Imacustica - Welcome Peter

Munich 2011: JVH, Dave Wilson, Peter McGrath (left to right)

I’ve known Peter McGrath for a long time. I can´t say when, or even where we have first met. Most likely it was in a hifishow somewhere in the audioworld: London? S. Francisco? New York? Vegas?...

When you swim in the dark ocean of memories, the deeper you dive the more facts become blurred, since time tends to homogenize what are after all different but repeated experiences in the course of our lifetime.

Yet the brain has a clever way around these slowly vanishing remembrances. By associating accessory facts with essential emotions, which we treasure and subconsciously keep in hidden folders, it finds the right path again. Memories are triggered by emotions associated with people not the events themselves.

Where and When or even What and Why are relatively unimportant. It’s the Who that really matters to reach that total recall. And once brought to the surface these memory folders have a surprising amount of related information which had been temporally deleted from our minds.

While writing this welcome notice, I found Peter McGrath has a special folder in my mind, tagged as a dear friend, whose kindness, amiable demeanor and shy smile are associated with his love for music, impeccable musical taste and recording expertise, all contributing to some of the best sound demos I have attended all over the world.

As I keep pulling the long string of emotional memory beads, I start remembering clearly how Peter used to demonstrate multichannel sound long before the advent of DVA-A or SACD.

He had recorded live musical events with the Florida Philharmonic Orchestra in four-channel surround sound, using Jerry Bruck’s KFM 360 recording technique and all four channels of a Nagra D four-track digital recorder sampled at 48kHz with 24-bit resolution.

The front two channels were then output to a Pacific Microsonics Model One A-to-D/D-to-A converter via AES/EBU connectors and upsampled to 88.2kHz, a direct multiple that sounds better than 96kHz, according to him and I tend to agree. The rear two channels of the Nagra D were fed to an Apogee DA-1000 professional DAC.

The four channels were finally fed to a Z-Systems RDM-1 reference digital mixer, custom designed and built to Peter’s specifications. The rear channels were turned on and off during the demonstration and the difference was huge.

All of Peter’s latest demonstrations I have attended were of the conventional two channel kind. And yet his mastertapes remain as natural and fresh as the live event itself. I can only hope he will bring a couple of them to the conference, like the one in the video below or “Carmen” recorded at the Opera Hall in Miami, Florida, for the Portuguese wilsonists own enjoyment.

Like so many of today’s protagonists in the field of highend audio, Peter owned the Sound Components shop in Florida his home state. Having been once a hifi dealer granted him the knowledge and experience which became an important asset when he started working with loudspeaker manufacturers like Eggleston and later and until today Wilson Audio where he has helped David Wilson to revolutionize the sound of this iconic American brand.

Allow me to quote from my Sasha review which Peter himself, always kind with words, praised as exquisitely well written in English:

“The upper bass bravado, midrange jactancy and treble alacrity, which by European standards allegedly afflicted earlier generations of Watt Puppies, were all sensibly dealt with by David Wilson in his latest creation: Sasha W/P was, and I quote, brought up in a Viennese environment, and is indeed of a more amiable nature and consensual poise to us Europeans than previous Watt Puppies. “

Both Dave and Peter (co-founder of Audiofon Records) are accomplished recording engineers in their own right, and they know what real music sounds like. Virtuosa Valentina! (Audiofon CD 72055) with Valentina Lisitsa (unedited!), recorded by Peter McGrath, is one of my most cherished piano CDs, and it contributed immensely to inspire myself to further write the following about Sasha:

'Impressive, outstanding, overwhelming, these are all worn out terms that fail short of encompassing the wave of keen excitement one feels when listening to Wilson Audio Sashas, imparted by their energy and sheer dynamics, so buoyantly delivered and without any kind of inhibition or compression'.

If one considers that, in the meantime, Wilson Audio has graced us with the XLF and the amazing Alexia, which can focus sound like a camera does with image, Peter McGrath’s first visit to Imacustica – Lisboa, for a long anticipated conference, might very well be a unique opportunity to listen to some of the best sound ever recorded of live classical music and a few pop/rock specials on the side.

The necessarily lucky few – due to time and room constraints - who will have the chance to attend the conference may rest assured they are in for a treat! Trust me, I’ve been there…

An exclusive interview with Peter Mc Grath by JVH

Peter Mc Grath gives a lecture on recording tecniques to an interested audience and speaks highly of Dave Wilson's expertise


Por uma questão de cortesia, o texto foi publicado em inglês, poupando Peter McGrath aos efeitos catastróficos das traduções do Google, na plena consciência de que a grande maioria dos leitores do Hificlube não terá dificuldade em entendê-lo no original.

Terei muito gosto em enviar uma tradução em Português para quem a solicitar.

See also:

Parte  1: A festa

Parte 2: A música (the bootleg series)


Munich 2011: JVH, Dave Wilson, Peter McGrath (left to right)