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No. 129 February 2015

„GAZETA WYBORCZA” AND WHAT COMES FROM IT

n December 13th 2014 in „Magazyn Świąteczny”, an insert to „Gazeta Wyborcza”, the largest Polish newspaper, Konrad Wojciechowski published his article Najważniejsze jest to, co słychać w piosence – audiofilskie mityngi (What matters is what one can hear in the song – audiophile meetings. It concerned mostly Cracow Sonic Society and in particular our meeting #95, during which we listened to Accuphase DG-58 – digital voicing equalizer. We had special guests – Accuphase's managers – Mr Jim S. Saito, Mark M. Suzuki, Tatsuki Tozuka and Kohei Nishigawa (you can find more about meeting HERE). „Gazeta…” printed over 280 000 pieces of this issue, and this particular article was also published on their web site - gazeta.pl, under „Magazyn…” tab. It was so popular that it was then moved to the main Gazeta's tab (see HERE), which meant that additional hundreds of thousands of Readers could read it.

This article portraited members of Cracow Sonic Society, but also readers of „High Fidelity” and other audio magazines, as rich snobs who looked for ways to spent money to impress their, equally snobbish, friends.
It wasn't supposed to be like that. Material was prepared by Mr Konrad Wojciechowski. He's an editor who wrote in „Gazeta…” about music – obviously an experienced, sophisticated guy. It took us a lot of time to agree all the details, dates and so on, but finally we managed to meet. We spent a nice afternoon in my place listening to the music and talking. We did an official interview – I explained to him how important was music for people like us, and why it was so important that this music was reproduced in the best possible way, and why we were ready to spend a lot of money for the best possible sound quality. Konrad asked me also if it was possible to build an inexpensive system, that would offer a nice sound quality. After I told him that even spending only as little as 3000 PLN one could have a really nice sounding system, he declared that he'd be interested in having one as soon as he has moved to a larger apartment. I was pretty sure then, that I just witnessed a birth of a new audiophile. I enjoyed this meeting a lot.

In the evening of the same day we met the gentlemen from Accuphase. It was a very good, productive meeting. Konrad was obviously moved by what he heard, including changes introduced to the sound by Accuphase equalizer, and he wrote a short impression about it, that one could read in our report from that meeting (see HERE). It was unambiguous and required no additional explanation.
Publication of the article was postponed. First Konrad asked me for some additional explanations concerning what I told him during interview. OK., no problem with that. Later he asked for some comments from other people from CSS. It was also fine – as a reporter he wanted to do his job in the best possible way. To my surprise later I received from him some additional questions, and finally a series of questions like: “the best of...” – which didn't make any sense. At this moment I realized that something was wrong, it looked to me like these additional questions came from a different person, not Konrad I met and talked to, not the guy who heard what we heard and liked it as much as we did. He suddenly seemed to be a person who had his vision for his article, that had nothing to do with what I talked about with him, with our listening sessions, with music played in a way we thought was best. Now it seemed that what Konrad wrote right after our meeting was only a first step in a story that now went in a totally different direction, that had nothing to do with what actually happened.

Then after another delay article was finally published and my concerns were confirmed. What we got from Konrad before article was published were “warm words” (Konrad's expression) about us, about our passion, that presented us in a very positive way. That's what we heard from him. What was actually printed was editors' own vision of what audiophilia was. I mentioned editors (plural) and not just Konrad as I realized how large publishers work. Even though one author signs an article it often is a “collective” work that presents rather an opinion of chief editor (at least if he wants to express it) than of actual author. Basing on our meetings, on what Konrad said, what he wrote right after the meeting I would say that his influence on the article that was finally printed was minimal. I wouldn't be able to explain such a huge difference between what he said during and after our meeting and what was printed in any other way.

Meeting #95 CSS: Mr Jim S. Saito – CEO Accuphase between the owner of Nautilus and his friend.

