May, 2015

 

Munich was awesome but not without pain. Every year in May the PS crew loads up and flies to the Munich high end show. This year we introduced the BHK Signature stereo power amplifier to Europeans and the reaction was great. But setup was a nightmare.The first trouble started the day before the show. We had borrowed a pair of the fabulous Magneplanar 20.7 loudspeakers and placed them into the large room. I connected DirectStream into the BHK Signature and fired up the system to start tuning. Ugh. We thought something was wrong. There was no bass whatsoever. Checked the fuses on the speakers, tried different cables, nothing worked. It was suggested the room itself was the culprit. Built into each of the upstairs demo rooms was a rather large glassed in area that created a bass trap so intense it sucked the life out of the Maggies. So we wound up moving them nearly halfway into the room and that worked.The next disaster came the day of the show. We were all locked out of our rooms until thirty minutes before show time. After finally getting the key, I entered the room only to discover my iPad had been stolen and we could no longer control the Mac Mini music source. Sigh. But, all bad things have silver linings if one looks hard enough. We had also installed the Roon music control system, which many of you might know from its past incarnation: Sooloos. The Mac performed flawlessly with Roon at its command. But there still was not enough bass.My friend, John Hunter of REL subs, came to our rescue. He loaned us one of their mighty subwoofers, took time to help tweak the Maggies for best sound and, in the end, many said we had best sound at the show. Wow. Going from worst to best in the course of a day was a lot to take in, but we did it!

Reviewer Jason Serinus from Stereophile had a chance to spend time in the room and wrote a wonderful review you can read by clicking the link.

BHK Signature Reviews

The BHK Signature amplifier has been in the hands of beta testers around the world for weeks now and their reviews are just starting to be made public on our forums. I have provided a link for you to read what they have written.Many have asked me for a brief run down on the amp, how it came to be what it is and what differentiates it from other amplifiers. I wrote something a few days ago that I felt was worth sharing with Newsletter readers.”The amplifier, like the AC power, is the foundation of the system; the meat and potatoes. Get those things right first, invest well and you’ll never regret it. Until I started playing with amps again I was like everyone else I know, ignoring the amp – it just sits there and works. But then I started playing with various designs and was at first startled with the differences. Some of the amps simply lost details, space, harmonics altogether! I don’t know where they went, but I do know once they are lost the best speakers in the world cannot bring them back. Like food, remove its flavor and a fancy plate cannot bring it back.Once I realized all the info I was missing I began a hunt for what brought it back – in a natural way, without added tizz and fizz which I got with class D – and all I could find was a few tube amps. But they lacked in the bass and power of music, as pure tube output amps tend to do, though they didn’t lose any of its precious details and harmonics. And that’s when I first heard the prototype of Bascom’s amplifier. It captured all that was on the music and did so in such a natural open manner that I was shocked. Truly shocked. That’s when I realized all my efforts to design something similar were being wasted. I had found my designer. The rest is history.

Get it right and you can lay that piece of the puzzle to rest forever. Once the proper amp, preamp is in place, speakers can come and go to suit your fancy and your room – but you have at least a rock solid foundation, one you can trust and enjoy for the rest of your musical life.

I haven’t had such confidence in a product’s perfectness for many, many years. Trust. It’s tough to find perfection in anything, but the BHK pours a half century of one man’s life into a single box and if you can manage to own one, you will never regret it.”

I know no other way than to tell you than from my heart what I feel about this amplifier. But that’s just me and surely I have a vested interest. If you want to read what others have heard and feel about this extraordinary product, click the link below and spend a few minutes on the forums.

 

I know of no better way to get to know the heart and soul of a man, a designer, a person of interest than to listen to them speak candidly about their work, life, love of music. And BHK is one interesting person, someone I am privileged to know and work with.And here’s your chance to spend time with Bascom learning the secrets of his design work, how he thinks about amplifiers and designing. The interviews were recorded over a Saturday in BHK’s Santa Barbara Lab and I think they are worth spending time with. It’s rare we get a chance to get to know people this well, and I encourage you to watch all 5 of BHK’s interviews.

Getting ready for Newport

Just back from Munich, barely over the jet lag and it’s off to Newport Beach for THE show. I posted this wonderful picture from Munich on our Instagram Page. It shows Scott McGowan (on the left) and Travis Townes in front of what has to be the biggest damn horn loudspeaker I have ever seen. And that’s thing about shows, you wind up seeing some crazy stuff.We will be sharing a room with Legacy Audio, 12th floor club/lounge, who have loaned us one of their great loudspeakers. And this show is notable for us that it will be the first public showing of the BHK Mono Block amplifiers. I am excited, as those of you who read my daily posts know, about the monos. The monos are far better than any of us ever imagined (well, perhaps not as Bascom imagined) they would be. Mono versions of stereo amplifiers are always better but not by leaps and bounds. The BHK monos break this mold and we have been discussing the why’s of this on Paul’s Daily Posts if you’re interested.The main thing is this: if you want a chance to hear the BHK monos, this may be your only public opportunity for some time. Sure, we’ll have them to play at Rocky Mountain, but that’s a long way into the future. If you’re attending Newport, come by the Legacy Audio room and spend some time with us. Love to meet you and show you the system.

Roon Music Controller

In Newport, as we did in Munich, we will be using the Roon Music Controller (computer gods willing) to play and select music stored on our hot rodded Mac Mini. Roon, as I had mentioned previously, is the Sooloos of the past, only much better. And I think Roon Rocks.I have a beta version in my possession and will be using it in Newport. Roon is available for a monthly fee or outright purchase, I find it ever so wonderful to use and worth people’s time to come take a look and a listen.Roon integrates beautifully with Tidal, but alas, we will not be showing that part of the program. You’ll just have to make do with my library on the Mini. But if you have a chance to come by and visit, you’ll be able to see Roon in action.
Learn about Roon

Do we ever hear an amp?

I write a daily post on the subject of music, high end audio, electronic design, and all things interesting about what we love of our systems. I have written several thousand of these posts and haven’t missed one in over three years.We just finished a series on mono amplifiers: how they are made, the different types of designs (switchable, fixed, parallel), output topologies etc. and we will continue to delve into subjects of interest.This morning’s post provoked many comments. I had pointed out that one never really gets to hear a power amplifier, DAC or preamp. What you always hear is colored through the lens of a loudspeaker or headphone and none are neutral. It’s like always viewing the outside through a window. You never really see it until you go outside. And thus, much of what we believe about our electronics and their sound is formed through the filter of a loudspeaker – we never really know what our electronics sound like.Food for thought. I’d be delighted if you’d join me in sharing what we know about audio, music and high end. Just click the link to sign up. Easy to get, even easier to leave if we’re not seeing eye to eye.
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Mozart Piano Concertos

Lawrence Schenbeck knows more about music than most of us combined. A professor on the subject, he shares with us his insights into classical music, composition, how to enjoy it, and offers suggestions and examples of what you might like to hear.Each Newsletter I will let you know what’s on tap and I hope you have a moment to enjoy his writings as much as I do. This month starts a new column called The Basics and his first topic is perhaps my favorite composer of all time, Mozart.Click the link below to enjoy.
Mozart Piano Concertos

Till next month

Thanks for reading the newsletter! I hope to see you in newport.

Paul McGowan