My current system reflects a heartfelt appreciation for some of the smaller manufacturers in our hobby and the importance of resonance control, hence the "not off the rack" moniker.
Theodore Leavitt famously told his MBA students that "People don't want a 1/4" drill. They want a 1/4" hole." Don't get me wrong, I like shiny toys. I view my audio system as simply a tool; a means to the end of enjoying music. My philosophy is to "buy and hold". I try and buy the best, not only because it only hurts once, but in the long run it costs less money. I am fortunate to have a small, dedicated listening room, specifically designed for audio.
Ironically, it was the purchase of a new CD player, the SimMoon Andromeda, that rekindled my love affair with vinyl. At the time, I had been listening primarily to CDs. After purchasing the Andromeda as my 'final CD player', I was shocked to hear how better digital sounded when compared to my trusty Linn Sondek and realized that it was time to consider a new analog path. After auditioning a number of other fine turntables, I got to know Galibier's Thom Mackris and purchased my 'last turntable'. Thom has been been a terrific 'vinyl mentor', incredibly giving of his time and expertise. Through Galibier, I have met a number of like-minded music lovers, including Joel Durand, a composer at the University of Washington. Joel is one of many of the wonderful audiophiles I have met in the Seattle area where I am blessed with many friendships that have resulted from our listening sessions. Music is always more meaningful when shared with great friends.
I recently added a Durand Telos tonearm for stereo paired with the Benz LPS. I use a Durand Talea with a Miyajima mono cartridge. If you are interested in pre 1970 recordings and haven't heard a well recorded mono record with a good mono cartridge, you owe it to yourself an audition. I currently own ~200 mono jazz records and an equal number of mono classical LPs. Now they don't all sound great (especially if recorded prior to the early 1950's), but the tonal richness and lack of stereo artificiality are quite seductive to my ears.
The Experience Music Pre-amplification has brought things to another level. After auditioning a number of highly regarding and often expensive line and phono stages, I fell hard for Jeffrey Jackson's equipment. Jeffrey is a true music aficionado. During the audition and purchasing process, our conversations would always dwell on music, rather than the equipment. He customizes his designs to tailor to the individual's tastes. Since this is my 'end of life' amplification, I went all out; mercury rectification, separate power supplies, and LCR phono stage. (I did pass on the uber-expensive Western Electric tubes.) The Experience Music equipment simply reveals a degree of tonal richness, harmonic complexity and dynamics that I've never 'experienced' with other electronics. They are the 'fastest' electronics I've ever heard. Tube rolling can tailor sound to taste and IMO, WE rectifiers and Sylvania triodes are heavenly.
Amplifiers are Found-Music's "Blade" tube amps. Each amp uses two EL34/6AC7, and single 6SN7 and OD3 tubes.
My speakers are the Daedalus Ulysses. Daedalus had not been on my radar until I heard them at 2008 RMAF. After talking with Lou Hinkley, I auditioned at his workshop and arranged an in-home audition. The sound was so natural and dynamic; so life-like...I was smitten. Best of all, Lou is delightful and like Thom, one of the great people in our hobby. Lou continuously makes small, but significant upgrades to his speakers which always provide excellent value. I have found that the Einstein Light-In-Dark amplifier has great synergy with the Ulysses. Currently I am using Amperex Bugle Boys and hope to try either Siemens or Telefunken CCa's in the future.
Last but not least: equipment racks and cabling. The SRA Scuttle rack and Ohio Class amp stands not only look great but lower the noise floor, clean up treble and produce deeper, richer bass. I have yet to find a bigger bang for the cable buck than the Found-Music products...highly recommended.
Record cleaning machine. I use Audio Intelligent Solutions
Sim Audio Andromeda
Two box system
Experience Music Kahn Phono Stage
Separate power supply with mercury rectification. Big improvement with Fivre 56 and Mullard 7788 tubes. Custom wound Intact Audio step ups in the signal box with separate mono and stereo inputs. Variable cartridge loading. Stainless chassis by Jeff Kahn at Ferra Design weigh in at 90# each.
Experience Music Kahn 71A Line Stage
Separate signal and power boxes weighing 90-100# each. Mercury rectification. Big upgrade with Sylvania JAN 71a tubes. Intact Audio autoformer volume control with remote and interstage transformer
Daedalus Audio Ulysses
With all-poly crossover
Found Music N/A
Found Music Speaker Cable
Killer speaker cable for the money.
