Nelson Brill Reviews The Wood Brothers at The Somerville Theatre

Real music lovers can find the melody in everything. From the park to the concert hall, our friend Nelson Brill is always on the hunt for great sound.

In this blog, Brill heads to The Somerville Theatre to see The Wood Brothers perform their carousing vaudeville and fiery rock n’ roll” set. 


CONCERT GLIMPSE: THE WOOD BROTHERS- PRIMED FOR ADVENTURE

By Nelson Brill

FEBRUARY 12, 2017

The Somerville Theatre (located in the heart of Davis Square in Somerville, MA.) opened its doors on May 11, 1914 and the first acts that graced its stage that night were a vaudeville act; a “singing skit” and a “comedy playlet”. (www.somervilletheatre.com). One hundred years later, the Somerville Theatre is still going strong.

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On February 8 and 9th, The Wood Brothers (www.thewoodbros.com) came into town to deliver their own version of carousing vaudeville and fiery rock n’ roll on the Somerville Theatre’s historic stage to the delight of their rollicking, dancing audiences.

The Wood Brothers (“the Brothers”) love to harken back to the days of original vaudeville and folk acts. Midway through their performance on February 8th, the Brothers (Chris Wood on bass, vocals and harmonica; Oliver Wood on vocals and guitar and Jano Rix on keyboards, vocals and everything percussive) dimmed the Somerville Theatre house lights, turned off all stage microphones and gathered in a semi-circle around a single antique microphone (which they call their “Big Mic”). Basking in this autumnal glow, the Brothers performed the filigree title track from their 2013 recording, The Muse [Southern Ground Artists] and their classic, “Postcards From Hell,” (a tribute this evening to the late Levon Helm) in stately sweet harmonies.

The unkempt beauty of these stark ballads highlighted the down-home feel of this great band and their consummate musicianship. Each number combined far-ranging influences such as a brush with Calypso beats (in Chris Wood’s pumping bass solo) to Oliver Wood’s country vocal touches.

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Other sweetly grooving numbers at this concert included the opening “Two Places” and “Touch of Your Hand” (both taken from the Brother’s excellent 2015 recording, Paradise [Honey Jar Records]), with Oliver’s lithe and clear vocals shimmying alongside Chris’s pungent bass and Rix’s keyboard off-kilter splashes.

The Brothers’ common pulsing sway also highlighted their sardonic “American Heartache” with the rasp of Chris’ harmonica cutting deep into the trio’s soaring harmonies that combusted in thunderous drum and snarling electric guitar hits.

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Betwixt and between these grooving ballads and blues, The Brothers took off on a raucous ride through their arsenal of full tilt rock n’ roll sending their lyrics (both comic and cutting) soaring on ripped-up guitar chords and huge bass pelts. Leave it to The Brothers to come up with lyrics such as: “You put your lips in the wind and hope for some kisses back” or “He hails from the great state of confusion and he now pulls a push broom at the inconvenience store.” The latter lyric is taken from their soaring “Singing To Strangers” that crushed with gleeful guitar heat and was partnered with “Snake Eyes” (both numbers found in spirited versions on Paradise) that had Chris Wood dancing in playful revel: he pounded his exuberant bass strings into a frenzy and then, (holding onto the very tip of his huge acoustic bass) he shimmied across the stage to finally fall on his knees to the blasts of Rix’s gut-thumping drums.

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The frolic continued with blazing harp and bass propelling the boogie of “Honey Jar” as Oliver Wood sang in his wonderfully dry, expressive and thin-as-a-reed vocals. This careening number was partnered with the exuberant “One More Day,” a song that was first recorded on The Brothers 2006 recording, Ways Not To Lose [Blue Note]. (For audiophiles, I recommend Ways Not To Lose as The Brothers’ most natural sounding recording to date, because it records them in an intimate session with natural tones and textures to their beguiling instrumental and vocal interplay, with the spirited drummer Kenny Wollesen in the creative mix).

