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Chad Kassem & Acoustic Sounds, SF room 1119

by Danny Kaey on June 04 '15

The invitation was emailed to everyone and anyone.  I always new that Chad Kassem (AcousticSounds) spinning his latest TPs (that’s a test pressing for a record prior to getting the green light for production - for those of you in Rio Linda) would command attention.  Cue crowd control.  If the SonicFlare music room had been the size of a gala event, I bet we would have packed the house.  Simply put, Chad is the master of reissues - yes, there are others of course who put concern and thought into each of their reissue projects, alas, I don’t know of anyone who does it to the extreme as Chad does.  From sourcing the best possible tapes (the term “Master” has been thrown around so loosely lately that you do have to wonder at times) to faithfully recreating the jackets and artwork to distributing his wares globally - in one word: amazing.

Promptly at 430pm Chad opened his bag of goodies and started playing some new stuff off freshly cut lacquers: next up, he will be reissuing 25 titles from the vaults of the famous Contemporary label.  Home to such artists as Shelly Manne, Jack Marshall, Ornette Coleman and André Previn, this lineup of titles ought to be another runaway hit.  Needless to say the sound coming off the Brinkmann / Transfiguration combo sounded crazy good: tight, dynamic, clean, with great extension and a freshness you’d think these titles came off the studio just yesterday (cough, cough, if only the stuff coming out of studios yesterday would sound half as good…).

Another runaway hit will undoubtedly be Nina Simone’s first album, Little Girl Blue, originally released on Bethlehem records.  Perhaps - heck, for sure - one of the top 50 jazz albums of all time, Chad’s reissue (from the original tapes, guaranteed), sounded stunning.  As in jaw dropping.  As in your socks and shoes just fell off.  Seriously.  Nina Simone is quite literally in your room - now, I have what is considered to be a very “good” original 1st pressing with a remarkably clean cover courtesy of my friend and local record dealer Bob Donnelly, which I paid top dollars for.  In fact, if you look for clean copies on eBay or Discogs, you will probably have to part with at least $100 for your aural pleasures.  But even as good - and important it is to have an original - Chad’s reissue is simply put leaps ahead.  Released in 1958, the sound is at once riveting, soulful and intimate to the core.  This record will move your soul - guaranteed.  

Beethoven’s 6th read by the immortal Bruno Walter on double 45 is also coming soon, as is the one record no one has ever! played at an audio show: Nils Lofgren, Acoustic Live.  Even though this is a digital recording, the sound via record seemed to carry much more body and weight; speed and dynamics.  This became clearly evident as we pitted Chad’s upcoming release with the standard fare CD rip I had on my LaCie Thunderbolt drive.  Audiophiles all over the world will rejoice with this one!

Lastly, and perhaps most personal to me, Chad cued up what surely was in fact the runaway hit at Newport this year: Dean Martin’s Dream with Dean on double 45.  The history of this reissue dates back to my early childhood memories: growing up in Vienna, Austria, Dean Martin (and Jerry Lewis) were my two big movie heroes growing up.  That Dean Martin, nay Dino Paul Crocetti, became the highest paid actor at the height of his career (receiving a cool $1 million for his role in Airport plus percentage points off the backend) and an accomplished singer, crooner was only a natural progression of his career.  In short: Dean was a stud.  It must have been five, maybe 6 years that I kept bugging - nudging - Chad to reissue this record.  Naturally, everyone has a title they want Chad to reissue, alas, once Chad heard the record, all engines were set to full steam ahead.  Upon the first needle drop, you realize why this record became such a success: Dean and his trio are in your room - period.  The sound coming off the SonicFlare system was simply to die for, at once dynamic, life-like and of highest purity.  Easily one of the finest test records you can use to judge a system’s sound, I heard some good, some not so good renders at the show.  A keeper if ever there was one!  Pressed at QRP and out now at AcousticSounds.

