Friday, 24 March 2017

Scalford 2017 - Adventures in SPACE in Room 237

Some notes and thoughts about exhibiting at the Hifi Wigwam show this year.

Prep started a few weeks in advance on building a checklist, choosing music and printing the kit list, door signs etc. etc. The weekend before a few network cables were disconnected from the house network and connected up to a stand alone router so that there is a small self-contained router of streamer, router and laptop - just as it would need to be at the show.  With AssetDB running on the laptop and around 250 tracks in the database all the set up stuff was tested - database, Linn Konfig, SPACE, Linn Kazoo etc.  Checked on 2 laptops too to make sure a standby was available.  Lots and lots of boxes and spare bits of quadraspire extracted from the loft and tools and spare cables put into crates.  The day before was packing of gear into boxes and checking through the checklist - several times.

Saturday of the weekend started early and boxes packed into the car by about 10am ready for the 2.5 hour drive cross-country to Scalford near Melton Mowbray.

Room for Richard, but not much
With boxes and Richard packed into the car the adventure begins. We left a bit earlier this year to enable us to set the system up in good time and there was the Linn demo to attend in the afternoon.  Uneventful journey (well, apart from a small detour) meant arrival in time to enjoy the first innovation for 2017 - lunch butties and a cuppa on the Wigwam house. Room 237 is an upstairs bedroom as far as it is possible to get from the hotel entrance. Not too bad though as there's a fire exit door just downstairs and it was possible to get the car quite close to this.  It took about 90 minutes to shift the beds in the room, carry boxes in, unpack them and get the gear at least connected up.

The Linn Exakt.Design launch demo was a good excuse for a break, mid-afternoon.  The engineering team (no marketing) did demos of music played through minimum phase crossovers compared with phase linear (well, more phase linear) digital Exakt crossovers into a pair of modified Wilmslow Audio kit speakers.  A convincing demo, well presented.  They used graphs too which appealed to many of the Wammers.  We didn't hang around for the workshop portion, we had our own Exakt system to set up.  Interesting that Linn are looking to make it available to DIY people to design Exakt crossovers.

We spent about an hour moving the speakers around using tune-dem - the room is all partition walls, ceiling, bouncy floor, a big built-in wardrobe and only the wall behind the speakers is actually solid (but dry lined) and it was nearly 50% window. So we put a lot of time into getting the best sound without SPACE room optimisation.

Remembering Harv's experiences and solution last year, we added some marble slabs under the speakers which helped again (and inspired others in the building!). So after that we measured all the room dimensions, speaker positions etc.  Then, as is the way of SPACE room opimisation, we focussed very heavily on the first room mode and adding / removing the sub first mode. This took another hour. At that point the system was sounding very good and it was time for curry and beer on the Saturday night. After the grub (some of which I ended up wearing, but we'll not go too much into that) we invited the Linn guys up for a listen and they were polite enough (or perhaps genuinely enjoying, which Philbo seems to have done) to hang around for well over an hour in the room. Then we had more visitors and then it was time to sleep (which meant stacking all the chairs away and rescuing our beds from the en-suite).

All set up, including marble slabs and the monitor showing Linn Kazoo - here show the track listing, but also showing album art and track info when a track is playing

There's nothing like having Linn's Exakt.Design software team, the Speaker Hobbit and the Engineering Director listening to your pride and joy after a couple of hours set up in an unfamiliar room to help you relax into the weekend...thankfully the Doombar was helping calm the nerves.

SPACE optimisation calculates room modes that will affect the listening positiong below 100Hz and then applies the notches seen above to reduce their effect.

 The first room mode (the biggie) was reduced by 1.5dB and narrowed by 0.02. The first custom filter below the first room mode is one of Linn Forum member Paulssuround's "below 1st base" filters from my home which we tried on and off with on being marginally better - it could probably have benefited from lots more experimentation but there just isn't the time at the show. There are a couple of "vocal" custom filters in there, also from home which remained untouched from the home values.
Speakers had more toe-in than at home (the side walls are much closer) with the RH speaker having more toe-in than the LH speaker - I think due to a step in the RH wall about 2/3s of the room length back from the speakers. That step in the side wall was for a built-in wardrobe which we stuffed full of duvets and pillows as it was horribly resonant when empty. The listening position we compromised on - it is deliberately off-centre and actually sits between rows 2 and 3. Row 2 positioning was better if you were in Row 2, but significantly worse in Row 3, hence the compromise.
Twin beds (not shown) are on their ends in the en-suite...

