Wednesday, 25 November 2015

30 Years of Revelation IV

Hello to everybody following,

today I want to illuminate the distribution process of decisive Japanese findings within the 1970ties described in my last article.

La Maison de L'Audiophile

14, Rue de Belfort (Foto: N.Gütte)

A small group of audio aficionados gathering under the name La Maison de L'Audiophile in Paris deserves the honor of publishing first the Japanese research results. Jean Hiraga and several other figures, like head Gerard Chretien, William Walter, Philippe Viboud and several more published audio tweaks, conceptions and recipes about unusual audio ideas with a foremost intention to open up a window for new interests into quality based do-it-yourself made audio. Before these days High Fidelity has got widely saturated with Japanese mass products of similar quality and many people were looking for different inspirations as its result.
One major field in audio never got occupied by Japanese products in Europe, – speakers. Here in a foremost dimension British and US-American makes like Lowther, Tannoy, Kef, Wharfdale, Jordan Watts, Altec, Jensen, Electrovoice, JBL and some more, had already established a DIY kit idea. Since finished cabinets were a costly factor of market pricing, they sold their established speakers as well as kits within the 1970ties. From that point of view a DIY-mentality broke ground and here Maison de L'Audiophile established in incomparable ways a highly improved level of self built quality with serious, reliable and substantial manuals for Europe.
The general abundance and wide spread saturation with everyday products wasn't already common these days in Europe, so several people kept their investments low for such less essential things like audio products, for those the diy idea was a essential solution to stay in competition. No wonder that such concepts did work out again, was it so that at the beginning of the golden age of commercial audio production in the late 1950ties several US-American brands had marketed already their products as well as kit products, like the well known Dynaco, Eico and Heathkit tube amps.
With Maison de L'Audiophile in Paris the most complete field of investigations and informations about audio in general terms found a home for the enthusiast. They published construction differences, design variations, material research and its physical evaluations in their central magazine publication L'Audiophile. They additionally published drawings and schematics of amplifiers, speakers, enclosures and crossovers and construction details, which was noticed as a welcome enrichment, even when they were published in French language. And even more important, as a exceptional addition they performed such ideas within real life auditions. They caused history with what they did, Keith Aschenbrenner from Auditorium 23 as contemporary eye witness, did name it right on point:  Ecole L'Audiophile. 

Some excerpts from the magazine:


 Nouvelle Revue du Son No. 156, 1992

Central figure, as already described in my first part of this article series, was Jean Hiraga, a half Japanese and half French born person. His in Japan deeply verified experiences with Japans self contained audio culture showed completely incomparable detailed aspects, insights and conceptual unusual ideas. This knowledge advantage has been as well his base of his head start as audio journalist in France. He acted like a wide spread collecting reservoir for before unknown informations outside its origin and a rich treasury tank of incomparable informations. He did refer about amplifier designers, -topologies, speakers, drivers, components, transistors, tubes, PSUs and speaker enclosures (i.e. Anzai SRPP in 1977, WE 300b in 1979, recherché de Ms. Iwata in 1982, Onken LF enclosures - Koizumi in 1977, etc.) in a time when nobody else outside Japan did take care about such ideas. The Western Electric single ended triode 300B for example, the preferred tube driving efficient horn speakers in Japan, was in these days almost unknown in Europe (STC 4300B was its British made replacement) or completely forgotten about. When he did publish his first articles about Anzai's single ended 300b amplifier in 1979, even in its original intended culture in the US, the technology was completely forgotten about. It took another five years even in Paris till the ground was ready prepared for a wider public to understanding what it was meant to be, when he again tried to show the exceptional qualities of this technology in 1985. In the homeland of its technical heritage in the US,  it needed another seven years till Joe Roberts in Sound Practice Magazine in 1992 took public care about this tube and its dedicated amplification concepts, just 20 years after Japanese audio gourmants did value these products to be absolute cult.

