Well, the holidays are upon us again, it’s a time to reflect on the goodness in our lives, and maybe a few things on our wish list(s). I asked all the contributors here at Wall of Sound to send me theirs, just for fun. We thought it’d be a nice way for readers to get to know us a little better. And, of course, just in case anyone out there is “listening” (Santa??).
Tim Smith: 1) To see the Keith Jarrett Standards Trio get back to its mid-1980s to mid-1990s groove, when it produced the best music ever in a trio format. And to see them live, in a small venue, not an opera hall (where I saw them in Toronto a few years ago and where they simply phoned in a lacklustre performance).
2) To listen to the Keith Jarrett Standards Trio on a system comprised of Harbeth Monitor 40.1s fed with a great R2R ladder DAC and amplified with an Audio Note Ongaku. And the 20 by 30 foot room required for such a system
3) To see a great company like Audio Research build single-ended amplifiers.
Neil Hobkirk: 1) …all that might have been…, the new album from Peter Hammill, prolific prog rock genius, DIY studio innovator and Van der Graaf Generator kingpin. The 3-CD deluxe edition is perhaps the Christmas desideratum, for it promises to be the man’s magnum opus. (http://sofasound.com/phcds/allthatmightbox.htm)
2) Sun Zoom Spark: 1970 to 1972, Rhino’s limited edition 4-CD box compiling three essential Captain Beefheart albums—Lick My Decals Off, Baby; The Spotlight Kid; and Clear Spot—plus a fourth disc of previously unreleased outtakes. A no-brainer for my wish list, since these slabs of surreal beatnik blues-rock logopeia should sound better than ever in Rhino’s remasterings. (http://www.rhino.com/article/now-available-captain-beefheart-sun-zoom-spark-1970-to-1972)
3) BIS Records’ specially priced 3-CD collection of previously issued recordings of orchestral works by Max Reger, with Leif Segerstam conducting the Norrköping Symphony Orchestra. A Holy Grail-like entry in my Yuletide loot list because I’ve been lusting after this set ever since its release in January 2014. Surely Christmas is the time finally to be indulged in this desire?! (http://www.bis.se//index.php?op=album&aID=BIS-9047)
Scott Fraser: #1. A new room. I’m lucky enough to have a room where I can arrange things anyway I please. My main constraint is size. I found a guy online, who had a fire and rebuilt in a very HiFi way. Software was on a second story type balcony and the room was spacious and had a sloping ceiling. Easy, easy to love.
#2.Western Electric 12a/13a Speakers I don’t need anymore speakers, but with a room of this size, why not take advantage. These enormous speakers harken back to the 1st talking movies. They are beyond rare and sadly, I’ve not heard them. I have heard their descendants. I should clarify, I’ve heard their descendant, a single speaker system. A customer some years back, was lucky enough to own one. He also had a converted barn to use it in. Hmm, maybe number #1 should’ve been a barn? I’ve no problem extrapolating in my mind, on what a pair would be like. I struggled with wishing for something I’ve never heard, but I trust the ears of those that have. Reproductions of the WE555 drivers has proved fruitful, but the cost is no bargain. Cabinets have also been produced of the 15A horns, but it’s unlikely a commercial offering of the 12A/13A will ever occur due to cost and complexity.
#3. A Trip with the Editor to the Akihabara. This is just as fanciful as the other two. I wouldn’t mind even window-shopping through the new and used delights (with an interpreter, of course). Noam and I have kidded about such a thing, knowing that the possibility was pretty far off. To complete the outlandish wish would be enough ¥ to facilitate not only a purchase or two (or more), but the cost of getting it back home. There won’t be any pairs of WECo 12a/13a speakers, I’ve read there are no stereo pairs in Japan. It might sound odd, but the Japanese started importing the long-forgotten vintage SOTA gear in the 70’s.
Noam Bronstein: 1). A wood or aluminum body for my Denon DL103. BUT the caveat is, I’d like it to come with a guarantee that I won’t lunch the stylus while installing it! I tried to denude a DL103 once in the past, and that’s what happened. Not a very happy day. While I’m dreaming of analog goodies (and luck), can I add a really nice step-up transformer (like a Partridge or a Kondo), and maybe a world-class tonearm? Something like a VPI Classic 3D, or even a gently used Graham 1.5 or 2.0, would be very sweet. Oh. And a bit of sorely needed room treatment? Right, I guess those were all of my audio wishes wrapped into “one”. (cheating, you say? But I made the rules!)
2). I’d love to “fill out” my collection of Speakers Corner reissue LP’s. I have a dozen or so, and they’re all very good. If I could have more of the Decca SXL’s and maybe a bunch of the Verve jazz titles, that would be awesome. Come to think of it, the same holds true for Mosaic, and Testament. I guess I love reissues! (original pressings are wonderful, but a reissue company rep might be reading this….so bruh, can you just send me a box like in the above pic?)
3). I’d really like to interview a top-flight musician who I admire, say for example, Sam Beam, or Jeff Tweedy, or maybe Jack White. I promise I won’t act like a pretentious douchebag in the process. And while I’m wishing for good things to happen at WallofSound.ca, how about some benevolent advertisers? Maybe some men’s magazine, or giant tech company could just come along and fund the whole thing, so I could do this full-time without worrying about paying the bills? A guy can dream….
Mark Morris: Top of my wish list is Solti’s Wagner Ring in the 2012 Blu-ray audio edition, because the sound quality is supposed to be fabulous. One of my gift-givers might even be able to afford it for next Christmas, as it is due to be released (no date set) in a cheaper version, already announced on amazon. To go with it, a better DAC would be very nice, and the one I covet is the Sonic Frontiers SFD-2 MkII, to go with my other Sonic Frontiers chain – and that means finding a good used one. And while my gift giver is about it, the Sonic Frontiers Transport 3 CD player would complete the chain, but as they are near nigh impossible to find, I’ll settle for a SFCD 1… Actually, the best Christmas present we have already had last month – a Siamese rescued from the pound, who goes by the name of Ferdinand.
Laird Macdonald: 1). For elves to magically rip my entire music collection to hard drives… I just never seem to get close to finishing. If elves are too busy, perhaps a vacationing garden gnome or two can help.
3). For Tom Waits to tour again, so that I can see him live with my mother – who has come to love his music in the last few years and thought it would be fun to go see live(!).
Josh Knechtel: All I want for Christmas is a week off to finish putting together my horn system. That a maybe a pair of 190hz Tractrix horns from Stereo-lab.de.
John Mah: Two lists. For audio:
1. VinylFlat + Groovy Pouch (self explanatory, yes? i’ve got lots of great records that could use a little flattening…)
2. Koetsu Sky Blue Cartridge (one can dream: silver coils, alnico magnets, and… blue lacquer!)
And for music:
1. The Beatles (White Album), more specifically a UK top-loader, with low serial number and all inserts. (mostly because I know I will never be able to find one, let alone afford one)
2. Peter Maag/LSO, Mendelssohn in Scotland. Decca SXL 2246. A superb performance with the typical excellent Decca sonics. I have an Ace of Diamonds reissue (SDD 145) which is very good value for the money, but have never had the opportunity to own the original.
…..And to all, a healthy and happy new year from all of us at Wall of Sound.