Posted by Romy the Cat on
Nope, I am not about to write my audio memoir. I would like
to placeholder this thread to evoke the moments in audio that I found were remarkable,
at least remarkable to my audio interests, realization, development and perception.
It will be mostly autobiographical. I will not promote or degrade any products
or people, it is not my objective, even if I name products or people. I will just write, with no particular order,
about memorable audio-related events that made important marks in my memory. Feel
free to write about Youssef, if you wish and if you are interested in the
Posted by martinshorn on
hi Romy. Nice topic! I have a very nice memory. I started very young, supported by a friend who tought me a lot and gave me books to study. I learned the basic formulas and started DIY speakers from purely technical perspectives, graphs, math, calculations and measurements. But rather average results, mostly adoring $$$$$ stuff from exhibitions. One day, i was invited to a special guys home. He was very entertaining. Though he studied engineering, he seemed to completely forgotten everything. He rather focused on partying, drugs and spiritual things. He had built hundreds of speakers. All without any method. He always selects all drivers by having the loose driver in hand free air, holding it next to the head, listening some seconds, evaluation done. Cases are being built out of the stomach. Crossovers as well. No measures ever. Everywhere open devices, speaker fragments laying around, looking rather cheap like garbage. „What a freak“ i thought, judging easily...Well so it happened, i listened to the first big multiway horn in his place. It was like a big bang. I’ve never heard music like that before. So much fun and emotion. Ill never forget. He btw also discovered something back in the 80s you would now call the resonating oops injector For a decade i could not forget that day, comparing everything to this „reference „ being disappointed with whatever i built, trying to copy him, visiting exhibitions. His system is still today, almost 20 years later, one of the best (very few) i have ever experienced. Big respect to the ones who design beyond the formulas, who can create out of passion and heart something far better than any engineer would.
Posted by Romy the Cat on
One of the first audio miracles that I remember was when I
was I think 10 or 11. I had a reel-to-reel machine from 60s, it was running tube
amplification around Russian tube 6N14P and I powered from this tape machine external
speakers that I build myself. It was hardly possible to call speaker as it was
just boxes that I made with some random drivers that I took from old radios.
The drivers were connected randomly, there were no crossovers and anything else
was absolutely ridicules. Still, I was happy with my tape machine and with my treasured
collection of tapes. My friends and I spend a lot of time to record from one machine
to another and I had a lot of interest to do it, even though I had absolutely no
knowledge or understanding of what I was doing.
One day before New Year my parents and I were visited some
family relatives and the father of the family went to balcony to smoke. My
father seldom spoke with me and I was very attracted to other adult figures, so
I went to “smoke” with him. We spent in the balcony over an hour and he told me
a lot of very interesting things. The most remarkable were two facts that I thought
were stunning. First, he told me that Jesus Christ was a Jew. That was very unexpected
to me as my parents were Jews and I could not believe that Christ, about whom everybody
was talking around, was some kind of relative to my parents. Second, he told me
that sound of my tape machine might be improved by changing tube in my amplifier
from 6N14P to British-made EL84. That was even more surprising news, even more
surprising then my parents are related to Christ, as I thought that sound is
what it is on a tape and nothing can be improved besides having better tape or higher
tape speed. In a few weeks as I got somewhere that EL84 tubes and replaced them
in my tape machine. That was nothing short of miracle and it was absolutely magnificent
revelation to me. I suddenly felt that I might get a control over something
that already written in stone and it was very empowering sensation.
In year I was changing heads in my tape machine, speed equalization
corrections, tubes, select “better” drivers, used another radio with bid bass
driver as a complimentary subwoofer. It was the same brainless activity and
very bad results but it is a story for another subject….
