The tape universe
Tape is the new vinyl! Tape recorders and players, as well as music on tape copied directly from the master tapes were certainly a prominent population at the Show.
Now, if you think a 10,000. euros turntable is expensive, think again! This beautiful contraption from Metaxas and Sins, now based in Athens but originally from Melbourne, Australia, will st you back 35,000 euros!
And there were more, and more expensive ones too... So here is a little sample.
These people had no less than half a dozen of Studer machines and high end headphones and amplifiers to let you sample the master tapes they are selling. It will set you back 3---400 euros per tape and obviously you need to find a Studer or a Revox in good condition to play them, not to mention the space for the hardware and the software... It sounds fabulous obviously but to hear the difference from let's say an ECM recording via Tidal, you will probably need to invest a 100 grand or more in associated listening devices... like below
I have listened to this system at shows in Sydney, Melbourne, Paris and now Munich, but also chez Edgar Kramer, the editor-in-chief of online magazine Sounstage Australia and although I am not a great fan of most Wilson Audio speakers that I find too sterile, the Alexia II is both lively and accurate and I could happily live with a pair if I had the space, not to mention the money! This was one of the two best demos and sound at the Show besides French Audionec.
I could bore you with tons more photos of products that you already know. I have chosen instead to feature my favourite, or what I consider innovative, exceptionally good sounding or designed products. It was my first visit and I was overwhelmed by the quantity and quality of the products displayed or in demonstration. It was also the best organised Show I ever visited as well as being the most comfortable, specially as being just off a 25 hour journey from Australia! Being in Bavaria, arguably the best place for good produce and cuisine in Germany, the various restaurants in the venue were producing huge amount of very reasonable food at realistic prices... Only caveat, if you don't like kartofel, bring your own sandwiches!
On that subject, we had the pleasure to celebrate Marc Ruston of StereoNet fame 40th birthday at a lovely Italian restaurant in town with a bunch of other great people from our industry.
I will return in 2020, so stay tuned!
Et tout finit par des chansons...
I met David Wessel a few times at IRCAM in the 80s - he worked there from 1977 to 1988, when working at HP Test & Measurement, which became Agilent under the baton of Ned Barnholt then Keysight Technologies more recently.
At the time, I was designing my first commercial speakers under the Microphase brand, and I had all sorts of connexions in the audio field, but also I had IRCAM as a client.
That's how I met David originally. My passion for music reproduction gelled with his lifelong interest in electroacoustic music and we became friends.
In 1988, he moved back to the USA, and started a local version of IRCAM that he appropriately named Centre for New Music and Audio Technologies.
In 1984, I moved to Scotland, then Amsterdam and then back to France as a Product Marketing Manager and I was kind of commuting to the US , New York City, Colorado and California with the odd trip to Spokane, Washington for good measure, so to speak...
David and I stayed in contact over the years and he invited me to CNMAT in Berkeley when I was visiting the Bay Area for work. So, on a gorgeous Californian evening, I drove over the Bay Bridge for the first time and headed up to Berkeley University.
No iMaps, no iPhones back then and the sun was rapidly disappearing. Eventually I found the place and David navigated me from the parking lot to a Spanish Hacienda looking building, all dark inside as it was way past business hours by then...
David then showed me around a little, but became very excited - David had reserves of enthusiasm that were second to none - as we approached the northwest corner of the building where the remnant of daylight made it quite a bit spooky...
Then in that corner, there was a big black cube and large B&W monitor next to it, so to speak.
David pressed an invisible button on that sci-fi monolith and after what felt like an eternity, the screen became alive...
You may have guessed by now what it was, but let's just say that even though I was working for HP at the time, I already was a MacIntosh addict and a Steve Jobs fan...and David knew that as there was a plethora of Macs and MIDI devices at IRCAM...
So here I was, bewildered, knowing that this thing was running UNIX with an amazing UI on top, and then the penny dropped with a hint by David:
I was sitting in front of one of the first five NEXT computers that Steve Jobs had generously gifted to the newly formed CNMAT.
