Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Review audio equipment, Golden ear Triton 7, $1998.00/pr. Sandy Gross new stereo speaker sytem, ideal for music and home theatre

Golden Ear Triton 7. Design:3 Way Passive Speaker System. Style:Floor Standing Tower Spaker. Optional Finish: Black/Sox style grill only, with gloss black top & bottom cover and plinth.

I listened to the Triton 7’s with a variety of music including Joni Mitchell, Pat Metheny and Boz Scaggs. The Joni Mitchell showed a clarity of her superb voice.  I listened to Joni Mitchell Blue.  Expecially on the title track the speakers showed a great depth of image and her voice was spectacular. 
When I listened to The Pat Metheny Group his guitar was exactly where it was supposed to be.  I have seen Metheny at least 9 times in concert and he usually stands to the right of the stage next to the drummer.  It put the guitar in the right place.
When Pat handed over to Lyle Mays, his piano and keyboards were to the left of the stage and showed a clarity of sound I have never heard except my Snell’s reference system.  The images were great and the horns in the rear of the stage were right where they were supposed be. 
Boz Scaggs impressed me the most.  His throaty voice was superb and the bass response was very impressive.  I listened to The Memphis album that he put out in 2013 and I especially like the way he does a “Rainy Night In Georgia.  The bass response was outstanding and his guitar work was great. 
Overall I would say that at $1400.00 a pair this speaker is definitely worth the price.  I would place it in the Golden Ear line as a great value
Oh, by the way, we have all the albums I listened to in stock.
Rich Faigle - Rich's Record Emporium, 131 W. Main St., Collinsville, IL

music review, Jazz, vinyl record, Ornette Coleman,

 pictured here are albums from my "Spring Jazz Fling"

Audiophile Sound Quality Rating 8 / Musical content 10

Vinyl Record Review: Jazz, Modern Jazz, (avant-garde). Heavy Vinyl Pressing 180 gram on "Wax Time Record label". Audiophile Pressing Process (Direct Metal Mastering).

This is a stunning reproduction of the original recording, both in looking authentic with identical complete liner notes, and front & rear cover art. With the exception as noted on the rear cover, of an additional "bonus track" and of course the current record company's other informational necessities.

 original cover art

Engineering is stated on jacket as being done with the original George Neumann cutting system.

I gave the sound quality a rating of 8.  I'm trying to be more conservative in my ratings these days as it dawned on me that all of my record reviews are 9's or 10's. The reality is, I only write about recordings I'm really jazzed about (no pun intended). As an audiophile, this puts me in the predicament of only talking about the outstanding recordings (or ones which will be in the top teir of sound quality).  So from this review forward I am being more strict with this assement. 

This recoding suffers a little bit from noise between the tacks which could be a result of either the master or the fact the original tapes are from 1959.  Whichever the case neither the label or other reviewers specifies any info on this issue.  Apart from that however, the music itself is of exceptional quality and broad dynamcis. I could easily use this as a "test" disc for auditioning high quality turntables, speakers and audio systems.

It’s been a few weeks now since we lost another great American musician, and I’ve been reflecting on this since Springtime is Jazz time for me.  I call it my “Spring Jazz Fling”. I listen to Jazz and all types of music throughout the year, but I get into “moods” and center on certain types during the four seasons, and Spring is Jazz time for me.  It seems to help me think in original ways and to focus on various exploits I want to accomplish for the year.  

Ornette Coleman, the alto saxophonist and composer who was one of the most powerful and contentious innovators in the history of jazz, died on Thursday in Manhattan. He was 85.The cause was cardiac arrest, a family representative said. 

Mr. Coleman widened the options in jazz and helped change its course. Partly through his example in the late 1950s and early 60s, jazz became less beholden to the rules of harmony and rhythm while gaining more distance from the American songbook repertoire.
180gram perfectly flat vinyl pressing - the weight and perfect playing surface add to the sound integrity & perfect pitch.

This statement from the Associated Press touches on Ornette’s identity as one of the “innovators" of the modern Jazz movement. He was considered one of the “great influencers” of this of-shoot of what’s considered jazz “standards”.  Jazz standards are those songs and themes which have been done over and over by the masses of even those famous and most celebrated Jazz artists – each taking a different and unique road along the same path, but essentially, not straying too far from it. Ornette often didn’t follow these paths at all – if he did, his road was so abstract, only occasionally could you figure out (without looking at the liner notes) which road he was actually following.

