Long ago, in a land far, far away...

I remember as if it were only yesterday - the first musical epiphany I experienced as a pratty 9-year old. Sure, in my native Uruguay as an even younger child, I had exposure to and indeed participated in musical events with my family and friends. But what I am referring to now? It's that unforgettable moment, that instant when you become a musically aware sentient being. It's not unlike the moment when a child becomes self-aware: "I exist and I am what I now feel. I have a sense and awareness of being Self. I no longer blindly and instinctively react to external stimuli."

Even though it was forbidden -- with clumsy 9-year old hands -- I experienced my musically cathartic moment when I placed a 45rpm record on my parents' all-in-one record player. I did not know what I was about to hear. Neither did I expect the resultant sound to change my life - forever. The worn needle hit the black vinyl: First Ray Manzarek's keyboard riff, then moments later, Jim Morrison's voice on the Doors' Light my Fire - they cut into my consciousness with the searing burst of an echo sounding across a rocky valley. Once the chills and goose bumps subsided? I was changed. I was never the same again.

My hunger for this new-found pleasure then grew into a ravenous orgy of musical consumption. I played everything I could lay my hands on. I remember gorging on Led Zeppelin's "The Immigrant Song", Louis Armstrong's "A Wonderful World", Shirley Bassey's "Hey Big Spender", The Beatles' "I Want to Hold Your Hand" and countless others.

However, somehow, much as I consumed them with insatiable lust, none of those other great artists and tracks affected me with quite the same impact as that seminal moment with The Doors.

The riff. The Voice.

The Legacy of the Reef

The new world & the Flying Disintegrated Punk.

Years later and thousands of miles away in my new home of Australia, I experienced my second epiphany.

It was the 70's. My musical repertoire was an enormous mélange of contemporary music, with a paternally upsetting slant on heavy rock à la Deep Purple, Thin Lizzy, Kiss, Ted Nugent. Later in my late teens, I went through a family-devastating Punk stage: The Sex Pistols, The Damned, The Stranglers, The Clash.

I was in my teens and attending a concert at the Sydney Opera House. My uncle Sergio Comissiona -- my Romanian roots and then-resident conductor of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra -- was invited to conduct the Sydney Symphony Orchestra.

Given my pubescent hormonal condition and "ethereal' musical tastes at the time, the idea of attending a classical concert purely for a family member's sake (one that lived in New York, which I had only met once before and was now in the country conducting), was not what I considered part of my contractual familial obligations. Not when I could be listening to Deep Purple, Kiss and Thin Lizzy. As I sat in the stalls daydreaming, my uncle entered the Concert Hall.

Thunderous applause. He raised the baton. The Orchestra readied. I took a breath. The first notes struck. The New World Symphony commenced. I disintegrated in my seat. Flying and swirling above the crowd, outside my body, I was lost in bliss, an American eagle sweeping through Dvorak's New World skies.

Maturity & The Loss of Innocence

Since those heady days, my musical tastes have expanded to include almost all styles. Within each of those genres, there are outstanding artists and a vast catalogue of music I enjoy. Little gems are discovered or introduced by friends on a weekly basis.

However, with maturity comes a barrier, a certain reluctance to allow exposure to such unadulterated sensual assaults as I had previously embraced. One becomes guarded, jaded. The long war campaign in audiophilia grows cynics. Nothing now can possibly affect us to that extent. We build up immunity. We steer part of our finite attention a little ways from the music to the equipment - some obscure tweak, or, more sadly still, some safe, sterile music recorded absolutely gloriously.

But sometimes, a small spark or flame lights up a little corner of the enormous caverns of our modern egos. Such a flame ignited in my early thirties when I heard the angelic bird-like young voice of sadly missed Jeff Buckley (Tim Buckley's genius son). Jeff's version of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" pierced through my heart like a red-hot sword of Excalibur. If Jeff's version does not swell a tear in your eyes, you are made of marble.


At some stage in my early teens, I somehow became interested in audio equipment. Typically, I was unable to own high-quality gear so I was stuck with my parents three-in-one systems of various vintages and brands. As I became more self-sufficient and sufficiently cashed up, I later purchased my first audio system: An AKAI separates system with Direct Drive turntable, cassette deck, 20w integrated amplifier, 7-band graphic equalizer (yikes!?) and 3-way speakers.

What glory! In my youth, I believed this to be the ultimate in fidelity. Naïveté can render its own form of bliss. The pleasure it brought, to countless parties, will not be matched by the highest of high-end systems. Money can't buy memories like that.

Of course, this nascent audio path led to the eventual discovery of Hi-Fi magazines. That was the end of that. I was hooked. I read every major publication from the US, UK and Australia cover to cover. Every word. Every article. Every month. Chronic audiophilia nervosa. Chronic upgrade fever. Chronically empty wallet.

On a subconscious level, I suppose I steered myself toward a career in audio. Subconsciously. Honestly. I really wanted to be a film maker. I even studied film production for 4 years. How I ended up running my own professional audio company? Well, we'll never know. I guess my subconscious target practice was a little off. It really meant to steer me towards consumer audio. Oh well, it was close.

My system at the moment? Naturally, it's in the process of an upgrade, but here's a brief description:

Source: Metronome CD4. French top-loader of excellent pedigree. The great value-for-money Project 6.1 turntable with standard arm and Goldring cartridge provides vinyl duties. Preamplifier: Supratek Sauvignon, a custom tube product from Down Under. Amplifier: Nuforce Reference 9SE. Classy American solid-state exotica. NAD T-752 receiver for Home Theatre.

Loudspeakers: Wilson Watt/Puppy System 6. I can't say enough about the potential of these speakers to reveal every iota of detail while maintaining coherence and timbral/dynamic accuracy. A magnifying glass into up-stream gear, yet the clichéd statement 'musical' is not untrue. In my room, Grand Canyon soundstaging.

PSB Audio IMAGE 9C center channel speaker and Bose 101 rear surround speakers for Home Theatre.

Cables: Harmonic Technology PRO 9 speaker cable, Truth Link Copper and Silver and MIT MI-330 Terminator interconnect and a whole lotta silver and copper, locally custom-made concoctions. Shunyata Research Diamondback and PCA Submarine AC cables.

Miscellaneous: Power filtering. Lush 4 tiers steel stand, sand filled. Various cones, rubber feet and platforms/shelves. Self-designed acoustic foam panels placed in key positions around the room's walls.

Aboriginal stone paintings
Heron Island in the Grand Barrier Reef

So there - some key details on my background. Hopefully they'll help to paint a rough sketch, of where I'm coming from and my musical priorities. Over the next few months, I shall endeavor to obtain an eclectic mix of review products from familiar and not-so-familiar names in the Hi-Fi world around which 6moons orbits. In the process, I'll expose more of my musical tastes and audio biases.

I am thrilled at being appointed the "Correspondent from Down Under". Come with me on this interplanetary journey within the 6 moons and beyond. G'day.

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