I guess you can tell by my prose that I remember that evening like it was yesterday where in fact it happened 30 years ago...
We ended up going out for dinner and it was very late when I came back to my hotel downtown San Francisco. I didn't know at the time it would be the last time I see him...
Now, fast forward to a Christmas party with one of my current client who manufactures LED light fittings a few days ago and I get to sit next to a very jovial Julien Freed, a lighting designer that I knew of for a long time but never met.
So why am I telling that? Well Julien and I got talking - his father is French, people in lighting often consult in audio as well - Julien doesn't - so we start talking about speaker design and music, and then he dropped the name of his brother Adrian who still works at CNMAT i believe and was working for years with David.
Now, the funny thing is that neither Julien nor I could remember David's name, as I had lost contact with him when I left HP in 1992.
So we called our friend Google to the rescue, and bang comes his name and his photo!
I couldn't believe it! The next stage of our conversation did tame our joy as Julien told me about David's passing in October 2014 and incidentally his brother Adrian wrote his eulogy than I am giving you a link to below, as well as a few relevant other tributes. The last one is the best in my opinion.
David Wessel was a very jovial, full of life genius who was so humble and down to Earth, but probably one of the most impressive brains I had the fortune and pleasure to meet in my life!
I devoted an entire day at the Show just to look at turntables, and later realised I actually missed a few featured on other blogs!!! Pro-Ject, now the largest manufacturer of turntables in the World, Clearaudio and Acoustic Signature both from Germany had huge stands and literally hundreds of models on display... So without further delay, here are some photos from the day!
KUZMA - discovered in Paris chez Analog Planet 27/10/2010!
Kuzma was established in 1983 i Slovenia! Just at the time when CDs were introduced, so they clearly have done something right and different to survive the vinyl apparent obsolescence...You might want to search my site for either Kuzma or Analog Planet to read that article published almost 9 years ago! In that article i also talk about the first Nagra phono stage running on batteries. Now Nagra HD range is almost mainstream, if you can afford it!
More turntables in no particular order...
And that pretty much covers my second day at the Munich High End Show 2018. Time to say good night now and come back for Part 3 soon to be publish and covering my third and last day at the Show.
Munich is a magnificent city and it is only my second visit, and my first for the High End Show!
I had the opportunity to spend 3 full days there - out of 4, the duration of the Show - and being kind of short of time, I decided to structure my days around a particular topic...
So Part One of my reportage will feature the numerous French brands who were exhibiting.
Some famous names indeed like Focal and Devialet, but some new and unknown to me like Audionec, a highlight of my visit. So on we go!
Germany is one of the biggest export markets for Cabasse, hence why Christophe Cabasse has become fluent in German, not a mince feast! Not a great amount of new products there, but a solid traditional offering with the new improved Baltic 4 mated with the new Santorini 38 subwoofer. Impressive comes to mind!
AMADEUS PHILARMONIA by Jean Nouvel - Merging-Nadac
I had met the people from Merging-Nadac at RMAF 2017 where they were showing their wares thru a pair of Definitive Technologies speakers.
In Munich, they went a notch higher in price, specifications and design by teaming up with audio pro French manufacturer Amadeus, showing off their new Jean Nouvel designed Philarmonia speakers. I have to admit that I spent an inordinate amount of time listening to them in non ideal conditions and I was quite taken by their precise, but still smooth sound.
SUPRAVOX - BC Acoustique
One of my very first speaker designs was indeed based on this iconic driver, the engine in the Elipson spheres developed for the national French Radio ORTF. Supravox has been through a number of iterations and ownerships, not all respecting the original design, but still trying to capitalise on the famous brand. I have been assured by the new owner BC Acoustique that we are back to the original design and performance... I am tempted to buy a pair to recreate the famous "event laminaire" cabinet and enjoy the benefits of a very efficient full range driver.
New kid on the block! Starting with a DAC/Streamer and then moving onto an integrated solution, B Audio have certainly spent some time and money on the look of their products... I have been assured that the inside is as beautiful and well designed than the outside. It was their first foray into exporting, so we wish them all the best in their marketing efforts!