I have friends that get together with me to listen to Jazz and other musical art forms.  We typically enjoy the great “standards” artists – hey – they’re easy to follow. Occasionally, I’ll pull out Eric Dolphy or Ornate Coleman and the comments are always the same. The instrumentation, the phrasing, the musicianship and skill are “WOW” but my friends will go on to say “I would never buy such an album to just listen to”.  They might use it as a test disc to audition audio gear, because again, of the clarity and quality of the sounds, but not to enjoy this “abstract music”.       

excellent liner notes, great quality jacket and included inside is a flyer describing other excellent reproductions from Waxtime. I am very pleased with the quality.

When I listen to a great innovator like Ornette Coleman, it’s easy for me to understand this sediment. Most people like an easy to follow “melody”. I guess what’s harder to appreciate in Ornette is that he is one of those great artists who gave Jazz the moniker as being the “musician’s music”.  No one gets to the core of musical exploration better than Ornette Coleman, which is why I have to include his “Shape of Jazz to come”  in my Spring “Jazz” Fling every year! It is recognized as one of the “all-time great” Jazz records and is in a few of the “short lists” to own for any series collector. For me, it just “gets there” – and if you have to be a musician to truly understand this, so be it.  But I believe any true appreciator of great art and great musical art will also “get it”. My take is that he’s a little less “Dali” and a little more “Picasso”.




Thursday, March 19, 2015

Vinyl Record Review: Heavy Metal Band Saxon, Album "Into The Labyrinth"


Audiophile Sound Quality Rating 9 / Musical content 10

Vinyl Record Review: Heavy Metal, Saxon “Into the Labyrinth” double Gatefold Album Set, Heavy Vinyl Pressing 2009 Steamhammer Reocrds, LC09002 German Import. Warner/Chappell Music.

Engineered and produced by Charlie Bauerfeind, Exec. Producer (as usual) Biff Byford, Recorded at Twilight Hall in Krefeld, Germany. Studio Assistance Daniel Klecker.


All Lyriks by Biff Byford. Music by Biff Byford (Vocals) , Doug Scarratt (Guitar), Paul Quinn (Guitar), Nigel Glokler (Drums), and Timothy Carter


Saxon is a British band formed in the late 70’s, and who achieved World Wide Success charting no less than eight (8) top 40 albums in Great Brittan in the 80’s. After this period, due in part to changes in lineup, some feuding among band members, and a short stint in court over who actually owns the name “Saxon” the many fans who were not of the fanatical variety loss interest. Which would prove to be “their loss” as this band has only got better with time. “Into the Labyrinth” is Saxon’s eighteenth (*18th) studio album. There have been two more studio albums released since then (2009), Call to Arms (2011) and Sacrifice (2013).  I have all but five of the first 18 and every single one (every single song on each) is excellent.  This is one of those bands like (Neil Young or Willie Nelson) that seems to never run out of interesting material. Every time I “take a chance” on one I haven’t heard I’m blown away by how good it is – every single track. These guys are amazing, and the musicianship has only matured over time.


For this review I'm using Music Hall's extremely detailed custom cartridge (the "Mojo") in their venerable 5.1SE turntable $1089.00.  A beautifully detailed table that gives a series view in the window of true high-end audio performance.

Track One, Battalions of Steel starts with a chorus that sounds like it could be the sound track to “Game of Thrones – the movie” if there will ever be one. Track Three, The Demon Sweeney Todd could be the sound track for an episode out of “Sleepy Hollow” – I have to admit, the first side of this awesome four side set made me wonder – were they inspired by these shows, then I remember – oh – no, they would have had to write the material prior to recording it in 2009….hmmmm.


Regardless, this is a fantastic release for any heavy metal fan that likes it more melodic, yet with the steady grinding rhythms that drive any hardcore Metallica fan.  The woofs on my speakers were getting a great workout thanks to Nibb’s awesome bass guitar accompaniment to Glocker’s relentless riveting drumming (this guy’s like John Bohham on acid). …er..not that I would know anything about acid.