So there just isn't time to go into everything. We really had sorted out the room modes and that was the biggest challenge. On Sunday we just played music and never touched any other settings - the 1 hour 15 mins of Win 10 updates first thing in the morning was stressful enough!

We hosted a brief meeting of cyrusunofficial members around mid-day

Being out in the "sticks" of the hotel, we were very quiet for the first hour with only 3 visitors.  But after 11 it ramped up quickly and then it was busy all day, sometimes it wasn't possible for visitors to get in the room.  A good lesson for visitors though - get there early and head for the farthest reaches of the hotel - the rooms will be quiet and easy to get into. Many visitors commented on how we'd achieved a deep but taught sound in the room which the regulars know are very difficult rooms, due to their construction. That lead on to a good few conversations about SPACE and showing the Konfig graphs on the monitor.  We had lots of re-visits during the day and some who stayed in the room for over an hour.

Busy room

Of course, there was all the packing away again which took us an hour and 20 minutes (3 of us working on this) pleased the system is all back up and running at home, but there are still a lot of boxes to go back up into the loft - a week later.

So its quite some commitment, exhibiting at the show.  But its also strangely rewarding.  The atmosphere in the hotel is something unique and special, particularly the opportunity to wander around with a beer on Saturday night - otherwise you miss a lot when exhibiting.  Thank you to Richard and my brother John for the hard work with the equipment and taking their share of room hosting - it wouldn't be possible without them and they're good company to. Thanks to the Wigwam team for making it all happen, the hotel staff for putting up with us crazy people, to the commercial rooms who make it viable and to all the other exhibitors without whom it would be a non-event. A big thanks to my family for putting up with the disruption and giving me the time.

Some comments from around the forums:


andrews:  "My first experience of an Linn Exakt set up ... dare I add that I thought this (possibly) the 'best' sound of the show"

linnfomaniac: "Sunbeamgls, your system was lovely too (but as a fellow Linnie, I didn't think I'd be disappointed)"


David H: "Thanks to sunbeamgls for letting us enjoy his superb Linn system"

mickbald: "(Sunbeam) Linn room optimisation software was really interesting. Sounded fantastic."

SAP7: "the rather lovely 26s have me hankering after 24s"


Phil Budd (Philbo): "loved the sound you are getting from the 26s"


insider9: "Having gone to Scalford I was really inspired and really amazed what can be achieved at a relatively low cost. Yes, the Linn & PMC (in Sunbeamgls's room) wasn't in the low cost category but the level of clarity I've heard haunts me. To that extent that I'm considering wholesale changes to my system. If I can at least go some of the distance at a low budget, I need to try...the overall quality was just stunning. I think I mentioned to you at a time how amazed I was what you managed to achieve with the large size of speakers in such small room and at a moderate volume."

Harv: "Sunbeamgls system sounded nice and taut"

aggers: (referring to the Linn Exakt demo) "Sunbeamgls had a similar system. Very sweet sounding."

Gizza: "great respect for the hard work you put in to maximise the sound quality. Great to see that it paid off, too"

navigator: "Sunbeams room had an easy listen clear balance achieved in a tacky room"

Rob5ft19ins: "Wonderful to see the efforts that went into making your room sound so sweet. I sadly managed only a minute or two in there to appreciate it, but was hugely impressed by what I heard"

And one last photo, courtesy of Hifi Wigwam member Bazzer:

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Chester Hifi Show 2017 - Naim, Kudos T-707, Dynaudio, Arcam and more

As usual, the (Acoustica) Chester Hifi Show ran in early March for 2017 - based at the DoubleTree hotel on the West side of Chester.  A small show with around 15 or so rooms, easily accessible, not too busy and, of course, free to enter.

