pl | en

No. 118 March 2014
Unboxing – a few words about boxes
From the cycle: I’m an audiophile and proud of it


PROJECT

udiophiles are interesting people or an interesting case – as a doctor would say. Their passion, listening to music on its highest possible level, lies somewhere on the borderline of art and technology. The tech part is obvious – music has to be played back by some (audio) device. The art is both the music that a music lover plays back on his beloved audio equipment, but also the components themselves, since many of them are true engineering masterpieces. A similar thing can be said about the aesthetic value of audio products, if not for the fact that a very small percentage of them has anything to do with artistic design. You don’t have to search very far for a confirmation of this. Over ten years ago, Taschen Publishing published a compilation of biographies of “iconic” designers that had the greatest impact on industrial design in the book Industrial Design A-Z (Charlotte & Peter Fiell, Industrial Design A-Z, Taschen, Köln 2003) from their Icons series. Its cover featured the cosmic-looking Nivico 3240 GM television set manufactured by JVC. The entire album only contains a few products from the audio world (in the way we understand audio now), and those are all related to Sony and their Walkman. If the book was published again nowadays, the cover would probably feature an iPod and very little would change.

I hurt over the absence of our branch of industry in society’s general conscience and culture, because I don’t understand how products with such a profound impact on human lives – ones that allow you to interact with music, which is one of the most touching forms of art– aren’t treated as equals to other everyday products. Why are they so carefully erased and cropped out of magazines dedicated to luxury products? Perhaps, at least this is how I understand it, they scare people away with their level of complexity, their price and their “separation” from reality. Perhaps. But cars, yachts, watches, jewelry, and designer furniture aren’t cheap products either, and some of them are as “crazy” as audio components. And in spite of that they are still the center of attention for magazines about home design, hobbies and style.

Maybe the problem lies within ourselves. Maybe we scare the “world” away by being a hermetic group? – That’s for sure. But it could also look this way – maybe our world is so unattractive aesthetically that there’s literally nothing to talk about. That’s also partially true. Limited examples of cooperation with world-class designers, e.g. Ross Lovegrove’s work with the Muon speakers from KEF won’t change anything on a larger scale. I used to think that Bang & Olufsen’s products could crack this icy wall, since their products are visible in every other movie. Yet nobody really associates them with audio – which is a big mistake – but with design. Paradoxically, companies that do most good for the audio world are those which we don’t associate with, i.e. gadget or headphone manufacturers, “signed” by car brands, for example (think Porsche Design, designed by Jules Parmentier, as well as headphones from Logic3). The conservatism of our branch seems to be the real problem. And I’m talking radical conservatism. Although every year there are devices being released that try to break away from the black-rectangle-with-knobs-and-speakers canon, they are mostly treated as a curiosity. When companies like Wadia present their ultramodern project Intuition 01, there’s an uproar over “betraying” the ideals. What ideals, damn it! The ideals of dullness, ugliness and simplicity? And it seems that the only companies that combine tradition with good design, and have moderate success to back it up are Continuum Audio Labs, Constellation Audio, Nagra, Boulder, Goldmund, which not only charm you with their sound, but also their looks. The “anachrophilia” (an expression coined by Ken Kessler, editor of “Hi-Fi News & Record Review”) trend is also doing well, repeating designs from the 1950s and 1960s. As it seems, they’re the best-looking audio designs out there right now. Unfortunately. Generally speaking, we’re ruled by mediocrity and blandness. That’s why when you get something like the Rubicon from Antelope Audio you’re immediately stunned, even before “firing it up” (pictures at the beginning).