MULIDINE, YBA and friends
And so the story goes: I met Jacki Pugh, the charing lady in the photo above in the 90s at CEDIA Expo, at the time a small gathering of 30 exhibitors in a hotel in Dallas, Texas. She introduced me to Len Wallis and other Australian Hifi characters way before I had any idea I would one day relocate to Australia.
By a twist of fate, she ended up working for Shangling, a reputable Chinese audio manufacturer who bought over YBA, a very famous French brand of amplifiers designed by Yves Bernard Andre, for which she has become the International Sales Manager.
One could be tempted to transfer the "Paul Emile Victor" the famous French explorer joke to Yves Bernard André and ask which one of the three is actually the real inventor, lol...
But rest assured that this holy trinity is one and unique gifted electronic engineer.
Now, when Jacki was planning to exhibit in Munich a few years back, she turned to me for a recommendation of a French speaker manufacturer who would be interested to join.
Well, it just happened that one of my ex-colleague and distinguished audiophile Marc Fontaine has taken over another iconic French brand Mulidine. Et voilà! As they, the rest is history...
I live literally 5 minutes drive away from Len Wallis Audio, but it takes the two us to travel to Munich to spend some quality together, and in this case on the Triangle stand who Len distributes in Australia since losing the Focal agency after their merge with Naim Audio. I also had a chat with the son of the relatively new owner, Marc Le Bihan, a wine enthusiast - that's how he befriended Renaud de Vergnette the founder and eventually bought the business when Renaud decided to retire - who has by another twist of fate bought over Mas Amiel, a winery in French Catalogne, near Collioures, who used to belong to a distant cousin of my grandfather... Small world!
Do I need to present Metronome? They make arguably the most expensive CD player on the Planet, but that doesn't prevent people to buy heaps of them... What you might not know is that their first products were...speakers! And to celebrate new ownership and 30 years in business, they have designed those amazing speakers, part vintage Triangle 1180, part Focal Grande Utopia, but certainly not for the faint hearted or the poor audiophile, lol...
And obviously, they are still making the most expensive and arguably best CD player on the Planet!
A pink Grande Utopia? Why not? What success and brand awareness allow you to do...
GOLDMUND - not exactly French, but...
They look familiar, but these are entirely new speakers powered by DSP and digital amplification! Static demo unfortunately, so a trip to Geneva will be "de rigueur"
A very innovative company and new kid on the block too, Dyptique Audio is making a range of planar speakers and they sound fabulous, built and assembled in Montauban, the city made famous in the audio industry by Bouyer, the purveyor of sound reinforcement for all our beautiful French churches...Amen!
Under the new technical management of Philippe Penna, Elipson has come up with very decent speakers at a very competitive price as Made in China. Joseph Leon is probably turning in his grave, but eh the brand is still alive, so who am I to complain? The turntable is also a great addition to the range.
AUDIONEC - JADIS - au temps futur...
That was the big surprise of the Show! These speakers are about the same price as a Grande Utopia from Focal...But they do make the most amazing music! Probably one of the best speakers I ever listened to in my 50 years Hifi career. That paper dipole. open baffle sounds absolutely amazing... I will rephrase: it doesn't sound anything...It is the most transparent driver I have ever heard, effortless, highly efficient, reproducing instrument timbres accurately.
The two 38cm woofers and the super ribbon tweeters are there to extend but not compromise the full range main driver. Astonishing! Driven by Jadis tube amplifiers... Best exhibit at the Show by far...
Munich is a charming city, full of historical buildings and famous for a great food market, It is only my second visit to the capital Bavaria, a rare Catholic province of Germany, and this time I have allowed an extra day to properly visit it before heading to the High End Hifi Show for the following three days. I will start with the entire day i spent looking at turntables...
I should start by saying that this is my first visit to this Show, now considered as the best in the World, as the Hifi section of the CES in Vegas has lost a lot of its lustre as it has been shrinking and overshadowed by the growth of the general consumer electronics part of the Show.
RMAF, AXPONA and other regional shows in the US are more worthwhile of your time these days.
