01 December, 2018

Genesis V, EAR G-88, 549


Not anyone's idea of fun: Jumping the car at night and in the rain.

Audiophilia: Rain or Shine, Dead or Alive
Home Visit: Genesis V, EAR G88, 549
Return Visit to VAS

The weather forecast was not promising, but under our great leader's guidance we soldiered on. Andy had organized the New Jersey trip with a visit to composer Han Yong's home in central Jersey as an opener.

With Kevin chauffeuring Andy and I, we started early and made good time but just short of target we were derailed by the GPS. We ended up on the wrong side of a river and the road across was closed due to flooding. It took us quite a while, with the help of Google map and considerable detour, to finally reach destination. By that time, the raining had started. We were met there by James, who had had no trouble driving from Philadelphia.









Home Visit: Genesis V, EAR G88, 549
HY has just recently moved into this very handsome, and cavernous new home. The listening room is not the largest, longer than wide, and with a somewhat low ceiling.

Han proclaimed that he just want a good system to listen to music, but from his compulsive tweaking it seems to us he is also every inch an audiophile.

Analog Rig: Acoustic Signature Final Tool/Benz Micro ACE (temporary)
CDP: Sonic Frontier SFCD
Preamp (with MM/MC phono): EAR G88
Amp: EAR 549 monoblocks
Loudspeakers: Genesis V

Nothing is what it seems. There is quite a bit of studied cabling around. HY likes a particular kind of teflon-coated silver-plated cable and not only his power cords are made of it, he has replaced most of the wiring in his EAR preamp and amps with it too.

Image result for reiner kijeThe sound was very good, clean and with good perspective. Orchestral details were impressively layered and revealing (as on Reiner's Lt Kije), though I found solo piano and violin to be a trifle lean for my taste. Also, I am very particular about the bass - good as it was, it was not the last word in tactile quality, as I'd expect from managed and powered bass (this from a 15" paper cone horn aficionado).

Image result for han yong cantandoWe only heard one CD, and that was HY's own composition. It is a rich and nicely crafted amalgamation of Eastern and Western elements. Importantly, the tonal balance of the digital sound was commensurate with the analog, as I believe is the way it should be. Of course, analog is more involving, and coming from a composer one could hardly argue! Nothing argues the case more than the fairly large collection of LP's in the basement. I love the pics of the composers!

We did not get to hear HY's other rig, said to be very good for CD:

CD Transport: MBL CDP used as such
DAC and (Re-clocker): dCS
Preamp: CAT SL-1
Amp: Canary 300B

I was also intrigued by the disc washing setups. Aside from a VPI 17, HY has a cheap Ultrasound setup, comprising a professional Vevor Cleaner and a Vinyl Stack Record Spinner.

When we left it was raining hard, but we proceeded to Princeton, where we had lunch and visited Princeton Record Exchange, which has a lot less interesting things than before. Although slim picking, I still bought 2 CD sets and 2 LP's.

Return Visit to VAS
In the rain, it took quite a while to reach Steven at VAS (next to VPI; earlier visit here).

The sound was the best we have heard at his place, also the best I have heard from the 802, not a model that I like usually.

Analog: VPI TT (rim drive)/VAS MC cartridge/VAS MC SUT
Preamp: ARC SP-11, heavily modded, with tube PS.
Amps: VAS "Citation II" monoblocks (tube swaps of 5R4, 5755 and 12SX7)
Loudspeakers: B&W Nautilus 802

A very fine day!

16 November, 2018

Horns, Classical vs Jazz Playback


The 3 B's Worth
Bach, Beethoven and Brahms on LP

In this increasingly inequitable world, with each day's passing, space is more of a premium. While the used vinyl market is perhaps still sustainable overall, space-occupying big box sets are understandably least marketable. A few weeks ago, I came across this sign in a store: "All 3 B Box Sets $2". This is regardless of the number of LP's in the box. How could I have resisted. The price is the lowest I have seen, save perhaps for a short period in the late 80's/early 90's, when people were dumping their LP's, and when I bought some Ormandy and Bernstein Columbia LP's (best sellers in their days and hence ubiquitous) for a nickel (5 cents) each.

