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Monday, January 30, 2012

Musings?



Thanking BP's fucking HUGE mistakes... and thinking that the Gulf Stream goes 800 to 1200 m deep and is about 100 km wide and "something" HEAVY happened in Gulf of Mexico with billions tons of oil polluting the ocean... and coasts and people life... in the name of profit!

Yesterday heavily snowed in Morocco and almost didn't snow at all in whole Alps since few hours ago...


Musings? Global warming or ice age?

Snow on the beach? No monsoons? Desert in inland Europe? Skiing in Sahara? Floods? Plague?

Hard times... no jokes, Planet Earth is ill and angry.

... and we're ALL guilty!

Friday, January 27, 2012

R.I.A.A. equalization curve - friend or foe?


Read carefully those Wikifacts, folks... cannot stop thinking while reading above RIAA's genesis - more politics than music-related - that yesterday evening I listened to a couple of open-reel tapes at 15 i.p.s. on my de Paravicini's Revox G36 tape recorder... a rare Giacinto Scelsi's organ recording I did years ago, using Neumann USM-69 in Blumlein with Nagra IV-S... the sound was soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo liquid, natural and smooooooooooooooooooooooooooooth, dynamic, effortless and beautiful... I was ready to sell... BETTER: give away ALL my vinyls... few notes and ALL is incredibly clear: first generation open reel Basf tape IS music.

RIAA... NAB, CCIR... equalization standards are words, acronyms... conventions... music is as simple as breathing air... as open-reel and first generation master tapes.

The best, VERY best vinyl playback?

A good second... at best.

Michel Petrucciani at Pere Lachaise


... in loving memory of Michel...

Monday, January 23, 2012

Ivan's Choice - Ulrich Schnauss & Mark Peters, Underrated Silence


Ulrich Schnauss, master of shoegazer indietronica, and Mark Peters, bass player, guitarist and songwriter in the british band engineers, present their first collaboration: they have crafted music which is enchanting in the truest sense of the word, shimmering sounds, floating echoes, rhythmically reverberant chords which wrap themselves around the listener, lifting him into a state of suspension and carrying him gently away. on bureau b records.

I'll try it...

BTW: it's also available in vinyl format;-)

Ears and hearing - In praise of silence



Yesterday I spent some hours in the mountains, at 1000 meters above sea level, spruces, bright sky, snow, sun, chilly air and... silence.

Nor my wife neither our beloved pup presence was able to bruise the amazing beauty of silence.

A fat, almost painful, yet heavenly silence... THE most perfect of silences... no in Ksar Ghilane, Tunisia or in Guatemala's Peten I had same deep sensation... the wind or the insects or the birds were someway - yet beautiful - disturbing.

Being in the mountains in winter in a sunny bright day... that's the trick... no cars, airplanes, bikes, burglars, crowd, only the forest, snowy smooth, the naked trees (oaks) and spruces... still, magnificient; pure colours, pure silence... purest of... what?!?!?

What's silence?

Is it death hinting?

Is it a pause of life?

Is it emptiness?

Is it something to search and to look for or to step away?

... as an improvising musician, silence is a canvas and my best friend... notes, sounds coming from an instrument or a voice cannot exist without silence...

Music without silence is... well, noise.

... back to yesterday... the silence was surprising, as it sort-of captured me with its quality...

Was it deep, shiny?

Was it excessive?

Can beauty be "excessive"?

Who am I to describe or understand silence?

Is it somehow "useful" or cool or important to talk about silence?

In my opinion, definitely "YES!"

Silence is fullness of life... the supreme emptiness to be filled by nature and whole creation sounds...

I loved it as silence speaks when words cannot.

I love it!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Was Keynes wrong?


... audio-sake, maybe:-)

Supply and demand?

Market laws seems to do not properly apply to audio... many audio gears, amps, turntables, cartridges and speakers cost more than solid gold... is it workmanship the ONE and ONLY added value explaining such an apparently inflated price-tags, sometimes reaching real estate price tags?