Posted by Romy the Cat on
I was promising to tell stories of my audio miracles with no
order of chronology or importance, so here is another one. I think it was in
2002-2003. I was transitioning from Lamm amplifications to Melquiades and was contemplating
to introduce a DHT to Milq midrange. I
think I posted at my site somewhere an invitation however locally has “interesting”
Direct Heated SET amplifier then bring it to my place as I would like to compare
it to Milq’s MF DSET. A few folks contacted and a few amps were heard. One of
them I still consider was a miracle and there was the most interesting amp I
I do not know the guy who brought it, I never seen or heard
from him again. He came to my place and brought his Japanese made amp. It was 3
stager, all tubes are DHT, with tube rectification. It was all with vintage carbon
resistors and kind of semi-amateurishly built. He said that it was built by
order and it costed him $32K. I think it was Shindo amp but I might be mistaken
now. As I used his amp to drive my MF driver I did not see any big difference
between Milq and that amp. So, it was a wasted evaluation in my view. I did not
have appropriate full range speaker to drive. Remember, Macondo were multi-channel
and therefore I decided to compare my visitor’s amp with Milq driving Macondo Injection
Channel at full power. I got rid the Injection
Channel’s high-pass crossover, EQed the volumes and let the amps to show themselves
off. Milq was for sure more full-range amplifier but the visitor amp showed something
that I never seen before or after and something that up to now I believe was one
of the most remarkable moment in audio I experienced.
That amp re-maped time between musical events. It is like
hearing a very good pianist plays music that you very much know but the pianist
is taking his notes a few milliseconds before or after the time to take the notes.
It was so shocking and so out of anything that I ever heard that I was not even
ready for this. The only thing that I felt was that I was waiting physically for
the each note the amp make and the amp did it in his own time. The stunning effect
that the amp’s music had on me was that the sound of that amp gave absolutely new
level of curiosity to music, as I was always waiting what (or most accurately
would be saying “when) a new note will come out of this amp. It was absolutely devilish
hypnotizing fun to listening the amplifier. I have absolutely no idea how the
amp did it but the memory of that amp’s sound very much live in my mind as a uncontestable
pinnacle of what might be done in audio.
Posted by ArmAlex on
That was very unexpected to me as my parents were Jews and I could not believe that Christ, about whom everybody was talking around, was some kind of relative to my parents.
This was absolutely beautiful )))
Posted by Romy the Cat on
It was back in 2001-2002.
David Karmeli brought to Vegas a pair of original Vitavox CN-191 that he
did not show publicly. They just were sitting in “another” room, unconnected with
no purpose. One night he was experimenting with them and the stars suddenly got
aligned. I heard a few times CN-191 in a different rooms and it was never
interesting but what they did in that Vegas room was beyond believe. They were
driven my Lamm electronics with CEC front end. I very much remember that Sound
and I could give a long list of what I did not like in that Sound but it was
musical like hell and since that day I adopted S2 as Macondo default MF driver.
The playback system made
the room to float and to breathe with sound, filing it with spectacular sparkles
of all imaginable colors, it was like looking into some kind of mysterious 3D kaleidoscope.
I honesty to that day did not hear anything as spectacular and hypnotizing. For
a few year I was straggling to recreate something similar, in many way I did
better but in some way I never came even close. As I got more listening intelligence
I do not compete with neither live sound nor with my memories about anything sonically
and today I have no any about that sound. Still, I need to confess that for
many years I was drive by some jealousy for that sound that I head in that
Luckily, that day I had my
recordings with me. I picked a stunning CD, Kurt Masur with Chicago play Shostakovich
5. It is WFMT live broadcast from 1987 with Norm Pellegrini announcement. THAT interpretation
of Shostakovich 5 is beyond believe and I tend over the years to dot listen any
other Shostakovich 5. So, I was playing the recording on that ad hoc Vitavox
playback and it was like a trip to another side of the Moon. David and I have slightly
different views about philosophies and effects in playbacks and I heard a
number of his endeavors. In my estimation what he did in Vegas with that
Vitavox was just heads and shoulder more meaningful that anytime he ever did,
or I did for that matter.
The memory about that Vitavox
in Vegas event is living with me over the years. The most remarkable was that
that David did not make any efforts to make that Sound. He literally just damped
two speakers in two corners and the rest was the history that will be living
with us, I am pretty sure to the rest of our lives, as the events like this do
not repeat themselves.
