Armando "A.J." Conti’s Notes: Musical and Sound Preferences

“What an e-mail you sent me… it hits my hot buttons about what my goals have been for 32 years, how I express the “sound” I want and have wanted, which is that tape / live feed / natural, effortless, “real music” sound.  Actually, it’s not a sound at all… it’s a lack of sound… That is why tape always enthralled me. Not due to the big machine, not due to the concept, not due to the big reels spinning, but due to that lack of mechanical sound, that artificial construct that turntables and tonearms have.”

“… I love the word “Poise”.  I use “Effortlessness” a lot of times… I believe most audiophiles have never been exposed to reproduced sound like that, so they don’t expect it or demand it when buying super expensive gear.  And, not being exposed to much live music… or studio sound, I don’t think most of them immediately recognize sound that is more real, more true, more organic.” 

“My big thing with sound quality is to know that I’m getting what is possible, musically speaking (as opposed to just wanting the highest detail at all costs), from each recording.  If my playback rig does that, then I can just sit back and enjoy the music.”  

“I believe in gross, gross overkill in every area for expensive products, and this is what interests me, personally, to do.  It’s also why my personality just won’t let me do inexpensive, compromised products.  My imagination runs away saying “A.J., everyone will be calling saying there is speed instability, feedback, too much noise if I make compromises”.  My internal wiring causes me to assume that EVERYONE notices everything you and I do. Consciously, I know that this is false, but my subconscious thinks it’s true… and it’s that subconscious that will make me have crazy dreams, wake up at 2 am thinking I’ll lose my entire business if I don’t do it perfectly… it’s wiring, not choice.  So, I have the ability and training to do it really well, I have wiring that prevents me from compromising, so I have to attack the top end.  I don’t have a choice.”

“I just received a 45 copy of “Songs for Distingue Lovers.” Great Billie H. album.

I have a 33, and wanted spares.  

I played the 45, which is wonderful, but noted that her voice, and Barney Kessel’s guitar are a bit leaner, more edge on the pluck of the strings … little differences. The bass is bigger on the 33 (always was a bit big on the bass drum…). I knew it before comparing, but now I’m playing the 33 and confirming. Interestingly, this is the reverse of the typical 33 versus 45 comparos that I do.”

“Why do I want to capture the sound of the master tape? Because this is the closest thing to the musical message of the musician. My job is to supply products that represent lifelong conveyances of great music, conduits of the emotion of great artists. Only by being “transparent in the audio chain” can a record player most effectively achieve that goal. –

As soon as my product has “a sound,” it is standing in the way of the musician’s real message…”

Only recently, with some perfect pitch classical musicians over the last 5 years saying nothing else pleased them but we did, and now with the tape / record comparisons here, have I FINALLY come to the point that I can say “We are unequalled, and if our sound does not please them then they don’t want truth, or they can’t accept any reproduced music and have to go to live music”.

“Authenticity of music sound.

“Driven by the concert experience.

“Hearing the subtleties of a rich and bold 1941 Comm (?) compared to the modern “art” of a new Yamaha – or the classic core sound of a great Selmer Mark VI…

These are the goals of the Basis experience… to bring you the musical truth off the record. No matter what, the record has infinitely more truth than a tonearm or a turntable that colors or modifies that sound.”

“Thanks for the list.  My own list would be pretty hard to put together.  My tastes are varied, and even within a genre it is so hard to pick the best.

I’ll start:

1. “Time Out” 45rpm

2. “Songs for Distingue Lovers,” Billie 45rpm

3. “Let No Man Write My Epitaph,” Ella, 45 rpm

4. The Persuasions, “We Came to Play”

5. Gary Karr, Adagio Albinoni, 45rpm, shockingly beautiful double-bass playing, beautiful tracker pipe organ, lovely arrangement, and bass to China to impress the audiophiles.

6. Horace Parlan Quartet, “Speakin’ My Piece,” 45rpm

7. Cannonball Adderley “Somethin’ Else,” 45rpm.

8. Ernestine Anderson, “Never Make Your Move Too Soon,” even if for only one cut, “Old Folks,” with Ernestein, Ray Brown, Monty Alexander putting on a solo on the Rhodes that is almost indescribably gorgeous. I have turned jazz musicians onto this and they all love it.  It is the most pensive, most beautiful I’ve heard Monty play on any record.

9. I just have to add the warhorse, but deservedly so: Reiner / CSO / Scheherazade, 45rpm.

10. For pure enjoyment and life, Oscar Peterson, “We Get Requests,” 45rpm.

11. “Ben Webster and Sweets Edison,” 45rpm on ORG records.

I have some classical that I would have to add, but this is a starter list for me.”