Okay, warning!! Spoiler alert. This is a rave and I just walked in from Music Room One holding my jaw in place. I am pumped up beyond description so take what you read with a boulder of sand. I have been accused of exaggeration and hyperbole in the past, it shall not end here.
Holy f*ck what has this change from stereo to mono wrought? I went into the first listening session of the BHK monos expecting better separation, possibly better soundstage as is normal with monos of the past. Immediately something was wrong. Center image specificity was all wrong. Spacious to the extreme, the mono part all wrong. I suspected a setup problem, none to be found. I played the Stereophile test disc and one channel’s was out of phase with the other. Ok, production units yes, but testing by hand without procedures and one channel obviously has wires crossed. Curses. Swap polarity on one channel, sit back to listen.
The first cut I put on is one I have heard so many times I rarely play it. But it came up on the iPad and away we went. Jane Monheit singing Alfie from an old Audiophile Voices CD. Wow. The reverb on her voice so obvious and detailed I remained transfixed in the seat. It was real. Not like she was in the room, but like I was in the studio listening to the playback. Weird. Not something I had experienced before. But I could not bring myself to turn on another track. I was transfixed. Near the end I heard something wrong, as if the sound ‘burped’. A glitch in the track? I went back to listen again. At precisely 29 seconds to the end it happened again, only this time it was as clear as day. A punch in! Holy crap. Clearly Monheit’s engineer punched the recorder in to have her fill in a phrase she had flubbed in the original recording. Now, so obvious that I cannot believe I had never heard it, but this time, perhaps my hundredth listen, I could not avoid its obviousness.
My friend Richard from Bit Perfect had sent me a track from the Vienna Philharmonic’s Das Rheingold, Solti conducting, and a DSD remastered copy. Not a Wagner fan, I have been trying my best to learn this track and so I have heard it many times, but I would not have normally chosen it; it was next on my playlist, so away we went. I turn up the volume, the soundstage opens in front of me and for the first time I get it. How could I have not loved this piece from the first listen.? It’s magnificent, and not just because the recording sounds so right, but because the music fills my soul as it never did before. I am in love.
Michael Fremer had sent me a recording of the Nutcracker taken from an album and now playing on my Mac Mini. Again, jaw dropping performance. I can’t leave the room. The surface noise of the record has become completely disembodied from the music, like the first time I heard Harry Pearson’s system and never again, until today. The fairies dance, the world on stage lays before me, separated from the record surface noise in the most natural of ways. The noise is obvious, yet not part of the music. It’s spooky. I am hooked.
The BHK Mono is a parallel BHK stereo. That means internally every tube, transistor, capacitor and resistor is doubled up, working together as one. And this has made some magic none of us would have guessed until we heard it. To suggest the mono is twice as good because it is doubled would be an injustice to my excitement of the moment. Perhaps it is only twice as good in reality and I will come down from my cloud to see this clearly tomorrow. But today, I will go back and listen into the night, confident it would be wrong to say it is only twice as good, when a magnitude is a better description. As good and revolutionary as the BHK Stereo is, an eye and ear opener to anyone able to audition it, the Monos are something to behold and words cannot do it justice.
I am posting this copied from tomorrow’s Paul’s post.