Midrange Magic, The British Sound & THE Show

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Midrange Magic+.​


An old frontier, renewed; where technology is at the service of music and allows the performers to communicate directly with the listener’s heart.
The perfect synergy makes the equipment disappear and nothing is left but the music’s purity and clarity. It has to be experienced and enjoyed to be appreciated.

The soul of the music is in the midrange, this is where most of the emotion, the passion, the joie de vivre is contained. The music that lifts our soul to the heavens with happiness or drags down to the stygian depths of despair.
On a technical level, it’s approx 200 - 4,000Hz. Without a solid foundation underneath the midrange, the music sounds thin & brittle and so un-involving.
If the brain perceives that the sound is artificial, then it’s difficult to be swept away by the message contained within the music.

Some audiophiles feel that euphony is the answer, by reducing the extreme high & low frequencies and pushing the midrange forward, but personally I disagree. By narrowing the frequency spectrum, the aural cues, such as the room ambience are removed and with it the veracity of the performance. Once sounds are heard, our hunter-gatherer instincts kick in and we determine what kind of space we are in, large & open, closed & confined, lively or damped. To hear all of those room ambience cues, a system needs to be resolving.

Similarly, accurate timbre reproduction is essential. A New York Steinway does have noticeable sonic differences from a Hamburg Steinway, similarly a Guarneri violin sounds distinct from a Stradivari. To capture all those nuances, the loudspeakers & electronics need to act in unison, neither obscuring detail, nor exaggerating detail.
A train running underneath the concert hall in he middle of the third movement of a Mahler symphony is not midrange magic, its just an artifact of the performance.
From an audiophile perspective, either the listener is listening to the recording or he or she is listening to the music. This is not a hard & fast rule, but a useful guideline.

To assemble an audio stem capable of resolving the tonal differences and delivering the emotion & passion contained within many of our treasured recorded music cultural treasures. We strove to eliminate the



Musical Examples​


Lhasa de Sela’s “My Name”

“Why don't you ask me
How long I've been waiting
Set down on the road
With the gunshots exploding
I'm waiting for you
In the gloom and the blazing
I'm waiting for you”

Given the current crisis in Ukraine, this song has a huge emotional impact. The gunshots and explosions are very real today. Everyday on television we see more buildings reduced to rubble.
Bodies lying on the ground, legs akimbo, like a rag doll, cast aside. Even a month ago, this song would have been hard to visualize.
But the mixture of fear & love is utterly compelling.


Louis Armstrong - “A Kiss To Build A Dream On”

I played this song some years ago during the Consumer Electronics Show and was touched when an elderly, white haired couple started to dance, arm in arm, completely oblivious to the audience all around them, swept away by Satchmo tugging on their heart strings.




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The British Sound+​


The British Sound is usually associated with a predominant midrange, but Graham Audio has been able to push the midrange magic across the full frequency range of the speakers, hence we have renamed this The British Sound+.
The results are an uncanny realism, where the speakers disappear and there is nothing left but the music hanging in the air.
Where the system is optimized to deliver goosebumps and tug on all the heart strings.

The "thin-wall" principle was devised by the BBC's Research and Development department in response to a need for lighter cabinets that could be safely handled in a busy broadcast centre, and also for more portable units for outside broadcasts use. During an extensive investigation program, it was discovered that compared to the conventional "thick wall" approach, a cabinet made from thin walls plus a layer of bitumen-loaded felt applied to each of the panels of the enclosure brought about unexpected performance benefits.

The biggest improvement is in the critical mid range. Each panel of a cabinet will resonate at certain frequencies, contributing in some way to the sound heard by the listener. Rigid cabinets will do so at mid-range frequencies where we are especially sensitive to colouration, even at very low levels, and no amount of stiffening will completely eliminate the problem. Rather than bracing the cabinet in a vain attempt to eliminate all output, the BBC found that thinner panels resonated at lower frequencies, and with a lower "Q", which cleans up the midrange considerably.