It looks like I have not been to this event since 2015! So this year i made a concious effort to go and get out of my comfort zone by visiting three new stores I didn't know existed...
Red Eye Records - Sydney CBD
The biggest store in the city and always well attended, even by very young teenagers. They also have a huge collection of CDs besides the generous vinyl sections
Mojo Record Store and Bar - Sydney CBD
A tiny store in a basement with a bar attached, but not open that early in the day! I had an interesting conversation with the youngest shop attendant who couldn't believe I knew Joseph Leon, George Cabasse and Jacques Mahul to name just a few. I think he is going to have a few late nights reading my stories here...
Quality Hifi - next door...
I couldn't resist going to say hello to my good friends at Quality Hifi next door, one and certainly the largest independent Hifi Store left in the City, and set in a magnificent heritage building. They were as as affable as usual and gave me a tour of their current turntable offering: Enjoy!
Birdland - Level 4 - Dymocks Building
Tucked away on level 4 of the magnificent Dymocks building bang pang in the middle of the city, Birdland is more Jazz CDs and rare things - a lot of ECM records - than vinyl. I found there on my last visit this HDCD of Patricia Barber that you have seen me playing often, too often? A rare shop with natural light! The quiet owner will let you browse until you engage with him and he then share a glimpse of his immense knowledge of the music he sells.
Utopia - Home of Metal - on the edge of Chinatown
Well, I sell loads of metal for a living, but I can't say I like it as a music genre, lol... Hence why I had never heard of this shop tucked away in a basement at the back of an Adina hotel
It was very busy though and it seems to be very famous with the aficionados of that music!
A bit of lunch in the Balkans on Oxford Street - Darlinghurst
A vintage restaurant for a vintage day? Oui bien sûr! This place has been opened and operating at the same place for decades, and I never managed to try it... Silly me as their steak was cooked perfectly rare and to my liking. The cold potato salad is delicious, and one need to come back for the seafood! The wine by the glass is 10$ and is 50% more generous than anywhere else in the city. I had a great Pinot Noir from the Adelaide Hills. But go elsewhere for coffee...
Radio Free Alice - Darlinghurst
Interesting owner James Tsai attracts a colourful but dedicated clientele. He also plays vinyl on his late Japanese uncle's vintage system: a bonus! Mostly vinyl here, not many CDs, but plenty DVDs!
The Record Store - Surry Hills
Clearly where the action was! A gentle crowd of young professionals and beautiful people welcome you into a rather small space filled with music out of two JBL monsters tucked in the corners, a real DJ and free beer,,,which I don't drink, so I stayed on the linger of my earlier Pinot Noir, probably a good thing.... The owner Stephan is a character and we got on like a house of fire - well the house was on fire anyway - and we will meet again to talk about Microphase Audio Design . One of the rare shops selling hardware and speakers from my good friends from AudioEngine met at RMAF 2017 in Denver last year. And they have a disc cleaner!
Very interesting Record Store Day in Sydney for this 2018 edition, Tell us your story in comments or send me a email with photos. The best answer will give you a 10% discount on a pair of our brand new Microphase Audio Design Signature speakers! A vos plumes!
Elodie Sablier is originally from Ardèche in France, but was eventually trained at the Conservatoire in Lyon (INM) and in Aulnay-sous-Bois, an eastern suburb of Paris.
She lived in Sydney for six years and went back to live in Avignon 3 years ago.
She is a classically trained pianist, improviser, composer and singer, and now. involved in movie soundtracks. She has composed and produced 3 CDs - see below - all available online via the usual suspects.
She graced us with a short visit to Sydney recently and gave us 3 amazing concerts, 1 solo, another one with flautist Keyna Wilkins, and a final one at Ivy Lane with Andrew Hagger - piano, David Holmes - guitar, Keyna Wilkins - flute and saxophonist Trevor Brown.
We have recorder two of thsse concerts and we will upload them here and on our YouTube channel as soon as we get a chance to edit them.
In the meantime, we have recorded a short interview just before her return to France.
