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2019 in retrospect, my 2020 New Year's Resolutions, the year ahead, and other stuff! Part 2.

12-29-2019 | By Jeff Day |

It is good to reflect back on a year and consider all that has happened in one's life, both to appreciate the good things that have happened, as well as to gain insights from one's dumbo moves.

I feel extremely fortunate, for my 2019 was truly an amazing year in music, audio, and life generally.

First of all, after over six decades of being on Planet Earth I am grateful just still to be here, and to be able to enjoy the privilege of writing about audio and music adventures for you. 

In Part 1 of my 2019 in retrospect, my "2020 New Year's Resolutions, the year ahead, and other stuff!" post I told you about some of the exciting audio adventures going on here at Jeff's Place and at Positive Feedback in 2019.

Now in Part 2 I want to tell you about my most memorable events of 2019, my visits with cool audio people and music lovers in 2019, the ongoing "hot topics" of 2019, my key audio insights from 2019, my favorite music discoveries in 2019, my 2020 New Year's Resolutions, what's coming up at Jeff's Place in 2020, and other cool stuff!

My Most Memorable Events of 2019

From an audio gear standpoint, hands down, my most memorable audio event of 2019 was the completion of the Duelund-Altec Project.

Duelund CAST tinned-copper crossovers in the "Stokowski" Altec loudspeakers.

As I said in Part 1, the installation of Duelund CAST tinned-copper crossovers based on a Hiraga-style Altec crossover circuit into my pair of vintage Altec loudspeakers - that were custom built for conductor Leopold Stokowski - completely reset what I thought was possible from loudspeaker performance.

Every time I listen to the Duelund-ized "Stokowski" Altec's I just marvel at their incredible live-like musicality and ability to deliver emotional impact from the music - this combo represents next level performance, certainly for music lovers, and even for audiophiles that know what real live music sounds like.

The Duelund-Altec Project has been a truly life changing experience for my audio and musical life!

The Duelund-Altec Project "Stokowski" Altec's with the Duelund CAST tinned-copper crossovers.

The rest of my most memorable events of 2019 were not about audio equipment or music, per se, but rather they were visits with people who are in love with music & audio as much as I am, or more!

Peter Qvortrup of Audio Note UK.

Peter Qvortrup invited me to visit with him in Brighton, England, along with all of the Audio Note UK family.

Audio Note UK headquarters outside of Brighton, England.

After meeting briefly with Peter, I toured the Audio Note UK facility outside of Brighton, England, with Peter's son, Daniel Qvortrup, met quite a few of the staff, met a couple of the lead Audio Note UK designers (Andy Grove and Darko Greguras), saw the amazing amount of component parts Audio Note UK keeps in stock (resistors, capacitors, transformers, etc.), saw lots of just completed cool hi-fi gear going the the QA/QC process, saw prototype field-coil loudspeakers that were in development, saw custom amplifiers being built, saw the astonishing amount of new production & NOS vacuum tubes in storage, and so forth. All-in-all I was pretty wowed by the experience!

Peter's home listening room.

I also listened to music with Peter on his home system, did a road trip to the Cotswolds with Peter to deliver one of his premium amplifiers to a customer and his family that were vacationing there, had lunch with Andy & Darko, was given a delightful tour of Brighton by Daniel and his wife, and shared a number of delightful dinners out with Peter, Daniel, and members of the Audio Note UK family. 

Daniel Qvortrup of Audio Note UK, Peter's son.

One of the unexpected highlights of the trip was talking about economics with Peter, who studied at the university as an economist. I don't know a lot about economics given I studied as a scientist at the university, other than the importance of staying funded, so what Peter had to say was a real eye-opener on how the financial world influenced the history of world civilization, right on down to the details of its influence on our daily life experiences.

A few of Peter Qvortrup's book recommendations.

I was so fascinated by the discussions with Peter on economics that I asked him to recommend a reading list for me (HERE), and I've been steadily reading through the books. Those discussions with Peter, and reading through those books has been one of those life changing experiences that happen only every couple of decades. When I began to realize how the world really works, all I could think of was Dorothy's line from the Wizard of Oz movie, "Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore." 

There's lots of cool audio and music things going on at Audio Note UK! You can read more about my Audio Note UK trip in posts HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE.

Many thanks to Peter, Daniel, Andy, Darko, and everyone at Audio Note UK for being so nice to me during my visit, and taking some of your valuable time to spend with me - thank you!

I love to travel, and over the last 9 years or so I have traveled to Turkey, France, the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, Sicily, England, Wales, the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Croatia, Slovenia, and Scotland, and some of those countries multiple times, as well as visits to multiple cities in the USA.

Travel is fun, as you get to meet new people, experience new cultures, eat great food and drink great local beverages, hear live music you wouldn't otherwise, as well as visit museums, memorials, and other special places along the way.

