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Philip O'Hanlon's demo lps blues playlist

Audiophiles and music lovers are always on the hunt for new music. There are many classics audiophile albums here, though I’m sure I’ve forgotten some. I can assure you that all of these are musically compelling. I try to avoid albums that have just one stand-out track.

This is Part 1 of 6, in which we focus on the blues albums on my list of demo material LPs. Included below is the album and the actual track that is superb both musically and sonically.


Listen on Tidal

Vivid Audio G1 Spirit loudspeaker dubut

We invited the press and some out of town guests to fly in on Friday and enjoy an intimate concert by Kyomi Audio’s George Vatchnadze. The idea was to listen to George perform the Prokofiev 6th Piano Sonata at his studio at the Music Department at DePaul University, then listen to the Exton DSD recording that night at his home on the Vivid Giya G1 loudspeaker.

John Atkinson and Jana Dagdagan from Stereophile
John Atkinson and Jana Dagdagan from Stereophile (left) chatting with Kyomi Audio’s George Vatchnadze (right)

After Beethoven completed his monumental 32 piano sonatas in the long form (four movements), most composers afterwards opted for the short form (single movement) to avoid comparison with the grand old man from Bonn.

George Vatchnadze playing piano in his studio
George Vatchnadze playing one of the three Steinway B pianos in his studio

Prokofiev’s sixth piano sonata was first performed in 1940. Europe was at war and most Russians felt that it was only a matter of time before they too would be dragged in. So it is no surprise that the Sixth Piano Sonata—the first of the War sonatas—has a profound vein of despair running through it. The Sixth is dominated by grinding dissonances and frequent modulation, further increasing the despair of the work. Throughout most of the movements, there is a lack of a key melody.

The first movement is explosive and disturbing, the second and third movements a little more melodic and romantic. George played this from memory. When we queried him afterwards if it was difficult to memorize, he said that the Rachmaninov Third Piano Concerto was in fact even more difficult, with over 25,000 notes for the piano alone.

Kyomi’s Giya G1 playing the Exton recorded DSD files of Prokofiev’s Piano Sonata #6 sounded stunning, playing through a Merging+ NADAC (behind the stool in the photo). George did extensive tube rolling with Luxman’s EQ-500, TechDAS Airforce 3, Graham 9” Elite and a Koetsu rounded out the analog source.

Friday Night Musical Highlights:

  • Chet Baker’s “Someday My Prince Will Come” recorded in Copenhagen in 1983
  • Stan Getz Presents Jimmie Rowles ‎– The Peacocks 1977 on Columbia
  • Oscar Peterson & Joe Pass – The Paris Concert 1978 on Pablo
  • George Vatchnadze performance / recording of Giya Kancheli’s 30 Miniatures for Piano (to be released)

This is how the speakers were set up for most of the day (see image below). The speakers probably had 100 hours on them and were noticeably still breaking in. Some tracks sounded stunning and others were so-so. Our experience with the big Giyas is that they really deserve 1,000 hours to break-in before they reach their optimum.

Vivid G1 Spirit launch
This is how the speakers were set up for most of the day.

George Vatchnadze stepped in and performed a radical toe-in to the speakers which resolved many of the rooms’ acoustic problems. George is a fountain of knowledge regarding both music and system set-up. I suppose it helps that he has such well developed hearing. Bravo. He toed the speakers in so far that they were almost firing at each other. The Giyas with all of their curved surfaces, behave almost like an omni-directional speaker. Very impressive.

Vivid g1 spirit launch
After George toed in the Giyas, the sound drastically improved.

The new mid-range woofer is noticeable in that it has considerably less distortion than its predecessor. Due to the addition of a carbon fiver stiffening ring (just like the tweeters) first harmonic distortion has been moved up from 4.3kHz over 10kHz. Those huge 11″ woofers sounded terrific on Bob Marley’s duet with Lauryn Hill – “Turn Your Lights Down Low.” My latest mono vinyl compilation “Mono Jazz” sounded terrific on both systems—Listen on Tidal here.

