Jake Shimabukuro In The DeVore Fidelity Room At The Venetian
You can see John Atkinson on the couch at left and John DeVore to Jake's right. Also in the small room, but not in the photos, were some visitors including a couple rabid Jake fans that heard he was in the 'hood and had brought vinyl copies of Nashville Sessions. I had visited John the day before Jake's visit (as I did with all the rooms) and he picked out and set up the pair of speakers he felt were best suited to Jake's music, the Orangutan O/96. I couldn't agree more.
I again set up the laptop with Jake's HiRez files and tested. We are ready to go, and Jake decided to crank up the volume a little--and it sounded superb! These speakers can clearly handle dynamic bottom end. Again the same tracks: "Blue Haiku" and "Galloping Seahorse", and the tighter quarters created a more near-field presentation.
Jake: "What I really love about these speakers is how they convey the tone of the instrument. Very natural, very warm. Some of the other systems you can get distracted by the soundstage or imaging, but this one, man, this is closest to what it sounded like in the studio when we were mixing. Because of the nature of the setup the sound is coming more directly at you versus some of the other ones. This is how I'm more used to hearing music."
John Devore: "The bass tone was beautiful, the recording sounded really excellent." Then everyone in the room commented that "the sound of the ukulele was gorgeous." Jake: "I'm really interested in what 'Eleanor Rigby' will sound like here", and DeVore quickly added, "me too!"
When Jake played this room, it felt very much like an intimate house concert, and our closer proximity to his instrument, and the smaller dimensions, changed how "Eleanor Rigby" came across, revealing even more subtle detail and tone. Again, when the digital version of "Eleanor Rigby" was played, you could hear the mic's character and dry nature of the recording, but the body of the instrument also came through.
Jake: "With this system again, very warm, very natural. And this is now the sixth room we've done this and there has been this common thread in all the systems when we do this experiment, and it always feels that with the live performance there's a lot more top end and airiness. And I'm realizing that a lot of it is the nature of the vintage Neumann KM84s, the characteristics of those microphones, but I also notice the dynamic compression in the recording--it should be very similar to how I play it live, but I find that it just doesn't translate."
John Devore then asks "do you mean the performance dynamics or the raw dynamics of the sound coming off of the instrument?" Jake: "the [Performance] dynamics of how I play it live--which are the same dynamics of how I played it on the recording, but it just doesn't translate in all the places we've played. But the frequencies of the ukulele are really sweetened by these speakers. I feel like there is no harshness to it. They are just great!"
Devore: "Yes I heard it the same way. The recording had a bit less top, but maybe that was a perception, since I feel that it had more midrange, which is perhaps a mic or proximity effect. That's the kind of quality where [the mics] were picking up more of the wood, but we're not in a resonant room, so we're hearing more of the string."
JA: "You hear more of his fingers on the strings live."
Devore: "Exactly, and I think that just wasn't picked up. As you know, that can be very much a mic placement thing--the string sound is beaming straight out and the wood sound is going everywhere. And the dynamics, I think the expressive dynamics are what you are talking about, and then there is also the dynamics of the sound, of you hitting it, and I think that was in the sound that was recorded and coming off the instrument. But I felt like the recording didn't diminish as much as when you were playing. You could back off of the tone, and show us what you mean, and with the recording I found it didn't really back away as much, it stayed up a little bit more dynamically. Very interesting though--cool!"
DeVore Fidelity Music Equipment List:
DeVore Fidelity Orangutan O/96 speakers (what Jake heard) $12,000/pr
DeVore Fidelity gibbon X speakers $15,800/pr
DeVore Fidelity Orangutan O/93 speakers $8,400/pr
EMT JSD-S75 Moving Coil Cartridge pre-mounted in EMT J-Shell $5,400
EMT 997 Tonearm $5,495
EMT TSD-75 Moving Coil Cartridge $2,100
Brinkmann 10.5 Tonearm $5,490
Brinkmann Spyder Turntable with 2 Arm Pods $14,400
Sugden Masterclass PA-4 Phono Preamplifier $2,500
TotalDac D1 Tube Mk II DAC $11,000
Sugden Masterclass LA-4 Line Preamplifier $3,750
Sugden Sapphire FBA800 40/WPC Class A Amplifier $7,500
Box Furniture Co HD3W Walnut Double-Wide 3 Shelf Equipment Stand $5,500
Auditorium 23 RCA & XLR Interconnects 1.0 meter $795
Auditorium Speaker Cables 2.5 meters $980