The addition of the bituminous layer to each panel improves matters by providing damping. Being flexible, it converts acoustic energy into heat, reducing the output from the panels to a level that is well below the wanted signal emerging from the drive units. Simple, but highly effective!


A Rack is an Essential Component in a High Resolution Audio System.


Artesania: Exoteryc 3 Shelf rack.


An often overlooked key component in an audio reproduction system, is that of the rack. This not only supports the equipment but it also lays the foundation for their individual performance. An audio system is only as good as the weakest component in the chain. When we are listening to music, every surface in the listening room is vibrating, or resonating, or singing along with the equipment. If you can stop the electronics & loudspeakers from resonating, the system is able to deliver much higher performance. This is noticeable in deeper, tighter, better defined base. The mid range is also cleaned up, to the point where micro detail is now noticeable and this tonal shading or color is what gives us veracity in the sonic performance.

The Prestige & Exoteryc racks offer three different methods in decoupling the rack from its acoustic surroundings. These in effect, break the servo loop.
Tube amplifiers, tube preamplifiers, phono stages, DACs are all susceptible to air borne sound waves that gently rock & shake the components and rob us of their ultimate performance.

Artesania: Decoupling Discs.

When the music is being played by the speakers, the spikes do not completely eliminate the feedback into the cabinet and resonate or shake the drivers & the crossover. Hence we use 30mm Decoupling Discs underneath the spikes on the bottom of the LS8/1 stands

Artesania: KRION Turntable Platform

For a turntable to perform properly, it needs to be mechanically isolated, or decoupled from its acoustic environment.
The Artesania KRION turntable platforms are designed to minimize the acoustic resonance corruption to the turntable.

The stainless steel frame rests on a spike in the top of the rack.
Between the KRION turntable platform and the stainless steel frame is a neoprene pad, that reduces the resonance from the rack to the turntable platform.
The actual platform itself is made of KRION, a composite of crushed natural stone & resin, similar to Corian, just a different manufacturer.
While all surfaces resonate, KRION’s Q or resonant frequency does not hinder the midrange.

Bergmann Modi turntable & Thor tonearm.​

Bergmann - Modi Air-Bearing Turntable.​


The principal design philosophy behind the Bergmann air bearing platter design and the air bearing, linear tracking tonearms is that there is an inherent acoustic decoupling using the air bearing design.

The music just flows naturally, it is a natural organic presentation. I particularly like how there is no timbral shift from the beginning of the record to the end of the record due to tracking errors, using the linear tracking tonearm design.

Bergmann - Thor Air-Bearing, Linear Tracking Tonearm.​


The Thor is the first Bergmann tonearm to offer VTA adjustment on the fly, while the record is playing.
The tonearm, like the platter on the Modi, is floating on a cushion or air-bearing, which offers excellent acoustic isolation from any mechanical resonance. The music just flows, effortlessly.

The linear tracking tonearm offers zero tracking errors at any place on the record. If your favorite song is the last song on the side, no problem, it will sound as good as the first. There is NO increase in sibilance as the record draws to a close. All of your favorite records were cut using a linear tracking tonearm, why not use the same technology to play them bak ? Use your own ears & judge for yourself.
 

MoonRiver 404 Reference Integrated Amplifier​


The amplifier/ speaker synergy is crucial to delivering this elusive Midrange Magic. We have auditioned many different amplifiers before settling on the MoonRiver. We initially used the Gryphon Diablo 120 & 300 to drive the Graham speakers, but the price inequality between them was lopsided.
We originally used the regular MoonRiver 404 with the two-way Graham speakers and were delighted with the results. But in late 2019, Graham released the three-way LS5/5, and the regular 404 sounded thin & anaemic. However, in early 2020 MoonRiver released the 404 Reference with twice the power supply capacitance and the stunning LS5/5 came to life.
"The Moonriver Reference 404 may not be the quietest-measuring amplifier on the market, but it performs better than those with superior specs because it was designed for optimal performance/sound rather than specs”.
Moonriver designer - George Polychronidas


MoonRiver Internal Phono Stage.​


Just because the MM/MC phono stage option is inexpensive, does not mean that it’s not up to the task on hand. On the contrary, this is a wonderful over-achiever phono stage. With the ability to install resistors for the impedance loading, without any tools, it’s a flexible single-input phono stage, clearly voiced to deliver music with all the joy & passion that the composers intended.


