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Friday, August 26, 2016

Earthquake





My deepest condolences for the victims of recent earthquake in Center Italy.








... and sincere empathy and nearness to everyone suffering losses of family, friends and belongings.









Rudy Van Gelder passed away... a lesser world it is, today.







Rudy Van Gelder, an audio engineer whose work with Miles Davis, John Coltrane and numerous other musicians helped define the sound of jazz on record, died on Thursday at his home, which doubled as his studio, in Englewood Cliffs, N.J.


He was 91 and worked at his home wooden dome-ceiling studio 'til the very last day of his long and fruitful life..

His death was confirmed by his assistant, Maureen Sickler.



Mr. Van Gelder, as he took pains to explain to interviewers, was an engineer and not a producer. He was not in charge of the sessions he recorded; he did not hire the musicians or play any role in choosing the repertoire. But he had the final say in what the records sounded like, and he was, in the view of countless producers, musicians and listeners, better at that than anyone.




The many albums he engineered for Blue Note, Prestige, Impulse and other labels in the 1950s and ’60s included acknowledged classics like Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme,” Davis’s “Walkin’,” Herbie Hancock’s “Maiden Voyage,” Sonny Rollins’s “Saxophone Colossus” and Horace Silver’s “Song for My Father.”

R.I.P. Mr. Van Gelder and thanks for taking care of our ears for aaaaall these years.


Thursday, August 25, 2016

Vinylgue - seaweed-based "vinyl" new formula for our beloved discs




Vinylgue: the first green vinyl from algae manufactured in Britain

Thanking Nicanor Haon and Jaap Pees

This is a world first, it's made in France and no,you cannot really eat it ... Audiophile gourmets, it will take a manufacturer recovers edible vinyl Artisanal plant vinyls M Com'Musique based Ogères (Ille et Vilaine) completed its prototype of a Breton vinyl made from algae. An alternative to the use of plastics.



After much research initiated before the opening of its factory, M Com'Musique pressed and listened to his first vinylgue, a black furrow produced from a raw material in the Algopack society. The latter manufactures plastics materials properties from alternative materials to petroleum as waste and natural fibers including algae.







Small beads of algae instead of the polymers:

It is these algae, added a bit of plastic that caught the attention of M Com'Musique, and can be provided in small beads such as polymers traditionally used to make discs. "We see that the heater is a little more fibrous" explained one of the creators of M Com'Musique reached by telephone. It will therefore further enhance the base material in order to have the same sound results than traditional vinyl and adapt the rigidity of the groove to take care of needles phonos cells. These additional research and possible changes in the production process will require fundraising by the company to enable to start production in 2018 vinylgue.

vinyl master engraving

M Com'Musique going half speed ...

Alongside his research on vinylgue, M Com'Musique is preparing to relaunch the prized half-speed engraving. The process, already existing, is to burn twice as slowly the master disc lacquer used to make the mold vinyl pressing. It to store twice as much information and thus provide a better return to listening. As the name suggests, the process takes twice as long, but in the factory, the result is there.

... And launches albums sharing service for artists

M Com'Musique also offers on its website a service called "Split my vinyls" that allows artists who do not have enough music to fill a full LP filling an online form. An algorithm is then responsible for contacting the artists whose recordings periods coincide and to allow them to release a record in common.

I apologize for even worst English than usual... it's Google-translated from French;-)





Sunday, August 21, 2016

"The" Saturday Disk - Meredith Monk - Songs of Ascension (ECM 2011)




Thanking my recent re-ordering of my CDs, I gave a listen to a disk I didn't played for many years, now...

I love, truly, sincerely, desperately love Meredith Monk's music, since in early '80s I was introduced to her music thanking my old mentor and maestro Lorenzo Zen: he played one day for me MM's "Dolmen Music"...

I truly felt I never heard such a beauty... piano, voices and sparingly used percussions by the late Collin Walcott...

I followed her on every disc she made onward and also searched the previous, older stuff...

Back in early '90, while in NYC, I also was lucky enough to attend to a loft concert... Meredith, Robert Een with Nurit Tilles on piano...

Blowed away by the experience, I was even more - if possible - deeply in love.