THIS WAS FIRST PUBLISHED IN THE JAN/FEB ISSUE OF THE AUSTRALIAN HIFI MAGAZINE
I have been visiting Colorado since the 1980s when I was working for the Test & Measurement Division of Hewlett-Packard which morphed into Agilent then more recently Keysight Technologies, but I never had a chance to attend the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest since its inception 14 years ago. It is one of the five shows around the World that fellow journalist Ken Kessler – of Hifi News fame - tries to attend every year, but not this year, as it somehow collided with the Paris Hifi Show where we last met in 2010.
RMAF 2017 is a relatively small show with about 5000 attendees and about 50 journalists visiting according to Marjorie Baumert, the organizer, who bravely took over when her husband Al Steifel – who started it - died unexpectedly. She is doing a very fine job let me tell you. The venue is nice at the Marriott Tech Center and newly refurbished in style. Even the food is gorgeous!
This is what I call a end-user show, where mostly potential buyers come and listen to equipment they fancy, or only can dream of, like most of us mere mortals. There were still a number of low-cost systems on display, in fact five rooms were dedicated to them, and some were quite amazing for the money. But let’s get into the meat of it, should we?
I am publishing this article in stages, so you can enjoy it earlier! Here is Episode 1: the sources
The vast lobby and restaurant space is the most remarkable feature of the new fitout
Sources & headphones
Well, there were a lot of iPads around and servers and all sorts of digital files toys, and I will certainly talk about some.
Obviously there were tons (and I mean tons…) of turntables…
I was lucky enough to meet Canadian cousin extraordinaire and co-founder of Oracle Audio, Jacques Riendeau, Clearaudio and Pro-Ject had almost their entire range on display, Rega, EAT, Kronos, SME, Marantz, Luxman, Technics, Brinkmann, Analogueworks, Kuzma, VPI, Mark Levinson (made by VPI), Gem-Dandy, Reference Analog, Audioengine, NAD, McIntosh, Merryl-Williams equipped with two arms, one fitted with an Ortofon Mono cartridge I have been willing to listen to for ages and didn’t disappoint, and my dream Bergmann with a linear tracking arm. There was even an old refurbished Garrard 301 brought by my friend François Saint Gérard who I met at the Paris Show last year. And then the beautifully crafted JWM Acoustics, crafted out of exotic timbers.
The big surprise though was the number of fancy professional tape recorders, some playing master tapes recorded days before specially for the Show! Sonorus, Technics, Tascam, Sony, Studer, Nagra, Ampex, to name just the ones I saw and photographed…
There were comparatively few CD players with the exception of a number of OPPO players, including one modified with a tube output amplifier, and the the French contraptions from Metronome, bien sûr.
We were treated to some live music as well with Robert Silverman, a famous Canadian pianist, who played Chopin for our sheer pleasure, and an artist very interested in the recording process, having recorded a number of SACDs and vinyl with IsoMike, a company dedicated to record straight to DSD256 with the help of Merging Technologies ADCs. The IsoMike is an evolution of the “artificial head” invented by André Charlin in France in the 60s and which was also the inspiration for the DECCA “tree”, all designed to keep the original phase of the instruments to be able to reproduce their timbres as accurately as possible.
In the digital world, all talk was about TIDAL, MQA, Roon and other esoteric acronyms that I don’t pretend to fully understand. The “War of the DACs” was in full swing as well and there were so many on display and to listen to that I kind of just tried to enjoy the music… I will just get a brief mention of DACs/Headphones amps at this stage, as some definitely caught my ears: SPL with Focal, Chord with 'final', a relatively new Japanese planar titanium dynamic headphones manufacturer and Sonoma Acoustics is using a new electrostatic transducer developed in the UK, called HPEL, which essentially dispenses with the front grille of a traditional electrostatic one. I did like the ‘final’ a lot as it was extremely detailed and smooth and not at all metallic (I usually dislike titanium membranes in speakers..). The Sonoma had more dynamic range but was slightly less detailed, although I am a great fan of the ESS SABRE DAC used in the dedicated powering unit. The ‘final’ was also more confortable to wear. Both are open designs.
And now a bit of live music!
