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Listening Impressions
I listened to a bunch of albums but I won't bore you with an album-after-album litany of listening impressions. Let me give you instead two examples of listening sessions that stand out in my mind. Billie Holiday's Songs for Distingue Lovers was recorded in 1957 at Capitol Studios in Hollywood and produced by Norman Granz. It's a music lover's delight, with Billie's seductively expressive voice at its most mesmerizing and an all-star line up of Harry "Sweets" Edison on trumpet, Ben Webster on tenor saxophone, Jimmy Rowles on piano, Barney Kessel on guitar, Red Mitchell on bass and Alvin Stoller & Larry Bunker on drums. I was immediately impressed with the high level of musicality the Paschetto AE-2008 confers upon the Lovers' listening experience. I could feel myself relaxing into the musical groove and enjoying the skilled performance of the musicians, the beautiful tone of their musical instruments and of course the emotional expressiveness of Billie's smoky and immensely expressive singing. The kick drum on Lovers is a thing of wonder through the Paschetto 2008, having a lifelike thump of the mallet on the drumhead and a huge lifelike presence of air moving out from the drumhead that charged my entire living room. Likewise, Harry's muted trumpet was as lifelike as I've heard it, being piquant as appropriate but never harsh or edgy in an unpleasant or unnatural way. I was struck while listening how beautiful the tone was of Harry's trumpet, not to mention his counterpoint to Billie's vocals that seemed at times like another human voice mocking, then teasing, then caressing in an artfully playful and entertaining way as he styles around the vocals. In a lot of HiFi rigs, muted trumpet will make you run from the room in an effort to save your ears from the ice pick. Not with the Paschetto 2008. It has a velvet touch with the muted trumpet that caresses your ears. I can tell you this, you will not be thinking about the sound. No, you'll be lost in the music and amazed by the incredible music. The Paschetto 208 swings, baby. I couldn't keep my feet still. You feel the beat and you get the rhythm and you'll groove to the music.

The AE-2008 has a musical presentation in what I've come to think of as the music lover's balance: smooth, clean and somewhat laid-back high frequencies with a complete absence of edge, grit or glare; a devastatingly beautiful and natural sounding midrange; and a deep, powerful, tuneful bass that is somewhat punched up in the mid bass. My copy of Lovers is a little bit rough with snaps, crackles and pops that remain even after a good cleaning. The AE-2008 was forgiving of those imperfections and they were minimized and moved outside of the flow of the music so that they never interfered or drew attention. The way the AE-2008 rendered those noise artifacts wasn't at all intrusive and quite the contrary, it gave noise a rather comforting, romantic and nostalgic feel much like a fire crackling in the background on a winter evening. That's a very good thing if you ask me.

For the few hardcore audiophiles that have ventured this deep into a music lovers review, let me assuage your sonic anxieties by telling you that you wouldn't be at all disappointed by the depth and width of the AE-2008's soundstage or the life-sized images which stand solidly in a vast soundspace or the sense of air surrounding everything. I think you would be impressed by how deeply saturated the tonal colors are, how convincing the harmonic decay of the notes is and just how good it sounds in general. I think you'd find the dynamic snap of syncopated quarter notes spellbinding and the swagger of the swing-eighths mesmerizing. The sound might be ever so slightly dark and caramelized, warm and moist compared to the neutralized whitish balance you are used to but if you give it a chance, you might be seduced over to the flesh and blood side of the music.

Count Basie's Farmers Market Barbeque is a fine album that I enjoy listening to a lot. The copy I've got is a May 1, 1995, test pressing from Chad Kassem's Analogue Productions label [APJ-23A1/B1]. Spinning this on the Paschetto AE-2008 was a rewarding experience in the same sort of way that Holiday's Lovers was. The music on Barbeque has a natural, organic and life-like feel. Yet again the Paschetto AE-2008 passed the muted trumpet test in flying colors that had me marvel at the musician's technique and never once distracted me with the shrieking sort of reproduction that you hear through some audiophile-style rigs. The Paschetto AE-2008 gives a real sense of feel that the music is woven from a single organic whole of musicians getting together and having fun playing music. It's still recorded music of course but all the musicians' instruments flowing together play music in a very life-like fashion. You'll forget that you're listening to a recording. The Paschetto AE-2008 is capable of resolving quite a lot of detail and nuance from this recording but it comes across in a very natural way. The detail never comes across as hyped or edgy. The level of detail was always consonant with the level I would expect in life. I never once thought about the sound outside of the scope of the music.

