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15 Oct 2011: Konstantinos Dalkalitsis

Dalkalitsis-October-2011-system

By Tony Pothitos

While Autumn was already on its way we faced the need for warm hospitality accompanied with some good music.
To fulfill this need we strolled to Papagos for the monthly ACA meeting.

Konstantinos Dalkalitsis and his son Alex were our hosts for this month.

The meeting had a very warm atmosphere, something that accompanies Konstantinos’s personality.

In the entrance we had the first surprise. A huge wall covered with Vinyl Records.

My first question was asked!
Kostas! Are you storing the vinyls out of the main entrance?”
“No Nick, I just don’t have any more space inside the house”

I was astonished…

My question was answered when I entered in the house and I saw a huge library 3 times the size of the one I mentioned earlier filled with vinyls of various genres like Classical, Vocal Jazz and 3 more libraries in other places inside the house.

Konstantinos after 40 years of dealing with this hobby has reached the point where he owns 8000 vinyls of great quality.
I would like to congratulate him wholeheartedly and wish him to enjoy them as much as possible in his beautiful house.

The system…

As we moved in the living room we faced the huge B&W 800 Diamond speakers. I was left in awe with their beauty.

The rack was made by Finite Elemente and at the top you could see the newly purchased SME Turntable with the SME 5 arm.

The Van der Hull Condor was at the end of the arm driving with absolute accuracy the vinyl disk.

The phono stage was the awesome sounding Audio Research Reference 2 and the preamplifier was the Audio Research Reference 2 Balanced with the huge Krell FPB 400CX taking the load from the speakers.

The cables were from Transparent and Nordost.

The audition…

We begun our audition with the “Spiti stous Vrachous” with Greek music from Linos Kokkotos from 1974.

We continued with:

  • SHIRLEY MANE 234
    Shirley Mane
    234
  • BORODIN-2-SYMPHONIA
    Borodin 2 Symphonia
    London Symphony Orc
  • Rosemary Clooney - With Love
    Rosemary Clooney
    With Love
  • Lightin Hopkins-Going Away
    Lightnin Hopkins
    Going Away
  • Αντικατοπτρισμοι-χατζηδακης
    Manos Hatzidakis
    Antikatoptrismi
  • Enrico Rava and Stefano Bollani
    Enrico Rava & St.Bollani
    The Third Man cove
  • Esther Fellner-Via del Canpo
    Esther Fellner
    Via del Canpo
  • Anna Caram - Rio After Dark
    Anna Caram
    Rio After Dark

The system reproduced the preceding recording with majesty and it managed to transport you to the time of the event.

The accuracy of the vinyl and total silence was evident in every recording.

The low frequencies and the majesty of the big classical works were vibrating our bodies.

The high frequencies of the Condor were very easy on our ears and didn’t let the diamond tweeter of the B&W to become harsh at any point.

The soundstage was huge with proper dimensions.
It is very hard to mention something bad about this system and only a very trained ear could possibly want something more.

Finally…

I would like to congratulate Konstantinos for his great system and the big vinyl collection.

After 60 minutes of careful listening that transported us somewhere else it was time to eat something that was made from Alex.

We would like to thank wholeheartedly the Dalkalitsis Family for this wonderful night.

By Nikos Kostadimas

From the sidelines at K. Dalkalitsis's meeting

I am not new to the Bower and Wilkens range of high end speakers. I have owned various models as a matter of fact, and still do. My latest were the 802 Nautilus which only 5-6 years ago left my hands to go to a friend in Crete who had fallen in love with them and had the proper home to place them in so that they could be used to their full potential.

After the 802N I never really liked any B&W speaker made. Something had changed within me and until tonight I had never quite realized what it was.

Another ACA member, who we call Kops, used to be in love with Sonus Faber speakers. He one night called my 802N’s the car speaker of the home! In other words, there were no mids, but simply a lot of bass and a high pitch at the top end, which sounded like TSIK BAM-TSIK BAM. Tsik being the tweeter and bam the woofer.

I was very upset with Kops since he had not heard my speakers play and had no right in saying such gruesome inhospitable words of jealousy. But it never left my mind. I had a car stereo worth more than the car even though it was a new car and I ended up comparing what was in my car, with what I had at home! Sooner than later I realized that Kops might have been right and I never admitted it to myself or to anyone else.

