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Walking on the Moon

Moon system

Why do we go to live musical events?
Let’s see.
For the sound?
For the type of music?
For the entire sensation maybe…. or all of the above?

Well as you can see from the pictures. A fellow Athenian of ours has decided that he wanted all of the above...but at home. He wanted it at any point in time or when in need of the impeccable sensation of having Elvis Presley or Pink Floyd perform for him, as was played when this article was written.
Yes. It exists. Although had you asked me yesterday I would have told you it never could, it never will and, never can be created. It exists.

Introduction

Changing page and getting to the ying and yang of the matter, let me reiterate a statement which has been proven to me only a few times in my life here on earth.

There are men in this world that will go to the ends of the earth, and beyond to achieve what they want.
Many try, but they never give it their 100% and thus fail.

What I lived and what I experienced when I went to hear this system proved to me that Ultra High End is a reality. It is not folklore, and it is a fact, that, you can reproduce music as if it was live, from a stereo. With just two speakers and no magic tricks involved. Just simple hard work and passion.
Mind you, I did not say “listen to” but what “I lived”

The Room

Upon entering the music chamber, the realm of my previous experiences were kept on ice while accommodation of new stimuli excited the senses, and not just the eyes alone.

The room is so well made that as you walk into the area you feel that you are not on earth anymore, you experience living without sound of any type. Which has no echo nor reverb of any kind, something one never notices until the moment you actually experience it.

Moon system02It is as if your voice is as you hear it.
We know for a fact that if we tape ourselves and hear it, 99.9% of the time we feel like that person is not us. But in this perfect room, if you talk to yourself or hear others, the real voice that you hear in your head becomes a reality. It is a feeling of finally hearing NOTHING but you. It’s an uncanny feeling and an amazing experience to realize that nothing is making a mess of the sounds made or voices heard. It is like you are in a place where no laws of physics apply. I can only compare it to what the feeling must be when walking on the moon. Nothing holding you down when you have no weight, but pure strength in any movement you do.

Moon system03The sound of your breath is heard like never before experienced in your life, and instantly you become one with the environment. The atmosphere makes you feel like home in a matter of seconds, not minutes not hours but seconds, and this in itself is an accomplishment never felt from this writer when visiting an audiophile’s home before either.

For those who have read my articles before the one thing they can say without any doubt is that I am never at a loss of words, but this time and for the first time in my life I honestly believe that Shakespeare himself would be at a loss of words.

Sounds too improbable to believe? I know it does. I wouldn’t believe it if I hadn’t heard it either.

Moon system04

Side view of the system

But after listening and writing for many years I find myself writing about the sensation of music without mentioning the system itself, or the music itself, and as I sit here writing on my Archos tablet I realize that I am immobile as if I am tied down to the couch. I have not reached for my glass, I have not heard a word spoken by my friends, and time has simply stopped in its tracks.

I feel immortal, I am living what I have only hoped I would hear before I get too old and deaf to hear anything at all.
It all came down to one pair of speakers, an LP spinning and the rest of the system which I won’t even dare to mention since someone might think I am abusing my rights by advertising a specific device.

The Music Played

Kuzma Stabi XL-4Louis Armstrongs’ Infirmary was not just a song played on the turntable but an experience of going back in time and living the music played. The infirmary was there while the instruments were thicker than air and a new essence of reality dawned upon me as I realized that I honestly felt Louis Armstrong was in the room performing for us. There were no speakers, there was no stereo, and there was no room. It was simply music. I had finally seen and heard Louis LIVE in Athens!

How many of you can say that to your grandchildren?

I believe, I really believed I was on the moon, and who would have imagined that it is where you have to go as to experience something so dramatic. In fact, I was living audiophile Mecca.
Every line on the musical scale was exactly what it was, no skews and no slander here. This was entertainment.

Focal Grand UtopiaIt was so real that I can tell you that I was the only person on the couch writing, while the other ten people with us tonight were drinking at the bar exactly as if they were at a live music event! . Enjoying the music with pure entertainment on their mind and not looking at the almost one million in high end equipment around them. I would also like to mention that these ten people are true audiophiles. People I know for over a decade and that have spent their lives in search of what we were breathing tonight. They too lived something they had never felt before either.

I looked further into their behavior, actually zooming in, and in amazement that they were not in awe as I was. I was the only person there that realized we were not at a concert but in a room with a stereo!

I noticed the eye movement of my peers, searching beyond the speakers to see the musicians, I could vividly see them scan the area, unconsciously, trying to understand what was happening. They kept on looking back as if people and musical instruments were going to come through the curtains. They were listening to live music, but they were all at the bar and forgot the perfect pieces of wood and metal that this system was made out, of and the fact that it could not have been the source of such remarkable entertainment. It was impossible for them to conceive. It was beyond their natural experience and I was watching them squint desperately trying to make sense of what was happening.

Kuzma Stabi-XL4

The main rack with the turntable

At a moment, my peers had stopped talking. Black Magic Woman had started and the artist got on to the stage.
Jaws dropped to the floor to admire the artists’ vocals with the musicians as they came onto the stage. The only difference here, was that what they were looking inward to see what they could not see with their eyes. Their imagination had to fill the gaps as to cope with the inconceivable. The music was so three dimensional and lifelike that it made the system totally irrelevant. The system was not the point here tonight. The MUSIC WAS! The music was the entertainment rather music trying to be reproduced by a stereo.

