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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Ray Clark's Hi-Fi Classics' Garrard 301 solid aluminium chassis





Available as a separate item, at last... after few months ago found on (UK) Ebay, here is - at last - the new, cool offering of the CNC-solid alu chassis for our beloved 301's in classis grey hammertone or butter white.

Previously only sold as a complete, refurbished 301, it's a new, "cheaper" (...) option and opportunity to bring a Garrard's specs and performance even further.

A true labour of love, Ray!

Friday, August 26, 2011

WJAAS - Akira Nagai-san's Bakoon/Satri vision







Satri is a well kept secret among high efficiency and horn-based systems users.

The above linked modular "channel divider" - unfortunately now a discontinued item - for example, and other products, amps, pre-amps, battery PSUs.. also an omnidirectional mike, are ALL based on a proprietary circuit and - most of all - a chip now at its "n" revision... the company operates between South Korea and Japan.

Browse the several site internal topics and this for more down-to-earth products, but still using "Satri" circuitry.

The (showed) 5501, also a 10W monoblock, but it is worth Y 5.000.000... each!

The MUCH cheaper AMP-11 Reference (or also the slightly smaller PSU-box, the AMP-11) with its 10 W stereo power looks quite promising for multi-amping 110+ db horn-systems, also due to impressive bandwidth and - reportedly - ABSOLUTE respect for micro-details, super-low S/N ratio AND musical/harmonic content and texture.

They're incredibly well built and, as a plus, using Sanyo Oscon caps and the like, seldom seen on lesser stuff; nothing related to T-amps or other El Cheapos amps too common on the market, also - must be said - if not a Class A circuit.

Sounds intriguing, don't you?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Low powered, classy Class A alternatives... or the quest for a "Very low noise amp for Horn System"














It's all in the post title, pals...

A low watts, no-feedback (read=near to zero) high building and sonic quality TRUE, pure Class A solid-state power-amp is as rare as a four-leaf clover.

Names like (U.S.) Bedini 10 and 25W or Hiraga Le Classe A 20 or 30W from France, or Marantz/Esotec MA-24 30W or Pioneer M-22 25W or original Mark Levinson 25W are among the VERY few names which come to my mind, but we're in the vintage/pre-owned realm.

So... what's available on the present market?

... not an easy task, folks...

OMTEC CA25V2 25W monoblocks... nice...

VALVET A 3.5 50W monoblocks... great...

SATRI AMP-5513 stereo 35W... superb...

... and...

?

The deep, deeeeep pockets music lover could go for a full combo using the above for multiamping, instead of having to browse and search for eons and surfing the Web for minty, unmodified original Hiraga's... virtually disappeared everywhere: I spent about three years to find my own five Le Classe A!

Worth saying that, if browsing for "Hiraga" on eBay, a bunch of artisans, usually from Latvia or other Baltic republics, are feeding the market with nicely built, reasonably priced amps, so-called "Hiraga" design/concept...

Mixed reports says they sounds nice to great... only beware a Class A power amp is a strange beast: Jean Hiraga-san carefully and tirelessly fiddle around this VERY circuit and project for years, and the choice of properly sized and quality caps is paramount... if he used in the 30W 1.456.000 microfarads capacity, there is a reason: my ears tell me every day;-)

The much cheaper 20W "only" sports a 456.000 microfarads capacity and it sounds vastly less dynamic and pronto than its bigger bro.

DIY-er around goes for smaller, cheaper below-specs, chinese/no-name caps and the sound is below-par, of course... a top-quality BHC Group's Evox/Rifa PEH 169-HV622VM, Finland-made, 25V 220.000 microfarads large Coke-sized cap is worth EUR 200+ (plus V.A.T.) each!

... a 330.000 microfarads... well, it's more;-)!!!

So, if going DIY - a much rewarding practice, as the (Hiraga) circuit is really gonzo-proof, if respecting transistors offset, proper cabling and cooling, etc. - should be headed as the building of "the" last amp on Earth;-) - no compromise and best quality components.

Ears will appreciate.



Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Jorge Francisco Isidoro Luis Borges Acevedo



Following today Google's Doodle dedicated to the great, late Jorge Luis Borges, a suggestion about...

