Wednesday, November 22, 2023

Jerome Sabbagh new vinyl on the way

 It's been a long ride on this Kickstarter project but Jerome is coming through again with his latest album on vinyl.  Details and history here. I can't remember when I signed up (a year ago?) but after very positive experiences with his earlier offerings, starting with The Turn, I had no hesitation backing this one. Fascinating to see the budget for all this  -- inclusing recording sessions for $9k, $4k for 2" multitrack tape to record on etc., but he had a proposed total budget of $30,700 for this -- sounds small in the recording scheme but you are looking at one jazz musician taking on this in the hope of producing a great sounding vinyl recording of his own music while paying musicians and engineers etc to get this done. He even took delivery of the lps in his apartment and oversees mailing himself. Now that's commitment.  Head on over and check it out.


Monday, November 20, 2023

Now that's a record collection!


The ARChive of Contemporary Music, which houses more than 90m songs and is supported by names such as Martin Scorsese, is in need of a new home

Sunday, November 12, 2023

MQA....maybe quiety attenuated...

 Is it finally dead? Lots of arguments online suggest that it's over but like a good horror movies, the ending has to be extended with a few unlikely comebacks before sanity is restored. I secretly enjoyed the discourse on the Steve Hoffman forum where the 'Is MQA dead?' thread started 6 years ago and continues (spoiler alert, the answer seems to be 'yes') but I'll leave it to Wikipedia to proffer a more disinterested account. Best part of the latter report is the historical context it provides, including some choice quotes from major audiophile writers who predicted MQA would change the world. Hey, Lenbrook just acquired the assets so that horror movie scenario remains.....

Friday, July 28, 2023

Oh Sinead

I don't know why it affected me so much but the passing this week of Sinead O'Connor guts me. Lots of comments on many forums about her, largely (justifiably) positive but as Morrissey noted on his blog, the industry tributes are insincere and late. I never met her but I followed her with interest since she shot into my world with Mandinka all those years ago. I bought the Lion and the Cobra on LP back then and still have it. I was 25, moved to a new country and pining a little for something of home. She represented a different Ireland then, and always did in the years that followed.  I care little for what religion she chose at various points but I'll never forget that she was at the forefront of exposing the corruption and how she paid for that in a most public manner.  

Oddly, Nothing Compares to U is not the song I most associate with Sinead, but somehow, of all the videos posted on line this week, this one makes me smile and cry at the same time.  Her defiance was and remains inspiring, but above all she was a great performer and a true artist.  That little smile at the end of this captures her essence. Farewell brave soul.

Monday, July 10, 2023

Need some new isolation feet

 And at a price that can't be beat?  Monosaudio have you covered (see Amazon). I was particularly taken by the following image for their subwoofer isolation set. In fairness, these might actually be reasonable, the so-called science of isolation is hardly clear,  but I have to wonder who produces the advertising copy.

Sunday, June 25, 2023

Service matters - thank you PS Audio.

If you monitor audio forums it won't take you long to find people complaining about the service and support they have often failed to receive from one company or other. There's always two sides to every story, sometimes companies are short-staffed, sometimes they oly want your money at the point of sale, and in an age of continual bargain-hunting online it might be there is a disconnect between price and reasonable support.  Regardless, a simple shout out today to PS Audio. Depending on your perspective they are either innovators or scammers, but for me, they are a company I always like to do engage. Why? Forget the prices for their upper end DAC or cables (and conveniently forget that they also offer a lot of affordable options) but this company has always given me great support. I've had a few problems over the years with their amps and digital front-ends but they never left me hanging without help or reasonable options. I can't spring for the latest Directstream DAC at $7k, much as I'd like to, but they have repaired my old PerfectWave DAC when it had a problem after 9 years. How many companies who sell DACs can you say that about? 

Anyway, feeling the sound of my system was not quite what I expected last week, I figured the tubes in my BHK 300 monos were due a replacement, and since I had a set on hand, why not do it.  Well, the answer to that became obvious as soon as I tried to wrestle the amps off the racks so I could access the rear.  I know I've aged since I bought these but man, those amps weigh a ton. Worse, the feet on which they reside seem to have decided to meld with the shelf making a simple slide off to a conveniently positioned support impossible (I'm still not sure how I am ever going to break that seal).. Anyway, I did the swap, sweating and breathless, and telling myself that this amount of heavy gear belonged in the past, before having the ultimate horror, one channel popping sharply and dying on boot up.  Uh oh.....

