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Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Studio Alchemist's premium NAB reel-to-reel adapter



My friend River Yu and his Studio Alchemist from Taiwan strikes again... these NAB adapters are of seldom seen quality and beauty and goes beyond the ubiquitous aluminum/plastic adapters broadly available on the market.






I must add that I prefer the plain version with no brand name... my opinion, yet... BRAVO!






Proud gorgeousness or a racing Garrard 301 plinth



... yes, my best pal Lo masterfully completed the plinth with several layers of Ferrari Rosso Monza automotive lacquer and finished with protective shining transparent paint... then further and final mirror polishing with thin paste and wool...







... without and...


... with transparent lacquer.







Already shiny, yet it will be even more... even;-)



Northern Electric R-14849A SUT



A seldom seen beauty from a long gone era...



Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Disc of the month - Oswald von Wolkenstein - Lieder (Telefunken 1974)



Look at the 14th Century portrait of this gentleman...



Herr von Wolkenstein was a member of South Tyrol rural aristocracy... a bard and a traveller, his broad journeys led him from Syria to Turkey to Burgundy and beyond...



Look at his eyes, so well captured on the painting... these eyes saw the world and learned a lot!

His Lieder (songs) talk about these travels, and about love as most of songs of any vintage do...

... I already had a disc on EMI Reflexe series and appreciated the melodies and instruments blend: lute, hand drums, bells, recorder and voices...










The EMI's was a great disc of great music... BUT this very disc is of another league: Othmar Costa's ensemble is masterfully recorded with a sense of playful joyousness.


The tenor and baritone voices are amazing, carved in space, surrounded and embroidered by historic instruments well serving music.

Superb, seldom heard music, sounding both ancient and brand-new.

This AW-Telefunken sound is recorded with one of a kind skill, as well... it's one of the humble super-discs you dream to find on any second-hand record-bin.

If you find in brand-new conditions for a coffee-tip at a flea-market, well... it's an epiphany!


As usual, I invite every serious music lover to search and find this very wax...

OK, ok... you're welcome.





The Birth of the Cool (Plinth)




A plinth for any turntable is more than an holder for turntable, itself... idler-wheel, belt-driven or direct-drive, a plinth add and enhance the character of the turntable.

I spent many years with beech plywood plinths for my Garrard 301s and 401... then discovered for my personal use, the awesome merits of slate plinth: same sonic footprint than beech, only more.

Recently wished to explore again beech plinth for a superb 301 Schedule 1 I acquired... new project, Gray (with Denon DL102 mono) and Karmadon (with Lumiere DST) broadcast arms.

Here is a quick report of the finishing and preparing for paint work to-come.





The primer...



The oldie but goldie... 




Stay tuned...



Saturday, March 2, 2019

Joni Mitchell & David Hockney


Love this very picture... it makes me happy seeing Ms. Mitchell standing after her health troubles and makes me feel getting older less troublesome... the two artists are so elegant and full of life.

A truly heart-warming image. 




Joni Mitchell and David Hockney at L.A. Louver gallery in Los Angeles on Feb. 28th, 2019, where Mr. Hockney’s solo exhibition is on view.

Thanking The New York Times.


CreditCredit

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Philip Glass' Music in Twelve Parts









Philip Glass’ previously unreleased, 1975 performance of ‘Music In Twelve Parts’ is the latest archival excavation on Paris-based Transversales Disques, the label run by the GRM’s Jonathan Fitoussi. Remastered from the original tapes, limited edition 2LP bound with obi strip. 




Performed by Philip Glass with Jon Gibson, Dickie Landry, Michael Riesman, Joan La Barbera and Richard Peck, it's one of the earliest iterations of ‘Music In Twelve Parts’, which would be fully issued the following year, 1976, to become one of Glass’ best known and loved works. Placing the previously issued Parts 1 & 2 on side A, the never-before released parts 11, 3, and 12 are cut to sides B & C, finding the piece reeling off into breathtaking chromatic dervishes and ecstatic minimalism with a truly head-spinning lushness, especially in the stunning murmurations of Part 12.