BOX. ONE

But not everything that we do is devoid of aesthetic value. Many smaller companies pay a lot of attention to design and let’s praise them for that! It’s a shame they’re not visible enough to improve the appearance of the audio world. But we do have something that could change the way things are at least a little, if displayed properly. I’m talking about albums and their special re-releases.
At first sight, it’s not our “division”, but the music industry’s (i.e. the ones dealing with music, not audio devices). But I think that we’ve been able to largely “take over” part of it through special disc editions. Portrayed as something of a whim in music magazines, they allow us to exchange an already-owned version for an even better-sounding one, even closer to the original performance. We treat them very instrumentally. But it’s impossible to wave aside their graphic design. Most of them are packed in special boxes, which Pink Floyd and Depeche Mode’s editions I once reviewed are good examples of. The description of The Dark Side of The Moon box can be found HERE, and Sounds of the Universe can be found HERE. Out of the Polish box market, an example could be Budka Suflera’s Cień wielkiej góry (see HERE). In this type of release we’re dealing with a special re-master of sound, as well as many additions and gadgets, often including an extra vinyl. But the most important aspect of a set like this is the box in which all of it is packaged. Boxes containing newly-released stuff are quite rare, which is why I’m positively surprised by the box that contains Ego: X by Diary of Dreams (see HERE). It’s only missing the vinyl records – but those are sold separately.

BOX. TWO

It’s probably the most primal meaning of “box” nowadays. Earlier ones, i.e. boxes used to accumulate vinyl records by a certain band, are still in use, but used sporadically, since albums like that are released sporadically as well. Their value isn’t lose, however. CD boxes are continuing their legacy with great success.
Packing the discography of a certain artist, band, or performers in a common box is a marketing move as old as phonography itself. Because this is connected to marketing, just to be clear. Phonographic companies can sell the same material again to people, who usually purchased it separately anyways. That’s why the basic discography is spiced up with unreleased tracks, picture booklets and essays, as well as a very ornate box. In most cases, although the aim is mercantile, the effect is interesting and I personally buy compilations like this quite often. Even if I own one, two or even three of the released albums. And that’s because it’s an inseparable part of the passion of collecting discs.

Here is where we get to the niche within the niche – Japanese boxes from Disk Union. It’s the most wonderful manifestation of a collector’s passion related to the Compact Disc, and also the most expensive one. It is the pinnacle of Japanese mastery concerning album re-releases. But before we get to that, I wanted to say a few words about what we know as “mini LPs”, “Cardboard Sleeves”, and “mini-vinyl replicas”. Each of the above contains part of their actual description. It’s a CD designed to look like a vinyl record. That’s why you get a narrow cardboard “envelope” that looks like a shrunk-down vinyl cover which the CD is slid into, as well as printed material with information about the album. Because we’re talking about Japanese editions, one of the most important parts is the OBI, i.e. a strip of paper with the Japanese description, attached to the discs’ spine. The better the quality of replicating the original album art, including the print details, texture, cutouts and other elements like embossing and gold touches, the better for the mini LP’s cover. It’s also good when the CD contains a printed inset of the original record, obviously modified to contain the titles from both sides of the vinyl, the Compact Disc (or SACD) logo, as well as the Jasrac sign indicating where the release comes from. The aforementioned information about the album is usually a Japanese essay, a track list, their authors, play time, as well as personnel, recording location, mastering information and the team responsible for its re-release. The Japanese are incredibly thorough with this, of course. The whole thing is inserted into a foil or cotton (better!) bag – obviously also manufactured in Japan. Aside from special editions such as Platinum SHM-CD, Crystal Disc or the UD from FIM, it’s usually the best-released musical material available on CD.

