Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Rogers High Fidelity now factory direct

Rogers announced they now are selling direct to customers, following PS Audio's earlier move in this direction. Hard to argue with this though it means even more challenges for audio dealers. In many ways, it's inevitable. Magazines constantly defend their reviews by telling readers to go hear for themselves before buying but it's becoming harder and harder to do so. I've remarked here before how even in an urban market, the availability of audiophile products is limited, even when a dealer apparently exists. Esoteric gear, and let's face it, all audiophile gear is esoteric to the masses, is not amenable to convenient audition. What this means for the long-term health of the industry is anyone's guess but I think manufacturers have little chance of growing their market by proceeding with business as usual.

Rogers also announced a factory-reconditioned listing space on site too, offering a chance to get a used item with some assurances, another nice touch.  So, never heard Rogers gear myself but their phono stages and integrated amps were always of interest. I hope this works for them.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Friday, May 1, 2020

The joys of a record collection

So much is said about the value of streaming services and how you can explore at will, lucking onto great music you might not have otherwise heard. I don't disagree. But there's also something about having your own material collection that is hard to quantify. Case in point - tonight I was just doing some record playing and for no particular reason, pulled out an old chestnut - the Cannonball Adderley Quintet in Chicago

I looked at the cover, thought that might be fun to spin, pulled it from the sleeve and knew I'd cleaned it so it was ready to go but looking at the label and the vinyl I expected a somewhat rough sound from this 60 year old slab of history. Well, what do you know? Sure, a couple of clicks and pops on the run in grooves but then the music kicked in, and I sat back with a nice drink and just listened. Phew...what a delight. Sax oozed from the left, drums from the right, and yes, that was a classic case of real stereo separation (maybe a little too much, if you know what I mean) but what fun. 

A couple of tracks in, I'm reaching for the sleeve. Yep, Cannonball for sure but what else do I see....Coltrane, Kelly on piano, Chambers on bass, Cobb on drums. A small note underneath saying 'this session was cut while all the above were sidemen working with Miles Davis at the Sutherland Hotel in 1959!'. Oh now you're talking. Absolutely glorious sonics in a sort of 'to hell with frequency extension and detail, this is the pulse of a band playing in front of you'.  Then, in the lower right corner, a note entitled 'HiFi Information'

"This epochal jazz session was recorded in Feb 1959 at Universal Recording Studio B, Chicago, with Bernie Clapper, president of the firm, at the audio controls. In order to achieve the spitome in cohesive sound and coordiantion, the group was set up very tight, the way they worked in personal engagements,. Microphone sets were worked out to make for the most possible directivity of sound with very little crossover, because this is fundamentally a session which featured solos by these outstanding progressive jazzmen. Mike (sic) pickups included: Solo Reed Telefunken U-47;  Reed accent mike-RCA 44BX; Bass-Telefunken U-47; Piano-Telefunken U-47; Drums-Telefunken U-47; Rhythm accent mike-Telefunken U-47. The entire session was recorded at 15 inches per second on Ampex 350-2 modified tape recorders."

And the kicker -- the sleeve notes about the musicians has the following, written in 1959: 

"Cannonball Adderley looks forward to the future of jazz with great enthusiasm. He expresses justified confidence that his co-worker and prominent tenorman, John Coltrane will have much to do with the opening of new horizons"

Time travel indeed -  a small capsule of music, history and perspective, sitting on my shelf just waiting for the moment to remind me of what it all means. Try that Spotify!