No pictures, just a description of the demonstration at the Melbourne Audio Club.
Warwick Freemantle and Jon De Sensi presented the evening, source was vinyl played on a Kuzma turntable and arm and a $4000 cartridge, sounding really good when amplified by the new OAD pre- and power amplifier and the good looking Gauder RC-7D Mk II speakers. The willis room was full, and the music was varied. Stand out records included a German violin recording which had the most realistic violin reproduction I have heard, and Louis Armstrong’s performance of St James Infirmary. Also popular tracks from The Wall (Pink Floyd) and Dire Straits. All very familiar to the club age group!
A New Year has started, and it has brought to the Australian Hi Fi scene a new player to the market. Warwick Freemantle from the Pure Music Group will be demonstrating to the club a new range of electronic components from Open Audio Designs. The man behind this new company , Jon De Sensi, will be our guest presenter for the night.
Jons new products, a pre and power amp, have raised the bar for Australian High End design and manufacturing with world class sonics at affordable pricing. The CP1 features a 4.3” TFT LCD Full Colour display, with capacitive touch. All features of the CP1 are controlled by this touch display which eliminates any front panel mechanical potentiometers and switches. Gold plated Swiss made relays select inputs, followed by a buffer amplifier that presents a benign load to signal sources. With few components in the path as possible, a direct coupled dual mono layout helps to maximise audio purity and virtually eliminate crosstalk.
The UF1 Power Amplifier utilizes the latest in transistor technology to deal with significant distortions. As the load impedence of an amplifier is decreased, large signal non-linearities begin to appear. This distortion is significantly dependent on the quality of the amplifier’s output stage power transistors. The UF1’s transistors are in a different class, in that; the current gain is completely maintained over its full power bandwidth, while also minimising the crossover distortion.
Partnering the electronics will be a new speaker from Gauder Akustik, the Berlina RC-7D Mk II with the Accuton Pure Diamond Tweeters. Argento Cables will look after the signal from each component. With the optional phono card ( PP1) installed in the preamp, the source for the night will be the Kuzma Stabi SPS Turntable with Kuzma 4 Point 9” Tonearm.
This will be OAD’s first public showing at an audio event. We may well have a full house.
Trumpeter, flugelhorn-player, singer, composer and activist Hugh Ramapolo Masekela has passed away after a long battle with prostate cancer.
When he cancelled his appearance last year at the Johannesburg Joy of Jazz Festival, taking time out to deal with his serious health issues, fans were forced to return to his recorded opus for reminders of his unique work. Listening through that half-century of disks, the nature and scope of the trumpeter’s achievement becomes clear.
Masekela had two early horn heroes.
The first was part-mythical: the life of jazz great Bix Biederbeckefiltered through Kirk Douglas’s acting and Harry James’s trumpet, in the 1950 movie “Young Man With A Horn”. Masekela saw the film as a schoolboy at the Harlem Bioscope in Johannesburg’s Sophiatown. The erstwhile chorister resolved “then and there to become a trumpet player”.
The second horn hero, unsurprisingly, was Miles Davis. And while Masekela’s accessible, storytelling style and lyrical instrumental tone are very different, he shared one important characteristic with the American: his life and music were marked by constant reinvention. As Davis reportedly said:
I don’t want to be yesterday’s guy.
Much has already been written about Masekela’s life and its landmarks: playing in the Huddleston Jazz Band in the 1950s on a horn donated by Louis Armstrong; performing in the musical “King Kong” in the 1960s and at the Guildhall and then Manhattan schools of music with singer Miriam Makeba; US pop successes in the 1970s and then touring Paul Simon’s “Graceland” in the 80s and 90s.
What is less discussed is the music, and the innovative imagination he has periodically applied to draw it fresh from the flames.
Breaking new ground
The Huddleston band, plus time as sideman and in stage shows, were the traditional career path for a young musician. But then Masekela broke his first new ground. With fellow originals, including saxophonist Kippie Moeketsi, pianist Abdullah Ibrahim and trombonist Jonas Gwangwa, as The Jazz Epistles they cut the first LP of modern African jazz in South Africa.
“Jazz Epistle: Verse One” (1960) featured band compositions marked by challenging improvisation – “a cross between mbaqanga and bebop”. Mbaqanga is form of South African township jive and bebop an American jazz style developed in the 1940s.