Silent Running Audio Scuttle
Three level rack.
Killer Power Cords.
Tremendous speaker cable value
Mono amplifiers using Sylvania NOS OD3 Voltage regulator tubes, Ken-Rad VT 231 NOS 6SN7 driver tubes and Genalex KT77 power tubes.
Silent Running Audio Ohio Class Amplifier Stands
Beautifully made and actually improve the sound.
Kosmic/Furutech Custom 5 Duplex Power Strip
5-Pack Power Distribution unit included 5 Furutech GTX-DR NCF duplex receptacles, 104-D Cover plates (carbon fiber over stainless steel) and Wall Frames (CNC Aluminum with damping coating). All of the Furutech components are great by themselves, but in this product they are mounted on a carbon fiber sandwich plate which is further mounted to an acrylic enclosure (high molecular weight), resulting in a three-layer damping system.
Took a flyer on an Origin Live turntable belt. Turns out to be transformational for Galibier Stelvio table. I've tried mylar, string and other belts; there is nothing close in my system. Worth an audition if you own a belt drive table.
The Found Music Blade amps seem fully broken in after ~400 hours and exceed expectations. SRA Ohio Class XL stands are a real performance enhancement, especially in conjunction with Paulstra footers. I am currently in the midst of an upgrade to the electrical system, installing a dedicated line and five duplex Furutech outlets.
Thanks for the input. The front and back walls are treated. The pics don't show it but the front wall is convex. The LPs act as a diffuser of sorts. I do need to investigate what further benefits additional treatments might add. I've been reluctant to move forward before getting my equipment where I want it.
System edited: Big news from Galibier. Thom has upgraded the motor controllor and it's a big improvement. Actually transformative. Still experimenting with battery -vs- wall wart (currently prefer the wall wart with Found Music GiFT power cord) and belts. A must have, extremely effective upgrade for all Galibier owners.
2013 had many very good releases with a few standouts. A few caveats, I don't do rap or hip-hop. I tried but don't get My Bloody Valentine, Vampire Weekend or Arcade Fire. 'Get Lucky' is probably the year's best single (it's certainly the catchiest) but the rest of the Daft Punk album didn't do it for me (although it is well recorded).
Vinyl grades are Performance/Sound Quality.
Bombino "Nomad" (Nonesuch) -- Borderline A-/B+ Produced by Dan Auerbach who gives it the Black Keys sonic treatment, this is the most pleasant surprise of the year for me. Thanks to Andre Marc for pointing this one out.
Charles Bradley "Victim of Love" (Daptone) -- A-/B Follow up to his debut "No Time For Dreaming" released when he was 63 years old. Best R&B record of the year.
Deerhunter "Monomania" (4AD) -- B+/B Harder edged and not as consistent as either 2010's "Halcyon Digest" or Bradford Cox/Atlas Sound "Parallax". 'Leather Jacket II' and 'Dream Captain' are killer tracks
Sallie Ford "Untamed Beast" (Partisan) --Borderline B+/B On her sophmore release Sallie and her band The Sound Outside bring back their modern take on rockabilly. She's disturbed, she's angry, she's horny -- you've been warned.
Jacco Gardner "Cabinet of Curiosities" (Trouble In Mind Records) -- Borderline A-/B+ Debut LP by 21 year old multi instrumentalist from the Netherlands. He has absorbed the psychedalia of the 60's and puts a modern spin on it (think Donovan and The Zombies). 'Clear The Air' and 'Puppets Dangling' are standout tracks. Runs a bit long. Can't wait to hear what he does next.
Valerie June "Pushin' Against a Stone" (Sunday Best) -- B++/C Beautiful southern dynamo with killer combo of blues/folk/gospel/country. Think an (very) edgy Cassandra Wilson. Vivacious live performer. Did I mention she's gorgeous? My vinyl is borderline quality sound, suffering with inner groove distortion.
Los Lobos "Disconnected in New York City" (429 Records) -- A/A I've been a Los Lobos fan since I saw them in a dive bar in Kansas City before they released their break-out LP "How Will The Wolf Survive" They are celebrating their 40th! anniversary and remain one of our greatest bands. If you've never seen 'em live in concert this give you a taste (but it's worth every penny to see them in person). Possibly the best sounding recording of the year.