Hiraga designed transistor amplifiers (Foto. N.Gütte)

Selection of tube amplifiers at Maison de L'Audiophile's public auditions for performance. (Foto: N.Gütte)

Hiraga made a living as eloquent author for audio magazines (Revue du Son, L'Audiophile), such position did help him to release his own amplifier lines branded as Hiraga, JH, Lectron and similar products marketed throughout the Maison de L'Audiophile. The later well known amplifiers like Legend 300B, Monster 8W, Némésis and LeTube are examples of his enterprises. It was him all the same to feature as well active multichanel driven systems with typical transistor power amplification from his friend Akihiko Kaneta, at the same time evaluating finest sound differences of vintage direct heated triode tubes like VT52, AD1,  RE604, R120, PX4, 211 or 801.
Maison de L'Audiophile referred about vintage speakers, tube amplifier history and design variations, transistor topologies, power supply technologies; but as well about psychological aspects of music perception, physical preferences for recording or ethical preferences of brain constitution for best listening abilities, always targeted to quality aspects without a clear commercial designation.
(Chapeau! What wonderful times without neoliberalism market distinction of our today culture...)

Their attitude to perform such findings in real auditions gave the interested a chance for a real personal impression of their featured design researches. So tube amplifier technologies, speaker enclosure designs variants, record player conceptions (don't forget the Platine Verdier was always present for their public audio performances), comparisons of recording and storage technologies could be personally verified. They performed with original Western Electric 15A wide frequency horns and combined them with Onken low frequency support enclosures within little cinemas in the 1980ties and driven by SE 300b amplification. Some years later they completed to a similar built, but physically smaller realized Sato horns with mixed active multichannel transistor and tube amplification. These guys rolled the European red carpet for a forgotten, or better said a new old listening culture, which made single ended tube amplified music reception with 300b tubes to what is grown today. (More than 10 different modern copies of these tubes are today made in China, Russia and elsewhere, this fact will show the result of such pioneering enterprise.) And don't forget about my former explanation (part II) about Japanese hedonism, the French culture is as well not a developing country in such hedonistic terms...
Within their yearly public performances in cinemas they have brought a remarkable range of efficient speaker conceptions to life. They started at the beginning with than actual hifi concepts from Focal and Fostex, the early small scaled Petite L'Audiophile for private users, over the real US classics with alnico magnet equipped Altec's Voice of the Cinema A7 to original WE15A's. They followed such ideas about huge speaker installations based on M. Eijiro Koizumis Onken enclosure designs and dedicated horns and drivers from Japan. If you ever will have a chance to listen to such sort of Sato/Onken installation with active powered four way amplification designed by Kaneta, you will notice a dynamic ability and performance realism, were 99% of other equipment cannot compete with. The 1970ties and 80ties have been as well a peak time when physical reliable approved knowledge made the definition of truth in audio. And so it was a time that resonant side effects were completely separated as unwanted in theory and praxis. Concrete walled enlosure designs, or as minimum preventive action, sand filled double wall designs, have been favored above the known historic technically simpler realizations with plywood enclosures or boards (Western Electric and Klangfilm used in the 1930 to -40ties large baffle boards or folded dipole designs).

WE15A with Dauphin-Horn and Onken W-LF-enclosure with Westrex Acoustilens 20 80 driver
with passive four way crossover at audition in cinema Espace Kiron (Foto: N.Gütte)

Always on stage: the Platine Verdier here shown with Maisons standard tonearm SME 3012 with outside lead cabling and   Autographe prepre amplifier with Taitsu coupling capacitors in the underneath, on top at the rca contacts a Maki prepre with orange Shizuki capacitors and 2SK170 transistor. (Foto: N.Gütte)

If you can imagine how complicated it is to realize such shown double walled enclosure types with sand filling, just imagine their form and size, you might understand the effort and its unbelievable amount of handcrafted input to succeed. It was intended to overcome any inherent resonances for final improvements of audible superiority as result. Such giant installations never could be successful market products, but in terms of audible superiority, these guys wanted to set the pace in the western world. The 300b tubes from that time on, as their dedicated Western Electric 89 and 91 amplifiers have grown legend in the world and got to be the crowning achievement of tube audio history in the meanwhile.