So now, knowing what I already know even if I could turn back the time to the moment when I received an email from „Gazeta Wyborcza” asking for interview, I wouldn't have change a single thing. I would have agreed even knowing about consequences, meaning this final form of Najważniejsze… article, and a “storm” it started among audiophiles. And I would do it again and again. No matter how many times I'd be asked a question, I'd have answered yes each and every time. Despite the fact that “Gazeta's” editorial team didn't understand a thing about what we do. Despite the fact that they twisted o lot of facts and ignored others. A hobby for rich people? You've got to be kidding! – 90% of all audiophiles have budget, or mid-priced systems at most. We are snobs, we listen to sound instead of music? – you'd have to be a idiot to believe that. I told Konrad how much I spent on music, how often I went to concerts, and other members of CSS presented similar facts. And I don't believe that we are special among audiophiles. According to the article four women Konrad actually met that day (so women actually somehow involved in our hobby) somehow turned into one housewife (that's just one example of how facts can easily be twisted). And despite all that I would do it again.

The point is – most newspaper articles become outdated very quickly, almost at the moment of publication. After some time what most people remember are just some ideas, names. Key-words of this article would be „audiophiles”, „Cracow Sonic Society”, „High Fidelity”, a probably also my name. And an impression that audiophilism is elitist. Elitist, so most likely desirable, right? – who doesn't want to be special? This stupid, untrue picture of our hobby presented by “Gazeta Wyborcza” will be actually remembered only by us, audiophiles. I think that everybody who has anything to do with this beautiful hobby was probably pissed after reading this article about how untrue it was. Let me tell you something: don't you wonder after reading such a preposterous article about something you know about, what kind of b... s... they write about things we know nothing about...?

Meeting #95 CSS: Whole Accuphase crew with other participants.

So I'd like to convince all of you, people who try to achieve the impossible, the 100% live-like performance in your homes, please, join me in celebration! What's to celebrate? For the first time in the history a leading Polish newspaper printed a large article about us! I can assure you that after this article most readers finally learned about existence of people like us, of „High Fidelity”, about “listening session” and so on, for the first time in their lives. And, let me repeat that one more time, most of them will remember that audiophiles are an elite group. An elite group that truly enjoys what it does. We will be the only ones who will remember the b...s... and the facts that were ignored by this article. Still – no money will buy this type of advertisement. Never before has audio business in our country had a publicity on such a great scale. As they say – it doesn't matter what they write about you as long as they write something …”

WESTERN ELECTRIC WE16GA

Each participant of the CSS meeting that hosted also Konrad was hurt by other part of this article – I talked to all of them, so I know first hand. For me it was a part about our Japanese guests from Accuphase. Anybody who ever met people form Japan realizes that they are people who don't express emotions. Expressing emotions is in this country considered rude. So during official contacts with Western people Japanese seem very official. But whenever they feel that they are among friends, if something catches their interest, their “official” face is replaced with a smile and passion. That's exactly how our guests behaved and pictures from our meeting prove that. They were obviously moved, touched by what they heard and saw, a their passion and focus on the subject of our meeting – DG-58 – was pretty obvious too. I'd say that these qualities of Japanese people combined with their drive for perfection is exactly why the best audio products are created by these people.

A picture taken during Audio Show 2014 in Warsaw in JPLAY room: Marcin Ostapowicz, its owner, is a great fan of SPEC products. During the Show Kaiser Acoustics Kavero! Chiara speakers were connected with amplifier using WE274B cables. The same cables were plugged into SPEC RSP filter (you can see it in the back of the picture).

The advantage of Japanese audio is based not only on innovative approach and new inventions. One won't find any other country (and even if so it would be also in Asia) – that knows how to, effectively, combine ultra-modern solutions with many vintage ones.
One of the perfect examples of this particular ability is an activity of Mr Shirokazu Yazaki, a CEO of SPEC Corporation. He described an amazing history of his private and professional life in an article written for “HighFidelity”, titled My private audio history, published in our magazine No. 109 in May 2013 (see HERE).
SPEC's chief combines his passion for rare tubes with passion for very modern, class D amplifiers that his company manufactures. He told me after premiere of his F33EX amplifier: „I couldn't believe it myself, how amazingly close was the sound of F33EX to what my tube amplifier based on Western Electric WE310A + DA30 + WE274B tubes delivered!”

