an hour on piano

Timing is vitally important in music – in both the performance and the equipment which reproduces it. But as a performer, how do you time yourself to play a minimalist piece of music – which must be exactly an hour long – without using a metronome or any other rhythmic device which will upset your interpretation?

This is exactly the problem faced by pianist Andy Lee when he came to record Tom Johnson’s An Hour For Piano.

Andy had to train himself to become a human metronome … which he achieved with a little cheating.

You can read his fascinating account here and find his recording of the piece here.

Project – Todd’s Jordan Eikona 2 system

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We recently sold a pair of Jordan Eikona 2s to Todd in the USA. He admitted from the start that he hadn’t put them in ideal enclosures, just a pair of sealed cubes he happened to have around which had previously done duty as woofer enclosures. However we think they look pretty neat and Todd is certainly impressed with the sound:

“Oh my….word….it’s glorious sounding! In over 20 years of being an audiophile I have never heard a stereo sound this amazing, ever. And I mean that. And I’ve heard B&W systems, Avalon with spectral gear and many others. Granted not their highest of the high end systems but probably $50,000 stereo systems in dedicated large rooms.

“I literally listened to music for 12 hours straight late into the night. No fatigue whatsoever either. It’s the most real, fluid, organic, 3D sound I’ve ever heard. I can’t even believe it every time I listen. It’s like the best of what people like about vinyl, the best about tubes, the best about electrostats, combined with the best about solid state. And then it just blows that away. Incredibly powerful too. Very dynamic. Sounds like I have a small sub hidden somewhere.

“Obviously it can’t do a perfect kickdrum. If I could get that bottom end I would honestly say that I have an entire reference quality system better than I’ve heard anywhere else. And I really need a more robust cabinet so I don’t hear the sound through the walls. One thing I have to watch with these speakers is they tend toward the slightly darker side so it takes careful adjustments to keep it just right.

“When I finally can I’m going to build a very thick cabinet, and make a granite baffle. Then add a bass unit with a 12” Eton driver. The same ones the most expensive Avalon speakers use. And cross it over fairly low so I don’t have to add anything to the Jordan.

“My mom came to visit. She’s heard pretty much every system I’ve ever had. Usually she just chats and doesn’t pay much attention when I sit her down in the listening chair. This time however she sat quiet, intently looking into the music soundstage, “wow, that sounds so good!”. She kept saying that. She started looking around the soundstage where the instruments would float in air. Then I put on some Roger Waters, she looks over real fast to the left of her, “where is that coming from??”. The voice on the song is floating directly left of her, she can’t figure it out since there is no actual speaker there. She looks back but with her head cocked slightly to the left intently listening to what the voice is saying into her left ear, as the music plays and unfolds in the front.

“The speakers are totally gone 100%. It doesn’t even look like they are on. Every bit of sound is massive and floating in space. Far above, far behind, far to the left and right, and sometimes in front and even behind in certain select instances. The even more exciting thing is I know I can get even more refined sound and improvements with what I want and need to still do.

“I know, I know, I sound like a salesman. But it’s just that exciting and engaging every single time I listen. I feel very few people, even fellow audiophiles, get to experience what I’ve managed to set up with this system.”

When we asked Todd if we could quote his post, he generously agreed and added:

“Every time I do upgrades to the rest of my system these speakers just keep getting better and better. They are able to resolve any and every improvement I do to an astonishing level. And I’ve improved my system a lot since then.”

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Soundscapes – a rainforest in Paris


Here at EJJ we are all about listening … but not always to music. There are many innovative projects going on around the world, designed to connect people with the audio environment. These can take the form of guided sound tours of a city or recordings of a soundscape.

For example, during December 2015, the two were combined with recordings of the rainforest superimposed on the landscape of Paris, as part of the COP21 conference. The participant walked the streets using headphones to listen to an immersive soundscape triggered by the setting.

It is described as augmented reality and is a fascinating idea. You can read more about it on the Rainforest Project website.

Bristol Sound and Vision Show


This weekend the sales team was delegated to visit the annual Bristol Hi-Fi Show. It is always worthwhile attending trade shows to get a feel for the market and to connect with colleagues (and competitors!).

This year’s show was a lively event with several trends apparent. It seemed that nearly every room had a turntable, either playing discs or spinning silently whilst music was streamed from a nearby laptop.

We thought the best analogue sound was provided by Music First Audio – their UK-made valve phono preamp and transformer preamp were true reference quality and provided superb sound. They also ran music from open reel tape, provided by a lovely little Nagra 4SJ. Perhaps open reel is due to make a comeback?

Music servers and streaming devices were the other big trend with a lot of high quality material coming from innocuous-looking netbooks. The stream of choice was usually the Tidal Music service with occasional sightings of Qubuz.

There were a few CD players evident. One room featured a very good demonstration CD from the Netherlands recording company STS-Digital. The sound quality – recorded live on Nagra open reel – was excellent. This audiophile label is not well known in the UK but worth seeking out via their home website.

The latest home theatre audio format (for now) is Dolby Atmos which takes a new approach to surround sound to provide a genuinely immersive sound field. The demonstrations were certainly very impressive and we’ll be following the format’s development with interest.

Finally, it was a pleasure to catch up with Paul Messenger and Martin Colloms on the HiFi Critic stand. Martin’s inspiration for his High Performance Loudspeakers book was Ted’s own Loudspeakers book. The two volumes between them have been industry bibles for several decades now. It was very interesting to hear some of Martin’s thinking on current trends in the industry.

HiFi Critic is an innovative venture; a high quality magazine funded entirely by sales, with no advertising. Highly recommended if you wish to keep up with the latest in hi-fi.