Kacey Musgraves "Same Trailer, Different Park" (Mercury) -- A/Borderline A- The new country music 'it' girl. Well crafted songs that show off a superior singing voice. The LP title tells you she's got a sense of humor. Well recorded. Just got this one but already a favorite.
The National "Trouble Will Find Me" (4AD) -- A/A- Like every release by The National, this one grows on you with repeated listens. Consistently excellent, although it drags just a bit on side 4. Not quite the materpiece of 'High Violet' but one of year's best. 'Demons' is one of the year's best tracks.
Omaha Diner (Omaha Diner) -- A-/B Skerik et. al. only play covers of #1 hits. Highlights include 'Thrift Shop', 'Lose Yourself', & 'Wishing Well'. Recorded in mono and sonics are much better with my dedicated mono set up. 'Another One Bites The Dust' is the only dud and drops their grade.
The Orange Peels "Sun Moon" (Mystery Lawn Music) --Borderline A-/Weak B+ Jangly guitar driven pop. Wears well with repeated listens.
The Parlez "Glisten" (Feedbands) --A-/B+ One of the highlights of my Feedbands subscription. The Irish brother duo's debut LP is a wonderful pop release with echos of Oasis and the Beatles. Worth seeking out.
Phospohorescent "Muchacho" (Dead Oceans) -- A/Boarderline B Ho hum, another great album from Matthew Houck. First side is a little stronger than the second. 'Ride On/Right On' is one of the year's best singles. Wish he paid more attention to recording quality although this one sounds better than 'Here's To Taking It Easy' (which is the sonic equivalent of high jumping a pancake).
Psychic Ills "One Track Mind" (Sacred Bones) -- Borderline A-/B These guys have been building a cult following in New York for a decade. 'One More Time' is a great single.
Kurt Vile "Wakin' On a Pretty Daze" (Matador) --A/A-A+ A seemingly more mature Kurt and his backing band the Violators really hit their laconic stride. A much more consistent LP than the previous 'Smoke Ring for My Halo'. Excellent sonics and one of the years best LPs. Spark one up and enjoy.
Just received David Bowie "Another Day", Elton John "The Diving Board", Caitlin Rose "The Stand In", , all promising on first listen but not familiar enough to assign a grade.
Rolled National Union 56 globes (from the 1940's!) for National Union ST types in my phono stage. Required a bit of trial and error with tonearm/cartridge set up, but this really has been a nice, inexpensive upgrade.
Enjoying the new Valerie June LP "Pushin' Against The Stone"...she's in town in a couple of weeks.
The first half of 2013 has been fabulous for new pop and rock releases. Here are my mid-year favorites (grading is Music/Sonics):
Bombino "Nomad", Nonesuch (A-/B+) Great LP of difficult to characterize but very satisfying guitar music by this Taureg musician. Produced by Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys...you can hear the influence but it is not obtrusive.
Charles Bradley "Victim of Love", Daptone (A/B+) Even better than his debut. Much more consistent. A great soul record.
Deerhunter "Monomania", 4AD (A-/A-) On first spin a disappointment, especially on the heels of the brilliant "Halcyon Digest". Very different feel compared to the recent Bradford Cox (Atlas Sound "Parallax") and Lockett Pundt (Lotus Plaza "Spooky Action at a Distance") solo releases. Much more grungy/garage band feel. With repeated listens, this one has really grown on me. There are a couple of throw aways but the rest of the LP is brilliant allowing me to grant forgiveness.
Jacco Gardner "Cabinet of Curiosities", Trouble In Mind, (B+/A-) He's clearly absorbed the psychedelia of the late 60's...think updated Zombies and Paul Mauriat. A little long and gets a bit repetitive but an artist to keep an eye on. Well recorded. "Clear The Air" is one of the best songs of the year...
The National "Trouble Will Find Me", 4AD, (A/A- with caveat...see below) A bit of a disappointment on first spin but with repeated listens this has become one of my favorites. Not as intense as prior LPs and does not quite attain the brilliance of "High Violet". Ho hum, another great LP by one of the best American bands who absolutely kill in concert. The double LP is for the most part, excellent sounding. However, my copy had noise in the right channel on side 3...
