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Saturday, December 3, 2016

IREM Ministab 228




Searching for +/- 0,5 Volts precision...




52 kilos of italian-made quality.



Tandberg 114/116-8 coaxial





Hosting a new (old) mid-sized, humble wonder coaxial speaker... a truly seldom heard well-kept secret, indeed!




From Oslo, Norway... to my place.




Thursday, December 1, 2016

Analog vs. analog vs. analog vs. analog







What’s analog and why should we be offended by digital per se, if, at the end, our ears are always the purest of analog devices, so able to convert any digital or digitalized signal back to analog, something to be absorbed and enjoyed by our brain and soul?


 


In the last days of dense listening and dubbing sessions of first generation reel to reel, analog master tapes, this kind of food for thoughts questions came to my mind: industry isn’t after fooling people.


 


Sure the engineers are only trying to get things easier in the studio and IMO, only marginally and as a by-product lowering the stick thinking to the average listening skills and gears around.


 


Many labels and studios still VERY much proudly craft their disks and vinyl discs to sound at their very best.


 


What I cannot understand is when people isn’t told the plain truth – i.e. why selling FLAC or hi-rez 192 khz files on costly reel to reel tapes or vinyl without quoting this feature… plainly, honestly, as is?


 


There is nothing wrong doing so, folks!


 


Nobody dares blaming about the pro-photographers using their film-fed Hasselblads’ in studio, then scanning the 6 x 6 slide-film and heavily Photoshopping it in post-production job… so things go!


 


Only, things should be made crystal clear, honestly – i.e.  shouldn’t be analog vs. analog vs. analog or analog vs. digital… but quality vs. non-quality/average (recordings, music, whatever), only.


 


Word of mouth – fortunately – works quite well and gossip and so-so practices of (ugly) people not saying the source and dubbing/mastering methods (even, in worst cases, declaring as 100% analog tapes their FLAC-sourced music onto reel to reel tape) widely circulates among the die-hard music and audio lovers.


 


Beware!


 


Others try to highlight their job as further improving original recordings.


 


Abbey Road Studios spent a lot of ink explaining their approach in their vinyl discs reissues series – my mentor Baron Tim de Paravicini cleverly and wittingly confutated their practice where, in few words, the original spliced ¼” master-tape is simply unseen in the remastering studio, as only a cleverly made hi-rez file is then taped on an Ampex ATR machine and used to get the lacquer from the Neumann lathe.


 


Right or wrong as a process, that’s it.


 


Only a few, an handful bunch around like Chad Kassem’s Acoustic Sounds in the USA and Electric Recordings in UK (at a cost!), uses a 100% analog-process from tape to disc, so this can be still made possible!




 


I find quite annoying so-called technical essays are written with a great expense of ink and energies to convince the above sounds even better than original pressings from the early ‘70s!


 


I bought some months ago, just out of curiosity, an Abbey Road’s John Martyn’s Solid Air on 180 grams vinyl-slab.


 


I placed it on my Garrardzilla and listened to it a couple of times… then took it from  a shelf my first pressing Island’s Palm Pink rim pristine copy and played  again.


 


Then played a disk of Solid Air…  sure everything sounds and music is so unique and pleasant, yet the sonic differences are well audible and the overall sound winner clear: disk and AR’s reissues sounds quite similar, highs are exagerated and slightly shimmering, like John Martyn’s “zzzzzz” and “ssssss”.


 


On Island first pressing decay are smooth and natural and various, depending on song… on the disk and reissue, sound is quite homogenized and unchanging, unsurprising, uninvolving.


 


I bet a youngster coming out of blue straight to Abbey’s Solid Air will GREATLY enjoy it… but only on my Island first pressing I fully appreciate the John Wood/Sound Techniques studio job.


 


What am I trying to say?


 


We audio lovers demand for respect and care from industry: a reel to reel tape should be clearly stated if coming from an analog master or a digital file, same for a vinyl disc: everything should also be stated clearly – i.e. about recording and mastering details.

We deserve it!




 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Siemens Typ RL 301







I’ve always been quite fond of seldom heard and seen, humble audio masterpieces… sometimes neglected stuffs nobody – but my German-speakers mentor Nico Wilke, of course… -  is paying any attention.


