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...
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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.

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

t_bone

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=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=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=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=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=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=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=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

222222&text=t
Owner
Pjudice, most of the LPs currently up there are either 50s-70s jazz, or classical. The CDs currently up there are highly varied (last weekend's CD listening sessions were Jamiroquai, XTC, Eric Clapton, Elgar, Britten, Lizst, Ella Fitzgerald, Fairfield Four and a few other things).

Drinking? Whatever suits the temperature (because one feels it there, especially in that room), the time, and the company. This past winter, it was mostly red wine or cognac (includes armagnac and Spanish brandy), with just a bit of whiskey consumed. This spring saw a few of bottles of champagne get consumed. I assume there will be some sangria, mint juleps, mojitos, pastisse, and some whiskey in summer.

The funny thing so far is that there has been little whiskey consumed there because while Japanese people from Tokyo have visited and they would love to drink whiskey while listening (seems to be the favorite urban Japanese adult 'relax-time' drink), they have usually been there when locals have also been there and the locals don't drink whiskey - it's usually shochu (and I cannot imagine wanting to mix those two in the same evening!)

t_bone