The Orange Peels, "Sun Moon", Mystery Lawn Music, (B+ to A-/B+ to A-) A fun pop LP with jangly guitars and catchy tunes.
Phosphorescent "Muchacho", Dead Oceans (A-/B) Another terrific LP, although not quite the masterpiece of "Here's To Taking It Easy". Has my favorite single of the year "Right On/Ride On". While the sonics are much better quality than previously (the aural equivalent of high jumping a pancake), sound quality is not audiophile.
Psychic Ills "One Track Mind" Sacred Bones Records, (A/A-) My most pleasant surprise of the year. Never heard of these guys before a recommendation on SHF. "One More Time" is a killer single. Well recorded. Will be a year end top 10.
Smoke Fairies "Upstairs At United", 453 Music, (A-/A) I'm a fanboy. It's the Smoke Fairies recorded backed by the Blitzen Trapper rhythm section. Excellent direct to tape recording. Did I mention I love the Smoke Fairies?...sigh. Short documentary can be seen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oDe8xbo1M80
Kurt Vile "Wakin' On a Pretty Daze" Matador (A/A) His previous release, the critically well reviewed "Smoke Ring For My Halo" did not wear well for me. It had some great moments but was inconsistent and not well recorded. This LP is a big step forward with consistently excellent songwriting and excellent sonics. Can't wait for the concert next month!
Haven't spun Vliets S/T , Rhye "Woman" and Wolf People "Fain" enough yet to give a final score but they are contenders
The LPs I listed are all originals. (BTW, sorry for the typos!) Not sure what the options are regarding reissues. I've had good luck (knock on wood) with Ebay. I'll add a few more I like in the next few days
As to the Miyajima...yup, it's a bit of a challenge to align. The body is big and the stylus is under the body. It's a little bit more work than my Benz but you will be rewarded with the extra effort to get it right.
Bombino "Nomad" Deerhunter "Monomania" Sallie Ford & The Sound Outside "Untamed Beast" The National "Trouble Will Find You" Radar Brothers "Eight" Smoke Fairies "Upstairs at United" Kurt Vile "Walkin On A Pretty Daze" Wolf's People "Fain"
I was sort of a beta for Experience Music and I'm sure my pricing doesn't represent the current cost. If you are interested I'd contact Jeffrey Jackson by email...He just relocated to NY state and I'm not sure how quickly he is responding by phone these days.
As far as music venues, there are many terrific ones in the Seattle area I like including:
The Neptune Theater (very cool old movie theatre with good acoustics)
Tractor Tavern (Great club with cheap cover and beer)
Crocodile Club (See above -- locally famous venue for the grunge scene)
The Showbox (I prefer the one downtown -- Prince recently played here)
Triple Door (Old burlesque theater which has a real 50's lounge feel. Good acoustics...food by Wild Ginger)
I have the Miyajima Premium BE which sounds great on my Talea I. There is a signficant improvement in performance going from a Talea I to II, so I'm sure your set up sounds terrific.
I connected as per the instructions supplied with Miyajima (which are not particularly well-written). I did have Scott Shaeffer of Found Music rewire the tonearm cable which made a HUGE difference and is a worthwhile investment to consider.
The Premium BE had a 50-100 hour breakin time as I recall...
I really enjoy the mono set up and probably listen to mono ~1/3 of the time.
Prior to purchasing the Scuttle, I used the EquaRack system which definitely improved my systems' sound by lowering the noise floor, improving clarity and extending frequency response. Honestly, I bought the Scuttle for the aesthetics and was pleasantly surprised that it seemed to improve things even more than the EquaRack. Not a night and day difference, but noticeable.
IMO, an equipment rack should be considered an important component in the audio reproduction chain, perhaps not as important as transducers but on a par with good cabling. The Scuttle is a worthwhile investment provided the rest of the system has reached a certain level of refinement.
Yup, you warned me about that LP, but did I listen...NOOO! ; -)
"Muchacho" is definitely better than "Here's To Taking It Easy"...not a sonic spectacular, but you won't prefer the CD either. I saw a Pitchfork interview with Matthew Houck where he was talking about actually paying attention to the production values with this record http://pitchfork.com/features/interviews/9078-phosphorescent/).