This way, I’ve been able to stock a little, yet nice collection of speakers, mostly German-made with some French, Japanese, Dutch, British and American’s made champions.


If anyone is able to recognize the merits of a Goodmans’ Axiom 80 or a Philips 9710, only the most dedicated and passionate among us can go for these well kept secrets boxes.


Today I won’t unveil others but the following:


Siemens Typ RL 301 – a two ways 565 x 265 x 180 box, 4,5 ohm, 91 db/W/m using a 7” Philips AD 8065/W4 and a Philips AD 0160/T4 tweeter with a minimalist 1st order/6 db/octave crossover using precision Siemens paper in oil caps.


Yesterday, after some years of storage, I brought them in my studietto to replace the Cabasses’ - always used with the Partridge 300B monoblocks.


Cabasse Dinghy 221 are 98 db/W, while the Siemens’ are only 91 db/W, so I was prepared to some deficiency and audible shortcomings… I began with small scale music, Piers Faccini’s disk, then some Gary Peacock/Ralph Towner double-bass/classical and 12 strings guitars…


What I heard was… musical, detailing and overall pleasure bliss!


These speakers are able to further refine the concept of high fidelity – i.e. trueness to timbre and harmonic richness and deepest, truest meaning of music.


The zestness of these humble, little Siemens’ is nothing less than A M A Z I N G, folks…






I’d really wish to share with most of my audio/music friends around my findings… sad but not so much I shared with my friends Flavio and Enrico, who both left my studietto as believers.

... and who cares if nobody talked about these boxes!


When something like the above (badly…) described happens, many doubts about the true meaning of hi-end audio, hyped big bucks price-tags gears and the like come to my mind… and the final solution is, unsurprisingly, that ears come first!


Everything different - i.e. possession of salon-type, web and magazine hyped gears - is nothing but bullshit and high quality can be money-unrelated!


I invite everyone to explore, dig and experiment with his own taste and sensitivity, unashamed and unafraid of being ridiculous or wrong.


‘nuff said.


Thanking Radiomuseum.org for the Siemens' pixies... too lazy to post my own;-)



Thursday, November 24, 2016

Naska Loris industrial lamp (1933)









I own two of these old industrial lamps - whose design by Jacobsen, dates back to 1933 - and they are both early '70s vintage from my school days... it's shape and function, in the best Norwegian tradition, same as Louis Poulsen's Artichoke hanging-lamp I bought decades ago and which still pleases us in our living-room.






Incredibly, the two Naskas' - as used in my studietto - lighting the reel to reel recorders areas, make things far more professional and cool, like the Loris' are able with their own strong personality and  timeless, minimalist linear look, to complement and complete the Telefunken's or Studers' machines.





Love these humble, utilitarian, yet elegant and no frills lamps.











Monday, November 21, 2016

Andy, Oleg and Misho







Andy, an Australian mate - a nice, common guy, into angling, camping and out-door life and camping with his family and friends - recently got a bespoke, handmade amp set...


He already owns one pair of sought-after Oleg Rullit's speakers mounted on an open baffle...






Here follows what he recently wrote after getting and beginning to use his new gears:


" Every so often in life we come across something that exceeds our expectations. Sometimes that is short lived, but sometimes it's the real deal. For some time I have listened to these wonderful prototype amps from my dear friend Misho Hornandtubes. They are a manifestation of his many years working on Western Electric and Klangfilm amplifiers, among many, many others. All the iron was wound by Misho. Interstage transformer coupled EF12 driving EL12 in the amplifier. The preamplifier is a single stage design using Siemens C3g interstage transformer coupled to Misho's own output transformers.


 


 
I can say that they have exceeded my expectations in every way. They are not the normal hifi as we normally hear it. Brimming with cheap parts and compromises, sold in a fancy chassis for as much as a car. No these (prototypes) are something special. If you like modern thin, hard, harmonically bleached amps (which is just about everything I have heard) these are not for you. They don't sound slow, thin, fat, hard or harmonically threadbare. They are not tone crippled. They are not etched or cast an artificially massive soundstage or image. They don't have synthetic sounding tone. What they are is the very essence of music.
 
I'm about as fussy as it's possible to be. I don't want compromises, I don't want good enough, or almost there. I want natural, organic, dynamic music with gorgeous tone, natural timbre and texture. These amps are the very essence of that. They simply sound like life itself. I can think of no more relevant statement."