Equipment List

Photo Gallery

Photo credit: Greg Weaver of The Absolute Sound.


SoundStage! Global

Doug Schneider—Founder of SoundStage!—wrote a great piece about his first impressions of the G1 Spirit after attending the Chicago launch.

G1 Spirit designer Laurence Dickie discusses Vivid Audio's new flagship loudspeaker at the Chicago launch event
G1 Spirit designer Laurence Dickie discusses Vivid Audio’s new flagship loudspeaker at the Chicago launch event. Photo Credit: SoundStage! Global/Doug Schneider

“…it’s safe to say that the G1 Spirit at least provides the best attributes of the company’s existing speakers, plus adds deeper and more powerful bass than all.”

You can read the full article on the SoundStage! Global website.


John Atkinson—Editor of Stereophile—got a chance to sit down and interview Laurence Dickie, the chief designer at Vivid Audio about the G1 Spirit. You can watch the interview below or read the full article on Stereophile’s website.

The Absolute Sound

“…there was body, space, bloom, and texture to voices and instruments…this is truly an exceptional loudspeaker.”

Read the full show report from The Absolute Sound here.

We would like to thank Mario Presta for opening up his home for this event. Mario was a terrific host and the guests were treated to a fantastic assortment of food and beverages all day. A more gracious host would be hard to find.

Learn more about the Vivid G1 Spirit loudspeaker here or call us at (949) 544-1990 to schedule an audition.

6610 – “Our String Duet”, Mixed Medium on Museum Board, 13.5″ x 10,5″ (34.3 cm x 26.7 cm)

The value of music art is beyond measure and is extremely important to our psyche.  When the world is challenged, music speaks and art echoes.

Our sponsorship of Yarlang Records with a series of DSD 256 recordings was our way of giving back.   Supporting the arts has been a constant in our lives.  A master visual artist / painter / sculptor we have had the pleasure to collect from during the last two decades and recently have the pleasure to work with is Yuroz.  Yuroz comes with many accolades and is no stranger to the music industry as he was the official artist for the 35th Annual Grammy Awards for National Academy of Recording Arts and Science,


An internationally celebrated narrative painter / sculptor of Armenian descent, Yuroz has been a Los Angeles resident during the past 30 years. He uses symbols to tell his stories musical instruments are prominent throughout his work as a symbol of creativity.

A music lover and a flautist, Yuroz uses musical instruments in his paintings to symbolize the expression of ours dreams and a manner in which we serenade our loved one. He always paints with music on and recently we have had the pleasure to introduce Yuroz to high fidelity sound.

Equipped with a pair of Eclipse TD-M1‘s, Yuroz discovered that high fidelity speaker system allows him to disconnect from the world, hearing each whisper, each breathe and each echo from the musicians’ instruments. “Discovering details I did not know exist in my albums makes each record a new adventure for me. It’s like it wakes up a part of my brain that was asleep, channeling so much excitement and energy when I do my design work on my desktop”.

As a tribute to the musicians and composers, he released a series of drawings, “The Musicians”, to express his gratitude to the musical professionals for sharing the voice of their souls.

Yuroz communicates in silence but viewers can definitely feel the vibration from each line, each curve, and each brush stroke he puts down. “When one art form inspires another, it sparks creativity and gives meaning to what we do as artists,” says Yuroz.  In this series, the contrast between each sharp line and each sensual curve, and the harmony between the multiple shades of charcoal grey to create three-dimensionality draws a parallel to the rhythm of the music created by all the masters with work that touches him every day.

For more information about this series, contact Yuroz’s representative here or call 1-888-886-6762.

View more paintings in different genres with music themes here.



Sibelius Piano Trio DSD recording by Yarlung Records
Sibelius Piano Trio DSD recording by Yarlung Records

I have always been drawn to the early chamber music of the great composers, such as Beethoven & Mozart and have a soft spot for their piano trios. Imagine my delight in sitting in on a recording at the Orange County Performing Arts Centre as a guest of Yarlung Records who were recording the Sibelius Piano Trio playing Sibelius’ early chamber works in DSD256 on a Merging+ Horus. While Sibelius’s reputation rests almost wholly on his orchestral output of tone poems and symphonies, in his youth he honed his craft on chamber music; his string quartets are known but the piano trios predate them—some of which have not been published yet.

