Due to unforeseen circumstances, last year's audiophiliacamp, our annual magazine get together, was cancelled. Sad times, as it's our one time all year where we are all together. 2017 has been much better, circumstantially, so nothing was getting in our way this year.
Usually, it is held at Michael Levy's glorious summer home in upstate New York. Mike used to write for Audiophilia before he became a big shot speaker designer (Alta Audio). Mike and Maryann's custom home is on a large plot of land on a bend on the Hudson River. The night brings fireflies and the distant sound of a train horns on the other side of the Hudson. Truly idyllic.
Because of work (both reviewing and teaching) on an east coast swing, we had to 'suffer' and hold court in Manhattan. Our hosts, Marty and Lillian Appel. Marty is a longtime writer for Audiophilia. They live in a lovely pre war apartment opposite Riverside Park on Riverside Drive. Luckily, Karl Sigman, another of our superb writers, lives in an equally lovely pre war on Riverside, half a block up. Two superb audiophile systems to listen to, steps from each other.
But first, my wife and I visited our children in Toronto and Ottawa. A quick review of the wonderful Toronto Symphony Orchestra for Musical Toronto was interspersed among the family festivities. The review can be found here.
After family time, we flew to New York City where my wife experienced the joy of Uber. Uber will be arriving in Victoria at Christmas. What a superb app coupled with lovely cars and drivers. Of the twenty Ubers used, every car, whether Uber X, Select or Black, was clean with a very friendly driver. We never waited more than five minutes for their arrival.
Staying in Appel Central was wonderful. As usual. Legendary hospitality. And with a sound system TDF. Marty has Alta Audio FRM2 Celesta Loudspeakers, MSB CD front end, DEQX preamp, Avid Pulsar phono stage, brand new VPI Avenger turntable with Shelter mc cart. A brilliantly musical system.
In between bottles of fine wine and great breakfasts and lunches, Marty introduced me to four items that I immediately purchased on Amazon. CDs, The Astounding Eyes of Rita by Anouhar Brahem, the soundtrack to The Constant Gardner by Alberto Iglesias, and LPs Von Suppe Overtures on Vox and Ravi Shankar's Concerto for Sitar and Orchestra with the LSO on Angel. All four albums blew me away, not only because of the gorgeous repertoire but the superb sound. I urge you all to seek out this music if you don't know it. If you can get the Angel LP on an EMI or HMV pressing, all the better, though the Angel is a knockout!
Monday night was the Audiophilia Dinner at Rosa Mexicano at Lincoln Center. The night where we eat and drink ourselves silly (Ubers all around), the writers slag off the publisher and we talk smack about our competitors! Just kidding. It's a love in and the food and company were spectacular.
Before Tuesday night's shenanigans, Karl invited us to a get together at his gorgeous apartment. His lovely family provided food, with his young girls giving us the entertainment -- dancing, reading and ever present smiles. Karl, as usual, provided incredible wine. The man knows his terroirs and vintages!
Karl's system is very much like Marty's with the exception of his digital front end where it looks like his lovely dedicated stands were mugged by PS Audio. The sound, like Marty's was superb. What a treat.
Tuesday night was spent at dinner at The Russian Tea Room right next to our musical stop for the evening, Carnegie Hall. Dinner was excellent, the concert with the wondrous Philadelphia Orchestra, even better. The Bernstein, Mozart and Schumann program was reviewed here.
Wednesday was VPI Industries day. Tour, lunch, listen. First, Mat Weisfeld (you all know him by now if you are anywhere near turntables and social media) gave us a tour of the offices and plant. So, this is where the great 'tables are made?
The tour did not disappoint -- the care in which VPI takes with its R&D, manufacture and follow up is legendary, born from its founder, the great man Harry Weisfeld, Mat's father.
After the tour, we drove to the VPI 'house', a gorgeous residence (now belonging to Mat and his lovely wife Jane). Here, Harry and Mat hosted us for a delicious (and very filling) lunch.
The large, beautifully appointed house boasts several large, purpose-built listening rooms. We sat ourselves on the comfortable chairs of the largest -- Harry's new Titan Turntable was playing through Mike Levy's newest gems, the large and ultra superb Alta Audio Hestia Titanium Loudspeakers (USD$30,000/pair). Enough to say that you would would not hear more musical sounds visiting Versailles or Sans Souci. Truly exceptional. Anything and everything an audiophile and music lover would want.
The VPI and Alta Audio combination will set you back $70K. I feel you flinching. Don't, it's an absolute steal for the very best in high end. You won't hear much better sound, even from Dagostino, Focal and Wilson. Yes, that good. So smooth, detailed, dynamic and utterly musical.
Digging into Harry's catholic list of LPs was almost as much fun as listening to them. Harry, I ordered Two On The Aisle.
The day, the company, the sound and the music were all spectacular.
Our wives had dodged the tour and did their own power walking around the city. When we returned, Marty and Lillian suggested a local Italian restaurant.
It was a perfect ending to a perfect week of friendship, high end audio and music.
'Till next year.