“One More Day” took on a furious pace and blistering heat at this concert as Oliver took up his electric slide guitar with fervent swipes of crushing and blurred high notes followed by Rix’s drum solo that was fit for a boisterous New Orleans “Second Line” parade. Appropriately, this heated jam ended with a spontaneous outburst of a warped version of “The Saints Go Marching In.”

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In the final moments of this raw funk fest, The Brothers came full circle to revisit the glory of The Band, (the Brothers’ upcoming release will be a performance recorded at Levon Helm’s Barn) and lifted the 100 year-old roof of the Somerville Theatre with a soaring version of The Band’s “Ophelia”. At the apex of this reveling version, Rix took a turn in Levon’s honorary seat by singing the chorus at his drum kit while his two partners caroused around him with effusive harmonies and their entwining brotherly love.

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If you would like to read more reviews like this one, visit Nelson’s blog at www.bostonconcertreviews.com.


F1 Audio — Nordost Event

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F1 Audio has organized a fantastic event featuring the new Dynaudio Contour speakers, Nordost cables, Octave tube electronics and Music from MoFi. 

If you’re in the Chicago area, be sure to stop by F1 Audio, this Thursday, February 23rd, starting at 4:30PM, for what is sure to be an amazing evening! 

Factory representatives will be on hand performing demonstrations and answering questions. Register for a chance to win music from MoFi records. Special pricing during the event. Refreshments will be served. 

Call or email to register:

Contact Jamie Pauls 847-772-3140

jamie@f1audio.com


F1 Audio February Event


Thursday, February 23rd 4:30 to 8:30

311 E. Dundee Rd. Palatine, IL 60074

Contact Jamie Pauls 847-772-3140

jamie@f1audio.com  www.f1audio.com

Nordost, Dynaudio, Octave & MoFi

Jacob Heilbrunn Reviews Odin 2 for The Absolute Sound

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We are very excited to share a remarkable review of our flagship product, Odin 2, published in The Absolute Sound. In his article, Jacob Heilbrunn was unmistakably wowed by the improvements our Supreme Reference cables brought to his system, including a lower noise floor, “startling amounts of inner detail and nuance”, and the ability to take “transient speed to a new level”. In fact, Jacob couldn’t help but complement Nordost on its job designing and manufacturing Odin 2 cables:

“Nordost deserves the highest possible commendation for building on its previous efforts to produce a statement product that is remarkable for its purity and resolution, transparency and clarity.”

You can now read Jacob’s Odin 2 review here:  Nordost Odin 2 Interconnect and Speaker Cable Supreme Reference Range — Mighty!

(Many more great Nordost reviews can be found on the Reviews Page of our website)


Nordost will be at the Montréal Audio Fest!

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Nordost is excited to attend the Salon Audio, Montréal Audio Fest, March 24-26. Please join us at l’Hôtel Bonaventure Montréal in Salon St-Michel, where Nordost sales representatives, Michael Taylor and Bruno de Lorimier, will be performing live demonstrations and product comparisons throughout the weekend. The Montréal Audio Fest is the perfect opportunity to hear the effect that quality cables can have on a hifi system, and to determine how the caliber of performance is improved as enhancements are made to cable design. Admission is free to the public, so we hope to see you there!

Questions and Answers (February 2017)

Our product specialists receive questions on a daily basis about Nordost products, their application, and hifi in general.  We thought that we would take a minute to share some of our most recent and frequently asked questions here so that everyone can get the answers they are looking for!


Q: I have never owned any type of audio power equipment. Where do you think I should start?

A: A lot of our advice would depend on your particular system. Generally however, step one would be investing in a high quality distribution block. Our QBASE units address the conflicting flows of signal and ground paths in a typical system, which create noise on the line. By using a unique method that we call “star-earth topology”, our QB8 and QB4 units (QB6 if you are from the UK) control ground flow by lifting the impedance level of every outlet except for one (the “primary earth” outlet) by .5 Ohms. This creates an uninterrupted, straight-line AC distribution path from the wall to each individual component. This has a significantly positive impact on your soundstage—it lowers the noise floor without any high frequency compression.

