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09 Jun 2007: Yiannis Vlachos

Vlachos-Jun-2007-pic-sys

By Tony Pothitos

When legends live in silence

In my life, I have met, and sometimes gotten to know some very important people on this planet, people of influence, power, knowledge, including presidents of countries, Nobel Prize winners, and billionaires. I even have cousins and friends which are in history books, worldwide printed and renounced for the world to see and to look in awe to, for there work and gifts to mankind.

I have shaken their hands and smiled, and understood the power they hold within these palms. The power of power. And knowing you have it.

So, it can be easily deduced that after a while, after meeting and saying goodbye, shaking hands, etc, with many of these people, you get the chance to see for yourself, who is, and who is not worthy of a day of your life.

Vlachos-Jun-2007-pic-1When a man shakes your hand. There are four things to think of. The first is to remember what he says, or what you say. The second is what his eyes are doing, what are they looking at and for, and the third is his body language, which means body curvature, stature, etc. And last but not least is the fourth, which is simply if you smiled when you did this act, from the heart, or because you had to. The second type of handshake is dubbed the "photo hand shake" done for those who want to be imprinted in history by being next to a man that meant something at one point or another in time.
I have written this introduction since most of us can relate to it, and thus understand what I am about to continue writing about further down in this tribute to Yannis Vlahos. Our host for the evening of June 9th, 2007.

I am actually not writing these comments because of last night per say, they could have been written yesterday or last month, but I am writing now simply because of last nights gathering at his home, and with this excuse have the right to express my personal thoughts on our pages in A.C.A's web site.

I would like to mention that the date of the event was the ninth of June, 2007. I would like you to remember this date as you will understand why shortly. I have mentioned it before, but I only do so as to make sure it stays in our memory, and as well all know rote learning may not be the best type of memory comprehension and retention, but at least if we identify and create memories with things we feel and live, we can often remember them with much more ease.

For those of you who do not know, I am a psychologist. I have spent my entire education, my entire life studying people. I will never stop, but at times I pause.
And this is one of those times.

Vlachos-Jun-2007-pic-2I pause to understand. To acknowledge, even to ponder over the lives of the people I meet. I try to glue the parts together to make sense, and I try without ever understanding how some people have so much inside them, while I lack what they do. I try to become a better human being, to be taught, to be enlightened with something that they have, which I don't.

I am a man who recognizes when to bow and when to spit into ones face, and today all I am doing is externalizing this personal feeling which holds true for every single member of A.C.A. and not just myself. Today I am revealing A.C.A's biggest and most humble member to those who care to read these comments.

You may think that the word "biggest" is a bad adjective when describing Yannis Vlahos? Or you may think that my ability to express myself has drowned but as always, there is a reason why, and a reason for everything that I write. And nothing, no other word, unless we get into many words, meaning many adjectives, can describe Yannis Vlahos. Only the words used above.

I will not get into particulars since the above mentioned prolonged introduction was my way of not boasting over what Yannis is, directly. But more so what he stands for in the realm of A.C.A. and this amazing group of individuals who devote themselves to music with so much passion and life that with every system we build a new baby is born (metaphorically) and with every system we listen to, we learn, associate, and bring new bits of information and life into our souls.

But hardly do we ever get to hear the soul of a man, purely from his hobby. We get to hear about him through his inventions, his glory at work, his affection towards the poor, but never have we sat down to honor a man that gives each and every one of us the positive light that every audiophile and might dare to say every human being needs to have.

And for this reason alone, if that is not enough and for 100 more reasons I propose that last nights meeting was a turning point in A.C.A.'s history.

I propose that man of the year award goes to Yannis Vlahos. And with this the beginning of our own man of the year award in our small but very important microcosm we live in and name Audiophilia.

June 9th, 2007, I recommend we give tribute to those who should and must be recognized for whatever they have contributed in silence or in fame, to us as human beings and as an organization.
So let's go back to the handshake.

The handshake that you can do nothing but only smile without even wanting to when you hold a mans hand and shake it, truly being happy to be in his presence, and feel his smile go down his arm, into yours, and up to your head, making you smile in return without even knowing it.

Vlachos-Jun-2007-pic-3So let's go back to heroes, and presidents, and Nobel Prize winners who have fame and have written history, and with the exception of heroes, give photo smiles instead of the opposite. And now lets go forward to the present and future and see how Yannis Vlahos with in his own charismatic way has given each and every one of us, or better way of expressing it, loved every one of us despite our differences and our squirms and quirks in our persona. Giving each of us, something to remember after his handshake and his words.