Posted by Romy the Cat on
It was somewhere in 1998-99 I believe. A local dealer, Dan
Chadwick called me and told that if I swing by he will show me something that I
never imagine. The dealer has a spectacular
listening room, I mean beyond believe spectacular, with no money or efforts spent
to calibrate decays across the spectra and take care many other aspects. Usually
these rooms build by today’s “acoustical geniuses” are not so great, that room was
truly good, it was just a pleasure to be in that room.
So, they had some kind of pre-production version of Avalon Acoustics’
Eidolon. Might be it was not pre-production but Neil Patel’s own prototype. I
do not remember now. They told me some intricate story how they got it and what
it was, it is not so important. The important is that when I saw Eidolon lately
the speakers looked and sound exactly as the speakers I heard during that demo.
The electronics was top of the line Spectral, with MIT top of the line cables
all over. The shop was big Spectral/MIT pushers, so it was not a surprise. They
play explicitly RR recordings and advised me do not use my CDs, I did not
argued as I had no need to.
As I entered the room the setup made me to laugh. Not that I
had too much experience those days but it was ridicules beyond believe. The speakers
were good 10 feet apart, almost parallel to each other and almost parallel to
the long walls. The speakers were facing to the left side of the room. The
listening chair was practically between the speakers, perhaps a foot from the
live between the tweeters, facing to the right side of the room. As I sat it
the listening chair and juts looked at the location of the speaker I thought
that Dan is out of his mind. I hardly even saw the damn speaker as they were at
the line of my shoulders pointing behind me. They has perhaps 5 degree tow-in
and were shooting to the wall behind me, good 15 feet away.
As we begun to play music, I got the message: it was beyond believe.
There was a lot in that sound that I would accept even then, not to mention now,
but the imaging aspect that the installation was throwing was completely out of
that world. The layout of the instruments and section, the deeps, the width,
the stability of the images across dynamic ranges, anything that I even seen in
imaging was just exquisite. In fact I never seen any playback even remotely go
to this level of imaging, with exception of the playbacks that operate in DPoLS
Dan told me that it is a bit ridicules setup but the uniqueness
of the room and geometry of the Eidolon allow them t have that inimitable
setting that does some exceptional trick
with imaging. It was so good that sometime I got disoriented and felt that I am
standing at the very edge of a huge cliff. I honestly told him that he need to
keep that setup and to charge audio people for the rights to hear it. I am glad
Posted by Romy the Cat on
An amazing event took place during the flip between 2011 and
2012, the New Year nigh. It was my former suburb listening room, the one that
had the midbass horns built into the attic. At that time, I was running playback a lot and
I frequently was leaving my amps on for days. The playback at that time was very well organized,
optimized and maintained and was in the best state it ever was. On the morning December
31, I noted that electricity was just spectacular, it was one of the few in a
year “great electricity days”. I spent a few hours, enjoying a playback and
they went away somewhere. During the day I was in and out, not listening
anything but I kept the amps running. On evening I went to Boston to New Year
Eve party and was home around 1am. Around 1:15AM I lit a cigar and sat to listen
my Bruckner 8.
What I heard that nigh was uncontestably the best sound I
had from my playback. Furthermore, it was the best sound I heard from are playbacks,
period, with exception of DPoLS situation. I was playing very complex for sound
reproduction recording, it was Bruckner/Wand in Lubeck with NDR, Japanese CD
pressing. The sound of my midbass was generally overdamped for “normal
listening” but for these recordings with a very long and very rich decays it
was exactly what the doctor ordered. The entire setup worked exceptionally well
and it was a zenith of what I ever accomplished in audio in term of playback performance.
In my estimation, it was the most interesting to me sound I ever heard from any
recording media. It is important to note that I am talking not about general
sound in that listening room but about THAT nigh ONLY.
