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16 Dec 2017: Manos Bitsakakis

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By Kyriakos Kougioumtzoglou

Monthly Meeting ACA at Manos Bitsakakis

In the house of our friend Manou was held the last meeting of 2017 on Saturday, December 16, in a nice and relaxed Christmas atmosphere.

Manos has recently set up a 'small' system for everyday listening and it was a great opportunity for us to hear it.
His music choices as always, were in the direction of the musical value but also at the same time, when it was possible for good sounding recording.

The new system was based more on the new 'philosophy' of home networking and streaming, so we heard the same number of digital and analogue tracks, while our host informed us that everyday listening include digital and analogue, but what is the most prevalent is Net Radio, listening to high-resolution streaming internet stations…

The program was strictly selected by the host to be pleasant and relaxing… 10 music tracks were heard and an analog vs. digital comparison with a natural winner the analogue source… the system is described below and we have to say that Manos has built himself the phono-stage (class A Jfet) as well as all the system’s cables.

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The System...

  • Speakers : Sonics Arcadia
  • Power Amps : Musical Fidelity MF 550K monoblocks, (Tsakiridis Artemis monoblocks)
  • Preamp / Network Player / Streamer / Dac / : Yamaha WXC-50
  • Turntable : Pioneer PL550 / Audio Technica AT 440MLb MM cart
  • Phono : DIY Class A Jfet Phono Stage
  • CD player : SONY CDP-761 (optical link)
  • Rack & Isolation : Audio Design / Sorbothane Feet
  • Cables : IC / AC / SP / ALL DIY UPOCC solid core copper
  • Rack : Custom made

And the Music Starts...

1. Steve Erquiaga Cafe Paradiso J.S. Bach Presto (violin sonata # 1) Flac 44.1/16 4:03

Steve Erquiaga may not be known to others than lovers of Café Paradiso, but that would be enough for anyone to fall in love with his playing, style and pure intrinsic love of music.

The Sonics Arcadia were evidently in tune with the beginning of our listening session. The what seemed smaller than normal gigantic speaker set up we all have as main systems is set up here, to teach us a lesson in musical norms.

The guitar seamlessly well placed and musical and very well matched with the monoblocks. The fact that it was not a superior recording made it even more interesting as the musical tones shed beauty of light on to our ears rather than scratchy guitar strings, which most of us were expecting from a smaller speaker.

Here the opposite ran through our mind, I immediately was adorn to the tonality and pure listening pleasure of the artist rather than the speakers which seemed as though, in this space and time, did not even exist.

Ultimately, Manos had achieved in less than 4 minutes what other take years to achieve. For its listener to be sensitive and responsive to the actual notes themselves, the strokes of the fingers across the strings and fretboards. I actually believe I heard the pick guard a few times as well.

Nieznani wykonawcy unknown artist / Solved :-) Presto - Steve Erquiaga guitar (Cafe Paradiso)

2. L. V. Beethoven 25 Scottish Songs (Op 108) The Sweetest Lad Was Jamie Flac 44.1/16 3:16

25 Scottish Songs (Op 108), Beethoven, was next. What a surprise that was. The Cello and voice switched microphones as the piano set the pace for such a complex piece to be played so eloquently and correct sonically.

There is no doubt in my mind that if this system keeps us this momentum, I will have to get a system of this size and soul into my own home. The fact that the playful notes on this title were never exaggerated nor undermined by any size limitation, gave way to the musical refinement and that alone. A great sample to test a good system.

LUDVIG VAN ΒΕΕΤΗOVEN, "The sweetest lad was Jamie" (1818) from 25 Schottische Lieder Op. 108 n. 4

3. Edita Gruberova Kunst Der Koloratur Les Filles De Cadix (Leo Delibes) Vinyl 3:33

Would be the next dramatic event of the musical evening from our host, when this played.

The piano and voice unlike the youtube video, was clearly abundant and sweetly enchanted by Edita in a piece we all know quite well. The falsettos were uniquely aggregated yet smooth as the soprano went up and down the scales as easily as a nimble cat does.

Such accuracy and timbre involvement in the scales were very well planted with no resonance or reverberation in my ears or the area around us.

This piece was quite involving and I don’t need to find out where, but Manos has done a great job in finding pieces that are both a challenge to reproduce and total enlightenment to listen to.

This album was very well taken by most members this evening and more than a few will be acquiring it soon to have it played and reproduced in the next week I am sure. Pure pleasure and spectacle as we visualise the entertainer give her best in heart, voice and soul.

Greatly appreciated.

EDITA GRUBEROVA BENEFIZKONZERT VIENNA 1989 Les filles de Cadix, Delibes

4. Dizzy Gilespie Swing Low Sweet Cadillac Swing Low Sweet Cadillac Vinyl 7:17

Soon changed our mood. We went from sweet to brutal force and male testosterone within a minute. Fast vocal moments and drums that are reminiscent of rumba, dance and vocal Africa in one.

