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27 May 2017: Apostolos Konstantinidis

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By Tony Pothitos

Monthly Meeting ACA at Apostolos Konstantinidis

Apostolos is a relevantly new member in ACA, around a decade or so, but the moment he stepped into ACA he started to change things before even the ink was dry on his acceptance form.

He was quite green back in the day, he loved music but he was the fastest learner and the most willing from most of the members and he soon became a very important member of the group. I trust his judgement and his insatiable love towards classical.

His system today was the best system ACA has for classical music, in my opinion of course, but since I am writing this, I can say whatever I want!

The Wilson Watt Puppy series 6 was the speaker of the evening, but to be truthful, I have known him with so many speakers that I am not surprised!!!
When asked why the change in speakers, which is the obvious for anyone to ask, as we see a ProAc D100 leave and a Wilson come in to take its place.

As he spoke about his system to the group, I remember the last time I was here, it must have been over 3 years since I have visited my friend. I only saw him at other ACA meetings, and nothing ever came up about changes in his system.

The ProAc, then went bigger, then smaller into the Wilson regime. I remember the cryogenic tubes we tested on my tuner, I remember him teaching me about duets in a way no one else had. Not to mention he makes a killer espresso and even better lemon pie.

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The System...

  • Turntable : TRANSROTOR Apollon 40/80 with Dynavector DV507 mkII + Dynavector XV-1T
  • Digital Source : ESOTERIC X-05
  • Preamplifiers : VAC Renaissance MKIII (with phono)
  • Amplifiers Tube : VAC Φ300.1
  • Speakers : Wilson Audio, Watt Puppy 6
  • Cables : Accuphase (interconnects) Acrolink (speakers, power)
  • Rack : Audio Magic HEPTA

Let’s get to the music....

Johnny lee hooker for starters,

First notes, seemed quick, then seemed slow, what’s going on here?
We actually stopped before starting, something was wrong with the rpm and were listening to a Latin version of Johnny Lee.

After 4 minutes, we resumed with proper settings and personally, despite my initial thoughts, was not impressed. Depth was present, no doubt about that, but the fact that the voice was not as clear, from a system in 2017, seemed odd.

No layering other than three large cuts between the bass and mids, while all highs were slightly skewed downward. No reverberation at all, a pleasant surprise but I had accustomed myself with a clearer image of the guitar and voice, despite it being sonically correct. Could it be the recording or my imagination? As I write these lines, live, not even I know.

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Change of music. Either a good or bad move. I’m terrified.

“You saw me standing alone”, without a dream in my heart, was devoted to our ACA member, Mixalis Kanakakis and his fiancé, And a Blue moon it was tonight.

Lord, I wish my mother was alive to hear Dean Martin again.

I just noticed that the entire problem which was mentioned above went away and I was immediately immersed into the music within milliseconds. Dean Martin, with depth definitive live, with even better acoustics than live. I can almost visualise the tweaking being done, or none needed in this case for Dean Martin for the mastering of this album. Sublime.

Buddy Guy, going back to acoustics, next

Guitar was low ended by the Wilson, or something between them and the source. Remarkably smooth and very life like vocally though. The electric guitar next to Buddy was so rhythmic that it made both my feet move to the tempo and my hands wanted to stop writing these words and simply wish I was another member of aca who wasn’t writing!!!

The acoustic guitar was very woody and deep indeed. It was as if the microphone was literally on the strings of the guitar. The fingers playing with such speed and righteousness that it felt simply divine. Not one iota off.

I felt that the VAC pairing seemed to soften things up, and it did welcome louder and much more musical elevations, yet cut the harshness of the guitars which does exist when “scratched” in music such as this.

Next up, “I love you” an unknown singer, but from a commercial here in Athens, not expected to say in the least from Apostolo, but it was fun. The entire band seemed to spread out throughout the room, there was a distinct essence of width, no compression standard which I wish all recordings had, and to imagine this was an on an old Thorens turntable playing, albeit it was still lacking the punch (staccato) and the pizzazz from other systems Apostolos has had in the decade before.

I do hear the highs extensively here, and the guitar seems electric, as it should be, with stairs of vocals as there is in this recording. The guitar seamless with no problems being, forty years after,

Next bells, with classical rhymes and red wine in my veins. Oh my…this was actually breath taking. I loved it.
This was ultimately what I wanted classical to sound like.
The choir set in perfect harmony and style, height and soundstage all set within reason without exaggeration or the opposite.