BOX. THREE

Janusz, the host of most of the Kraków Sonic Society’s meetings, has been an admirer of all things Japanese for years and Japanese editions are a vast majority of his collection. He probably has everything that’s new and interesting, and it’s at his place that I see most of the things I later buy for myself. Mini LPs are expensive, that’s for sure. But nowadays I can’t imagine buying regular “plastics” (discs in classic “jewel boxes”), or even Japanese ones if I know there’s a “cardboard” version. It’s still not the top shelf, so to say. Because for their purpose, you also get boxes that hold them all in one place. Their job is to organize your collection as well as protect the discs – after all, they’ve been bought with our hard-earned money.
Editions like that are nothing new. As I’ve mentioned previously, their history reaches far back to the vinyl era, and they transitioned smoothly onto the grounds of digital media carriers. And you can fit many more of those in a box. For example, a collection of Herbert von Karajan’s records, released in the 60s by Deutsche Grammophon contains 82 discs (Herbert von Karajan, The Complete 1960s Orchestral Recordings on Deutsche Grammophon, Deutsche Grammophon 477 0055, 82 x CD (2012). And there are even larger editions.
The boxes I’m talking about are slightly different. Each of them has a copy of one of the band’s album covers on the front, usually the one they’re designated for. Most often there are several different versions with different album art to choose from, so you can choose them freely, guided by your likes and preferences. Some of the boxes also has a printed “table of contents” of discs that should be contained within. They fit from two up to nine discs, so if the discography is comprised of more albums than that, you’ll need a few boxes. Of course there are exceptions – the box for Queen’s discography fits 18 albums, including two double ones.
Boxes look similar on the outside: the front wall is the aforementioned album art, the top usually uses the CD’s background, and the back features a list of discs that should be found within. It’s not an iron rule, but somewhat of a strong suggestion. The boxes are 148 mm x 148 mm – e.g. (I picked the one closest to me) Pink Floyd, Tangerine Dream - or 145 mm x 145 mm – e.g. La Düsseldorf and Ash Ra Tempel. There are slightly larger ones sometimes, though – King Crimson “Epitath” box is 153 mm x 153 mm – but it’s an exception. The difference between the two basic types of boxes has a specific reason – they are constructed in a different way. You slide the mini LPs into the smaller ones, and they aren’t close from the backside. The larger ones have an additional inner “drawer” that you put discs into, and the whole thing is closed with a little slide-on seal. Usually there’s only one drawer, but there can be more, such as in King Crimson’s Red, where you get two independent ones.

Music could be listened to without physical media entirely, played back from a file. That’s the reality in most homes nowadays already, and it seems that files and a portable player (or a smartphone, in any other case) as well as the computer have replaced tape players completely, despite the facts they ruled in most homes back in the 1970s and 1980s (and even the 1990s in many cases). No bad word can be said about the logic in which the music is more important than the media carrier. This contemporary way of thinking can be translated into all other branches and it will be a very practical, pragmatic solution.
But I cannot overlook the fact that we live in a world of items, in an aesthetic world. Which is why the way in which we “consume” culture is important – be it a trough or a fine china set. The contents can be the same, but the reception is largely determined through the way it is delivered. That’s why to me, physical media are still the basic method of carrying music. The way an album was released is nearly of equal importance as the music contained within. Let’s not dig through rubbish, let’s aspire to do greater things. It’s obvious that if you have a tight budget, most of your shopping will deal with classic European releases. Great – keep doing that. But you should know there’s something more out there.

BOX. SHOPPING

The cost of Union Disk’s boxes is really prohibitive. An empty box costs from 60 to 150 US dollars (plus shipping and customs). To compare (as of 24.01.2014, ebay.com) a Queen box costs 94 USD, and a Yes box – from 79 to 150 USD. You can also buy a box with a set of mini CDs. In this case, the costs grow exponentially – a triple-drawer King Crimson box with a CD set costs 800 USD. A two-disc Mike Oldfield box with SHM-CDs costs 142 USD (free shipping).