Bach I already have the Bach box, but could not resist. The recordings and performances (Baumgartner in the Brandenburg's and Karl Richter in the Suites) are very good but the Musical Offering (Richter), a personal favorite, is the standout and perhaps unsurpassed. Beethoven Both Piano Concerto cycles are rarely seen in LP form. The great sounding Arrau/Galliera cycle not only boasts Arrau's pristine pianism but also Galliera's under-rated conducting. The Kempff/Van Kempen is justly famous and better sounding than the pianist's stereo remake with Leitner. The Konwitschny Symphony set is rare and actually more expensive, bought elsewhere for $6 and used here to give symmetry to the pic; it is invaluable for the performances, which I first heard on CD's and rank as among the best. Brahms The Abbado set is not a "real" DG box, rather issued by the subscription International Preview Society, whose Italian pressings have been criticized by some, though I have always found them more than serviceable, even excellent. The Toscanini set is one of the best ever in terms of performances (the mono sound is adequate), much superior to his nervous NBC recordings. This set was deemed good enough for reissue by expensive Testament on CD.

Tally: $16 and countless hours of pleasure.

The Audio Roundtable: One Step to Heaven, Classical vs Jazz, Horns

As the holiday season approaches, it has been kinda quiet lately. But our great leader Andy did the unthinkable: summoning us for a get together with audio on the back burner. The horns played in the background, but all I remember was Ray Nance's immortal violin playing on Ellington Indigos. We brainstormed and talked about everything under the sun.

Classical vs Jazz on Horns We all listen to both jazz and classical's. Andy ("casual listening" Altec A5) and Kevin (Altec A7) maintain that horns are for jazz and suboptimal for classical's. Simon and I demur, as we both listen to everything on our horns (for Simon, a replicated JBL L-300 system). I tend to agree with Simon that it all depends on how one tunes the system - the more excitement for jazz, the less suitable for classical's; a titration. Mark actually used to have horns, but has abandoned them for now.


Horns vs Line Source This is not a coincidence. Although Andy and Mark differ somewhat from me in their views on how encompassing the horns' merits are, we are in agreement that Line Source loudspeakers, when well implemented, are excellent. I think there is a good reason for that (see my article Why are Horns the Best?). Andy's Infinity Beta IRS system (here) is justly famous and much admired. Mark now uses the Genesis V (a bastardized version covered here) and urges Kevin to get the I/II, but I doubt Kevin will - the power needed for all these Line Source models is just too much (and totally against my philosophy, and I personally dislike the bass quality of those with managed bass).


The Day's 3 B's

Actually the day's conversation was almost entirely on non-audio things. Skip this should you like.

Babble: As we were having a lot of food, naturally everyone talks about food, just like everyone else in this world where nothing is edible without peril. Mark believes in a low-carbohydrate Diet, which I am not so sure about. We are more in agreement on cholesterol - one should not worry too much about it, as it may well be protective, according to some theory. No gathering can escape Trump and Religion, but I better not write on these - friends can get around different opinions, which strangers may not. And, of course, being all males, Libido (or lack of) comes up. If you ask me, audio probably acts as a negative feedback! You have been warned.

Binge: Andy actually made us some excellent Lamb stew, but that was not what we mostly ate. Andy had commissioned someone to make extra fillers. When delivered, we were shocked to find two large pans of noodles, one topped with Lobsters! Wow, Andy was "usurped" (his words) but we were delighted.