A gave a little (but not too much) thought on how to present today's listening, but then just decided to go with the order in which I wandered around the rooms.  Which is not at all logical in terms of the layout of the hotel as I'd promised to wait for a couple of friends to join me before going in the Kudos room, as there was much anticipation about the new T-707s.  So here they are, as they were visited:

ARCAM and B&W Home Cinema Room

Here Arcam were running their FMJ multi-format disc spinner into their top-of-the-range £4,500 AV receiver.  Around the room are a variety of B&W Diamond D3 speakers (I think the fronts were 802 and the rears were the standmounts) with a couple of tiny Atmos overhead speakers rigged up on a frame - at least one sub sat behind the screen.  So this is a seriously priced AV system.

When I went in, Jon Bon Jovi was playing so I settled in to watch the concert for a bit.  It was, well, rather dull.  Bass was indistinct and there was no sparkle to the sound.  I didn't find myself tapping my foot along to the music, even though there were clearly many in the audience booging along to the music.  We then had a brief talk about the design of the receiver amps being a blend of Class A and Class AB dubbed by Arcam as Class G, and how this was to make sure that this AV receiver would be as good with music as it would be with movies.  The Bon Jovi track apparently had been playing only through the front left and right speakers to prove how good the system is at music.  I'm hoping it was a badly recorded track or something.
Then on to some movie stuff ("Hollywood") with a clip from a Mad Max film (I think it was Mad Max) which is full of action, car chase, crashes and explosions.  And this was good, seriously good.  The detail and the steering of that detail around and above is very convincing.  Of course, the crash bang wallop was great too - and, thankfully, not wacked up to a massive volume to try and impress.  This was controlled, impactful, detailed but not OTT like so many AV demos can be.  Very good.  Not quite up to the standard of the full-on Arcam separates and KEF Reference system at Indulgence 2016, but not far off given how much less expensive the electronics are in this system.

I called back in later to some Bruce Springsteen which was better than the Bon Jovi, but not enough to make me want to sit and listen.


An attractive collection of  Rega decks, although, unless I missed it, there wasn't a Rega room this year - usually they make a very good sound with modestly priced gear.

Chord also have a dem room on the upper floor.  I generally like their cables, but the demo process takes about 45 minutes and I just didn't have the will power to sit through it today.
The Kudos room had to wait, so then on to the "main event" room for the first visit (although these notes cover both visits - I had to go back when R&P turned up just to check my thoughts).

NAIM NDS, 555, Statement S1, NAP500 and Focal Sopra No3

The main Naim event of the show was, as usual, in the largest of the dem rooms.  This year, as last year, the speakers were arranged either side of the bay window which is opposite the entrance door - this layout seems to make the best of what is a bit of an awkward room.  Over to the right was the impressively equipped Naim Fraim rack, containing an NDS streamer with a 555 power supply and, at the time we were in the room, the NAP500 power amp with its matching supply.  The rack also contained a 252 pre-amp and another 555 power supply, but these weren't in use at the time, as pre-amp duties were being handled by the Statement S1 pre-amp.

If you need to ask, you can't afford it...

This lot was feeding into my favourite of the current crop of Focal speakers, the Sopra No3 - this time in the more subdued black front and wood side panels.  More subtle than the gloss white and massively more conventional than the gloss orange.  I first heard these with the full Statement amplification and NDS / 555 in the dem room at the Naim factory, and really liked them - very tuneful and full of detail.  You can read about that visit (and the Bentley driving to get there) here.

So today, some of that magic was there - lots and lots of detail, impact, dynamics, good deep bass (plus a touch of boom from the room), clear and articulate vocals - much to admire and impress.  There was a touch too much treble which risks becoming irritating over time (the room here is much less damped than the dem room at the Naim factory), improved by moving away from the back wall of the room.  As noted last time I heard these speakers, things seem to be a bit "big" - vocals are central but not specific - its like listening to someone with a three foot wide mouth, and guitars seem to be about 6ft long.  I've noted that before with the Grand Utopias - it make for less realism for me.  So small things, but they can detract enough to mean not being engaged with the music.  So an impressive system, but not an engaging one today.

A sneaky look around the back:

As Kudos were also on the first floor, it should've been there next, but I'd promised to hold on until P&R turned up, so I went off down to the long ground floor corridor of smaller (bed)rooms:


I've heard some great sounding Spendors in the past, but at Indulgence 2016 and again here today, it was uninspiring.  Flat, thin, lacking dynamics, the D7 was not showing much potential.  I never even got around to asking about the electronics in use.  I was hoping the Indulgence experience had been a one-off.


