled and passionate and most important, loves giving to his customers THE VERY BEST he can do!

Not bad, uh?!?!

...  as you probably read in previous short reviews about his C3M Line-stage and EL12N SE power amp, I loved his sonic vision: clean, detailed, zest and lively as it can be…  actually, among THE very best I ever had in my studio, period.

The above statement would be enough and gladly close any speculation and description, but… NO!

Let me try… The Source.

I I strongly believe in chaos theory… nothing happens by chance… Quabbala teaches about numbers and their secret world of chance and beauty… like Universe has its rules, also the humblest life-facts and -interactions are unfathomable and mysterious as they can be.  

So what?

The Source.

Yes… yesterday afternoon, I felt it was the moment to take from the shelf where it was for the last two weeks, the freshly-made, brand-new RIAA phono-stage by Misho Myronov.

I took away the EL12N amp by Misho and got back to my Partridge/300B monoblocks, always on smaller system with Tandberg 114-116-8 and disconnected the XLO Phono Reference cable coming from The Head TdP’s MC step-up, previously connected to the J-Fet Kaneda circuit Le Solstice preamp.

Placed the dedicated PSU and the light-as-a-feather RIAA, linked by an umbilical mini-XLR cable and connected via a silver cable to the C3M Line-stage.

The Source…

I went to my Ikea records bins and randomly searched for THE right disc to place on the Garrardzilla’s platter, already spinning, in its own alpine, cold quiet timeless beauty.

The Source… my fingers cherry-picked the 2-discs set by Ali Farka Tourè – i.e. – The Source (at last…)…

I love this disc and music and quite often I listen to one of the great, late Malian artist’s music with utmost pleasure.

The Source is the source: of Blues, of rhythm, of joyful music played with friends: the recordings took place in London shortly after the crew – Ali and his musicians cohort - from Mali landed at London Heathrow airport, when they headed to the studio, full of awe and expectation from the all-new adventure.

It was the first of many records-to-come, and not his first record made in Europe, but this very one truly owns something special

I was so lucky to attend to one of the first (the first, ever?) concert of Ali Farka Tourè at London’s Roundhouse, end of ‘80s (1987?) and it’s still well carved in my memory as one of the best concerts I attended in my whole life, where the joy of musicians was pouring like a spring from the stage to the audience… there I bought my first Ali’s disc, still cherished in my discotheque…

The Source, when the Lumiere DST cart on The Peak arm touched the grooves sounded to my old trusty ears like I got, after years, decades of search I finally arrived, exhausted by expense and infinite changes and system/gears iterations to the purest of springs, to the source of musical enjoyment where everything is clear and sounds like it should.

No tap-water, folks… I’m talking about a mountain spring where the real, natural water comes from the deep of Earth at 9 degrees Celsius to please the thirst… the pleasure when sipping to this is bar-none much better than when tasting a Petrus’ or Romanè-Conti’s or a 25 years-old Laphroaig single-malt.

If you know the feeling I’m trying to describe you DO know the sensation…

Guitar, acoustic and electric, small percussions, Ali’s voice and back-ground vocals… every single note is carved in space with it’s own life, yet functional to music and tune… it’s something I knew, in my mind, it was possible to achieve, same effect when I’m playing one of my acoustic guitars with a friend, duo… inter-woving notes, beautifully decaying and blending with other notes and guitar tones.

I knew that one day, unexpected, out-of-the-blue, I would be going to feel such a perfection… the decay, the coda of any tune on Ali’s The Source was an event I was waiting for… every tiniest movement of the musicians in the studio, standing still ‘til the tiniest signal was captured by the mikes, yet perceiving the tension after the emotionally-fueled performance just captured on tape… amazing sense of being part of the whole-thing: music, life, whatever… I listened to the four sides of double-discs set in trance-like, with senses tight and emotionally quiet and feverish at same time, if you get me.

Misho’s two-chassis RIAA phono-stage simply succeeded in achieving the top of goals for me as a music lover: being part of the musical event, also if recorded on a media and not actually happening in front of me with flesh&bones musicians!

Like a musican spends decades to perfection his craft and skills while making it looks easy while performing, same happens with Misho’s gears… you’re not bothered and distracted by technical redundancies, bulky appearance and hideous price-tags… the EUR 3,500.00 asking-price for the RIAA, for example isn’t frightening, at all… and after listening to the first notes, ready forgotten, becoming a HUGE plus.

This too-seldom experienced - I dare, never, ever experienced before - yet so here and recognizable as “musical pleasure” was the prize I got after a lifetime of search, pals.

I got it from the source – i.e. the system I assembled in years of trials & errors, faulty and successful attempts – arriving in a loop, a true circle of life, to the  source, the spring of musical pleasure, naked and pure, via The Source by Ali Farka Tourè: no way to think about better cablestubesracksroomchairearsgears… detailsimagingresolutiondynamicsslam… the mind emptied, silent and still as mountain-lake waters at dusk… sssshhhhh…


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