2nd "Schall & Rauch" - Festival in Munich

October 2008

The first "Schall & Rauch" (translated "Sound and Smoke") festival in Munich in November 2007 was a blast (see my report of this event) and thanks to the great guys of the Munich Tube Audio DIY scene, there was a second festival at the end of 2008. The 2008 festival was devoted to good old turntables, our preferred analogue sources. Approximately 30 to 35 audio fans from mainly all over the world attended this fun four-day festival (Oct. 2nd to 5th, 2008).

This time Thomas Mayer, Rolf Bayer, Ralph Gibbemeyer and other friends came up with a perfect location for the venue: a computer company's office area, located in the north-east of Munich. The location was named by our hosts "Vinyl Mafia Central", honouring the main theme of the festival - analogue replay via turntables.

It was great to audition so many different TT designs in a relaxed atmosphere. Many legends were available, from the famous Garrard and Lenco idler wheel drives, to broadcast TTs (like the superb EMTs - the huge 927 was outstanding) to more modern designs (like the Morsiani turntable with granite base, Morsiani motor and electronic speed control as well as a Scheu TT and various other brands). To make comparisons possible, Thomas Schick brought two samples of his 12" tonearm design mounted in separate bases from Berlin. Each was equipped with a legendary Supex SDX 1000 in order to facilitate comparisons. Thomas Mayer built the tube triode amplification for the festival and together with a high-efficiency horn LS system, listening was a pleasure.

Many thanks to Ralph Gibbemeyer (who was largely in charge of the set up of each TT plus arm combination) for all of his patience and especially energy, because lifting and carrying some of the TT contenders was really hard work. Thanks also to David C. Shreve, who during the festival turned out to be a master of VTA. David - who also has extensive knowledge on the famous Rabco SL-8 and SL-8E tangential arms and offers service for rebuilding and modifying these - used one particular track of an LP (Flying Fish HDS 701) with a dynamic acoustic bass recorded to find a really good VTA-setting in no time. Within two or three height adjustments of the arm/cartridge combination, and listening carefully to some seconds of this acoustic bass track, David found an audibly superior - as he called it "average" - VTA adjustment (with great results for different kind of records). And he proved his mastery with every TT and arm change many times the next days.

Coming up with the best possible set-up for each TT within a close time-frame was an important part of making this festival so successful. This was a great learning experience and one of the highlights of the festival. Please take the time not only to carefully set the VTA of your tonearm/cartridge combination but also to align all the other important arm/cartridge parameters. I personally can't emphasize enough how important an exact cartridge alignment is. A lot has been written about this topic, however, one article I can highly recommend is by Allan Wright of Vacuum State fame (here is a link to this article).

Back to the festival and another highlight. This was the lecture of Hans-Joachim Röhrs on the development of analogue-recording techniques. Hans-Joachim, an organist, recording engineer and musicologist, was so kind to provide some of the enormous information he has gathered around this topic; he gave an excellent and highly informative presentation and played great music examples of historical recordings he had collected. (We heard examples of the first magnetic recording with Poulsen's Telegraphon dating back to September 1900 and a superb stereo recording of Beethovens Piano Concerto No. 5, produced 1944 in Berlin, for example. The latter was recorded with legendary Neumann CM3 microphones and AEG K4 & K7 studio tape machines.)

After that, we had more time to listen to most of the turntables, but this time with their partnering tonearms and cartridge combinations. This was great fun, too. For me, the huge EMT 927, the Morsiani and Hartmut Quaschik's Garrard 301 were the strong performers. It has to be said, however, that the horn LS system which was used added a bit of coloration to the sound, so this was great for one turntable but not for another. But, listening to music was plain fun and meeting with people who share the same hobby was great too. That's what our hobby is all about, isn't it? 

Last but not least, the hospitality plus excellent food and drinks at Vinyl Mafia Central is worth mentioning, too. Kudos to our Munich friends...

I enjoyed these four days immensely and, inspired by the great spirit of the festival, I decided to revitalize my own Lenco L75, which in the meantime has worked out successfully. Here are some impressions of these great days in Munich at the 2nd Schall & Rauch:

The listening room of the festival

Thomas Mayer tube power amp based on the famous 801 triodes

Thomas Mayer differential phono stage in the back, phono input switch box in the front

Rolf Bayer's Garrard 401 (left) and Ralph Gibbemeyer's Scheu TT (right)

Left side Lenco L75, right side Garrard 301 (grease bearing) in plywood slate base. Both complimented with Schick 12" tonearms


This was a compromise setting to make a comparison with the external tonearm possible. Thomas Schick brought an impressive slate base with his Garrard 301 to the festival and Hartmut Quaschik used one part for his Garrard project as a second layer - "constrained layer damping" by putting some gummi bears between wood and slate ;-). Worked great!


Relaxed listening among friends...

Photo courtesy of David Haigner


The legendary EMT 927 broadcast TT, which fortunately was brought by Alex Kriegel to Munich. The arm in use is the excellent Thomas Schick 12" tonearm. The EMT was, in my opinion, the highlight of the festival ;-)
And yes, this is a normal LP on the platter...

Here are more turntable impressions:

Thomas Schick setting up his Garrard 301. His two-layer plinth (manufactured by OswaldsMillAudio) was really impressive and made of solid slate. Fantastic craftmanship! For more info, here is a link to their website


This is another fine TT. It's Bernhard Kistner's homebrew turntable with modified Rabco parallel tracking arm. It was also great to meet and talk to the man behind the modifications of the Rabco arm, David C. Shreve,  His new nick name could easily be: "Mr. VTA", due to his unique talent described in the text.

Morsiani turntable with granite base, Morsiani motor and electronic speed control

Unfortunately, I can't remember the name of this design. It's a brand new TT made in Germany; looks impressive and can accompany up to 3 tonearms.

Well-tempered TT

Scheu vs. EMT 948

No comment... ;-)

Photo courtesy of Thomas Schick

PS: Thomas Schick was so kind to lend me one of his 12" arms for a three-week trial period, and I was highly impressed by his design. Great arm and works fine with low compliance cartridges. My Shelter 501 II appeared to be a superb match. To make a long story short: In the meantime, I am a proud owner of Thomas' 12" tonearm (with Heiko Wingender's Finewire cable), which improved my pimped Lenco L75 further. You'll find more info on Thomas' 12" tonearm here.

Musically yours,


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