It's far too apparent that hand-made audio is in a completely different league vs. mass produced gears.... Men-built stuff for Men!


For some reason, when you know who built your gears, things are much different... talking about the best around, of course.


My compliments to Misho for giving so much joy with a piece of gear... and most sincere congratulations to Andy for trusting in Oleg and Misho, following their vision.




 

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Disc of the Day - Ludus Danielis on Melodya (1978)




A marvellous 3 Euros gem, folks...

The singers are slightly too polite vs. - say - some "dirtier" René Zosso's singing with René Clemencic's renditions, but the sound... it's just awesome!




Recorded in Tallin in 1978.

A really nice record.

Go, browse and find it, you won't regret.





Sunday audio show



A small, cute audio show in a magnificient location: Villa Godi-Maliverni, some km north of Vicenza, Northern Italy, where I arrived in a mild - unnaturally high temp for the season - sunday morning, riding my motorbike...





The architect who designed this beautiful villa was Andrea Palladio, about 500 hundred years ago...

An incredibly beautiful, quiet place with a breathtaking vista... and for today, hosting B & W speakers, CONVERGENT Audio CAT SL-1 preamp, Fabrizio Baretta's Faber cables and... ELP Laser vinyl disc player!

I only previously saw it as a static, non-playing unit...

Today, I was able to her a disc as played NOT by a conventional arm and cartridge, but from some laser beams.








What I heard wasn't only music but... crackling, popping dust noises of any sort and music.

The KL washing machine also present at the show wasn't only a cool, useful accessory, but a necessity, as any dust debrises were felt as cannon shots through the speakers, also with brand new, sealed discs.



The sound, among pops and cracks, wasn't bad... maybe a little fat and veiled, but the thing was nonetheless sounding.

The ELP was connected at the phono stage of the CAT SL-1, so not using its built-in phono circuit, maybe including some sort of digital correcting, thus making things much more silent.

I really don't know what to think about it...



A technical exercise for sure, yet not an achievement of any sort, sound-wise.

... but, sure as hell, a nice, nice experience... like being able to say hello to my old mentor, Lorenzo Zen, also present at the show.








Lorenzo Zen and yours truly... silver-foxes;-)






... to sum it up: love my Garrardzilla even more!




Saturday, November 19, 2016

Vérité Musicale












I got on loan this disc from my pal Enrico... it's a 45 rpm recorded with a (Charlin's?) dummy-head miking technique and the star of the disc is a 1716 gorgeous Donzelague's harpsichord.


The disc is a truly seldom seen, sought-after wax, indeed... in same league than my beloved, Georges Kisselhof's engineered Sarastro, also a 45 rpm disc, also a French production, almost reaching the heights of the Cercle Kallistos double discs set engineered by YBA, also an harpsichord, already in Arthur Salvatore Gods' List (and in my own since early '90s).


Oui! Vérité Musicale, productions musicales en haute fidélité.
Gravure stéréophonique de phase, tête artificielle. .



... but... BUT what makes this disc quite a rare breed, the back cover liner notes shows something unique: VM - Verite Musicale, the label itself shows an hidden sort-of "secret"!

They claims the availability, for the discerning audiophile, of open-reel master copies of the superb recording, also offering different standards - i.e. 19 cm/s NAB/Dolby B or DBX and 38 cm/s CCIR/IEC with DBX noise reduction!




... something only Barclay-Crocker from USA did in the past, also using Dolby B...

... since the recent renaissance of master-dubs galore from several sources, as per my friend River Yu's cool directory.

A nice find, indeed.

Thanking Enrico for the opportunity to listen to and appreciate this gem.







Reel to reel rainy day afternoon






Rainy day, yeah!


Today THE most perfect weather for a loooong listening session while taping master-copies for a friend...



... using (almost) all my trusty tape recorders!




The Revox A 77 MkIV 4-tracks was really rocking with some old, good classics I played, BUT when I placed on the little Swiss recorder the 19 cm/s Quicksilver Messenger Service's "Happy Trails",  I  sort of fell in tears!




What a sound... what a sound, pals... it's like the purest of analog better connects my soul directly to and with the soul of music: this is a no return trip!




BTW: I'm in love for my M15-A;-)






Thursday, November 17, 2016

Silbatone's Mazinga or...







