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13 Jan 2018: Epaminondas Tsandis

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By Tony Pothitos

Monthly Meeting ACA at Epaminondas Tsandis

Have you ever had an Evening you needed to forget?

Like the time when you met a woman that you know was born for you, and she was married?
Or worst, when you met and dated the woman of your life and then found out she was married?
Or, how about when you meet the woman you love, she is your best friends wife, and you still go out with her!

Does this upset you despite the good feelings and the amazing moments?

Well, nothing as serious as that, but definitely as fun to talk about to your children about was what I went through going to Epaminondas’s home to review his system.

Epaminondas, an ACA member for some time now, has always been a very active member of our audiophile group. He always comes with LP’s under his arms to give to everyone.

Yet, for some reason, he never gave any to me. That is okay though since he never had anything I wanted, it was like walking into a toddler’s shop to look for bagels with salmon.

This time it was different. I was going to hear his system, and despite him never saying a word about anyone else’s system, I had to find out what he preferred to listen to, and how.

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I didn’t have much time after I arrived when I realised that the last thing I cared about was his system, the first being his art on the walls, and the absolutely formidable set up he had of everything in the house.

It was so well put together, with so much taste that it was hard to believe we actually had the same painters, but different works on the walls, and he had never told me about that when he had come to my home about a decade ago. That or I have forgotten it, since it was a decade ago.

Imagine a small mansion, that actually makes sense, the tables were not overly sized, nor where the chairs despite their 150 years of age and unmovable.

The System - The Music...

  • Turntable
    Goldmund Reference Anniversary Goldmund T3F - VDH Colibri XGP MK2
    Kuzma Stabi XL-DC Pluto 9A Prestige - Clearaudio Goldfinger Statement and Thales Simplicity - Lyra Titan mono
  • Tuner
    Magnum Dynalab MD109 Triode
  • Cassette decks
    Nakamichi 1000 ZXL Limited
  • Preamplifiers
    NBS Universal Phono Preamp
    WAVAC LCR-X2 (phono)
    CAT SL1 Legend black path (line+phono)
  • Amplifiers Tube
    CAT The Statement black path (monoblocks)
  • Speakers
    Sonus Faber Aida (red violin)
  • Cables
    Nordost Odin 2 interconnects
    Nordost Odin interconnects
    Nordost Valhalla 2 interconnects
    Nordost Odin 2 speaker
    Nordost Odin power
    Musical Wire Belcanto power
  • Power Conditioner
    Oyade power distrbutors
  • Rack
    Kuzma HiFi rack
    Chameleon Audio
  • Cleaners
    Clearaudio Double Matrix Professional Sonic (vinyl)
    JFJ Easy Pro (digital discs)

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Well, that is easy.

To me the entire evening was topped not by the absolutely known wonders of our hobby, but that which shocked me to the point of going out there to find one to acquire.

The Namakitchi 1000 GLX Gold model, which uses three tape heads, and a tape which is much wider than normal tape sounds like reel to reel.

I was there with Frank from MSB who had come to set up my system from Belgium and he jumped out of his chair in disbelief.

We could not believe the density, the amount of sheer emotion we were getting from the tape deck, of all things!

The recording was from a radio program, and not only was it sonically unobtrusive, it was sweet, while connecting all the radio signals into a beautiful and musical program.

The next song was from Papakostandinou, a Greek singer and composer, and despite the age of the tape, the guitar was realistic and my attention grew from the system onto just one aspect of it.

The Nakamitchi. The natural tone, its vocals could have been compared to lifelike, with energy and realism as the protagonist to the song.

Next up was the Goldmund turntable. Voices were from the wall of the room, very far from the Aida from Sonus Faber, and its depth was musical and clear to the end.

It did not get muddy in the end of the spectrum at all.
The Sopranos were played, and the perfect pitch in reproduction cannot be emphasized enough here.

The light character was a perfect way to emphasize the song for its size and composition.

The sweet sonic character was a sensation throughout the listening session I might add.

It was like large green trees and open valleys were untouched and nature had taken its course, and right in the middle of it all was me on my flying carpet, moving my body and head to the rhythm which was simply sensational.

If there was a flower in the room, it would have vibrated with love from the notes that it would have been touched by.

So strong was the emotional character of the entire musical experience on the Goldmund.

Next up, a Sonata, with violins and cello’s being both airy and harsh when needed.

Again like flowers dancing off of the strings, so gently touched and yet so powerful that it was almost hard to grasp that a bow could produce such eminence.

There was a virtual connection between the speakers and my ears without any distortion or interference, but most importantly, not softened by the room or the speakers ability to make things come out sweeter than reality.

Next up was Brown Clifford, had he not passed at the age of 53, would have probably changed the jazz scene worldwide.

An extremely talented performer despite me not remembering the name of the title played. I remember the feeling until now.

Next was a mono recording, two ballads were played, and despite the 1933 recording, it was unbelievably touching and close to impossible not to get goose bumps while listening. The trumpets were swaying from side to side, and changing volume as well as tempo, and despite it being a mono recording the snare drum seemed stereophonic to me.

The entire album a caress, alive and unforgettable at the moment of listening. If there was a way to stop time and go back again and again to listen to that song, I would have done it there and then.

So it seems, there are limits in this system I said chuckling to myself. The second side of the album was more piano, with quicker movements, sharper innuendos were felt, giving emphasis not only on the score but the speed of its execution. This was poetry with charismatic note playing at its best.

More mono recordings, such as Sonny Rollins, and after listening to Brown mentioned before, I could not expect better. Yet sooner than later, I was taken into another dimension, which did ultimately what everyone wants from a system, to take them back to the recording time, in this case 1957.

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It was like my fellow ACA members were on a trip from 2018 to 57 in a large time capsule and its was hard to transcend back to the reality that we were not there when the album finished.

Almost like us being in a trance for the time we were listening. The only thing I can remember was the speed of the musician needing to play hand and foot together and not make a single mistake or breath before it had all finished. A solo that will probably be never played or replicated in life again.

There were fingers, fingers rolling on the strings rather than moving, but more like dancing, which was directly felt with the immediate response of the staccato movement on guitar.

It was more like a ballet of finger work than a masterpiece intended to sound profound. Listening tonally to this was like doing a jigsaw in 3 minutes. I have no idea how that was firstly played, and recorded so well so that it could be conveyed so many years after for us. There is a God after all it seems!

Next was Chopin, where I immediately closed my eyes and started to imagine the piano on waves in the sea being played from one height to another. A floating butterfly on water, dense and intense instead of simply airy and quick, it had movement that was horizontal and vertical within milliseconds it seemed.

I was struck by lightning again by the musician’s ability to play in such a manner and that fact that again, this was recorded and played back with such life like precision.

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The Ending

I would like to thank the host.

As would anyone there, for an evening of exceptional taste.

Overwhelmingly emotional transitions of bliss and moments where we had to remember to breath because we were so encompassed by the experience.

The food, the art, the home, the people.

It was all so perfect and so magical I find it hard to believe any evening in its totality could be as good as this.

It was a dream for any music lover, no matter what he is called, to actually live, even for one night with my ACA buddies.

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  • Tsantis-13-01-2018-video-01

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