Shirozaku-san's favorite amplifier based on Western Electric WE310A tubes in gain stage and WE16GA rectifier.

He said that not about just any tube amplifier, but the one he loves most. The one he recently upgraded replacing internal wiring for Western Electric WE16GA. Later he replaced also speaker cables for WE16GA, and he decided to use also a new speaker filter RSP-901EX. Both WE16GA and RSP-901EX are very unique products. Shirokazu-san will tell you about the first of them. He will also tell you about another of his “vintage” discoveries, an interconnect from the past.


Shirokazu Yazaki
SPEC CORPORATION/Engineering

Shirokazu Yazaki
SPEC CORPORATION/Engineering

About WE16GA, SPEAKER CABLE
To my friend, Mr Wojciech Pacuła

My personal commitment of Western Electric

Today I would like to introduce you our SPEC engineering team’s reference cables, WE16GA speaker cable and Belden 8402 interconnect cable.

Picture taken in 2013, during High End Show in Munich, on the right an author of this article Mr Shirokazu Yazaki, a director of SPEC Corporation, on the left also a very warm man, Mr Tsutomu Banno, a chief designer and engineer.

I believe Western Electric is not only a legend of audio-history but also a living legend right now. It has been true not less than in my audio system so long time. Perhaps one of my most desirable audio gears is the rectifier tube named WE274B, so old engraved one. I have tried a lot of famous rectifier tubes through many years. But only this very rare vintage rectifier could satisfy all my wishes for the playback sound or tonal character. In a word, it’s so attractive, full of musicality and absolutely free of imperfections. And so when we developed our class D amplifiers, RSP-F33EX, M3EX or V1DT, I have hardly tried to find out the semiconductor diode for the power supply which has the sound like as or close to WE274B. Yes it’s a hard work for us. And I suppose no-one in the world could succeed to unlock the secret of the supreme sound of WE274B-Engraved. Additionally, it should be a miracle because that my WE274B was produced in the midst of World War II but is surely working very well in 2014 and also I can fully enjoy the sound in every day. Can you imagine this reality?

Inside of Shirozaku-san's amplifier – you can easily see connections made with WE274B cable.

So every time when I listen to the music with my home system, I should have to call mind about the great intellect of unknown many engineers charged with developing 274B in Western Electric at that time. All I can do is, I only express my highest appreciation to those engineer’s efforts and remarkable results with my head down.

About the speaker cable called WE16GA, the approved Western Electric part’s number; KS13385L-1 was produced by A.I.W. (American Insulated Wire Corporation) in USA. I have same type of sound impressions about it like as 274B. Yes I would like to leave the precise review to – Wojcech-san this time but I have loved the sound of WE16GA around ten years and the cable will be my most favorite or highest standard in the upcoming year because of the artistic and organic sound of the cable. And also I suppose or expect that it might be confirmed by someone, such size of 16 gauge, the simple structure , the old primitive processing copper wire and the unexceptional tin plated used WE16GA made in USA might be the best or most natural for our hearing as an audio speaker cable in near future. But so sorry that WE16GA cable only exists as rare NOS (New Old Stock) parts mainly in Japan right now. So I’m a lucky man!!

A very old microphone cable, Belden 8402

WE274B tubes with engraved writing from Shirozaku-san collection.

Around three years ago I finally found out the analog or interconnect cable which sound is proportionate to WE16GA speaker cable. It is called Belden 8402, very old microphone cable and you could see the precise specification on this website HERE.
It’s rich and mild low range basically supports gracious mid-high with copious information. The structure of 8402 is very close to the famous traditional American studio cable, 8412. But I feel the sound of 8402 full of excellent naturalness and it might be the difference of the sound, 8402 and 8412.
Fortunately I can easily get 8402 at the pro-audio shop in Tokyo now. The shop is the importer or distributor of Belden cable in Japan. And I heard that 8402 is the special order from the shop to Belden USA. And so I’m lucky too!!
In High End 2013 in Munich, we demonstrated the sound, mainly our RSA-M3EX driving Amphion Argon 7L, but also we used WE16GA and Belden 8402. Thankfully, we heard so many visitors from all over Europe said to us, “Congratulations!! or Outstanding!!”. Accordingly our choice of the cables might be a correct answer!!


