The San Francisco Chronicles

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The San Francisco Chronicles

Postby jadis » Fri Dec 02, 2011 7:01 pm

THE SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLES

PART 1: AUDIO DESTINATION - DANVILLE, CA


A year or so ago, I struck an online friendship in another audio forum with its founder Steve Williams. Aside from the audio threads, we hang out in another off-topic thread that focused on the NBA. After countless exchanges on the season that concluded with Dallas winning the title, Steve invited me to watch a live NBA game in the Golden State Warriors arena at the Bay Area. Unfortunately, the lockout (which just ended a few days ago) deprived my schedule of watching any NBA games in November, when I visited the SF Bay Area. That was the second agenda actually, as the first was to visit his home in Danville, CA and listen to his amazing system composed of these:

Wilson Audio X-2 Alexandria Series ll
Lamm Industries ML 3 Signature
Lamm Industries LL1 Signature Dual Mono Line Level
JL Audio Gotham/g213 (pair)
Playback Designs System MS5 CD Player
Studer Reel To Reel A-810
Nordost Valhalla speaker cable, interconnects and power cords

Each of those components, btw, made my eyes go :o :o :o :o :o :o

The view from the seat:

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Right side wall full of ASC tubetraps:

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The Rack:

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The not-so-meek LAMM mono block with separate power supply(they are awesome) :rock:

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The R2R Tape Player:

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Right channel Alexandria 2 with the Gotham sub (they are even more awesome) :rock:

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The complete rack:

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Me and Steve:

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,,,to be continued, most definitely.
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Re: The San Francisco Chronicles

Postby JackD201 » Fri Dec 02, 2011 7:34 pm

Hey! I know that guy! :lol:

Looks like you had a great visit with the West Coast Head Honcho of the Lamm Brotherhood too! :rock:

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Re: The San Francisco Chronicles

Postby jadis » Fri Dec 02, 2011 8:37 pm

JackD201 wrote:Hey! I know that guy! :lol:

Looks like you had a great visit with the West Coast Head Honcho of the Lamm Brotherhood too! :rock:

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Indeed I had an 'ear opening' experience, specially with the R2R tapes. It was a great visit. And why are you holding a 'trophy'? Anong award yan? :)
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Re: The San Francisco Chronicles

Postby JackD201 » Sat Dec 03, 2011 9:52 am

That was the special bottle of sipping tequila that Ron (on the left) brought that we finished! :D :D :D :D Kaya ganyan yung ngiti ko, lasing na! :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl:
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Re: The San Francisco Chronicles

Postby jadis » Sat Dec 03, 2011 10:45 am

JackD201 wrote:That was the special bottle of sipping tequila that Ron (on the left) brought that we finished! :D :D :D :D Kaya ganyan yung ngiti ko, lasing na! :rofl: :rofl: :rofl: :rofl:



hahahaha...you could have fooled me... :lol: :D
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Re: The San Francisco Chronicles

Postby jadis » Sat Dec 03, 2011 10:50 am

Being Launched into Space:

My excitement in visiting Steve was due to the fact that I would be hearing what I have been reading about R2R players as a superior playback source in an audio system. Today. Circa 2011. Yes. If the younger folks were wondering why people still play the old fashioned vinyl, these same people might be thinking that those who have R2R today have completely flipped out. :lol: I was one of those skeptics, not to say that I'm young or anything, :lol: but I was wondering about the degradation of the tapes, the wear and tear, the tedious insertion of the tape to the blank reel, and the lack of original source material (master tapes) to play them on. On the other hand, I have read from rave reviews from other forums on the superiority of the R2R compared even to vinyl. One guy, a veteran reviewer, said that until I heard the R2R of Weavers Reunion at Carnegie Hall, I ain't heard nothin' yet, and he was referring to the first pressing vinyl copy of Vanguard Stereolab even as the one the master tape would trounce. From then on, I told myself I should keep an open mind and a keen ear, and most important of all, wish for an opportunity to hear a system with an R2R performing, and that wish came true a couple of weeks ago. For those who wonder where to get the tapes commercially, there is a company that revived the dream of R2R fans - The Tape Project.