BoozOur world constantly asks for what is correct, and the more questions the less certain we are in anything. I am a very green person but indulges in a (sole) vice that uses mostly energy-inefficient class-A devices (tubes). Seriously, I am apologetic but am not about to dump it all for class-D/T. Well, what is great food without booz? Surprise! Bloody Mary's started the Sunday brunch. With the noodles we enjoyed Prosecco and an interesting French Riesling. Then we moved on to some reds, Pinot Noir and Argentinian et al, which I enjoyed with the salty peanuts. I was too full to eat the lamb stew, but took home some. Many thanks to our great leader!



08 November, 2018

Book Review: Absolutely on Music, Conversations with Seiji Ozawa

Book Review: Absolutely on Music, Conversations with Seiji Ozawa

Author: Haruki Murakami
Publisher: Knopf

I am a great fan of Murakami, and have read most of his novels. A deep music lover (though not versed in theory nor practice), Murakami has always had references to music, be it jazz or classical, in his works. His taste is quite orthodox and hence all his quotations have never come as a surprise.

In this book, he discusses music with his friend Ozawa. The interesting thing is, basically Murakami sets the framework, often by playing records he knows well, to which Ozawa responds. Ozawa is obviously not that much of a talker and his responses are often quite to the point and literal, not to mention polite. This means insight (whether musical or flight of fancy) is not quite in abundance. As compensation, we get anecdotes on Bernstein, Ozawa's mentor, and many others.

Lovers of classical music, however, will enjoy this book, as I did.

The Guardian

23 October, 2018

Book Review: Maestros and their Music

Book Review: Maestros and their Music

Author: John Mauceri, Conductor
Publisher: Knopf

Author John Mauceri's Official Website and Wikipedia Entry.

Serendipity again! As I am a frequent visitor to the local library, I  chanced upon this book by a solid, though under-appreciated conductor, John Mauceri.

I came to know Mauceri through a few theater work recordings and, most importantly, through his participation in Decca's excellent En'tracte series of Composers suppressed under the Nazi rule.

Here are some reviews of this book: Amazon ReviewsOperaNewsWall Street Journal (this one by no less than a fellow conductor, Leon Botstein).

The cited articles are enough to relay the essence of the book. Suffice to say, I was thoroughly captivated from start to finish, and the author's command of English is superior, his anecdotes plentiful and to-the-point and tasteful. This book actually attempts to visually "illustrate" the importance of even one note and the art of conducting. I'd say, it is a unique book. This book is likely available at your local library, and HIGHLY recommended!

03 October, 2018

Horn Placement, Subwoofer Supplementation



Top Pic: (Case 2) Pic of R's A5 System as of now. My Bell 6V6 amps in center front. Compare with old photo below.

Talk Horn: In-Room Placement, A Tale of Two Horn Systems
HiFi Basics VII: Loudspeaker Placement - Close-to-Wall vs In-Room
McIntosh C-20 Preamp, MC-30 A

Significant Update Oct 5, 2018: Subwoofer Supplementation added. Update shaded in Grey.

Although we are illustrating with big horn systems the size of refrigerators here, I believe the principals are universally applicable, to much smaller loudspeakers, including bookshelves.

There is little question loudspeaker placement is of the utmost importance in a system. Previously, in HiFi Basics III, I detailed my own encounters of Short vs Long Walls. This article examines Close-to-Wall vs In-room Placements.