Some of my favorite 2012 pop/rock albums (all available on vinyl):
Fiona Apple "The Idler..." Beach House "Bloom" (45 rpm) Calexico "Spiritoso" Leonard Cohen "Old Ideas" Dirty Projectors "Swing Lo Magellan" Galactic "Carnivale Electrios" Heartless Bastards "Arrow" Jamey Johnson "Living For A Song" Damien Jurado "Maraqopa" Cat Power "Sun" Smoke Fairies "Blood Speaks" Jack White "Blunderbuss"
Spent the past few days in NYC and got to hear Jimmy Heath at the Blue Note with his big band. Fabulous show celebrating Jimmy's 86th birthday -- the band surprised him with an iPad for a gift.
Also caught McCoy Tyner, Dave Holland, Gary Bartz and Jack DeJohnette performing a Coltrane tribute at the Rose Theater at JALC...this one was disappointing. This space is beautiful, but sterile and the sound mix was off.
Calexico "Algiers" I'm a fanboy and went for the 180 gm. limited edition box set with bonus LP, etc. This is one of their best.
Jamey Johnson "Living For A Song" I'm not generally a country music fan but this may be the album of the year. Jamey covers the music of Hank Cochran dueting with the likes of Merle Haggard, Allison Krauss, etc. Well recorded LP spread over two discs (closely mic'd acoustic instruments with occasional overloading).
Storm Corrosion "Storm Corrosion" Collaboration between Mikael Akerfelt of Opeth and Porcupine Tree's Steve Wilson. Well recorded double LP.
Tame Impala "Lonerism" Builds on the Beatlesque, trippy feel of their first LP.
Dirty Projectors "Swing Lo Magellan" Thick slab of vinyl (although mine was somewhat warped) very well crafted pop music. Excellent recording. Reminiscent of "Father, Son, and Holy Ghost" by Girls released last year. 'Gun Has No Trigger' is one of 2012's best singles IMO.
Had seats 2nd row center for The Bad Plus last night. Fifth time I've seen these guys and by far the best performance I've heard. They played most of the new material from their great new CD "Made Possible". Got to chat with the band after the show...hopefully they will be releasing "Made Possible" on vinyl in the future. The Triple Door in downtown Seattle is a great venue...acoustics are great and the food is very good pan-Asian.
Just got the newly released Cat Power LP "Sun". First things first, not a big fan of the new haircut. The LP is a sonic spectacular: 4 sides of thick vinyl with bonus cuts and they throw in a download. Stylistically it's a departure from "The Greatest" but I think this is going to be in my personal 2012 Top Ten. Got tickets to see the show in November.
It's taken me a while to warm up to the new Fiona Apple LP "The Idler...". Also well recorded but the sparseness of the arrangements is a bit jarring. The lovely contralto from 'Tidal' has lost some of it's sweetness but works with the new material. Probably worth sampling before purchasing, especially for fans of her older material.
We heard Mimicking Birds (from Portland) open for Phosphorescent last night at the Tractor Tavern. The self-titled Mimicking Birds LP is a sonic delight with consistently great songwriting. They did not disappoint live.
Phosphorescent struggled with amplifier issues the whole evening but put on a great show. Really liked the new material.
Last week we heard Ricardo Morales at Benaroya, absolutely amazing! http://www.ricardomoralesclarinet.com/
Thursday I took my saxophone playing son to the Triple Door and heard Maceo Parker's band. The band really cooks. Maceo plays and dances like a man half his age. His guitarist Bruno Speight is one of the best I've ever seen.
Saw Fiona Apple at the Paramount Theater last night. The Paramount is not my favorite venue for music because the acoustics are suboptimal but we were 11th row, nearly dead center and the sound was terrific.
Really enjoyed her band and Fiona's piano work...she has a hammer of a left hand! Her voice was great on quieter pieces but can no longer scale up to sing over the band on the louder songs.
Next up: Chamber Music Society at Benaroya on Saturday and Maceo Parker next week!
The latest updates to the Collectorz music database system are out and it's a huge improvement. The interface is much more intuitive. It feels much more like the iTunes with the 'cover flow' feature. Finding cover images is considerably improved. If you own a previous version, the upgrade is well worth it and if you are looking to catalog your music collection visit collectorz.com for a look.