This exposure attracted attention to his talent from potential patrons at home and abroad. Pushed by the horrors of the Sharpeville massacrewhen the South African police shot and killed 69 people on 21 March 1960, and pulled by donated air-tickets and scholarships, Masekela left for London, and then New York.
In the next two decades, Masekela’s re-visioning of his music took many forms. He found America hard, but with wife Miriam Makeba (the marriage lasted from 1964 – 1966), the production skills of Gwangwa, and the support of American singer Harry Belafonte he proactively introduced audiences to South African music and the destruction of apartheid.
On the ironically titled 1966 live “Americanisation of Ooga Booga”, he demonstrated the creative possibilities of “township bop”. Masekela did this by mashing up repertoire and playing styles from the South Africa he had left and the America he had landed in.
But he was also looking in other directions: in collaborations with other African musicians; towards fusion (with The Crusaders), rock (with The Byrds) and even pop at the Monterey Pop, festival.
That list captures only a fraction of his projects in the 1960s. Some bore instant fruit: his 1968 single, “Grazin’ In the Grass”, topped the Billboard Hot 100 list and sold four million copies; the previous year’s “Up Up and Away” became an instant standard.
But as the title of “Grazin’ In the Grass” suggests, Masekela was also bewitched by other aspects of Sixties counterculture. He dated his addiction back to the alcohol-focused social climate of his early playing years in South Africa, but by the early Seventies he admitted:
I had destroyed my life with drugs and alcohol and could not get a gig or a band together. No recording company was interested in me…
That depression inspired the song that achieved genuinely iconic status back home in South Africa: the 1974 reflection on migrant labour, “Stimela/Coal Train”.
Foreign critics have handed that status to other Masekela songs, such as “Soweto Blues”, “Gold” or the much later “Bring Him Back Home”. Yet powerful though those are, it is Stimela, with its slow-burning steam-piston rhythm that captured the hearts of South Africans in struggle back home, and still does today. And of course the lyrics:
There’s a train that comes from Namibia and Malawi /there’s a train that comes from Zambia and Zimbabwe/ from Angola and Mozambique…
For me songs come like a tidal wave … At this low point, for some reason, the tidal wave that whooshed in on me came all the way from the other side of the Atlantic: from Africa; from home.
Shortly afterwards, Masekela headed off to Ghana, hooked up with Hedzoleh Soundz, and was soon back in the charts. “Stimela” received its first outing on the album “I Am Not Afraid”, with West African and American co-players including pianist Joe Sample.
By the mid ‘80s, the hornman was back in southern Africa, recording “Technobush” at the mobile Shifty Studio in Botswana, and performing for the Medu Arts Ensemble with a Botswanan/South African band, Kalahari. His music shifted again: roots mbaqanga came strongly to the fore to speak simply and directly to people now openly battling the apartheid regime just across the border.
After liberation and his return home, Masekela once more chose fresh directions. In 1997 he banished his addictions and began to showcase the virtuoso player he could have been 30 years earlier without the distractions of the West Coast. He fronted big European jazz bands, and benchmarked a long musical friendship with Larry Willis with the magisterial Friends.
But his shrewd ear for the music of today, rather than yesterday, also took him into younger company. He collaborated with current stars – including singer Thandiswa Mazwai – often encouraging them to take centre stage. Just before the recurrence of his cancer, he was planning a festival collaboration with rapper Riky Rick.
To cap the transformation, the individualistic rebel of the 60s and 70s became an elder statesman of social activism. In 2001, he established a foundation to help other musicians escape addiction. Once more he foregrounded the music of continental Africa, to campaign against xenophobia. And the return of his own illness became the cue to exhortother men to get checked for prostate cancer.
Other South African musicians have succeeded overseas; many have made one mid-career image switch – but few have shown us, in only one person but more than 30 albums, so many of the faces and possibilities of South African jazz.
Hugh Masekela, musician, activist. Born: 4 April 1939; Died: 23 January 2018
When it comes to luxury products, the Italians have a sense of style that is unmatched. When Sonus Faber introduces a new speaker range to the market, they are dripping with Italian styling and strikingly beautiful aesthetics that would appeal to the most discerning eyes.