Is it mass production vs. handmade? Maybe... BUT building quality isn't - per se - only coming from this or that... so that's not self-explaining nothing.

I remember years ago, I don't know if referring to S. Schmidlin's Audio Consulting or Imai-san's Audio Tekne or to both:-)... i.e. when you buy "xxxxx" from us you buy our vision and dream...

The above should/would justify the AWFULLY high, almost alien price-tags of some gears, who knows... I visited Imai-san's 1 & 1/2 square meters, tiny sized "workshop"... father and son seated at a bench, hand soldering for hours and hours on every top of the line amps or preamps they put on the market worldwide...

Is this one-to-one, maker-to-customer approach, alone, worth tycoon-only final prices?

How's worth Man's time, one hour of unconditionally given, full of attention and dedication, depending on his/her skill and/or profession?

A doctor while surgering would be worth millions, as human life is so precious... BUT also an audio engineer and builder, giving shivers and food to our soul, giving life to a black plastic slab with grooves and giving us - i.e. Bach or S.L. Weiss... isn't this worth "some" money... BIG money, I mean?

... and why people I know and/or I'm aware of, after spending BIG bucks on this or that piece of gears, when it comes the time to go multiamping, so needing a... crossover:-))) - yes, it's recent stuff, folks... - they suddently get into a sad penny-pinchers mood and go for a crappy built, sounding and conceived IC-based crossover, completely fucking ALL the system sound and nuances?

Money rules, would say Keynes, BUT in audio and music, yes, also fine instruments are elusive matter and some of the a.m. anti-Keynes' laws apply, as well...

It's time and its value, skills and knowledge value, it's idea, details, materials, of course... but the mix of the above mentioned give best audio stuffs, NOT only resistors and caps and transformers in a box, BUT something which gives Music... and Music is above ANY value and as much money unrelated as it can be, so priceless.

AT ANY PRICE, music and everything gives it to us, is as precious as life.

Priceless.

Unique.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

R.I.P. Dept. - Gustav Leonhardt passed away on January 16th...


The great harpsichordist, organist and conductor, the man of great taste who, with Frans Bruggens, Wieland and Sigiswald Kujiken, Kees Otten, Anner Bylsma and a bunch of (quiet) daredevils forged the European ancient music, its praxis and authors as we know and appreciate today... played on original instruments, with minimalist recordings on Telefunken "Royal Sound" AW series vs. the overproduced/multimiked Deutsche Gramophone's, before Arkiv label...

Think about some recordings on DG by Richter and his - at the time - recently made harpsichord... Bach's masterpieces were sometimes sounding like played on a Petrof:-))) grand-piano!

After Gustav Leonhardt, Bach and several other composers from XVI, XVII and XVIII Century, someway clicked as pretty "right" to our younger ears... I attended to his concerts every time I had the opportunity... dozens of times, actually, as I loved his music and playing and cherished to these present days ALL his records on Telefunken's from early '60s onward.

His calm, forceful, tasty musical approach was simply unique: measured, classy with a never tiring and tired attitude, always unveiling hidden masterpieces at every concert and recording.

I'll miss him a lot, his elegant, calm walking in and out of the stage... I (humbly) learned a lot from him... first of all to love harpsichord and its extremely broad palette after you digest his apparently boring dinosaur-like character.

After and thanking him came Blandine Verlet, Ton Koopman, Scott Ross, Davitt Moroney and a few more... but as the first love is never forgotten and always missed, Maestro Leonhard remained among the most beloved of yours truly.

R.I.P. for him and condolences to his family, friends and fellow musicians who appreciated his elegance for decades...

Monday, January 16, 2012

Sunday, January 15, 2012

A new "pusher" in town: Boris' Beczar Rare Recordings and Music Society



From the ashes of the mythical "Crash Records", the second hand and rare vinyls (and disks) shop in medieval down town Padua (Italy), which closed after 25 years only few months ago... Beczar is THE place in town where to find sought after and obscure pressings both vinyl and digital, where to chat about music, photography, art...

I wish the best luck to Boris.