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Q: My dealer supplied me with a copy of the Nordost set up and tuning disc. Could you let me know how long and how often I should use the “burn in” track?

A: We’re glad that your dealer gave you the Nordost System Set-Up and Tuning Disc. It really does accelerate the burn in process!  Using the burn in track on repeat, your interconnects and speaker cables will require about 96 hours of continuous play to get to the point where we consider them “burned in” (power cords burn in much faster and don’t require this).  After that, if you use the disc once a year for several hours, the cables will continue to perform perfectly.  We recommend that you repeat this process yearly in order to ensure that your cables are subjected to frequencies that your music might not contain.

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Q: I am already using most of Nordost’s power products. I am now thinking about adding QK1 and/or QV2, but I don’t know which I should use in my one remaining free outlet. What problem(s) are the two different units designed to solve? 

A: I think it is important to clarify that these two units are not solving problems per se, but more importantly, they are adding harmonics in different frequency ranges. The QV2 adds harmonics to the midrange and upper bass frequencies, and the QK1 adds harmonics to high frequencies—so you use them to add clarity to those areas.

The QV2 provides more audible effects, since it’s easier to hear changes within the mid and lower frequency spectrums. However, both the QV2 and QK1 make nice improvements.

We also want to point out that these units are not limited to the space available on your distribution block. QV2 and QK1 units can also be plugged into wall sockets, as long as they are in the same circuit as your sound system. When you are purchasing these devices, it is important to note that QV2 units work best in pairs, since that has a tendency to double their impact — QK1s work great in any quantity.

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Nordost Playlist – February 2017

Nordost is lucky to have a wonderful team of representatives and product trainers who travel around the world educating and demonstrating the effects of Nordost’s products. As part of these demonstrations, it is our job to find an interesting and diverse selection of music to showcase our cables, power devices, sort system and accessories. Whether at shows, visiting our dealers and distributors or even in our own listening room in our headquarters in Holliston, we are constantly getting asked what music we are playing (or if our audience is not so bold to ask, we can see their Shazams working overtime). So we thought this would be a perfect opportunity to share our favorite songs of the moment. Some may be classics, some may be brand new, some may not even be to your taste, but one thing is for sure …it’s all great music.

Here are some of the songs that we will have on rotation this February.

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  1. Nothing Can Change This Love—Sam Cooke—Mr. Soul
  2. Smells Like Teen Spirit—Freedom Fry—Smells Like Steen Spirit
  3. 17:35—Stoop Kids—Already Out Of Time
  4. Senza Un Perché—Nada—Tutto L’amore Che Mi Manca
  5. Hot Thoughts—Spoon—Hot Thoughts
  6. The Beginning (Work It Out)—Timothy Bloom—The Beginning (Work It Out)
  7. Wasting Time—Kids These Days—Traphouse Cuts
  8. In A Sentimental Mood—Duke Ellington, John Coltrane—Duck Ellington & John Coltrane
  9. We The People…—A Tribe Called Quest—We got it from Here…Thank You 4 Your Service
  10. Good Friend—Emily King—The Switch (Deluxe Edition)

 

Alan Sircom Reviews Sort Systems for Hi-Fi+

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Nordost is starting the year off right with another great review! In the January issue of Hi-Fi+, you will find a new piece covering Nordost’s complete Sort System. Alan Sircom is no stranger to Nordost. As he makes clear in his article, using Nordost products (whether they be cables, power products, or resonance control devices) will elevate the performance of your sound system, making all of your components seem more cohesive. With the introduction of the Sort Lift, Alan was able to address his system from all angles: electronics, loudspeakers, and cabling.

“Whether Sort Systems is the start, mid-way, or the end point in your Nordost journey, these components work, work in harmony with one another, and combine perfectly with Nordost’s more commonly thought of system components. Highly recommended.”

“The unSorted sound is like your system on a bad hair day. The soundstage seems to fold in on itself, the natural sense of harmonic overtones, and sense of musical structure to the sound has weakened. It’s just not all there!”

To read Alan’s review in it’s entirety, visit the review page on the Nordost website, or CLICK HERE.