Close-to-Wall Placement By Design FEW modern loudspeakers are designed to be placed against the wall, as this intrinsically is at odds with the modern hifi values of maximizing imaging and soundstage. But there are a few dedicated designs, like the very good Linn Kan, which needs the wall reinforcement to have useable bass for most people. More recently, there is the Wilson Audio TuneTot, which receives a lot of coverage from the audio press, but to me it is a ridiculously expensive product for what it is, and showcases the utterly hopeless nature of high-end reviewers (The TAS is a particularly serious offender; their eulogies on the passing of Wilson Sr make my flesh creep 簡直肉麻!) Corner Placement This only applies to certain vintage loudspeakers, usually larger horn systems with specifically designed corner cabinets (Klipschorn and Tannoy's) to optimize bass output. The corner has two reflecting surfaces which would cause even greater havoc with most other loudspeakers. By Choice/No Choice Sometimes one has no choice but to place loudspeakers against the wall. In my experience, most loudspeakers sound suboptimal to terrible thus placed. Most would suffer from badly delineated bass and lack of air. In this situation, one would be wise to choose infinite baffle (sealed) enclosures, preferably those with monitor pedigree, as these usually work well in near field situations and have good but never exaggerated bass. As an example, my large Yamaha NS-1000 works beautifully against the wall; there is still a good soundstage and imaging (though not as good as in-room), and my TAD TD-3401 is also good in this way. Ported loudspeakers, even front-ported, do less well. Klipsch Heresy This unusual loudspeaker is actually stipulated to be used (on its own pedestal) against the floor, not the wall, but that is not that different. Without floor reinforcement, the Heresy is lean in the bass. As such, it actually works well close-to-wall.

How should Horns be placed? No doubt the size factor predisposes their owners to put them against the back (front) wall. Also, the ungainly, industrial and utilitarian appearances of many horn systems, such as the Altec's in this article, certainly do not earn them admiration from family members and that is another incentive for relegating them to the back, even in the corners. For many, it just has to be that way, BUT for those who have the room, that is a mistake.

These horns were originally used in large theaters, perhaps hanging, but usually not against the wall; and firing down a huge space (ample space around them) minimizes any anomalies. In our much smaller spaces, one needs to take care.

In my old place in HK, I had my Tannoy Canterbury's (large loudspeakers with small horns) and TAD TD-3401 half way in-room and they sounded great that way. Visitors were always amazed by the depth of soundstage and, even more, the disappearance of the loudspeakers. In NYC, I have my YL horns the same way, with similar results. Like with a lot of more conventional loudspeakers, unless restricted by bass nodes, I like the loudspeakers in-room and with the listener form close to an equilateral triangle. Some would call this near-field, or nearly so, and it should lessen boundary effects. For me, in both HK and NYC, the sweet spot for loudspeaker placement is largely the same for all sorts of designs.

Subwoofer Supplementation What a Difference a Little makes There are many purists out there who are adamantly against subwoofers, but these are mostly people who have little concept of what live music is like. Our hearing is a complicated thing - without a bass foundation not only will the midrange and upper frequencies sound leaner, but the music will lack true sparkle, which most audiophiles mistake to lie solely in the treble. The best example is my friend WSS' Quad ESL, which came to life with just a whiffle of low bass added (here). I always tell people, a little augmentation does not really augment the bass by much, but helps the overall picture, to bring things to life. As in the case of WSS, the important thing is less to hear the difference, but to feel it. When to Use? This is purely by hearing. My modern Tannoy Canterbury, TAD TD-3401 and YL horn system (with Altec 216 woofers) do not need help, but my JBL 4312 and my NYC friends' Altec A5/A7 systems absolutely do. Another case is my Klipsch Heresy, which really is severely limited by its original design (on the floor), but rather should be used "normally positioned," together with a subwoofer (detailed here). Subwoofer vs Other Means When the bass is lean, the problem can lie with the loudspeakers, the equipment or simply the room. Audiophiles have many ways to increase bass, but these should only be used judiciously, as the "remedy" is often worse than the problem. It is one thing to try, e.g., Mogami instead of Gotham (both cheap professional cables with balances close to neutral, though they sound different), it's another to use expensive boutique cables that are basically highway robbery. Case in point: Thick and stiff cables, e.g. NBS, often increase bass, but are highly colored and smear everything. Most of the time, the loudspeaker is the real limitation - it would be wise to spend time dialing in a subwoofer rather than make the bass "fuller" via other means, as one really wants more true extension rather than bumping up the mid-bass.

