Reality Check…

Rodrigo, Concerto for Harp and Strings on DGG (Teldec EQ curve, just saying…). Oh, goodness, there’s a life-sized harp and, as with the Sibelius, the orchestra occupies a properly proportioned and utterly realistic platform: it’s just there. The natural sized harp thing is interesting. Too many systems and recordings give you a giant soloist bestriding the orchestra, so here’s yet another way this system avoids breaking the spell, and just lets the listener in on the performance.

And yes, I’ve spent enough time with CH Precision now that this isn’t entirely surprising, though the Göbel Divin Noblesse are, quite literally, revelatory. But what this shows also is not just the value and importance of careful set up, but the absolutely critical need for it if you want performance at this level. I’m in no doubt that if the loudspeaker placement and alignment isn’t attended to with almost obsessive attention to detail, the gain structure, global feedback, cabling, power and system supports are not adjusted and tweaked painstakingly, almost none of what I just heard would have taken place and we’d be back in Humdrum Hall, Unremarkablesville. Which, I now know, is where I spend some of my time, particularly at shows. What is quickly becoming clear is that CH Precision is about more, much more than just sonics. They understand about performance – that ineffable human connection we have with music – and they know how to bring it out of our recordings.

Buddy Holly. My parents’ music, and therefore largely ignored by me for decades. Big mistake. Huge! as Julia Roberts once famously said. RG put on ‘True Love Ways’ and I was captivated. Holly’s timing is effortless, the orchestra swings, soars and swoons, and so do I. I discovered Sinatra relatively late, for similar reasons, and now I have another back catalogue to explore. And this is what good systems do, of course, they reveal the music, the performance, and all the talent and skill that went into it. Sometimes, it’s not enough to approach new music with an open mind, you need a system that lets you in, with the minimum of editorialising or interference.

Moving on to CD, with the D1.5 player as a transport, feeding the C1.2 and thence to the L10 line stage courtesy (naturally) of more Nordost Odin 2. And some of my music now: Chick Corea, Christian McBride, and Brian Blade, How Deep is the Ocean from ‘Trilogy 2’ [Concord Jazz]. Brian Blade is regularly lauded as one of the greatest jazz drummers playing today, and having heard him perform live, I’m not about to argue. It’s not always apparent from recordings, though, but today there’s no room for doubt. Quite apart from the lock-step timekeeping, his use of texture and the sheer inventiveness in his playing is being delivered without any suggestion that the system’s capabilities are being stretched. Similarly, Christian McBride’s bass has immediacy and power, but also texture; many systems fail to resolve the upper frequency harmonics in bass notes coherently, and then you hear a system that resolves them well, and you realise what you’ve been missing. It gives you so much more of the physicality of the playing. Bass notes still have leading edges, and the better resolved they are, the tighter, faster and more impactful that bass will be, and the more effectively it does its job.