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16 Dec 2001: George Papaemmanouil

Papaemmanouil-Dec-2001-system

I usually meet George "the doc", walking on some side street of the Nea Smyrni Square near his office. These accidental meetings are quite pleasing because, most of the time we engage ourselves into endless conversations. The main theme revolves around choices of equipment and matching in accordance to true hi-end values. You see "the doc" is an idealist as regards to matters of audiophile integrity.

Papaemmanouil-Dec-2001-pic-1So, it was a pleasant surprise, when "the doc" informed me, that the last meeting of the year was going to take place in his house. The general feeling is that George and his wife Loukia are some of the most hospitable people in the club. This is the third meeting that they have hosted up to now and they have all been very successful.

The house is located in Vouliagmeni, one of the farthest southern suburbs of Athens, situated along and above the famous beach that bears the same name. Vouliagmeni is a traditional summer resort. But this time it was winter and it was raining. Nevertheless, it was a smooth drive by the waterfront, along Poseidonos avenue, to George's house.

Loukia answered the door and led us through a corridor to a pleasant and well-decorated environment. Other folks had already occupied most of the living room. This time we were honored by a strong presence of audiophile spouses. A delightful note, I must say.

The listening area...

Papaemmanouil-Dec-2001-pic-2The listening area is the living room as you might have guessed and there is adequate space for the large Rehdeko speakers to breath. There is also ample space for us audiophiles to sit and enjoy the music. This particular room is quite long and all sitting positions are located farther from the speakers than what would be considered normal. In fact all the sitting positions are located right behind the line where the main static wave is formed. In my opinion, if one could sit in front of this wave one would probably get better sound. But then, all living room ergonomics are spoiled. Painful compromises...

The farthest end of the living room is occupied by the system. There is a wall-to-wall curtain hanging behind it that works as a sound absorber. George has made some changes to the system since the last meeting, hosted more than a year ago. There is a new CD player, the fine Audio Aero Capitol, leading the signal straight to a pair of Creek 52SE amps. The result is a sound, more extended, faster and more transparent than the last time. Perhaps missing some of the richness and body of the past. In this endless path towards hi-end nirvana, one must tread through numerous sleepless nights, full of dilemmas about compromising one's unbending audiophile ethic.

This particular version of the system has a preference for solo instruments, chorus vocals and male voices. Solo strings, especially acoustic guitars sound very natural, almost real. The piano notes are produced complete and convincing, giving the illusion of the full body of the instrument being present in the room. In all these cases the sound is very involving and musical enjoyment can go on for hours without any signs of acoustic fatigue (to the listener).

The music...

Papaemmanouil-Dec-2001-pic-3The music program consisted of Hellenic - Greek, Middle Eastern, Latin and jazz. In most of this material the system performed very well. It was evident however, that in poorly composed recordings, the sound would come as a complain to the listener. In these cases, one could observe a loss in body, which is perhaps the result of increased energy in the high frequencies (too forward) and lag in time and presence for the rest of the frequency range. In addition the system would shrink some notes or even whole instruments when pushed hard. Obviously this is not a very forgiving set up. OTOH, a good recording would be more than obvious. Transparency coupled by complete tonal balance and rich harmonics would rule in the room.

Conversations ranged from "these dreadful holiday kilos" and how we are all beginning to dangerously work our way up the scales - someone please push the alarm button - to the usual: "Value for money hi-end amplification in our days", "balanced budget allocation to individual equipment for proper set-up" to "the perfect audiophile spouse". Most of us concluded that if one were in the market for a CD player these days, the wise choice would be to opt for SACD. The successful course of this "new" medium is already predetermined.

The food...

Papaemmanouil-Dec-2001-pic-5By mid-evening the dinning room table was filled with irresistible delicacies. Most of us felt that we were succumbed by the temptation to try all of these little teasers. Some of us even surpassed the three-filling socially acceptable boundary. We can safely conclude that Loukia has done an excellent job in the hospitality section of this event.

Music program highlights (only CD's)

  • The EROTIC THEODORAKIS "Yannis Parios at Lycabetus live" (MINOS-EMI 72435 36925)
  • ANGELIQUE IONATOS et NENA VENETSANOU chantent SAPPHO de MYTILENE (Auvidis 1991, A6168)
  • HATJIDAKIS - DANTONAKI (MINOS-EMI 14c 045 1700322)
  • "HUSH! - The Angels are singing" (FIM records)
  • LOUIS ARMSTRONG "What a wonderful world" (MCA records, MCD 01876)
  • ANTONIO CARLOS JOBIM "The Composer Plays" (Verve 823 011)
  • Gulun Kokusu Vardi - Ercan Ogur (KALAN Musik YAPIM LTD)
  • ZARA BOYUT "Turkish Folk Music" (ULUS Musik)

System Description

  • Rehdeko 175 speakers, driven by Creek A 52 SE 2 x mono amps.
  • Digital source: Audio Aero Capitole CD player 24bit-192Khz feeding the amps directly.
  • Interconnects: Audionote
  • Speaker cables: Audionote
  • Power cables: Stock cables

Conclusion...

Papaemmanouil-Dec-2001-pic-4Being the last meeting of the year, it was carried out in the appropriate festive, holiday spirit. Our host, being a true "Santa Claus", offered some of his old vinyl as gifts to the analogue addicts... I mean lovers in our pack. Unfortunately, George "the doc" is not a vinyl follower any more. I was very sorry to hear that. But, hey! I was happy for the two pieces of vinyl added to my collection.

Thank you for a true Christmas event George and Loukia!!

We wish everyone a happy & hi-end (in every aspect...) holiday season and a new year full of music!

By Stelios Mitsionis

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