Meet some friends at The Black Dog in Snoqualmie last evening to hear local artist Charlie Loesel perform an acoustic set. Fabulous singer-songwriter definitely worth checking out (http://www.charlieloesel.com/). I'm listening to his excellent first CD 'Westfalia'...My favorite song is "Jack Daniels and Johnny Cash" ;-)
Caught Elvis Costello at the Paramount Theatre last night. Hadn't seen him live since "The Imperial Bedroom" tour of 1982.
He brought his spinning songbook so that audience members could participate in choosing the songs. He's a great entertainer. I have newfound respect for his guitar playing. No he's not the 2nd coming of Jimi Hendrix, but much better than I remembered. The Attractions are a great backing band.
The software is extremely easy to use for CD; just put the CD in the CD/DVD drive or use their bar scanner (which costs extra).
Vinyl is more labor intensive. The scanner makes more recent LPs with bar codes easy. For older LPs or those without a bar code, you have to manually search the database which populates the fields if available. If not in the database, you have to manually key in all the data. For that, I took advantage of my teenage son's desire for an electric guitar. I paid him $0.10 an LP. OK, a few child labor laws may have been broken, but it was worth it. My database is done and my son has a guitar.
I'm happy with the Scuttle. I bought it as a replacement for my (now discountinued) rack system. My prior solution was very good for isolation and resonance control but unattractive and well, let's just say it was ergonomically challenging.
With the impending arrival of my non-standard sized 4-box preamp, each box weighing 90-100#, I bought the Scuttle based on reputation and yes, I liked the looks.
The folks at SRA were very friendly and helpful. Kevin Tellenkamp believes that the Scuttles are very competitive with the top of the line CRAZ racks. My unit arrived incredibly well packed with excellent instructions. The Scuttle is quite attractive and fits my equipment well. Despite having no expectations for performance, I was pleasantly surprised...the unit seems even better than my prior rack solution: decreased noise, deeper bass and better high frequencies.
I believe that resonance control and rejecting/draining vibration is often overlooked. IMO, an effective equipment rack should be viewed as a component; just as important as the right TT or amplifier. I'm very happy with the Scuttle and feel very comfortable recommending it.
Caught George Clinton with Funkadelic at The Showbox last night. The people watching was worth the cover. They played all their hits and displayed their legendary showmanship, but sadly Clinton's voice is shot
Last night I took my aspiring high-school saxophonist son to Jazz Alley to hear the Benny Golson quartet. The quartet featuring Sharp Radway(p), Jason Marsalis(d) and Ben Drummond(b)was wonderful. First time I've heard Sharp Radway whose first CD is coming out next month. But the star of the show was the 83 year old Golson who performed some of his standards including "Along Came Betty". You may remember he was the 'McGuffin' in the Tom Hanks/Catherine Zeta-Jones movie "The Terminal".
He told some great stories about growing up in Philadelphia including practicing and gigging with his contemporary; John Coltrane. He even autographed an LP cover for my son. A wonderful, memorable evening.
Good question regarding room treatments. The equipment is along the front wall which has a mild convex curvature and is treated with acoustic material and covered with fabric. The corners act as bass traps. The right wall houses the records/CDs. The left wall has diffusion treatments. The back wall is similar to the front wall but flat (not curved like the front). I've been waiting on further treatments until my system was completed so I'm definitely thinking about them now.
I have many Mapleshade releases and you are spot on with regards to sound quality. Have you tried any of the MusicMatters XRCD releases? I only because their vinyl reissues have been uniformly excellent.
A couple other CD labels with acoustics to match performance are Zoho (http://zohomusic.com/) and MaxJazz (www.maxjazz.com).
The Phil Kelly CD's are excellent. My favorite is the "SW Santa Ana Winds" that was in many top 10 lists the year of its release. BTW, his website is very content rich with lots of samples (http://www.philkellymusic.com/index.html)
I have a few Venus records and with one exception (The New York Trio's "Always") they are exceptionally well recorded. I am a big Ken Peplowski fan and also enjoy the Chano Dominiguez record "Con Alma". They seem to have had supply difficulties since the earthquake/meltdown last year. Which specific releases do you recommend? (Thanks in advance!)