... more Tango... MCT-999 revamped!



Years ago I had a Tango MCT-999 moving coil transformers/step-up and... well, NOW I understand I didn't listen to it, actually.

I listened to - say - a 60 percent of its merits, it was pleasant BUT not the ultimate in resolution and transparency... maybe guilty was the awful Japanese building, looooong crappy cables inside and that 0,0005 cents 4 steps selector.

Water passed under the bridges and I re-tried with a new pair I found in Japan some months ago, BUT this time I followed Daniele Ansaloni's great tips and suggestions on building and cables quality and layout.

Also Marco Benedetti, who owns both Peerless 4685 and Tango MCT-999, preferred Tango's and he also applied Daniele's hints...

... oh, oh?!?!

Am I deaf?

Why, WHY I always preferred WE 618B and Peerless 4685 over MC-999... now, nor Marco neither Daniele owns and use a Lumiere DST, with its 2 ohm and 0,3 mV needs, but nonetheless I took my time to re-try Tango...

What can I say? I was wrong, period!

Honestly I didn't fully understood the great musicality and the incredible resolution the MCT-999 is able to give to the discerning listener.

Yesterday evening I had first listenings with Tango's in the analog chain and I almost fell from my lounge chair:-)

The character was... hell, IS:-) in the VERY same vein of my cherished Western Electric 618B: no exagerated rendering, no hyper-detailing, BUT only the truest soul of the music... resolution is very, very high, BUT in a different way than my also beloved Peerless 4685 or 4611... the detailing is relaxed, ambient noises are not sort-of "added" to music and musicians playing... everything is embedded and nicely organized into the music and part of it, including recording venue and musicians lively presence...

Must say I had to repeat the listening swapping two times from Tango to 618B to 4685 to Tango, again... sure the HUGE improvement I had after inserting the Mayer's LCR/passive crossover, with its incredible seldom heard silence-among-the-notes... well, this helped in better understanding what was going on.

Many thanks from my heart to Daniele for his always well informed opinions and to Marco Benedetti for someway "pushing" me again toward MCT-999... and to my friend Franz (from Italy, not Austria:-)) for great building and care on this apparently easy and humble project...

As you see from the (ugly) pixes, I choose a dadaist green colour - also nicely matching with my XLO Phono Reference cable:-) - for the Hammond's alu box and, as usually, Cardas Rhodium RCAs.

The King is naked, folks and, humbly said, I was wrong... let's shout "Hoooray!" for the Tango MCT 999.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Garrard 301... more tips on taming chassis vibes









From David, an Australian friend... a great, GREAT job of cleverly deadening job underside a 301's chassis.

... when one pix tells more than one hundred words...

Bravo, David... and thanks for sharing!

Thomas Mayer's (new) crossover: first listenings



... so, after one week since Thomas delivered his crossover, I had only the possibility to set up without the TacT's RCS XP 2.2, as the MOST important step is unfortunately missing and uneasy - i.e. the physical presence of my friend Franz Hinterlehner and his skill and deep knowledge of acoustics, room measurements and TacT programming.

The above will be fulfilled at Franz's convenience, later in the next weeks...

In the meantime, I implemented the Mayer's crossover in my Gotorama, connecting ALL my Hiraga's Class A amps and... horror and blame to me:-))), tuning by ear with some Ivie IE-30 and IE-20, respectively RTA and pink noise generator, support.

Strange enough, that's what happened... as you probably know, my Goto's drivers are aligned on vertical plane, BUT not time-aligned, at least without TacT's...

Without any active, semi-conductors based x-o, like the Goto CF-1 and the A&E EC-5 I used in the last months... the sound clicked soooo beautifully and easily... natural, smooth and with a killer detailing and soundstaging... magically (or not by chance, considering Dave Slagles'superb coils and TVCs and Thomas' workmanship and designing skill), the Gotorama's was superbly singing, effortless and untiring like when using TacT's and electronic crossover(s)... only better... I mean MUCH better, folks!

