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Jeff Checking In: Acoustic Revive, Audio Note (UK), iPhone Adventure, audio centrism or audio relativism (?), and other stuff!

06-07-2024 | By Jeff Day |

Greetings friends, I hope you are doing well! 🙂 

I love getting out on two wheels for a little exercise (bicycles) and a little exploring (motorbikes).

The Spring weather up until now has been kind of erratic with rain, wind, cold, and heat, but I've been able to get in enough two wheel action on the bicycle to keep my cardio tuned up. 

I've haven't been able to get in as many motorbike rides as I'd like, but yesterday I got out and about for some fun and exploring in Washington State. 

Yesterday was a Goldilocks day for a motorbike ride: not too hot, not too cold, just right!

I discovered a new-to-me section of twisty road between Bickleton, WA, and Goldendale, WA, along the Bickleton Highway.

While it doesn't look impressive on Google Maps, if you are a motorcyclist or sports car enthusiast check it out, it's 36 miles of twisty road through some beautiful landscape. 

The Bluebird Inn in Bickleton

You can also stop at the Bluebird Inn in Bickleton, which is the oldest operating tavern in WA State (1887), to grab a nip & sip. 

The Bickleton HW goes right through WA State's 'Volcano Alley', and at one point a snow capped Mt. Hood was on my left, and a snow capped Mt. Adams was on my right, with Mt. St Helens off in the distance. Gorgeous! 

I stopped at the Goldendale Observatory to stretch my legs (above), and there was a grand view of the volcanos from there. The hillsides were covered with wildflowers for an extra bit of beauty. 

Spring is on its last legs, and Planet Earth is zooming towards the Summer Solstice signifying the start of Summer, and it looks like the temperature will be ramping up fast over the coming weeks.

I'll have to get the hot weather riding kit out and get everything ready to go!

Acoustic Revive RTS-30 turntable mat

Next up for a 'feature review' at Positive Feedback is my fifteenth installment of the Acoustic Revive Chronicles series of articles.

The first article goes all the way back to 2008, so that's quite a milestone for me to get to fifteen articles (see the archives for the full list).

Acoustic Revive RTS-30 turntable mat on CTC 301

That's the Acoustic Revive RTS-30 turntable mat on my CTC Garrard 301 in the photo above, and it is one of quite a few Acoustic Revive products I'll be writing about in the feature article.

I'm fortunate in I that I can choose to only write about things that I like, so in case you were wondering, fifteen articles about the Acoustic Revive accessories is a strong endorsement for their performance and quality. 

If you haven't had a chance to read it yet, go check out my feature review at Positive Feedback of the Audio Note (UK) Tomei 211 SET integrated amplifier and M3 RIAA phono stage (HERE). 

M3 RIAA

Easily the two most impressive amplification components of their kind I have ever encountered, the Tomei 211 and M3 RIAA had a profound impact on how I listen to music at home, and opened up new insights into listening that enabled me to go into realms of listening I had never imagined could exist. 

iPhone Adventure with the Improved U4 by Yazaki-san.

I've fallen a little behind in telling you more about my experiences with Yazaki-san's iPhone Adventure, so expect to see more of my impressions about that in the not too distant future. 

One of the things about audio, is that enthusiasts have very strong opinions about what they like, as far as the kit goes, and music too.

For us audio enthusiasts it's easy to fall into audio-centrism where we view our audio kit & music preferences as the standard by which we evaluate all audio kit & music, and even look down upon anything that doesn't fall into our personal preferences. 

The stuff we like best is the best ... right?

As an audio writer I come across a lot of different views about audio kit & music, and often with very strong views about what is 'best'. 

That sort of exposure has shifted me into more of an audio relativism perspective over the years, where I try to understand and experience those different ideas about audio kit & music on their own terms, to find out more about them.

It is a cool learning experience that can be very illuminating.  

Testament 1955 Joseph Keilberth Wagner Ring 19-LP stereo box set.

My music preference for many years was jazz and rock & roll, which was the music I grew up with. It is the best ... right?

The idea of someone enjoying opera was completely foreign to me. My doctorate advisor in graduate school - Roy Filby - really liked opera.  

I just didn't get it. How could anyone like opera? 

Then one day a friend brought by one of the box sets included in the Testament 1955 Joseph Keilberth Wagner Ring 19-LP stereo box set. 

