Gaétan Charbonneau's Music Blog


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Back to the Creek

Posted by Gaétan Charbonneau on October 2, 2012

After trying very hard to like the Jasmine Phono stage (LP2 MK11 version) I have to surrender. I dusted off the old Creek-OBH-15 to drive my Audio Technica 33EV. Even with an upgraded power cord and the Jasmine improved umbilical cord, I prefer the Creek warmer presentation. I guess I have found that I fall in the category of folks who prefers listening comfort over detailed information.
While I really like the speed and the life that the Jasmine inject in my records, the price to pay is a strong upper midrange, along with higher surface noise. Beside being clean and neutral, the Creek is also softer/slower in the low register, but goes much deeper and is a lot more forgiving  on ticks and pops. That said, it’s all about synergy and in a slow system the Jasmine could do wonders. It is very quiet, runs MM/MC  with 4 cartridge loading option, look and sound very good for a very modest sum of money.
Adios all!

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Turntable support

Posted by Gaétan Charbonneau on February 21, 2012

Turntable support is critical, and the better the support gets, the more air around the instruments one can hear. Why do I choose to check this criteria first? Because I believe air around the instruments is the sum of all the things that can go well/wrong, when I hear vinyl replay. More air around the instruments can be hard to get,  since it  is the sum of :
lower noise floor, lower distortion, better tracking, better timing, lack of vibrations, less surface noise, and longer decay, among other things.
Therefore, if one get less air it means something went wrong. Obviously, a good turntable support just make it a lot easier to hear changes in the system, and after spending years trying pretty much everything I could think of, wood, marble, cork, rubber puck, I finally got a noticeable improvement with my last experimentation which seems to perform better when various element are made to work together.  I’d say that the decisive step was a tubular metal structure I found in a flea market.  Next, was the very dense and incredibly beautiful butcher block  (wood) that I bought while visiting a local cabinet-maker (David Beauchamp). The tubular structure with on top the butcher block, separated with 3 rubber pucks fixated to 3 adjustable metal cones  underneath my chunky piece of  marble has given me the most neutral platform I have ever tried. Easy to verify, since as soon as the needle went on the record I heard more “air”!
That support is here to stay.
Adios all!

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The Audio-Technica AT33EV

Posted by Gaétan Charbonneau on February 7, 2012

I have been using the Audio-Technica for about 75 hours and I am now getting quite familiar with it’s sonic attributes. With a .3mV output and tracking at 2 gr on my Michell Tecnoarm, the AT33EV is replacing a Grado Sonata low output and a Dynavector 20 X 2L that I have been using sporadically. In terms of surface noise it is the less noisy but extremely reactive to VTA. It has the finest high frequency of the bunch, extremely detailed and by far the most “airy” of all the cartridge I have tried while having no trace of grain (I also briefly used an Ortofon 2M Black).
It does low bass just like the Sonata if not a hair deeper, or it is simply cleaner, in a softer way. I’d say it’s the price to pay for a cartridge that reproduces high frequencies in such a delicate manner and it is where having a dynamic phono preamp could prove to be complementary. Beside, the most striking quality of the AT33EV is it’s overall tonal accuracy and the way it renders brass instruments. The accuracy of saxophones is arresting. It is has if this cartridge has been specifically designed for Jazz where cymbals and brass are addictive. In conclusion, it doesn’t do everything well, it is not the most dynamic, but the things that the AT33EV does well, it does extremely well.
Adios all!

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Mélodie Citronique

Posted by Gaétan Charbonneau on January 26, 2012

A rarity in vinyl around here in Montreal, I just found this record from Blonde Redhead in a local record store (Sonorama 260 Bernard O, Montreal). What’s interesting beside that this band is a favorite of mine is the fact that it turn at 45rpm, and that this brand  new record was produced in 2000. The album has french lyrics (how could I resist) among a couple of songs in Italian. I guess it was the preparation for the amazing upcoming record, Misery is a Butterfly, the very first Blonde Redhead release on 4AD
Adios all

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Le monstre

Posted by Gaétan Charbonneau on January 5, 2012

Here is “Le monstre”
Ha…!  not very scary I must say, just a tad more musical. It’s a long term project I had, to switch tonearm from my Michell Tecnodec to a Technics SL1200 via the Origin live armboard. A “mod” inspired by DJ’s, I have been thinking about it for quite a while. The arm is the Tecnoarm also from Michell. I also took out the stock isolation feet on the Technics, and installed a set of Isonoe feet instead. I am now trying a Bren1 Record Clamp,  a nice chunky piece of aluminum, quite well made and of tremendous value. I am giving the link so much I like it. The only record clamp that actually look better is the Audio-Technica AT6284 Disc Stabilizer (yes, they make clamp) but for a price that borders absolute insanity, making the Bren1 Record Clamp in comparison, a no brainer.
What do I miss about the Tecnodec that I really liked all these years? It’s superb design, but beside that, not much. Timing on the Technics is greatly improved with all the obvious benefits across the entire audible spectrum. The timing on the Tecnodec was near perfect, but the Technics speed IS perfect. Gone is the “soft” bass. The only drawback is the lack of VTA adjustment with the current arm set-up and I can’t help wondering how an arm with VTA adjustment  would sound on this deck. I could have put the Michell VTA adjuster but it would have made the arm standing too high above the platter.
Still,  I will bring back the Tecnodec to life in the upcoming weeks, with the RB 250 tonearm that I initially bought, swap some cartridge and we will see from there. Sadly, like all great soccer players, there comes a time where sitting on the bench is unavoidable.
Adios all!

