Thursday, November 14, 2013

Farewell John Tavener

More well known to audiophiles on his Technics adverts than his contemporary Classical compositions that barely goes louder than 60 decibels, sometimes I wonder if the music industry had done enough to made John Tavener more well known to the music buying public? 

By: Ringo Bones 

Unless if you are praised / commended during your stint in a military / defense outfit modeled after the United States Marine Corp’s Force Recon by your ability to hear a sleeping person snoring softly 100 feet away from you in a non-electrifired village somewhere in the poor parts of the globe whose average ambient noise at night barely rises above 30 decibels sound pressure level – chances are, you may criticize most of contemporary British Classical music composer John Tavener’s Eastern Christian Orthodox themed liturgical works as “too quiet” . I mean as an audiophile, I find some of his 1990s era recordings released on CD easily swamped by the ambient noise of your home audio system with a signal-to-noise ratio rated at around 90 decibels. Thus his now (in) famous to the audiophile world the Technics SU-A107 Integrated Amplifier advert from around 1999 – as in the advert for Technics’ SU range of Variable Gain Control Amplifier slated to be quiet enough for the 144 dB signal-to-noise ratio capable next generation of ultra-high resolution 24-Bit 192-KHz sampling rate digital recordings.  

Even though John Tavener played his Songs of Angels during the funeral of the late Princess Diana back in 1997, it was that “notorious” reworked Candle in the Wind by Elton John that would forever be remembered of the much beloved Princess Diana’s passing. Born in January 28, 1944, he wasn’t like one of those Vienese w√ľnderkinders who’s Classical music composition prowess made them popular at a relatively young age. Even though only a few remembered this little factoid, it was The Beatles who thrusted Tavener into wider popularity back in 1968 after the Fab Four confessed their admiration of the contemporary British Classical Music composer during an interview back then. And by the way, John Tavener also won a Grammy for Best Classical Contemporary Composition. Sadly, he passed away back in November 12, 2013 aged 69. Even if I’ve only discovered John Tavener’s music during the middle of the 1990s when I got seriously into high fidelity audio, his loss would surely be missed by both the recently curious and long-time hardcore fans alike.  

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Natural Materials: Better Sound Quality For Hi-Fi Interconnects And Speaker Cables?

Despite the wide availability and low cost of petroleum sourced synthetic materials, are natural materials provides better sound quality when used in speaker cables and interconnects?

By: Ringo Bones 

Maybe there’s something to this using natural materials in hi-fi speaker cables and interconnects that could result in sound quality despite the alleged hype surrounding the practice. Believe it or not, around the middle of the 1920s when the first commercially produced electrical music recordings became widely available, audio power amplifiers that use the PX-25 vacuum tube has wiring that’s more likely than not insulated using cloth or gutta-percha – as in a tough plastic substance from the latex of several Malaysian trees of the sapodilla family resembling rubber but containing more resin and used during the early days of electrification as a electrical wiring insulation in household electrical wiring and in dentistry. But does using natural materials often sourced from plants instead of crude oil / petroleum – truly result in better sound quality in audiophile applications? Or is it just a marketing ploy for a period-correct zero feedback single-ended triode vacuum tube hi-fi audio amplifiers that were originally designed around the middle of the 1920s? 

Millennium cables and accessories and the Yamamura / Churchill hi-fi products, designed by Be Yamamura in Italy and manufactured in Japan has been admired for their exceptional sound quality in comparison to comparable mainstream hi-fi products that use crude oil / petroleum sourced synthetics in their insulation. The Millennium line is distinguished by its use – when possible – of such natural materials as lacquer, linen, paper, silk and cloth for insulation and shielding instead of the more commonly used petroleum / crude oil sourced synthetic materials. 

One of Mr. Yamamura’s design goals is to eliminate the effects of stray capacitance from his cables. For that he uses a proprietary material called Trigard – a paper impregnated with the purest form of carbon Yamamura could find, which turned out to be charcoal manufactured from coconut shells. The wire itself is made of ultrapure copper. During the second half of the 19th Century, coconut shell charcoal produced in the Philippines was admired by artisans in the region as a matt-black pigment used in paining. Even Dr. Jose Rizal at the time was searching for other more useful applications of coconut shell sourced charcoal.
Yamamura’s Millennium line also includes Ciabatta (which means “slipper” in Italian) mains boxes; passive line conditioners that make extensive use of Trigard to shield the plug / jack interface from RFI (radio frequency interference) and to absorb stray capacitance. Each Ciabatta mains box contains four AC jacks which can be configured for analog or digital sources. Does it also come with gutta-percha insulated audiophile AC chords that block mains-born RFI?