Esoterism? – That's what people who never even tried different cables, say about sonic differences between them. True music fans who experienced their music on high class systems have no doubts that cables effect the sound. When one hears about very special cables from a one of the most experienced Japanese engineers, a man who ran a R&D section of Pioneer for many years, who build innovative reel-to-reel tape recorders but also DVD Players – one knows that it is an information worth considering. Soon we will publish our short opinion on Western Electric WE16GA and Belden 8402 cables, that I received from SPEC's CEO. I will also share my impressions on a sort and scale of changes introduced by Real Sound Processor RSP-901EX filters. Mr Shirokazu wrote that these might be the best and final version of this product he created. So each time I read that a person searching for a good sound is snobby, or fanatic, or even an idiot – I play another record and simply don't care about all those haters and idiots who claim that! I treat them as “useful idiots” who do a good job a spreading information about our hobby.

Two weeks later, also in „Gazeta Wyborcza”, a chemist, Ms Monika Adelajda Koperska and a physicist, Mr Darek Aksamit, wrote in the article titled What do (or don't) scientist believe:

Faith is based on trust, science is based on lack of trust. […] We don't trust our own theories. We don't believe in our own results. We are not allowed to accept something as true (especially not for ever). We are skeptics. It is a basic assumption. And we apply skepticism even to already proven theories. There is another key word: „verification”.
The latter [science], driven by skepticism in its curiosity, constantly verifies its theories and it always admits to mistakes. […] Science keeps developing due to skepticism. […] There is no, and must be none, sacrosanct in science, nothing that can not be challenged or changed. One does not believe in science.

Monika Adelajda Koperska, Darek Aksamit, W co wierzą (lub nie) naukowcy, „Gazeta Wyborcza”, Wednesday-Friday Dec. 24-26th 2014, p. 28.

So go ahead, do it yourself – challenge, test, verify everything we write about in „High Fidelity”, check for yourself whether there is some truth in what others write about our hobby. Otherwise you'll be no different from journalists from some popular newspapers. You might find another benefit from this process – you might fall in love with music again, as we did, when you hear, probably for the first time, how this music should really sound like. It might become something more than just a background noise.

THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT I WOULD LIKE TO WISH YOU ALL FOR THE NEW 2015 YEAR. I ALSO HOPE THAT IT WILL BE AT LEAST AS GOOD AS THE LAST ONE WAS!!!

Greetings from SPEC Corporation

Chief Editor
Wojciech Pacuła




10/10 COMPETITION
EQUIPMENT, PEOPLE, WINNING – AN OVERTIME

Pylon Pearl 25 Special
A review of my winning

On Oct 1st 2014 we announced an overtime for our 10/10 Competition. An award to be won was a special version of Pylon Audio Pearl 25 speakers. Ms Beata Dudek won this overtime by sending us a picture that made us truly laugh. Below you will find a short text she sent us after receiving the award.

Text: Beata Dudek
Photos: Beata Dudek

I would like to share with you my impressions of time I spent with slightly “tuned” version of floorstanding loudspeakers Pylon Pearl 25 that I won in your competition. This award was funded by Mr Mariusz Jujka, a manufacturer of Pylon Audio speakers.

I was really excited about winning these speakers and couldn't wait for their arrival. Finally a courier brought me two large boxes with speakers. We started to unpack them with my husband and were truly surprised how carefully they were packed to ensure their safe transport. It took us around 15 minutes to unpack. Respect for the manufacturer for this professional job.
Whew! ... finally we finished and ... Wow! These speakers looked amazing – a white, high-gloss finish was really impressive. Pearls offered elegant and yet modern look. This particular finish gets my highest recommendation as it looks fabulous. A special thanks goes to Mr Mariusz, as initially speakers were supposed to be finished with a natural veneer. Fit&finish were top class. It was clear to us that manufacturer did his best to offer a top notch product. Tuning of our version, compared to a standard one, included additional reinforcement of the cabinets, higher quality speakers posts, and higher quality internal wiring.