The Homage Tradition line of speakers features a level of quality craftsmanship that is the hallmark of the brand. This month Synergy Audio presents the Serafino Tradition. This new generation of speaker is both technically advanced and strikingly beautiful.
The Serafino Tradition is a 3.5-way floorstander that houses Sonus Faber’s own 28mm silk dome tweeter featuring an “Arrow Point” phase plug. The tweeter shares an aluminium mounting plate with the 150mm midrange driver. The front baffle and aluminium plate are adorned in that distinctive leather finish. The low end is handled by the two 180mm bass drivers. Extruded aluminium fins run the length of the rear panel as part of an exoskeleton, integrating an effectively invisible “Aperiodic Reflex” system, engineered to provide the required bass extension.
Partnering the speakers will be a complete McIntosh system comprising of the MCT450 CD/SACD Transport and the MA8900 Integrated Amplifier. To get the most out of your CDs, the MCT450 combines an aluminium die cast tray with a twin laser pickup that assures an optimal disc reading at 2x read speed for better data recovery. Featuring 4 digital outputs, the unique DIN output connects to the MA8900 to deliver the purist possible sound. Wrapped in the timeless McIntosh aesthetics with blue Watt meters and black glass front panel, the MA8900 with the renowned McIntosh Autoformer, guarantees to deliver the full 200 Watts regardless if your speakers are 2, 4 or 8 Ohms.
Synergy Audio will also be demonstrating the new Mobile Fidelity Turntable with its matching cartridge, the Mo-Fi UltraDeck with the Ultra Tracker.
Once again we are in for a treat, both visually and sonically.
The committee’s choice of music for the meeting was interesting and varied. A surprise was a veey live recording of Buddy Rich and Gene Krupa. Very live!
The equipment lineup was interesting, Ray’s selection of Marantz amp and Gale speakers was a good vintage sound. The second setup with Naim amplification and Vienna speakers was very warm and musical. It is great that members are so generous with their time and equipment. Thanks Ray and Nick.
THE NEW COMMITTEE PRESENTS
This month’s meeting will be more of a music presentation, and less to do with the equipment. The new committee will present to the club a selection of music from their favourite CD’s. It could be a track from one of their ‘desert island discs’ or a recent purchase. The program will cycle through the numerous tracks presented by each committee member.
To ensure that we get through as many different tracks as possible, I’ve requested that each track to be no more than 5 minutes long. This will get us through plenty of CD’s before the coffee break. While it’s good to have a music program for the night, a system to play all the music on would be appropriate.
Ray Go from the Hi Fi Exchange will be providing the equipment for the night. In fact we will have two systems to listen too. The first is a pair of refurbished Gale 401 speakers matched to a Marantz SM-11S1 power amp. Reviewed by Stereophile magazine back in May 2008, they commented “The Marantz’s clean, fast, revealing,surprisingly transparent, well-organised overall presentation took the most challenging recordings in its stride.”
The second system will have a large pair of floor standing speakers and a valve power amp. Ray is keeping the details of the gear a mystery up until the night of the meeting. I can tell you that both systems will have the same front end, an OPPO 95 as a transport and a LAMPIZATOR Dac will be taking care of the D to A conversion.
This would be a good opportunity for all members to discover some new music at this meeting. I’m sure the guys on the committee will do their best to present a thoroughly satisfying night of music.
Nick Karayanis – Program Co-ordinator.
Expert Pro Integrated Amplifier
Phantom Gold Speaker
In 2009, a French manufacturer Devialet, set the audio world on its ear with the introduction of the D-Premier DAC-Integrated Amplifier. This unique component, housed in a slim shiny case the size of a laptop, featured a host of customizations that had never before been incorporated into an audio component.
A digital preamplifier section that could accept digital as well as line and phono-level analogue signals; a high-powered digital signal processor (DSP) that could perform real-time processing of the music signals for equalization and room correction; and an innovative amplifier topology Analogue Digital Hybrid (ADH), which set Devialet apart from other Hi-Fi manufacturers.
The current line up of amplifiers called Expert Pro, start off with their entry level model Expert 130 Pro which delivers 130Wpc into 6 ohms and goes up to their most powerful model, the Expert 1000 Pro. Leigh Fischer from INTERDYN will be demonstrating the many features of the Devialet amplifier with a pair of PMC fact.12 speakers. With new technology called Speaker Active Matching (SAM) the amplifiers output signal can be optimized for your particular speaker.
