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I've also had the pleasure of hearing another pair of Quads 57s on several occasions at the home of Robin W. which I've written about in RoadTour 3 Revisited. Robin has listened through a few dozen amplifiers in search of his perfect mate; tubes, solid state, chips and digits. I believe one reason for this quest is spurred on by how different Quads can sound depending on the choice of associated amplification. In the end, Robin chose the solid-state ASR Emitter I Exclusive Blue (it's also interesting to note that at the time of my last Road Tour, Robin was using a Garrard 401 which has since made way for the Loricraft Garrard 501). I will say, against my better judgment (as feeding the unquenchable lust for objective performance assessments among dramatically different component designs strikes me as one of the seven deadly sins of audio), that Robin's system and Patrick's system do not sound the same.

One very important note to note if you are thinking about a pair of Quad ESL-57s is their physical health and your well being. Quads are notoriously easy to damage, especially pre-protective circuit Quads, and time can take its toll. If you are not knowledgeable and handy with things electronic that can kill you, I'd suggest dealing with a professional. Patrick and Robin chose Wayne Piquet of Quads Unlimited and I have to say that both pairs look and sound, in a word, marvelous. The Quad ESL-57s have their own way with music. They are far from hifi's famous fictional character - Miss Neutral. Luckily so is the enjoyment of pre-recorded music. In some ways, the Quads float the musical image into your room like an ethereal invitation; a sparkly, shimmering ghost-like apparition that hovers free from their earthly originator. The scent of music.

For my way of hearing, the Quad ESL-57s offer a kind of musical involvement that goes beyond the obvious and can delve deep into music, unlocking and unfolding layers of meaning. And when driven by fifteen 50-year old watts, you really should pay attention. Casper enthusiasts who want their music to frighten and startle with visceral impact -- wow, my pants are fluttering and I have an urge -- should look elsewhere for their ghastly entertainment. But if your sonic senses are keen and respond to nuance and interior detail, the ESLs just might light your fire. Now it may have been my imagination but I believe I heard Peter Walker's subtle and polite complaint after Patrick queued up Police by the very fresh hardcore band Fucked Up.

That glorious console in Patrick's bedroom is a Westinghouse Phono Model 46AC3 which he picked up at a flea market for $75. Psst. Lean in close cuz I'm going to whisper something. This is one of those super audio reviewing moments (even though this isn't a review). One of those big, usually neon-lit flashing whoppers of a recommendation usually saved for the very last paragraph of a very long review. But I'm going to give it to you right up front, right here, right now. Listening to 78s on Patrick's Westinghouse console, sitting on the floor amongst friends was really fun. It was the kind of fun that you could describe as exciting, infectious, laugh-out-loud fun. And here's another secret. If you think this was due solely to the sonic qualities of the Westinghouse Phono Model 46AC3, I think you'd be sadly mistaken.

Hunting and Gathering
Patrick is a collector. And here we have a wonderful balance between the love of music and the equipment we choose to make it listenable. The medium and the messenger. Every LP and 78 Patrick played came with a story, some bit of history, some meaning attached which endowed our listening with a certain sense of ritual. A sense of being part of something larger than our gathering, more important than our hifi hobby, more timeless than 3 or 26 minutes per 10 or 12" side. We traveled from 19th Century Europe to '70s Benin ("the only African country where Voodoo is the official religion" as I learned from Patrick) to Mexico, Bulgaria; Beatles, Zombies, ex-Beach Boys, Fucked Up and beyond. Emotions ranged from a Brahms Sextet's somber beautiful longing -- "My mother wants this played at her funeral" Patrick shared -- to the infectious joy of little Lemmy "Special" Mabaso and his penny whistle acting as Pied Piper toward unrelenting perkiness. There were so may details, so much information related to what we listened to, Patrick was kind enough to follow-up our listening session with an informative email. Here are some excerpts:

"The Beatles Rubber Soul we heard is the original UK mono Parlophone black-and-yellow. Now I told you all, and the dealer told me, that I had the "soft cut" matrices... the initial press of the UK mono went out with an extremely loud cut that George Martin didn't like, so from the second press on it was remastered. However, having just examined my copy, I discovered that I have the soft cut on side one and the loud cut on side two! Matrices are XEX-579-4 on side one and XEX-580-1 on side two. We listened to side two, so we heard the loud cut. Interesting, because the soft cut is generally considered superior, sonically (though the loud cut is more collectible for its rarity. More info here, among many other places.

"Finally the Brahms Sextets double LP we listened to twice is on the estimable French label Le Club Français du Disque... great sound, that great French '50s and '60s understated (but not unemotional) style. It was the Sextet in B-flat major, Opus 18 that we listened to (first movement). The set also includes the Sextet in G major, Opus 36. The players are George-Friedrich Hendel, Klaus Schlupp, Theo Kempen, Inge Bünte, Betty Hindrichs and Rolf Dommisch. Don't be misled by the German-appearing names... the "French style" was not restricted to the French borders - it had more to do with teaching genealogies, schools and record labels... this particular group of players came from the Saarland."

Did I mention that Patrick is in the music business? He is the General Manager of Matador Records whose active roster includes Belle and Sebastian, Cat Power, Jay Reatard, Matmos, The New Pornographers, Stephen Malkmus, the very recently signed Fucked Up and many more. Did I also mention Patrick authored a very well-received book on barbarian groups and the end of the Roman Empire? One that "has made a major contribution to the debate over identity and ethnicity that has dominated the historiography of late antiquity for at least two decades with the publication of this decidedly iconoclastic book" according to Thomas S. Burns of the American Historical Review? Well I didn't read it but he did and it's titled "People and Identity in Ostrogothic Italy, 489-554" and was published as part of the Cambridge Studies in Medieval Life and Thought series.