Thanks for the list. I really like the Peter af Ugglas....a great demo disc if you can still track down the vinyl. I'll bet the SACD is very good. Greta Matassa is a local legend and Tula's is a great spot for listening to music with terrific food. My next stop is Amazon to hunt for others!
I picked up a $10 mint copy of David Crosby's "If I Could Only Remember My Name" on Ebay for my wife who is a big CSN fan. To my surprise, the music holds up extremely well and now I understand why this is an audiophile favorite...great sonics.
Really enjoying Leonard Cohen's new release "Old Ideas". Very strong songwriting and as some reviewers have commented, it has the feeling of a valedictory. Very good sonics. The 180gm LP includes a copy of the CD.
Thanks for the comments. Please look me up if you are ever in the Pacific NW.
I have really enjoyed working with Jeffrey who is definitely one of the good guys in high end audio. Having a system largely made up of bespoke products, I would say that it is most certainly different than working with a high end dealer or one of the name brands. Most of the designers are one or two person operations meaning that in addition to designing and building equipment they are responsible for sales, marketing, website, shipping, ordering parts, etc. Many of these designers also have day jobs and families. Delays from suppliers and the routine vagaries of regular life are a given. Not an excuse for a slow customer response, but rather a reality check. For me, the results were certainly worthwhile, but I understand that this may not be satisfactory for many (?most) audiophiles.
FWIW, my advice to someone considering this path is to get comfortable with the person(s) behind the product first; it will save you a lot of angst down the road. That said, I can enthusiastically recommend Jeffrey (Experience Music), Thom Mackris (Galibier Design), Joel Durand (Durand Tonearms) and Lou Hinkley (Daedalus Speakers).
With the new Audiogon upgrades, I can't access my system page. When this bug, er I mean feature, is fixed, I'll upload a better turntable/arm pic.
As you face the turntable, the 12" Telos is to the right with the cartridge in the right anterior quadrant and the pivot in the right posterior quadrant. I had to have a special mounting plate made to accomodate the Telos.
The Talea is mounted along the back with the pivot in the left posterior quadrant and the cartridge in the right posterior quadrant.
There is actually more room with this set up than with the 2 Talea arms...
My understanding is that the Stelvio I can not accomodate two 12" arms...
Thanks for the LP suggestions. Looks like we share similar tastes. Have you tried the QRP "Ella and Louis" reissue?
Sometimes it's shocking how much better the original monos sound compared to the stereo version or later reissues. The original Miles Davis Columbia 6-eye monos and the "Gerry Mulligan Meets Johnny Hodges" are but a few examples. The Mulligan/Hodges is one of my sonic favorites and the music is terrific.
I just picked up a copy of Clark Terry/Bob Brookmeyer "Gingerbread Men" (Milestone, 1966) for less than $10 on Ebay. Great music and fabulous mono recording. I think you might like it.
Thanks for the kind words. Feel free to PM if you like anything I listed.
Just dropped by your system page. I'm always admired the Esoteric gear but have never had the opportunity to audition in my system. I'd love to know what specific recordings you are currently enjoying.
Just visited your system page...WOW, what a beautiful space. I'm sure everything sounds terrific and it's a great way to unwind. I agree with you in wishing folks would post more about what kind of music they enjoy and discover...that's what the hardware is for!
Patti Ascher "Bossa, Jazz 'n Samba" One of my new favorites.
Pablo Aslan "Piazzolla In Brooklyn" Pablo Aslan + Piazzolla = Heaven!
The Dead Kenny Gs "Operation Long Leash" Let Skerik explain "Well, were as equal fans of the Dead Kennedys as we are vehemently opposed to the proliferation and existence of smooth jazz. Poor Kenny is kind of a figurehead in this whole deal."
Tour T-shirt features Kenny G with a soprano saxophone where the good Lord did not intend.
Renaud Garcia-Fons "Mediterranees" My favorite double bassists' tour of the music of the Mediterranean. Extremely well recorded.
Benny Green "Source" One of my favorite pianists with a terrific trio record. Also well-recorded. My son got to meet him at Centrum Jazz camp and tells me he's as funny as he is talented.
Stefon Harris, David Sanchez, Christian Scott "Ninety Miles" Young lions do Cuban Jazz.
Chris Massey "Vibranium" Great new drummer. Check out his very innovative website.
David Murray "Plays Nat King Cole Espanol" Old Lion does Cuban Jazz.