The owners of these two Altec systems are good friends of mine who should be familiar to regular readers of this blog. Both share a passion for music as well as many other non-musical things, such as cooking! Both are lucky to have a dedicated room. Both had their horns in the back until I came back this time. Both had their horns on wheels so it was relatively easy to move the behemoths forward. As they say, the rest is history.
























Pic shows (Case 1) Kevin's A7 System, now way out in front (compare with old photo below). The turntable on the Wall Mount is now a restored Lenco G-75 (VPI relegated to the left, a corner of which can be seen behind the B&W CM5). Below are newly acquired and restored McIntosh MC-30's. On the front stools is one of my C-20's. Click to enlarge.

L pic shows the Dumpling Dinner with side dishes of Pork stewed with Dried Bamboo Shoots, Braised Peanuts and Sliced Smoked Turkey; R pic shows the older against-the-wall Placement. Also roll down to the Blog entry before this one.

Case 1: Altec A7

Since I last wrote about K (roll down to previous post) I have visited him two more times. Unbelievably efficient, over a short time he managed to move the horns forward and clear up the central clutter. All gears are now well behind and there is a clean line of sight to the plane of the loudspeakers.

The sound is totally freed up. As the man himself said, the sound now emanates from the space in front, rather than from the loudspeakers. I cannot agree more, and this also met with the approval of our captain Andy. Now, with the much cleaner and focused sound, Francescatti's tone (which could be grating in lesser systems) in his classic recording of Beethoven's Violin Concerto with Bruno Walter was just marvelously sinuous. Thumbs up! Credit is also due to K's DIY WE cable.

We also really liked the the full McIntosh combo, the Lenco/Decca/Shure M44-7 playing straight into the C-20's phono and driving the MC-30 pair. Everything sounded just right.

Case 2: Altec A5

Then we visited R (last visit). I have long suggested to relegate the HT system to the periphery and bring the horns forward. I was surprised that R was game and K carried it out single-handedly (he definitely earned his lunch)! It was quite a bit of work! Everything was dismantled (the Cary amps were heavy!), the huge HT subwoofer exchanged its space with the large HT center. The result was again a cleaner path to the plane of the loudspeakers.

The effect was much as at K's place, a cleaner sound that is free of the enclosures. The Bell 6V6 amps worked very well in this system. Marvelous!

And the Food!

13 September, 2018

Classical Recommendations



Listening Notes: Comfort in the Same
Classical Music Recommendation: Neglected Gems from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Other Lost Treasures

Weeding Out The first days back in NYC were spent on household chores, chief among which the redistribution of space ("creation" being a misnomer). This shall prove to be a continual struggle for the foreseeable future, a plight most New Yorkers would share in. I had already put away more than half of my wardrobe for donation; the kitchen and living room are to be pared down next.

In anticipation of the arrival of a large shipment of household goods from HK that demands shelf and closet space, which have long been usurped for audio storage, I shall be weeding out my LP collection, some for donation, and some perhaps for sale as dollar LP's if friends are interested. Anyone local?

Books too shall be donated - they used to play a role as vital as music, but I guess all titles of my once-favorite authors, such as Borges and Thomas Mann, can be readily found in the library if needed. As I buy ever fewer CD's, I rarely buy books anymore, instead preferring to borrow from the local library. I enjoy browsing the new arrivals and once in a while check one out to read, just like I'd the New Yorker magazine. As streaming is to music, the library is to books, but better, as what we get to enjoy, albeit not to own, is a hard copy. Reading on the Smartphone or tablet screen? No, thank you. Just try to get through The Magic Mountain on a screen!

The big question is, now that I am without HK's surprisingly excellent library resource for new classical music issues, should I contemplate a streaming service such as Tidal? Not now, as time is very limited, and here in NYC, vinyl is king; but I see the attraction and, having a few DAC's, unused cheap android tablets and a Chromecast on hand, I guess I am always ready to go.