So if Saxon is one of those bands you never got into, or only heard during their 80’s years – its time for a return, or you could be missing some of the best British metal writing today!

On a side note - most "German" recordings are excellent quality so as such you'll definitely notice a 3D soundstage under the phones.  As usual, the CD or digital download is basically more two dimensional. "cheers"

Sunday, February 22, 2015

New Record Releases Reviewed for Sound Quality and Musicallity


Audiofile Rating: Music Quality 10 / Sound Quality 9, except for Seeds of Love, Sound Quality "10"

Batch Review:

There’s no question these five artists are outstanding examples of modern pop music today. I’m as guilty as anyone for falling into long stretches of time where I only listen to music I was exposed to when I was younger, High School – College era. But if you’re really into music, whether it’s hard rock, blues, whatever – and you find yourself doing the same thing – only buying music from your particular era “back then” than you are doing yourself a HUGE DISERVICE. Because if you are truly into great music, this batch represents modern music at its finest.


Some, like the Tears for Fears album pictured in the “Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab banner are not new, but a new release from the original master tapes – hence – new production of an older record. But tears was a band that for some reason got missed by many “not from the era” in which they were newly popular, and company’s like MO-FI are going back and grabbing that music which deserves to be immortalized on collector quality vinyl.


As for the truly newer artists highlighted here, The 2015 Capital Records release of the Decemberists is a production of impressive originality and musicality. If you like Neil Young, Mason Proffit or The band, it should be at the top of your list to pick up. They have an earthy grass-roots originality to them that speaks to you with wonderful stories and non-traditional lyrics. Three sides of music are included with this “gatefold” album, heavy vinyl pressings w/an interesting celestial design on the fourth non-playable side. This is one of my new-favorite records!  I think we’ll be expensing one of these for demonstration of the Hi-Fi gear next door at Uptown Audio.


Another amazingly original recording is that of the “Fleet Foxes” w/there 2015 release on Sub Pop records. Another Gatefold Album cover, the first is a full length 33 1/3 LP, the second is a full size EP w/about 15 minutes of material per side. Another outstanding recording lyrically, musically, and sound quality wise. The vocals on this in my mind are as good as “One Direction” -- Could use this next door as well, but have to limit how many “demo” records we have laying around…


The Mobile Fidelity Original Master Recording of Tears for Fears The seeds of love – what can I say – every “Mo-Fi” recording is painstakingly derived from the original master tapes, on top quality vinyl and are a number limited edition. Every single Mo-Fi record ever released when it goes out of production instantly goes up in value usually by a minimum of four times.  So even if you are not a collector – per say, if all you every bought were Mo-Fi releases – your record collection would be worth considerably more than you paid for it. Oh, and did I mention, these recordings are typically better than the original – earn a “10” for sound quality. 


As for the Black Keys, the material on this one is lush and syrupy, with excellent musicality and originality. Lots of reviews out there for this very popular band so once again, yes, sound quality is on par with what you would want music this good to sound like when you get it home to your very own vinyl spinner!



Thursday, December 25, 2014

Equip Review, Accessory, SpinClean Record Cleaning Machine

Last Published 2014-09-09, for www.RichsRecordEmporium.com Collinsville, IL

Below is a quick review I did for a couple of Audio / Record Stores in the past, about the "SpinClean" and I cannot emphasis enough how important record cleaning and preservation is.  If you're like me, and you care about the condition of the records you own, you should get yourself a record cleaning machine of some kind. Many are motorized and much pricier.  One of my favorites of this variety is the SOTA, but whether its motorized or manual, they achieve the same thing. They remove all that crap in the grooves that if left there is only adding wear and noise to the record every time you play it, and causing micro damage to the grooves, forever loosing the fine musical detail there within. It's surprising to me also how many have not realized that "most records" are "limited editions", as many of the greatest artists of all time have expired, and you only get "so many times" you can use the original tapes to produce "new copies".  So if nothing else, consider yourselves the "stewards" in charge of preserving an art form which is both precious and scarce, and getting scarcer as time passes.    