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Long time not heard

Posted by Gaétan Charbonneau on November 25, 2011

It’s been a long time I didn’t post anything here. So busy with all my photo project, it’s crazy.
Still, I managed to search for old vinyl records like a Swiss train, slowly, but surely. Just last week I have found 2 original mini LP, from Serge Gainsbourg. Unless Wikipedia is making a mistake, it is his very first record originally released in 1958: Du Chant À La Une!…   and it’s condition is very good. (Record ID is Philips/MEDIUM B 76.447 R).
The other original release I have found from Gainsbourg can be considered as the volume 2 of the previous release, his second recording so to speak, Serge Gainsbourg avec Alain Goraguer et son orchestre . This record appear to be extremely rare and I had all the problems in the world to find the record jacket that looked like mine on the net. However, it’s condition is less than perfect having a scratch on one side, but, with no effect on the sound. I would quote the record as good, if only due to it’s rarity, it’s really worthy. The residual surface noise of this record is more important than the other one, while being totally “playable”. Your experience will vary since turntable/cartridge/support set up is absolutely critical in picking up/rejecting surface noise. (Record ID is Philips/STANDARD B76.473 R).  Both records needs to be washed, and both were made in France.
Those interested by these 2 records are welcome to contact me, just drop me an email. I still haven’t made up my mind as to how much to ask, negotiable is the word!
Adios all!

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Robin Guthrie & the Canadian Cancer Research Society

Posted by Gaétan Charbonneau on June 9, 2011

For those who feel it’s important to support research on Cancer, Robin Guthrie has made a song available as long as a donation is being made to the Canadian Cancer Research Society.
Robin Guthrie website 
A great occasion to discover, if it’s not already done of course, one of the most influential guitarist of it’s generation.
Thank you & adios all!

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Fever Ray

Posted by Gaétan Charbonneau on February 5, 2011

Oh boy, that’s excellent music.  I just bought the vinyl and it’s great from top to bottom.  All good, if I make abstraction of the fact that the hole wasn’t big enough… that the background noise is like making pop corn and that the sound was recorded wayyyyy too low.
Besides that I guess it’s ok…?  So,  while I strongly recommend the music, I would not advise buying the vinyl format, an absolute mess in this case.  It’s one of these rare occasion where sticking to a MP3 is the right choice, since there was no digital download included with the taco. Zero  Karma point for the record company.
ps:  cool video  of the song ”when I grow up” with a you tube link on the right side of the bar, Le song of the month section.
Adios all!

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Ronaldo, your not the only one with quick feets…

Posted by Gaétan Charbonneau on February 4, 2011

Just watch the singer amazing right feet (the band is Pas Chic Chic from Montreal), just near the end of the video. Amazing skills. Cool tune btw.
Adios all!

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The Jasmine LP2.0MKII Phono Preamplifier

Posted by Gaétan Charbonneau on January 27, 2011

So, it’s been a month that the phono preamp got connected. Now what about it, and how does it compare to the Creek OBH-15 it’s been replacing.
First of, it’s extremely powerful. It has both MC (70 db) with limited adjustable loading and MM (55db) setting. The MC setting is almost too powerful, since any cartridge  over .5mv will overkill the stage. Even .5 mv might be .1mv  too much since the phono was clearly designed to work with less powerful tube amplifier.  It seems to be very sensible to the DC motor of my J.A Michel Tecnodec, it can get noisy if I move it too close. A good power cord to clean a noisy electrical line also appear to be a good idea (the power cord can be replaced) .  All that being said the Jasmine sonic signature appear to be “power, pace and rhythm”. Going back to the Creek gives the impression that the turntable is running way too slow and the sound gets “dull”.  The Jasmine bass is less profound, but less loose, cleaner and tighter. Transients are also  much faster, something that my system clearly benefited. It is also more detailed across the entire band spectrum and more forward sounding than the Creek, and it took me a while to get use to this.  The Jasmine mellowed down a bit with time and still appear to be doing so as we speak a month later, a lot of patience was required here. The highs are also more extended, less rolled off then the Creek.  I had to move the speakers back a little to be more comfortable. Overall, the Jasmine “dramatized” the musical event a lot more.
These observations were made comparing the MC phono section, with a MC low output .5mv  Grado Sonata Statement.  I could not compare the MM section on both stage for the good reason that the Creek setting on MM is so noisy that there is clearly something wrong with it, as if the ground gets lifted off while on MM, way too noisy with very high static and radio interferences in the background. On MC the Creek suddenly behave like a gentlemen with a dead silent background, just like it should.  The Creek price was $450 before shipping while the Jasmine price was  $658 including shipping,  delivered at my door 3 days later from China and cold like an ice cube on a blue December morning.
The extremely powerful Jasmine is quite tricky and needs to be paired carefully, since anything close to a bright sounding system will make it worst. However, with a bit of work,  the separate power supply and with the easy to reach adjustable MC cartridge loading, the two box Jasmine LP2.0MKII phono stage  falls in the no-brainer category at these “reasonable” prices  and I’d be very curious to know if something can compare to it under the 1k important barrier. It’s as if Terje Rypdal electric guitar was about to badly bite the speakers. Grrrr…
Adios all!

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