It’s worth remembering that there is an iron “hierarchy” of boxes. The European and American releases stand at the bottom of the ladder, as they are usually quite poor and meant for “plastic” editions. I’ve never seen them sold separately – they’ve always got their contents. Next of all, you have the slightly better-made boxes in a mini-LP-like format, but their print quality and size is significantly lower. The classic mini LP is 135 mm x 135 mm, while their European (and this includes Poland) counterparts are 124 mm x 124 mm. The boxes of the latter are 130 mm x 130 mm in size. Further on, we’ve got the bigger boxes from USA and Europe, the ones sized just like the mini LP look-alikes which they contain. Recently, I bought a box like that, which contained David Bowie’s records, and I’ve got to say that it looks really nice. Up top we’ve got Japanese edition boxes, with the discs inside. That’s how Pink Floyd’s “Discovery” remaster was released. And finally, the very best, the one box to rule them all – Union Disk boxes.

Warning – because of their high price, Japanese boxes are often faked. That’s why it’s worth buying them from certified sellers. I do it through ebay.com, from a few Japanese guys who send me newsletters with all their new stuff. I usually buy mini LP discs at CD Japan and on ebay. A great source of information about mini LPs and boxes, including information about fakes, can be found at MiniLPs.Net.

Good luck on your hunts! (Let’s live more beautifully)


Unboxing is the unpacking of new products, especially high tech consumer products. The product's owner captures the process on video and later uploads it to the web. The term has been labeled a new form of “geek” porn.

en.wikipedia.org

I recommend the blog Unboxing to you, see it HERE.

NOTHING BUT MUSIC
GAD RECORDS

Large record companies work according to a set, functional an worked-out scenario. They choose the artist (band), sign a contract, record and publish the album, an then re-release the material contained within as long as possible. Usually adding rare tracks, live performance fragments, re-mastering material and changing the print design. If it’s an album by a renowned and loved artist, this can be carried on forever. It is an open secret that the release of the CD onto the market was the last lifesaver for the drowning music industry, which could once again sell the same material they had sold many times before. Now the cycle will repeat itself again with files.
And now I’m going to say something that’s not very kosher: I understand that, and as a collector – I support it. Different versions, re-masters, and formats are all part of the great perfectionistic audio world that we live in. It’s interesting, refreshing and fascinating – ever if we’re talking about the 51st version of Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue. But like with any cookie, it’s the tastiest when it has some fillings: chocolate chips, nuts and raisins. Similarly the offer of large record labels is enriched by small, often micro-publications. They’re usually based on seldom-known materials of famous artists, usually never-before released, lying in the archives for years.
That’s what the story looked like with the Poznań-based (that’s where the company is registered) Gambit Records, which released a series of incredibly well-prepared, completely unknown recordings of the kings of jazz, including Miles Davis and Jim Hall in 2005. I often use the latter’s album, Blues On The Rocks, with two recording sessions (1956 and 1960) for audio device reviews.

In Poland there aren’t too many enterprises like this. The releases of Skaldowie albums on vinyl (including colored ones!) by Kameleon Records and GAD Records are some of the most interesting ones recently released. The latter is a real phenomenon, and that’s because of one particular album: the soundtrack from the Polish TV show Sonda (Sonda. Muzyka z programu telewizyjnego). The first edition – 500 CDs and 300 LPs – disappeared from shelves nearly instantly, and almost didn’t even get to the stores, being practically snapped up on the way. On Allegro.pl, the Polish equivalent of eBay, the CD costs 200 zł, and I saw the vinyl for 600 zł for a short while. Fortunately there was a second release of CDs – no more LPs, though. Reducing the company’s legacy to one album would be a mistake, though. Especially since it’s a company with a few good years of experience.
As we find out from their materials:
Before GAD was formed, we worked at the concerts of SBB, Alan White (Yes), Carla Palmer (Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Asia), or Colin Bass. We prepared (and still do) for the needs of other labels albums by such artists as Apostolis Anthimos, Bank, Wolfram Der Spyra, Exodus, Laboratorium, John Porter, SBB, Józef Skrzek, TSA, Turbo or Tomasz Stańko.
The company releases books related to rock music and is responsible for the meritorical content of “Lizard”, a quarterly magazine currently owned by the owner Audio Cave.