Book of Days was my Desert Island disk for years and still it is... this music is perfect for Pina Bausch or Carolyn Carson's modern dancing and choreographies... very kinetic and physical kind of music, indeed.

Yesterday, on the smaller system (the Cabasses', Partridge 300B, Luxman AT3000 and Studer A730) I listened to Songs of Ascension, dating 2011, on ECM, of course.



The disk is pretty different from the previous, more various in textures and instrumentarium... a strings quartet and a large chorus and a percussions array are used, while the voices are so ancient and timeless to make you wonder, after a while deeply soaked in this music, if Meredith is terrestrial or...

A short piece, titled "Mapping", is particularly hitting unplucked strings of mine: the voices are dueting in a seldom heard way... pan-potting from left to right channels, while an intermezzo of Chinese-like weird percussions, cymbals and small drums, are rock-steady centered... impressive.

Amazing music.

Atlantis-hinting, to my romantic ears;-)

Seriously: Mrs. Monk is able to make the Todd Reynolds String Quartet sounding like a spirited 3,000 B.C. or 3,000 A.C. version of Mozart or Haydn.

Painful, naked beauty!

The sonics are EXTREMELY faithful and right.

Dynamics, subtleties like the entering faders of mixer or various ambient noises, breathes and the like are very audible and transparent sound and imaging are top class.

Not new, yet being such a timeless music and disk, I strongly suggest everyone still unaware of Meredith Monk's art to take a chance and enjoy this music.

You won't regret... just tune-in your ears and soul and loose yourself in such a sonic blissful vision.





Thursday, August 18, 2016

An extract from Stereo Times' Archives - The Hobby





From the goldmine of Stereo Times' Archives, a well written, straight and extremely no-frills short essay about audio and music listening at home... an essay by Constantine Soo (published on Jan. 16th, 2002):


Constantine Soo


"The Hobby
Are we in this hobby simply for the recreation of a live event in our homes? The complexity of our hobby can be likened to an instance where you choose a restaurant not solely based on how much you like the food, but on balance of your appreciation of how good the food tastes, the menu pricing and the atmosphere in which you dine. Yet other aspects of this restaurant may well come into play: friendliness of waiters and waitresses, interior decors, location or its reputation.

Audio is as multi-facet a hobby as any other and will carry different meanings to different people.

While enticing sound recreation is the purpose for the existence of all audio equipment, they sometimes are like objects of art or obsessions that can quietly take on different meanings and purposes. Don't sneeze at those who collect a variety of equipment from the most expensive and exotic to whatever interests him, or that audiophile at the other end of the spectrum who changes his system every month. It is ok as long as they can afford to do so.

We may envy those among us who possess the financial freedom in acquiring astronomically priced gear, and pull out our hair in the face of knowing that their system could sound a whole lot better had they been equally diligent in acquiring some fundamental audio knowledge. Still, we shouldn't be overly critical of others.

Every audiophile takes his/her approach to sound reproduction very seriously with the investment of both money and time, although the soundness of the individual's approach can sometimes be debated.

In addition, everyone deserves a chance to learn, unless of course that person is your spouse.

The pursuit of better sound in our hobby is certainly an endless one, and thank goodness for that; but if you constantly compare your system to others' for better sound, you may lose sight of what you accomplished and be prompted to make hasty changes. Soon, you could find this hobby much less rewarding than it could've been.

I do believe that all of us tend to go in natural cycles, pursing one kind of sound for sometime before trying something else. That's part of the fun until you get really serious and extreme. In that regard, we just need to cherish what we have and be open-minded about others' experiences.

Audio is an expensive, as well as spiritual and materialistic, hobby, and in its pursuit, let us hope that we are becoming better persons and living longer. Amen."

Amen for such a nice piece, as it suggest the balance and sober approach to our marvellous passion.


Thanks to Mr. Soo for his writing.








Tuesday, August 16, 2016

WJAAS - “The music melts into the air of the room” or the next audio step: your very own, personal utility pole!