Side D is effectively a piece in its own right. Recorded for french radio by Daniel Caux - musicologist and co-founder of Shandar Records - Glass speaks in french over recordings of the rehearsals for ‘Music In Twelve Parts’, held in his NYC loft. Together with the scream of sirens, it gives some fascinating context for the piece (even if you don’t parlez francais) as it inherently highlights link between the colours of the sirens and the music which we may not have gauged otherwise.




Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Such a shame - R.I.P. Mark Hollis


I sincerely loved Talk Talk and Mark Hollis' music... own and cherish all their discs, bought new as UK pressings when nobody was after vinyl, anymore, back then... 

Maybe the most beloved of all is Hollis' solo album, now worth around € 500 for the die-hard collector... much more for the soul-seeker. 









A note from DiscoGs about the pricing the late Mark Hollis' solo disc reached:



About the hideous price - Take note that a large part of this pressing (which came out five years after the album was released), has manufacturing defects. There was paper (or something else, it was white) pressed in the beginning of side A; the amount and how much it extended into the record differed from copy to copy. Back then, I haven't seen a copy without these problems. I know for sure that a large part of the pressing was destroyed at a garbage dump near where I live on which a lot of defective pressings from Universal were buried under the supervision of guys from the label to avoid theft (a large part of the original pressing of the Cardigans 'Long Gone Before Daylight' was dumped there also around the same time). I saw copies on a fleamarket shortly after which escaped this transaction somehow (I bought three of them) and they all had the pressing defects.I also found two copies in a shop years later, when it was already rare and expensive, which had lots of rare 90s records as shop stock, and both also had these defects. Obviously, this guy had not returned them whereas most other shops gave them back when they discovered the flaws. That's why it is so rare and pricey.



The quality of recording - Two Neumann M50 omni pattern microphones were placed at the front of the studio, about ten feet apart. There they remained for the duration of the recording session, one panned hard left, the other hard right. To control balance and level, musicians positioned their instruments around the room, drums in back, vocals up front. With the noise reduction disengaged, each performer records their part. About as minimal as a record gets.










The above hard, cold facts to someway avoid deep sadness about sudden passing away of Mark Hollis which hit the world yesterday... 

... as a musician never dies as his music lives forever.




Yet... such a shame!






Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Gold to the masses!



People need gold, folks!



After experiencing Leif solid gold in cotton and Eichmann RCAs, I feel that such a joy isn't for a few...

Every serious, passionate and dedicated music and audio lover should have a glimpse of heaven in his life, period.

So, someone will say, here is a new load of hyped BS about a shitty piece of wire, while all the rest of public electric line and buildings layout is messed by RFIs and poor materials...


A dear friend of mine - an architect and an audiophile - always well knowledged and informed, promptly tried to tame my enthusiasm argumenting gold is lesser than copper and silver, even worst than aluminum when tension transfer is concerned... all his fiery confutations without even listening to my system... but what really happens to tiny signals?

My illuministic approach is about ineffable: I try and get my conclusions, period.

I'm about love and related... explanations are unneeded and harmful, yet it is.

Everything else is shyte

False or true... nonetheless, yesterday I got this hand-made 1m long cable and almost laughed at its unblinking, monastic appearance: I strongly remembered the ugly Be Yamamura's I have somewhere... ridiculous looking since when you plug in... jaw-dropping cables, indeed.

I immediately decided the right position was between Misho Myronov Phono stage and Thomas Mayer CX-310s Line stage.

Turned on and put on Garrardzilla's platter a disc I recently enjoyed - i.e. Bill Frisell - Music IS...

 ...and...

... then...

... so...

... while...

...

The first impression I had was reminding an humble me playing my Telecaster through my '73 Fender Pro Reverb in my Studietto... not by chance this very rig looking at me from my seat, a few meters afar.



Such a sentence would sound offensive to any audiophile... what the heck! Someone spends serious money on blah-blah gears and then a stage/studio guitar amp is compared and suggested as a benchmark!?!