If you take a look at GAD Records’ catalogue, aside from their soundtrack to Sonda, you’ll find a few other equally interesting albums. The ones that seemed most interesting to me are Jej portret by Włodzimierz Nahorny, Altus by Krzysztof Duda, and a live recording of SBB at the Jazz nad Odrą festival from 1975. I bought them in bulk, and shortly thereafter I reserved another one for myself – Krzysztof Komeda’s Dance of the Vampires on vinyl. Below you’ll find a few opinions regarding them (except for Komeda – his album premieres on February 3rd). Before you begin reading I strongly recommend buying all of those albums – the costs are low, yet the pleasure is immense. It would be best if you read the album’s review while holding it in your hands. The value of the following releases is mostly musical; I wouldn’t want my critique of their sound to influence your decision as to whether to buy them or not. In other words – buy away.

Krzysztof Duda
Altus
GAD Records GAD CD 012

Krzysztof Duda is one of the most interesting personas on the Polish el-music scene. He preferred the melodic sort of the genre, full of melodious themes in short, compact compositions. The amazing beauty of his tracks gave them a permanent free ticket to the Polish Radio’s programs and into the television, where Duda quickly became one of the favorite el-musicians, whose compositions served as soundtracks for a multitude of TV shows (including the cult TV show Sonda). The material for Altus was compiled from a few different sources and spans over the time period between March 1980 and December 1985. They were recorded in the Polish Radio’s studio in Gdańsk as well as the artist’s home studio. The disc was released in a classic, plastic box with a 16-page booklet. In one of the tracks he is backed up by additional musicians – Włodzimierz Uściński on bass guitar and Zbigniew Lasek on drums (Baza Alfa). The compilation’s producer was Michał Wilczyński. Unfortunately, there’s no information on who, where and how of the re-master. We only know that the tracks were re-mastered from original tapes – I presume they’re analogue reel-to-reel tapes. I would gladly find out, however, what the output material was and would like to see some pictures etc. In the end this is a unique release and that’s how it should be treated.

Right after my first audition of Altus, I ordered this artist’s newest album, Four Incarnations (Soliton.pl SL 3282, CD) recorded with Przemysław Rudź. It’s hard to find something more contrasting than those two releases, both in terms of music and sonic properties. The duet’s album is far better-recorded and produced, but also occasionally boring. Altus, on the contrary, is a collection of fantastic melodies, interesting tracks, it’s colorful, with a strong pulse beneath its skin, but it’s poorly-recorded. I compared its sound to what Jean Michel Jarre, Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schulze, and Kraftwerk were doing at the time, and there’s no hiding the fact that Mr. Duda’s material production is dynamically flat, and most importantly it sounds as if it were recorded (or played back, that’s possible, too) with a miscalibrated Dolby A (or even dBx) noise limiter. A similar effect is achieved with very heavy compression – a pretty choked sound. You can hear a lot of bass on it, but it’s mostly limited to upper bass – the bottom end is nearly absent. If it does manifest itself at all it is through higher harmonics, not the fundamental frequency. I’m wondering what a person (or team) responsible for the re-mastering should do. And I’m guessing that this is what the master tapes sound like. Should he try to faithfully recreate what’s on the tapes, or – in an agreement with the composer, of course – try to create a more balanced and better sound? Both paths are acceptable, but they are mutually exclusive. In this case it sounds like the aim was to change as little as possible in the sound.
Despite these flaws it’s incredible material, which I have already listened to several times. Absorbing, interesting, and creatively stimulating – exactly the way it should be. You just have to treat this album as a “watermark” in time – both musically and sound-wise.

