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15 Mar 2008: Akis Michalopoulos

michalopoulos-mar-2008-sys

By Dionysis Plarinos

Refining our ever-perplexed aural network

Us audiophiles are by nature curious and on the edge with an unquenchable desire of greater musical gratification and constant refinement of our audio system.

Our friend Akis bears no exception to this rule. Just when he thinks he has reached his ultimate "musical ecstasy" with the B&W matrix, another model rises on the horizon that resets the standards on the audio chart, promising higher levels of musical wonder and fulfillment on this never ending quest for the ultimate audio play-back system.

Most A.C.A. members honored his invitation for an evening that promised exceptional demonstrations of different musical performances and the opportunity to taste the culinary skills of his wonderful wifeMary who is also the person behind this tastefully decorated home environment.

Each one of us stood in awe at the sight of the two vintage audio speakers by JBL Everest limited edition as only 500 pairs (according to our host) were made in the beginning of the 80's.

A high sensitivity horn loaded 3 way speaker system featuring a compression driver, a super tweeter and a hard edge 15 inch woofer.

It's ok to drool. This pair has recently arrived from Japan and its probably the only one of its kind available here in Greece. Akis told us that there are only three (3) in Europe!

Audiophile's last words

michalopoulos-mar-2008-2Indeed, a sight to behold. An architectural statement of the audio arts that demands serious attention and respect. I consider myself privileged to be able to audition these particular speakers whose powerful, intimidating physical presence and rare beauty, dominates all decor and overshadows every other component in the playback system.
Right from the start, the performance by Rebecca Pidgeon exposed the incompatibility problem between the solid state amplifier and the speakers. Something our host is quite aware of. These speakers being very revealing and efficient (100dB) demand high quality low power amplifier that bears virtues of quick tempo response and harmonic righteousness that in my opinion only a direct heated triode valve – such as the 300B - can offer. Stay away from solid-state amps.

Because of this slow in response amplifier, instruments lacked separation contributing to a confused soundstage of blurred dynamics, poor decaying of musical notes and in combination with a moderate - if not poor - impulse/agility of the low driver there was an occasional layer of fog in the sound. But only for brief moments where the performance was demanding of the amplifier.

For example; in the List Rapsodies by M. Campanella the piano performance - in this case - is very demanding in terms of quality valve amplifier where the harmonic structure of musical notes is of paramount importance. But, the combination of the Micro Seiki, Dynavector flagship XV1Scartridge / tonearm / phono and the Everests saved the show.

michalopoulos-mar-2008-1The effect was so lifelike and musically involving, notes developed and decayed through the air with such integrity in transparency and dynamic range that raised the goose bump factor off the charts.
Individual instruments, voices and orchestra size as a whole moved across the room in a homogenous sound wave reminding us of a point source design or even the distinctive coherence of a full range driver. (Mr. Vlahos was the first to observe and comment on this).

D. Krall's warm passionate voice was projected with such dimension, clarity and profound articulation that such presence is rarely found in an audio playback system.

The same can be said for the classical performance by B. Terfel or even to a greater extend R. Fleming soprano whose resonant, controlled vocal crescendos demonstrated a legato of musical texture and emotional impact of such magnitude that is hardly encountered even in a live performance.

The Music

Jazz, Contemporary, Fusion etc

  • REBECCA PIDGEON "GRANDMOTHER" PURE DSD - CHESKY RECORDS
  • DIANA KRALL "THE GIRL IN THE OTHER ROOM" LP VERVE
  • DAVE BRUBECK/GERRY MULLIGAN/PAUL DESMOND "KOTO SONG" RECORDING OCTOBER 1972 IN OLYMPIA THEATRE-PARIS MOBILE FIDELITY ULTRADISC
  • RAY BROWN & L.ALMEIDA LP DIRECT TO DISC FROM JETON NAH YOUN SUN
  • "HEART OF GLASS" FROM "THIS IS K2 HD SOUND" 24 BIT/100 KHZ
  • JHEENA LODWICK "IT'S NOW OR NEVER" 180GR LP MASTERING WITH JVC K2 TECHNOLOGY

Classical

  • YOLANDA KONTONASSIS ALAN HORHANESS "CONCERTO FOR HARP AND STRING OP.267" TELARC SACD
  • G.F.HANDEL "SARABANDE POUR CORDES ET BASSE CONTINUE" ENREGISTRE A 1984 A L'EGLISE EVANGELISTE ALLEMANDE A PARIS AVEC PCM 80 TELEFUNKEN
  • BRUN TERFEL BASS - BARITONE "TANNHAUSER"-WAGNER RECORDING FROM MASTER TAPE TO CDR
  • MICHAEL CAMPANELLA "LIST - RAPSODIES" LP PHILIPS 1964
  • RENEE FLEMING SOPRANO "LA SONNAMBULA" BELLINI DECCA SACD

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