NEBO3 | The Windmill Hartlepool.


A great evening was had by all on Saturday November 30th at The Windmill just outside Hartlepool.  NEBO3 (North East Bake Off) kicked off just after 5pm through to 11:30pm. Tere was some amazing kit to be seen and heard and the atmosphere was relaxed and very friendly.  I dedicated the evening to my late friend Peter Littlewood whom i will miss very much. Peter was an Arcam fan and a dyed in the wool Ruark user. Peter would have really enjoyed the evening as he was an excellent engineer, carpenter and audiophile.

Setting up took it’s toll on many knees and backs throughout the evening as the rooms where up a steep flight of stairs. Most items where very heavy, bulky and/or difficult to manouvre. The lifting and handling was more than worth it though as some of the results were nothing short of outstanding. The night simply wouldn’t have ran as smoothly had it not been for my cohort Neil Blackwood who not only took care of many technical aspects of the evening, pimped my Lenco turntable and organised the butties.

In order to have music playing on peoples arrival Neil wired up a system which consisted of my newly pimped Lenco turntable his A&R Cambridge A60 which has been totally rebuilt and bristling with black gate caps and his wonderful Ruark Paladin speakers which i re-wired internally with Kimber 4 and 8VS cable a few years back. Visitors were greeted with some great vintage jazz on their arrival and i knew then that the evening could only get better. We were also very fortunate to have audio guru Les Wolstenholme on hand for tips and advice. Les also brought with him some little treasures for us to play with. One of them being and Old Radford power amp and the others a pair of very tasty monoblock power amps which as he described (just after we lugged them up the stairs) two amplifiers in one case. Listening to them later in the evening proved just how deft Les is at designing and building quality amplification.

My old mate and ace drummer Franco Zuccaroli brought his fabulous hand built amplifiers along driving a pair of Jamo Concert 11 floorstanders. He was playing some rather nice 24 bit files from his laptop. I was pleasantly surprised at how good it sounded. I must admit that i was happier when Rich Britton’s Marantz CDP being used as a transport was connected to it later via Franco’s wicked DAC and a more familia media used. Franco has made a fabulous job of building his amps based on Les Wolstenholme’s design and his attention to detail is mind boggling.

For me though and no doubt many others the highlight of the evening was Alan Towel’s Tascam reel to reel tape recorder. Listening to George Benson and some other great west coast sounds via both his own hand built pre and power amps and Neil Blackwood’s rebuilt late seventies behemouth Denon PMA850  amplifier. This was indeed an event within an event and the performance left a few jaws dropped. A short spell was spent with some rather fine Rega floorstanders brought along by Rich Britton before some light hearted fun was had in true bake off fashion with a shoot out of the lenco’s.

My beautiful fire engine red baby with it’s Linn Basik+ and and Ortofon 2m blue mm was pitched against Paul 3′s rather lovely slate mother c/w Linn Ekos tone arm and Asaka cartridge. It was only ever going to end in tears. However, I was really pleased with the performance of the fire engine and it was snapping at the heels of the slate Lenco which did make me smile. Another very interesting amp was a SIT 8 wpc power amp which was sadly let down by not having a pre-amp handy with enough gain.

After the masses had left, myself, Neil, Alan and Mrs Meister sat and listened to Carly Simons singing Let The River Roll from the Working Girl OST via Alan’s Garrard 401/ Jelco 12″/ Ortofon Kontrapunkt b. The result was blinding. The evening was a homage to great engineering know how, passion, musicality, enthusiasm and all the great things that go along with teasing the last piece of musical performance from electrical and electronic audio equipment. A fabulous evening spent in the company of some great people. Due to personal circumstances NEBO3 was destined to be the last. However, just like last time we ran out of time and some attendee’s didn’t get to show their wares. This and the possibility of having some high end hand built valve amplifiers showcased is making me think again.

Can we fix it? Yes we can.

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