Vinyl Record Cleaning Accessory
The “SpinClean” Record Cleaning Machine
Just got these in, and I cannot believe how effective they are. I have the usual assortment of items that remove dust and static from a record on the turntable, but this thing is sooooo much more effective that it’s almost UNBELIEVABLE! I mean, let’s take the average record in my collection which I’m thinking is clean, because 1. Can’t see anything on it now that I’ve brushed it, and 2. all the pop’s, clicks, and static must be from the tiny scratches and smudges I can’t really see, right? NOT!!! Even my “thought they were already clean” records were DRAMATICALLY improved after running them through the spin clean. Playing them sounded silky smooth, with complete silence apart from the music itself. Even records I thought were worn out and almost unplayable, sounded like new again! From this day forward, when someone asks me what the single most effective way to improve their stereo is (if records are a source) it’s a good record cleaning machine, and this one in particular, is the CHEAPEST one I know of; $79.95 Includes everything!
Mark/Uptown Audio

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Stereo Integrated Amplifier Review, Tube gear, High-End Audio Jolida FX-10, $649.00 as reviewed

The following article I wrote for an audio store I helped build in upstate NY, back in 2011. But I want to reprint it here because the review about one of our current products is just as valid today. That product, is the amazing Jolida FX10 Integrated Tube Amplifier (Retail's for only $599.00).

Here’s the manufacturer’s description:
Smooth, rich and holographic sound from a 7 inch cube with a removable safety glass cover. A small but feature laden integrated vacuum tube amplifier, the unit has automatic biasing, can easily push 89 dB speakers, remote control, inputs of two RCA sets and one mini-jack, and 4 and 8 ohm speaker posts. Yes, it does come with the blue tube lights. Comes in black and silver colors.
Jolida has been in the business of making some of the best – “bang for the buck” tube products since the mid 1990’s. And I’ve had the pleasure of being an authorized dealer for most of that duration. So to get down to the nuts and bolts of what you can expect on sound quality, the below article puts things in perspective pretty well, and is as valid today as it was then. You see, circuit configurations and electronic principles don’t change that dramatically, so the below described items are still high quality designs, currently available by these manufacturers.
Article from 2011; Now, in the current (July issue) of Stereophile Stephen Mejias writes what he thinks about two, (or actually three when counting his Klipsch Syn-B20), more components we feature here at the Sweet Spot, the Jolida FX10 and NAD C316BEE. The first thing I would like to point out, is how he compares the two integrated’s to each other making good points about the differences in sound. If you read his entire review, it becomes obvious that though he finds the Jolida “huggable and adorable” he feels the sound of the NAD is more detailed, accurate, and therefore better. This is where I have to disagree. Additionally, it should be noted these amplifiers take care of business very differently, as one is “tube”, and the other “transistor”, so the fact of the matter is, that they are absolutely going to sound “very differently”. Just as the sound of vinyl is “very different” from CD, and though CD is known to have more accurate attributes, rarely will you find anyone claiming it is “better” when comparing the two!
Stephen begins with his description of the Jolida, pointing out several things I’ve found to be true of many tube amplifiers. For example, he’s quick to realize that though the Jolida is rated at only 10 watts per channel, it seems like much more power. Then, when mated to a horn loaded speaker (typically very efficient) like his Klipsch, “in his words” it flat out ROCKS! He also marvels at how well the Jolida defines the various musicians in space, within a very large, yet well focused sound stage. He further notices how well brass instruments bloom effortlessly and cymbals sizzle gently into darkness. He notices that the Jolida out performs not only the NAD in these characteristics, but two other similarly priced competitors, a Cambridge Audio 340A & Exposure 2010. He concludes that the overall sonic characteristics make the Jolida’s presentation very life like, which he compares quite favorably to his experience of a live performance the night before.
Unfortunately, he goes on to point out several attributes common to solid state amplifiers, and how the NAD does these better than the Jolida. He even compares this particular NAD C316BEE to the coveted classic NAD 3020, commenting on how this amplifier may be everything it was, albeit, without quite as much power, and of course, without the cult AMP-GOD status the classic 3020 has earned over time.
I do agree however with his overall assessment of both amplifiers. However, what I disagree with is his claim that the NAD is “better”. He does mention that an idea popped into his head when consider what speaker would make the perfect match for the Jolida, and that is the Klipsch. I too had originally mated the Jolida to the PSB ALPHA B1’s as it made for the “King of bang for the buck systems”($729.00). But remembered the old audiophile fact that “horns excel with tubes” so quickly switch to Klipsch speakers. This took it from a system that sounded really good to “life like” by simply swapping out the PSB’s for Klipsch! In fact, I’ve since mated it to their largest “bookshelf” speaker, the RB8i which has “8 inch woofers.” This further takes you from a nice seat at the back of the hall (Stephen Mejias test Klipsch system) to Front Row Center (ours)! For me, this is a perfect example of Audio Zen! I’ll take front row center live any day of the week!
In summery. Be careful with what reviewers conclude, as what is actually better for them, may not be what’s better for you! If you are say, a classical listener, or perhaps musician, you may decide that hearing a greater amount of low level detail allows you a window into what the musicians are doing, and maybe that’s the sound for you. But if it’s a “you are there” live performance type sound that you’re looking for, than I’d have to go with the Jolida tube amplifier! Personally, the sort of “in the control room-studio sound” of many small solid state type amps has never been quite as attractive to me. But that’s the beauty of choices. Today more than ever before, manufacturers like Jolida, are making some just amazingly "musical" components that are really great in their own right, and seriously affordable! What more can you ask for? Cheers!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Classical music review, CD box set, Audiophile recordings, Mecury Records, Living Presence, Special 3 Microphone Recording Process, You are there effect