http://www.tapeproject.com/

Steve played for me an album from the Tape Project. I forgot the title and I was not familiar with the artist. He felt this would demonstrate the the sonic capabilities of the R2R tape. There was a guy singing and playing the guitar, with bass and a few other instruments. It was 'blues' music. At the first few seconds of the guitar playing, I knew I was hearing something out of this world and outside my audio experiences from the past. It was on another level. The instruments and players have redefined 'definition' in the audio glossary, I told myself. There was no noise, no hiss (my silly mind was even expecting to hear this), no compression, no veiling, in fact, all the reverse of these were present - on the contrary. The rhythm is like no other source that I have ever heard before, and the images made the 3D sound of vinyl very ordinary, and the tape became 'extraordinary'. The tonality, decay, top-to-bottom balance and dynamics were of of the best I've heard too, and actually I struggle to think of something that could better it. He played another classical piece and by then I was convinced of the consistency and superiority of the medium. The Tape Project says their tapes were made from the 'original masters'. Same thing as MoFi vinyl releases would claim. I didn't have the chance to hear an A/B comparison of the tape against its analog counterpart so I am not basing my comments on this kind of comparison but on what my memory tells me about the sonic traits of the vinyl vs. the R2R tapes. Its a great format though there are still a few sticking points that will keep it from landing into the audio hobbyist lair - sourcing the deck and finding proper servicing would be one, and the next, would be the eye popping price of each tape - a few hundred dollars a piece.

Bring Me Back to Earth:

And that, is talking about the common redbook CD. :lol: Steve's CD player sounds very good. I was not familiar with the brand but it played good music. He played a variety of genres, from Cat Steven's Tea for the Tillerman on QRP to a Winston Ma remastering of The Eagles 'Hell Freezes Over' on XRCD to another Ma' work of Cantate Domino. The differences in recordings were evident from disc to disc, proving the system is one without its own colorations. The sound was surprisingly dynamic coming out from a pair of tube amps with 32 watts, but these are the statement product of Vladimir Lamm and boy did they sound great. They matched the Wilson Alexandria 2 quite well and there were moments that Steve turned off the JL subs just to show me what these amps are capable of doing. Impressive indeed. But in the end, the subs are needed to provide the extra extension down there and he played me a CD track that literally shook the wooden floor of his room and actually vibrated my chair like those massage chairs being sold in the malls here locally. :o :lol: After that, I have no doubt in my mind that those subs could flap the bottom of my pants when called to perform such 'entertaining tasks'. He also has a tremendous array of Home Theatre gears set up in the same room, with Wilson Center and Rear channels to boot. :o Saluten! :lol: But alas, I run out of time as I had to head back to my base in downtown SF for some 'culinary experience', which I shall detail in the next few parts. :lol:
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Re: The San Francisco Chronicles

Postby jadis » Sat Dec 03, 2011 4:47 pm

PART 2: VINYL DESTINATIONS

Vinyl Solutions - San Mateo, CA

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Look ma, cassette tapes!

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101 Records - North Beach, CA

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Amoeba Records - San Francisco Haight Street

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Re: The San Francisco Chronicles

Postby Mamimili » Sat Dec 03, 2011 9:43 pm

Hmm, i always use JFK for my US trips, maybe i should go via the west coast next time :?:

I think it's hard to beat the sound of tape, but the availability of LP's and TT's still gives vinyl the edge.

US garage sales are a good source for tapes. My last haul was sealed Tapestry and Bridge Over Troubled Water, 10 sealed blank Maxell tapes and a bunch of home recorded tapes.$15 for the lot.

Having lost tapes in the past (they "flaked") i wonder about using those bags designed for storing clothes, the kind you attach a vacuum to and suck out the air. But the flaked tapes were a one off disaster, never happened before :^) Perhaps i need to demagnetise the heads a little more often.
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Re: The San Francisco Chronicles

Postby jadis » Sun Dec 04, 2011 3:12 am

Mamimili wrote:Hmm, i always use JFK for my US trips, maybe i should go via the west coast next time :?:

I think it's hard to beat the sound of tape, but the availability of LP's and TT's still gives vinyl the edge.