EQUIPMENT PRICING.

Artesania Audio “Exoteryc” three-level rack $7,300
Artesania Audio “KRION" turntable platform $4,850
Bergmann Audio “Modi” air bearing turntable & “Modi” Air-bearing, linear tracking tonearm $17,000
Shunyata Research "Delta" cables, interconnects & power cords
Hana - ML MC cartridge $1,200
Graham Audio - LS5/5f speakers $24, 995 Inc. spikes
MoonRiver - 404 Reference, integrated amplifier $4,995 and optional internal phono MM/MC phono-stage $550.

PLAYLIST

I change out 50% of the music for every show. That keeps me fresh & happy to share music with the music lovers.


Tennessee Erie Ford - Country Hits…Feelin’ Blue

Funny How Time Slips Away
Here is a voice that blasts into the room, grabs you by the ears and compels you to stop & listen. A remarkable sonic feast of country music, Ford's favourite songs from such country composers as Hank Williams, Fred Rose, Jenny Lou Carson, Willie Nelson, and Don Gibson.Sparse, compelling production with backup provided by just two musicians; guitarist Billy Strange and bassist John Mosher. A simple great album, featuring great vocals, great guitar and bass, and great songs. Sound quality, a solid 10 of 10.

Billie Eilish - Happier Than Ever.

This album is both better produced by brother Finneas & better performed, showing considerably more maturity than Billie's earlier offerings. The most popular single on this album “Oxytocin” is memorable, but I prefer #3. "Billie Bossa Nova” - we compared the streamed version at the Montreal Show (Melco streamer into a Chord Hugo DAC) the digital sounded clear & crisp but the LP had the emotion that the digital lacked, no surprise.
But #7. “Lost Cause” is sufficient reason to buy the album alone. With a gorgeous, rich synth bass laying down the foundation, and various synths tastefully played

Isabeau Coraveau - A Leap of Faith

This beautiful lady is a harpist, flautist, composer who sings usually in unison. Her music style is Irish & British folk music but tastefully updated. Her seven-piece band play interesting & fresh arrangements of well-known folk songs. We used #6. “Blackbird” on Demo XXII and also play #2. “Scarborough Fair” at many HiFi Shows & Dealer Events; it’s seen through the eyes of the female lover for a nice change. Isabeau is a charming lady, her voice is beautifully equipped for folk and her harp is a welcome respite from the normal guitar.

Lori Lieberman - Truly.

Truly, is, in my opinion, Lori Lieberman’s finest album to-date, both musically & sonically, guaranteed to become an audiophile favorite. A potpourri of fresh covers from the American Songbook, sprinkled with new, original compositions, embellished by original arrangements, played by some of the finest musicians, Truly was recorded, mixed and mastered to perfection.

Joe Cali, executive producer, assembled a grammy award winning crew for Truly. Lori ’s voice is in shockingly fine form, but wait until you hear Matt Rollings on piano & Hammond B-3 organ and the amazing Lyle Workman on guitar. The album was co-produced by Lori Lieberman and Matt Rollings. Recorded & mixed by Bob Clearmountain and mastered by Darcy Proper. This is Lori’s finest sounding album by an Irish mile.