An explanation is due, I admit: I'm talking about authority, trueness, the real thing... not a bleached copy of the original...

Listening to Bill Frisell 's inventiveness and so hugely various sounds coming from his immaculate good taste and technique, his guitar pickups choices through his cherry-pcked vintage tube amps and effect-boxes captured in the studio, including assorted buzzes and noises from guitar amps...

Everything very unperfect and flawed, BUT so rich and alive... full of life, beefy.

For same reason when I play electric guitar alone, looping and soloing wildly, I scream and ohhoohoooo joyfully.

Yesterday, when I first listened to the Gotorama with Leif's gold cable in-place, well... I immediately heard that twang!... that uncanny no frills sense of truth, a no-brainer listening experience.

I was soooooooooo impressed, pals!

The sound of a full chord on a Fender tube amp can be... better: IS, loud, wow! 

When you listen to such a thing, you don't ask yourself about bandwidth, SPL, slew rate or the like... you rock!

My speculating about the two side of the above disc I shot yesterday were nothing short of an epiphany: my Eames chair was shaking under the music, my soul was shaking unison and the infinite subtleties and macro-load of dynamics, harmonics, studio noises, amp noises, full-bodied sound and overall sense of Beauty simply reached the VERY ME as a single shot of Pure Joy.

Awesome and easy at same time, as it can be.

That's why I began my enthusiastic report with such an optimistic wish: Gold to the Masses. 

This kind of joy should and must be shared with people around... it's really tooooo much for a single person.

My sincere wish is everyone goes and find some 99,9% pure gold wire, find some bleached white cotton and two pairs of Eichmann's RCAs and enjoy as I did... and as I do today, tomorrow and after-tomorrow.

Silence is gold... gold IS for music, not for rings and earrings.

World needs more of these joys.

Thanks from the deep of my heart to my pal, Leif.




Sunday, February 17, 2019

Friday, February 15, 2019

Western Electric 300B... at last.




Hopefully so...


PRE-ORDER NOW
Due to international regulations and high shipping costs, the number of countries included in this pre-order opportunity is limited. For questions about future availability in your country, message 300b@westernelectric.com.

In certain high-demand countries, Western Electric partners with dealers and distributors to improve customer experience. See our Authorized Dealers below.
Authorized Dealers
Carefully review the step-by-step information below to make sure you understand the pre-order process
IMPORTANT: 
  • Your pre-order reserves a spot in line for 300B's, which will be shipped at a later date. 
  • You have complete control of your order and may cancel at any time.
  • We do NOT process your credit card for payment until your order is ready to ship. 
  • When charged, you may be asked for approval by your bank or credit card provider. We recommend pre-advising your provider to avoid delay in order fulfillment. Be prepared.
  • In the event that your payment information changes or expires in the time afteryour order is placed, you will be asked to re-enter your information or contact Western Electric to ensure fulfillment. 
  • Western Electric has selected FedEx for safe, trackable shipping from our door to yours. Shipping costs are applied automatically using rates set by Western Electric and reflect world region, package insurance, and additional handling. Duties, taxes, and other unpredictable fees controlled by the country of destination, may be due upon delivery of international orders. These additional import charges are the responsibility of the buyer.
Pre-ordering is for customers who wish to purchase tubes directly from Western Electric. You will not be charged until your order ships. You may update, cancel, or otherwise edit your order at any time using your confirmation email.

Western Electric is committed to meeting renewed, worldwide demand for the 300B. Exact time of delivery is based on a first-in, first-out allocation system and a scheduled ramp in production at the Rossville Works. Quantities will be limited and restrictions apply. Western Electric cannot guarantee that your order will ship within 30 days and is committed to offering up to date information regarding exact date of delivery.

For questions regarding the pre-order process, email 300b@westernelectric.com.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Disc of the Month - Bill Frisell - Music IS (Okeh 2018)




What a disc... Bill Frisell IS!