I need to tell you that I was so shocked and astonished with
the quality of the sound that I sent a few emails to the people I know,
inviting them to my listening room to have a listening session. The interesting
fact was not all of the people were my friends, some of them were the people
that I do not like or the people with whom for one or another reasons I parted
the ways in my life. Still those people spend life time of serving interest of
audio and perusing belter Sound and even I did not like them personally I did respect
them for their audio service. The sound
that I was getting was so stunning and so much far away from what I have seen
in audio that I felt that I obligated to share my result in order people experience
what is in fact is possible by audio means. Also, I was forecasting that my
ability to demonstrate THAT Sound in my listening room and my interest to demonstrate
that sound might be compromised soon as at that time Amy was popping up at my horizon.
So, in way it was my Audio swan song and I was not wrong: I never had belter
sound then at that night.
I do not think that my audio life will not bring to me, or to
audio humanity more surprises. I do feel that the sound I was getting at THAT
night was a great culmination of my years-long efforts that in a way surmised a
period in my life. I am quite sure that I will come up in future with some
revision of my views regarding the sound that I heard THAT night and I hope I
will be able to do even better (the DPoLS comes to my mind) but at this point.
the memory of THAT nigh reminds in my mind a very much as the Memory of Greatness.
Posted by Romy the Cat on
This was the most astonishing and bewildering moment of my
entire audio life. It was in 2000. That time I lived in cozy downtown Boston
apartment that I absolutely loved. The apartment sounded fabulously with pretty
much any playback you put in. Also, to live in there very much reflected my
very urban life style during the years. I loved to live in city, I loved at 3AM
on the morning be able to make 300 feet trip to a store to buy cigars, I loved
be able to meet on the streets the type women who can afford a plastic surgery,
I loved to live in near epicenter of civilization. My views and my feeling
about all of it very much changed now but that how I felt then and my Back Bay’s
apartment very much reflected it.
In 2000 I made a transition from box speakers to horns. I
think I got Avantgard Duo in February-March of 2000 and when with a month I got
rid of Duo and bought Trio. During 2000 I was at full throttle experimented
with improving of Trio sound. At that time, I discovered the Fane Studio 8M and
I was looking for a solution to replace the Trio’s subs. I did not start to mingle the MF drivers then
and a large collection of MF and FM drivers came later on. At that time, I had
three Lamm M1.1 amplifiers and I was in prosses to buying Lamm ML2 to drive my
A few words of tangents I need to say about the Trio. With
all understandable problems of the Avantgard Trio I am very grateful for them
as the lead me to the horns loading topology and helped me to learn what I
know. That time I was doing a lot of traveling, including visiting different
Avantgard Trio installations around world, observing and learning what other
people do. I have seen a lot of potentials with Trio but never anything
remarkable with exception of one installation. I do not remember who it was, it
was some kind of beginner dealer in NY and I do not remember how I get familiar
with him. He was not a big dealer and was selling Avantgard Trio for a few
months and then went back to dark. He was not so experienced with Avantgard and
when I spoke with him about the details of Avantgard setting up he was
absolutely clueless in my estimation. Still, when I visited him I was very
surprised that the Trio in his room, and in his installation, did sound very nice.
When I was visited him, I was scratching my head and did not get why it was so
nice and why it was free from many Avantgard problem that I was very intimately
familiar. Anyhow, it was very well performing Avantgard Trio.