We set the speakers up, powered up the system and... that sounded good! Although maybe not as good as expected... yes, right, I read that speakers needed a 90 hours break-in period. Obviously they needed some time for all elements to settle in, break-in and so on. OK, we had to wait. We used a tuner as a source of signal and just let it on. Next day it already sounded better – bass went deeper, soundstage seemed larger. Still, I realized that my system wasn't quite match for these speakers – all I had at my disposal was a receiver and a regular DVD player. But still, even in this system my new speakers sounded much better than my previous Eltax ones. That still wasn't my final test. I was waiting for my brother to come next weekend bringing his system with. He came with his stereophonic amplifier, D/A Converter, some higher quality cables and now we could start the ultimate test of my new speakers. Pylon speakers presented wonderfully clear sound, they were really resolving. I particularly loved vocals - Norah Jones seemed to stand right in front of me. This presentation of human voice was so convincing that I was, subconsciously, looking for a central speaker. We didn't have any high quality CD Transport at our disposal, so we decided to use a laptop to play a 24/96 FLAC version of Dire Straits So Far Away. That was it! - soundstage became impressive, I could hear lots of new information – details, subtleties that I couldn't hear before. This experience showed me a potential of my new speakers.

To be honest – I was truly surprised by how good these speakers sounded – they delivered open sound, high quality bass that is nicely defined and controlled (although to achieve that these speakers required to be placed at least 0,5m from the back wall), treble wasn't bright nor harsh, maybe a bit rounded on the edges, midrange was very nice and palpable  - I particularly enjoyed listening to vocal recordings. Pearls turned out to be resolving, and also they created a very nice soundstage, that got even more 3-dimensional when we played a Hi-Res material. I used music of different genres: rock, metal, blues, jazz, electronic music and basic on my experience I believed that they were capable of delivering any music in a convincing way/ They offer a proper tonal balance, although I thought there was a gentle emphasis on a midrange area. It seems to me that the price one has to pay for these speakers, for an particularly good fit&finish and for wonderful performance is a true bargain. I don't think there are many speakers in this price range that could compete with Pylons. I intent to enjoy these loudspeakers for a long, long time. I think... I just found my new love...

Thank you again, for everything!
Beata Dudek


Review: Pylon Audio PEARL 25 - floorstanding loudspeakers, see HERE

www.pylonaudio.pl

About Us

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Our reviewers regularly contribute to “Audio”“Enjoy the Music.com”, “Positive-Feedback.com”“HiFiStatement.net”  and “Hi-Fi Choice & Home Cinema. Edycja Polska” .

"High Fidelity" is a monthly magazine dedicated to high quality sound. It has been published since May 1st, 2004. Up until October 2008, the magazine was called "High Fidelity OnLine", but since November 2008 it has been registered under the new title.

"High Fidelity" is an online magazine, i.e. it is only published on the web. For the last few years it has been published both in Polish and in English. Thanks to our English section, the magazine has now a worldwide reach - statistics show that we have readers from almost every country in the world.

Once a year, we prepare a printed edition of one of reviews published online. This unique, limited collector's edition is given to the visitors of the Audio Show in Warsaw, Poland, held in November of each year.

For years, "High Fidelity" has been cooperating with other audio magazines, including “Enjoy the Music.com” and “Positive-Feedback.com” in the U.S. and “HiFiStatement.net”  in Germany. Our reviews have also been published by “6moons.com”.

You can contact any of our contributors by clicking his email address on our CONTACT  page.

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ALL PHOTOGRAPHS OF THE TESTED DEVICES ARE MADE USING THE EQUIPMENT OF THE COMPANY



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