US garage sales are a good source for tapes. My last haul was sealed Tapestry and Bridge Over Troubled Water, 10 sealed blank Maxell tapes and a bunch of home recorded tapes.$15 for the lot.

Having lost tapes in the past (they "flaked") i wonder about using those bags designed for storing clothes, the kind you attach a vacuum to and suck out the air. But the flaked tapes were a one off disaster, never happened before :^) Perhaps i need to demagnetise the heads a little more often.


Hi Paul,

I'm sure you'll love SF if you visit the city. My brother in law, who has been to NYC, was with me in this trip, absolutely loved SF and wants to go back the moment he came home. Good to hear that you've got the 'tape experience' and you are right in that its limited availability is one of the main drawbacks in owing an R2R player. $15 for that lot is a fantastic bargain! :) Am still fighting jet lag a this moment, or maybe I can't sleep well because I was not able to buy too much Lps in this last trip. :lol:
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Re: The San Francisco Chronicles

Postby jadis » Sun Dec 04, 2011 8:28 am

PART 3: THE STREETS OF SAN FRANCISCO

Just like the 70s crime/drama TV series, as coincidence would have it, I was walking up Market Street when I spotted a commotion in front of a Bank of America branch. I saw 2 police officers accosting a very tall and sturdy man, trying to take him down or handcuff him, but the man was resisting arrest violently. One cop radioed for help and in seconds, more and more police cars swooped in right before my very eyes with more cops coming out of the cars and lunging at the bad guy to help take down the man. Man, was that exciting or what? :lol: I thought that was what 'reality TV' was all about. :lol: Finally, about 10-12 cops finally took down the guy and cuffed him and shoved him into the police car. And everyone just walked away. :lol:

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Aside from that untoward incident, the rest of the days were all focused on taking Union Square's offer - that is to empty your wallets with the Black Friday shopping spree.

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And while people were on a shopping frenzy, a group of motley characters calling themselves 'Occupy San Francisco' (probably friends of Occupy Wall Street and LA and Oakland) were telling people NOT to shop.

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A scene reflecting the 'bad economy' of the U.S. - closed retail stores that were the pillars of the vibrant retail industry along Market Street in Downtown San Francisco. Even the giant Shoe Pavilion store has shut down.

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Outside the shops, a few guys provide 'entertainment for coins' by dancing in the street.

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Lovely morning scene of Union Square and its surroundings.

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Places NOT to bring your wives to: (Er, the last one pwede na rin, kawawa naman) :D

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Go to places for shopping - Gilroy Premium Oulet Malls:

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The Fog:

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A familiar scene of smoke belching out of a manhole, I still don't know why. :lol:

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Alcatraz:

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Fisherman's Wharf:

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Embarcadero:

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I was told by the driver that if I closed that door, I will have to buy the Rolls. :lol:

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Re: The San Francisco Chronicles

Postby jadis » Sun Dec 04, 2011 6:18 pm

Night Shots at Union Square:

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The San Francisco Chronicles

Postby jadis » Sun Dec 04, 2011 6:34 pm

PART 4: A LITTLE CHOW TIME

Tad's Steakhouse along Powell St.

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Italian Restos along Green St. and Columbus:

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Italian House Salad:

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The Rotunda - 4th Floor of Neiman Marcus:

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Bread and Chicken Soup at The Rotunda:

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Lamb Leg at The Rotunda:

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The Hongkong Flower Lounge at Milbrae:

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Re: The San Francisco Chronicles

Postby jadis » Sun Dec 04, 2011 9:00 pm

PART 5: STREET MUSIC IN UNION SQUARE

If you brighten your screen a bit you will spot the drummer and his guitarist at the middle of the screen. :)



Cute and talented 'quartet'. :)

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The San Francisco Chronicles

Postby jadis » Mon Dec 05, 2011 7:17 am

PART 6 - LANDMARKS & INTERIOR SCENES

The world-famous Golden Gate Bridge:

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Monument at Union Square commemorating the victory at Manila Bey:

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The Hyatt Hotel at Embarcadero:

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B&O Guest Phone (Sosyal) :lol:

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e-Fireplace: :lol:

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Illuminated lavatories: :lol:

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Westin St. Francis Hotel Lobby:

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Giant Designer Cake:

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Westfield Mall (Bloomingdale's & Nordstrom)

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Fancy props at an Italian Resto in North Beach:

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Good idea to ward off unruly co-shoppers on Black Friday - bring an attack dog! :lol:

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Alas, time to fly back home. As they say 'back to reality'. :lol:

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The all-too-familiar 'Heart' that one leaves behind in San Francisco: ;( ;( ;(

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And who else to sing the melancholic song but our all-time favorite Julie London:

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Re: The San Francisco Chronicles

Postby katwoman » Mon Dec 05, 2011 12:08 pm

this thread brings back many beautiful memories. tads steak house! amoeba! union square... :inlove:

thank you for sharing your pictures philip, that was one great report!
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Re: The San Francisco Chronicles

Postby Mamimili » Mon Dec 05, 2011 1:04 pm

jadis wrote:
Mamimili wrote:Hmm, i always use JFK for my US trips, maybe i should go via the west coast next time :?:

I think it's hard to beat the sound of tape, but the availability of LP's and TT's still gives vinyl the edge.

US garage sales are a good source for tapes. My last haul was sealed Tapestry and Bridge Over Troubled Water, 10 sealed blank Maxell tapes and a bunch of home recorded tapes.$15 for the lot.

Having lost tapes in the past (they "flaked") i wonder about using those bags designed for storing clothes, the kind you attach a vacuum to and suck out the air. But the flaked tapes were a one off disaster, never happened before :^) Perhaps i need to demagnetise the heads a little more often.


Hi Paul,

I'm sure you'll love SF if you visit the city. My brother in law, who has been to NYC, was with me in this trip, absolutely loved SF and wants to go back the moment he came home. Good to hear that you've got the 'tape experience' and you are right in that its limited availability is one of the main drawbacks in owing an R2R player. $15 for that lot is a fantastic bargain! :) Am still fighting jet lag a this moment, or maybe I can't sleep well because I was not able to buy too much Lps in this last trip. :lol:


Hello Philip

You do a better job than most travel agents!
I am sort of NY'd out when it comes to LP shops and food, so i will be looking at flights via SF next time.
:^) How to do Memphis (for pork ribs and blues), St Augustine (for friends and alligator ribs) and San Fransisco (for LP's and tourist sights) :^)
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Re: The San Francisco Chronicles

Postby O.D. Yeo » Mon Dec 05, 2011 2:34 pm

Hey Phil,
Nice shots! Seems like you really "left your heart" in San Francisco.

Mamimili wrote: How to do Memphis (for pork ribs and blues), St Augustine (for friends and alligator ribs) and San Fransisco (for LP's and tourist sights) :^)


You can hit two birds by spending the afternoon at Amoeba on Haight Street, then pork ribs for dinner at Memphis Minnie's, up the road also on Haight!
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Re: The San Francisco Chronicles

Postby jadis » Mon Dec 05, 2011 4:02 pm

katwoman wrote:this thread brings back many beautiful memories. tads steak house! amoeba! union square... :inlove:

thank you for sharing your pictures philip, that was one great report!


my pleasure, kat. always nice to hear people relate to what i get to share here. :)
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Re: The San Francisco Chronicles

Postby jadis » Mon Dec 05, 2011 4:11 pm

O.D. Yeo wrote:Hey Phil,
Nice shots! Seems like you really "left your heart" in San Francisco.


Hi Billy,

I always did. :) That's why I keep going back. :) But this time is the first time I am not with my wife and kids. Hence, the shopping mall and outlet mall frenzy! And loooooonnng shopping list from everybody! :D Strange feeling for me when I see them so eager to shove me out of my house to another country that has a Black Friday Sale. But I must say sometimes it's better to be traveling without excess baggage. The freedom of movement is greatly enhanced. :D
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Re: The San Francisco Chronicles

Postby jadis » Mon Dec 05, 2011 4:13 pm

Mamimili wrote:
Hello Philip

You do a better job than most travel agents!
I am sort of NY'd out when it comes to LP shops and food, so i will be looking at flights via SF next time.


Thanks, Paul. Maybe I'll look into that career in the near future. :lol:
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