Anyhow, returning back to my apartment and to my slightly
modified Trio. I had my own Midbass drivers, my own speaker-level crossovers
and 4 subs were set in midbass/subbass configuration. I was working on better
drivers integration as I was trying to get an aggressive nearfield and was
moving the Trios a lot in my room. One day
making another change with
crossover and moving Trios a fraction of inch to another location I felt that
something suddenly went different. I was standing at my left speaker and
unexpectedly I felt was like an orchestra’s musicians were practicing and all
installments did something different and suddenly they all went in tune with a
When I put my ass to my listening spot I literally got
disoriented. The sound was like I never heard
before. Not because it was better, but it was very different. Anything,
literally anything we in audio know about sound was not there. There were not frequencies,
no dynamic, no colors, no resolutions, no details, no harmonics, no transients,
no imaging, there was absolutely nothing what we call auditable in what I
experienced. The audio reviewers love to write in those situations that “there
was no audio but only music” but they are idiots and that do not know what they
are writing. It had absolutely nothing to do with music and it had only to do
with the interaction protocol between sound and my brain and, boy, it was WAY
different! Sound presentation was not created in space in front of me but
somehow was unfolding in my brain. The effect was similar to headphones… but
with no sound. I felt that there were some harmonic events unfolding in my mind
and I felt PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY for those events. It was even in a way
further then playing instruments myself, it was not the feeling that I crated
sound but rather the felling of abstract but VERY tangible responsibility for
I stopped the CD player spent a good half hour to think what
is going on with me. The idea of mini-stroke did popup in my head. I know that
I was healthy, do not use any legal or recreational drugs, pretty much do not
drink and do not have any psychiatric deviations. Still, the experience was a
bit alarming. I played more and the experience very much repeated itself. I
took different CDs and recognized that this process of the “bizarre musical psychological intrenching”
did not change with music. I even took the music that I would not normally
listen with my playback, the Deep Purple’s “Purpendicular” album, and the
presentation of the playback did not change.
It is important to note that the feeling I was getting there did not
directly related to live music. I did experience something similar probably 3-4
times in my life during live concerts but it was due to incredible quality of
musical events. Here, in front of the damn playback, I was getting incredibly
personal with music regardless of the quality of the musicianship itself. That
was new, VERY new.
I was smart enough then and I did do not touch ANYTHING in
my playback and I decided to take my mind out of it. I went to a nice local
restaurant, ordered a very nice 3 meals supper and asked a waiter to serve me
slowly. However, I was keep thinking
about what was going on. The though that I have that amassing music machine in
my home physically was forcing me to go home.
I took next day, Thursday, off. I spent the rest of the evening and the
next day with playback listening and experimenting, trying to figure out what
is going on. I did not experiment with playback but rather with my perception
and with my mind. I clearly understood
that I have no idea what made the things “to work” in my playback and if I touch
anything I might fuck everything up. For instance, I discovered that moving my
listening position away from listening spot did not change the “involvement”
with sound in the way how it typically change sonic imaging. In fact, I was
able to stand next to one of the speakers(!) and the “prosses” still was going
on. That very much hurt my hypothesis regarding the “prosses” and phase
aliment, at least the “big phases” (a big subject!).
The “ceremony” lasted to two days. In Saturday I went somewhere
for a whole day, I think it was shooting a wedding… I returned home and did
something with playback that make the whole “involvement” much less. Then I was
trying to fix it… and lost it. Lost it forever. I never had the similar sound
presentation neither with my playback not with any other playbacks. If you read
my site then you read about DPoLS and do
think that completely accidently my playback found itself during those 3 days
in perfect DPoLS setting, when “small phases” get aligned. Over my audio
life I very frequently think about these 3 days, about audio and about us. I
wish I had a simple recipe how you can put the playback in DPoLS mode. OK, who the hell care about
you!? I wish to have some kind of recipe for MYSELF but I do not have it. Well,
it is what it is… Still, if we are taking about something magnificent in audio then
I never think I will be able to top my 2000’s DPoLS event.
Rgs, Romy The Cat
Posted by clarkjohnsen on
And Bill Gaw was there to confirm it. So if it wasn't really happening, it must have been a folie à deux.
But maybe you should consider some of the odder exterior causes? Moon void-of-course? Mercury in retrograde? Humidity? EMF environmant? Etc.
Posted by tokyo john on
Thanks for these amazing stories. My own "profound" experiences with audio playback (where I was moved by the sound) have always been related to acoustics/room. Sometimes it all comes together, and equipment that have no right to sound much better than a table radio can sound magical. Actually there was a time when a table radio in my father in-law's study sounded so good I wanted to smash it (lol); it made me feel like a fool for having spent tens of thousands of dollars on stuff (yes, I am a fool). I have been astounded by sound blasting out of speakers hanging in open spaces in amusement parks, and sound in musical theater venues, where every piece of equipment would probably not fit the traditional audio-snob definition (cheap cables, tone controls, mixers, conventional ported box speakers in multi-arrays). And electricity....I dare not go there but I recall a Wall Street Journal article on Japanese audiophiles who install their own utility poles (August 2016 Japanese Audiophiles Are Going To Extremes).
