It is with great pleasure that I introduce you to Albert Dall, SFAS Director of Amplification Research. I met Albert (seen here with musician Elvis Costello), as he crashed our Lavish Audio event in Healdsburg a while back, with his usual endearing bravado. Here’s his story in his own words:
As with most audio and music enthusiasts, I was lucky to grow up in a family where there was always an interest for music and the arts. My father played the piano as a hobbyist and both parents were always going to the SF Opera and Symphony when was a kid. Also similar to many stories shared, I was fortunate to get to play dad’s stereo when he wasn’t around. I remember the old Marantz Thirty-Thirty receiver playing JBL and HLH speakers. And a Sony reel-to-reel tape deck. I was able to bring the Marantz and JBL towers with me to college, my records too.
The years from eighth grade to graduating high school was filled with incredible live concerts. Day On The Green Stadium shows started with Journey, Boston, AC/DC, Aerosmith, and continued into the first years of college with Stevie Nicks and David Bowie. Also, I must remember at the Oakland Arena I saw Yes – In The Round, Van Halen open for Black Sabbath, Eric Clapton, and Roger Waters. Over at The Cow Palace I saw Rush, LoverBoy, Scorpions, and Robert Plant. Even before that, just the music playing on the am radio was what would become the foundation for classic and art rock. Great times for music!
I guess it was inevitable that I would become an audiophile as I always said to myself while in college studying engineering, “One day I will spend $50k on a stereo.” This after reading about the Infinity IRS speakers with their servo controlled woofers. I thought they were sooooo cool! Little did I know that would be a drop in the bucket 30 years later. And I do have a pair of Delta/Gammas resting in the closet now.
Lately the most fortuitous of coincidences happened as I crossed paths with SFAS when they were visiting Healdsburg. Just the week before I had an amplifier failure that nearly set my house on fire! Yikes! So, in between working (now as an RN in a surgery department) some extra shifts to save up for new amps, I passed a hand written sign, “Special Event” pointing towards Lavish Audio’s shop. I had to go in!
As I jumped up the stairs, Alón was the first person I met, and he kindly invited me to go to a member’s house to listen to another system. Three blocks from my house. “Yes, I’ll just ride my bike over.” There were some nice DIY speakers playing and a high-end DAC playing from a server. The DAC is what caught my attention. I had just setup my first computer audio system during the summer, but knew I would “need” better equipment, and now amps, to get my speakers playing to their potential. After listening for a bit, I asked Alón and his friend Jean Marie if they’d be curious to take a look and listen to my setup. As audiophiles do, you go listen whenever possible.
I prefaced the demo as iffy, in that everything was stone cold and off. Since the amp meltdown, I didn’t even leave them plugged in when not home. But I wanted to get a fresh impression. Alón and Jean Marie were great! They listened as the system warmed up, and gave some ideas of moving ASC tuning traps around, changing listening and speaker positions. Still, with the single stereo amp, things sounded off.
As I did research, listening, and testing of amps in my system, I kept Alón updated on the experiences. Along the way there were a few listening sessions, and two formal events with the audio club. Just prior to the phono preamp smack down, I was flattered to be asked to join the club leadership with the title “Director, Amplification Research.” Perfect! Really, I was excited and happy to meet this great group of people who share the passion for music. In a very short time I’ve been exposed to new equipment, music, and venues for live performance. What a great thing!
So looking ahead I hope to meet more club members, share new and old music favorites, and learn about others’ stereo rigs and reproduction setups.