In a mild annoyance at the stupidity of audiophile life, I considered my options. Do nothing and sulk? Not the most reasonable. Go online to figure out what might be happening and if I had damaged anything?  This is my natural response...but I supressed it. Instead I visited the PS Audio site, and, even while contemplating an email to support, decided to do what I almost never do -- phone them. Well, you might call everyone and anyone, but I despise phone calls and the disembodied communication involved. Nevertheless, keen to have an answer, I dialed. What a pleasant surprise to get through to a human (Tyler? Taylor?) within a few seconds. I explained what was happening and asked what my options were. Nobody wants to hear that they need to ship a boat anchor of an amp but What I heard was far more positive. The pop was probably just the shut-off safety kicking in, if I kept the volume down on my preamp I'd not have heard it (duh!) but most likely, I had not fully seated one of the tubes. Better, no damage was likely done and I could safely try it again (volume suitably muted of course). More, this positive voice told me to go ahead and try this and to let him know..  I did, checked the seating by removing and reinserting both tubes in the right channel amp and booting up. Success. Wonderful sounds ensured. Yes, my tubes had gone to the point where the sonics were deteriorated. Better yet, a simple call had reassured me, gave me options, and solved the problem.  I called back just to say 'thank you'.  And that is why I like this company's way of dealing with customers. Kudos.

Friday, May 12, 2023

Mobile Fidelity to pay up for fraud?

Color me surprised at the amount but MoFI, the company whose claims for an all-analog recording chain in their ultra high end vinyl releases were exposed as 'less than truthful' last year, have apparently agreed to pay $25m in settlement.  Not entirely sure how this will work but all buyers who screamed foul can return their purchases for full refund or take a 5% refund if they want to keep them. So it would seem very unlikely that MoFi end up paying out even close to that headline-grabbing sum.  No word on what the folks who bought at greatly inflated prices on the secondary market feel about all this but as always, prices will reflect this.  Most folks used to think these sounded great until they learned the facts. Fascinating stuff -- read more here

Monday, May 1, 2023

Audio Research in trouble? Maybe or maybe not.

Lots of chatter online about Audio Research filing for bankruptcy. As luck would have it, I was enjoying my AR phono stage the very evening the news broke. I think the news has been interpreted in a doom-laden manner as poatings over the weekend from those inside the company suggest the company is operating as normal and a new buyer is anticipated shortly. Check out, for example, this thread on A'gon.

Am sure there's a good story behind all this, and hopefully it will be told in the weeks ahead. For now, my fellow AR owners and enthusiasts, keep calm and listen to some music.  

Friday, April 7, 2023

MQA dead or alive?

No real dog in this fight but seems there's something afoot with MQA. According to various reports on line, the company is winding down either because it's in trouble or because it's preparing for a change of ownership.  Here's What HiFi? has on it today:

The statement from MQA reads:

"Following the recent positive reception to MQA’s latest technology (SCL6), there has been increased international interest in buying MQA Ltd. At the same time, MQA’s main financial backer is seeking an exit. In order to be in the best position to pursue market opportunities and expedite this process, the company has undergone a restructuring initiative, which includes entering into administration and is comparable to Chapter 11 in the US.

"During this process, MQA continues to trade as usual alongside its partners.

"We won't be commenting further while negotiations take place."

more here: What Hi Fi news

Tuesday, April 4, 2023

Tannoy Gold 7 in the house

I have been trying out some new desk monitors for my main working space and settled on a pair of Tannoy Gold 7s for now. I say 'for now' as the process has been interesting. After waiting weeks to find a pair (had initially wanted the Gold 5 but they seem backordered for months so grabbed a pair of 7s when I found them. Main difference is size, the 7s have 6.5" drivers and are taller/deeper, but not too large for nearfield use.  

The pair came rather flimsily packaged by the seller (Gearnutes via Amazon) but survived well enough. Installation was relatively simple and first impressions are that they are a step up from my regular Audioengine A5+ pair which have served me well for years. All good for the first week but since then I've hit a few hiccups with the auto-start in one speaker. First, it just would not start while the other speaker, a few seconds after triggering, played perfectly.  A power-down and up again of the Jotunheim preamp feeding them solved it but that takes close a minute to do. Since then, the left speaker just seemed to go into sleep mode for no apparent reason even while playing music.  