Maybe the light, even - almost non-existing - electronic glare and sonic footprint of Mayer's crossover highly "polished" music and gave a shiny, holy:-) character to the overall sound...

Thinking about being someway fooled by enthusiasm and possible (temporary) sonic "blindness" due to the novelty, I shared some listenings with a couple of (goodears) close friends... they also confirmed my feeling and thoughs, in awe and jaw-dropping mode like yours truly: also on well known discs and disks, an incredibly high quantity of new, previously hidden and veiled details appeared and every single note was like jumping out from athick, lively black fluid "canvas"... a never ending sense of surprise and smoothness.

... sure some boominess and slightly veiled shadow on lower frequencies are present... BUT, nonetheless, the zestness and beauty are SOOOO much more than the flaws...

My preview is that Mayer's crossover with its super transparency will further improve the sonics and musical enjoyment when my TacT's will be finally and properly programmed by herr Hinterlehner... as the bespoke frequencies and slopes already are so VASTLY above the previous - sans-TacT - overall sound in my studio.

Feel soooo excited and happy and satisfied... in the meantime, my deepest, sincere thanks go to Franz Hinterlehner, Thomas Mayer, Dave Slagle, Thomas Schick, Seija Goto and Shinichi Tanaka, Chiaki Kikuchi, Mario, Jean Hiraga... my system wouldn't be what's now, without their precious wisdom and associated skills.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The MIGHTY Grundig RT-50 tuner


A good second place, sonically and considering building quality, after Marantz 10B... also using tubes, it's a true beauty, old timey and space-age - i.e. Buck Rogers' b/w strips - at same time.

A superb site, unfortunately in italian, only, by a skilled aficionado from Venice, Italy, full of links and tips and hints about this well kept secret among TOP quality tuners.

Well done, Giovanni and... cool!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Music and its tools - making of a confortable thumb-pick


Zen and elegant short instruction video from UK...

Beaconos - a cool horns (and conventional) speakers manufacturer



A new manufacturer...

Cool bass enclosure... maybe using a tad too much MDF:-), but kosher!

Simon Reynolds' "Retromania"



Is pop and rock, as among the purer of pure art form of freedom and expression, dead?

Is rock living on its own ashes and self-destructing it, consuming itself at every new Rolling Stones, etc. etc. "new" gig?!?!

Like truest soccer is seen when you find a match in a soccer field in the countryside, with teams of fourteen/fifteen years old players, the most sincere rock is in the new voices and groups, maybe still rehearsing in a garage?

Not easy reply...

Have a browse to Simon Reynolds' "Retromania" blog and/or read his book, on Simon & Shuster's.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Thomas Mayer's Triptycon




Thomas recently posted in his Blog an article about the making of my new crossover, another step toward that M-U-S-I-C ideal, a goal of a life, as anyone has his obsessions, and... well, my own is my VERY own:-)

A very personal "menage" between music and myself.

I will meet Thomas, soon... in the meantime, as he says, my "shrine" is in a sort-of epiphany - by chance some hours to come:-) - a great time of waiting, hope and elucubrations, and, like during childhood, the Christmas' Eve was better than the Christmas day... meaning that in the waiting for something new there is a sort of "beauty", a languor akin enamourement, a feeling I love as much as life, itself.

... and no silly, uninspired forumer and/or rewiever will convince me I'm wrong or far too romantic: in virtually any DIY and bespoke stuffs there is the soul lacking in mass produced stuffs... my ears says it.

This German-born Meccano lover;-), addict and enthusiast named Thomas Mayer, who getting older mixed his electronic skills to his boyhood passion - Meccano, of course:-) - is a sort of Dream Catcher for (now) more and more music and audio lovers around... his gears are lively capturing music essence, period.

I already knew using since October 2009 his four-chassis preamplifier... sure his new piece of gears will further improve what's already (quite) seldom heard:-)

Thanks, Thomas... I'm pretty sure the usual exposing your gears to Bodensee fresh air and beauty will do the miracle... i.e. bringing life and trueness to reproduced music at home.

Easy?!?!

Ah!