Composer Jean Sibelius
Composer Jean Sibelius, 1913

In 1881, he started to take violin lessons from the local bandmaster—Gustaf Levander—and immediately developed a strong affection for the instrument. The same year, Sibelius (aged 16) and his siblings formed a trio in which his elder sister Linda played the piano, younger brother Christian the cello and Janne the violin. Their mother played the harmonium with the children. “We played together; Janne played the violin, Kitti the cello, mother the piano or the harmonium. Janne composed for piano and violin at a fairly early age, and I had to accompany him from the notes he had written down, which was not easy,” Linda Sibelius later recalled.

The first mention of a composition can be found in a letter Sibelius wrote from Kalalahti, dated 25th August 1883. He disclosed that he had composed one trio and was working on another. “They are rather poor, but it is nice to have something to do on rainy days,” he wrote.

In February 1884, Janne got hold of Johann Christian Lobe’s work Lehrbuch der musikalischen Composition, which he called Compositionslehre in a letter to Uncle Pehr (his musical mentor).

These early works must be seen against their background: the music is astonishingly good considering that it was written by a teenager who, apart from a few piano and violin lessons, had received little formal instruction and who had studied musical theory on his own with the help of a couple of books. Music making is still alive and strong in Europe today, where families place a high value on their own ability to perform and not just consume.

And yet, the music exhibits all of the joie de vivre that one finds in early Beethoven, such as the Piano Trio No. 2, Opus 1. His was a natural talent, unencumbered by too much musical education, allowing him the freedom to experiment and innovate. In Piano Trio in D Major, JS209 Korpo, the gorgeous melodies are in the romantic vein, much as in his later symphonic compositions. But he was free to roam with musical expressions which he does to great effect in Nene, which truly sounds like music from another century. While not as “out there” as Bartok, it’s nonetheless rhythmic and energetically propelled. It’s interesting in that you can’t guess where the melody will lead to next.

Sibelius Piano Trio - Juho Pohjonen, piano; Petteri Iivonen, violin; Samuli Peltonen, cello
Sibelius Piano Trio: Samuli Peltonen on cello, Petteri Iivonen on violin and Juho Pohjonen on piano

Stereophile’s Jason Victor Serinus just wrote a rave review of the Yarlung Records DSD recording of the Trio:

“With their matching wide, distinctly un-stylish yellow ties and dark blue suits, the men of the Sibelius Piano Trio hardly look like world-class musicians. But once you hear their 2-CD Set from Yarlung Records, best appreciated via stereo and multi-channel DSD downloads—you’ll understand why their debut recording of trios by Sibelius and contemporary composers deserves a place in your collection… The writing is alternately exotic, unabashedly romantic, and energizing. I expect you will want to play this music again and again. I certainly do.”

Here is great music that deserves an audition. It might take a few listens to fully grasp and familiarize yourself with, but I can assure you that this will be time well spent and may provide a wonderful, quieter moment soundtrack to the rest of your life. Sound quality is superb—in fact breath-taking in DSD256—you owe it to yourself to try and catch a live performance.

Listen on TIDAL

Luxman PD-444 vintage turntable
Luxman PD-444 vintage turntable

Originally announced at the Tokyo Show in October of 1976, the PD-444 was Luxman’s flagship direct drive turntable—massively expensive and ambitious. The family-owned Luxman out of Osaka created it in conjunction with Micro Seiki of Tokyo—by then the uncontested champions of Japanese turntable consultancy and invention. While Luxman’s aesthetic signature is strongly evident (swathes of thick, brushed aluminium, elegant rosewood cheeks, the refined palette and typography), the clever steel plinth sandwich and the drive mechanism is Micro Seiki all the way…

The direct drive motor (custom built for Luxman by Mitsubishi) is one of the best ever—in any deck. The MDS152C, a “load free” spindle system—in which integral, opposing magnets effectively relieve the motor of around 80% of the platter’s considerable weight—offers notchless, seamless, silent and peerlessly regulated drive. Correspondingly, pitch is absolutely rock-stable.