Since I bought from Amazon, I started there for help but  they offer a return only, and pushed me off to a Tannoy help site for assistance with technical issues.  To get help there one has to register the product and join the MusicTribe forum to submit a ticket.  Yikes, that took even longer than a reboot  of my whole set up.  In case it was my preamp or cable I tried in a series of swaps while I waited for answers. 

Well, one good suggestion from the Tannoy end was to play with the gain as it was possible I was not feeding enough signal to trigger the speaker into action.   Well what do you know, I had reduced trim level on the front (raising the inner Class AB amp volume while minimizing gain from the Jotunheim) as I played with set up. Then I had used the trim further as minor adjustment to tweak the center image and balance for the pair in use. Well, seems in doing so I might have inhibited the actual input signal too much causing one speaker not to recognize that it was actively being fed all the time. If so, I must have been just on the cusp as most times it worked, that is until it didn't.  I've put trim back to noon and noon+ now and raised the output gain from the preamp which seems to have solved the problem so now I can proceed to give these a real listening test.

Friday, January 27, 2023

Audio for adults?

I received a peculiar msg from the Blogger team last night that one of my earlier entries here was being put behind a 'warning:adult material' screen, suggesting readers needed to proceed with caution. What? Yes, it was a mild entry to the initial reviews I was doing live from RMAF 2014. I've searched and tried to determine the issue but I cannot figure out how anyone, that is any living sentient being, could find something even remotely 'mature' about it. AI doing it's thing? A disgruntled manufacturer annoyed at my comments? Someone having a laugh? Will this message trigger the same? What a world.

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Thank you Jeff Beck

There's much that can and will be said. There's a ton of later video clips out there but for me, that early 70s line up was his best, and he was the coolest cat.

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

Jerome Sabbagh launches new album by Kickstarter

Jerome Sabbagh is a superb saxophonist and jazz musician who has a record of putting together recordings that matter. I backed a previous release (The Turn, fabulous) and he announced today the lauch of his latest. You can find details below but suffice to say, if you like good music, well recorded, and pressed on vinyl with care, you will likely love this. I'm in, join me and encourage this type of artistry. Jerome Sabbagh - Vintage - 180g All Analog Vinyl Note -- the image below does not launch the video, you have to follow this link to play it.

Friday, October 7, 2022

Roger Waters delivers in Austin

I know he's a lightening rod for many but Roger Waters last night reminded me of why music matters. At the Moody Center in Austin he delivered pure theater with a soundtrack that few can hope to match. Heavy on Floyd, and why not, it's his music, he defied his age, and backed by a great band (and more than few loops it seems) he never went into his famed rants but rather gently reminded us in his between-song banter that he's been around for some time and likes what he's doing. Oh, and he loves his wife. It's hard to summarize what is on offer here. The stage set is built to allow him and the band to move in four directions (which he cutely, if inaccurately referred to in compass directions) and work that stage he and they certainly did. Sometimes he was in front, more times to the side or with his back to me). The two backing singers moved everywhere, as did the main guitarist. Above, a cross-shaped screen continually streamed images and text, and that's where the messages were drilled home. Military and police beatings, names of the victims of violence, reminders of his old past (replete with sarcastic but not entirely unfunny references to you-know-who from his last band) and digs at a lot of politicians (poor Joe B being described as just getting started as a war criminal might play to some in Texas but I wished he'd pointed at old Vlad). The mood was set at the start when a voice and text announcement basically said "If you are one of those people who loves Pink Floyd but hates Roger's politics, you might prefer to Fuck Off to the bar right now".

The crowd largely loved it but one feels he does not care if you do or don't. Regardless, the music wins out. What a catalog the man has. And watching him sing Wish you were Here in front of me (yes, he came in my direction for that one) was a highlight. Music can still move me and this was the soundtrack of many years delivered by professionals. 

Downside -- the Moody Theater. What a shitshow. Lines to get in...incredible lines to use the restrooms (did any one plan this for real crowds) and $21 cans of beer after tax/tip? Getting out was so slow as we were herded to a few exits that I could only imagine egress in an emergency. This theatre is good once seated but seems designed to shake you down at every turn. Welcome to the machine.

Saturday, September 24, 2022