So, in short. Today the 6th of December 2011. I experienced being lighter than air and mass together. It was the first and hopefully not the last time in my life, and I felt humbled and lucky at once.

I was experiencing what every man deserves in his life as an audiophile. I heard unadulterated pure music from a pair of speakers and a system.

Conrand-Jonson ART amplifiersNext came a train.
The Coal Train from Hugh Masekela was so close to me that I was getting chills from my head down my spine and to my coccyx. I could smell the coal and feel the rumble of the train coming forward, not by shaking my body from bass, but from feeling the distance of the microphone on my body. The end of the song was like the end of a great novel and the satisfaction was there while the fulfillment left an empty spot since it had to end. I have heard this LIVE, and I heard it again on a stereo, live again. Both times were momentous milestones in my study of Musicosophia and my endless search for mans real meaning on earth.

My only wish is that my fellow audiophiles, worldwide, could be with me tonight, to share the emotions and the satisfaction that IT CAN BE DONE.

Metal and wood, with a little vinyl can recreate live musical events, and I have finally lived to write about it, albeit very laconically compared to its worth.

By Tony Pothitos

The system behind the experience

LOCATION

The house that accommodates the studio is located 30 km away from the center of Athens. The area is a quiet place, with no noise pollution from cars or other motor-driven vehicles, full of natural beauty and intense vegetation. Only a few barks disturb this peaceful environment, one of them was my wives though when she saw a dog, so that didn’t count.

CONSTRUCTION

The playroom occupies the first basement of a newly built residence which is 4 m beneath earth. The choice of this basement was done preliminary, before the building of the residence and after hundreds of hours of extended study. In order to accomplish this construction, many static problems had to be solved such as the stairs hatch and a well-hole.

These two openings weakened the slate (45 cm concrete) leading to a large number of roof stilts and piers with great length and width. These two factors reduced the playroom’s free space. Thus in order to overcome this obvious lack of space, not only one, but six static studies had to be made by a civil engineer Dr. A. Tsipas. As a result of these studies he achieved to eliminate this default, by turning the roof stilts along their width and “hide” the piers inside the slate. This way the basement became ideal for evolving sound materials, and also gained points from the aesthetic point of view.

The construction of the building that was used was Tseler technique (the same technique which is used also for the build of schools, army constructions etc.) which needed 5 tons of iron rods and several cubic meters of concrete. Its walls consists of 35 cm wide, solid concrete. The room actually floats with the heating to underneath the floor and above the slate. The floor is covered with oak and is glued and not pined on the concrete. Another characteristic of this floor is the fact that it isn’t attached to the side walls. This way all resonances were eliminated.

The ceiling has a net height of 3m in the center of the room (the highest one in the whole house even though it is a basement) and it reduces by 25cm from the one side and 35cm from the other. This was done to create three ceilings of different height for the obvious acoustic purposes. Ventilation, lights and the 150 inch screen was incorporated also but everything was invisible to the viewers’ eye, of course until the appropriate buttons were pressed.

The entrance door of the studio coming from the concrete stairs is of special construction, of heavy type with quadruple sidings with 80 kg total weight. This door reassures the absolute sound isolation for the rest of the residence. The basement’s elevator’s door was transformed into a Bass Trap. Further modification in this area was also the elimination of the escape ladder (it was removed from the original architectural plans) due to major acoustic deficiencies that may result from its construction. In its place the electrical panels along with the vinyl discs stored were positioned.

ELECTICAL INSTALLATION

Great attention was given to the electrical installation of the construction by choosing top quality electrical elements and cables. The total residence’s power is 189A coming from three phases after special request to the Public Electrical Organization. The sound system is supplied by the main electrical board of the house and not by any other sub board with cables, there is a heavy type plug together with a second independent earth which does not communicate with any other of the house as well.

Earth conductivity is influenced by humidity thus the studio’s bar drainage system ends up in the garden and buried as a type E earth.

The studio has a light controlled smart system (smart home) along with air condition and ventilation which is necessary for the right operation of the acoustic system since it is full of valves.

Audio System

Analogue Devises
Power amplifier (x4): Conrad-Johnson ART
Preamplifier: Conrad-Johnson ART
Phono stage: Conrad-Johnson TEA1
Power amplifier (x2): Conrad-Johnson Evolution 2000
Turntable: Kuzma Stabi XL 4 motors
Tonearms: Kuzma Air Line, Kuzma 4point
Cartridges: Dynavector XV1T, Benz Micro LP Ebony

Speakers: Focal Grande Utopia III EM

Digital Devises
Transport: Theta Digital Voyager (full upgraded)
DA Converter: Theta Digital Generation V A 24/96 Bal. (full upgraded)
Processor: Theta Digital Casablanca II
Blue Ray: Theta Digital Compli Blue

Power
Line Conditioner: Shunyata Triton
Power cables: Shunyata Anaconda (at all components)
Signal cables: Shunyata Anaconda (at all components)

Rack: Stand Still (custom)
Acoustic Treatment: By Golden Acoustics
Anti Vibration Feet: AZE

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