Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Work in progress, welcome to Felix !

I just wanted to share with you that Cala has teamed up with Felix which will be know working on the design of new upcoming Cala Mighty Sound  products...

Welcome aboard to Felix "Rupperthal" !

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Come On Die Young seems to be lasting longer than what the Young Team had in mind...

We all have some fond memories, some teenage dreams. Mine were partly Scottish : something about the monster of the Loch Ness mixed with heavy malted odors of brewery and distillery during school trips when we were only allowed to drink glasses of concentrated orange juice that would feel as bad in my stomach as drinking a bottle of whisky all at once. Of course we were constantly under water, traveling in hostile and foggy landscapes with midgeeeeees trying to indirectly scalp us by forcing us to scratch/tear our hair. Later on the meaning of these trips was literally unveiled by a label of, let's call it, Indie Po(o)p, Chemikal Records. I must admit I was more on the electronic side of music by this time than loud guitars playing slow core music at very high volume. And that is why I was an instantaneous fan of Arab Strap. 
The music they played was heavily loaded with drum machines on the merge of being broken, great melodic lines,  dirty, filthy and crude lyrics and it sounded real (and loud in me). For some the content of these songs were a pure prank of two (ugly Scottish unfucked) wankers, for others a testimony of the sexual and above all human misery of two guys living in the 30k peolple Flakirk city of Scotland burning out there time in alcohol/pub, dope and parties from which they left with either a black out and/or with an unknown and preferably ugly partenaire lying by there side in there bedroom by mama's home when they emerged from heavy loaded nights... 
But where were we ? Ah yes... Come On Die Young or CODY as this album is named by the Mogwai lambda fanatic. Mogwai first album Young Team has been reedited a few years a go. Nice boxset with extras but the vinyls where quite noisy and it left me a bit disappointed. Meanwhile there was also a deluxe boxset produced to re-edit the first two albums of Arab Strap. This was de-facto something else. Sound quality was awesome and there were some covers for every album and even the bonuses records (mainly singles + John Peel sessions) + Aidan and Malcolm words soothing the forever aching soul of the abandoned fanatic fans by a forever splitted Arab Strap group.

Young Team  has never been my favorite Mogwai album. It sounded (too) rough and had just an inch of the false ataraxia which would become the signature of the group with the CODY album. One other thing you should know is that... I hate football. And well you do have to realize that Mogwai's main focus is football. Of course I bought Young Team deluxe boxset when it came out and I kind of got to more appreciate this LP but still CODY was my favorite album with Happy Songs for Happy People (and made me forget a bit there football thing), but who would have guessed CODY would pop out in a Deluxe edition... six years after the Young Team  deluxe edition ? 

Part of my Mogwai madness...
Well it is there and readily available. Packaging is as usual awesome and content superb. One gatefold album for Cody, another gatefold album for the appendix of CODY and a DVD that contains every songs from the boxset in different digital formats if you do not want to wear the groove of these fabulous tracks.

CODY is now 16 years old and it has not aged. In fact it sounds even better than what I remembered. I played the original vinyl against the new test pressings and noticed that the new one sounded better. This feeling was confirmed by Andrew Savage who told me that "it is because it was cut by engineer Noel Sommerville who used to work at Metropolis. http://www.discogs.com/artist/335173-Noel-SummervilleHe actually cut the test pressings back in 2010 but the release has been put back until now as the band have been so busy with other projects. The vinyl for the 'Appendix' was cut by GZ Media from the Czech Republic."

Even if you are a not a hardcore fan of Mogwai these records will help you to to taste the lower octave, the dynamic and the definition of the treble on the hi-hat on your system. It is always a great pleasure to have both great musical content with great sounding records and this boxset is clearly one of the best sounding records I have played this year. Go and grab a copy before it's too late !

Playback was achieved via a Uwe green malachite stone-body prototype with a Denon DL-103 retipped by Thomas Schick with boron cantilever and Line Contact III tip (more infos here) and of course a 12" Schick tonearm !