It's a wonderful experience to get to know your fellow man (and woman) better around the world, and has given me an altogether better understanding of the people of Planet Earth and what a treasure they are. 

Jeff's Place regulars, Ron, Leo, Chad, Santos, and myself all having a good time!.

Long time readers will recognize Doc Leo from audio gatherings at Jeff's Place (above photo, second from left). Doc Leo and I have a big cross-section of audio and music interests, with Doc Leo being the one who introduced me to the vintage McIntosh MC30 monaural amplifiers, and Doc Leo is also the only other person I know personally with a pair Tannoy Westminster Royal SEs, not to mention an expansive collection of vintage gear!

Well it turns out that Doc Leo likes to travel as much as I do, at least when he can get away from the demands of the surgery, so we've teamed up to do some travel adventures over the last few years.

We've explored the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Croatia, Slovenia, England, Wales, Germany, and Austria, and we've made a tradition of attending all the opera, jazz, and classical concerts we can fit in along the way.  

During our last adventure, this Spring, we explored Munich, Salzburg, Vienna, and re-visited Prague (our third time in Prague - a wonderful city!), and by chance we ran into Eliseo (Troy Audio), Bill Hanuschak (Great Plains Audio), and Santos Oropel (Troy Audio) while having dinner and drinking beer in the Hofbräuhaus in Munich!

Eliseo (Troy Audio), Bill Hanuschak (Great Plains Audio), and Santos Oropel (Troy Audio).

Doc Leo is a great friend, has great taste in audio, music, as well as everything else, and we've had a blast exploring Planet Earth!

Here's to you Doc Leo, thanks for being my friend - cheers!

It's always a real treat when someone from afar goes to the effort to stop by to visit me here at Jeff's Place, and this year I had some memorable times with new and old friends from afar!

Gary & Tineke Dahl

It was a real treat to have husband and wife musical duo, Gary and Tineke Dahl, from Kitsap, Washington, visit Jeff's Place. Gary and Tineke are musicians and their life revolves around music, and they have a passion for audio as well! 

Gary is an Associate Conductor, Principal Timpanist, and Personnel Manager at the Bremerton Symphony Association, Choir Director at the Summit Avenue Presbyterian Church, conductor of the Kitsap Opera, and in his free time Gary teaches music to elementary students in the Central Kitsap School District!

Tineke plays principal 2nd violin for the Bremerton Symphony, and regularly plays in the Take4 String Quartet (Tineke Dahl (Violin); Pete Wiggins (Violin); Larry Nyquist (Viola); and Ingrid Peters (Cello)). Their favorite gigs are to play for retirement homes and the Veteran's Home at Retsil. Tineke also sings in Gary's church choir, and in her spare time teaches special education in the Central Kitsap School District. 

Gary and Tineke are musicians who also enjoy audio, but the real reason Gary wanted to stop by for a visit was to hear what a pair of loudspeakers sounded like that were built by/for fellow conductor Leopold Stokowski, who was rather well known for his avid involvement in developing audio & film electronics, and loudspeakers.  

The "Stokowski" Altec's with Duelund CAST tinned-copper crossovers.

We had a good time listening to the "Stokowski" Altec's while consuming a very nice bottle of Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon, having a nice lunch, and chatting about all things music.

Gary - a conductor himself - said about the "Stokowski" Altec's, developed by fellow conductor Dr. Leopold Stokowski, "I didn't expect them to sound like that!"

Thanks for coming to visit me at Jeff's Place, Gary & Tineke, it was a pleasure to meet with you and get to know you!

Chad with the Westminster's and Stokowski Altec's.

It's always a pleasure to have my former colleague and buddy Chad Henderson visit from Seattle. Chad has knack for showing up just when I really need some helping moving gargantuan loudspeakers around - thanks Chad!

Ron, Leo, Chad, Santos, and myself all having a good time at Jeff's Place.

Chad's a fellow cyclist, music lover, audio enthusiast, musician (guitar and drums), and long-time friend. A visit by Chad is always a good excuse to throw a little party to enjoy the company of friends like Ron, Leo, Santos, listen to some music on the hifi, play some music, play audio games, and just have some fun!

Jeff & Ashley dancing!

Chad and I had a blast catching up and visiting with friends, and the music was so good over the "Stokowski" Altec's it inspired Jeff & Ashley to jump up and start dancing! You know your hifi rig is doing something right when that happens!

Thanks to you, Chad, for coming to visit, and Ron, Doc Leo, Santos, and Jeff & Ashley for joining us for a little party time!

Paul James at Jeff's Place

It was a really enjoyable time visit with Paul James, who came all the way from Australia to visit Jeff's Place

Paul is a super nice guy, as well as a really knowledgable audio guy who likes to build valve preamps &  amplifiers, and loudspeakers from scratch, and it was a true pleasure to have him visit, get to know him, and hear the stories of his audio adventures. Kindred spirits for sure!