Jeremy Pelt "The Talented Mr. Pelt" Fabulous working band. Check out the video on his website featuring RVG and his studio. He's had an interesting 'conversation' about jazz with Nicholas Payton via their respective blogs.
Terrell Stafford "This Side of Strayhorn" One bad-ass trumpeter. He's going to be a featured guest for my son's high school jazz programs fund raiser this spring so I'll get to meet him! Check out his Youtube video from the Temple University graduation...
Here were my favorite pop/alternative 2011 releases:
Atlas Sound - "Parallax" Bradford Cox's solo vehicle which builds on Deerhunter's excellent 2010 release "Halcyon Digest". Kind of like how Bryan Ferry's "Boys and Girls" can be heard as the continuation of Roxy Music's "Avalon"
Cults - "Cults" Infectious pop throughout their debut album. If you don't like a song, there is another one in two minutes. Love the video for "Go Outside". Only 31 minutes...
Foo Fighters - "Wasted Light" Their best LP in years. 45 rpm/2LP recording sounds excellent.
Garage A Trois - "Always Be Happy But Stay Evil" Jeffrey Jackson introduced me to the saxophonist Skerik this year. Saw him live three times; each time with a different group. The Dead Kenny G's concert was my favorite.
Danger Mouse and Daniel Luppi - "Rome" Five years in the making. An homage to the soundtrack music of spaghetti western films. Shouldn't work but it's consistently amazing and how many releases will feature Jack White and Norah Jones? Well recorded.
Girls - "Father, Son, Holy Ghost" From Pitchfork's review "brings with it an almost eerie sense of familiarity, like these are songs you've been hearing your whole life even when you can't place them"
Head & The Heart - "Head & The Heart" Seattle singer songwriters with terrific debut that is demo disc sound quality. What Fleet Foxes should aspire to...
Lia Ices - "Grown Unknown" "Love Is Won" is one of my favorite singles. Well produced avant-pop. Took this one to RMAF and people always wanted to find out more...
The Kills - "Blood Pressures" 'Killer' comeback LP. Probably my most played 2011 release.
Smith Westerns - "Dye It Blonde" This band is going to be great. They are not great yet, but they are going to be. 'Weekend' is a great tune...
Widowspeak - "Widowspeak" Excellent debut LP. Their companion EP has a version of Chris Isaak's 'Wicked Game' that makes the original sound upbeat...
Yuck - "Yuck" My favorite new band. A bunch of goofy looking 20 years old go into the studio and come out with a brilliant debut LP. Get Away' is one of the year's best singles.
Also enjoyed: Charles Bradley "No Time For Dreaming" Eisley "The Valley" Damien Jurado "Live At Landlocked" Shelby Lynne "Revelation Road" Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks - "Mirror Traffic" Papercuts "Fading Parade" St. Vincent "Strange Mercy" Kurt Vile "Smoke Ring For My Halo"
Don't you love unexpected musical discoveries? I received the 4 LP Mosaic Set of Stan Getz's "1953-1954 Clef/Norgran Studio Recordings" for Xmas. As a Stan Getz fan, I knew it would be special but Mosaic has really done a spectacular job remastering these nearly 60 year old recordings. Most unexpected is the interplay between Getz and the late valve trombonist Bob Brookmeyer. Like Charlie Parker, he was born and raised in my hometown of Kansas City. (Unlike them, I had a happy childhood.) I'll definitely be seeking out more of his work.
Thanks. I started collecting LP's when I bought "Elton John's Greatest Hits" for my 10th birthday and never stopped. Kept collecting through the dark days of digital, but rue the albums left behind. I had the shelves and cabinets custom made for the room. The cabinets below the LPs hold sliding drawers for CDs.
I'm use the Audio Intelligent Solutions. I've always wanted to compare with the Monks machine...
The Experience Music gear is terrific. If you are interested, Jeffrey has a traveling piece of gear for in home demos. Although it doesn't use the premium parts (which are too expensive for a demo), you really get a great insight into what the final product achieves.
Al, I share your enthusiasm for the Daedalus Ulysses. Every upstream change is audible through these speakers. Really appreciate the sense of ease and dynamic bandwidth. I don't think I've reach their limits yet. Plus, Lou is pleasure to know and work with.