Colin Posted May 12, 2001 Share Posted May 12, 2001 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. Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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