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Listening Impressions Round 4 - At Terry's Place with the Washington Light Bulb Mafia
Terry's underworld HiFi informant, Rumpsky Beatoffski, sent out an invitation for a big jam session planned for the coming Friday with some of Washington's other audio nuts:

Theres is to be a meetnz of da NW audio mafioso on Friday de 11th in
Wallyz Wallyz at dat Cainz n Cainz.
If you are readin dis den your invited.

In attendance will beez da followingz:
"Pido" the Riggler Riggle aka "da Mechanic"
"Bilo" the watchdog Tuner and babe magnet VanWinkle
Uncle "Stephaen-O", who we all owe something, but I cannot think specifically what that is right now
Jeffy da "daze" Day
Clark "da kid" bambino face Blumenstein, bringing a tweako $37 dvd player wit his mods.

Honored guest, and guest of honorz Paul-ly the "Pimp" Weitzel who's gonna demonstrate magic with a new tubeless "toy" amplifier. His main men, Joel "the Jockey" and Brian "the Brain", Steve "The Battery Man" Brooks aka "TriodeSteve", will help selecting an appropriate wine from the valley.

In attendance might also be Ken, "Mr. Clean" (Spectral/Maggies - if he comes in to listen note the high frequency enhancement and imaging anamo-lee)

Hopefully we can convince the "Doctor" Schmally and "Papa" the Joppa that we are mederately cicilized and attendance by thes twoz would be in their best interest of the "family"

And hopefully security will be tight, no-one gets hurt and we all have fun see.

Yo, and all dat.
Rumpsky Beatoffski for Terry 10 fingers Cain

Who could resist an invitation like that? On cue, all da boyz started arriving at Cain & Cain headquarters about moonish-noonish on Friday, coinciding with the icy fog starting to clear off the Walla Walla moors. The assembling gang consisted of first yours truly, then Triode Steve, the way-cool vino aficionado; TASmanian devil Stephaen and babe-magnet Bill; Paul Weitzel, Brian and Joel from Tube Research Labs in Quincy/Washington with a decidedly and ironically non-tube silicon-state amplifier and modded SACD player in tow; Pete and Harry of Two Bald Buys Audio fame and John Loranger (the 'Ranger' in Rangers Audio ) from Portland & Beaverton/Oregon; Clarke Blumenstein and Annabelle (four-legged woofer) with his SEX amp and modded DVD player; and Doc Bottlehead and Papa Joppa from Poulsbo/WA with all kinds of goodies like trick SEX amps and single-driver speakers.

We started with the same system that Terry had set up during my last visit: The Garrard 301 Project table, the Studio BEN ES double-horn loudspeaker, Josh Stippich's Electron Luv 45 amplifiers and preamplifier, the Auditorium 23 step-up transformer and the George Wright vacuum-tube phono preamplifier, the only difference being that the Garrard was mounted up on a pedestal next to Terry's Teres table. The vinyl was spinnin' on the Garrard and sounding incredible. We all had a ball swapping in and out different gear and giving it a listen. The Tube Research Labs boys' silicon-state prototype mule-amp sounded great on the awesome Cain & Cain IM Bens, as did their modded 595 SACD player.

We managed to get some great and some not so great sound on occasion (that old synergy thing), but a ball was had by all. Pete said, "Things got worse for a while but really good when we got to Jeff's Garrard 301 turntable with Origin Live Silver tone arm and Denon DL103 cartridge, mounted to a Cain & Cain plinth, through a VTAF, going through a phono transformer whose name I do not know but need to, to a George Wright phono stage, thence to Doc Bottlehead's new experimental version of his old S.E.X. Single Ended Experimental amp, thence to Cain & Cain Abbey speakers with cryogenically treated drivers. The Garrard 301 with the Cain & Cain plinth were out of this world. I was in the foyer when the stylus hit the groove and my mind just blew!"

I don't think it could be said better than Pete already said it; the vinyl front end was awesome. To sum up the sound of the Origin Live Silver arm, I'd say the Origin Live guys hit it right on the head with their own description: "The result of these changes is an incredibly transparent arm with superb tonal balance. The sound produced is free from coloration allowing previously unheard low-level information to be noticed clearly. The arm exhibits a clean dynamic sound coupled with a tight and powerful bass."

What's more, I think the experience I've relayed to you may be just the beginning of probing the true capabilities of the Origin Live Silver arm. What dawned on me -- my major bit of revelation -- is that the Origin Live Silver arm is so neutral and revealing that it will transmit with unvarnished clarity and level of detail whatever it is being fed, much like a good single-driver loudspeaker does. That's a really good thing because whatever you lose off the front end is lost forever. However, that also puts the burden on you to match it with equally excellent downstream components that are complimentary in nature. But that's not all: I have a hunch that the magic number for burning in the Silver tonearm cable is really closer to 100 hours than 24. So as soon as I can get my Garrard Project table back from Terry after he finishes mounting a second arm -- Jonathan Halpern's beautiful vintage SME 3012 -- I'm going to try burning in the Silver tonearm cable for another 76 hours and report back during the tone arm installment of the Garrard Project Series.

A bit of a teaser: I was telling Don Garber of Fi fame about my experience with the Auditorium step-up tranny and he told me that he thought the best way to amplify the signal for a moving coil cartridge is to use a low-gain moving-magnet phono stage fed by a step-up transformer. "It's the best way!" swears the Don. Just so I can find out for myself what Don's hearing, he's going to send me a Fi phono stage so I can tell all of you what the combination of Fi phono stage and Auditorium 23 step-up tranny can do for the music. Stay tuned and be sure to come back and see us here in the Great Pacific Northwest [above]!
Origin Live website