After spending zillions on cables, tubes, amps and all the ancillaries we audiophiles are too often described by the others as idiotphiles, some wealthy hardcore Japanese audio lovers choose the next level of refinement to get the very best from their expensive, sometimes hideously expensive audio combos: a personal utility pole and mains transformer, well worth USD 40,000.00 labour, parts and hassle with local electric company and neighbors and wives, of course..



Read the interesting article from The Wall Street Journal... thanking my pal Tom Santosusso for sharing... and WSJ, of course.

Anyone wishing to experience “the music melting into the air of the room”?





Saturday, August 13, 2016

The audio maid



... ordering discs and CDs and cleaning my tiny studio is a - proudly and unashamedly said - someway seldom made activity for yours truly... not talking about living in a garbage-filled environment, but about tasting the ineffable sense of freedom given when doing or not doing something in a wife-free place;-)

Undusting my audio gears... well, it's something not on top of my priorities... I usually ask people visiting to possibly do not touch horns or gears to do not make dust even more visible...



... but when I'm in the maid-mode;-)...





Everything after my spic & span "turbillon" is shiny and brand new... or so...

Also, like this afternoon, making some order among the disks, is always a surprisingly rewarding activity... records I didn't see in eons re-surface and its a joy simply handling them, like I freshly purchased them... leave alone listening to them!


Such a pleasure.

Silly me...

I found a disk which I consider one of my most precious ones... dance music from the roaring '20s, a Robert Crumb's illustrated and edited CD, from his own wonderful 78s collection.





I all the times remains surprised by the fantastic recording quality... a strange kind of quality - i.e. bandwith limited - from 78s, yes, but sound is so zest and quick.

Listening to this (sweet, indeed... so innocent sounding to my ears) music made my up and down from the ladder, ordering the disks, a pleasure... I danced for about one hour feeling untired and full of enthusiasm... ahhh, the power of music!

A maid from the '20s;-)))

I'm so vintage-minded that I almost feel a pain thinking about the darker and darker times we're into.







Friday, August 12, 2016

Tokyo's Jazz bars are disappearing!!!





Tokyo Jazz Joints is a visual chronicle of an insular world, where time ceases to exist; spaces removed from the speed and chaos of the modern urban landscape. Sanctuaries for jazz enthusiasts where the music is played on vinyl through aging sound systems, these bars or kissaten are slowly disappearing.






Changing times…




Sunday, August 7, 2016

Volume setting




I noticed that the more performing your system and, namely, the preamp you use, the more you have to regularly check the volume setting during your listening session.

I noticed every time I changed the preamp in my system... I have a sort of personal hit parade of which's which the most responding to different music solicitudes among my preamps: the Marantz 7C was better than CAT SL 1, Mayer's was better than 7C, Le Solstice IS better than Mayer's, Silver Rock is better than Le Solstice... unfortunately Serge's masterpiece is only good for line-level, so I've to constantly swap to Le Solstice for phono and Garradzilla's glorious sounding joys.

On every of the above gears, I've to more and more times have to go to the preamp pot and set a different volume setting... every disc or disk, almost every track needs its very own setting... the overall trueness greatly improves, size and harmonic blossoming changes are more right when right;-)

Cannot explain in all my ignorance why this happens...



Maybe the improved resolutions makes the volume setting more sensitive and as sure every disc is recorded at a different level, this difference is more or less apparent.

So things go... sure it's a quite intriguing evenience... something which makes, YES, indeed.... the volume pot audiophile's best friend;-)




Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Sublime




Speechless... amazed... and angry (with myself) for my being sooo slow... slow and lazy.

After the recent arrival of Silver Rock AVC, I admit I only used it connected to the smaller combo, with 300B monos and Cabasse or Carl Zeiss' speakers...

This afternoon, despite the 30+ degrees... I strongly felt the need to try it with Gotorama and so I did...

Connected to Mayer's 4 ways crossover and to Studer A 730 and...



Immediately I felt the sense of clarity and transparency I already appreciated yesterday with smaller system... only more pronounced as every note was felt like an entity of its own, an ever changing aural kaleidoscope able to thrill and surprise, sounding always brand new to the ear, untiring and reaching the inner soul of music.