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Mark Kozelek, live at Arci Biko

Sometime you follow an artist for years and you kind of get used to what he makes on records. Then out of the blue, there is something new that just  pops out. The problem with Mark Kozelek is that there is definitely a few times that it did indeed "just popped out". Moving from the Red House Painters  to his new band, Sun Kil Moon, at the top end of the nineties was already a wild card. I still remember perfectly my encounter with the LP Ghost of the Great Highway. There was this way of playing the guitar, the lyrics. The absurd coming from well known songs being reinterpreted in rather odd ways.

Than there was the Jimmy Lavalle project, Perils from the sea that I did tend to play a lot to friends and shows. The impossible groove of Mark with the tight beats of Jimmy. I had to jump on the vinyl record when it popped out and was lucky to get a copy of the limited blue edition. Alas it did not sound as good as the cd and was above all clicking and cracking a lot*. And just after that ? Benji. This record is just pure auto-fiction or should I say auto-lyric, you know this kind of style most novels are now written in. And that is when I realized that Mark had succeeded in blending pop songs into literature.

I saw him in live a few time. Some were good, some were bad. Some were mesmerizing. This live at Arci Biko is just what you can expect from Mark Kozelek at his best. Raw and full of energy. Something quite unexpected from a now fat guy sitting on a chair with a classical guitar. Something that you can listen in your car and just forget that you have a long way to drive. The first live of Mark Kozelek that just makes you confortable (even when he is chatting with his audience). A live where a guy sitting in a couch is as close as it can get from the live experience. It is not the best live recording but the performance is just incredible and yes... it is in CD (you can listen to interesting thought on what Mark thinks of vinyl guys in this performance).

Now : just go and grab a copy At Caldo Verde Records .

* But there are some incredible sounding records of Sun Kil Moon as April Lp.

Friday, June 6, 2014

New Uwe headshell in bubinga wood and Denon 102 body

In-between the Lenco Heaven Belgium meet and my trip to the German audio mafia. I did a stop by Uwe's place. And guess what... I had some surprises.

- Bubinga Uwe  headshell

First one is that a new wood for headshells is available : the Bubinga... Here are the first photos of it : 

 This new headshell have very close weight to the ebony headshell and from my first impression is a bit less "warm" sounding than the ebony one. It also looks absolutely stunning.

Of course these are available right now and... for the same price as the ebony Uwe headshell (retail price is 110€ including Paypal fees and worldwide shipping). The other Uwe headshells and Uwe and Midas Denon cartridge bodies (ebony, snakewood and panzerholz) are still available, and we still have a few Malachite stone-bodies still available. Get them until they last !

- Denon DL-102 prototype Uwe body

Uwe is also working on a new body for the famous mono cartridge Denon DL-102. Here are two pictures of the latest prototype. Do not hesitate to give us feedback about the look of it. Sound improvement is really impressive and I do really like the look of this body.

Retail prices with worldwide shipping and Paypal fees included for Uwe headshells or wood bodies are still :
- Ebony or bubinga : 110€
- Panzerholz or Snakewood : 135€

As you can see... it is a work in progress and there will be more stunning news soon!

View from a verrrrrrry famous tonearm maker window...

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Uwe Malachite Stone body with the Schick touch...

As I was listening to my Malachite Uwe stone-body with a simple Denon 103, I was just amazed by the shear musicality of this cartridge on my Proac tablettes. I drive them with a Luxman MQ-3600 power amp. It is supposed to be a PP of NEC 8045 valves but as these are  really scarce, it was modified in a PP of 6550. 

I like the sound of the General Electric 6550A and this amp deserves them. Hopefully one day I will find  a few matched pair of NEC 8045 and listen to this amp in it's original valve condition and see how it behaves, but even now, just fitted with GE 6550A tubes it sounds absolutely gorgeous. 

But let's get back to our main topic... Thomas Schick sent me a few pictures of his latest retip achievement on a Denon 103 fitted in a Uwe Malachite stone-body.

