Description

The system is in an old landowner/merchant's house deep in the north country of Japan (in the hamlet of Kamagui in Niigata Prefecture for anyone interested in setting up an Audio Club) which we purchased and refurbished with a friend of ours.

Everything is used (only the Altecs were purchased for this system so far - the rest comes from a home system), and I am thinking of replacing the EAR and SONY before getting the DIY done because they don't look scruffy enough.

The Whiskey Room is on the 3rd floor of an old 'minka', with a view over the hamlet's rice paddies as the sun sets - the perfect place to drink a whiskey after a hard day relaxing in the countryside.

There are no room treatments ('mud-over-straw' walls are sooted with woodsmoke from when the kitchen was wood-fired and this room was the chimney to the outside), the floorboards were formerly the inside wall-boards of one of the storehouses, furniture is a couple of ugly brown vinyl armchairs and an even uglier 'baby-poop brown' La-Z-Boy recliner, and a couple of brown bar stools (all told, about $50), and an old wooden fridge. There's a tattered old Uzbeki rug on the floor which I like, and, oh-yeah, there's no heat, and not enough light.

But the view is great, and the sound is out of this world.

Please stop by if you are in the neighborhood...
Read more...

Components Toggle details

    • Altec Lansing Model-19
    Two-way, super-efficient (101dB?) speakers. Fabulous for the price.
    • EAR 859
    EAR integrated SET-like amp (called Enhanced Triode Mode - pentode tube given triode functionality/linearity (Grid1 tied to cathode, Grid2 signal, Grid3 is ground) putting out all of 13.5W. Uses EL519 tubes which will probably outlast me.
    • Sony SCD-777ES
    stock player, owned since 2002
    • Ridiculously Comfortable Chairs
    self-explanatory
    • Baby-Poop Brown Lazy-Boy Recliner
    also self-explanatory
    • Diatone LT-1
    Linear tracker from the late 1970s. Mitsubishi's top effort as a TT. Uses a Denon DL-103R right now but going to change to a higher compliance MM cart.

Comments 30

222222&text=su
There's a certain rightness about that space where, I can imagine, you can wander into at will and forget the rest of the world and get lost in music. Just can't do that in a house with wife and kids milling around. Yours is basically an extention of the 'shed' idea. The nearest I've got is the third system in the garage but there's so much junk in there right now, and the acceptable temperature only comes along maybe 4 or 5 months of the year. Reminds me I still need to fix that motorbike!

subseatree

222222&text=t
Owner
Thanks Eckart. And to you too, and a Happy New Year to all!

t_bone

222222&text=th
Frohe Weihnachten Travis

Eckart

thuchan

222222&text=no
T_Bone,

Why you live in my house? I leave for few weeks and you make my house yours? I very pissed on, I mean pissed off. I vow to eliminate you, I mean evict you, very soon.

Yours sincerely,

Samurai Sam
aka 'The Butcher'

noble100

222222&text=cw
Hi T Bone

We also hope all is well and are thinking you in our thoughts here in New York.

cwlondon

cwlondon

222222&text=mj
Glad to hear all is well with you. I prayed for your family because of our acquaintance through A'gon. I now pray that all who are missing can be found safe and all who lost loved ones will be comforted.

mjcmt

222222&text=t
Owner
Thanks for your thoughts. We're in Tokyo so family is well. Don't know about this system's house yet, but frankly all eyes are on the northern Pacific coast of Japan, hoping and praying that Japan's earthquake experiences spurred people to go to high ground.

t_bone

222222&text=mj
TBone, I hope all is well with your family in light of this recent earthquake in northern Japan.

mjcmt

222222&text=mj
I've visited your virtual system before and keep returning because it is just so inviting. The property, the building, the dusty room, the amp and speakers, and those comfy chairs. I wish I had such a weekend get-a-way like you. Congratulation on such a great musical appreciation room.

mjcmt

222222&text=t
Owner
Yes, in Japan those players were sold under the Philips and Marantz labels. Unfortunately, in Japan, 1543-based vintage DACs with the best transport mechanisms are actually reasonably sought after so audio stores will buy them from joe shmoe for a pittance and then sell them to audiophiles for more.

And thanks. Hoping to make it less dusty this weekend, but the walls will stay brown.

t_bone

222222&text=mj
Tbone,
I forgot that your in Japan and Magnavox was Philips CD entry into the North American market. You will be able to find the equivalent vintage Philips player.