I should blame on me and my laziness... but, who cares: I always loved this fractal, chaos-ruled and always surprising way of going trial and error.

Sublime.

Only this noble, seldom used word describes the sense of beauty I experienced.

The Goto, Hiraga Class A amps, Mayer crossover and Schmidlin's Silver Rock represent my new reference combo.

Sublime... and still baffled: what was I waiting for the "swap"?!?!







Site of the Month - Robert Fripp's Diary





WOW!







Such a goldmine of info and trivia... everything KC, Frippertronics and more...

As a plus... just press the DGM's logo for priceless, always changing, inspiring quotes and i-Ching-like sentences, like this "An artist acts with the assumption of innocence within a field of experience".




...





Summertime Audio on the fly - Carl Zeiss speakers




Yes, indeed... sure I cannot stand in 35 degrees Celsius four Class A amps heating like the hell... too bad I cannot enjoy my Gotorama's.

... but... the old, trusty Carl Zeiss luggage-like speakers, with their leather handles, hinting traveling and the like, well...















They do, folks... I randomly enjoy these speakers a lot, also if they usually rest on a shelf, unused... they are very dynamic and the VEB 12" wideband speakers with their 100 db/W sensitivity works like heaven with the Partridge/300B mono blocks and the Silver Rock passive AVC preamp...

When I turn ON the small system, I smile and enjoy its no frill, naked beauty... also very intriguing thinking that you may obtain literally tons of music with a quite limited budget.

.... mmmmhhhh...







Friday, July 29, 2016

His Bobness Chronichles - motorbike wreck anniversary





It was July 29th, 1966, near Woodstock... many versions of the mishappen circulated in the meantime... he fell, he slipped on oil... who knows?






Whatever... Bob Dylan's music changed after his 9 months long recovery.


Intriguing topic... almost a mistery;-)



Disk of the Month - Trost im Leid - C.P.E. Bach - Ensemble Precipitation (Psalmus)





A masterpiece... a must-have... an humble one, yet... such a beauty!



Love this disk... music-wise and, YES! the recording is ***** (DSD, ecc.)






Thursday, July 28, 2016

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

God is in the Irons - Audio Consulting's Silver Rock AVC - handmade in Switzerland



I got my 2004 pre-owned Audio Consulting's Silver Rock AVC passive line-preamp... connected to my Partridge/Allen Bradley/300B mono blocks feeding the Cabasses' and Meridian's digital...

... and listened...

At the very beginning,  still remembering when Luxman AT 3000 was in place, the sensation was of a fuller-body, thicker overall sound.

I immediately felt the difference, yet fearful the sound was a bit slower than with AT 3000's... ahem, no!
Thickness or... less bass-shy...

These were just the first minutes listening... a sensation which lasted an eye-blink.



I began to swap discs... David Tibet's Current 93's Honeysuckle Aeons (unbelivable quality), female vocals and lute, electric guitars duo with cello by Sousedi (unbelivable quality!!!), double bass and acoustic 12 strings and classical guitars (Gary Peacock/Ralph Towner's Oracle on ECM... a must-have!).

The more I listened the more I enjoyed the result: the apparent thickness suddenly disappeared and the resolution improved... more and more...







What thrilled me was that, when going louder and louder, the volume wasn't absolutely affecting the size of instruments... an acoustic guitar was just louder, not larger.
A truly important feature!

When I got conscious of the above, I better dig and paid attention to the phenomenon on more disks; furthermore, studio noises were very present and naturally blended with music.

The loudness improved: loud was really loud and clean, effortlessly sounding, free of glare and smooth... loud, but not annoying or hurting... never, also when reaching a truly high climax!

The sense of clarity and naturalness become almost painful... I had some business, and simply had to force me hard to stop listening to more and more and more disks and go... quite embarrassing;-)

Summing up: clarity, resolution, inner- and inter-notes silence, natural imaging and depth and an additive, strong overall beauty feeling... in my opinion, all these aspects are top class...

The Luxman AT 3000 and Fidelity Research AS 1 sure are top contenders... but with the Silver Rock the extremely low noise-floor makes you so easily aware of instruments decay, mixer on and off, guitar amps hums, artists breathing...  everything is so lively.