Although slim in profile, the plinth is massively dense; beneath the handsome alloy plate lie sandwiched layers of timber board and thick iron, which bring the whole deck’s weight to approximately 55 pounds.  Suspension is accomplished with feet containing spring mechanisms and neoprene-plus-silicone-grease damping (completely enclosed and service-free).

The Luxman PD-444 can accommodate two tonearms—a 9-10″ arm in the conventional spot to the right of the platter, and a 12″ arm to the rear left. Tonearms are ingeniously mounted on locking sleds (made from black anodised alloy and zinc!) on the rear track and can be easily adjusted to perfectly dial in spindle-to-pivot distance (there’s even a reference scale to assist this). There are two Luxman armboards included and an original boxed adapter plates for another, slimmer-based arm. To make the whole double tonearm fun even easier, the underside of the turntable has a switching box—you simply run the cables from each tonearm into the box and have a standard RCA interconnect to the amp/preamp. A simple button on the front of the switching box allows you to select instantly between the two arms.

The Luxman PD-444 turntable
The Luxman PD-444 turntable

The PD-444’s inert construction, ingenious suspension and eminently “even” drive gives a sonic reproduction few decks have come close to. Completely counter to the UK turntable manufacturers who were spouting at the time about belt-drive being the only way to achieve PRAT (pace, rhythm and timing) in musical reproduction, this MDS system relies on near-perfect timing (not hyperbole) for its timing—what a novel idea.

While it does not match the Technics SP10 mk III in sheer resolution in stock form, it does offer instead a warmer, richer, fuller tone. However, a modern turntable isolation platform will narrow the resolution gap dramatically while still allowing the listener to enjoy Luxman’s famous rich tone.

Its little speed indicator prism, glowing blue for 33.33rpm and orange for 45 (one of the most delightful design touches imaginable) shows the motor to be capable of bringing the platter and heavy gauge (but flush fitted) PM2 rubber mat up to correct, locked speed in an instant.  My checks with a stroboscopic disc confirm its accuracy.

I bought mine eight years ago, while Luxman was still developing their return to the analogue world. I originally mounted an SME 3012 on the left and a Triplanar on the right. (Frankly, it wasn’t until Luxman introduced the PD-171 that I learned how to extract the most that a Luxman turntable could offer. A complimentary turntable isolation platform turned out to be essential. Finding tone arms and cartridges that dance together sympathetically was also critical.)

Back to the PD-444, I put it aside for a couple of years and when I returned to it, I was utterly dejected to find that:

  1. The Stop / Start switch had failed, but a temporary fix was to short its circuit.
  2. More critically, the table could no longer maintain the correct speed. Finding someone who was willing to undertake the restoration of the electronics was a bigger nightmare than I ever anticipated. I initially gave it to a friend, who’s a very accomplished EE, but after a year or so waiting for him to get around to it, he returned the table and said that it was uneconomical to repair. I reached out to Luxman in Japan and asked for their help. They admitted that due to the lack of spare parts for a 40 year old table, there was only a 60% chance of success.
  3. I was tempted to start a project with either the Thorens TD124 or a Garrard 301, but the appeal of having a vintage two arm turntable that could play both mono and stereo simultaneously won me over to finish what I already owned.

During AXPONA 2015, our local dealer George Vatchnadze (Kyomi Audio) introduced me to a Russian service technician—Roman Sokolov of Electronic Engineers, Inc in Chicago (phone 773 202 0909). I met Roman again at AXPONA 2016—in the interim a couple of dealers told me about this fantastic Russian technician in Chicago who repaired vintage audio gear—so having seemingly little to lose, I entrusted my prized vintage table to his capable hands.

Two days after the table arrived in Chicago, I received a phone call from Roman. “I have good news & I have bad news..”

The good news: table’s electronics had been overhauled and now everything worked perfectly. Lights, switches, speed control—great.