Until tonight.

I sold the 802N’s and had the Diamond series which we heard tonight in my listening room, which was then to be honest a bedroom, a computer room, an office and the T.V room in one, and they were simply too strong in the upper range and way too needy in terms of a very high quality front end which in reality dealt with classical music better than other styles of music which I played. They rocked, no doubt about that, but until classical hit the LP table, nothing was evident of its greatness as it was then, compared to any other type of music of course.

So for the next five years, to tell you the truth, I never heard a B&W speaker coming from the high end range at least. I have in my own home a home cinema with the above mentioned speakers, but they are far from high end.

So tonight, going to Konstantinos’s home, I had a weird feeling inside me which didn’t want me to go. I didn’t realize why exactly, but I thought it was because I wanted to spend time with my wife after a hellish week in Athens.

As I walked in the door and saw the speakers on the floor though, memories of the time when Kops blew me away with his comments came back to me. I had totally forgotten about it until I had the 802 Diamonds in front of me. Sitting like two R2D2 robots from the old Star Wars series they lurked my kingdom.

They looked heavy, and well built. They had a perfect finish and they were thicker than what I remembered, and yet, I knew they were going to sound unsatisfactory to me, despite the fact that I was not listening to them at the moment I was saying this to myself.

Many things crossed my mind at that moment, Kops as I mentioned for one, then my car speakers, then the Sonus Faber, and many people who had helped me along the path of my search to find MY perfect sound. I concluded that I had changed quite a lot over the past decade, first owning the Klipsch horn, the Quad 989, the 802’s, the numerous Ushers, etc etc. Despite the changes though, I still heard the same music and much more in contrast to my limited range a decade ago. Max Goodman and our President George Heropoulos taught me how to instigate a permanent rush of dopamine through classical music and I searched for proper bass instead of just a lot of bass in my listening sessions. So to make a long story short I had grown to listen to everything, and not just to rock, blues and vocals.

So tonight was about realization. About how I had grown and about what a milestone the 802N was for me. All of those thoughts were in 5 minutes and less with various flashbacks going through my head while others talked about general things while we were waiting for the host to call us in to have our monthly ACA listening session. I could not wait any longer though and I got up and went to Costa, our host, and asked him to play something for me before the other ACA members would pollute the listening area with the mass of their bodies and people talking. I had to hear the speaker immediately, as if I was a cocaine addict and I needed my shot NOW!

I sat in the front chair, right there, smack in the middle and Costa took out an album, took the album out, started the turn table, and slowly put the disc onto the platter. By this time, I was ready to jump forward and do it myself since it felt like minutes had gone by although it was probably no more than 45 seconds….

I still had no idea why I wanted to hear the speaker, although I thought at first it was to prove to myself that B&W’s are simply way behind in the very demanding and 21st century of the high end market.

Diana Krall was served as first dish and her voice sounded so three dimensional that I was taken by surprise and I started to look at the Krell and the rest of the front end to see what was giving her such poise and charisma. I did hear the bass though to be rather further back than what it should be and the cymbals were a tad staccato for my taste buds. I quickly wanted to change the volume to seek out the amps capabilities and the speakers forte. And I found out just how much I hate B&W right then and there!

I was so mad I could have left the room if it wasn’t for my wife being caught up in a discussion with Akis and with Tassos Syrigos. I was furious at how bad the speakers were, so I sat down and just thought to myself.

And then it dawned on me.

I didn’t hate the 802 Diamond. I hated myself for not being able to tame the beast within them when I had tested them in my home! I was mad and pessimistic about my own taste in what I had chosen at the time I had my Nautilus and I simply was thinking about how many stupid mistakes I had made during that time period. Not to mention the amount of money I had spent trying to get them to sound anything close to what I head this evening. I felt a stupor coming along and I dealt with it by leaving the listening session and going out on the balcony for a cigarette, although I don’t smoke!

So what is the moral of the story here you may ask?

It was simple in reality but hard to swallow personally. The moral in this story is that sometimes the listener has to mature before he can appreciate a speaker of this magnitude.

In short, I had to learn how to listen, before I bought the speaker, rather than the opposite!!

Soon you will have the full report, which is not a subjective introspection but a quality review which will state the pros and cons of the system at large.

Until then, I have to listen to my current speakers and wonder if I am going in the right direction, yet again!

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