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19 Jun 2010: Nikos Protonotarios

Protonotarios System

By Tony Pothitos

I see trees of green, red roses too
I see them bloom for me and you
I see skies of blue and clouds of white
The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night
The colours of the rainbow, so pretty in the sky
Are also on the faces of people going by
I see friends shakin' hands, sayin' "How do you do?"
They're really saying "I love you"
I hear babies cryin', I watch them grow
They'll learn much more than I'll ever know
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world
Yes, I think to myself, what a wonderful world
Oh yeah!

Protonotarios-Jun-2010-pic-01Everyone can sing or hum to this amazing song by Louis Armstrong. You can heal yourself from the defiant triangulations of our inner knots, winding and hammering our soul, day to day, hour by hour, second by second. And then comes a song. A song that reminds you of what you have, which we take for granted, day to day, hour by hour, second by second. And yes, I think to myself, what a wonderful world.
Now let the imagery of green trees and red roses, skies of blue, the colors of a rainbow, and the feeling of people ACTUALLY loving you enter your every particle.

If you can do any of the above, then you too can realize what a high end stereo can do for you!

And that IS what we get, rarely, with a system built with your own hands and with the help of a brain and a little lady luck.
But in the case of the system in question, the hands that built it, and the mind that experimented for hours on end, Nikos Protos has accumulated by far, the best DIY EMOTION I have heard.

The system...

Protonotarios-Jun-2010-pic-02I knew that ever since I heard it last summer. Summer of 2009 that is and only a few nights ago again! And of course when I heard it, in another room, with so many ACA members in the room. (For the meeting to take place, the stereo had to be totally relocated to another room which was much larger and totally involuntary to the systems needs and requirements. I heard the system twice in its original position and room.)

I was not shocked when it had lost the ability to sing What a wonderful world. And rightly so! When was the last time you said to someone you love them and it felt something? Was it when you were alone with your passion, or when the room was full of ACA members? Of course it was when you were in the right place!

That is where the room becomes so much part of the experience, the subtle spaces between the sighs and the drummers' cymbal, and your ears and soul come together to form what in reality is a point of homeostasis between music and man, man and music.

The meeting in itself, if we speak in terms of love, metaphorically, was an orgy. And the music the same system. But played in another room with a couple listening, was true love. That is how much the difference was and is at Nikos home. Frightening to imagine, but true to the bone.

So how do you create this one might ask, and what machines were used to convey this love is in order.

The DIY design with Bastanis drivers, separated sub woofers, and a dipole setup allows for the breadth of the acoustic energy inside the room to develop true to life vocals, with superb channel separation and intense spatial three dimensionality, only seen in the best of set ups. Or in live, unplugged concerts. The deadly silence between notes and the a gentle whisper can be heard immaculately. The room was playing along with the system, and if we want to be perfectly honest, the room itself is a part of the speaker in an ever so much spread of notes throughout space.

Back impression...

The first time I listened and LIVED the system was with an unplugged Leonard Skinner album, recorded from my Dynalab tuner to pcm on a CD and replayed here. The guitars were so well heard and placed that I had to move position on the couch as I felt uncomfortable that Leonard was in the room and I was wearing shorts!! The vocals were so on spot, I was ashamed that I had never heard it like this before, and the bass, oh the bass was absolutely heart warming and sinfully tight yet round.... I use the word sinful only since sin and being good for you, was never mutually exclusive until now!

The audition...

But back to the ACA meeting on June, 2010.

Protonotarios-Jun-2010-pic-03I've got the music in me, by Thelma Houston & Pressure Cooker, Sheffield lab, Direct to disc LP, was certainly a good starter for us, since dynamics and a vivid character did show, the LP was a touch tone high according to some, but I knew it was the glass door reflection of the mids which led to that problem.

J. Heifetz, Mozart concerto in D major, RCA Living Stereo LP was second with the piano not blaring on the extreme higher notes, exactly on tone and as Stamatis Giannoulis said, speed and immediacy were directly the first thing that showed face here.

The Beat Goes On, by Patricia Barber put us into an excellent mood and was a pure treat to want to get up and dance with my wife sitting next to me, and Satistam even closer!! What a song! What posture it can have when played..........with a FLAC recording!!

Protonotarios-Jun-2010-pic-04And as to not get boring with the entire list, I will only mention a few things gotten down at the moment of this session. This musical evening was not about high end alone. It was about our hosts trips, experiences in a multiple of countries resided and defining feelings left behind, but still at heart. That is why Lagrimas Negras, by Bebo Y Cigala was so meaningful. It was not a song being played, but a playback of a mans history, and that made all the difference with Tal Vez, by Omara Portuondo and Maria Bethania also.

Conclusion...

As a man from the other side of the river, The Man from Ipanema. Our own Nikos Protos came to Greece to prove that having what a man needs, may not be as far fetched as we all think. But by careful thinking, some work, and an open mind, it doesn't take much to really say .......WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD!

System description

  • Αnalogue source: Technics sp-10 turntable, SME 3012 arm, DENON 103R on slate plinth.
  • Digital source: PC(mac mini,m-audio firewire-spdif,DIY dac)
  • Amplifier: SINGLE-ENDED "SUPER 300B" DIY
  • Speakers: DIY full-range (Based on a BASTANIS design speaker) 2X active subwoofers through a Behringer crossover.
  • Cables: BASTANIS, DIY

Nikos Protonotarios' Member Page

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