Comfort in The Same
Partly due to jet lag, for more than a week I did not fire up my audio. Then one day, venturing a bit further out I lucked out at a small local thrift shop, where I picked up a few pop records, including Led Zeppelin's Graffiti and Stevie Wonder's Innervisions., as well as a UK EMI of Suppe Overtures. A day later, feeling more energetic, I went into Manhattan and bought more than $500 worth of concert tickets for the season (Carnegie and Geffen Hall) and scooped up more classical LP's and a few CD's along the way.

Despite having likely close to ten thousand LP's, these new acquisitions are the ones that motivated me to fire up one of my stations, then another. That is human folly indeed - what one already has more often than not is not as stimulating as new arrivals.

Astonishingly, despite a long period of disuse, the systems sound even better than I remember from six months ago. This had happened before here in NYC, but not in HK - I'd guess the drier and cooler climate here helps.

First System II, Thorens TD-125/SME 3009i/Denon DL-304 into Langevin 402B SUT into Shindo Monbrisson into Wavac MD-811 driving YL horns. I was pleasantly reminded of the power and ease of reproduction, but found the sound improved, particularly in the bass, which is even more tactile than before. Last time just before leaving I had changed the Gotham GAC-2 interconnect from preamp to amp to Gotham DGS-1, and I think that is what I am hearing. Then I fired up System III, and it too sounded just as I remembered, a trifle leaner than System II.

Unsung Gems from the Chicago Symphony Orchestra Reiner is famous among audiophiles for his Living Stereo Chicago recordings - who doesn't have his Scheherazade or Thus Spake Zarathustra, among others? But he was actually even more prolific in the recording studio than we think. Although not known for his Beethoven, I was mesmerized by his Pastorale (White Dog), a reading of singular power, not as mellifluous as Walter's justly famous account, but lean and lithe (almost "HIP" informed) and equally valid, and I'd rank it with other great ones like Karl Bohm's. It is also noticeable for its sound - this must be one of the best Living Stereo's I have heard, cavernously spacious, yet every strand easily audible. The other Reiner gem is his Symphonia Domestica, surely the least known of his great Strauss recordings. The maroon label Victrola sounded absolutely resplendent, and made a convert of me for this score, which had previously eluded my grasp in other versions. I reckon the SACD remastering still currently available should be pretty good too (in general I found them better than the first Living Stereo issues). The best Strauss playing has a sheen, illuminated from within and should never sound forced; so it is here, as good as any (Berlin and VPO included) on disc. Jean Martinon had a hard time in Chicago, but his recording of Nielsen's 4th (Dynagroove) is immortal. Talking about playing with fire! Never equalled, but sadly little known.

Also magnificent is under-rated Dorati's Miraculous Mandarin (Mercury; certainly less known than his Firebird), played idiomatically by the BBCSO. What is equally remarkable is that the system renders hard rock euqally well. In Led Zep's Graffiti - the bass and drumming are just tightly rendered, tactile, purposeful, and the music is moved inexorably along, and this from an MC, not even MM!

System III consists of Thorens TD-309/Denon DL-103, Mobile Fidelity StudioPhono, Schiit Saga and Langevin 102 into the same Wavac amp driving YL horns. It is by character a trifle leaner, but suits Martinu's concertante works to a T. I rediscovered the Concerto for Violin and Piano, and I think it is a neglected masterpiece, impeccably rendered by the Supraphon team here. Even more surprisingly was another neglected conductor, Viennese-born and trained Henry Krips (brother of better known Josef), here turning in stunning accounts of Suppe Overtures (EMI), the best I have heard, by a large margin. How the music breathes and how well the rhythms are sprung should provide lessons for modern conductors. The early stereo sound is good though a little coarse, but in my book it now stands together with Arthur Fiedler's Gaite Parisienne and Piero Gamba's Rossini Overtures as the best of bob-bon's. The system also does well with rock, as Stevie Wonder's Innervisions just sound unpredictable, ecletic, kaleidoscopic and, most importantly, interesting.