"The Collected Novels of Jorge Luis Borges
By Jorge Luis Borges

Translated by Andrew Hurley
Viking Press, 2003. Three volumes, 2188 pgs.

Review by Ben D. Anderson

Following on the heels of Vikings’ indispensable compendiums of Borges’ poems, essays, and short stories, comes this somewhat more ambitious collection of Borges’ novels. Divided into three volumes, the first volume contains the “Arabist” trilogy, Gate of Peace, Black and White Sands, and The First Governor of Jerusalem, as well as a foreword by Haruki Murakami. Published between 1948 and 1955, these first three novels are generally cited as Borges’ last real foray into the world of Islamic mysticism and the end of his preoccupation with Arabic peoples in general.
Set in the late 1200s, the Arabist trilogy tells the story of the Al-Warazai family through tens of generations. The novel starts off with the marriage of Raifa Al Mohammed Al-Warazai to Princess Zeeba Rakhmatti, the immortal ruler of the ruined city of Persepolis. Her fortune, literally vanishing into thin air due to an ancient curse, is buttressed by the money of her new husband’s merchant family. The marriage sets into motion a series of events that culminates, in the center of Black and White Sands, with the reincarnated Raifa, now a barnacle clinging to the hull of the Pinta, desperately trying to stay with Zeeba, now a cross-dressing crew member of Christopher Columbus. In 1840, the Al-Warazai fortune, now squandered in failed attempts to corner the market on world almond production, is melted down by Beezhan Al-Mutasiim Al-Warazai, who takes the molten silver and casts it into a thin dagger as he seeks to find the now insane Zeeba, living somewhere on the plains of Bolivia. Beezhan finds employment as an itinerant guacho, Bolivia’s only Muslim, and a notorious horse thief. Beezhan believes that by killing Zeeba, he will free the ghost of Raifa, who now haunts his dreams.
By contrast, the two novels that make up the second volume of the three-book set are calm, contemplative and decidedly non-violent. Tableness, the first novel, is a fictional autobiography of Xanthus, the heavenly librarian of the Platonic Archives, which contain all the heavenly objects that are emulated on Earth. Xanthus tells us the story of his corporeal life, as a mercenary in Scythia who dies at the hand of Vikings, and tries to impart the existence of his afterlife without giving away too many secrets. Tableness, first published in Spanish in 1958 but not translated into English until 1961, is generally regarded as Borges’ most important novel.
I, however, prefer the simple austerity of his 1960 novel, The Lodestone, another time-defying epic of the eternal inhabitants of a Jesuit monastery in New Mexico. The monks lead a subsistence agrarian lifestyle, and as the ages pass, the monks and their home shrink, until they are little more than the size of ants in the present day. The Lodestone contains some of Borges’ most beautiful imagery (“Father Simon deplored the aging process, and grew distasteful of the wrinkles on his face. Looking in the mirror, he would often focus on his dully reflective fingernails, and remember when they shone as brilliantly as the scales of a carp.”), and stand as a testament to the beauty of Catholicism in an age that seeks to destroy its’ institutions.
The final volume of the compendium is devoted to Borges’ unfinished, untitled “opus”, a meditation on the infinite that revolves around an apocryphal tapestry that purports to be a portrait of the face of God. As the tapestry is bought, sold, stolen, and traded amongst alternately wealthy, self-righteous, and amoral men, Borges seems, as a writer, to lose confidence in the ability of even fictional humans to break out of their self-destructive behaviors. Several draft chapter are included, with marginalia and crossouts included, and they show a novel that started to disintegrate faster than its’ blind author could hope to write it. Although he started the novel in 1963, he was forced to put it down in 1980 because he feared the frustration would affect his health.
Besides arguments over having been “robbed” of a Nobel Prize, modern conversations of Borges tend to revolve around his contribution to the postmodern genres of metafiction and fabulism. We are reminded of this in every foreword in the collection, which were written by Italo Calvino, Gore Vidal, and Arundhati Roy in addition to Murakami. Indeed, it seems futile to even imagine a world of literature untouched by the influence of Borges. But in these novels, I was reminded of Borges’ humanity, and his enduring belief and faith in man and his infinitely combinatorial inventions. Perhaps that is why the infinite so successfully romanced Borges; after all, in an infinite series, there has to be one perfect moment."