But even the Maison de L'Audiophile has got history by now. After several failures it did finally close its doors in 2010. Ironically in parallel a wider interest in global scale (with the knowledge distribution of the WWW ) has grown to such early horn installations. This particular interest corresponds to the rising market of several replicas of Western Electric horn designs, like the WE15A, WE22A, WE13A, WE16A, mainly made in asian countries.
But the Onken and Sato loudspeaker concepts, which have been widely featured by Maison de L'Audiophile, still don't have been rediscovered by a wider public interest, only some intrepid connoisseurs did realize these as home made products, there is not one commercial company which did take care about such ideas.

Not quite...

"The year is 2015 AD. Gaul is entirely occupied by Western Electric and its modern copies. Well, not entirely... One small place of indomitable Gauls still hold out against the invaders. And life is not easy for the legions..."

Norbert Gütte is a eyewitness of the Maison de L'Audiophile and visited some of their auditions in Paris, which created a general change of his understanding about audio performance. I thought it would be a good idea to interview him about this time. He is a woodworker with exceptional skills, but on the other hand he is as well a person who does want to create huge theories about such things. So he didn't want to make an interview and responded to my basic questions about the importancy of facts, influences and standards, which shifted his ideas in these early days in Paris with the simple words: "Just more real, thats it"

Gütte did realize Voice of the Theater A7 (with wings) enclosures for his personal use in 1987 after his visit in Paris

Another realization of VotT A7 in 1998 for a customer

Norbert Gütte founder of LignoLab was one of the early followers of such idiosyncratic loudspeaker conceptions. He visited in the 1980ties some of the public performances by Maison de L'Audiophile together with Keith Aschenbrenner. He realized that these speakers and dedicated sets were to be exceptional well matches of his audio conception in mind. He told me that he always wanted to realize for more than twenty years such complex systems with double walled sand filled enclosures for a wider audience. A lot of people know him for the perfection of woodwork he did manufacture with Auditorium 23 and its loudspeaker range, like the well known Rondo, Solovox or Provence. All named for a completely opposite understanding and technical realization of the enclosure function and discipline. These were designed to use a mild support of the enclosures resonant properties as extension of their full range drivers (PHY Salabert) harmonies and tonalities, in a way only acoustical instruments can show up with as to be these speakers typical unique qualities.

360l Onken LF-enclosure with pneumatic decoupled
sand filled Four Cell Horn (Onken design realized by Lignolab) and JBL HF-unit 

Norbert Gütte offers with LignoLab a full line of loudspeakers dedicated to the estate of Maison de L'Audiophile conceptions and their authentic heritage in actual form. The above shown 360l Onken enclosure is combined with a precisely pneumatic decoupled and sand filled Lignolab four-cell-horn for the upper mids and JBL 075 ring radiator with bronze horn extension for the hf-range. Such a speaker is seen in terms of the Ecole L'Audiophile as a medium sized concept for people with limited room preferences! Güttes realized manufacturing and finishing quality of such speaker line is dramaticly improved, such perfection was never before available.

Pneumatic decoupled construction to isolate the Sato horn from LF-resonances. 

Norbert Gütte himself didn't want to compromise his own audio set with room restrictions. He himself prefers the largest installation known from these early days in Paris, because of its uncomparable dynamic attitude. A combination of a sand filled Onken W cabinet, featuring two 15'' drivers together with a sand filled Satohorn of roughly one square meter opening for the lower medium frequency range and a additional sand filled Lignolab 4C-500SF (Four-Cell) -Horn for the upper mid frequencies, both pneumatic decoupled from the lf-enclosure. Additionally extended for highest-frequencies with the same JBL ring radiator, supplied with his own bronze horn extension for a tremendous improved harmonic radiation. All components are mechanically isolated with his complex low frequency decoupling damper system, adjustable for different weights and size. This system is absolute unique in efficient elimination of resonant effects and there is no other product like this worldwide.