Bad news: at some stage in the tables life, it had been shipped with the platter in place and the shipping box dropped, resulting in a platter that rode up and down ¼” at the rear, where you would never think to look for damage. But also where I needed it work perfectly for the 12″ arm.

Where the hell do you find a 40 year old custom motor and spindle?

I called Sean Casey of Zu Audio and explained my dilemma. Sean instantly offered to lend me whatever parts I needed and install them for me in his free time. So the table was shipped to the Zu factory, where Sean swapped out the motor housing and spindle. Sean returned the damaged part to me at RMAF, which will now need to be entrusted to a machine shop for repair and of course returned to Sean Casey (along with a gift of Ireland’s Uisce Beatha—the Water of Life.)

Sean Casey of Zu Audio with the Luxman PD-444
Sean Casey of Zu Audio was instrumental in restoring the PD-444. Sean has been using a PD-444 at shows for more than a decade.

Sean was also kind enough to mount the Schick 12″ on the arm board with a Denon 102 as well as the Abis SA1.2 with a Miyajima Zero. Unfortunately, the Abis arrived too late to be properly mounted and we were unable to get the VTA right, so we ended up using the Schick & Denon 102 for the duration of Philip’s Happy Hour at the Eclipse TD room every afternoon from 2:00 to 3:00 pm, where I delighted in playing mono LPs.  We hope to repeat this happy event next year at AXPONA in April and the new LA Audio Show in June.

The table was shipped back to Zu after RMAF to have the Abis correctly installed.

I have an original mono of Frank Sinatra’s Sings For Only The Lonely on Capitol, which truthfully sounds mediocre on my expensive modern stereo cartridges. In mono, Frank is in the room, as large as day. There is a wonderful three dimensionality to the soundstage; Frank sounds like he is living and breathing in the room with us. By the way, the MoFi reissue is also mono and sounds wonderful on a modern stereo cartridge. But the original in comparison is tonally denser and chunky.

As a teenager in Cork, Ireland, I used to hang out at Elma Sound Studios under the tutelage of Russian emigre Norman Young, a recording engineer. Whenever we had free time, he loved to play mono records to show me what I missed. One of his favorites was Jane Morgan singing “The Moon Is Yellow” from Jane In Spain.  OK, it’s a little dated sounding with the orchestral accompaniment but the singing is pure velvet and the sound quality is crystal clear—as good as Peggy Lee’s “Somebody Loves Me” from Soundtrack of Pete Kelly’s Blues—both of which will probably surface on Demo XIX.

The Beatles Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band circa 1967
The Beatles Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band circa 1967

One of the highlights of RMAF was getting to hear my original mono U.K. Parlophone pressing of The Beatles Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band. “Being For The Benefit Of Mr Kite!” took on a completely new dimension as we heard a young John Lennon sing with lots of reverb added to his voice and the equivalent of a foley stage add all sorts of wonderful sound effects to the back drop. (Thanks to Michael Fremer for decoding the matrix numbers while I was purchasing the LP from the U.K.).

Gene Ammons Boss Tenor circa 1960
Gene Ammons Boss Tenor circa 1960

Gene Ammons’ “My Romance” from Boss Tenor—we played a cheap mono reissue with dazzling effect. Gene Ammons was in front on sax with Tommy Flanagan on piano and Doug Watkins on bass. The sax enveloped the room and was utterly credible as a musical event. More than one listener commented that as long as you were seated between the two Eclipse TD510ZmkII loudspeakers, he never realized that he was not hearing a stereo soundstage—the presentation was so convincing. Alan Sircom, editor of HiFi+  remarked, “Say what you want about stereo, but one channel of effortless, dynamic, and vivid sound is hard to beat..

So what’s left? Well, the massive original dust cover has a split that needs to be repaired & polished. I had the rosewood trim pieces restored last year and they look like new. Sean commissioned a couple of Zero flight cases for our PD-444s.’ I will remove the captive power cord and install an IEC inlet so that we can use modern power cords.

