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Owner: Matt Rotunda
Source: 47 Labs Shigaraki digital, Shindo 301 LP system, Shindo Arome
Preamp: Shindo Giscours, Shindo Monbrison
Amp: Shindo WE 300B Limited, Shindo Cortese F2a
Speakers: Shindo Latour, Living Voice Avatar IBX
Cables: Shindo silver, Auditorium 23
Stands: Noblesse in Walnut
Accessories: Shindo Mr. T
Listener: Jeff Day

To kick off the Music Lovers Series, I want to tell you about an oasis located in San Francisco called Pitch Perfect Audio, a family-owned and run business located downtown in an easily accessible, gated, live & work loft complex located in a district called South of Market - or as the locals refer to it, SOMA. Matt is located a block from exit 5 on Route 80 (the East Bay Bridge) on Harrison, between 5th and 6th streets.

Matthew and Keenya Rotunda and their young son Jared are the family part of the family-owned business. When you visit, you'll find out just like I did that they're one of the sweetest families around and likely the nicest people you've met in a good long while. Matt's background is as a professional artist and Keenya is a writer. Both are music lovers and enjoy a lot of the same music. Matt got hooked on audio and eventually went to work in the New York HiFi scene where he met and worked together with Jonathan Halpern. That connection would later prove helpful when Jonathan founded Tone Imports to make Shindo Laboratory and Auditorium 23 products available to music lovers in the USA. When Matt's parents moved to the Bay Area, the lack of family ties in the Big Apple inspired Matt and Keenya to move their family to California. That's where the connection with Jonathan reactivates. After scoping out the local HiFi scene in San Francisco, Matt decided to open a HiFi store that carried the Shindo Labs and Auditorium 23 gear as he (like Jonathan) was smitten with the green gear's musical abilities.

There is a lot of building going on in downtown San Francisco, with new apartments and condos rising up in mass and mushrooms. San Francisco is also encouraging the work & live loft scene as a way of bringing new life into the downtown small business sector that had been priced out of existence due to its exorbitant storefront costs. After investigating whether a traditional storefront or the work & live loft arrangement would be a better choice, Matt went with the latter. He felt it offered his family and customers a number of important advantages. On the family side, it promotes a strong relationship through togetherness and interaction. A family that plays together stays together. On the customer side, it's a win-win too. By combining work and living space, it helps keep storefront costs down so that Matt can carry a lot more inventory for customers to see and hear, provide more resources for long-term support and offer the added benefit of listening in a real-world living environment. That's a major plus when it comes to auditioning HiFi gear. You get to hear gear play music in a living environment as opposed to ultra-tweaked sound-treated demo room that can hide sonic problems difficult to deal with in a living environment. What you hear at Matt's is most likely what you'll hear at your own home rather than in the artificial environment of a demo room. Matt's gracious hospitality, his low key and no-pressure approach mean that you'll have a nice relaxed time of listening to and enjoying your favorite music versus the abrasive treatment and arm twisting that you get in a lot of 'high-end' stores.

Matt carries the full Shindo Laboratory lineup from the entry level Aurieges-L preamplifier ($2995) and 15-watt Montille EL84 stereo amplifier ($3895) to the Petrus flagship preamplifier ($40K) and 8-watt Western Electric 300B Limited SET mono amplifiers ($28K) as well as the Shindo/Garrard 301 LP player system ($20K) and the Latour Reference field coil loudspeakers ($48K). You might be wondering why these hand-crafted Japanese amplification components have French names. That's because they're all named after the exotic French wines which Ken Shindo fancies, with the exception of the Western Electric amps that are of course named for the famous American 300B vacuum tube. The French wine connection also explains the wine bottle green of the gear, which I happen to like a lot. The green finish with golden accents is really quite striking in a demure and tasteful way. The glass faceplates of the Shindo preamplifiers are particularly fun as they allow you to see those exotic NOS tubes glowing within their maw. I applaud the fact that all Shindo preamplifiers -- entry level line stage excepted -- have phono stages. Yippee!