I am not even going to mention about the meaning of life and how to enjoy it to the fullest, without hatred, without pain, but with the one thing that man has which is never explored enough, his passion.
And at the end of the day, to use an old expression, this is what A.C.A is all about, this is what unites us. Our passion for this wonderful gift, which we live within, our search for the Holy Grail, from music.

Now let's go back to the legends. The ones that are part fable and part truth. Let us realize what we have amongst us, and let us be grateful for his non informative, with the meaning of, "listen to me" but realize with me what music is and what it can do for you.

Yannis Vlahos is a DIY legend, he is real. No stories to be told which cannot be falsified, or told to be a masterpiece of imagination. But a reality in itself. A living legend that keeps his silence, but shows us, the few very lucky A.C.A members who have had the experience to get to know him, how incredible life can be. How self satisfied can a man become when he does not even need to be recognized by his peers, the news or a system which costs half a million dollars. But of his own work, and his own making.

I wonder if I made my point

I wonder if people that have not met and lived Yannis say when they read these lines? I wonder what they believe what it means to be a DIY legend, and what it means to work endless hours, suffering day in and day out to accomplish what thousands of men try to do for there profession on a daily basis, 365 days a year! I wonder if they realize that self criticism is the way to the Holy Grail, no matter if it is in music or in any other area in our life.

Recently, I had spent many hours at the European Jazz festival which was completed with extreme success for the Jazz society of Europe, if not the world, here in Athens.

I lived music for hours on end, night after night and yes, I did get accustomed to the live sound which moved me and everyone there so much. What I did not discover, at least until last night, was the fact that it was the energy and rhythm which was so important and not the speakers or set up alone.

While listening to Yannis system, even briefly for a jazz piece, I was again at the festival; I closed my eyes and saw the stage, not the staging. I felt the presence of the crowd, the smell of hotdogs and the breath of every single note played.

Although the bass may not have been the same, (of course how could it be if we compare size of speakers and quantity), or even space. But a micrograph needing only to close my eyes to make it a total reality.

System Description

• DIY horn speakers w/Lowther 5 full range, driven by DIY 300B western Electric stereo amplifier and 'Phos Pro' by 'Petrakis' preamplifier, using Alphason 'sonata' t/t and a Denon 304DL cartridge on an Alphason arm.
Amplified by Valve by 'Petrakis' 60db, w/ external p.su. phono stage.
• Digital source: E.A.D. 1000/E.A.D. 1000 HDCD tr/DAC combo.
• Wiring: DIY for interconnects and speaker cables.
• Power cables/Electr. install.: DNM / Not special

The magic

And that is magic. Being engaged into the music, and having the transparency to see and feel every instrument, only holding down the double bass as a minus, without pressure, without stress of any part of his speakers and set up. Natural sound comes to mind if I had to describe what I heard. And even though the Denon cartridge was shot, the records overplayed and the CD player not even warmed up, the music and essence was there, no matter what was put on the platter or the digital side of the system.

Finally

Was it perfect? No, but then again after experiencing so many live events, neither were they! Here we lacked some mass, some depth which some of us would prefer, but this depletion was immediately thrown to the side when wind instruments took over and deteriorated anything I have heard from a single driver in my life.

On a speaker made by a man, for mans pleasure only.

Defined, sharp, at points incredible and simple, does not mean anything compared to the one thing this system has which is the hardest thing to get on any hi end system.

Life!

Not just being alive, but being alive and kicking, not by just making you listen, but wanting to make you laugh and cry. Not to make you awe, but make you realize that we are over doing it, to compensate for the simple thing we do not have in our systems.

Life!

And that is what makes Yiannis Vlahos an A.C.A Audiophile legend. His sound, which not only represents what he is, but what we all can be, not as DIY men alone, but of men and not boys with big ego's.

I cannot thank Yiannis enough, not for inviting us to his home, or meeting his incredible serene wife. But for giving us the ability to create 'A.C.A man of the year'!

If not for him, there would be no reason. If not for him, there would be no comments, and if it were not for legends like Yannis, then nothing to look forward to in this nothing else but incredible lifestyle and hobby we live with.

I, Antonios Pothitos, am proud and humbled to be involved with a club called A.C.A, which has the privilege to have Yiannis Vlahos a member.

A living legend.

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