Jim McKeever - STATEMENT IV
After a Christmas visit years ago, my parents forwarded a found picture of me at six years of age. There I am, listening intently to a yellow vinyl played on an RCA 45 rpm player that I had rigged to my father’s “Espey” radio/amplifier combo well “cabineted” within furniture grade hardware and finish, all played through an “ancient” Western Electric 12” speaker. Over the following years, my world expanded to Eico and Heath Kits with odd speakers fitted to cardboard boxes; all to find that Sound; that natural, open, full measured Sound. And so, the journey continues.
More than 55 years later, I have not been cured nor have I found the treasure. The audiophiles malady is not curable and unrelenting in its demand of pilgrimage.
While all journeys begin with that first step, you do encounter plateaus and vantage points along the way. My latest and highest view began quietly with the discovery of a Digital IC marked “Omega NBS.” Who is NBS, how good are they, these questions translated to a discovery effort to research all about NBS and their audio products. “Nothing But Sound;” Hmmmmmmmm. Found the phone number, called, left a message, called again and spoke with a cordial receptionist who confirmed a gentleman would be responding to my inquiry.
The next day, he did. After pleasantries, we spoke of my equipment “kit” and the music venues I most enjoyed. His skilled questions revealed what he apparently needed to know, a pause then out of the blue he announced, “You have actually never heard your system.” After 25 years of system assemble with a blend of alchemy and mystical conjuring, my response was on the order of, “Oh yeah?” “No, seriously,” he continued, “may I forward a few IC’s and cables for an A/B comparison?” “Of course,” was my easy answer to the question. And then the real journey began. For this was to be my first of many enjoyable conversations with Walter Fields, the very life force of NBS.
Days pass; a delivery to my business address. Two boxes weighing in excess of 70lbs were stored on the drafting table in my office. There they sat and stared. In short order a “Wilson” hand print face seems appropriate as I and they exchange awkward glances.
Finally, courage and curiosity won. Now at home on my wife’s living room, my music room floor surrounded by opened boxes and industrial zippered NBS styled plastic bags, so I am introduced to the world of “NBS” and the unique character of Walter Fields; each complex and each dedicated to Purpose.
The NBS package contained Statement IV level speaker cables and IC’s, accompanied by a power condition and suitable massive power cords, effectively, a complete make-over as my wife and daughters would say. Every interconnect, speaker cable and power cord needed by my apparently “yet to be heard audio system” was included in this remarkable listening experiment.
To take pause, my current System includes: Audio note DAC 4.1x Bal, with CDT-II2 Transport. A custom Déjà Vu Tubed (6NS7 Based) preamplifier with phono stage and SET amplifier with parallel 2A3’s, Audio Note output Transformers and CAPS under the hood. A Well Tempered Classic turntable with a J. Allaerts MC1 B cartridge and a NAIM 05 FM Tuner; the speakers are SAP J2001’s; and I have been told I haven’t heard my music nor my system. Hmmmmmmm…again.
So slap dash; python-sized connects, cables and power cords were swapped for the existing and apparently hodgepodge status quo. Each of these NBS items had however, a most curious “pig tail” at the connection points; a “stress relief” design, I was told during one of the encouraging conversations with Walter. They work.
The “makeover” was now complete and it sounded awful – beyond the cure of normal break-in cycles. So what was wrong? Fretful, I pulled and tested all the tubes; three of four 2A3’s output tubes were well off the mark; two out of four 6N57’s were off the radar; and the rectifier was teetering and so my first listen to the NBS Statement IV makeover revealed the need for a complete change out of tubes. Thanks Walter.
The key word however, is “revealed.” As the speaker cables, IC’s and power cords continue to mature with my new and complete set of tubes (fourteen in all) more and more of the music played was revealed. More and more, the sum total of the recording became increasingly accessible. And then there was magic.
That is to say, whether the recording was well produced or not, became immediately apparent. The emotional detail of performance was revealed in the most natural of effortless ways. The texture of sound became alive with the sense of space and place. The physical efforts of the music and musician whether jazz ensemble, classical string quartet, or soloist displayed no glare or overt perturbance, only the music to explain the passion of that particular moment.
The colours are right: oboe, trumpet, acoustic guitar, kick drum or bass all play as whole, notes are rounded in presentation, each a complete musical statement, each complete with a beginning, a sustenance, and a retarding fade…until the next, repeats. Possibly surpassed only by live venue, there is a level of communication present that reveals artistry.
There are, of course, limitations.
In conclusion and to my fellow pilgrims, NBS Statement IV cabling presents a balance and blend of detail and sweeping sonic colors that illuminate my CD and Vinyl collection in a manner unexpected and extraordinarily satisfying. Is the NBS Statement IV cabling in a system wide application the best?
Perhaps equally satisfying, the phone conversations with Walter Fields himself, I enjoyed his audio consultations, his sharing of knowledge and expertise, but mostly the enthusiasm for the journey and his genuine appreciation for my first time hearing of my system’s full measure. Just as he promised.
Thank you Sir Walter Fields.
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