Travels to Europe and the Triode Festival
Morgan Jones (on the left), author of Valve Amplifiers and Building Valve Amplifiers, was one of the most popular speakers at the ETF, both for his trademark humor and his been-there-done-that experience in the cold hard world of radio and television broadcasting at the BBC. (You can just barely see Morgan's BBC logo on his T-shirt. Christian Rintelen, sponsor and organizer of the ETF, is in the foreground.)
I spent most of my socializing time with him asking arcane questions like who really designed the PAL color-TV system - was the BBC really the co-designer or was that just so much "Wireless World" cheering on the home team. (He felt the Germans really did most of the work on PAL color.) I was also curious about the slow, sad demise of the BBC's world-class research organization - when I visited the BBC in 1975, they were second to none in loudspeaker design and multichannel research, far ahead of any American labs. Decades of cost-cutting and relentless privatization (or piratization) has left the organization still able to broadcast, but with much less R&D facility than before. Typical geek-talk, really, but in a gratifyingly non-corporate, non-pressured environment.
(Photo credit by Jim de Kort)
Well, I missed the Dorit Chrysler concert at 9 o'clock the first night of the ETF. Everybody told me it was nothing short of awesome, and by the way, where was I? Well, I really wanted to go - electronica, especially Theremin and arcane electronica - are my favorites, but I conked out out at 8:30 and slept for twelve hours straight, for the first full night's sleep since I'd arrived in Europe. The following morning, I felt human for the first time in days, but was kind of bummed to discover I'd missed the entire concert, and oh by the way, it was awesome!
(Photo credit by Christian Rintelen)
This gives a better idea of the candle-lit illumination and exotic sound system that Dorit used for her concert - instead of racks of touring amps and raucous constant-directivity horns, she had all-triode power and silky-smooth TAD wood horns. Nice mood pictures too, thanks to Jim, Christian and the enthusiastic photographers of the ETF. Be sure to visit the ETF Photo Gallery for a much broader variety of photos - of the concerts, the people, and of course, plenty of pictures of the hifi equipment that everyone brought!
Next day, I ran into Dorit (left) and Bettina (Christian's partner, on the right), and found out that they became best friends back when they both lived in New York City's East Village, which is how a musician like Dorit ended up playing a very cool techno/Theremin concert for a bunch of audio geeks in southern Germany.
Her usual gig is in New York City, although she tours in Europe as well. She also knows folks in the New York Triode Mafia scene, like JC Morrison, so triode geekery is cool with her. She really appreciated the sound of the Wall-O-Sound system, which was indeed a terrific PA speaker, and especially good when cranked to house-music levels when Thomas Mayer rocked out the following evening.
Dorit liked the Munich Triode Mafia Wall-O-Sound so much she'd like to have something like that for her concerts! Can we rise to the challenge? Seriously, this is an underserved market - there are professionals who'd really like to have a top-quality, but touring-capable, PA system. And why not? It's their art, and their income as well, and why shouldn't performers have good sound for a change? Not to mention the triode folks are really using PA equipment already - PA technology ranging from the 1930's to the present, but still similar in character to traditional audio-engineering approaches used for performing spaces.
While we're handing out attaboys, how about a round of applause of Wolfgang Braun (left) and Christian Rintelen (right), the two organizers who put on this whole thing? This photo was taken at the traditional ETF auction and planning-for-next-year announcements, which received much cheering, yahoos, and other noises (no boat horns, thank God, unlike the VSAC). The gradual accumulation of wine, champagne, beer bottles, and more and more grafitti on the Wall-O-Sound speakers is visual evidence the ETF is into its second day.
It's the last night of the ETF and it's Party Time!!! This is a Swiss band, Bonie Moronie, that Christian discovered playing outdoors near one of his favorite restaurants, and their second appearance at the ETF. The audience may have been 95% geek, but that didn't stop the band from really getting down and playing some serious rock-n-roll. Mood lighting by candles, as used the previous night by Dorit Chrysler, which gave the performance a lot of style.
Upstairs in the Wall-O-Sound room, Thomas Mayer really cut loose and spun a nice selection of techno and house-music platters - there was much discussion next day about the small earthquake in the Lindau region (this really happened, no fairy tale) and whether or not Thomas had something to do with it.
Some people may have grumbled that the Wall-O-Sound wasn't - how shall we say this - the subtlest speaker around, and that calling it a great PA system was sort of an insult. Not at all. It was a great PA system, did credit to Steve and J. Hiraga's presentations, and was endorsed by a musician, too! Sheesh, guys, what more do you want? How many audiophile speakers get endorsed by international performers?
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Text and Pictures © Lynn Olson 2005, except where noted.