Release date: 9.12.2013

Sound quality: 5/10


SBB
Live Jazz nad Odrą 1975
GAD Records GAD CD 008

SBB’s performance at the Jazz nad Odrą festival in March 1975 was one of the first presentations of their premiere concert program, performed successfully for the next twelve months. In the form of one long suite the musicians presented, for example, fragments of their second (then still unreleased) and third (then still unrecorded) albums, including their greatest hit: Z których krwi krew moja. Over the years the band’s music lost its rock attitude, and the endless dialogues of an overdriven guitar and bass made way for increasingly frequent synthesizers. In 1975 the band reached the perfect balance between these two worlds, weaving in fiery improvisations with thoroughly thought-through compositions. The perfectly preserved material was re-mastered in 24 bits from the original radio tape. The booklet contains unpublished pictures by Tomasz Sikora, SBB’s photographer in the 1970s, as well as a short text about the band’s work in 1975.

[Source: company literature]

Had this material been released back then and had it been published by a famous record label, we’d be talking today about a historical music genre on the level of Krautrock and bands like Faust, Amon Düül II or Popol Vuh. It’s the same quality level of playing, and equally interesting music. Even today, nearly forty years after those events, it can still make the hair on the nape of your neck stand up.
From a technical side this isn’t the best thing that ever happened. I listened to a lot of first-league albums for this particular reason (yes, with King Crimson taking the lead), e.g. a Kraftwerk bootleg from back when they still played on classic instruments (Live On Radio Bremen) and a few things have to be pointed out. The Polish recording has a cut-off top-range, which is particularly audible with the drums. The cymbals are surprisingly clean, and they have been really well-recorded, but they are seriously withdrawn and grey. There’s nothing to talk about when it comes to the lower bass. The perspective is nearly monophonic. But the music… GAD Records has a real talent (the way I see it) with finding musical gems that still shine equally bright as they used to.

Release date: 22.06.2013

Sound quality: 6/10


Krzysztof Nahorny
Jej portret
GAD Records GAD CD 006

At the end of 1970, Włodzimierz Nahorny, a pianist, saxophonist, composer and music arranger, born on November 5th 1941 in Radzyń Podlaski, recorded an album for Polish Recordings that became a top hit in every jazzy category that bordered with easy listening. The whole album received the name of Nahorny’s own composition: Jej Portret (“Her Portrait”). After releasing the album he was contacted with an offer of converting the musical theme into a song; Jonasz Kofta wrote the lyrics and Bogusław Mec performed the song.
Włodzimierz Nahorny studied the clarinet at the National Higher Music School in Sopot. Even while he studied, in 1959, he formed his own band – Little Four quartet. In 1970 he was already a respected persona in the world of Polish jazz. He rolled through an immense number of projects, recording and performing with artists like Andrzej Kurylewicz, Andrzej Trzaskowski, Krzysztof Sadowski or the Polish Radio’s Jazz Studio. He also led his own duet and quintet, and he liked to indulge in pop music from time to time – cooperating with the band Breakout, among others. He received an award twice during the National Festival of Polish Music in Opole: in 1972 he received the Minister of Culture and Arts’ award for the song Jej portret (to Jonasz Kofta’s lyrics), and in 1973 – 1st place at “Premiera’s” concert for Tango z różą w zębach (to Kofta’s lyrics). In 2000 he received the Fryderyk award in the Jazz Musician of the Year 2000 category.

On the album Jej portret he presented himself as a talented multi-instrumentalist (he plays the grand piano, alto saxophone, flute and harpsichord), in a light repertoire full of beautiful, captivating melodies imaginatively arranged by the kings of Polish jazz (Jan Ptaszyn-Wróblewski, Tomasz Stańko, Tomasz Ochalski and Nahorny himself). The blog “Polish Jazz” says that he chose the best Polish compositions from the 1960s and 1970s, some typical pop, some soundtracks, and gave them new value entirely using the language of jazz (see HERE).
The album was re-mastered from the original master tapes with six extra tracks that document Włodzimierz Nahorny’s dive into easy, light and pleasant music. It’s the first time this album is released on CD. The booklet contains – aside from a detailed diagram of how the album was recorded – previously unreleased photographs of Marek Karewicz, taken during an album cover photo session.
Jej portret, the most famous track on the album, is associated with Bogusław Metz’s performance that was recorded two years later than this disc. During the presentation of a book about Kofta, his wife said the song was about her. As you can read in an article by the Polish Radio, Jonasz Kofta told his wife that he had to write lyrics, but had no idea how to do it. Because he didn’t know the girl he should write about. That’s when she asked: do you even know anything about me? Who I really am? And that’s how the song began – Włodzimierz Nahorny recalls (Tak powstał niezapomniany przebój "Jej portret", see HERE).Jej portret was created initially as an instrumental track with strings accompaniment. Only later did Jonasz Kofta write words to the melody and that’s how the unforgettable hit song was born. In 1972, Bogusław Mec sang the song at the music festival in Opole for the first time.

