NEBO 14 The Blacksmiths story.

Nebo 14 held in the Blacksmiths Arms in Hartlepool was without doubt one of the best Nebo’s for a very long time. With a great turnout and some of the finest equipment assembled in one room it made for an excellent day. The staff at the Blacksmiths were excellent, very helpful and accommodating. A big thank you to Ian Humberston who brokered the deal to allow our indulgence. It was great to see some of the regulars and welcome some new faces too. I am informed that the staff actually turned down the music in the bar so punters in there could listen to what we were playing. The equipment ranged from brand new to vintage all of which set the bar very high for future events. As with all Nebo events there was little structure until the day got under way and the true mix it up nature of the day kicked in. Of course, a little improvisation had to occur in order to facilitate equipment as only one of the attendee’s had brought along a proper support so the pub tables were utilized to great effect.

Thanks to my son Tommy I took along my Alchris Audio Progmeister specials which are based on the companies V-200 design. They acquitted themselves quite well throughout the day in a varietyamplifier’s were connected. of lash ups. Once the initial gathering of minds and greetings had subsided it was decided that the room would support two systems being set up and work hastily began Assembling some special systems at either end. First up was an ensemble grafted together seamlessly comprising a 1989 vintage Sony TAE 1000 ESD pre amplifier provided by Macca, a Lector CDP 7TL CD player and a pair of Neurochrome 686 monoblock power amplifiers supplied by Ali Tait driving my Alchris Audio speakers. This particular combination worked together so well that it was played for quite some time before moving to the other end of the room. I have to confess that I fell in love with the Lector CD player.

After topping up with fuel from the bar it was time to sit and take in the awesome Magneplanar MG1 speakers driven by an Ayima AO7 60 watts per channel class D amplifier that wasn’t much bigger than an average remote control. This was only done for a little fun until Ken Wynn’s amplifiers were wired in later allowing some audio magic to happen. Gordon was using a Benchmark DAC1 HDR channeling JRiver via a fanless mini laptop. The Magneplanar MG1’s really did turn heads. With a massive wide open window on the music they were nothing short of stunning. I did have to agree with one comment made that the bass lacked definition. However, they made up for it in so many other ways not least the uncluttered sound of everything played through them.

Moving back to the west wing Steve Pigmy Pony added a rather splendid Inspire Monoch fitted with an Ortofon Quintet Blue Moving coil cartridge. There was an eclectic range of music played through this system which utilised the rather wicked E.A.T E glo s phono stage brought along by Mike Davis with linear power supply and much later in the day Alan Thomas’s Jolida valve phono stage. The Sony Pre-amp was also swapped out and replaced with Ken Wynn’s heavily modified Schitt Freya valve pre amp. This combination really did gel very well indeed. Returning to the other end of the pitch It was Ken Wynn’s turn to host some music via a formidable lash up played through Mik Rik’s Canton CT-1000 speakers on squat stands. These speakers will be 40 years old or thereabouts and given the right signal kicked some ass. Ken’s system was a sight to behold comprising of a Lenco turntable mechanism built into a solid wood plinth / Mission 774 tone-arm and Van Den Hul One special moving coil cartridge. This was played via a Long Dog Audio LDA MCj3 phono stage / Pass Labs XP-12 pre-ampand a Nord NC500 power amp. Digital music was played using an Eversolo DMP A6 ME streamer and a NuPrime CDT8 CD transport. Playing all manner of musical genres, this system was so easy to listen to and had the foot tapping factor. The LDA phono stage in particular ticked many boxes for me.

Whilst Ken was entertaining with some great tunes Gary Dunn was busy assembling his system at the other end of the room. With a lack of proper supports Gary utilised one of the pubs solid wooden tabled to stack his components comprising of a vintage Sony ESD 337 CD player / Stereo Coffee LDR pre-amp and Temple Audio monoblock power amps with supercharger. On the end of this was a spartan pair of Triangle BR08 floorstanding speakers. Playing predominantly female vocal Gary’s system impressed me a lot. The mid range was stunning for a speaker of its size and design. The French can certainly build a pair of speakers. I do fear that some folks may have missed the best elements of this system as by now the effects of Hartlepool’s finest ale was starting to make the room louder. Unfortunately this happens when enthusiastic audiophiles get together. There were some very positive comments made about this tidy system. I was bowled over by the Temple Audio amps. A great Nebo debut methinks! In addition, Gary brought with him a rather stunning piece of audio engineering in the form of a JVC Z1010TN vintage integrated amplifier which he is selling. It was a brute yet chic at the same time.

Getting into the evening it was time to start really mixing it up with some great combo’s transpiring to bring a smile. It was becoming evident by this time that the calibre of equipment at Nebo 14 was extremely high. Alan Thomas’s Moon CD transport with his Arcam DAC really were a most pleasant listen with both Ali Tait’s fabulous Neurochrome 686 mono’s and Ken’s Schitt Freya pre amp. Late into the evening this combo was also connected to Mik Rik’s vintage Pioneer SX1250 receiver which after a little first aid made a fab job of driving his Canton CT-1000 speakers pumping out a fairly powerful, chunky sound. Throughout the day there was a steady trickle of visitors who simply wanted to hear some great music and joined in the spirit of the day. There’s a lot of kindness happens at Nebo too, Mike Davis went outside to the Pizza van and bought everyone pizza. Big up to Mike who contributes as do all the guys to Nebo’s success and special days. Thank you too t those who travelled hundreds of miles and stayed over in local B&B, hotels and in some cases their motor homes.

Above is a document of a brilliant day as far as my memory will allow. The effects of ale, whisky and musical intoxication took their toll so please forgive any inaccuracies or exclusion of kit I may have forgotten. Also ran was Macca’s Krell KA50S power amplifier for which we didn’t have an appropriate set of speaker cables, a beatiful Allnic valve phono stage which we simply ran out of day to play and Rich Britton’s Technics 1210 turntable that was referred to Hi-Fi hospital. A massive thank you to all.

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