His guitars and loops and effect-boxes soloing is simply unique.



His almost limitless inventiveness and good taste are awesome... and the recording and mastering (by Greg Calbi at Sterling Mastering) gorgeously serves the music.

The guitar(s) and amp(s) are captured so lively and true to life to make you feel Mr. Frisell is playing in your room.

A truly great record.







Sunday, February 10, 2019

A new SUT survey 2019



After getting a Soundaries Audio's Western Electric 618B replica, named SOE-02, I had to tame my strong desire to taste it...

My dedicated XLO Signature phono cable wasn't able to stand the wide RCAs, so I had to use Litz/Eichmann cables... but this is only an excuse... I was busybusybusybusy!



When my daily job sort-of allowed my strength back, again... voilà!

I prepared a quite complex survey, having my superb The Head TX-4 vs. Peerless 4685, Western Electric 618B, Neumann Ktr 147C (made by Beyer) and Soundaries 618B clone... all the contenders were used with my cherry-picked Lumiere DST and Garrardzilla.




It wasn't an easy task, folks... most of all, the above SUTs had different RFI rejection habits: Tim de Paravicini's and Peerless 4685 the most easy and deadly silent of the lot.

I admit I was quite curious about the Thai WE618B clone: the original WE618B is unobtanium and fetching truly high prices on pre-owned market, so having an earthly priced design is such a premium.

... but how does it sound, really?

... and what does it mean "clone"?

Before trying to reply to the above questions, let me point it out the people at Soundaries Audio modeled their flagship SUT after direct comparison with their own original Western Electric's...

As I also did, I compared it to my own 618B and...

I also strongly wished to compare VS. my personal reference - i.e. The Head by TdP, bar none.

The WE618B is amazingly - considering its age - modern sounding: detailed, smooth and unforgiving despite it's not huge headroom and frequency range...

The Head is the winner... it's faaaar superior, in my combo/rig, to highly overrated Tango MCT-999: extremely detailed, 3D, fast and dramatic in dynamics.



The Neumann is quite romantic, very pleasant but slightly forgiving vs. the best SUTs...

Peerless 4685 is... WOW! an humble, industrial masterpiece, superbly performing... something I could live with forever. Lively and full-bodied.

Soundaries 618B is such a surprise!

It keeps the authority, smoothness and 3D of original 618B, with an added sense of breathing (someway) unheard in WE's... more similar to my personal reference - i.e. The Head.

SUT is an audio art-niche: they add or subtract spice with naturality to a good recipe... the best SUT matches with a given cartridge into s system.

When you find the heavenly match, you DO understand it with goosebumps, period!

To find this distilled, Zen-like findings... few words, inversely proportional to the hours spent on comparing the evaluated MC-transformers, and a lot of late-night listening-sessions were needed.

I forced myself to remain focused and decided to only use two records to evaluate the above gears: a Fritz Hauser's solo-drumming 2-discs set on Hat Hut's Swiss label and beloved Gillian Welch & David Rawlings' The Harrow and the Harvest, both true full-analog recordings.



The subtleties, harmonic richness, superb details contained in the above mentioned so vastly different stellar quality discs is infinitely intriguing and inspiring to me... the shimmering cymbals on Hauser's discs and acoustics of recording venue never end to surprise me... Gillian and David's acoustic guitars and voices are just a dream...

The above SUTs give their interpretation: more wood or more strings on guitars, trueness of natural sibilants on voices, right weight on drums skins and cymbals brass and decay.

Worlds of beauty, infinitely heartwarming and untiring.

I herewith give a strong 8/10 to Soundaries SOE-02... confirming The Head TX-4 10/10.



WE618B is, in my humble opinion, 9/10... Peerless 4685 is 7/10 and Neumann/Beyer is 6/10...

The above ranking is just my personal taste, in my system, with my own ancillaries.

Bravo to Thailand's Soundaries Audio for the achievement... my only advice is to improve packaging when commercially dealing with their nice products and shipping.

Fowarder's agents hands can be heavy, indeed!