Then it will take a while to find the right arm / cartridge synergies for both mono and stereo. The Schick is a wonderful choice with either the Denton 102 and or 103. Both of which I have yet to hear with the Latest Zu mods. As you can read, this is an exciting ongoing project that will deliver terrific musical enjoyment. I  used this to record the mono tracks for Demo XIX which should be finished in time for CES 2017. I expect to have a selection of mono cartridges on hand to find the most complimentary for any given tune I need to record to DSD.

Various cartridges for the Luxman PD-444
Various cartridges for the Luxman PD-444

Last but not least, I plan on experimenting with different feet supporting the table, as I feel our understanding of vibration isolation has improved over the past 40 years. So far the Nordost Fut are working like a champion—lowering the noise floor, digging out the low, low bass and cleaning up the midrange. What is there not to like?

I bought approximately 100 mono LPs in the past two months and am thrilled with both the musical and sound qualities of both jazz and vocal. Only the classical LPs have been frightfully hit or miss. I’ve been trying to stay away from early 50s albums as there were so many different EQs at the time before the RiAA standardization.

This is an ongoing project that has delivered many hours of fun for me and my friends. Now if I could only find a near mint copy of the original mono pressing of Johnny Hartman’s “I Just Dropped By To Say Hello”…

Hi-Fi+ singles out Luxman / Eclipse RMAF room for “exceptional sound”

This weekend at RMAF, Philip will be guest DJ from 2 – 3 PM everyday in the Eclipse room (#2014), spinning a restored Luxman PD-444 turntable; which celebrates its 40th  Anniversary this month.

If you have never heard well executed mono, you have no idea as to how rich and palpable it sounds. I’ll be bringing my original UK first pressing of the Beatles Sgt. Peppers in mono. Also, Buddy Holly will come alive—Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald and many more legends—should be a blast.

In Music, Philip O’Hanlon

View Mono Playlist

Mobile Fidelity One-Step reissue of Santana’s Abraxas

I have played a Test Pressing of this monumental album first at AXPONA and more recently at the Newport Show. I already own this seminal album on CD, SACD (both SONY & MFSL), the original UK pressing on vinyl, bought the German reissue about 15 to 20 years ago, as well as the more recent Mobile Fidelity reissue, (all of these @ 33 1/3 RPM). Consider me a believer.  The new Mobile Fidelity One-Step reissue will be at 45 RPM and delivers a level of clarity and palpability that I didn’t hear up until now, even on the SACDs.

When I played this at AXPONA and Newport and let Side One play through to the end, many times the audience clapped in appreciation. MFSL is on to a winner with this new ONE-STEP process. I can’t wait to get my own copy (or two). Certainly this will be the most appreciated gift for the music lover in any household. (Hint, hint). OK, it is expensive at $100, but it comes in a hard box and is sure to become a collectors item, just as the MFSL UHQR titles are (which are on eBay from $300 – $1,500 Beatles Sgt. Peppers, sealed).  We will be sure to play this in Denver next weekend at RMAF.

What better way to end the day than to wind down, play some mellow tunes and relax with an ounce of God’s own libation, a smooth and refined whiskey.

In 1912, Gilbey’s of Dublin (a wine and spirits merchant, who bottled whiskey in bond) began selling a 12 year old whiskey named Redbreast. The name was a reference to the Redbreast Robin (a type of small bird, common in Ireland) and is attributed to the Chairman of Gilbey’s, who was an avid ornithologist. In 1939 Jameson took over filling Gilbey’s own casks. Two sherry casks were used for each bourbon cask. The brand died off with the closure of Jameson’s distillery but was relaunched in 2010 from the Midleton Distillery which is approximately 20 miles outside of Cork City. Both Jameson and Midelton are part of the Irish Distiller’s Group.

Over the years, my wife and I have slowly graduated from the Jameson & Power’s 12 year old to the 12 year old Redbreast to the 15 and thought that life was grand. Unfortunately the 15 year old was only produced every four years, making it was hard to find. So when we found it, we stocked up—at least enough to tide us over until the next batch arrives in four years time. This was one of the richest and heaviest Irish pot still whiskeys, (until the 21 showed up). The Redbreast 15 is vatted from whiskeys aged between 15 and 19 years old and the cask selection is from 1st fill bourbon and sherry barrels.