Keep in mind that the earlier '86 models had a 14 bit DAC and CDM1 transport. Next up was the TDA1541 16 bit DAC and CDM2 transport around '88. This are good but a little vague sounding. Things peaked for Philips in '89 with the Philips TDA1543 dual 16 bit DAC and CDM4/19 transport. This is what you want for the best in vintage cdps.
In fact the 1543 DAC has been rediscovered and is used in quite a few high end manufacturers. Funny how it has come full circle back to a 16 bit DAC sounding the most analogue.
The best part is these vintage Philips/Magnavox cdps can be gotten for a pittance and it will compliment your vintage wiskey bar. I do love your dusty rustic listening room. It just feels right.

mjcmt

222222&text=t
Owner
Thanks Mjcmt,
I'm venturing back into the wilds of the north for the upcoming long weekend to prune back the vegetables (and eat them), listen to the orchestra of frogs in the early evening, and to listen to tunes later at night. My Altecs are not VOTTs but Model 19s, which were sold by Altec dealers about 10yrs later (think they were 1978-1982 or so), probably as their top of the line consumer speaker (the VOTTs were semi-pro I think). As for the Magnavox, being in Japan I don't really have access to Magnavoxes in the used market, though I'll keep my eyes peeled for ways I might find one.

t_bone

222222&text=mj
Very Cool and satisfying music room.

Yes to vintage Altec Lancings. I have fond memories of my friends new 1969 Altec Lancing Voice of the Theater loudspeakers dressed up in mahagany with a lattice and black grill cloth front sold at Allied Radio, and powered w/ Dynaco electronics. I loved them then and have eyed them ever since. Are yours Voice of the Theater?

When you are ready to change your cdp you might consider the vintage Magnavox cdp that shames many of new high end players. Look at my "Old School (vintage-ish)" system to see and read about this player.

mjcmt

222222&text=t
Owner
Rottenclam,
Thanks. The weird thing is that I almost never drink when in Tokyo, but when I am up there, a glass of wine or champagne seems to wangle its way into my hand most evenings. I suppose that it is the place (both literally and mentally) where wine tastes really good.

As to the music cafe, I assume you mean Cafe Lion" in the love-hotel district in Shibuya. That is a very interesting place - almost empty these days, but must have had more listeners in its heyday (the late 1920s and 1930s). I am shocked that it still survives. I discovered it a little while ago when a friend took me, thinking I'd get a kick out of it. I highly recommend it for anyone visiting Tokyo.

I also like the jazz-kissa (jazz kissaten, which translates to jazz coffeeshop) in Jimbocho, right near the station. The guy serves a great cup of coffee, has a wall of jazz CDs and a bunch of vinyl, and he has big old JBL studio monitors (4344s?) driven by Pass Aleph 2s which are sitting on the end of the counter. All of this in a place not large enough to swing a pair of cats.

t_bone

222222&text=ro
Now that is what I call Life-Fi. Fun looking system, in a fun looking room, in what looks like a dynamite domestic spread.

I quit my drinking and am now a coffee guy. Your place looks like a spot where I could definitely down a few cups of Peets coffee. For Japanese music, check out Guitar Wolf or Boris (fuzzed out hard rock / psych / punk / garage stuff).

Also, when in Tokyo, check out Cafe Lyon. It is an audiophile cafe near the Love-Hotel district (cant remember the name right now). They play only classical music there, and the coffee is only decent, but the system and ambiance are pretty cool.

rottenclam

222222&text=pj
It's raining in NYC right now, I'm listening to assorted roots and blues with a 1999 Ken Wright pinot noir (Oregon - great stuff, but with a depressing label that has some sort of potato famine visual on it. Isn't wine supposed to be a happy drink?) although I suppose blues probably pairs better with Bourbon. 90% of me is extremely happy.

Unlike a lot of AG'ers, I'm probably spending more on good wine than audio tweaks. Or maybe good wine is the tweak. I'll take a case of good GSM (ha!) over a magic power cord any day of the week. At least I know what to expect from the Aussie red.

pjudice

222222&text=t
Owner
Pjudice, it's probably 90% in our heads. I like listening to music much more when relaxed. For me, if I'm going to be sitting down and having a glass of wine, or a cognac, it means I am already in the mood to relax, so taken in that context, I've put myself in the mood to enjoy the music, simply by deciding to have that glass of wine or cognac away from the dining table.

