Insane! A quick take on the Feickert Blackbird

Just in case you were wondering, you’re jealous. Yes. It’s true.

Remember that Dr. Feickert Blackbird turntable I reviewed here? Well, it’s now … mine. Oh, yes! It’s currently sitting in the rack working its way through Art Blakey’s, Moanin’. And all I can say is this:


I’ll have some thoughts about set up and what not in a while, but I want to note this: I had that bugger up and spinning in less than an hour. Cake!

In other news, the Merlin VSM-MXR speakers are coming along nicely. Got the BAM settled into the rig appropriately, which is dandy. The Joule amplifiers (or more properly, their variac) also appear to be quieting down. I haven’t bothered to get all crazy getting the Rythmiks dialed in, yet (still doing some research there), but I have them in nonetheless, set so that they begin to contribute around 35Hz or so. Why? Because they’re sick — and when I go reach for pop recordings the added low-bass whump is awesome.

Some notes:

The bass on the Merlins is very nice. It’s full, fast, and natural. It isn’t overpowering — the Rythmiks can do that for me when necessary. But the sound is definitely better (read: to my taste — apparently, I’m a bass-freak) with the subs than without — at least in my oddball room (40’+ long). Good to know.

The Joule Electra LA-150SE preamp I am currently enjoying is very nice, AFAICT, but the tape loop implementation is a bit hinky. There are a total of three inputs on the preamp, but only two of them can be dialed into the tape loop. Which means that I can get the effects of the BAM on only two of the following three: SACD, DAC, vinyl. Suboptimal! So, right now, I have the Accuphase DP-85 wired into the line input on the Manley Labs Steelhead.

Hee hee.

Yes, when I bought the Blackbird from my local dealer, Command Performance A/V, I bought their last in-house turntable. I casually suggested to Jeff Fox that, well, since that Manley isn’t going to be doing anything in the near term, mightn’t I borrow it along with the Blackbird? Pretty please?

And now, here it sits, running my turntable. [Insert big shit-eating grin here].

I have to say, this thing is a marvel — and here I was told that it was shit. No, not by Jeff, but rather by a series of other dealers and a couple of distributors. Gotta love the whole propaganda thing, no? “If I sell it, it’s awesome — that’s why I sell it after all — and if not, well then it’s shi-i-i-i-t.” [Sigh].

In my review of the Joseph Audio speakers, I noted on more than one occasion how the move from digital to vinyl did wonders for my sound stage — now I know that this had a lot to do with the Manley. It’s truly great. Crazy-easy to use and a tweaker’s wet dream to boot. More on this to come — I am going to “break in” the two of them and then pull the Manley out to get a more accurate impression of my current reference, the Joule Electra OPS-2. So, stay tuned.

Ahh, what a great day. Dexter Gordon, Art Blakey and now time for some Art Pepper. Sweet!