A Change of Plans
"I have a package for you," our mailman Art excitedly told me.
I did a vicious spin in my chair, "For me?"
It came so quickly. I wasn't expecting it today. I planned on going straight from work to a very special open mic night at the Sidewalk Cafe on Avenue A, but my new Bellari VP129 sent me home first.
At the bus stop, I ran into Herb Scher, a regular at the Sidewalk. He wrote an amazing song called "Tower Records is Gone," which, unfortunately, is not listed on his Myspace, but other greats like "Live in the Hills" and "New Beatles" are. Herb had to get to the Sidewalk early for "something." I felt left out. Luckily, a pretty girl smiled at me while I was waiting for the bus. Happiness.
I carried the box all the way home. Fortunately, it was only 4 pounds. SM claimed, "The box really makes you proud to own it." It does: the American flag, the fat-ass tube on the front, the box's oversized nature relative to the product itself. I owned something special.
Out of the box, the VP129 has this slick and curvy contour with a hot red finish. The red paint matched perfectly with my old white "turntable stand." My "turntable stand" is really a tall, 3-tiered coffee table. The top shelf fit my Rega P1 perfectly. Once I realized this, I decided I needed the VP129, simply because it would fit perfectly on the much smaller lower shelves. Shallow reasoning, I know, but the aesthetic persona of the VP129 really is what attracted me to it initiallyand the tube. Then I read MF's review, and I was sold.
I plugged in the little guy, and his little tube started to smile a low, warm orange. While he heated up, I walked over to my record collection. I needed a reference: Where Have I Known You Before by Return to Forever, one of my favorite albums of all time. I plugged my Grado SR60s into the VP129's headphone jack.
Normally, the Grados don't have much of a soundstage, but with the VP129, a new layer of depth was present on the recording with keyboards moving back to front and guitars in your face. This was a benefit I was not expecting. I was anticipating a somewhat warmer, darker tone, but instead the VP129 gave Chick Corea's keyboards a smooth caramel type of sweetness with an excellent emphasis on note release. I did notice an absence of bass, but that could have been because of the recording where Stanley Clarke's tone is punchy and in the lower-midrange versus being deep and growling.
I wanted to listen to more, but I had to arrive at the Sidewalk a little early. It was a very special night, and I knew the place would be packed. So I slung my guitar over my back and went to the Sidewalk Cafe's final Anti-Hootenannythe longest running open mic in New York City.