Of course he performes for his customers with a maximized regard to authenticy. As with Maison de L'Audiophile he uses a Platine Verdier turntable with magnetic isolated platter for his demonstrations, a long SME 3012 tonearm with outside fixed thick cabling and Denon DL103 cartridge with his own supplied bronze case. In difference to the parisian performances in history Gütte introduces additionally different pneumatic isolated component racks and systems to improve his active four way Kaneta amplifier system and different program sources to maximum refinement.

Pneumatic decoupled JBL HF-unit with bronze horn extension

Such a Onken-Sato-installation has a quite good space preference 1.13 x 0.87 meter for the footprint and a solid 2.45m height for the final position. (Other people need space for their car collection, their yachting or their planes....)
A small scale edition comparing such installation ist the sand filled double walled Altec Voice of the Theater A7 enclosure, again combined with sand filled Lignolab 4C-500SF (Four-Cell) -Horn and JBL ring radiator, both pneumatic decoupled from the LF-enclosure.

And last not least there are some other components showing some influences of Maison de L'Audiophile. He uses a fully active driven four way Kaneta amplifiers with modern technology DSP instead of analog crossovers to find control about these monster speakers.
If you are interested to follow such classic but improved installations with the most perfect finished enclosures money can buy, than you should give Norbert from LignoLab a ring. And of course in french tradition like in the early days in Paris, he is using a Platine Verdier with outside cabled SME 3012 and Denon DL103, but not with lead housing like in Paris, instead a bronze housing will be his standard. Bronze, why bronze? That is another article following...

Read on soon, Volker

Note: All black and white reproductions (if not otherwise declared) shown with respect to the archive of the magazine L'Audiophile, Paris, France.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

30 Years of Revelation III

Hello to everybody following,

today I want to find more and further explanations about the fundamental historical change initiated by Japanese audiophiles in the 1970ties. Before such comprehensive evaluation based on extensive human sense perception was brought into culture, a typical pure technical analytical understanding of logic measurement arguments was state of audio fidelity perception. Even the mode of highly professional products with a necessity for definition and standards, for the broadcasting and television industry was mainly defined by ingenious superiority of their designers and their compliance to a purely technical understanding of audible processes. Here Japan didn't constitute any exception like everywhere.

Denon turntable unit from 1970ties for the Japanese broadcast industry

Listening experience and aural competence never have been a natural given qualification of mankind, it is as many other refined human senses are a result of intensive training of abilities. The ear is a sense organ, which relies in a tremendous grade to a wide spread individualized experience search. A conductor of a complex symphonic orchestra for example acquired his listening competence, i.e. the opportunity to difference out several dozens of singular instruments at once, just because of his regular training. This might have trained him as well a ability of distinction for tonal refinement, which will be up to a factor of 10 higher than ordinary people will show, let's say by a bus driver. The typical daily noise floor might have effected here the ear into opposite direction.