www.nahorny.com

It’s a real musical gem. On one hand it’s really strongly rooted in its time, and the tunes bring to mind countless Polish films from the 1970s, and yet it also contains something from beyond the limits of space and time, which makes it as pleasurable to listen as the very best productions, like – for example – Gene Amos.
The album is surprising from its sound’s point of view. In general, I have to mention its nice tonality, sensible dynamics, and exceptionally well-captured treble – I used to believe that in Polish conditions it’s impossible to properly record drum cymbals. Apparently, I was wrong. Some critique can be aimed towards the sound of particular instruments. Nahorny’s grand piano and saxophone have a limited range and very flat dynamics. They are clearly “drier”. But that’s how they were recorded back then. They seem to be glued on to other well-captured instruments. Those aren’t too selective, but they come together to form a nice “panorama” – deep and wide. The recording isn’t too vivid, at least when it comes to showing the instruments’ bodies and texture, but it isn’t a huge problem. It has a proper tonal balance and is very pleasant to listen to.

Release date:: 16.02.2013

Sound quality: 7/10


Sonda. Muzyka z programu telewizyjnego GAD Records GAD CD 011

Every Thursday in Poland, Andrzej Kurek and Zdzisław Kamiński proved that science doesn’t have to be boring. They were capable of intriguing the viewer with any topic: sport sciences, the processing of crude oil, breeding new types of cattle or the future of computers. They talked about complicated matters in an interesting and captivating way, illustrating their passionate discussion with motion picture clips. This was accompanied by music – incredible and unique music.
The first TV show soundtrack in Polish history is a travel in time back to the 1980s and the vast collection of the German Sonoton’s music library, from which eighteen compositions were chosen. The track list includes the cosmic, pulsating electronic sounds of Claude Larson and Jeff Newmann’s synth-pop trips, but also John Fiddy’s rich funk and the delicate, jazzy-synth compositions of Mladen Franko. The fascinating, nostalgic journey into the world of science and groove is complemented by the legendary opening of “Sonda”, i.e. Visitation by Mike Vickers.
The material was re-mastered from original master tapes and additionally contains a thorough booklet with sketches about the TV show, photos, and album covers. The album was released as a limited edition – 500 CDs (premiered in December 2013) and 300 vinyl discs (premiered in January 2014). The reviewed version is the second CD edition, with its CD print slightly altered, a “Second Edition” footnote and a minimally altered album cover.

[Source: company literature]

The recordings on this album differ from track to track in terms of sound intensity, frequency range and dynamics. What they have in common is their rather bland and shallow midrange. This is true for most electronica recordings from the 1980s, unfortunately. The 1970s seem better when it comes to this. If you listen to the late Reichmann’s Wunderbar from 1978, you’ll know what I’m talking about. But the space is well-preserved, which is important in electronica. The sound’s attack is emphasized and contoured. So why do I come back to this album so often? Certainly due to nostalgia. But also because of the fact that it consists a surprisingly coherent set of tracks that could easily be mistaken for a single band’s composition. You’ve just got to buy it.