I owned a small pair of Dynaudio standmounts for a while - they were never in a main system, but when it came to time to move on, I found it very difficult to part with them.  They hung around for about another two and a half years "just in case" but an opportunity to put them back into action never occured.  So they were reluctantly sold on and their new owners got a great sounding pair of speakers for a small outlay.
Since then a couple of Dynaudios have been enjoyed at shows, mentally filed in the "they're nice enough" category.  Heard the Contour 30 for the first time at Indulgence last year where I found them (paired with Naim electronics) a good foil for the sometimes over enthusiastic Naim gear, but perhaps a little too polite?

So here are the Contour 30s again.  This time in a much smaller dem room.  Looking very well finished in a gloss white, their cast alloy baffle fitting well into the look.

Lots of Super Lumina speaker cable

An example driver and the cast baffle
Today, in this room, in this system (and, I suppose, with the music that was being played), it was a more uplifting kind of sound and I sat for a while in this room, suitably engaged by "Keith Don't Go" from Nils Lofgren, amongst other tracks.  Plenty of attack in the guitar, a good spacious sense of the venue and that "bite" in Logfren's voice was clearly projected.  Foot tapping along with the track is a good sign and there was plenty of that here.  There was a touch of boominess which is understandable in a room that's really too small for these speakers - they had to be fairly close to the corners.  So I wonder what was different this time compared to Indulgence?  I can only make reasonable assumptions as I didn't make notes on the electronics in London, but here, these Contours were being driven from some £28k or so worth of streamer, power supplies amplification and cables - so the first assumption could be that the electronics were significantly better.  The second could be the room - although this small room was probably not ideal, I think it possibly suited the speakers better than the very large room at Indulgence.  So a good result here, I went back for a second listen later as it was one of the most musical rooms at the show.

Across the corridor, Dynaudio were playing the £500 Emit 20 floorstanders (plus £350 for the stands) - they're modestly proportioned, but well finished - they don't try to be anything they're not so the finish doesn't try to look more expensive than it is, which is good, as that approach often fails.

They were being driven by one of Naim's recently introduced Unit Atom all-in-one streamer / pre-amp / power amp systems.  It's a very small box, has an attractive colour screen on the front, the Mu-so style rotary control on top and is very well built, looking every bit of its £1600.

Another foot-tapping system here.  Yes, bass is restrained a little, but not so you couldn't live without it.  The Emit's with the Uniti seem to gel very well indeed - no sign of any aggression or brightness that can cause fatigue.  Imaging is not ultra-precise but its believeable.  Tunes flow along well, the meaning in the music is very well conveyed for such a modest system.  Limited budget? Liviing with space constraints? Need something discreet?  Definitely worth a listen.

I was just about to head into the Russell K room (I had to miss it out earlier as when I arrived at the room they were just in the process of swapping speakers over so I thought I'd go back later), when the phone rang and I went back up the stairs to join P&R - their first visit to the Naim / Focal room and my second.

Then we moved on to:


Kudos have been the best room at this show for the past 3 years (even when launching their most modest floorstanders they've made a great sound here) so, with the T-707 just launched at the Bristol show about 3 weeks ago, anticpation was high, opportunity to disappoint therefore equally high, I suppose.

A bit of background - Kudos are big fans of making their speakers capable of working with active options from manufacturers such as Linn and Devialet.  Their current range leading T-808 has been played with passive electronics from Naim, Exakt active from Linn and active with Devialet at shows I've been to, in addition to active with Naim electronics being fed by an active Behringer crossover (which was good but not in the same league as Linn and Devialet).  The best of these was Devialet at Indulgence, although I understand the Exakt crossovers have been heavily modified since I heard them at the National Audio Show back in 2015.
The T-808 range topper comes in at £23k and is quite a large two-box cabinet.  So out of the range of most.  Kudos are now happy with the concept they used in the T-808 (e.g. the cabinet shaping, isobaric bass loading, complex flared porting, ability to easily run passive or active etc.) to roll-out the same concepts down the range into more accessible (!) pricing and suited to smaller (let's say, more UK sized) rooms.  So the T-707 scales down the 8" drivers to 7", uses one less of them, uses a single box cabinet and takes up less room in the room.  The 7" is a mid-bass that has another identical driver hidden in the cabinet, configured in isobaric mode.  For active use, 2 pairs of terminals are presented on the back panel so only 2 amp channels are needed per speaker.
A little more background - Kudos have been hoping to persuade Naim to provide a SNAXO active crossover for some time.  The design is now done (by Kudos with help from Naim) so hopefully it will just be a matter of time before it becomes available.  Naim really should do this - as we'll see below.