As you can see from the photos : the retip was performed with a sapphire cantilever. Even though it is more difficult to see it directly from the photos : it has also a micro-ridge tip...

You might also notice that the cheap (looking) plastic tape that Denon uses to protect the coils and damper from dust has been removed and changed with something else. Thomas uses a Washi paper (à la Lyra) but with a subtle alteration. To maintain air flow : it is covered with spray glue that fixes the fibers of the Washi paper. 

How does it sound? Just find out by yourself and I will be happy to provide you with one of these stunning cartridges.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Sweets or Expedits???????

I do not know if you heard the news but Ikea  as decided to part with the Expedit range of shelves.... This is terrible news as I have grown used to regularly buy new Expedit shelves to stock my records.

Sources ? Here and apparently german forums.

In the meantime here are a few sweets just to cheer us up...

This one is leaving today for Germany.

And these ones are staying home. Did I told you a new version of the Paul M tonearm is on it's way... Yes a tonearm designed for the use of the Clément cartridges !!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Schick plinth in blue...

Thomas - Ok. You asked for blue? (heavy german accent)

Me - Yes, Thomas. (à la French)

Thomas - Are you vertig? (very solemn)

Me - Yes Thomas... (getting seriously worried)

Thomas - Allez, les Bleus.

               Louis XIV - Le bras, c'est moi (Perfect german French accent... and nearly perfect quotation of the French king Louis XIV who said once : "le roi, c'est moi" and that Thomas changed into "the tonearm (bras), it's me").

You can guess that the combination of these last few words and the discovery of this new Schick plinth color got me in quite a state. I found both superb. Absolutely superb. I want one for my TD-124 ( King Thomas have you heard my request ?)

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Photos of Schick Plinths for Garrard 301... Black or grey?

I had quite a few requests about Schick plinths designed for the Garrard 301. Here is one of the first plinths photos. It is designed for a 12" tonearm with, here, a Schick tonearm armboard. Armboards can be designed to fit nearly any tonearm fixation pattern. As you can see the plinth  is CNC cut to perfectly fit with your Garrard 301 and thus allow perfect combination.

Schick plinths are available in different shades of grey to black and apparently there should even be some... dark blue. I'm ready eager to see how this last shade will be!

Grey or black armboards?
But let's the photos talk for themselves...


Or black ? 

Schick plinths are available through Cala Mighty Sound.

Retail prices  : 
- Plinth for 9" tonearm with air-feet and pump : 1900€
- Plinth for 12" tonearm with air-feet and pump : 2100€

Shipping fees on request.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Arve Henriksen and the Uwe malachite body...

We all have a CD that we would dream to have in vinyl, or why not in shellac ( remember the Monophonic experience ? ) ... And well one day it is really available in record(s) and this  is exactly what happened with the Chiarursco album of Arve Henriksen. Of course I discovered about it more than one year after it was edited in a ... very limited edition on one of my favorite label Rune Grammofon. In fact this label made things right as they decided to edit three albums of Arve Henriksen and some undisclosed material. You can find some infos about it here and grab one of the last copies.

This night just felt right for the Arve Henriksen trip... I started with my Audio-Technica  AT-33R, the limited edition for there 40th anniversary. The AT-33 in all it's varieties have always been an easy going/listening cartridge. Solid bass, warm mids and delicate treble. The R model is one of the best of its group and it works just perfect on the 12" Schick  tonearm.
Chiarursco (clair-obscure) album sounded absolutely stunning and it kind of landed me right in the heart of the first night I  listened to this (at the time) CD. It induced this particular kind of feeling I really like to embrace when I'm listening to music. Some could even call it synesthesia and well Proust and his "madeleine" wrote about it much better than I could ever do. 

After a while, I decided to come back to the Uwe Green Malachite stone-body that I had been testing over the last three weeks with a simple Denon DL-103 and it made me realize how great the improvements on a standard 103 this body allowed. Where the AT-33R pinpointed details in the music, the Uwe stone-body just lead me in the music. Music as a all coherent space were you just relax and enjoy it. 