Gsm (does that stand for Grenache, Shiraz, Mouvedre? :^), I know the Tsuyoshi Yamamoto Trio but never got around to getting any of their discs. Thanks for the reminder.

t_bone

222222&text=gs
I have a number of Japanese jazz group cds; however, my favorite group is the Tsuyoshi Yamamoto Trio (various recordings on Three Blind Mice). For something very different, try Dotou Banri Ondekoza - traditional Japanese drum music [on JVC XRCD2 SVCD-1027].

gsm18439

222222&text=pj
So, why is it that the pleasures of good music and good drink are so intertwined? You obviously get this and I'll bet that there are dark rings on the arm rests of your baby poop chairs from the hundreds of cocktail glasses that have sat there. I can hardly imagine sitting in front of my modest hi-fi without a good glass of Burgundy or a smokey scotch.

Does the excitement of two senses at the same time add up to something greater than the sum of the parts? Or maybe everything is better with a cocktail.

pjudice

222222&text=t
Owner
Japanese music... I have never really gotten into Japanese classical (Takemitsu, etc). I really detest most "J-Pop"... I am something of a on-and-off fan of Ryuichi Sakamoto, and therefore of the group Yello Magic Orchestra (a.k.a YMO). I like some music by a group called Mr. Children. And I think that one of the great voices of the late 20th and early 21st centuries is Yoshida Miwa (vocalist of band Dreams Come True, a band with pop, R&B, and jazzy influences). She has a fantastic voice, and she is constantly looking to team up with different people to sing with - more often in the US than not - and the result is usually quite decent. DCT was a pop group which saw its best years end several years ago, but they reunited in 2008 and came up with some great songs and concerts. Much of DCT's music is a bit to saccharine for me, but when they get a song right, I am transported. Lastly (for right now), I also think Hiromi Uehara is an extraordinarily gifted jazz pianist.

t_bone

222222&text=pj
I'm depressed at the thought of passable pinot noir for 80 bucks. Clearly I'm (a little too) attached to red wine, but I agree that drinking like the locals is always a good way to go. My Japanese friend has taken me to a lot of good places in NYC where I had sakes that really surprised me in their range of flavors, depth and complexity.

Getting back to music; (this is an audio site) any Japanese music we should be listening to?

pjudice

222222&text=gs
I have had great wines in Japan. But they are all imported and, therefore, very expensive. I agree with T_bones' assessment of sake - the taste and tradition of Japanese sake is rich and varied and preferable to drinking wine in Japan unless someone else is footing the bill.

gsm18439

222222&text=t
Owner
Thanks Pjudice. I can great wine in my neighborhood in Tokyo (3mins away I have a wine store which will give most premier wine stores in NYC or London a run for their money - and it has certainly taken a bunch of mine) but in that neighborhood, after looking long and hard, I have found a place which will, on occasion, have a barely passable table wine. I usually take my own up there (and let it settle for a month before drinking)). I have never had a really decent bottle of wine made in Japan - at least nothing for which I would willingly pay the asked price. I did have a passable pinot noir from Yamanashi once, but it was a guy with a hobby who sold his wine for close to $80 a bottle.

Sake is, on the other hand, a great alcohol. Regular sake (not the stuff in the carton) is eminently drinkable - more so than wine of the same price per glass. Good sake is very good, and there are variations like there are variations in red (or white) wine. Different rice, water, yeast cultures, outside temperatures, brewing times, serving temperatures, etc., all lead to different sake and much Japanese traditional cuisine goes well with sake. And drinking warm sake while eating a hot nabe pot dinner around a charcoal hearth on a cold winter night with friends is about as good as it gets.

Other Japanese contributions to the pantheon of great world alcohols are... well... hmmm.... I'll have to get back to you.

t_bone

222222&text=pj
T-bone, I'll give you thumbs up for the eclectic musical and beverage selections. You also get points for having the least pretentious listening room on AG - I wish I were there in a baby poop chair with a Japanese mint julep in my hand and a stack of LP's in my lap.

Can you find good red wine in your neighborhood? I hold a little wine tasting at my office on Friday afternoons and a Japanese colleague brought some "gold medal" Japanese wine for us to try. YIKES.

pjudice

222222&text=t
Owner
I call it 'north' because I am Tokyo-based. It's actually on the same latitude as Sendai (but on the Japan Sea coast side), which when viewed on an all-of-Japan map, leaves a lot of Japan further north. But in the spirit of Tokyo being the reference point, it's pretty far north - spiritually and culturally.

t_bone

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