I listened to it, and was sort of shocked that I liked it so much, but I did.

Since then I've been enjoying opera recordings, and I try to get in a live opera whenever I can while traveling, and it's been a blast!

Peter Qvortrup (Audio Note (UK)) in his home listening room.

On a similar note, when I visited Peter Qvortrup (Audio Note (UK) in Brighton, England, he introduced me to the idea of the value of listening to recordings from all the different recording eras: the acoustic era, the electric era, the magnetic era, and the digital era (above).

For us audio nuts in the USA, a lot of us bought into the idea that it was the best albums of the stereo magnetic era of recording that we should be listening to on our high-fidelity audio systems. 

The idea of listening to 78 rpm records from the acoustic and electric eras of recording seemed ludicrous.

Why would anyone listen to those noisy old low-fidelity albums from a century ago?

Even monaural recordings from the magnetic era of recording were questionable. Right?

As I started exploring those 78 rpm recordings of yesteryear I realized that they could deliver an amazing listening experience that rivals - or even exceeds - anything from the stereo magnetic era of recording. 

I was flabbergasted!

Since then I have been listening to a lot of 78 rpm era record transfers to CDs and I have been amazed by how much I have been enjoying those listening adventures.

There's a big world of music out there that I hadn't even begun to appreciate, and didn't even really realize existed as an option for listening adventures.  

The Record Collector magazine and 78 transfers to CD.

Now I'm hooked on exploring all the eras of recording and it has really broadened my horizons for music listening, as well as brought me much joy.  

All of those eras of recording document different styles of recording - which spans low-fidelity to high-fidelity - and they are all worth listening to just to hear how the recording arts have evolved over the last 120 years or so.

It's fascinating in its own right.  

It was a surprise to me that some of those 78 era records could outperform the best of the stereo magnetic era albums in some aspects of performance.  

It has been a revelation for me to explore all those eras of recording that make up Planet Earth's recorded music canon. 

It also led me to thinking about audio system performance and listening to recorded music in a new way, one aspect of which I've called 'playability'. 

'Playability' is an ability of an audio system to play any album regardless of its fidelity to deliver a remarkably engaging listening experience that delivers the full impact of the artistic intent of the musicians, a performance element as much felt as heard. 

Not all audio kit can deliver 'playability' in a way that turns low-fidelity recordings - as well as high-fidelity recordings - into amazing listening experiences. 

Delivering that sort of music listening experience, where you get the best from high-fidelity stereo magnetic era recordings, while still delivering 78 era lower-fidelity recordings as amazing listening experiences, is an area of performance that I believe really needs to be developed more, as it opens up a much larger world of listening adventures. 

When an audio system really excels in playability it creates new kinds of listening that one can experience. 

For example, one of the things I've learned about audio kit that performs well in playability terms, is that it emphasizes how important it is to listen to music with both sets of one's ears

The ears that are on the sides of your head, that you listen to the sound coming from the loudspeakers with, delivers one kind of listening experience that is full of interesting aspects about recordings that audiophiles are familiar with, like the realm of visuospatial performance, and musicality.

Then there is the inner set of ears that allows one to experience how the music playing through the audio system is affecting - even transforming - one's inner being and emotions, by offering a deep dive into the artistic intent of the music.  

There's as much range in audio system performance for being able to reveal to the listener what's going on inside one's being with the inner ears, as there is in being able to reveal what's going on with the outer ears in the realm of HiFi visuospatial and musicality concerns that we typically think about in HiFi. 

Performance in that realm of inner transformational ability while listening to a recording is a special performance ability that allows the music to deliver what I'll call a complete music listening experience, where both an external "that sounds great" and a deep internal life-altering experience for the artistic intent of the music are occurring in the listener in powerful ways.

Few audio systems in my experience have high-performance in both the inner and outer realms of listening, but when they do it opens a portal into an even deeper realm, which I'll call the third realm of performance.

While I can't completely grasp what is happening to me as I listen in that third realm of musical experience, I do experience a profound sense of awe from the recorded music that can't quite be put into words.

The third realm is a sense of being, almost in the metaphysical sense of the word "being", that opened a portal in my listening sessions into an abstract dimension of experience beyond the external world of my aural hearing, the inner world of my consciousness, and into a dimension of a transformative listening experience that I believe can only be felt first hand, by listening in this new way. 

Ok, that's all for now.

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

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