Friday, April 15, 2011

Some RECORD STORE DAY NOTES



I can't believe it's been a month since I posted anything here. Busy, busy, busy! And still coughing from my trip to Florida.

In any case I've been inundated with calls/questions/etc. about Record Store Day tomorrow (Saturday, April 16).

First off, despite getting tons of merch in, the labels once again did an awesome job of getting people fired up about things that only marginally exist.

Most notable among these releases is the one I got the most calls/message on...Phish. We ordered 25 copies of TWO SOUNDCHECKS and received zero. Zip. Zilch. Or as they say on Top Gear, zed. So if you are planning on making the trip solely for that release, sorry, but would rather tell you now. Same goes for The Deftones. And I passed on Jimmy Eat World because it's total rip-off at $45.98.

The Third Man Records releases were problematic: announced at the last minute, we WERE supposed to be getting three copies of each, which turned into NOT getting ANY of them. BUT White Stripes fans please note that the 7 inchers for RSD will be released as conventional black vinyl releases in a few weeks, as well as the Rome single which will be available. The Karen Elson single was, however, one time only. And luckily as a result of this, we've solidified a relationship with 3MR's distributor, which should make it much easier to get stuff from them in the future.

As for the rest of the stuff - yes, a lot of notable exclusions on the arrivals. But tons of stuff came in, including Bruce Springsteen, Flaming Lips, The Cars, OFF!, Bob Dylan, Mastodon, etc, etc.

And to make it fair for everyone, I've done the following:

* The early bird does not always get the worm. I worked second shift at the newspaper for several years, so I take a dim view of early birding. So I've divided the RSD releases up into three batches and will put them out at 10:00 AM, Noon, and 2:00 PM so that people arriving throughout the day can find cool stuff.

Also, in light of a few conversations last year, it's still ONE of any item per person. I don't care if your mother's brother's sixteenth cousin wants an extra copy. Then they should come and buy it themselves. Please don't put me an awkward position of lecturing about this. Buy what you want, for yourself, and be happy. THAT is what it's all about. Not speculation. Give others a chance to get something they might want.

In keeping with the RSD tradition, we're also going to have 10% off all non-RSD stock. Including Rega turntables!!! So if you have been putting off a gear purchase it will be your lucky day. Have several RP1s in stock (Cool Grey, Titanium and White) so you can save $45 by buying one tomorrow.

Our store hours will be 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM.

Have a rocking Record Store Day! See you tomorrow!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Monday Morning Music Quote - Jason "Spaceman" Pierce



"There is a guy called Jim Dickinson who produced a lot of Memphis artists and he has this theory that music is all about electricity pushing air molecules around, so it therefore stands to reason that all the best music comes from sea level, where the molecules are thicker - places like Memphis, Louisiana, Los Angeles and Austin. I don't know if the science stands up, but I love the idea."

- Jason Pierce of Spacemen 3 and Spiritualized

*(and of course, Jim Dickinson produced one of my Top-10 all time favorites in Big Star and his family tradition is carried on by his sons Luther and Cody Dickinson of the North Mississippi All Stars)

Monday, February 28, 2011

Monday Morning Music Quote - Ian McLagan


"We were staying at Holiday Inns as they were usually clean and dependable, but ultimately extremely boring and soul-destroying homes from home. The monotony got to everybody after a time. It was not possible to walk into the identical room in twenty different cities without wanting to hurt it, just a little. If there was anything built to be destroyed, it was the two-storey, motel model Holiday Inn."


- The Faces keyboardist Ian McLagan on life on the road in the 1970s United States. The band recently announced they would be touring again, with a surprise lead singer, Mick Hucknall of Simply Red and bass player, ex-Sex Pistol Glen Matlock. On the tour itinerary is an appearance at the prestigious Goodwood Festival, one of my favorite events in the world.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Monday Morning Music Quote



"I`m not very good at holding grudges for very long, but he`s done some terrible things." - David Gilmour, on former Pink Floyd bandmate Roger Waters.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

More CES Pics - Less Cab Lines



Over the top? That's Vegas in a nutshell.

The main entry hall of the Venetian Hotel, host for the high-end audio portion of the CES festivities. Not shown in this pic were all of the porn "starlets" buzzing (pun intended) around all weekend for the AVN show (it was far too early to see their bleary eyes at 9:00 AM.)

Yes, that's also a wholehearted recommendation to douse one's self with hand-sanitizer while attending CES.