Robert Silverman is an acclaimed Canadian pianist who was invited for the Show to play Chopin, his favourite artist and one he has recorded most of his music. Steinway flew, installed and tuned his piano for the event and we were regaled to hours of bliss, a welcome treat at the end of each very tiring day, having walked miles and talked to dozen of people....
A good third, if not more, of all electronics on display were tube based and some were mighty like the Audio Research Reference 750SE, some just amazingly sweet and gorgeous like the Zesto Audio range, or the minimalist and brand new ModWright Ambrose A30 monoblocks. Then one cannot pass the hybrids from NAGRA, paired with the new Wilson Audio Alexia II, probably one of the best sounding systems at the Show. And myriad of others including a number of new contraptions from Dan d’Agostino, Moon, or the more affordable NADs. Special mention to French Micromega for trying successfully to give Devialet a run for their money!
My good friends at Bryston were there too, but more on them in the next section…
I have to admit of being a serial monogamist, both in real life and when it comes to amplifiers... Once you find a good one, keep it and keep it warm, on all the time, like my vintage Bryston 3B which worked perfectly for 23 years, went to hospital a couple of weeks then as fatigue came in, and came out all refreshed and upgraded, and has been even sweeter since, now we have been happily married for more than 33 years! I am still considering buying a preamp to match, but so far my NAD C326BEE has been our perfect little slave...
If you know me, you will not be surprised if I tell you this is my area of expertise and my real passion. There is still some black magic and intense research and innovation in this field and I am always amazed that thousands of companies, or individuals like myself, consume an inordinate amount of time and resources to create new speakers. This show was no exception, from the huge monoliths to the minuscule and the “out of the square” designs.
The palm will be awarded to Danish outfit JERN for making cast iron cabinets for their speakers in the ultimate form follows function way. Small is beautiful and these sound amazing!
You may also know that I like open baffle speakers and a great fan of Kyron Audio. So it was with some excitement that I went to check the latest installment of the modular design by PureAudioProject, an Israeli company I met in Melbourne a couple of years ago. They are now including a horn speaker as their midrange/tweeter, coupled to 4 15inch bass drivers in their new QUINTET15 HORN1. These sounded effortlessly sweet and mighty, considering they were driven by a 4w tube amplifier! And at less than 10K$ a pair, a real bargain…
In the same category, one could include all the Martin Logan speakers who were in various rooms, the most spectacular one being the full Neoliths driven by Audio Rearch Reference 750SE and fed by the money is no object Clearaudio Master Innovation with linear tracking arm and Statement phono cartridge with not much change out of a 300K$ US for the whole system…
Another surprise was the Ultra Stat Panel from Sanders Sound System which uses a transmission line to load the woofer and an electrostatic panel apparently more rugged than Martin Logan. It sounded very good, but the designer insisted to line listeners in the sweet spot, which makes it a tad of an indulgence in my book…
As far as I know, there were very few French companies apart from Focal and Metronome already mentioned and one Aussie, with DEXQ showing off their amazing technology that I was acquainted with through Kyron Audio.
Now, it might be a good time to mention the new active speakers from Bryston. I like active speakers, I like Bryston amplifiers so I had great expectations from this new range, and it didn’t disappoint, certainly one of the best sounding systems at the show.
I would also like to mention three brands that make speakers that are sticking out of the crowd for various reasons: Neat Acoustics for their unconventional cabinets and speaker placement, Tekton Design, for making multiple tweeters work and JWM Acoustics for not only making some of the best sounding speakers at the show, but also beautifully crafted cabinets made entirely by hand, all three companies making speakers that are well under 10K$ a pair!
Another revelation came from Acoustic Zen, definitely in my top 5 listening experiences at the show, and Bang & Olufsen for finally designing a speaker I could live with, although the adjustable motorized lens on the tweeter is more a gimmick than real value, as I would only use the narrow mode, but that is a very personal opinion and taste.
Finally, I will mention two companies that makes incredible affordable and good products, Audioengine and Vanatoo who manage to produce a pair of active speakers for less than 500$US a pair! The performance label probably goes to Vanatoo, the design label to Audioengine.