Thanks to mr. Anderson for the above, great review.

Borges, MUCH more than others, "knew" and understood all the elusiveness and fragility of life and its facts.

... and I love his vision.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Audio Morons and Moronity


As a passionate reader of Roman Bessnow's Forum/site, I've been exposed to the concept of "Audio Moronity", morons chasing and unmasking and related, several declinations - i.e. a "moron" (tm) owns a gonzo-like attitude to don't fully understand this or that, broadly applying misconcepts and concepts misuse, technical misinterpretations, wrong reply to a given question and a generally annoying, yet intense perception of relating to s.o. inadequate and in bad-faith... yes, a Moron, maybe unable to explain "boiling water" to a curious seven years old kid.

A waste, both human-wise and culturally.

The Audio Moron, present at every latitude and emisphere, if joining a Forum, too often uses too many emoticons to underline his emptiness and... yes, moronity.

Instead of deepening a topic, confutating this or that sentence, properly interacting with intelligence and informed conversation or curious questioning on a given matter, if someway cornered with an honest, but apparently strange or seldom read affirmation... he closes like an hedgehog and - with plenty of emoticons and an apparently witty and friendly approach, he ridiculize everything lowering to a truly shitty-level any given conversation, any topic concerned.

Life as a cul-de-sac...

I usually tend to consider those people like a guinea-pig fart in the (web) bush and pass away... but, hey, I met one, a first-hand experience, Roman;-)

So... kampai!

I fully and 120 percent understand your no-compromise approach in denouncing those time and web-space wasters everytime, everywhere you find one and I subscribe and agree and applaud to blame those mind-flawed wannabes.

I know who he is and... nahh... too (Audio) Moron to self-recognize him by himself from the above, don't you?

Monday, August 22, 2011

SMS


Short Message Service? .... naaaah...

Snow, Music, Smoke, folks...

Eskimo's culture owns a number of words and expressions to describe different qualities of snow to put to shame Shakespeare's lessical skill and virtuosism.

I realized - yesterafternoon - while lazily smoking my pipe and listening to some Tortoise's disks: how many "smokes" does exist?

The poisonous, breathed/inhaled cigarette smoke - an habit I quitted 20+ years ago - is raw and nervous, it's the combustion by-product filthy everyone expects from those awful smelling fags, as also die-hard cigarette smokers hate their miasms.

Cigars... oh my, I'm partial here, as a good Habanos, hecho a mano, a Robusto or a Prominente after a special lunch or dinnner, is classy enough to give an olfattive "smelltrack", an olfattive soundtrack to chatting and socializing... it's thick, sumptuous, slow - if puffed properly - and the (undeniable) unhealthyness is, sort-of, mitigated and not an issue, anymore, as flavour and tasty smell are so powerful for at least two senses, dialoguing, interacting and completing each other.

Pipe, as yesterday... is a little mistery, as few tobacco flakes ounces in the oven are usually lasting as long as a good Habanos'... clever!

Pipe smoking is a multi-level and sensorial experience: smoke is lazy, greasy-like fluctuating in the air, almost solid, with a visible and smelling persistence whose nature changes several times, from exhaling to when so elegantly dancing in the air for looong moments.

Its colour is also different, being a pale blue vs. the exhaust-like no-colour of the cigarettes.

As a plus, the well-worn, worked-out pipe wood is life-like in my hands, smooth, silky, reassuring and warm like a little sparrow having a rest in my (peaceful) hand.

Eyes, mouth, nose, hands... makes four: fifth - i.e. ears missing?

Nope...

Having a cigar or pipe without music would be for yours truly like having sex with an inflatable plastic doll;-) Technically feasible;-))), but not in my wishes top-list.

So, ALL five senses get involved and are playing together... to relax, to get a climax, giving to a lazy 35° Celsius Sunday afternoon in my studio, the status of "the" place I'm in and where I want to be.

A last but not least parallel with my Gotorama and "how" I listen to music in my music-room: after being a fag smoker and distract listener, when younger, I taught myself to reach an (higher) level of consciousness, paying attention to both music and sound, its inner structure and endless beauty of the infinite possible combinations... and better smoking habits as a mature individual.