Audio Consulting's previous moniker was Silver Rock... a slightly opinable brand-name...

... but a younger Serge Schmidlin wasn't that wrong!

Silver is silver wire used in coils... Rock... well: it's the rock-solid sensation of rightness... making me pretty sure I nicely spent my money for such a result.

I really love this box: only two hand-wound irons and two gold contacts Elna's 24 positions rotary switches!

Someone will think - plainly said - why paying considerable amount of money for a passive AVC gizmo...  hey, it's only a couple of irons... but... BUT!


As Serge once told me during a conversation, Switzerland doesn't own oil, carbon, gold, diamonds or other precious materials... mountains, lakes and... people learned to work wood and watches and clocks and improved their skills in micro-mechanic... Vacheron-Constantin, Rolex, Nagra, Stellavox, Da Vinci, Audio Consulting... all them and more represents the peak in human-sized  manufacturing, the old style, by hand, one at a time, painstackingly.



The winding care and skill involved in the making and materials used in coils (super thin magnetic layers) and wire are everything's needed to make the difference between a transformer and a great iron, music-wise.

Such a musical device, a good iron, is worth its weight in gold: as God is in details, so audio/music-wise, it's in the Irons:-)))!

Thanking Pierre and Serge... and Dick Olsher for his SR's review: I agree on every word he spent on the matter.




Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Silver Rock AVC Passive preamp



A little, humble masterpiece, from Serge Schmidlin.... a 2004 vintage AVC.








... a truly nice add to my little passive preamps collection... next add?

A Meteor AVC, of course;-)))



Yes! Thanking Serge Schmidlin.

Stay tuned...









Saturday, July 16, 2016

A miniature





A micro B/W still-life, on the beach-towel...



Cute, lazy self-indulging silliness... my fault.





John Cage - Lettera a uno sconosciuto (1996)



I'm reading the 575 pages book about (and by) John Cage and his endless interviews, collected by Richard Kostelanetz (Edizioni Socrates, 1996 1st italian edition - original title - "Conversing with Cage" 1987).



It's an extremely interesting and enlightening essay, full of stories and quotes and ideas.

A goldmine.

On page 58 I read the following (about Cage and chess-playing with Marcel Duchamp in Paris):

"Mettiamo, ad esempio, di andare a Parigi e di passare tutto il nostro tempo a fare i turisti, andando nei luoghi famosi, ecc. Ecco, ho sempre avuto la sensazione che in questo modo non si possa imparare nulla su Parigi. Il modo migliore per conoscere Parigi è proprio quello di non avere alcuna intenzione di imparare alcunché, limitandosi semplicemente a viverci come se fossimo francesi. Nessun francese si sognerebbe di andare, diciamo, a Notre Dame.

E lei ha cercato di fare questo con Duchamp, cioè di vivere a Parigi evitando i giri turistici?

La mia intenzione è stata proprio quella: stare insieme a lui il più possibile, lasciando che le cose accadessero piuttosto che provocando il loro accadere*. Questo è un altro concetto orientale. Meister Eckart disse che possiamo raggiungere la perfezione non attraverso ciò che facciamo, ma attraverso ciò che ci accade*. Così sono riuscito a conoscere Duchamp non facendogli domande, ma stando semplicemente con lui."


The lacking of intention makes things and life purer...  or * (... letting things happening instead of provoking their happening... and ... we may be able to reach perfection not through what we do, but through what happens to us.): it's not Zen or whatever.


 Thanking Roberto Masotti for his superb JC's 1979 NYC 6th Street loft pix.


John Cage and Revox A77.




It's simply how I also humbly feel and so heartfelty agree with Cage... and Meister Eckart: applying wishes or desire or feverish seeking to our choices someway make them dirty, second-hand-ish, pre-owned and definitely, not our very own, becoming a part of us...

Things and meetings simply happening are like gold nuggets we step while walking in the countryside, by chance...  making us supremely un-Caged;-)

A priceless humble summer satori.

Will go ahead in reading this superb book, loosing myself among Cage & mushrooms, Merce Cunningham, Peggy Guggenheim, plants and... (silence).