Several hundred years of man made insistent experience with acoustic instruments, equally with their evolution in design, manufacture and performance, have created a deeply rooted sense for natural originated tonalities and detailed harmonic structures in almost any culture. "Unplugged (i.e. without electrical amplification)" musical performance practice with solely acoustical arranged instrumentation is a perfect base for such training and improvement of the own listening ability. Serious practice and internalizing of these senses bring us straight into all limitations within musical recordings, these are inherent to any form of acoustical reproduction and are so typical with audio playback technologies. Here a always more or less prominent compression of the general dynamic attitude together with a loss of detailed expression of micro harmonic details are the foremost problems of all forms of audio reproduction. Such losses have been accepted traditionally more or less over decades as to be typical, so a overcoming of such limitations was one major intention of the early evaluation shoot outs in Japan of the 1970ties. Early sound transducing units from the 1930ties cinema installations like the Western Electric Horn Systems together with their dedicated amplifying units with direct heated triode tubes demonstated in these days a highly graded superiority in almost any case of such former explained attitudes. Well experienced and typically Japanese cultivated listeners detected apart from commercial market mechanisms within such old technologies a stage of aural realm and refinement within music reproduction, which never again reached a similar successfully completed level again in history.
The technically seen most simple stage of early amplification, a single ended tube amplifier with one power triode, namely the Western Electric 300B in cooperation with its dedicated designed receiver unit (WE555A compression driver) using a wide band horn transducer telephone, outperformed any newer, technically advanced technology in many terms. The horn development with its wide range frequency dispersion (between 70 and 5000 hz) and its dedicated compression driver unit works physically seen like a typical acoustic instrument in giant form. It shows the typical attitudes known from such wind instruments (and the typical efficiency in dynamic and loudness response), which have physically seen different properties than a wave radiated by a paper cone. Fed by the advanced organized harmonic signal structure of a direct heated triode, such a system can convince with a by far less technical appearance in its tonal structure. Lot more naturally radiated wavefronts and even exceptional micro dynamic performances did make the much higher THD (typically 5% for directly heated triodes) of such systems to a forgettable incidence. From these early days of rediscovery in Japan in 1970 the Western Electric Systems obtained cult status first in Japan and Korea, before their legend started as well in Europe. The WE300B triode got in the coming 20 years to be a synonym for direct heated triodes, may be even to a synonym auf audio tubes in general. But within these days vintage original Western Electric made original tube samples had been still available in useful amounts and were even still in production together with other US brands like Cetron till the end of the 1980ties. Their disappearance gave way for more and more Chinese, Russian and other remakes, all unable to perform at a similar advanced level of properties which is inherent with NOS original tubes.

Typical installation of a WE16A (in untypical colored red) in a traditional Japanese timbering house.

From today it clearly can be seen that in Japan in these days a drastic change of music perception did take place. It took two decades to influence the listening attitude of audio aficionados all over the world and to create interest for more individualized sensations as listening preferences. The definition of quality with electric amplified music reproduction was not any longer evaluated by a printed superiority of technical data sheets. Instead a human emotional significance and sensitiveness as general base of audible evaluation criteria broke ground outgoing from a small group of elitist circles in Japan (Read the interview with Hiroyaso Kondo to understand). There in such a fondness hedonistic culture exceptional vintage horn installations did find a nutrient-rich soil to set out. Allocated to the small scaled size of the country Japan and its typical high density of population and resuming minimalistic apartment sizes in its metropoles, a incomparable audio culture did find exceptional unique preconditions for its solely hedonistic realizations of historical intended audio installations.
So former cinema horn installations got installed into tiniest rooms. A exceptional developed collecting mentality of rarest items forced such preconditions to sometimes unbelievable peaks and drove iridescent flowers.

Who does not remember the widely published under earth build horn developments, which ended with their drivers far outside in the garden? Additionally a highly advanced sense for product qualities exaggerated some of the most interesting, elaborated and unrestrained audio installations existing in the world, even within smallest space conditions for its realization.

WE16A matching perfectly the widths of the room

WE16A in a Japanese apartment

A small selection of images (only three rooms from altogether six are shown here) with respect to one of the most interesting collections of vintage audio arranged as a private museum in an apartment of Dr. Takeshi Mikami (images with respect to gokudo ) in Japan:

Mastery of Meaningful Listening 

or: like hearing took back to emotional integrety of music

Looking at the above shown images shows very clearly that a completely different understanding of audio culture did have taken place in Japan after the 1970ties. The interest of such lively, vivid and intense scene still existing in Japan, created incomparable products made with the highest degree of mastermind culture in order to find the last and tiniest compromising aspect in a audio playback system.