Like an omnivorous, hungry "deep ears" (thanking Linda Lovelace...;-))), better, like a musical Eskimo (... the snow, remember?) I'm humbly, sincerely storing in my cells and DNA, the more I'm able to reach and feel and talk and (try to) describe and understand the most I can about the most mysterious, elusive of human expressions: music.

Like in love, any means will do... sharing, begging, travelling, chatting, DIY-ing, Web, thieving... whatever, 'til the last puff... aehm, breathe.


 

Friday, August 19, 2011

Richard Gere will auction his 110 guitars collection at NYC Christie's...


... on next October 11th... the sum raised will serve for humanitarian causes.


AUCTION TIMES
Oct 11 10am & 2pm
VIEWING TIMES
Rockefeller Center
Oct 8 10am - 5pm
Oct 9 1pm - 5pm
Oct 10 10am - 5pm
Oct 11 10am - 2pm

Bon chance.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Wild Blue Yonder


A lysergic science-fiction phantasy movie by Werner Herzog, where stars and time travelling, music and liquid helium seas are mixed with visitors from Andromeda, who planned to build their Capitol and Memorial and Congress, somewhere in... Niland, California.

Music is awesomely serving - and unsurprisingly so, thinking to the director good musical tastes and vision - i.e. the long collaboration of Herzog with Popol Vuh, and their several soundtracks - the extremely slow and poetic filming and the composer/cellist, Ernst Rijseger, interacts with a Sardinian vocal ensemble (Tenores of Orosei), creating a truly seldom heard interplay during underwater (aehm, helium...) scenes.

It's a truly strange and moving movie... also hinting to a possible shiny future for time-travelling, by "Time-tunnels and cosmic hyper-highways"... also suggesting a possible transformation of planet Earth - emptied of all and every human artifacts (cities, bridges... everything man-made) - into a game/vacation park for then-sputtered through the galaxies (ex-terrestrial) humans!

I loved it... my wife and others on Web found it boring... I found it painful, as it someway and sadly shows, as best sci-fi always did, "a" future...

P.S. - musician Henry Kaiser, who spent some months in an U.S.' Antarctica camp (McMurdo Sound) with his guitar (...), years ago, also contributed to the movie, with some underwater/under-the-ice (superb) footage.

Prof. Dr. h.c. Johann-Nikolaus Matthes, Diplom-Tonmeister and EMI Electrola Reflexe "Stationen Europaischer Musik" series


"German sound engineer, from 1967 to 1980 with EMI Electrola; professor for recording sciences at the University of Music in Berlin."

The above "should" say it all...

... but in my opinion, Prof. Matthes, now a teacher at Berlin's Tonmeisterinstituts c/o "Universitat der Kunste" reached among the highest peaks in recording art, like J.F. Pontefract (of Harmonia Mundi - France fame), also teaching at Institut Audio-Visuelle in Paris.

It's my hope and wish both the above recordists/engineers were able to pour some of their knowledge and class in younger generation of recordists-to-come.

He's a true "Tonmeister" - i.e. a Master of Sound!

... but I don't want to sing the (present days) merits of Prof. Matthes... I'd like to underline and point-it out again and again the tremendous, amazing job he made while recording the impressive EMI/Electrola Reflexe Series dedicated to European ancient music (Stationen Europaischer Musik), where he recorded - it was early to mid-'70s - virtually all the greats - Hopkinson Smith, Thomas Binkley, Paul O'dette, Anthony Bailes, Jordi Savall and many others.

I must (unshamedly) admit I use some records he recorded for both enjoyment and pure pleasure and musical bliss AND sonic/audio evaluation and fine tuning, notably this.

This stunning record, also re-issued under EMI Classics' program of 6-disks boxes series, proved to be an endless source of superb, seldom heard and recorded lute music AND an incredible source of ambient details, a true highest-resolution recording which I cherish in my whole discotheque.

If going disk;-) check for Volume 5 and 8 box-sets, containing Bailes' recordings.

The clothes rubbing on the lute, the breathing, the outer noises - different cars, children playing in a courtyard, birds - ALL entering the mikes, down to the INCREDIBLE noise (an extremely light, costant high pitched, siren-like whistle-y sound) of the tape-recorder motors, also captured (sure an unwanted feature;-)) on tape: ALL the above makes this disc a masterpiece and a sure system resolution proofing!