Cambridge Audio showed a new iPOD/iPAD dock that extracts using Apple's pure digital stream to bypass internal DACs to the DAC of your choice at the ridiculously low price of $299. As digital audio increases in popularity, economics of scale will rule the marketplace, with bargains like this becoming more common. Anticipated release date for the US/North America is March, with a matching DAC to follow later in the year.



Whew. The warm glow of Cary Audio's CAD 211 Founder's Series twin monoblocks drew me in like a bug to a zapper.

Like a moth to a flame.

Like a bird to a...wire?

All jokes aside, seriously some of the best sound I've ever heard come out of tube power. An interesting design with a pair of 300Bs as power tubes and a pair of giant 845s in the output stage, providing the best of SET, Class A, Class B and Class A/B designs pushing to 150 watts in class B, 110 watts per channel in Class A/B, and 70 watts per channel in Class A in a zero-feedback configuration. Also worth noting, the special edition Jaguar Anthracite finish on the chassis. Fantastic imaging and soundstaging, dynamics to die for, stellar bass punch...and all in all, a gorgeous package. If my notes are correct, not as expensive as one might think. I believe they said $20,000/pair, with the entire system I heard at right around $65,000.



Why it's our favorite Fosgate Signature products, with a new friend. On top right we have the tried and true Fosgate Signature Phono Stage, a tube rollers' delight. On the bottom, the Fozgometer, and the new item is a forthcoming Fosgate Signature Headphone amp slated for debut in just a few months - the anticipated price point is right around $1000...



The more conventional side of the Clearaudio turntable line. Fantastic build quality, superb sonics. Also got a chance to audition a new Benz Micro cart that is at a perfect $600 price point.



The Clearaudio Statement turntable. Sorry it is a bit blurry, but all of the chrome reflections threw off my focus shooting in low-light settings. A serious piece of audio kit, wouldn't want to have to carry it up the stairs, but if you could afford this, you can probably afford someone to carry it for you.



TWO FEET of snow is what I was fortunate to return to; somewhere under that pile is my Mini Cooper S. It's a good thing the antenna was still visible, like a periscope.

In Vegas people were running around in Ugg boots, parkas, hats and scarves when it was in the 50s...this how the rest of us live.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Sights and Sounds of CES - Photo Blog



The best-sounding room on the 30th floor was the marvelous Estelon speakers. A proprietary marble composite material is paired with some exquisite workmanship to produce magical sounds that both harnesses power and allows for fine detail. Loud, soft, a very well-balanced and natural tone that allows the music to stand first and foremost. Because it is all about the music, not the price, which in this case was around $44,000. Very impressive, especially when paired with the Burmester power amps and equally at home doing the Beatles and Nat King Cole.



Ayon Audio's sound jumped out at me from the hallway - beautiful tube monoblocks powering $90,000 Legacy speakers. Austrian-made tube magic that looks as good as it sounds, which is superb by any standard, with fantastic soundstaging and natural dynamics.



DeVore Fidelity shows off their newest creation, a retro-natural sounding floorstander with a gorgeous furniture quality multi-ply zebrawood facing. And extra points for being one of the few rooms to be spinning a steady diet of vinyl.



Calin Gabriel of Shunyata Research explains the finer points of power purification. Shunyata is one of the few cable companies to back up their claims with research and testing. Attention to detail and matching of wire sizes are but a few ingredients.



Our good friends at the SoundOrg paired the impressive Rega DAC ($995) with Dali speakers. Add an Ipad, an Airport and you have magic. How impressive was the Rega DAC? I texted in my order for one from the room (no room service) and it will arrive when I return to Connecticut.

But only if it stops snowing and they stop serving me free margueritas.



KEF's Q900 sounded stunning. Eight inch woofers? Check. One inch tweeter? Check. A breakthrough at $1595/pair? Checkmate. The best sub-$2000 speaker I've ever heard and performance-wise surprisingly (and maybe a bit scarily) close to the $5000 XQ40s that I live with and love every day. Really a breakthrough at the pricepoint and proof that the "high-end" of audio performance does not necessarily refer to price.



NAIM Audio had some of the most innovative products on display. With a eye towards fine packaging, superb sound, and input and output flexibility and foresight in the design. Part server, part DAC, part amp, the NAIM line makes sense in many, many ways. Plus Jenny from NAIM is exceedingly cool, races motorcycles at Miller Motorsports Park, and is a knowledgeable and passionate IndyCar fan.

Actually while I'm thinking about it, I've definitely noticed a changing of the guard. Gone are the pompous and stuffy shirts of the old guard audiophiles that look down their nose at music and in their place are younger, energetic and passionate music people that allow the enthusiasm to infuse their products.

(more later)