The small was small and the large was where it was in its original form. The main soloist came out and I was shocked, this is wonderful. Plácido Domingo with Agnes Baltsa on cd was pleasantly and even shockingly revealing.

Maragen, warm and Spanish, as it should be, voices coming from the wall behind the speakers as the fingers of the guitar rolled notes off as if it was nothing. Easy as pie, when the chorus came in, it was exactly in position and by all means proper sounding, without any sense of electronic touch ups. I sincerely didn’t want to write any more as I was so involved with the music.

Next again was more classical, and more fun…and more highs which were not evident before.

Was this setup actually so romantic and well-adjusted to classical than practically anything else I have heard? Maybe. All you needed to do was to hear the ending to persuade you that it was.

The Thorens, and again the same blood was warmed in my veins, what a great way to test the system and the cartridges, and of course the phono’s. Two LP players in one system.

Thorens, seemed to me at least a little duller in the first few bars, but I got accustomed to it as it was given some volume and it was on par with the counterpart TT that played the same before. At the end of the testing though, the Thorens lost the fight, despite it giving a very impressive opposition.

Symphony was next up, with a piano going up and down the scales like a butterfly in spring on a mountain side, the strings so light and gentle that the harp could almost be counted as weak next to it.

Elegant sways of the violins, despite knowing of their harshness in reality was so well reproduced here, they were forward and yet easily loved and listened to.

I felt the recording was not as well mastered as the previous pieces played for us. That made a difference in how deep the notes went into my heart. What this piece did give me time for, was to sit down and look at the system and not just listen to it, I saw the music was totally outside the speakers, and the fireplace was not even here this time around, as it was in other sessions I have heard in this room.

Next Hans Zimmer, on vynl I might add, a piece I have not heard outside of the high end and Superman series. Let’s see if it does justice to the music or it leaves something to be longed for. The start as always brings heavy breathing, depth, but no actual music to talk about.
Then the bass. The superlative bass which shakes the room and my bones, with the drums behind right after. The violins swinging and the entire orchestra at full speed.

The violins and bass were instinctively positioned, yet in this recording I felt a bit of compression due to the limits of the room, and nothing else. I am sure if I was in a hall, I would be able to hear absolutely everything as it was live.

That true was this reproduction to the real live experience which I have lived personally, thus know the impact of the piece in question.

Narcos was next, an album from ACA member George Heropoulos, the Spanish vocabulary has its own part in my heart, in between which atrium I may not know, but music like this is simply awe-inspiring no matter when heard. The cymbals and boot of the drums, deep and sonically so sweet romanced me into wanting to hear more of this system than previously thought, this is the last piece to be played but if I have it my way, it won’t be.

This exploration of the world, this travel, is so abundant in this system that it reminds me of one thing only, its owner. A history in the making, a man and his system of growth and of creating memories, a life of going up ladders only to find more steps, but a longing of the ladders below. The climb was tough, but so worth the blood, sweat and tears.

Cover my blues with Pete Aderton was next, so smooth and musical, as butter on a hot piece of mom’s homemade toast. Just right.

“Summertime and the living is easy”, and in this case, it was easy living and listening. I adored it. This is an album I will be getting sooner than later. Loved it. This is wild…tangy with some notes of coco, samba, jazz and some fusion in one. What a mixed-up mind! Totally awe inspiring.

Then it was time to be blown away.

Touch Yellow blew our minds where we did not expect it. Grand whisky in a glass being split by lasers in my mind, totally psychedelic, compared to what was played this evening, a perfect ending to the evening which Apostolos gave us tonight, I’m very pleased to have been taken on this trip to the kingdom of Classical heaven and very surprised that these Wilsons have it in them to play music with such horizontal separation between the instruments.

A true shocker tonight

For a classical man, only classical at its utter most, and highly appreciated sound was sweeter than wine dripping in my blood as I drove home. No car stereo, or even home stereo could get close to this and to tell you the truth, I didn’t want it to. If I want the ultimate in this era, I know where to go. End of story.

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  • Gonis comments
  • Kostantinidis Song 1
  • Kostantinidis Song 2

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