Don't be fooled: I still love the music more than the noises... but I'm pretty sure Arthur Salvatore (also a scholar and knowledged listener of these superb series) if knowing of or owning this very record could/will agree: it's vinyl and analog at its VERY best... ahhh, those so beautifully "growling" double lute strings and slurs and micro-dynamics.

How I would like to know how the recording engineer - Prof. Matthes - obtained such an incredibly transparent result: which mikes, positioning and pattern, recorder, tape, earspeakers, mixer... and which room or church? ... and humidity and temperature;-)?!?!

Maybe I'll be able to contact him at his Berlin's faculty office or at Universitat's Fasanenstrasse, Charlottenburg's studio(s)... cannot resist in not knowing "how" he did this.

In the meantime, please try to locate your copy of the above mentioned masterpiece, without forgetting its companion, another absolute masterpiece, always by Bailes/Matthes team on EMI/Reflexe.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Chelsea Hotel in NYC closes!


The end of an era... it has been sold for USD 80 millions... and it will be converted in a luxury apartments house!

Too bad for employees and for our music lovers and lunatics worldwide bleeding hearts... remembering Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, Jack Kerouac and all our recent history geniuses who lived and loved in Chelsea's rooms.

R.I.P.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Horns around the World - 4



... horns on a (mosque) minaret, supporting muezzin's prayer with necessary 100 db+ holy loudness:-)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

"The" transformer-seeker heaven site


This site is a goldmine as it virtually collects (almost) every vintage transformer being auctioned around.

... I find it a nice and useful tool for shopping in the elusive pre-owned irons market, a TRUE jungle, indeed.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Beauty


Davey Graham & Alexis Korner - 3/4 A.D.





... or I got one of my very own most sought-after discs, ever!

By chance, as usually best things happen, I found this VERY disc - an EP, 7", actually - I was looking for since my boyhood... and not paying for it an arm and a leg;-)

... mmmhh... nice stroke!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Ivan Kursar's "Cool Gales" - Hi-End at its best


Ivan Kursar and his Cool Gales Hi-End shop, both in brick and Web-formats, are as seldom seen as an unicorn, as he passionately runs an audio salon devoted to usual hi-fi makers and brands, BUT he's also extremely curious about hand-made and bespoke audio, as seen at the recent "Analogue Fest 2011", on last June, in Bath, Cool Gales' home-town.

We met at Berlin and Munchen tastings, years ago, and shared (well... we still do;-)) with common friends - Thomas Schick, Thomas Mayer, Michael Ulbrich, Bernd Uecker, Frank Schroeder, Dietmar Hampel, Hartmut Quaschik, Peter Sikking, David Shrieve, David Haigner, Norbert Wokusch, Christopher Kolle, Christian Bayer - truly GREAT moments: those sooo nice, pleasant chattings and dinners and full-immersion in audio and music for days...

Mr. Kursar - worthwhile pointing it out again - keeps an eye to industry/mainstream goodies and another to bespoke, artisanal handicrafts - i.e. Thomas Schick's, Thomas Mayer's stuffs from Germany and other UK-based workshops - a truly rare approach and attitude, much welcome, these so flawed days.

Vitavox Redux...


This myth of British audio has finally re-born...

Superb products and workmanship and classy, classic design - i.e. CN-191 enclosure is a Flash Gordon/Dick Tracy-inspired piece of audio design.

Welcome back!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Platter suggestions - Thurston Moore's 'Demolished Thoughts'



I bought at Ivan's a gorgeous double (blue) vinyl-set with download complimentary card after reading a rave review of the last, 4th to-date Sonic Youth's founder effort on Mojo magazine.

It's a very English-flavoured disc - i.e. it pays some sonic debt to early '70s Donovan's psych sonorities (Mina Loy) and contains really good tracks, indeed: twelve strings acoustics and seldom heard instrumental blendings with nice text, as well.

It's much less Sonic Youth's stuff... it reminds me more some Iron & Wine and R.E.M.'s music.

The recording is also top-class and, in vinyl/analog glory, it's a true beauty to the ears, soooo smooth and pleasant and relaxed...

Worthwhile a try by everyone, not necessarily the most daredevils among you... it's new Americana at its best.

Recommended.