Doc Leo (left), Paul (right).

Doc Leo was able to break away from the surgery to join us, so we had double the fun!

Paul was having a great time traveling in the US over 5 weeks, and had been getting in lots of live music performances as he explored.

Paul stopped at number of historic and musically important venues across the US, with live music concerts in New Orleans and touring Sun Studio in Memphis (the recording studio that was opened by rock-and-roll pioneer Sam Phillips in 1950), for example, as well as many other fine musical and historic adventures. 

Paul also visited NASA, the Thomas Edison and Henry Ford museums, toured Independence Hall in Philadelphia, the birthplace of the United States, and saw where the Declaration of Independence was signed and where the U.S. Constitution was created, as well as other many other cool adventures too numerous to mention in a short blog post!

Paul certainly inspired me to get out traveling a little more in the US, and see some of these historic sites, and experience the essence of US culture and history that I normally take for granted. I feel some new adventures coming up!

Paul was been stocking up on hard-to-find vinyl during his travels as well, focusing on early American music, visiting obscure but well stocked record stores during his travels, and sending boxes of rare record finds back to Australia to await his return home.

Many thanks to Paul James for stopping in to visit me while touring the US,  it was great to meet you and get to know you, Paul!

Mark & Anong Newcomb

Another memorable visit this year was from a visit from my old high school buddy, Mark Newcomb, and his wife Anong!

I've known Mark for 50 years! I met Mark as a 7th grader at Fairmont Junior High School in Boise, Idaho. I had succumbed to mysterious illness that the doc's couldn't diagnose and missed almost three months of school before I started to get well. The school installed a two-way intercom at my parents house, with  a mobile intercom at school that could be taken from class-to-class so I could listen in and not get too terribly behind. Mark was my fellow student - and new friend - who took the mobile intercom from class-to-class for me so I could listen in. Thanks, Mark!

When we were high school students in the early to mid-1970's Mark was into building Heathkit tube electronics, and was the person responsible for getting me interested in hifi.

I was too broke as a kid to be able to afford any hifi gear, so it was a decade or so later before I could start to engage with the hifi hobby. It's kind of amazing how an experience like mine with Mark and his hifi gear can influence you for a lifetime. Fate.

While Mark & Anong, and I were listening to music and chatting, I pointed to the "Stokowski" Altec's and all the hifi gear around the room, and I told Mark & Anong, "This is all because of you Mark!"

Mark and I haven't seen each other since high school, as life took us in different directions, so we've got some serious catching up to do! I suspect you will reading more about Mark's and Jeff's new hifi adventures in due time!

Many thanks to Mark and Anong for stopping by to visit! It was great to see you!

I also had some delightful visits from family in 2019. My cousin Rick and his wife Jan stopped in to visit Mom and me all the way from Montana (I thought I took a photo of them but couldn't find it), with Mom saying, "I really enjoyed their visit, it made me happy just to visit with them, they are such a neat couple."

Rick and Jan sure are a neat couple, and thank you Rick & Jan for stopping by to see us!

My sister-in-law, JoAnne, and her husband Andy also stopped by to visit Mom and me, traveling all the way from Columbia, South Carolina. JoAnne and Andy are really neat people too, and its always a pleasure to visit with them!

I need to start doing a better job taking photos, no photo of JoAnne's and Andy's visit either!

Many thanks to JoAnne and Andy for stopping by to visit! 

My nephew, Chris, and grand-niece, Chloe!

My nephew, Chris, also stopped by to visit Grandma and me, all the way from Arlington, Virginia!

My great-niece, Chloe, with one of my Altec A5 Voice of the Theatre loudspeakers.

The photos are from a couple of earlier visits when Chris brought his daughter, Chloe, along. I've got photos of Chloe with Westminster's and Altec A5's now - fun times!

It's always great to see you Chris and Chloe, thanks for stopping by! 

Visiting with you, dear readers, is important to me too, and I enjoy hearing from you. I know a lot of audio writers don't like to be "bothered" with messages from their readers, but not me, I love to hear from you, and it is my intention to answer every single message that I get from you.

I consider the interactions between you and me to be a relationship at a distance, not a bother, and if for some reason you don't get a response from me within a day or two, ping me again, as I probably just got sidetracked by the busyness of life and forgot.

If you have a question, I'll do my best to answer it, but I am definitely not a "see all" oracle, so if I don't know the answer to your question I'll tell you that too, and do my best to direct you to someone knowledgeable who can thoughtfully answer your question.

Well, this post is getting kind of long already, so I guess I'll stop here. I'll continue on in Part 3 with my stories of the ongoing "hot topics" of 2019, my key audio insights from 2019, my favorite music discoveries in 2019, my 2020 New Year's Resolutions, what's coming up at Jeff's Place in 2020, and other cool stuff!

As always, thanks for stopping by, and may the tone be with you!

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