... a Silbatone's SE power amp I could live with, as 850 mW can sound HUGE... I can only wonder how 4 - one for each way - of these beauties could sound with my Gotorama.










Great, GREAT building quality and solid circuitry search behind this gizmo using one of the most exotic and performing tube ever built.






I'll try hard to obtain an amps quartet (hype...)  for evaluation... Joeeeeee!!!! 






Go, Mazinga, go!






Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Blog of the Day - LencoHell







Thanking my pal Roberto... a new Blog devoted to classic Lencos' and related bespoke projects cleverly performed.
















Cool version with Carlo Morsiani's 12" arm and high-density graphite clamp with built-in strobe!


Elegant combo!




.


Monday, November 14, 2016

Mumble, mumble, mumble...









I’ve recently been offered a mouth-watering amount of money for my complete audio system… the (potential) interested party is 20 years younger than me, much wealthier and lacking the time to spend hours and hours on the web or emailing with people around the world to get what he looks for… so it makes sense.


The proposal is really interesting, enough to make me wonder if I’ll be regretting on my eventual choice to sell or not to sell.

... and, no! I'm not needing money and my health is decently good... so what?


What’s a music system? An old question with multiple answers…


Is it only a bunch of gears (like in our wives average opinion)? … or is it a part of truest me – soul-related, maybe? - I’m willing to sell?


Will I be richer (money-sake) or poorer (music-sake)?

Should I underline to the potential buyer the room where the system resides is part of the system, itself?

Does it know that when saying "audio-system", that word - i.e. - "system" isn't a casualty, but a true complex interaction of several, connected stuffs and facts and solved and unsolved variants, so really a system?

Every audio lover knows what I’m talking about: every cable, cartridge, amp etc. etc. is the cherry-picked choice of infinite elucubrations, chatting with friends, reading, pondering and pros & cons considerations… so precious and priceless.


Would I be going to sell and downsizing my system or buying again something impressive and difficult to maintain?


… but, if so, would I also be going to quit my renewed reel to reel passion and editing I’m so fond these days?


That would be too much for my old heart!


Is it far more important the music, also if listened through a lesser system or…?









… so: talking about my beloved records collection, my vinyl discs: downsizing could/would also mean selling some unwanted or un-listened-to-in-eons music – i.e. 3+ meters shelf of opera I’m REALLY, sincerely pretty sure I’ll do not listen to again?

Maybe a wise choice;-)

Am I going to be tired of my studio or smelling The Grim Reaper’s scent or is it a very human wish, a need, maybe, of some wind of change in my musical life?


A Man lives for challenging... or not?

Not by chance, I'm deeply into new recording projects.


Living music vs. being - passively - an audiophile.





Mumble-mumble-mode, pals…




Friday, November 11, 2016

Leonard Cohen passed away!!!



... more optimism needed, today, folks!

I've been a fond, loyal fan and follower of Leonard Cohen's art: I read some of his poems, his novels, The Favourite Game and Beautiful Losers have always been in my personal books Olympus, I searched for his Greek house in Hydra, back in 1984, asking to islanders where it was and visiting its door and white walls like a temple... and always returned to his discs often and often, in the last 40+ years, like a vessel back to the harbour, after a storm.





When I began playing acoustic guitar in my teens, his Suzanne was among the very first licks and songs I learned and my young ladies friends swear they never saw me more sexy... ahhh, the power of immortal melodies and simple, truest art: also if (badly) filtered through my personal flaws (voice and playing), the beauty poured and reached the hearts, strong and pure like the real thing.



I must admit I remained much more fond of the early records, the naked, acoustic arrangements were so right for his words... I found as redundant the strings and other instruments added on his more recent discs.

 After the release of "You want it Darker",  his last, recent record, he told the following to Rolling Stone:

"You depend on a certain resilience that is not yours to command, but which is present, and if you can sense this resilience or sense this capacity to continue, it means a lot more at this age than it did when I was 30, when I took it for granted."

A giant, he'll be deeply missed... not only for what he wrote and sang in the shiny past, but most of all for the lighthouse he was, a rock of poetry and beauty in a dark sea of sorrow and grief of a world going worst and worst.



R.I.P. dear Leonard, condolences to your sons and to all the ladies you loved, reciprocated...


... and thank you for being.