Symphony 8In System III, I also played CD's through the Sparkler 303 CDP. The sound is commensurate with the analog. I was totally enthralled with Gergiev's first Kirov recording of Shostakovich's 8th (Philips), which is both sonically and interpretively at least as good as the more current version (orchestra renamed Mariinsky, on its own label), and that says something. Highly recommended.

Afternoon chez Kevin
On a rainy afternoon I visited Kevin (previous visit here) and over a glass of wine listened to his many new acquisitions. Hidden from view in this pic are the turntables. His new 2-armed Lenco GL-75 now sports Andy's Decca tonearm fitted with a Shure M44-7, which he (like me, reported here) is very enthusiastic about; it certainly sounded more lively compared to the Rabco linear tracking arm fitted with a Pickering 380 (too heavy, I wonder...). In comparison, the VPI Prime turntable just sounds, eh, dull.

There is a new Chinese tube preamp (top of front rack), but I still preferred the Citation I. Driving a newly restored pair of McIntosh MC-30, the Altec A7 horns were lovely, but I think all that extraneous stuff in front center, especially the equipment rack, ate away at the sound a bit.

We talked about some projects. I'd like to loan him my Shure SC35C for comparison with the M44-7. Also, it is time to match my McIntosh C20, C22 and MX110 to the MC-30! As usual, watch this space!


The bulk of the article was written around 911, a day any New Yorker would never forget. 17 years ago, I was in a HK bar around 9 pm (12 hours from EST). All of a sudden, the TV flashed the extra, with footage of tower ablaze. The silence in the bar was eery.

We all harbor sentiments of disapproval and disdain, but it is a long way to pulverizing hatred that destroys the life of others as well as self-destructs. In face of so much misery in the world, we all shall be more grateful for our existence. Peace.

04 September, 2018

Image result for beyerdynamic dt 880Editor's Note: A New Chapter or More of the Same?

This article muses on my recent move, which triggered considerable thoughts and anxieties.

Back in the USA Due to family circumstances, the household is now (again for me) based in NYC, rather than HK. This is a considerable upheaval that shifts everyone's gravity. Over the coming months, there shall be some restructuring of the household layout, and to create more space much shall be removed or donated.

The Burden of Audio Hardware With too many toys, come time to clear out, many audiophiles face considerable difficulties in their choices: What to let go, and what loss is acceptable (vintage and tube lovers fare better here); what to give away (yes, some stuff become worthless, or nearly so, especially those "future-proof" digitals); even the decision to throw out an original box (desirable when selling) can be agonizing. Software The classical lover usually has more "duplications" - different performances of the same work. Many of us have favorite works and can have more than ten (and more) versions - this one may have a more propulsive drive in the outer movements, yet that one flows better in the slow movement...And our tastes change with age; most likely who and what we like in our youth are different from our preferences now. We don't need the redundancy, but getting rid of them is difficult as most of it is worthless to others, fit only for donations. Jazz lovers can be overburdened too; do you need all those Monk or Miles albums - can you tell them apart, or do you believe in the florid prose of those jazz liner note writers (just a few of them) who justify every album?

Removal from HK No removal, no matter how logistically well thought out, is perfect. How can it possibly be when the memories are still so fresh? I had a hard time sorting out my gears. I never did advertise, but sold some of my most cherished stuff to close friends. I also parted out selected gears to trusted friends, for them to play with, perhaps buy from or sell for me in the future. Even then, I still have a lot left in my old place, which I have kept for storage and other purposes (someone will take care of it) - there they will languish for yet more years, till I find the time to return and sort them out further. In one respect I was lucky - through the help of my friend WSS, I sold my collection of over 1,500 LP's and over 4,500 CD's. Why should I ship them back to NYC, when I have even more here?