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine—John Suveges of Laguna Beach—asked if I would swing by and set up his Luxman PD-171A turntable. After dialing in the tonearm arm with a Brinkmann Pi cartridge, we settled back to enjoy some tunes—wonderfully musical and utterly relaxing. John was the culprit who introduced us to the 12 year old Redbreast in the first instance, so I should not have been surprised when he produced a bottle of 21 year old Redbreast. Maybe not as dramatic as Moses parting the Red Sea, but certainly as climatic as King Arthur finding the Holy Grail. One ounce of this precious elixir revealed that this was indeed the ne plus ultra of Irish Whiskey. While there is a clear taste progression from the 12 year old to the 12 year old cask strength and on to the 15 year old. The 21 is a dramatic difference in taste, almost like a liqueur whiskey. The sherry overtones are more pronounced in the 21 over the 12 or 15. The initial taste is quite sweet with hints of vanilla and caramel. The second phase of taste is more complex and brings with it heat that covers your tongue with a glow. The third is more like the aftertaste, which leaves you with a sweet finish and an overall feeling of contentment. Truly the water of life (Uisce Beatha in Gaelic) = whiskey.

Tasting Notes from Celtic Whiskey Shop and Wines on the Green

Nose – Remarkable aroma spanning fresh tropical fruits, nuts and rich dried fruit.

Palate – Soft vanilla, toasted oak, sherry nuttiness with a dusting of Pot Still spices. Luscious fleshy fruit notes complete the creamy mouth feel. Lingers—seemingly forever—to oak and pot still spices and then—the final bow from the Barley—where it all began.

Colour – Dark golden

Made from malted and unmalted barley, which are milled and mashed before being triple-distilled through traditional copper-pot stills. Matured in a mixture of bourbon barrels and first-fill oloroso casks, as well as some refilled casks resulting in a rich and complex whiskey. Redbreast 21 was named the Irish Whiskey of the Year by Whisky Advocate. Expect to pay around $250 for a 70cl bottle. By the way, if you are spending some serious money on a magnificent bottle of whiskey, you owe it to yourself to buy a pair of the Riedel whiskey glasses ($50 a pair). It’s the equivalent of replacing a generic power on your amp with a Shunyata Σ SIGMA High Current power cord. I know $3,500 is a lot of money, but what a transformation. No different than drinking out of the right glass. Sláinte (good health).

Interesting journey through the Blues, incorporating some of the best Blues from the USA and beyond. Back in the 60s and 70s in England and Ireland, many of the most prominent rock musicians were probably more steeped in the blues tradition than their American counterparts.

Listen on TIDAL

Hope you enjoy it !



Merging+ seem to have the lion’s share of the Classical recording scene—talking about Tilsson Thomas’ recent Beethoven cycle, the Concertgebouw, LSO Live and Marinsky recordings. Mastering engineer supremo Bob Ludwig at Gateway Mastering in Portland, Maine is a huge proponent of Merging’s tools. In the past decade alone, he has won a dozen Grammys for Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical including:

Daft Punk – Random Access Memories (2014), Beck – Morning Phase (2015), and Alabama Shakes – Sound & Color (2016).

He also won Grammys for Best Surround Sound Album:

Dire Straits – Brothers In Arms (2006), Derek & the Dominos – Layla & Assorted, Love Songs (2012) and Beyoncé – Beyoncé (2015).

Philip’s Musings on Bob Ludwig Albums (NEW)

Leonard Cohen — Can’t Forget: A Souvenir of the Grand Tour

Beck – Sea Change

And below are a couple older musings that you may have missed that are also albums mastered by Leonard Cohen.

One of the best Rock albums in years, Alabama Shakes – Sound & Color

“Morning Phase” by Beck, my latest vinyl recommendation

More info about Bob Ludwig’s use of Merging+ tools at