Posted by Romy the Cat on
John, this is quite serious subject and I spent some time to
think about it as well. Let me to share how I feel about it.
| tokyo john wrote:|
| Actually there was a
time when a table radio in my father in-law's study sounded so good I wanted to
smash it (lol); it made me feel like a fool for having spent tens of thousands
of dollars on stuff (yes, I am a fool).|
Over 17 years back, I was visiting one of the Boston’s stores
that sell used CD/records and in the store, I had some sort of the argument about
music with the store owner. The store had old and very bad sounding loudspeaker
siting behind the shelf, the flea market level loudspeaker and it was powered
by 5-cd changer with built in 25W amplifier. You get the picture. So, during
the argument with the store owner (who was incredible asswhole but who knew music
very well) we were listening some music fragments to illustrate our points. One
day I was listening home (and I had already a nice playback then) the same music
as we were listening in the store during argument and I sensed that the expressivity
of musical impressions in the store was more prominent. I thought that it was because
the attention to that music in that store during the argument was more
contextual but soon I learned, after consecutive visits to the store, that it
was not the case. For sure the sound I was getting home was much more sophisticated
from any single point of view but at the very same time, the sound I was getting
in the store was very perfectly sufficient to stimulate my responsiveness at
very high level. I have a lot to say on this topic but it is not the subject of
Anyhow, I was thinking a lot about it and I, very much like
you, at that time I was wondering if my time and money investment into audio
was some kind of self-delusion. So, I am very much familiar with what you felt
after visiting your father in-law's study, I can tell you even more. My story
in that music store and my arguing with myself about the worth of my involvement
in audio is to the great degree serves as a base of my general overview about
high-end audio. So, here is what I learned about myself.
Yes, I have a few regrets for many steps I took in audio but
generally I do not feel that my audio-involvement was foolish. As a retrospect,
I feel that foolish part in my audio journey took place when my motivations did
not brew with me. Any single time I was listening recommendation or solicitation
from any external party I unavoidably ended up with waste of time, money and
NEVER got satisfaction. To me, a pleasure in audio starts when I declared all
audio-involving humanity as dead and then I use my audio solely for satisfaction
of my own interest, curiosity, objectives and sensations. When I look at my
past and see how much money and how much time I wasted I never feel apologetic
about the waste if it was my own original motivation. On other hand, when I look
at the projects that I was involved that were inspired by advise of others (and,
trust me, there were plenty of these in
my audio live) then I do feel incredible regrets for the time and the resources
Posted by martinshorn on
i can only nodd
Its worth to know, seeking for advise, that majority of people want to recommend what they have/do/did.
Regardless of what it is, they want to tell you "this is it", because everyone is afraid of making wrong choices.
They tell themselves i must believe i did the best. And if anyone asks, you tell them "just do like me, its best really, i know how it works".
We all know this, especially parents, its a pleasure for our ego seeing someone following our advise.
It requires big courage to admit not to know, and tell someone to find their own way.
Posted by tokyo john on
Thank you for sharing these thoughts - it fills me with wonder. I too in the end do not regret the money I spent because sometimes you need to buy the "sounds better than anything ever" amplifier, cartridge or tonearm, and to hear for yourself that it did not take you to nirvana, and nirvana often comes from strange random things like acoustics and chance combinations of equipment (remember how once you used a tape to drive your micro seiki platter, and we came to conclusion some strange static energy was being introduced?)...I never forget how I once cleaned the thick dust sticking to my speaker cables and then the sound changed from 3D to 2D... If it sounds good, DON'T ....TOUCH... ANYTHING (lol). Romy, let me end by thanking you for being the Nietszche of audio and killing the false idols that were leading me astray until I found you. I am still lost, but at least in the right labyrinth.