Music Review, for www.RichsRecordEmporium.com

CD Box Set, Decca Records Special Collector Edition of the 3 Microphone Audiophile recordings by Mercury Living Presence
This CD box set is also available on 180 gram vinyl as a consolidated collection
Genre “Classical”
Audiophile Rating: Performance Quality 10 / Sound Quality 9 (as good as it gets for CD)
This may be the single greatest purchase an audiophile could possibly make.  Decca Records recordings on CD are always “Audiophile Grade” I have many Decca CD’s in my collection, and the sound quality is second to none, and very few labels, other than say “Reference Recordings” are their equal for classical music.  If you have a fine quality audio system, and appreciate classical music, this may be the single greatest value ever recorded onto CD.  There are 50 music CD’s in this box set, all of which are not only on the Decca label, but on which the “original master tape” was a very special set up in some of the world’s greatest musically acoustic environments, even sometimes out of doors.  The recording process called “Living Presence” was famous in its day as achieving the absolute most natural of recording quality. This dynamically advance recording methodology was attempted to be copied by many other labels, the closets to the results being that of label RCA’s “Living Stereo” recordings – also coveted by audiophiles for their superior sound quality. But this Living Presence was done by a unique process using just three (3) microphones, and the results were unrivaled.  


Prior to my purchasing and listening to this box set, I had about 70 CD’s of classical music and about 150 LP’s.  As a fan of St. Louis’s original classical music station “Classic 99” now only available on-line (no longer broadcasting on radio waves), I had always found it frustrating to attempt to buy what I was listening to.  For instance, I would here excerpts from say “The Planet’s” by Leonard Bernstein then shoot down to the record/cd seller and find “The Planets, but by a different composer than what was on the radio, and different conductor.  I’d stand there looking over the record (or CD) with complete befuddlement.  Sometime it would be the same label as the radio announcer said, other times a different one as well.  Classical music in particular gave me the most trouble trying to figure out “what to buy” by “which conductor” with “which symphony” (lots of time the conductor’s travel around), and on which label – after all, some of these labels were not the best sounding (hissy background or poor dynamics).


Well if you’ve experienced any of what I’m talking about trying to buy your own recordings of classical music take this one comfort – especially if you have just begun building your collection. THIS BOX SET is an absolute STEEL!!!  You get some of the best versions of the composer’s works, by some of the best conductors of their time, at the best symphony halls and with the best symphonies, recorded by the best equipment and methodology, and on the best classical label.  THAT’S AS GOOD AS IT WILL EVER GET!!!   By the quality of each CD alone, each one should sell for about $24.95 each, for 50 CD’s that would be $1247.50 that you would have to invest on similar quality recordings piecemeal. But this box set retails for $175.00, making these audiophile recordings just $3.50 each.  So if you don’t have a “great classical collection” this is your chance to have an “instant – great classical collection”.  This is the highest value audiophile CD deal that I know of.  And better news yet – we sell it at considerably less than retail!   Cheers