Eight songs are covers which Lori listened to with her father, while driving in Switzerland as a child, bopping to an eight track car stereo. Two originals were co-written forty years ago with Joe Harnell and never previously recorded. While there is one fresh composition, the title track “Truly” and a wonderful re-imagining of Lori’s classic - “Killing Me Softly”. Matt Rollings gorgeous jazz improvisation on piano opens the song, later the song is fleshed out by David Pitch (bass), Victor Indrizzo (drums) & Lyle Workman (guitar). I have heard Lori perform this song many times live. The original version, recorded when Lori was 19, sounds truly dated; over produced with excessive reverb on the the vocals. I first heard this on her “A Thousand Dreams” CD, recorded by Mark Levinson with two microphones; an audiophile favorite. Then the beautiful version on “Gun Metal Sky” with a gorgeous Spanish guitar and tasteful backing vocals. But the Truly version adds 21’st century sophistication and takes this classic song to a whole new level. The interplay between vocals, piano & guitar is sublime and so tasteful. Hats off to Matt Rollings for a gorgeous arrangement. Lori’s new version is the most heartfelt and brought Bob Clearmountain to tears as you can see in the video -

Lori’s “Moonlight In Vermont” sounds remarkably fresh and current. The song opens with Matt Rollings piano which provides a wonderful counterpoint to her singing. When the rhythm section and Lyle Workman on guitar join in, the party starts to swing. Lyle Workman’s twenty second guitar sorbet is clean & refreshing, every note tugs at your heart. We are talking goosebumps territory here. Lori continues singing with the band in full swing - it’s glorious. Here singing displays maturity & delivers wonderful shades of emotion & passion.

From a technical POV, the album was recorded live at Apogee Studios by Bob Clearmountain using a much revered Neve analogue mixing console. Lori’s voice was mic’d with a Neumann M49 (tube) on the vocals, and a Neumann U67 on the guitars. There are NO overdubs, the synergy between the musicians is palpable. Lori is singing her heart out, I have never heard her singing better. Lori Lieberman has matured beautifully and found real character in her performance.
As for the sound quality, expect a lovely black background, three-dimensional soundstage, with beautiful rich tone, carefully crafted sound quality by grammy award winning engineers; it’s a top shelf project and it sounds it. Easily the best sounding Lori Lieberman album yet.

Polo & Pan - Caravelle.
Caravelle tells the story of Alexandre Grynszpan and Paul Armand-Delilleas as they distill dance music, electronic, pop & world music into the most irresistible, timeless pop music.
OK, its not a sonic masterpiece, but musically its terrific & bound to create an instant party.
#3. Canoppée, #4. Coeur croisé
#6. Naña
#10. Mexicali
Sorry, the LP is hard to find, but the source of countless hours of pleasure.

Imelda May & Jeff Beck. - Black Tears from Life, Love, Flesh & Blood

Marian Hill - “All Night Long” from Unusual
Prokofiev / Hilary Hahn - Scherzo from First Violin Concerto

Bruce Springstein - “ Western Stars” - album, same title
Bahamas - “Any Place” from Earthones
Chris Stapleton - “Death Row” from In A Room vol I.

Marcus Miller - “Conchita’s Lament” from Siesta
Miles Davis - “Tutu” from Tutu

Marcus Miller. Conchita’s Lament from the Siesta soundtrack

YouTuube video of the song - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dC_6Q9RtzMA

Greg Weaver
Marcus Miller. Conchita’s Lament from the Siesta soundtrack
YouTube video of the song - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dC_6Q9RtzMA

Marian Hill - Differently
https://youtu.be/nB3GLTvOH64

Til Broner - 1000 Kisses Deep
https://youtu.be/g-iPS2QHdMw

Lori Lieberman . Moonlight in Vermont




 

marty

Well-Known Member
Apr 20, 2010
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Philip O'Hanlon is a treasure who has put together stupendous music selections year after year for audiophiles and music lovers. He finds music in both new and forgotten places that is sonically compelling and beautiful. Nobody does it better. At shows, his room is always a sonic oasis, very much like the demos of Dick Shahinian from yesteryear. Both understood how the gear serves the music, not the other way around. (Dick was famous for often covering his speakers with acoustically transparent fabric in dim lighting so you wouldn't see what was playing, even though it was the gear he was selling!). Dick played mostly classical, but Philip has no genre limitations to his masterful sonic wizardry. If it goes with Irish whiskey, Philip will play it! Live long and prosper, Philip!
 

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