My friend and audio bro Stephæn and I were shooting the breeze and listening to some tunes one afternoon and started talking about the differences between the audiophile sound-focused presentation and the music lovers' presentation and their impact on musical enjoyment. Stephæn had a very interesting observation about how audiophile-style sonics can detract from the music - I'll try to paraphrase. Audiophile sonics tend to do a series of moment-to-moment snapshots of sounds that draws your attention to freeze-frame events within the music. Some years ago I attended a fine performance of the play How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying starring Matthew Broderick at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. The performance was a knockout and I don't think I've ever seen so many talented actors, vocalists, dancers -- artists -- on stage at one time. Now imagine that this live performance was captured on Technicolor motion picture film at the same time that a fantastic photographer was shooting high-resolution large format black and white stills of the performance. Imagine that each still shot captures a spectacular moment in the play in the ultimate of large format resolution -- a work of art in its own right -- while the Technicolor film documents the artistry of the performance and the storyline of the play. You can look at the still shot and marvel at the resolution, the drama of a particular moment and appreciate the art of catching such a spectacular moment in the play on black and white film. You can even string a series of those wonderful black shots together in a sequence that covers the development of the performance over time in a screensaver-type presentation. When you watch that series of photos, they wow you but that ain't the play! It lacks the color and life and doesn't communicate the emotional impact that the actual acting, singing, dancing and development of the play's storyline bring to the performance. You can't understand the storyline and enjoy the human skills of the actors in the play by watching a succession of black and white stills no matter how good. Rather, you have to see the play live (best) or watch the film (second best).

In the same way audiophile sonics tend to focus on (or exaggerate) spectacular discrete moments in a piece of music. This has the effect of breaking down the flow of the musical whole. Audiophile sonics can sound spectacular in short listening sessions but the effect quickly wears off and becomes tiring, ultimately leading to dissatisfaction because you end up losing the story of the music. The music lover's presentation gives the listener a flowing, colorful, experiential form of the music as played by living, breathing, talented performers. Then you rarely think about sonics - and that's a fact. Instead you feel, become immersed in and experience the music. It's a whole different world of listening that many audiophiles never experience save for the concert hall.

When most audiophiles talk about timbre, they are usually referring to how well the overall character of a musical instrument is reproduced. For example, when listening to a recording of a Gibson Advanced Jumbo guitar, it should sound recognizably like itself and not be confused with another excellent guitar like a Martin D-28, which has a distinctly different quality to its character. However, when
musicians talk about timbre, they are really talking about the combination of two things: the skill of the musician and the quality of the musical instrument. The overall timbre is the combination of the human element and the quality of the instrument. It's not just about the instrumental sound per se. The skill of the musician is what brings the qualities of a musical instrument to life, whether it is a trumpet, guitar, drums or the human voice.

If a HiFi device interferes with the life that a musician's skill brings to the quality of the instrument's voice within a piece of music, the overall musicality is destroyed. Sadly, much of the equipment in favor these days does interfere with that musical life. As a result, the listener gets equipment that may sound impressive and even exciting upon first listen but over time disappoint, to find said listeners enjoying less and less music. They may not even understand why this has occurred. At this point, the audiophile generally buys a new piece of gear in hopes of restoring enjoyment. It is a shame to be caught up in such an expensive and ultimately disappointing roller coaster because it doesn't have to be that way. You don't have to put yourself through that kind of angst because you can get a musical device like the Paschetto Analog Engineering 2008 turntable and just enjoy the tunes like I did during the review period.

The Paschetto AE-2008 turntable is a lovingly restored and hand-crafted music lovers' hot-rod from the Golden Era of audio that captures the soul of the music at the very fair price of $2495. I love its arts and crafts-style wood plinth and had lots of readers e-mail about "What's that gorgeous turntable in your photos?" It wouldn't surprise me at all to find out that Frank Lloyd Wright had an Empire 208 in his home. Who knows, maybe an Empire 208 is what helps the Dalai Lama stay so transcendently cool?

And could Monk, Miles or 'Trane ever groove to the Paschetto AE-2008. It is forgiving of imperfections and snaps, crackles and pops in LPs will not upset its musical apple cart. Musically expressive, the AE-2008 brings recorded music to life in a way that tricks your perceptions into feeling you are listening to real flesh and blood people having fun making music. I recommend that you set your AE-2008 up in the same way my review unit was - with an SME 309 tonearm and Denon 103R cartridge. It's a honey of a combination with a lot of synergy going for it.

The Paschetto Analog Engineering 2008 turntable is living proof that there are still a few pieces of HiFi gear out there waiting to be discovered that get the music right and are suitable for the music lovers among us who want satisfaction for the long haul so that we can focus on the music and not our next gear purchase. The Paschetto AE-2008 falls into that rare but fine category of HiFi jewels like Harbeth, Leben, Shindo and Auditorium 23 that seem to be able to unfailingly and easily get the best from recorded music. As such I unhesitatingly, enthusiastically and highly recommend the Paschetto AE-2008 to music lovers everywhere. Well done, Mike!
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