A testament to the pace of Devialets technical evolution is incorporated in the Phantom speaker. Their active loudspeaker backed with R&D and out-of-the-box thinking sets a path for the future. By design, the Phantom goes against and beyond the existing establishment. Egg like in shape and white only in colour, the technology contained within the Phantom speaker is very impressive.
The Gold Phantom will also be demonstrated at the club. Its novel combination of ‘Class A’ and ‘Class D’ amplification, 4500W at 108db, and their ‘Bass Implosion ‘technology measuring ruler flat from 20Hz, is the absolute demonstration of Devialets design and engineering.
Devialet has firmly cemented its name in the audiophile world. Their integrated amplifiers and Phantom speakers, play host to the most exciting and innovative technologies available in sound reproduction. The future in Hi-Fidelity has arrived.
Nick Karayanis – Program Co-ordinator.
8 PM Wedsnesday 16 August in the Willis Room, Nunawading Civic Centre
Reminder: subscriptions are due, guests are still welcome.
Values per 833 working class B as an R.F. amplifier with a maximum modulation factor of 1.0. Vamax, 3 kV Iamax, 400 mA Pinmax, 450 W (This is the total input power to each 833 at maximum drive.) Pamax, 300 W (This is the maximum anode dissipation and at this power level the anode reaches a temperature of about 800 °C, and glows red hot.) Vg1max, -70 V Peak R.F. grid voltage, 90 V. D.C. anode current, 150 mA D.C. grid current, 2 mA Driving power, 10 W appx. Output power, 150 W appx.
The king of SET amplifiers?
David, the importer of Shindo and other high end gear has been demonstrating a pair of Wavac HE833 monoblocs. Each amplifier uses RCA 833 valves. Direct-coupled input featuring a WE437A input tube and the driver is a triode wired KT 88.
So how does a 150Watt Single ended triode amplifier sound? I only listened to the Wavacs through Tannoy Westminster clones, pre and phono stages also by Wavac. Big sound, effortless dynamics, natural voice and strings. Good and clean from the deepest bass all the way to the highest frequencies I could hear. Most of the music we played was familiar, Beethoven and Vivaldi all the way to female and male vocal. The Tannoys of course looked and sounded great, having ample Single Ended Watts really made them sing.
In the pictures you can see the size and finish of the amps and the Tannoys. Also notice the Autographs made by Shindo.
This month we welcome to the club a local importer of High End audio equipment. Cameron Keating from Maxmedia will be presenting a selection of European Hi-Fi brands of which Avantgarde Acoustic from Germany, would be a very familiar name with horn speaker enthusiasts.
Cameron will be demonstrating the newest model in the Avantgarde range, the Zero TA XD. This entry-level speaker encompasses Avantgardes’ 25 years of know how in hybrid horn loudspeakers. Up until now, Avantgarde fans have had to choose between one of the company’s bigger, more expensive hybrid horns. Standing just over a meter tall, this new three way model is described as a semiactive horn system. The objective was to accomplish the clarity and power of its “bigger” brothers, in a significantly reduced enclosure.
Employing Avantgardes’ CDC technology, the midrange driver has no passive filter components in the signal path. This results in a sound characterized with an effortless clarity and explosive vitality. The 400 mm spherical midrange horn crosses over at 300hz to a DSP-controlled 10-band parametric subwoofer. This 12 inch long throw driver is powered by a 500Watt amplifier.
Partnering the speakers for the night, will be the LAB 12 Mighty Power Amplifier. This single ended class A valve amp, will be driving the mids and tweeters with only 10 Watts. Matched to its pre-amp, the LAB 12 TRUE is a Passive Attenuator / Input Selector. The LAB 12 DAC 1 will be taking care of the digital to analogue duties, with classic non oversampling (Phillips TDA 1543) and a tube based output stage. Not forgetting, a second DAC from iFi the Micro iDSD BL will be taking a turn. The font end source will be a music sever from INNUOS, the Zeneth Mk II.
With a system sensitivity of 104 dB, the ZERO TA is 32 times the dynamic range of a conventional 87 dB box speaker. I think we’re in for some fireworks for the night.
Nick Karayanis – Program Co-ordinator.