Matt also has the full line of Leben electronics like the Leben CS300X integrated 15-watt EL84 amplifier ($3,495) Paul Candy reviewed. If you get a chance, go back and read Paul's review. It's excellent. I've got the CS300X's big brother, the Leben 32-watt CS600 EL34/6L6 integrated amplifier at my place now. I'll be reviewing it shortly as part of the Music Lovers Series. The Leben integrateds have a cool retro look about them that I find appealing, with gold faceplates, wood side panels and green highlighting. You won't mistake them for anything else. The Leben 28C preamplifier with moving-magnet phono stage ($5,495) deserves another yippee from LP lovers! The 8-watt Leben CS200 6V6GT stereo amplifier ($2,995) and 8-watt Leben CS250 6K6GT stereo amplifier ($3,195) also really caught my eye with their clean lines and no-nonsense appearance. I'll have much more to say about the Leben approach to music in my upcoming review of the CS600.

For spinning digits, Matt likes the 47 Laboratory Shigaraki gear with their dark and smoky ceramic chassis evoking the wood-fired kilns of their namesake. While I was visiting, Matt used the Shindo Arome CD matching transformer ($1300) with the Shigaraki 4716 CD transport ($1980) and Shigaraki 4715 DAC ($1480) to excellent effect. Matt says the 47 Labs gear sounds great without the Shindo tranny in the loop but thinks the Arome really adds something special to the musical mix. Matt also carries the Shigaraki 4717 20-watt integrated amplifier ($1980), the Shigaraki 4718 phono ($1680), the McBee 4723 phono cartridge ($1100) and OTA Cable Kit ($600) that I've reviewed and is thinking about bringing in the exotic and awesome Miyabi Standard and Miyabi 47 moving coil phono cartridges that I've also reviewed - winners all.

Matt stocks the Auditorium 23 moving coil step-up transformers (I use one of Keith's trannies for my Denon 103 cartridge with my Fi phono stage - it rocks!), speaker cables (ditto!), Solo Vox loudspeakers (which Michael Lavorgna ordered for himself) and told me about a new Garrard 301 plinth coming soon from the mind of Keith Aschenbrenner. Garrard fans rejoice! I confess I'm a big Garrard 301 nut and can't wait to see what Keith has come up with for fellow Garrardians!

In addition to the Shindo Latour and Auditorium 23 Solo Vox loudspeakers, Matt also carries the Living Voice loudspeakers from England and the DeVore Fidelity loudspeakers from the USA. I'd never heard the Living Voice loudspeakers before visiting Matt and was extremely impressed. The Living Voice loudspeakers are very popular in the UK but haven't had much exposure yet in the US. Luckily for me and my fellow music loving pals reading this, Kevin Scott -- Mr. Living Voice himself -- is sending a pair of Living Voice loudspeakers to me to write about for the Music Lovers Series so stay tuned! I've only heard the DeVore Fidelity loudspeakers briefly in the past so wasn't able to form any real impressions but they look beautifully made and are enjoying quite a wave of popularity in the US.

For my visit, we focused on two systems that Matt thought I would particularly enjoy hearing in the context of the Music Lovers Series. The first was a no-holds-barred hand-crafted source-to-speakers Shindo Laboratory system: the Shindo 301 record player, the Auditorium 23 step-up transformer for the Shindo cartridge, the Giscours full-function preamplifier, the Western Electric 300B Limited mono amplifiers, the Latour field coil loudspeakers and a full complement of Shindo silver cables.

As long-time readers will know, I'm crazy about Garrard 301 transcription turntables. Those hefty idler-wheel tables of yore have a way with notes that no modern table I've yet heard can match. I'd heard about the Shindo 301 and seen photos of it (it's Ken Shindo's interpretation of the ultimate Garrard 301), but I'd never seen one in the flesh until visiting Matt. It is drop dead gorgeous and very finely crafted. It's also very expensive, tipping the scales at nearly twenty grand ($19,995). The Shindo 301 includes the Shindo Mersault 773 12" tonearm, the Shindo heavy tone arm base to isolate the arm and cartridge from motor vibration, the Shindo Reference cartridge, the Shindo heavy platter, the Shindo bearing and spindle, the Shindo mat, the Shindo lacquered cherry plinth, the Shindo Iso-Feet and the Shindo silver tone arm interconnect. Matt says that Ken Shindo has been refining his plinth and 301 player design for decades. It is the culmination of Ken's knowledge in plinth execution and getting the most performance from the revered Garrard 301 transcription turntable. The Shindo 301 player system is a thing of beauty and to see and hear it is to want one. But I'm getting ahead of myself.