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25 Jan 2014: Akis Michalopoulos

Akis System0

By Tony Pothitos

Monthly Meeting ACA at Akis Michalopoulos

Sunday evening, about six p.m. If I recall correctly, I asked my wife what should we do for the evening ahead?.
She answered, let’s go to Akis home.

Immediately I agreed, but why? So I asked her, why would we again go tonight? we were there last night, and both of us just reclined on the couch in thought.

24 Hours Before:

Michalopoulos-system2I was finalizing some things needed to be done, I left and went home to pick my wife up to go to the annual cutting of our “vasilopita” which is a Greek traditional cake cut every year on the 1st of the year, or when clubs get together to see who the prize will be awarded to, this is done by finding a coin in the piece allotted to you, allowing luck and joy to fill the entire year for that person. Whether or not it’s a tradition, it’s a great day for ACA members to literally salivate over the best cake we eat the entire year.

So we drove to our friend and ACA member Akis’s home and found almost all the members there in party mood by 8:30. I figured we were late, I deduced that the inebriation which simply was seen on everyone’s face throughout the house had not only began but was in full motion.

Michalopoulos system1As always, our host introduces us to his system after a talk from our President or VP. We then take our seats and of course steady ourselves momentarily as if we are at a theatre opening. No talking is allowed, all mobile phones are off and we are like children awaiting a magician to show us a new trick, and trust me this time round, our host had the biggest surprise of all. Houdini couldn’t have pulled this one off, but more later!

The Listening...

Akis decided to start the official musical program with something which was out of the program. This was a pity because I was looking forward to the Chorus and orchestra di Accademia di Santa Cecilia, Roma, in L’atra note in fondo al mare, which loosely translates to “The other notes under the sea”. You can only imagine the composition of this piece from the title alone, so reluctantly I waited while the turntable was set up and the album was placed into its position.

What came next to mind, was a four letter word I am not allowed to express in any article I can only say that it starts with the letter F. My jaw literally dropped. Sincerely and literally speaking, my mouth opened so much I thought I was going to lock my jaw if I didn’t do something ASAP.

Akis-Jan-2014-pic-02I KNEW three things at that exact moment in time. Firstly and foremost, that THIS WAS THE LAST ARTICLE I WAS GOING TO WRITE ON ANY STEREO again. EVER! The second was that not one of the 40 people sitting close to me were there anymore, and thirdly…oh well, I will leave that until later for you to read about.

I don’t remember the singer, nor the song, but I can tell you that it didn’t matter, because for the first time in my life I heard life, from an inanimate object. In this case being a stereo setup. My eyes closed while the tender female vocals went through the scales like butter on a piece of bread, so natural and perfect in all senses that you know it was the absolute. Illusions took on a new meaning to the word since I could actually see someone I know was not there. I could have sworn though the opposite.

Her voice didn’t make me simply travel to another dimension, as other stereos have, but onto her lips, into her mouth, down her pharynx passed her diaphragm and into her lungs. It was simply flabbergasting.

I had to compose myself. I must be a professional, after all, I do not want people thinking I like this because James is a friend and the amplification was, and is, my all-time favorite from Ypsilon, which I must add here were not the top of the range amps but the lower range.

It took me some time though to pull down my shirt which had almost cut my oxygen off, from sliding up to my throat as I was slipping down the chair unknowingly. I saw that other members were back in their positions and then quickly realized, they had never left!

I waited for the next track “notes from under the sea” to start and for me to start scribbling what I wanted to write for this article. The fact is, I couldn’t.

I wasn’t listening to the machines, but was taken by the music. I didn’t see pieces of equipment but a true orchestra.

Akis-Jan-2014-pic-03Album two, was in reality a DXD 24 bit 352.8 KHz Percussion Ensemble from Beethoven: Scherzo, Symphony number 9. The instruments were perfectly defined, evenly spaced, while no degradation at all occurred despite the mix of old and new instruments in this recording in Puget’s Sound Studio in Seattle. I was trying to write as the music got faster and faster and without knowing it, I was practically writing at the speed of illegibility from the frenzy my fountain pen and hand stroke the paper. I was part of the movement and was thrilled to be so involved from the musical reproduction I had to always remember was in front of me.

I needed a smoke. Budd Johnson got me to it with the next album Akis had intended for us to hear. I also needed a drink, but you can guess that I couldn’t get up from my chair even if I had tried to, (I might add that I have not smoked or had a drink in 16 years!).

The trumpet was playing so high, I was waiting for the music to start breaking up, but it rose and rose and rose like there was no limit. There was no, and I mean absolutely not one high note which was achieved on that trumpet that could be reproduced with such clarity and no distortion that “Blues For Sale” was now dubbed by me as “My Soul is for sale, if I could live music like this every day of my life”.

Akis-Jan-2014-pic-05This meant that this treble, and what I just witnessed was the best treble I had and have heard in my life. Hands down it made the Klipsch Horn sound like a tweeter in distress, and the same for any and every Tannoy I have heard, and I have heard them all. This I might add, was not only due to the sound equipment on the floor but what was above and around us to make this sound become a reality. The hell with diamond tweeters, this was the ultimate high end reference treble.
End of story.

I had to make sure I was not to wet myself, so I totally blanked out momentarily so I could not get more emotional at this point. What I was experiencing was THE ABSOLUTE, the search for the perfect stereo had ended for me. Finally I could say I lived what I thought in this lifetime could not be achieved.

To tell you the truth, if they put a microchip inside my head, I find it difficult to believe it could get better than this.

Akis-Jan-2014-pic-04The conjugation of Pre and amp drew no attention to itself and allowed the music to flow to the ears through the speaker’s ability to totally disappear despite the amazingly large size they have. I even said jokingly at the start of the night, hey, a speaker I can be buried in. How would I know that I would mean it 45 minutes later! I do not know what they were driven by, meaning the front end of the system, I simply didn’t care! What I cared about was the final product.
That’s it!

After the Music...

I talked with the other ACA members, and while discussing our feelings I noticed a perceptible amount of positive electricity in the entire area. Everyone was happy. It was like we were all on drugs. The kind you get when you go to concerts and inhale various substances from 3rd person usage!

It was then agreed that except for the lower range of the spectrum, due to the speaker’s stiffness from not being broken in yet, this was the SOUND of the CENTURY. I know with all my heart that nothing can follow this evening’s musical event unless I went to an MTV unplugged of Nirvana, live. Since I know that is not going to happen I can safely assume then, that this is the pinnacle of musical reproduction.

The Hospitality...

I will not mention the great food, the amazing atmosphere or the hostess’s wife which was beyond “just being nice to us” but a true audiophile’s partner in life.

Then I experienced a millivolt of electricity running down my spine with the most significant thought of all. This system “AS IS” is ANY audiophile’s partner in life’s musical encounter.

A must experience in any mans “bucket list”.

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  • Akis meeting 25-01-2014 video 01
  • Akis meeting 25-01-2014 video 02
  • Akis meeting 25-01-2014 video 03

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