Image result for akg 701How the Blog Shall be Different Inevitably, the sea changes shall also affect the blog. Here are what I can foresee:

  • Classical CD Recommendations This shall be drastically different. In HK, in recent years I bought relatively few CD's and kept up with things by borrowing from the local libraries, which paradoxically stock many new CD/SACD's. In NYC, this is no longer true. My local library has a pitiable collection. So, I shall be mostly recommending performances from my own older collection (a vast one with good depth). Focus shall be on classics and what is easily available; regrettably, there shall be few new releases and even fewer SACD's.
  •  Headphone Listening Although I shall continue to listen mostly on my regular systems, at least two dedicated headphone stations shall be set up. My collection of headphones are really affordable classics. I have recently acquired the Beyerdynamic DT 880 (600 ohm; top pic), AKG K701 (right pic), which are working a treat with my new Schiit Magni 3 and Vali 2 (left pic). I have also brought over my other under-used headphone gears from HK. You shall be hearing more of these.
  • Equipment Reviews After settling down I expect a resurgence of activities, and more reviews than I managed in HK in the hectic recent months. There shall be a lot more in analog. Keep up with the announcements in "Coming Attractions" (Sidebar).
  • Cessation of HK Western Electric Activities (except my own) This I regret the most. Only during my last days in HK did I manage to hear the supreme systems of Prince Cheval Blanc (WE 41/42/43 etc). I shall also miss the wonderful system of Eric (WE 46) and wish I could hear "Fat" Vincent's new acquisition (WE 46 again; old systems here). I also have long delayed the report on the complicated systems of Humphery (coming). However, I have brought my superb WE 133 to NYC and shall have it sounding indue time.
  • Horns Forever Fortunately, there are even more thriving horn systems here, which you shall hear from regularly. As for me, I hope I shall eventually find time to install the "Fifth Element" of my YL Horn System (the WE- or Klangfilm-like lower midrange horn seen in this old pic of my yet uncluttered audio room, reported here).
  • No more Letters from NYC Instead, when I do manage to get away again (I don't expect to in two or three years) there shall be "Letters from HK". Short trips to the UK may still be possible though, I hope.
  • My Classical Music Blog shall see a lot more Concert Reviews (which I keep more or less as a diary for myself), as there shall be a lot more concerts to attend in NYC.
Finally, I quote again from one of the entries cited:

This time I returned to find that my mother has hung a little buddhist pendant on my storage rack. On it is a saying:

需要的不多,想要的太多;需要的才要,想要的不重要;能要的才要,不能要不該要的絕對不該要。
Needs are basic but desires know no boundary; 
Acquire only necessities, everything else being unimportant;

Acquire only what you have a right to, never what you could not or should not have.


Great advice for sick audiophiles, don't you think! Me? Well, I deeply understand but it is not yet time - to apply to audio, that is...

One Step at a Time...

08 August, 2018

Western Electric 41 42 43, 86, 143, 597, 750 Lansing 285 and much more



The Best Sound I have ever heard: Western Electric, of course

Although in the heat of removal, through my good friend WSS I finally managed to visit the setups of
HK's Western Electric "Godfather", known as Monsieur Chateau Cheval Blanc (which he once enjoyed drinking), and was it an eye opener!

Given my other dealines, this article will take some months to write, but to tempt you I am posting the pictures. The descriptions shall come later.

What I can say, and want to say, is that this man really knows his stuff. The large space was the best simulation of the theater I have ever heard. The sound has no weakness in any department, yet replete with all the sinuous WE qualities I hold dear. From a whisper to a full cry, every cut was a new experience.


Neumann Cutting Lathe used as Turntable! 


WE 41/42/43


WE 46, EMT, Verdier idling. Note Hartley 24" used as subwoofer


Rare Lansing (pre-Altec) Field Coil Woofers and 285 Compression Driver. Yes, tweeter is fabled WE 597, the real thing.


Idling WE Surplus


Part of Field Coil amps


By far The Best Home Theater I have ever heard


WE 750 as Center


Center Driven by WE 86 (with 300A!!!); Wilson by WE 143