Speaker Placement: Image is Everything

“Image Is Everything!”

How to squeeze every drop of performance from your speakers….

By Anthony Chiarella


In nearly two decades as an Audio Reviewer, I wrote hundreds of articles and, as I look back, most of these were written about speakers. Whether listening to them, evaluating them, or moving them around my room, loudspeakers have consumed more of my attention than any other part of my audio systems…and with good reason! The performance of no other component in your system is more sensitive to proper placement than your speakers; in other words, speaker setup places the sound of your system largely under your control. Here’s how….

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Roughing-In for Bass

The art and science of speaker placement involves a series of adjustments, beginning with “Roughing-in” speaker positions by finding the location where bass response is smoothest. (Note: assuming your speakers have spiked feet, Nordost’s Sort Füt units, or some other type of interface with the floor, you can retract these to make it easier to move the speakers. Near the end of the process, we’ll level the speakers and will adjust the feet at that point.) Start with both of your speakers about three feet away from side and rear walls, pointing straight ahead. Play some music with deep bass content (pipe organ, double bass or prominent electric bass) and move the speakers out of the corners until a natural bass balance is achieved. Don’t even think about mid- and high-frequencies right now: we’re dialing-in bass response. Listening to tracks with heavy bass content, disconnect first one speaker and then the other, moving each closer to, and farther from, rear and side walls until balanced bass is achieved. Now, connect both speakers and let ‘er rip! Is bass powerful and natural but without boom or overhang? When you’ve balanced the bass, it’s time to move “Onward and upward….”

Room Treatment

When it comes to Midrange and Treble, the room—specifically the reflective/absorbent characteristics of various surfaces such as walls, floors, windows and furnishings—is going to influence the sound at the listening position. If you find your mids and highs are bright and forward, try moving the speakers a little farther from room boundaries (but not so much that you compromise bass performance) and consider adding some absorptive treatments—wall hangings, carpets, plush furniture—at strategic points in your room in order to minimize reflections. At this point, you can also start toeing-in the speakers slightly.

Equilateral Triangle Approach

Years ago, British manufacturers including Spendor, Harbeth, Rogers and ProAc used a system whereby the two speakers and the listener formed the three corners of an equilateral triangle (all three sides being identical in length), with the speakers toed-in until only the front baffle of each speaker was visible from the listening position and both sides of the cabinet hidden from sight. This is a great way to control room reflections and focus central images for a solitary, centrally-seated listener; on the other hand, though you’ll wind up with razor-sharp focus, the soundstage probably won’t venture outside the speakers. What’s worse, the best seat in the house is the ONLY seat in the house, since this sort of positioning accommodates only one listener and is, to put it bluntly, anti-social.

Nearfield Listening

A similar approach—known as “Nearfield Listening”—involves moving both speakers and listener into the center of the room, father away from the four walls, with the listener sitting close to the speakers. Nearfield listening, which had its genesis in recording studios where engineers placed their “Nearfield Monitor” speakers atop the mastering console, goes even farther to remove room variables from the sonic equation. While this theory has many supporters, I always feel like the speakers are too close…almost like I’m wearing headphones. And of course, only one listener will enjoy properly balanced sound.

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Voweling

“Voweling” is a more recent tuning process. Developed by Wilson Audio, voweling involves moving the speakers a fraction of an inch at a time—forward and backward, closer together and farther apart—until you’ve achieved the best tonal balance and imaging. When I first heard about voweling, I dismissed it; after all, how could moving the speakers half an inch at a time have a dramatic impact upon sound? And then I tried it….

In a word, it works! Moving the speakers such a small amount influences the mids and highs without impacting the bass. Once the speakers have been “Roughed-in” for bass response, as per above, put on a recording of a solo vocalist and slightly toe-in the speakers until the voice is sharply focused. Using a tape measure, make sure the speakers are the same distance from the back wall. Maintaining the same toe-in angle, move each speaker about ½” closer to the other and re-audition. Experiment, moving the speakers very slightly closer together, farther apart, forward and backward, until you’ve achieved the most natural, pleasing tonal balance.

