Café de Paris 7/23 SAT TAGS : LIVE REPORT 7/23 SAT Café de Paris

Cafe de Paris analog Hour 〜『KING OF TUBES』The trajectory of Tim de Paravicini


Analog magic in the Cafe

As I may have harped on about before, what makes Fuji Rock stand out vs a wealth of other festivals in Japan are the little things and the attention to details. What other festival would dedicate a 2 hour time slot on one of its stages for an Analog celebration? An event where people sit around and listen to records with a master electronic and audio engineer.

It’s nice to see 20 years on, Fuji Rock is still trying new things and aiming to provide a unique experience to all facets of music fans. For many serious music lovers, myself included, sound quality is an exciting revelation in the progression of recorded music.
So, while technology and people like today’s guest, Tim de Paravicini are making our favorite recordings sound better than ever, the digital revolution and streaming media are pushing the opposite.

Streaming services like Spotify and iTunes are easing the access to music and creating new ways for people to listen to almost any music, anywhere any time. However quality is taking a back seat to ease of access and most people don’t seem to care. On the other end of the spectrum you have audiophiles supporting the continuation of analog media and the emerging HD audio formats. While a debate for analog media vs digital media and merits of each can be left for another day, there is no denying the power of analog media in creating a warmth and live sound that is hard to replicate digitally.

This event wasn’t just a couple of guys throwing on a few classic rock records in the Cafe de Paris, this was a special opportunity for audiophiles or those wanting to listen to some classic tunes on a world class setup.

The event featured Tim de Paravivini, a 70 year old British audio and electronics engineer. He’s been involved with remastering music and creating audio equipment for almost 40 years at the highest of levels. He brought with him equipment of the highest ends too, available only on the professional level or to the wealthiest of audio snobs out there. Before the program started, our Japanese host went through a list of the equipment, which included a $20,000 amplifier, a German record player at a similar price point, tube amps, power conditioners, even a few devices Tim had part in creating himself. The host placed the total of everything on stage around $100,000,

For music fans interested in the possibilities of sound quality at the highest levels, when someone who’s nickname is King of Tubes decides to play you a few records on a $100,000 set up, you listen. You don’t only listen though, you really LISTEN, you hear things on your favorite recording you’ve never heard before. Tracks chosen throughout the evening included hits from Pink Floyd, The Grateful Dead, The Band, Frank Sinatra, Miles Davis and more.

The setup in the Cafe de Paris was tables and chairs, arranged mostly near the front of the stage. There was a Japanese presenter who briefly interviewed Tim before the event. The presenter then talked to him before each new song, concerning his selection of each track and his part in the remaster or his own personal history with the record label.

It was an eye opening experience to the possibilities of the analog medium. There’s a reason vinyl is making a bit of a resurgence these days. A big part is because of the sound possibilities and feeling one can achieve with analog. Songs often sounded brand new, there was fullness that I had never heard before in certain recordings. Sound replication of certain instruments was accurate in a way I didn’t think possible.

Things weren’t completely perfect however. There was a bit of a sweet spot to hear the sound exactly as intended, there were only a few seats in this middle sweet spot zone in between the two speakers. Another minor issue was sound towards the back of the room. As the speakers weren’t concert speakers, they weren’t meant to push sound into a room the size of the Cafe de Paris. Those issues were pretty minor as the Cafe was barely half full and I got a good spot up front.

I’ve listened to audiophile grade speakers and headphones before, with high-end equipment, but this was on another level. It’s great to see Fuji Rock support smaller events like this demonstration. Promoters clearly didn’t put this on on the bill for the money, there is a respect and labor of love for high quality music. It’s a pleasant reminder that there are amazing people in music who work behind the scenes too. Those who are creating the audio equipment and mastering the albums deserve more than their share of recognition too. I hope to see events like this reappear in subsequent Fuji Rocks, it was a unique and special opportunity.

Text by James Mallion Posted on 2016.7.23 20:53