The Show was well worth flying around the World for it and I wish it were a day longer as I couldn’t see all the exhibits in the two and half days I was there. I met a number of great people and was reacquainted with some I knew already and had a great time overall.
I will be honest with you dear readers, we have not sold myriads of this upgrade kit, primarily because the people who still own our 1980s SATs are rare, and the sub ensemble of those who read this blog and are prepared to spend a couple of hundred dollars for an upgrade are even rarer.
So, I am always delighted when I start a conversation with one of these dedicated clients and audiophiles.
Recently, I got an email from Steinar Thomassen, all the way from Norway enquiring about changing the foam suspensions of the AUDAX driver and the upgrade kit which is available via our online store.
I probably provided Steinar with the right answers as I soon received a notification from PayPal, that I had received an order and some dough!
I immediately went on to prepare this kit, which involves buying the tweeters, packing them for export and transport all the way across the planet, together with the new flange duly glued to the tweeters, providing the new Allen key cap screws and the elusive Allen key. (I now keep a stock of them...). Then off to the Post Office to airfreight the small package. Although I use the less expensive option, I still go to the extra step of using a service with which I can track it to its final destination!
For a bit of marketing history, we had three major export markets at the time, Belgium, Norway and Germany in that order. Belgium was successful because I had a personal relationship with two of the best dealers, one in Uccle, one of the most affluent suburbs of Brussels - AudioConseil - (Hello Pierre, now retired...) and the other in Ghent (Gand pour mes lecteurs francophones...), Ghent Hifi.
In Norway, Martin Viktorin, with whom I am still in contact, ex audio consultant for the Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, had a lot of good connections in the pro audio business and with some of the top hifi dealers. These connections resulted in a number of good sales to the public all over Scandinavia, but also, Martin managed to convince the National Norwegian Radio to equip all their studios with the active version of our SATS, resulting in the biggest single order in the history of Microphase. In Germany, we were dealing with a passionate man who was importing just a few high end products from France and Italy primarily. He was only selling the active version of our SATs. I am afraid, I can still see his face, and remember his lovely German accent, but not his name...
If he reads this blog, I would welcome him making contact to rekindle the friendship and refresh my memory...
I made contact with Steinar a month after receiving his order to ask for his feedback. He has authorised me to publish his comments, so here is a copy of his email, after editing for the purpose of clarity. (Most people in Northern Europe have very good command of the English language, so has Steinar...)
So here it is:
Thanks for the follow-up on my, in the end, very satisfying upgrade project. The new tweeters you send me are installed and both of my speakers are now in top shape. The upgrade went smooth, plug and play as it was promised, perfect! I had more of a struggle with changing the damaged cone rings on the 4”. I ordered new rubber suspensions from speakerrepairshop.nl but I could not find any professionals in Oslo who would take on this job. I went for it myself. My challeng became how to make a perfect centering during the process of glueing. The www.SpringfieldSpeakerRepair.com clip on youtube, was helpful (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NpMYZq-qQNo). I glued the rings while sending 50hz into the speakers. This gave me perfect control in the adjustment process where i just avoided any scratchy sound indicating that the suspension element touched the inner core.
I now have two perfectely upgraded speakers with new tweeters and rubber suspensions and in addition my one original speaker, with foam suspensions and tweeter fully intact, working fine. My ears are not highly educated, but the new tweeters sounds great, very crispy and full in the top, making an even more open sound. Properly widening the register of the speaker even more than the original.
Attached a few pictures of the collection.
Thanks again for helping me out breathing new life into this great looking and great sounding Microphase speakers.
Well, that made me very happy indeed...
Below details of the active subwoofer equipped with a 21cm Cabasse DuoCell driver, still in production today, and used in the Iroise 3 and our bespoke amplifier designed by one of our dealers in Strasbourg.
What was not obvious from the first lot of photos Steinar sent me, is that in fact these satellites are indeed the Norwegian Radio units and active versions! Here is the proof! Enjoy...
Born in France, well travelled, relocated to Sydney in 1997.