1st "Schall & Rauch" - Festival in Munich
The day began with a visit to Ralph Gibbemeyer's house. His dedicated music room is like Hartmut's - located in the cellar of the house he and his wife rent - another fortunate guy with a dedicated music and work space room in the cellar. (I've heard some rumors, though that we audio fanatics often choose the cellar room because our "beautiful halves" don't like to share our systems in the living room...).
Ralph is definitely a lucky man, because he can choose from various analog sources, if he's in the mood for it. During our 2.5-hour visit, which was definitely too short, a Scheu platter on a steel base with Maxon motor, Immedia arm and Ortofon MC 5000 was the analog front end. There was also a Morsiani turntable with granite base, Morsiani motor and electronic speed control, but unfortunately no time to have a listen :-(. The preamp was a modified Conrad Johnson PV10A and the power amp an SE 211 with 46-driver stage. The loudspeaker system consisted of homebrew three-way speakers with two Focal bass drivers, a Thiel 173-90 midrange driver and a Thiel 30mm ceramic tweeter per cabinet.
surprise for us was that Ralph had planned to perform an output
transformer shoot out with three high-class output transformers
(Thanks for doing all the soldering on the fly!) The three contenders
were: JRE-Electronics 308B-Spezial 13kOhm primary impedance, Lundahl
LL1691-70 9.5 kOhm primary impedance and the famous (and expensive)
Tango X-10S 10kOhm primary impedance. The shoot out was great
fun and there was no clear winner for me. Although the Tango was the
most charming and musical-sounding one to my ears, the JRE - a German
brand named Ritter Electronic Systems - had better bass definition
and reached a bit deeper into the lower register, lacking only a bit
of treble resolution in comparison. The Lundahl performed also
extremely well, with tight bass definition and great resolution; it
seemed to be the best all-rounder in this shoot out. All three OPTs
were top-class performers though, and the good news is that two of
them (Ritter and Lundahl) are more than affordable choices.
Ralph's SE 211 power amp with 46 driverstage. In the front you can see the 3 pairs of output transformers we compared during the session
Photo courtesy of Bernd Uecker
Our next stop was the home of Dietmar Hampel, about 30 km outside of Munich. We arrived at about one p.m. and Dietmar's wife surprised us with a spicy pumpkin soup with jumbo prawns - extremely delicious. This was definitely a highlight and hard to top by an audio performance, I thought, not knowing what I would experience 15 minutes later in Dietmar's music room.
listening studio is in the attic of their house - an awesome place
and horn-speaker lover's dream. Part of his attic studio is used to
house his 2x2m bass horns (Philips cinema horns), replicas of the
famous Altec 1505 multicell midrange horns in wood (made by CH
in the US, contact: mail"at"chaudioroom.com) and 15 cell
treble horns (made by Dietmar). The drivers used are Altec 515B for
bass, Philips 5502 for midrange and JBL 075 (with phase plug JBL
2404H) for the treble section. To ensure time alignment for the three
horn sections per side, he uses an active digital crossover, a Sony
SRP F700 driven by various homebrew tube power amps (the bass amps
are EL34 push pull, the remaining tube amps work in SE mode,
consisting of an EL84 amp in triode mode for the mids and a 300B amp
for the tweeter section). Pre-amplification and phono stage are also
tube based, the analog source is an EMT930 studio turntable with EMT
arm and Van den Hul Grasshopper cartridge, and the digital source is
a Studer A730 cd player. Absorbing material is used throughout the
room (walls and ceiling) to preserve studio-like room acoustics.
Before we had a listen, Dietmar gave a short and highly informative
presentation about his system. My writing above can't fully describe
this awesome system so here are some photo impressions:
speakers, aren't they?
system after the power amps were revealed. In the rack at the bottom
you can see his
Photo courtesy of Bernd Uecker
We had tremendous fun at the Schall & Rauch festival. Many thanks to our Munich friends for setting this event up. Great job!
We headed to Vienna with a lot of new ideas in our minds. There will be a similar event in 2008 in Vienna, I'm sure.
PS: Here are some photos of Peter Zöllner's system, which we Austrians unfortunately couldn't audition. Peter has unique choices with respect to the cabinets he uses for his home brew amps:
courtesy of Gunter Marquart
Photos courtesy of Bernd Uecker
Added December 8, 2007:
Thomas Mayer informed me about two changes he introduced to his superb speaker system after "Schall & Rauch". Instead of the pair of Altec 515B for the lower midrange of each channel he now uses a pair of 12" Altec 414A for each channel. Furthermore, he changed the TAD RPT7 tweeter to a Goto tweeter. According to Thomas' these changes improved the sound quite a lot. The midrange is now more uncolored with increased naturalness, the treble section has gained resolution and clarity.
Munich seems to be one more time worth a journey...