Yes I am still fond of Arve Henriksen music and no youtube video could make you discover the incredible universe of timbre and sound he unveils in these wonderful records (which are also available in the same boxset in high quality digital files (I was just going to write fails instead of files...) .

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Schick Plinth for everybody !

Most vintage turntable users are (quite) obsessed in finding the best plinth available for there precious turntables. Common materials to deal with resonances and vibrations during record playback  are mostly : wood, stone, metal or the very fashionable corian. 

Thomas Schick decided to go his own way. His main axis of research was effective damping. What is effective damping? Something in-between too much damping and not enough damping seems to be the most serious answer. But what about sound?

Manometer at the back of the turntable to adjust air-feet pressure.

By gathering different materials together it seems as if it could be possible to blend there best qualities together. Main issue with such brilliant idea is how do we link them together? Screws and other metallic things would possibly ruin such combination. Laying different layers on top of one another can be precarious. Birch Plywood seemed to provide a good sample of what would be close to ideal, but the main problem is that Thomas believes a wooden plinth is not able to deliver with precision the lower frequencies. 

This is how Thomas Schick went for a specific ply-synthetic matter (seven time more expensive than mahagony wood) to design and build his plinth. This material combines the main idea of multiple layers linked together by a strong and coherent link-material, superb sound as well as a beautiful and refine "à la Schick" finish...

In fact the material used for these plinth was designed for measurement equipments used in high-tech laboratories. One of the major goal of this compound is that it is extremely stable and does not change of behavior and shape with temperature and hygrometry changes in domestic conditions.

Every plinth is CNC cut for maximum precision. This manufacturing process allows to remove matter only where it is needed thus allowing the plinth to have as little as possible matter removed. With these process you allow the plinth to be as sturdy as possible. You will be surprised by how dense, how heavy these plinths are. For instance a Schick  plinth for Technics SP-10 mkII with two arms weight a little less than 20 kg without the supplied dedicated air-feet (air pump included). 

To allow a perfect combination of your turntable with the Schick plinth, each plinths are made on request to fit perfectly your turntable. For instance it is nearly unnecessary to screw a Technics  SP-10 mkII to the plinth as it just slips perfectly in place and is already firmly held. Of course using screws to fix your turntable is still even though highly recommended.

I have been using one of these plinths for my own Technics SP-10 mkII turntable for a while and even though I had tested a few plinths with it (original Technics in obsidienne, Finland birch plywood, slate)  and I was not prepared for such a change. Backgrounds are deeper, more silent and music is lively, natural and yet still full of details. This is, with no doubt, the greatest upgrade I have done with my turntable.

These plinths are now available on request for most turntables like the Technics SP-10, Garrard 301 / 401, Thorens TD-124, Commonwealth. They generally take up to six weeks to be prepared and ready for dispatch. And yes : they are available worldwide !

Retail price  : 
- Plinth for 9" tonearm with air-feet and pump : 1900€
- Plinth for 12" tonearm with air-feet and pump : 2100€

Shipping fees on request.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Uwe green malachite stone-body limited edition first pictures !

Here are the first pictures of the new Uwe limited edition green malachite stone-body... This particular mineral was chosen by Uwe for its mechanical aspects as well as high concentration in oxidized copper (more than 50% in fact !).

Those new green malachite stone-bodies weight 6.15g, whereas an ebony wood-body is around 4.20g.

They will retail for the same price as the previous limited black and white stone-body edition that was sold in three months. Each of these are made on request and take up to three weeks to be built for you. And of course Cala Mighty Sound can fit you a brand new Denon DL-103 or DL-103R in it.

Retail prices : 
 - Uwe  malachite green stone-body : 250,00 €
-  Uwe malachite green stone-body + Denon DL-103 : 500,00 €
- Uwe  malachite green stone-body + Denon DL-103R : 650,00 €

These prices do not include shipping and eventual Paypal fees.