What a difficult title to reproduce indeed. The electrical current must be so well controlled as to not jump from one note to another without leaving spaces in time and bass, which relentlessly hit the listeners senses, as the voices fill the speakers and the room we are in within seconds.

The Switch in style within the song, allows the rhythm to be picked up and brought to another level, testing the system thoroughly for weak points and any high streaks being overly emphasized with these songs being played.

I slowly realise this could be a statement from Manos, telling us we need to get off our high horses for our everyday listening and have a very endearing system that not only is correctly reproduced but that gives help to our stress level to lower on every level. Such a sweet reminder that less, is something better.

Dizzy Gillespie - Swing Low, Sweet Cadillac

5. Katie Melua Pictures If You Were A Sail Boat Flac 44.1/16 3:40

Ιs a well know song. If you were a sailboat, I would sail you to the shore. A difficult piece due to its continuous highs.

This was probably played as to see if we tired out after prolonged loud violins and voice, with only a backdrop of the bass.

It passed the test in space and the song as you can hear on youtube was fully appreciated by the ACA members here tonight.

Katie Melua - If You Were A Sailboat

6. Lou Rawls At Last Room With a View Flac 44.1/16 & vinyl 4:00

I’ve got a room with a view, with Lou Dwals as seen here is a pleasant way to listen to instruments and the dissection of each from the lower hertz through the mids to the high pitches which are rare in this piece.

Only endings of notes were so high, but very noticeable on the system, which essentially showed the flexibility of the systems approach to the vibes it was getting.

A synergy made in heaven.

Lou Rawls - Room With A View (Live)

7. Elli Paspala Sti Lampsi Toy Feggarioy Youkali Vinyl 5:30

Probably my favourite of all the passages played was the next. Elli Paspala, with her interpretation was simply divine.

The accordion does not play, but dance on the floor as the vocals sway with the movement of the wind and strings.

A very hard find musically these days, and again I must mention the time that Manos, our host must have taken to invite our ears and minds into his state of musical bliss.

This in effect with the setup was the nights performance special.

I am not sure when this will end, but I cant wait to hear what is next while loving what I am listening to now.

YOUKALI *¨* Eli Paspala ♪♫ (With English Translation) ♪♫★ HD ★

8. Tania Tsanaklidoy Mama Gernao Gyftaki Vinyl 4:30

Is the live performance of what we heard on the next explosion of notes

Tsanaklidoy as harsh as she wants to push her voice to be, does it with such soul that shouting seems to be a cry of love than distress, bringing to our senses the excitement yet not the negativity with such high pitch maddening cries.

The microphone right on her lips are heard in the recording, the tapping of her feet and the piano are all geared towards the emotion of the artist and brings with this emotion, a true judge of a well played piano in full sizes.

I expected the smaller boxes not able to confront the size of the piano, but was pleased of the job they did and despite the people that were with me tonight, it still filled the bass of the room with the lows the piano used to contrast the singers highs. Very well executed by both artists.

Ready or Not, was not only a surprise to hear, but to feel the age I must be to actually remember this album.

I remember it very well on CD many many years ago, back to the late 80’s when it seemed Ready or Not was meant for the listeners, meaning the music was here to change the future of how we will be listening to rap and rhythm in the future.

Τάνια Τσανακλίδου-Γυφτάκι

9. The Fuges The Score Ready Or Not Flac 44.1/16 4:00

We all should hear the bass, the speed of vocals and the background, all at once with imagery and space within the room.

This could have been the hardest off all for the system to coordinate due to the excursion of the speakers not even having time to reset after the quick, millisecond spurts between entrustments and voices. If I were not drenched in sweat or tired after intense listening of this track, this would be a feat, I am ready for!

I wish we could have heard the entire album! Specifically “Strumming my pain with his Fingers” where on this album is taken to another level, ready or not. Sensational song, sensationally remixed with musical abilities on the best could have.

The Fugees - Ready or Not

10. Joe Louis Walker The Gift The Gift Vinyl 4:37

Last on the list of regeneration music was, a Gift, which I have also found on youtube for your enjoyment. This was a perfect ending to a musical evening which was accompanied by the best of everything that could be.

Joe Louis Walker & the Bosstalkers 1991 1) The Gift 2) Moanin' News

That was a remarkable music program that had a variety of classical, jazz, rock and Greek music, all in good order.

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Just Before Good night...

In short, allow me to express the incredible songs and feelings our host gave us tonight.

He taught us a valuable lesson tonight and the fact that Manos brought us here to experience this, was gold as a brother of ACA could be.

We tasted ones again Kaiti's wonderful food and hospitality... in just few words we had great time.

We thank both dearly.

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