CD premiere: 9.12.2013

Sound quality: 7/10


“HIGH FIDELITY’S” 10th ANNIVERSARY

As I mentioned last month, on May 1st “High Fidelity” will be celebrating the first decade of its existence. The very first edition was published online on May 1st, 2004. Wanting to honor some of the manufacturers (especially Polish ones) who have been with us over this period of time, who were born and have grown stronger, and whose products deserve a special recommendation, I invited them to a mutual project which aims to emphasize this bond. I suggested to them the preparation of a unique, once-only available, limited edition of one of their products. Almost all of them responded enthusiastically to the invitation, and below you’ll find the list of products with some basic information about how they’ll differ from the regular versions. We’re also revealing the anniversary edition logo for the first time.
All the components, speakers and accessories are meant for the readers of “High Fidelity” who can come into their possession by participating and winning a special contest prepared for the occasion. The contest will be on from April 1st, which is when its rules and regulations will be posted, until April 30th. The contest’s results will be published on June 1st, in the editorial.
I can already reveal some of the main rules. Participating in the contest will require some work. The limited edition components with HF’s birthday logo and a special plate will be available to people who: a) design (all techniques are permitted) a “High Fidelity” cover (your dream cover, something you’d like to see – I’m relying on your creativity; the projects will have to be sent to us via e-mail); b) write an article related to audio – a report, a review, or a personal story. We’re still working on the third option. What’s important is that when you register yourself as a participant, you’ll have to indicate which exact product you are competing for – it has to be something you dream of, not just “anything, as long as I win”.
The works will be reviewed by a jury presided over by me and including Bartek Łuczak who is responsible for getting HF onto your computers. We’ll be gradually revealing the photos of the prepared devices– and they will all be shown on April 1st.

Here’s a list of products that have already been confirmed.

Ancient Audio will prepare a special version of the Studio Oslo active monitors, with granite stands and upgraded components – possibly even a different connector cable (value – ca. 8,000 zł);

Gigawatt is thinking about pimping their top-grade LC-3 MK3 1.5 m power cable (the regular version’s value is 990 Euro);

Franz Audio Accessories is preparing a special edition of their anti-vibration platform and a set (4 pcs) of isolation feet;

Abyssound will give someone a very special gift – a line preamplifier with a very special finish, probably with a gold-plated front panel – all worth nearly 20,000 zł;

Ad Fontes, a turntable manufacturer, will give someone the very first, unique turntable from their new, still non-released “Szczeniak” (“Puppy”) series;

Linear Audio Research is working on a hybrid amplifier – it will be the first, special unit manufactured exclusively for us;

KBL Sound, that I’ve been exchanging some ideas with, has prepared for HF readers its top power strip in a unique finish (worth ca. 9,000 zł);

Sounddeco, a loudspeaker specialist, has offered a special version of its F2 speakers;

Divine Acoustic is already working on a unique version of its flagship speaker, the Proxima 3. Since we already know some more details, we can say that Mr. Piotr Gałkowski (owner, designer) is planning to coat it in a red grand piano varnish – it will be the only pair in this color finish, covered in over 20 layers of varnish. Additionally, he’d like to add the following three elements to the speaker pair:
1. The 10th anniversary logo, laser engraved on the golden elements near the tweeter,
2. The HF10 lettering embossed on the leather below the woofer,
3. The “High Fidelity” logo in color as well as the logo of the Best Product 2013 award on the back plate.
The speakers will also come in red protective bag covers instead of the regular graphite-colored ones (worth ca. 10,000 zł).

In time, as the “anniversary” products will be taking shape we’ll give you more details. At this point I invite you to participate – after all, HF 10th anniversary happens only once :)

About Us

We cooperate

Photo

Our reviewers regularly contribute to  “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.

enjoythemusic linia positive-feedback linia hifistatement linia

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



Digital camera:
Canon EOS 5D MkIII

Lenses:
EF-16-35/L II USM
EF 100 mm 1:2.8 L IS USM


The site is powered by