Kaplan's Korner

December 6, 2017

Best of 2017

Man In The High Castle


Best Soundtrack LP The Man In The High Castle

I was a fan of Man In The High Castle author Philip K Dick from an early, impressionable age, I am a fan of the Amazon series as well which takes place in 1963. The soundtrack is the alternative versions of American Pop hits of that day. Only ummm, not quite the same versions.

I find that particular dystopian history, where the Japanese and Nazis won WWll and have split the USA in half, much more interesting, scary and creepy than zombies or vampires. Remember vampires? Are they still a thing? Anyway, inspired by the Amazon series, a number of artists have contributed including, Beck doing “Can’t Help Falling in Love, Sam Cohen’s versions of “Get Happy” and “The House of the Rising Sun,” Norah Jones doing “Unchained Melody” and Sharon Van Etten, who’s version of
“The End of the World” sets the slowed down, minor chord, tone for the record.

Best 1960’s Brit Prog Rocker living in Greece,

Patrick Campbell-Lyons’ la-
test work You’re a Cloud, I’m a Comet, continues the groove.

Patrick Campbell-Lyons is an artist. Starting with Nirvana UK in 1967 thru todays beautiful new CD, You’re a Cloud, I’m a Comet. It sounds like Patrick is in tune with his muse. What can I tell you. The music is beautiful and haunting and sometimes not haunting at all. Just beautiful and lilting. Bounding along. I certainly hope there’s more to come. Written by Patrick Campbell-Lyons and produced by Costas Sterglou in Athens, Greece on Market Square Music. Available in CD and LP!

Best Record Store

Whichever one I’m in right now. I admit I feel blessed that I live close enough to go to Amoeba Hollywood more than once a week. I usually go on Sundays as it is a church like experience for me. Lots of denominations there…

Best Obituary of 2017

Did you read the obituary Patti Smith wrote about Sam Shepherd? To call Patti Smith the Queen of Punk Rock is way too limiting. Read Just Kids. Read M Train. You’re reading literature. Go back and listen to her music some more. It’s more art than craft.

The Moving Coil Cartridge for the rest of us

Next time you need a Moving Coil cartridge listen to the HANA EL or EH. Retailing for only $475 they sound awesome from top to bottom and from left to right. And from front to back. And between my ears. I think it’s the ALNIC magnet that makes it sound so compelling. This thing gets great reviews everywhere and is super easy to recommend. The EH works well with Moving Magnet inputs and the EL is amazing in your MC input with resistance dialed in.

Best sounding record and it just showed up!!

Not sure how it happened but MOFI’s Ultradisc One-Step reissue of Donald Fagan’s The Nighgfly showed up on my doorstep. What a Beautiful World this will be, indeed. One of the top 11 best records? In my modest 2000 plus piece collection, Probably. Gosh dang this record rocks, sounds amazing and really shows off our systems here at RCN World HQ. Things have been sounding good here at RCN World HQ but this record on MOFI is next level stuff. Stunning. 

Favorite stylus cleaning brush

The GrooveWasher SC1 Stylus Cleaning Kit has an angled 4.6-inch-long handled brush with soft bristles that is easy to use and gives a lot more control. Once again, it’s all about the angle. The kit includes stylus cleaning
fluid too!

Best Mile High Audio Show – Rocky Mountain Audio Fest of course

My second trip to the RMAF at the Denver Marriott Tech Center Hotel from October 6th through the 8th was the best. The venue was perfect, Denver is a great town, and according to my notes, the rooms sounded great. Meaning most of rooms I went into sounded as if the people showing off their equipment really gave enough of a shit to keep working on set-up until it sounded right. That’s no easy feat when you’re trying to set up a system in a hotel room with all less than optimal conditions for great sound. But these guys made it work. I heard a lot of regionally built equipment that you don’t see here on the West Coast.

Best sound at RMAF or any audio show I’ve ever been to for that matter

That’s what my notes read when I was listening to Cecile McLorin Salvant Dreams and Daggers on Mack Avenue record in the room shared by two of my personal favorites, VTL Amplifiers and Vandersteen Audio speakers. I’ve never heard them together and apparently, this was, in fact, their first time at an audio show together.

On top of that, Bea Manley was spinning Cecil McLorin Salvant’s Dreams and Daggars on Mack Avenue records, another first-time listening experience for me. One that I will spend a lot of time, and resources trying to duplicate. That is for sure.

The look of joy on Bea’s face as she listened to that record for the fiftieth time on that magnificent system that weekend was as real as the first. Hold off on

purchasing Cecil’s record for a week or so until I order a second copy. This record is that good. I want a sealed copy to just look at while I’m listening to it.

On the VTL and Vandersteen system of course. I’m not mentioning specific model numbers because I don’t think model numbers or specifically, price point, matters with these guys. This system was in the six-figure range but VTL electronics start at less than $5,000 and Vandersteen Speakers less than $2,000. Both make top of the line audio equipment in all price ranges. Buy what you can afford with two of the best California based audio companies. You will not go wrong. If I had your money I would burn my money and then buy some top of the line VTL and Vandersteen.

I remember the first time I heard steely Dan’s Asia I reacted with, “Oh, no, this is too beautiful. I need a few dozen listenings to even begin to understand what’s going on here. Same thing with Dreams and Daggaars in the Vandersteen Speaker/VTL Electronics room. Drinking beauty from a firehose. It was as if I was being let in on a secret.

Best big, money is no object speakers at RMAF

Gamut. Tons of fun for $140,000. Michael at Audio Skies really sets up a room. My notes for this room are “Oh, come on. So much energy. Most of any room! Live! Live!”

Now I’m no expert on that level of high end awesomeness. As a matter of fact, most really expensive rooms don’t do much for me. I expect more or I don’t hear right. Whatever. But when I walk into a room and my reaction is a visceral “OH Come ON.”

I was feeling something people. Also, they had a reel-to-reel set up and I really thought I was listening to reel-to-reel but it was the Pear Audio Kid Thomas Blue turntable. Of course, it was. Oh, come on.

Happy Holidays Everybody!



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