Today the system was Melco, NDS / 555, 252 / Supercap, SNAXO active crossover with Hi-Cap PS and 2x 250DR power amps.  Cables were, in the main, standard Naim fare (not hi-line) with the exception of the streamer to pre connection which was courtesy of Chord Sarum-T.  Sarum-T also provided connection between power amps and speakers, with the length of cables in use today just exceeding the price of the speakers themselves - at around the £13.5k mark.  Gulp.  The T-707 at Chester were finished in Tineo wood veneered sides - black oak, Tineo red and satin white are also available as standard.  Other finishes are options.

Let's get the negatives out of the way first.  There are really only 2 for me - the price, and that the room was playing its part a little today.  Boom was not really tolerable in the back row of seats, but the middle and front seats removed most of this, but there was still a touch too much.  It wasn't enough to distract though - just a hint that there's more to be had by a different set up, and Linn SPACE of course :)

If I said that I spent over 2 hours in this room, it might give an impression of just how enjoyable this Naim / Kudos active system is.  Music, music, music was what was heard in this room.  Track after track (with the exception of one rather poorly recorded Elvis track requested by a visitor) just flowed rhymically from these speakers.  Occasionally there are some bass details that aren't as well resolved as my Exakt/PMC system, but the overall set of compromises here is a much better mix.  Focal could learn from a big powerful sound that doesn't have to be over-bright, nor does a big speaker mean that instruments have to be over-large in the image.  It was impossible to drag myself away from the room - even for music I don't traditionally like.  As usual, the Kudos team encourage visitors to select music and they shy away from nothing.  This system just got on with playing tunes - there's a sense of joy in these speakers - I think the T-808 goes deeper, but somehow, in comparison with these 707s, they feel a little restrained - holding something back in case they get too excited.  The 707s feel much more like they want to get on with entertaining and being part of the party - but they still manage to be in control.  There's a sense of detail in there too, but its not the sort of detail that says "hey look at me", its just there when you seek it out.

Kicking electronic dance tracks? Hugh Masakela? Folk Rock? Sophisticated pop (think London Grammar)? Dire Straits? Mexican guitar duos? Deep electronica?  Just play whatever you like and enjoy.  For me, even more than the T-808.  I really look forward to hearing these with Klimax Katalyst Exakt.  Perhaps the Linn front end, a couple of Naim 250DRs and the T-707s could be a match made in audio heaven.  Maybe - it would be good to find out.

Top Shelf Stuff: SNAXO for T-707 on the left and its Hi-Cap PS on the right

A superb system.

Thanks to Acoustica for staging the show.  Another enjoyable and relaxed show.

Monday, 20 February 2017

Hifi Wigwam Scalford Show. 19 March 2017. Room 237 Playlist

If you're lucky enough to be able to make the show this year, when you call in to Room 237, please feel free to listen to what's playing or choose something from the list of tracks we'll have available:

Agnes ObelFuel To FireFolk
Alberta CrossCity WallsBlues/Rock
Ane BrunWorship (Feat. Jose Gonzalez)Folk/Rock
Black SabbathPlanet CaravanRock
Blues CompanyDark DayBlues
Brendan PerryDeath Will Be My BrideFolk
Brendan PerryMedusaFolk
CalexicoMan Made LakeFolk/Rock
CalexicoWoven BirdsPop/Rock
Chris JonesDarlin' CoryFolk
Chris JonesFender BenderFolk
Chris JonesNo Sanctuary HereFolk/Rock
Chris Jones & Steve BakerDamm Good RunBlues
Chris Jones & Steve BakerGod Moves On The WaterBlues
Chris Jones & Steve BakerRoadhouses & AutomobilesBlues
Chris ReaLooking For A RainbowRock
Chris ReaTexasRock
Daft PunkGiorgio by MoroderElectronic
Damien RiceCannonballFolk/Rock
Damien RiceCold WaterFolk/Rock
Damien RiceDelicateFolk/Rock
Damien RiceVolcanoFolk/Rock
Daniel LanoisI Love YouRock
Daniel LanoisShineRock
Dead Can DanceAgapeFolk
Dead Can DanceAll In Good TimeFolk
Dead Can DanceAmerican dreamingFolk
Dead Can DanceThe Ubiquitous Mr. Lovegrove (Remastered)Folk
Dean FraserBig Up/Armageddon TimeJazz/Reggae
Death Cab For CutieDoors Unlocked And OpenFolk/Rock
Devon AllmanStrategyBlues
Dire StraitsFade to BlackRock
Dire StraitsPlanet Of New OrleansRock
Dire StraitsSix Blade KnifeRock
Dirty VegasDays Go By (Acoustic Mix)Pop
Doug MacLeodSerious Doin' WomanBlues
Doug MacLeodYou Got It Good (And That Ain't Bad)Blues
EaglesHotel California (Live)Rock
Eddi ReaderDear JohnFolk
Eddi ReaderHello In ThereFolk
ElbowAsleep In The BackIndie
Erykah BaduNext LifetimeR&B
Erykah BaduRimshot (Intro)R&B
Eva CassidyFields Of GoldFolk/Rock
Felix LaBandBlack ShoesElectronic
Ficci & Laura HahnFicci - Breathe You In (feat. Laura Hahn)Electronica
FinkPerfect Darkness (Live from Union Chapel, London Oct 5 2011)Folk/Rock
FinkWarm Shadow (Live from Epicerie Moderne, Lyon â?? Oct 28 2011)Folk/Rock
Flash And The PanWalking In The RainPop
Fleetwood MacGo Your Own WayRock
FunkermanSpeed Up (ATFC Remix)Dance
Furry Phreaks with Terra DevaSoothe (Charles Webster 2008 Mix)House
GangaDon't Wake Me UpElectronic
GangaDown But UpElectronic
Georges-Emmanuel LazaridisGrandes Etudes de Paganini Etude IIIClassical
GorillazSuperfast JellyfishPop
GotyeDon't Worry We'll Be Watching YouIndie/Rock
GotyePuzzle With A Piece MissingRock/Indie
Holly ColeTrain SongFolk/Rock
Hue & CryMakin' WhoopeeJazz
Hugh MasekelaStimela (The Coal Train)World Blues
I Am KlootHold Back the NightRock
I Am KlootLet Them All InRock
Ian ShawA Case of YouJazz
It's ImmaterialDriving Away From Home (Jims Tune)Pop
JakattaAmerican Dream (Afterlife Mix)Electronica
James TaylorGaiaFolk/Rock
Jenny LewisBad Man's WorldCountry
Jenny LewisPretty BirdCountry
Joan ArmatradingLove And AffectionR&B
Joe BonamassaFeelin' GoodBlues/Rock
John Lee HookerThe Healer (with Carlos Santana & The Santana Band)Blues
John MartynA Little StrangeFolk/Rock
John MartynFeel So GoodFolk/Rock
John MartynSunshine's BetterFolk/Rock
José GonzálezCrossesAcoustic
k.d. LangConstant CravingFolk
Keb’ Mo’For What It's WorthJazz