Such research was objectivated to a major intention of finesse and ease, both typical adjectives with natural instrumentation. It was the base for such evaluations to give them a almost religious inspired mission of perfection. Their resulting amplifiers didn't explore "the" common targets of standards, than to find individual definitions of least incomparable qualities and subtile harmonic expression. The amplifier "shootouts" (name est. in the US-american english) reminded me more to the traditional wine or food tasting events in the western world, than to typical technical evaluations with precisely arranged target lines and a resulting hierarchy as quality reference i.e. better selling argument in commercial terms which is the common practice over here.
In Japan as well a wide spread community established a do-it-yourself made audio product culture to before unknown levels of refinement (speakers, amplifiers, crossovers, etc. and fed by a comprehensive accessory business with transformers, enclosures, components and almost any part of high quality). This scene was mainly intended to overcome the typical limitations of commercial mass market products and to find alternative solutions of highly increased quality preferences and not, like in the western world established definition of diy, as a "low cost side business". It was said in the 1980ties that more than 100.000 people were involved into such movement. It was a energetic market, that even internationally acting audio companies like Lux-Corporation (Luxman), tried to establish from specialized branches high quality products. At the same time lots of small accompanying side businesses, like Yoshimura Labs, GOTO, GIP, Onken, Tamura, Tango, etc., established with highly focused product ranges of dedicated parts. Several individual figures acting as forerunners of exceptional sophisticated audio standards defined individuality as unique position and as highest claim in amplifier design (read the interview with Mr Matsumoto of Mactone.Co for better understanding). Names like Morikawa, Sakuma, Anzai, Shindo, Kondo or Kaneta established as to be exceptional significant designers or better said sound creators of mostly handmade instruments. They were respectively connoted to a highly valued master degree like the typical Japanese cultivated graduation "san", instead of been evaluated with the adjective "best".

Read on soon, Volker

Sunday, 1 November 2015

AAF Krefeld

Eigentlich hatte ich mir fest vorgenommen dieses Jahr, und dies im Gegensatz zum letzten, die Veranstaltung Analog Audio Forum in Krefeld nicht wieder mit kritischen und doch auch amüsanten Beschreibungen zu kommentieren. Aber nach meinem Besuch gestern komme ich dennoch nicht umhin, einige der dort angestellten Bemühungen zu hinterfragen. Um einiges zu dreist gepriesen und das auch im vollen Bewustsein um die dargebotene Minderqualität des Produktes, scheinen einige Aussteller den "unbedarften Interessierten" hinter die  vielzitierte "Fichte führen zu wollen". Diese unverblümten Methoden von Überrumpelung erscheinen mir als typische Verteilungskämpfe eines schnell alternden und schwindenden Geschäftsfelds, wo scheinbar das Heute schon nicht mehr an ein Morgen glaubt... So versuchen nun es noch einige, koste es was es wolle, – also um jeden Preis, also auch den des Kunden selbst, ihren Kram nur noch loszuschlagen. Im zurückliegenden Jahr beschrieb ich das Prospekt der gesamten Veranstaltung folgendermassen: 
Das Analog Forum ist eine Veranstaltung der Analog Audio Association, einem Verein der schon vor langen Jahren mit dem Ziel gegründet wurde, den Artenerhalt der aussterbenden Spezies "Vinylschallplatte" mit der Nachhaltigkeit und sektiererischen Frische von Spielzeugeisenbahnherstellern und deren typischem weltoffenen und innovationsfreudigem Habitus Profit zu schlagen mit einem Forum entgegen zu wirken.
Dem kann ich erst einmal nichts Neues und damit Wesentliches hinzufügen. Im sich abzeichnenden Niedergang der Musikträgerformate wird vermutlich die Vinylschallplatte als einziges nennenswert überleben können. Dementsprechend breit war dann auch das Angebot an entsprechenden "Drehapparaturen". Technisch betrachtet waren diese ähnlich konzipiert und von formalem Dilentantismus in meist verwechselbare Gestalt gebracht. Ein immer gleicher Materialmix aus Edelholz, Metal und Glas, zunehmend mit immer größer werdenden CNC-gefrästen Ikons veredelt, soll helfen die Wohnzimmerkultur über ein Mindestniveau von Selbstbauapparaten zu erheben. Ich frage mich wann es mehr Anbieter von Laufwerken geben wird, als der Markt noch Käufer für Schallplatten anspricht.