Let’s face it: all of us in this hobby owe a great deal of gratitude to Chad Kassem and his team at AcousticSounds - his fanatical insistence to cover the most minute details of a reissue are what make these so incredibly great to begin with.  Thanks for all you do!  (Let’s do this again in a bigger room next year…)

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Comments () Shows and Expos , Writer: Danny Kaey

More faces at Newport

by Danny Kaey on June 03 '15

Even more faces at Newport … the ever affable Mike Davis (The Audiofederation in Colorado); Eric Johnson; Chris Connacker (ComputerAudiophile); Michael Fremer (Analog Planet); Abey Fonn (IMPEX Records)

 

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Comments () Shows and Expos , Writer: Danny Kaey

New SonicFlare logo

by Danny Kaey on June 03 '15

In all the craziness leading up to the show, I almost forgot a small little detail: take note of the new SonicFlare logo - more to come.  We hope you like it, as it represents a new chapter in the SonicFlare brand.  All hail Josh Ray!

 

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Comments () Writer: Danny Kaey



YG Acoustics at Newport 2015

by Danny Kaey on June 03 '15

The problem with hosting your own room and hospitality suite is that you just don’t get around too much - even as Eric Johnson was helping as eMCe, I simply didn’t have the time to go to all the rooms I had planned to cover as part of the show.  Alas, I did make it to a few: YG Acoustics was playing several systems, one featuring the big Sonja 1.3 and a smaller system playing the Carmel 2 loudspeaker.  Each had their own unique sound; each embodied YG’s philosophy of speed, accuracy and dynamic agility.  Of course, the Sonja 1.3 setup held its own with life-sized imaging, dynamics and overall gestalt.  Having seen the power of Arian Jansen’s SonoruS Proximity Bass Control System in action (in several rooms at the show and of course in my own digs at the show and at home), I would almost say it’s a prerequisite for any system, show or not.  Did I mention that crooner Dean Martin's Dream with Dean, (DKs inspired Chad Kassem reissue project available here), was playing in just about every room?  Needless to say, the record sold out in an instant.  Well done!

(YG Sonja 1.3 courtesy of GTT Audio’s Bill Parish; YG Carmel 2 courtesy of Alma Audio and Video, La Jolla CA)

 

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Comments () Show Superstars , Writer: Danny Kaey

Faces at Newport

by Danny Kaey on June 03 '15

Faces seen at Newport… my favorite part of the show.  Always love and enjoy seeing all my friends, colleagues and industry leaders.  Thanks for all you do collectively as an industry body.  None of this would be possible without you.  (Kerry St. James, YG Acoustics; Lucette Nicoll, Nicoll PR; Dick Diamond, YG Acoustics; Francisco Duran, PF Scribe; Volker Bohlmeier, EINSTEIN Audio; Karl Schuemann, Audiomachina)

 

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Comments () Shows and Expos , Writer: Danny Kaey

SonicFlare Music Room @ Newport 2015

by Danny Kaey on June 03 '15

For some time now I wanted to connect the dots and bring our own version of a hospitality suite to a HiFi show.  The thinking went something like so… “Hey DK, what’s playing in your system now?  What are you using as your reference?  What sort of music do you play to evaluate gear?”  Great questions I’d always reply.  To prove a point, I thus decided to partner with all the firms who’s gear I own and use as my reference and setup a music room at the show.  Connecting with Richard Beers to discuss my idea, we inked a deal and thus room 1119 came to be.

Neat.  The SF experience suite was to be more educational, more music focused and obviously with no sales pressure: after all, there where 229 other rooms you could buy gear from.  Sometimes however, an idea sounds better on paper (or your mind) than it does in reality - case in point, I originally thought that I would swap equipment out to showcase the difference in presentations, alas, getting the room to sound good with just one line of components, cables, etc. proved far more challenging than expected, thus following just one such swap, I quickly realized that I had to nix that idea.  Fine.  Fun was still to be had though - as was evident by the fact that the room was frequented consistently with enthusiastic fellow HiFi-ers.  