Kiki DeeDon't Go Breaking My HeartFolk
La RouxIn For The Kill (Skream's Let's Get Ravey Remix)Electronic
London GrammarStrongRock
London GrammarWicked GamePop
Malia & Boris BlankMagnetic LiesElectronic/Jazz
Malia & Boris BlankTears Run DryJazz
Marta GomezLuciaJazz/Classical
Mary GauthierFalling Out Of LoveCountry
Massive AttackThreeElectronic
Michael JacksonLiberian GirlPop
Nick Drake'Cello SongFolk
Nick HarperThe Kilty StoneFolk
Nils LofgrenBlack BooksFolk/Rock
Nils LofgrenWonderlandRock
Nitin SawhneyBroken SkinChill
Pete Alderton(She Said That) Evil Was Her NameBlues
Pete AldertonJesus In A BottleBlues
Peter GabrielMercy StreetFolk/Rock
Ray LaMontagneBe Here NowPop/Rock
Ray LaMontagne And The Pariah Dogs; Ray LaMontagneThis Love Is OverPop/Rock
Richard ThompsonMingus EyesFolk
Robben FordMake Me Your Only OneBlues
Robben FordPeace Love And UnderstandingBlues
Robben Ford & The Blue LineMystic MileBlues
RoyksoppSparksDrum & Bass
Sam CookeCupidBlues
Sarah McLachlanIceFolk/Rock
Sarah McLachlanSweet Surrender (DJ Tiesto Mix)Folk/Rock
SealKiller (Acoustic)Soul
SealKiss From A RoseSoul
SealLove's Divine (Acoustic)Soul
SealPrayer For The Dying (Acoustic)Soul
SemisonicClosing TimeRock
SemisonicSecret SmileRock
Sinead O'ConnorNothing Compares 2 UFolk
Sofa SweeperVoice Of CoreElectronica
Son LittleLoser BluesBlues
St GermainMary L.Electronica
St GermainVoilàElectronica
Steely DanCousin Dupree (24/96)Jazz/Rock
Steely DanCousin DupreeJazz/Rock
Stephen FearingDublin BayFolk
Sun Kil MoonThird And SenecaFolk
Swing Out SisterBreakoutPop
Talking HeadsRoad To NowherePop
Tchaikovsky'Dance Of The Reeds' From The NutcrackerClassical
Tears For FearsMad WorldPop
Ten WallsWalking With ElephantsPop
The Black KeysDead And GoneBlues/Rock
The Blue NileLet's Go Out TonightRock
The Blue NileThe Downtown LightsRock
The Brand New HeaviesBoogie (Eric Kupper Mix)Electronic
The FarmAll Together NowPop
The Jeff Healey BandBlue Jean BluesBlues/Rock
The Wailin' JennysAll The StarsCountry
The Wailin' JennysBird SongFolk
The XXReunionBalearic/Downtempo
The XXSunsetBalearic/Downtempo
Thea GilmoreBad Moon RisingFolk
Thea GilmoreEver Fallen In LoveFolk
Thea GilmoreThe Old Laughing LadyFolk
Thomas NewmanStill DeadSoundtrack
Tom BaxterNight Like ThisJazz
Tom RobinsonThe End Of The RainbowFolk/Rock
TunngJenny AgainFolk
U2In A Little While (N.O.W Remix)Rock
UnderworldBanstyle, Sappys CurryElectronic
UnderworldCaliban's Dream (feat. Dockhead Choir, Dame Everlyn Glennie, Only Men Alound, Elizabeth Roberts, Esme Smith, Alex Trimble)Electronic
UnderworldSola SistimElectronica
Was (Not Was)Papa Was A Rolling StonePop
Willy PorterCool WaterFolk
Willy PorterJesus on the GrilleFolk
X-Press 2Lazy (Original)Dance
Yello30'000 Days (24_48)Electronic
YelloBlue Biscuit (24_48)Electronic
YelloDark Side (24_48)Electronic
YelloFriday SmileElectronic
YelloKiss In Blue (Feat. Heidi Happy)Electronic
YelloTill Tomorrow (Feat. Till Brönner)Electronic
Zero 7DestinyElectronica