Aber schön der Reihe nach. So erfreute ich mich auf dem Weg nach Krefeld; und dabei wurden tief verschüttete Kindheitserinnerungen an folgender aufwendig inszenierten Installation geweckt; als ich im Hauptbahnhof (!!!) Neuss beim Umsteigen etwa 15 Minuten Aufenthalt hatte:

Alles dreht sich, alles bewegt sich...
Einige Zeit später erreichte ich dann das Gelände des Mecure-Tagungshotels in Krefeld Traar bei allerbestem Oktoberwetter, genau wie schon im Vorjahr hätte man die letzen sonnigen Tage vielleicht besser nutzen können... Bereits auf der Zufahrt zum Eingangsbereich entdeckte ich folgendes Fahrzeug mit auffällig doppeldeutiger Beschriftung: 

"Fast Audio, das kann ja heute wieder heiter werden", dachte ich mir, wenn dieses "claim" sich durchziehen sollte. Aber es sollte schlimmer kommen... Ich habe jetzt keine Lust ausführlich zu beschreiben wie einige Aussteller unverhohlen nachlässig vorführten, teilweise weit jedem audiblen Mittelmass entrückt wurde Standartriegelware als "audiophilen Feinkost" angepreist, – und natürlich selbst diese war kein Sonderangebot.

Aura aus Essen legte die Stange dann auch gleich ganz oben auf, da wurde in der Einführung zur Demonstration der bekannten Plastiktröten CD-Hörner von Avantgarde Akustik darauf verwiesen, dass der zugehörige Vollverstärker im reinen Class-A-Betrieb ein volles Watt erzeugt und damit nun der gesamte Kleinsaal beschallt werden würde. Der aufmerksame Betrachter fragte sich allerdings warum an den Tieftonmodulkisten jeweils eine Leuchtdiode den Betriebzustand anzeigte? Dem auch mit blauen Leuchtdioden zur optischen Aufmerksamkeit verholfenem Abtaster von Soundsmith (USA) wurden geradezu magische Kräfte von Aura attestiert. Das mit Druckaufnehmern bestückte Tonabnehmersystem soll dermassen linear den gesamten Frequenzband wiedergeben, dass eine Entzerrung nach RIAA Standart nun gar nicht mehr notwendig sei. Hallo, was habe ich denn jetzt nicht verstanden? RIAA Emphasis in der Schneidekennlinie? Wie kann man mit Linearität diese, eine äußerst krumme Kurve wieder gerade biegen? Aber egal, fragt ja eh keiner, Hauptsache Eindruck und Welle machen, dafür ist man ja da. Man muss der Vorführung zumindest attestieren, dass sie zu den besten an diesem Tag dort gehörte. Dennoch, die betont sparsam und farblos spielenden Plastiktröten Kugelwellenhörner (waren dafür umso farbiger orange lackiert) überzeugten zwar mit vergleichsweise dynamischen Mitteltonatributen, erreichten aber nicht im Geringsten die harmonisch souveräne Musikalität die anderen großen Hornsystemen der Vergangenheit zu eigen ist. Im Vergleich zu solcherart erwachsen klingenden Hornsystemen, vornehmlich aus der Blütezeit des Tonfilms der 1930er Jahre, wirkte die Installation wie Plastikspielzeug.