The system consisted of Willson Audio Sasha 2 speakers, Brinkmann Spyder, Brinkmann 10.5 arm, Transfiguration Proteus cartridge, Minus K Technologies isolation platform, EINSTEIN The Preamp, EINSTEIN The Silver Bullet OTLs (my amps of choice as of late), EINSTEIN The Turntable’s Choice phono preamp, EINSTEIN Octopus power strip (no conditioning of any kind), Nordost V2 cables, SonoruS ATR-10 tape machine, SonoruS Proximity Bass Control System, Meridian Explorer 2 USB DAC (which was sprung last minute due to a shipping issue with the PlayBack Designs MPS-5), Roon playback software and a pretty looking darTZeel CTH-8850 integrated.  Phew.  You don’t know all the gear you have until you have to wrap it, pack it and set it up 50 miles down the road.

Arian Jansen, SonoruS Audio’s resident genius (and he really qualifies for one!) was on hand - thank you - to help with system setup, final tweaking, etc. in particular, the SonoruS Audio Proximity Bass Control System needs to be setup by ear as it carefully restores the pressure and air velocity component of your main speaker’s bass output in relationship to your listening position.  Last but not least, SF’s latest digital scribe, Eric Johnson (look for more articles from this lad elsewhere here at SF), was also on hand to help with setup and of course interactions with the crowds.  Fun was to be had for 3 days.  More to come soon...

 

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Comments () Shows and Expos , Writer: Danny Kaey

T.H.E. Show Newport 2015

by Danny Kaey on June 02 '15

This year’s T.H.E. Show Newport, was for all intents and purposes a brilliant display of Richard Beers’ showmanship squared.  To put it mildly, he and his team (including the ever lovable Lucette Nicoll, of Nicoll PR), did a splendid job of focusing the local (and not so local) audio mavens to the show’s new home at the recently remodeled, all new Hotel Irvine.  What was particularly special for this year was the fact that we - SonicFlare - exhibited our very own hospitality suite, music room, reference review room all rolled into one.  Simply put, having attended show after show these past fifteen plus years, I felt I could bring a bit of SF pizzaz to the table.  And so we did… enjoy this first round of pics, with more to come in due time...

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Comments () Shows and Expos , Writer: Danny Kaey

Avant Newport 2015

by Danny Kaey on June 02 '15

So it begins… Newport 2015 is about to hit us, alas, we were invited to a small gathering at Maier Shadi’s The Audio Salon in Santa Monica, CA for some apéritifs of the musical variety.
 

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Maier has been LA’s premier read exclusive audio destination for the better part of a year now and is amongst many others, a dealer for Wilson Audio Specialities.  Featuring WA Alexias, Constellation electronics and Transparent cabling, we were delighting in some of the music choices Michael Fremer brought along for the ride. Nice music, nice vibes, what more could you want?  That is of course the secret call sign to SAT’s (Swedish Audio Technologies) all new reference tonearm made of multiple layers of carbon fiber and some overall exquisite engineering.  While the price is of course commensurate to the performance ($30k US), I can’t think of any other arm that comes even close to approaching the herculean engineering effort that went into the design of this arm.  Sound?  Stunning.  For inquires, Maier Shadi is your US reference point.

Some more pictures from the event… See you at Newport!

 

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Comments () Shows and Expos , Writer: Danny Kaey

2014 LA Auto Show

by Danny Kaey on November 17 '14

Hard to believe it is that time of the year again… The 2014 LA Auto show is upon us and we will be there reporting on the hottest trends in all things high-end audio, nay, automotive. Stay tuned for more!

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Comments () Shows and Expos , Spotlight , Writer: Danny Kaey

Newsflash: Schiit Loki DSD add-on

by Danny Kaey on September 10 '13

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Schiit announces Loki: a $149 DSD DAC add-on piece that is slaved between your existing DAC and source to give you DSD playback. Neat. Full PR below…

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