Friday, 10 February 2017

Scalford Hifi Show 19 March 2017 - A Unique Show By Enthusiasts

40 rooms of hifi - systems brought from home by enthusiasts for show goers to hear, with no interest in selling.
Supported by a handful of traders engaged in this community with new and used kit and vinyl gor sale.
A radical new approach to this community by Linn.
A charity raffle with £5000 worth of prizes.

See and hear the Audiophile Musings system in Room 237.

Full press release here:

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Yellosphere, London

There seems to be a push on Yello promotional activities at the moment.

In The Box

First the new album (Toy), then the four live gigs in Berlin (see here), a promise of a video of those performances, and then this - Yellosphere, whatever one of those might be.  And there weren't many clues available on the run-up either.  Now, of course, we know that there will be a wider Yello tour in 2017 which at least encompasses Germany and Austria in November / December.

No matter.  Yello, at the Ministry of Sound in London seemed like too good an opportunity to miss, regardless of what was going to happen.  At £15 a ticket and the opportunity to make a first visit to the MoS (tick that one off the bucket list!, tickets were sorted and the rumours and speculation on the Facebook group.  "A celebration of electronic music" was the billing - with news about the DJs featured and Yello's part in the evening gradually evolving and being dribbled out into the publicity in the weeks approaching the event.

With no clues about timing, friend Andrew and I decided to turn up fairly early in the evening so we didn't miss anything.  Which was a mixed blessing.  For those who haven't been to the MoS, it is split into 3 areas - the main bar (with a large dancefloor and, tonight, a small stage), the main dancefloor (The Box) and a smaller side room (Baby Box).  Baby Box was closed all evening and The Box was closed too, at the beginning of the night.

First up was an unannounced DJ (a lack of information was a theme of the night) in the large bar area.  I still don't know who it was, but they played tuneless bass landscapes that the sound system couldn't cope with and which the audience didn't want to engage with. Not a great start.  We went outside in the cold to chat for a while and avoid the boomy bassy mush going on inside.  There followed a 4 piece band "Magnetik North" who mixed folk-ish music with electronic experimentation - interesting certainly, and I've never seen a Theramin in action before. The third act was another DJ in this room at which time The Box was opened up so there were 2 DJs playing at the same time. These DJs were playing somewhat more accessible music, but with the venue finally getting a little busier, expecting a largely middle aged (at best) men to be dancing along was somewhat optimistic. At one point Deiter and Boris were seen mingling with the crowd in The Box, only to disappear upstairs in the main bar fairly quickly.

Collander on Tour

Just before midnight the Yello boys were seen again on the balcony over the main bar area as they headed towards The Box to do whatever they were going to do. At least some of us knew what was going on now, as rumour had spread that the boys would be "on" at midnight in The Box.  A brief word about the system in The Box - its very capable indeed, 4 large stacks of horns give extremely good sound quality - bettering that at Pacha on Ibiza by some margin. The sound probably does all sorts of horrible things to your internal organs and I'm glad that I no longer own a pair of flairs - the flapping would be dangerous.  Before Yello came on, it was extremely loud - but just about tolerably so.  It was turned up a notch when Yello played which was too loud (the system could cope, my ears weren't so happy) but the after-Yello DJ turned it up again - which was actually painful and the system couldn't cope any more.  What's the point of that?  Do some DJs think a system is only loud once it is distorting?  What could've been a really loud but enjoyable sound was destroyed.  Bonkers.  If you're going to MoS, take some ear plugs, seriously.

Take Your Earplugs

So what happened when the boys were up?  Well it was a mixed bag of tunes, video, interviews and a tribute.  Compared by Andrew Weatherall, who also did the interviewing, the boys answered the usual questions and we learned very little more about them.  Carl Craig also payed tribute to the duo.  The boys span a few tunes and videos, Dieter did his thing along with some of the lyrics and in 45 minutes it was all over.  Limbo didn't seem to be anything new (although a trail for the event mentioned a new mix) and the visuals used were a direct lift from the background screen to the Berlin shows.  I'm sure those who've never seen Yello live before will have got a lot more out of the event than I did, but it was rather underwhelming.

Andrew Weatherall Interviewing

Blank, Weatherall, Craig



As they left the venue a few of us were lucky enough to get to meet the guys at the foot of the balcony stairs.  Boris remembered the collanders from Berlin and both of them were consummate gents again. This time they both signed one of the collanders and that made the whole thing somewhat special and lifted my enthusiasm for the evening.  Afterwards I listened to Carl Craig's set for a while - but it was a distorted sound that was too loud and in 30 minutes he only played one Yello track - another part of the evening that was less than ideal was the general lack of Yello music on offer.

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So a mixed reaction to this event really - may be it will be part of an "extra" when there's eventually a video disk release of the Berlin concerts (something to really look forward to).  I'm glad I went, it wasn't too expensive, but it could've been so much more for very little effort.  If all that's going to happen is the introduction of some records and videos, would 90 minutes of doing that be too much too deliver? I suppose, given that I was lucky enough to experience the excellent Berlin gig, it was always going to be difficult to follow that up.  Andrew Weatherall did a good job as compare and it was good to finally see Carl Craig.  Always good to meet Boris and Dieter - I hope they get to the UK with a proper gig in 2017.