Friday, 15 March 2019

My Tunes at brianandtrevors 14 March 2019

The House of Linn, aka brianandtrevors, is a hifi dealer in Manchester.  The ex-Linn team started out as House of Linn then expanded into a parallel business that stocks non-Linn gear.  I've spent a few evenings there for demos and we've done some business together, on the Linn side of the house.  Its a fine old high ceiling end terrace with 3 dem rooms, a workshop and, perhaps most importantly, a kitchen for brewing tea and dispensing wine.

Most of the evening events have focussed on a product launch, or a manufacturer visit. Quite a few times B&T have mentioned having relaxed music only evenings and finally, they've kicked off a new series dubbed "My Tunes".  The idea is for a customer or other visitor to play some tunes, chat a little about them whilst enjoying the afforementioned tea or wine.  And that was the brief I was given when invited to be the "selector" for the first of these evenings.  Play a few tunes and tell the group a bit about why they were chosen.

I only had one request, that I could choose the system we'd use, and fortunately B&T are now Kudos dealers so it was straightforward to ask for something interesting, but more of that later, there was some planning to do.  What to play?  I do have a collated album of around 450 "favourite" tracks saved on the Melco NAS so I headed there and started to think about what to play and what to say.  It takes a bit of time to whittle it down, try and think of a good variety and then think back to why the track was in the main list, how it came into my life, and how to frame the story.

Eventually there were few enough tracks to put into 2 slots of about 50 minutes each, to allow for a break part way through (to recharge glasses of course!).  The first track was easy - play the first record I bought for myself - and then I remembered that there is a little box of singles in the house, so a quick check and there it was - the original copy of Solid Gold, Easy Action by T-Rex.  Glam rock!  I think it cost me about 35 pence, probably quite a few weeks of pocket money back in 1972.  It then occured to me that it might be worth not only talking about the music, but my hifi journey too, given the location.  So I tried to mix the two things along the way - a bit about the music, a bit about the hifi.

A good size audience of 15 joined the evening.  B&T introduced the idea and myself and that was it, get on with it!  Something I really appreciated, and hoped the audience did too, there was no mention at all of the kit in use, except to answer questions during the break. So no selling as such, a nice relaxed approach.  But we'll cover the system now, because it was something that I'd wanted to hear for a while and something I hoped would work really well.

We started the evening with that very old and pretty well worn T-Rex single, running on an almost full Klimax Linn LP12.  So a Radikal motor and PSU, Ekos SE, Keel, Urika II phono stage, Kandid cartridge and the one deviation from Klimax - B&T's own bamboo based booplinth plinth.  Brave of them to let the Kandid track this old single.  It sounded a bit thin, but remarkably free of pops and crackles, but clearly showing signs of stylus damage.  For the rest of the evening we played the tracks from the Innuos Zenith through a Chord Music ethernet cable into a Linn Klimax DSM - but using the Exakt outputs tonight.  The Exakt signal travelled down a Cat 7 ethernet cable to a Klimax Exaktbox/1 (that's the Katalyst version).  This was on a small rack near the speakers which also accommodated three Linn Klimax Twin power amps, each driving one of the 3 drivers in each Kudos Titan T-808 speaker, via Chord Music speaker cables.  So that was the system I'd asked for, but B&T threw in a couple of Exakbox sub boxes and a pair of REL No 25 subs at the back of the room.  All the electronics were supported by Quadraspire racks.

Click on the images for larger versions:



Kudo Titan 808 speaker along with a stack of Linn Klimax ingots - one Exaktbox, 3 Twin power amps, and a couple of boxes not in use tonight


From the top: Linn LP12 turntable in a booplinth, Linn Klimax DSM streamer / pre-amp, Innuos Zenith NAS, Linn Radikal power supply for the LP12 all on a Quadraspire X-Ref rack

Chord Music Cables
View across the largest of the dem rooms


Before the guests arrive we chewed the fat on the latest in hifi stuff and more, then had a listen to the system - just spending a little time tweaking the volume of the subs down a little to get the best balance.  SPACE is in play on the system and, as is often the case now, with the latest software versions, the default setting in a Exakt system is pretty much spot on.  And the system was sounding fantastic, pleased to say that its probably the best system I've heard in the house.  Full of detail, speed, tuneful bass lines, crisp, clear, beautifully resolved and emotional vocals and slam like I've never heard in the house before.  Fantastic.  I also spent a bit of time listening to a pair of Titan 505s in the smaller upstairs dem room, being driven by Linn Akurate Exakt electronics.  That was a good listen too - the Titan range seems to be a good design.

Below is the list of tracks I went with.  I have to say, I'm not sure its the right list, or the best list, or whatever, but its the one I came up with for the evening.  I did put some time into it but I didn't over think it or spend time putting tracks in and out of the list. Maybe I'll get invited back in a few years time and I can go with a completely different list.  So in there there are some older tracks, some new stuff, electronic music, jazz, americana, folk, covers, punk and rock/pop.

You can click on the image for a larger version:


I was hoping to put together something that some people would know (Teenage Kicks, of course), some tracks known but in new versions (Ever Fallen In Love, Don't Go Breaking My Heart) and something that would be new to most if not all (Pitch Black, perhaps Fink).  During the break it would seem that the balance was OK for most, but I've no doubt there were some genres missing or perhaps too much of one genre for others.

The audience were very attentive, there was some banter during the introductions, hopefully the little stories were interesting, but mainly, I hope that the music was of interest and enjoyable.  Certainly that system did it all justice.  If nothing else, I enjoyed the evening!

I'm looking forward to the next time B&T organise a session - it'll be interesting to be in the audience and hear someone else's selections and stories.

Thanks to B&T for the invitation to "select".


B&T have made the most of this post for their newsletter  :)

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