Für mich einer der absoluten Höhepunkte der Unverschämtheit* war die Vorführung des Veranstalters selbst. Mit aktuellen Modellen der Tannoy Prestige Reihe wurde am Modell Canterbury GR eine Orgelmusikaufnahme vorgeführt. Nun, ich muss mich nicht als Freund der frühen 15-Ohm-Tannoy Lautsprecher an dieser Stelle outen, Menschen die diesen Blog verfolgen, kennen bereits meine Interpretation des Tannoy-Chassis. Ich persönlich kenne die Canterbury der ersten Prestige Serie nur zu gut, diesem mit damalig modifiziertem HPD Chassis bestückten Model war bereits Ende der 1980er Jahre eine eindeutige dynamische Trägheit und damit verbundener Mitteltonauflösungsverlust im Vergleich zu früheren Versionen beschieden. Aber das was gestern dort im Raum „Klarheit“ (!) vorgeführt wurde, schlug dem Fass den Boden aus. Die heutigen Modelle mit keramischen Magneten und mit Schwingspulen für 600 Watt Heizleistung optimiert, verhalten sich zu den von mir geliebten Chassis mit einer Belastungsgrenze von 30 Watt, wie die heute verbreiteten SUV's zu einem 1970er Lotus Super Seven. Das vorgeführte Orgelkonzert klang unterirdisch, geradezu  grausam – eine Folter für das gebildete Ohr. Triefend schwerfällig und dabei laut, mit matschig vorgetragener Mitteltonauflösung demonstrierte diese Vorführung die typischen Einschränkungen moderner kommerzieller Audiokomponenten mit Nachhaltigkeit. Man muss diese Vorführung schon fast als Affront an die anwesenden Zuhörer werten, schon gar wenn man die AAA als Verantwortliche im eigenen Auftrag versteht.

Man ist heute schnell geneigt zu sagen: "Früher war alles besser". Das glaube ich aber inzwischen nicht mehr so ganz, zumindest was den Zeitraum meiner eigensten Erfahrungsuche im Audio-Bereich angeht. Ich glaube zunehmend, dass die über dreissig jährige Beschäftigung mit diesem Thema mich selbst durch vielfältige Erfahrungen verändert, verschoben und geprägt haben. Das ich dabei schon lange nicht mehr an die selbstheilenden Kräfte eines Marktes glaube, muss ich nicht mehr betonen. Das ich dabei vielleicht auch die Kompatibilität zu einem Massenmarkt zugunsten andere Qualitäten aufgegeben habe, ist ebenfalls richtig. Schon seit langem bin ich des Niederganges kommerziell "verschlimmbesserter Produkte" überdrüssig, führt mein Weg ins Glück nur noch zu ganzheitlich verständlich produzierten Dingen mit nachhaltiger Wirkeffezienz. Produkte die sinnliche Erfahrungen optimieren und dabei auch den Funktionszusammenhang bewahren, solche die individuellen Ansprüchen Raum zugestehen und gleichermassen dem zunehmenden Verlust an Sinnstiftung unser Gegenwart zuwiderstreben. Im konkreten Fall und Anlass reden wir über Audiokomponenten, die es vermögen ein Musikgeschehen noch in seiner Ganzheitlichkeit zu erfassen, wirken zu lassen und die technische Komponente ihrer Konstitution vergessen zu machen. Solche Geräte gab es natürlich einmal mehr nicht zu hören in Krefeld, aber wenn ich ehrlich bin hatte ich das auch nicht erwartet. Aber wenn nicht dort, wo denn dann?

* aus dem Duden: Ärgernis, Dreistigkeit, Frechheit, Gemeinheit, Respektlosigkeit, Schamlosigkeit, Skandal, Ungehörigkeit, Ungezogenheit, Unverfrorenheit, Zumutung; (gehoben) Ungebühr, Ungebührlichkeit; (bildungssprachlich) Impertinenz, Insolenz; (umgangssprachlich) dicker Hund, Hammer; (umgangssprachlich, oft scherzhaft) starker Tobak; (abwertend) Infamie; (umgangssprachlich abwertend) Pampigkeit, Patzigkeit; (salopp abwertend) Chuzpe;