Thursday, August 11, 2011
Visit to Dan Muzquiz at Blackbird Audio/Gallery
Colleen Cardas and I just got back from a trip to Southern California, where we attended the memorial for Brooks Berdan and visited a few friends. First on our list was my good friend Dan Muzquiz of Blackbird Audio. After a huge feast of delicious grilled meat, fish and veggies, we settled into his listening room and played all types of music. Colleen and I wanted to check out the turntables from Funk Firm, and Dan had both the Vector and the Saffire on hand (although the latter had just arrived earlier in the day and hadn't been set-up completely).
The Funk Firm Vector turntable/FX-R tonearm/Transfiguration Axia cartridge rig was combined with Bel Canto electronics, a Heed Audio Quasar phono preamp and Wilson Benesch Arc speakers. The sound was exquisite--both utterly clear and incredibly relaxed. The WB speakers, as you can see, are on the small side but the deep bass was well-developed and natural. The Funk Firm combination is one of the rare lightweight turntables that maintains a firm handle on bass response as well.
Bob Clarke, of Profundo Distribution (he represents Heed, Trenner & Friedl, Transfiguration and VivA) visited Dan a few months ago, and they listened to this turntable at length. Bob was perplexed that this compact, lightweight rig had such well-defined and impressive bass characteristics, and both Dan and Bob came to the conclusion that it was the outstanding FX-R tonearm. If you aren't familiar with the FX-R, it's receiving rave reviews in the UK, with more than one reviewer preferring this $2000 tonearm to the $5500 SME V (which I owned for many years).
Dan treated me to a great pressing of the extended version of the Temptations' "Papa Was a Rolling Stone" and I was hypnotized for 12 minutes. The string arrangements in particular were dramatic yet sweet, and that deliberate, precise bass guitar line never ceased to propel the music forward. I must get a copy of this!
Distribution of Funk Firm in the US is somewhat scarce at this point; Dan is the lone US dealer for Funk Firm and acting as US distributor as well. Colleen Cardas Imports is looking into Funk Firm, and we definitely like what we see/hear. The Funk Firm Vector turntable is $2395 and the FX-R is $2000. This rig is one of the most compelling I've heard for under $5000 (the price is obviously higher when you consider the $1900 Transfiguration cartridge). I'm trying to get one sent to me ASAP.