Fine Tuning

Once you’ve dialed-in your ideal tonal balance, it’s time to fine-tune spatial characteristics. The goal is to balance image focus, on the one hand, with soundstage size on the other. This is accomplished by gentle toe-in. Since you’ve gone to great lengths to pick the exact location for your speakers, you should proceed in a way that doesn’t negate your hard work. I recommend pivoting each speaker using the outer rear foot as the fixed vertical axis of rotation; in this way, the positioning (which you worked so hard to achieve) stays constant. (Consider putting small pieces of tape on the floor to mark the speaker positions.) Work in half-degree increments, focusing the image in much the same way as you would a pair of binoculars. If you’ve accomplished all previous steps properly, you should only need a small amount of toe-in to focus images while achieving a wall-to-wall soundstage.

Spikes and Feet

As a final step, you need to adjust the floor spikes or other speaker feet. There are two goals here: first, you want to make sure the speaker is completely stable and doesn’t “rock” back and forth; secondly, you need to make sure the speaker is perfectly level. Drop a spirit level atop each speaker cabinet until the perfect level is obtained and all four spikes or feet are in solid contact with the floor. If you find the sound to be bright or forward, you can tilt each speaker back slightly by raising the front spikes. (Again: a little is better than a lot!)  Or, if you have Nordost’s Sort Füt, this last step will go much smoother. The Sort Füt is adjustable so that you can level your speakers with ease, and their premium package comes with a laser level to help both with leveling and toe-in. If you have the funds, I strongly suggest a set of Sort Füt. This solution not only protects your speakers from external vibrations, but also drains the cabinet of internal vibrations generated from the speakers themselves, elevating the sound of EVERY speaker to a much higher level of performance!


 

For more even ideas about speaker setup, see our Speaker Placement Guide  

 

Dealer Spotlight: AudioNirvana

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By Michael Taylor

The High End industry in the Dominican Republic has a special shop available to them: AudioNirvana. Audiophiles there know that AudioNirvana is a place where they can get together to share their hobby and purchase the best products in the market, made by the best brands in the world. All of this is possible because of the efforts of AudioNirvana’s owner, Nelson Gomez.

Music has always been a part of Nelson’s life. Ever since he was a child he would sit in front of his father’s TUNER for hours, listening to all types of music. Even as a child, Nelson could appreciate that each genre of music created something special.

He entered into the world of high end audio in 1997 as an end-user, and ever since then, he’s made a point to attend industry shows around the world, creating and fostering relationships with key players in the hifi community. However, it wasn’t until five years ago that a friend suggested he turn his passion into his career, as an agent and representative for the brands that he loves.

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For Nelson, it is of the utmost importance that he identifies with the brands he represents. Nordost is one of those brands. He says, “Nordost permits me to demonstrate to my clients what their technology is capable of, with no limitations or anything that would change the characteristics of its sound”.

AudioNirvana has a unique business model.  Nelson often invites the companies that he represents to the Dominican Republic to engage in presentations and/or discussions about their products. This gives his clients the rare opportunity to have a direct interaction with the manufacturers of the products they love. Apart from these periodic discussions, Nelson also gives product presentations, teaches classes on technology, and entertains his clients in his shop, so that his customers have the chance to observe, and have a better understanding of, the products they are interested in purchasing.

In the Dominican Republic, the high end audio market has been growing consistently. That’s due, in great part, to the relationships that Nelson has cultivated with his clients, which are, according to him, his greatest investment.

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Nordost at Sound & Vision: the Bristol Show

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Please join Nordost February 24-26 for Sound & Vision’s 30th Bristol Show. You will find Nordost in room 210, on the second floor of the Marriott City Center Hotel Bristol. Show attendees will have the opportunity to experience Nordost’s famous product demonstrations and cable comparisons, as well as be some of the first to experience some exciting new Nordost releases like the Valhalla 2 USB 2.0 Cable and the Sort Lift. While at the show, don’t forget to take advantage of some unbeatable show prices on your favorite Nordost products, available on the Ground floor, Bay 4