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God, sometimes I love my stereo system!


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Sometimes, in the cool of the evening, with the lights down low, and the music playing melodically away, I rest my weary feet and drift away into a nether world of rapture. A world beyond the nerve plucking that jars the senses and the staccato grind that numbs the brain. A world just barely into the other side of dreams. An alpha wave state rarely induced while conscious. And even then only by the somehow magical combination of artist, recording, disc, pre-amps, amps, cables, speakers, researching, testing, measuring, tweaking and listening patiently.

One of Diana Kralls latest CDs has been a revelation for me (Stepping Out, Justin Time 2000). I bought the disc last year and I thought it was good. I think all her stuff is good. It went into my limited collection along with a half dozen of her other discs. From there I rotated it from time to time along with the others. Nice stuff. Great voice. Small two man band. Simple tunes. Classic smoky jazz cabaret material like Straighten Up and Fly Right (Cole/Mills) Body and Soul (Green/Heyman/Sour/Eyton).

Due to the sagging power of my new home, I recently picked up a small uninterrupted power supply (UPS) and a new surge protector. With electromagnetic interference (EMI) and radio frequency (RF) filtering, the new power strip replaced a very old one. The combination made quite a difference for the money. It seems to lower the noise floor. There was more quiet in the room. Quiet passages had more air around them. Subtle differences I know, but good ones. This improvement is as effective as a disc mat or vibration isolation platforms, even if they are the ludicrous home made variety (see http://www.enjoythemusic.com/tweaks/).

Next, I sat down with the SPL meter and ran through the the Stereophile magazine test CDs. Despite labeling of the cables, the left channel was out of phase. Bingo! That did the trick.

Now when I play her CD, I am this close to audio perfection. This disc, along with the UPS and the surge protector, have taken me there. I am near the mountain top. I am able to suspend disbelief. If only for a moment, for those seconds, with this stereo, in that dark room. I am able to believe that Diana and her band are there. Not in the room, but somehow just beyond the front wall. The cymbals sound real. Her voice sounds the way I heard it recently. The bass is full and natural. The drums have snap. The illusion of a sonic holograph is as close as I have ever heard it. It is a good as a $100,000 Nearfield Pipedreams with Joule OTL amps and oil drum size woofers.

The disc is a new release of her first work in 1993. It is digitally re-mastered at SNB Mastering in Montreal using 24-bit/96 kHz technology. The sound is close to flawless. While I love DMP and Chesky discs because they are such great recordings, they still sound like just that, great recordings. This CD, whether it is the rawness of a new artist, or the superiority of the new technology, I dont know, but this disc, does not sound like a recording at all.

If you like jazz, female vocalist or bass, you will like this CD.

My formula for this out-of-body experience is combine big old horns with new 2A3 tube amps, two Klipsch SS powered sub-woofers, a Dynaco tube pre-amp, a Rotel player, putty and paving stone speaker dampening, good cables and proper positioning.

Yet, I may never make it all the way to the top. The path I have chosen may never take me there. There are many things my stereo does not do right. The horrible sound of so many popular CDs makes me blush with humilation. My system, as wonderful as it can be, still makes trash out of a lot of popular music.

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Yeah, Colin, it's those sublime, transcendent, listening sessions that we as audiofools and music lovers live for. And so true that many times it just isn't there; the magic, the space between the sounds where the "air" is. Where the music comes alive. But man, when everything is workin', hooh boy! I could (and do) go all night sometimes, just one CD to another. Kinda makes me wonder why the magic is as elusive as it is. I know that mostly, it must be the recording itself. It's either in the groove (or pits)or not. But there must be other variables, too. Seems most of my magic audio moments occur late at night or early to mid morning. Cleaner, better power? I don't know, but your comments about power conditioning do pique my interest in those devices. I've always gotten by with those cheap RatShack surge protectors/filters. But maybe those high dollar conditioners do have sonic merit. If they could make more "magic time"...



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I hear you Colin. Just the other night I was listening to the soothing strains of Linda Ronstadt, when in walks my wife ever so lovingly pointing out "Hey, is it loud enough? I could hear it out on the highway!" But what can you expect from a girl who grew up believing Donny Osmond really was a little bit rock 'n' roll? Sometimes, when B.B. King & Lucille are calling back & forth, Ray Charles is squeezing the soul out of every note or Linda, Dolly & Emmylou have that perfect harmony going I find that little bit of heaven on earth or maybe it's just heaven/nirvana. I too sometimes love my stereo system - especially when I'm alone with my music and no distractions. It puts me in a whole different world.

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i think the best way i can relate personal experience to what ya'll are saying is there are days when i can't wait to get off of work and go home...to listen to my klf-30's!! truly there are those magical listening experiences that trancend day-to-day life. one of my 'turning points' that made me a klipsch owner is the dvd 'james taylor-live at the beacon theater'. the first time i heard it was w/ klf-30's (front),c-7 (center),and ksbs6's(?)those BIG surrounds.when they do the 'extended' version of'shower the people'and the backup singer takes the lead, his voice coming through those horns is incredible!!the gear driving them was 5 marantz monoblocks w/marantz dd pre-amp. WOW! avman.

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Love that posting. Couldn't have expressed it better.

For me same effect - different music / different system.


Klipsch Heresy 2's

Accuphase E211 amp

Marantz CD6000

Mogami interconnects

Synergistic silver speaker cables


JVCXR-9001 FAMOUS SOUNDS OF TBM SAMPLER 1. The Brdige Over Troubled Water/Ayako Hosokawa track is just beyond words.


THe whole thing is just a transport to another plane.

Other than those exemplary recordings there are those that move me beyond the limitations of their reproduction:

Dvorak New World Symphony (9th): Herbert Von Karajan conducting: Deutsche Gramaphon 439 009-2

Dire Straits, Money for Nothing : Phonogram 836 419-2

Al Green, Greatest Hits : The Right Stuff T2-30800

Marvin Gaye, I Heard it Through the Grapevine : Motown 530 258-2

Suzanne Vega, The Best Of, Tried and True : A&M Records 540-945-2

Mike Oldfield, Tubular Bells 2 : Warner Music 4509-90618-2

Sade, The Best Of : Sony Music 01-477793-10

Les Miserables In Concert at the Royal Albert Hall : MCPS 88561-1559-2


1. Only works when wife and dogs are asleep and with lights off (maybe a candle or 2).

2. Best enjoyed with a glass of wine or a single malt whiskey.

3. Disconnect telephone.

4. Leather recliner a must.

5. Disconnect refridgerator.

6. Air con off.

7. Good cigar.

If I am very lucky I can get to this heavenly state about once a week. Makes life worth living....

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