This interview is part of our Listening with… series, check out the previous one with Cyriel for more. Also, if you’d like to tell a story yourself, let us know by sending us an email or calling us. We’d love to invite you for an interview. Hi Michel, thanks for joining us. Can you tell us a bit about yourself? I’m a graphical designer, 50-something, son of Thorbecke according to himself, white male chauvinist pig according to a few. Pretty much as long as I can remember I’ve been into everything auditive. Music gives form to what we cannot or above all dare not name or discuss, terribly cliché but better it doesn’t come out. I reviewed a lot of audio, sometimes music and often wine. Fortunate to be in touch with TRPTK from the sidelines once in a while… What was your first memory of listening to music? My first memory of listening to live music was a coffee concert on a Sunday morning in the town hall of Bloemendaal together with my grandma. I must’ve been five years old. The program contained Fauré’s Fantasia for flute and piano, Op. 79. The flutist was clearly loving every second of it, and together with the marble hall it got incredibly loud. After this, I critiqued it fairly vocally, prompting my grandma to avoid the village of Bloemendaal for a few days. My first memory of listening to recorded music: the last minute-and-a-half of The Beatles’ A Day in a Life. As a little kid, I had my parents put it on time after time again. The ultimate release was too exciting. What do you generally listen to? I usually listen to classical music in a small line-up, with a preference for piano and string quartet. The previously almost dogmatic preference for avant garde from the fifties and sixties of the last century has made way for a more essential one: ‘I need to be able to talk to it’. Furthermore, I like listening to soundscapes, musique concrete and electronic music, noise, IDM and former chillhop, hard-bob and free jazz, some lost ska and oh yes… Zappa. I’m afraid I can’t give a good answer as to why those genres. Something with energy and attention and the possibility to approach these genres from different angles. Contemplation and reflection? What has led you onto the path of hi-fi in the first place? This has to be mainly my father’s Lenco L75 turntable – and his fiddling around with it – which has made an apparently lasting impression. And that must have been unconsciously the first time I was exposed to a better hi-fi set. More concrete are the Cyrus Two with PSX and the Mission 770 which I was able to buy in 1985 after a holiday job, all the savings and an irresistible smile to Grandma. Can you tell us more about your own system? Well, uh… after our daughter was born, the system went out the door. Except for the turntable, all the DIY to the extreme and therefore a bit dangerous with a little kid in the house. Actually it’s now waiting for me lady to lose a bit of wild hair before I want to think about a serious set again. Until then I have a set of ever changing gear in the house because of the HVT [Hifi Video Test] reviews I do. Fixed at the core are an amplifier of Pink Faun (with the necessary modifications of Pink Faun itself) plus cabling by Pink Faun and Furutech. Let’s just say that it is a very pleasant improvisation. What turned out the biggest upgrade to your system? Ohlala… there’s a question. Actually, every upgrade is the upgrade. It opens doors to new and unfamiliar spaces that you like more or less, where you can move on from, if you wish. If I have to be specific, I have to mention cables from Furutech. Not only do they lift the overall quality of a set, but also brought me as a listener to a new level of listening. From ‘chasing the dragon’ for the illusion of realism at any price to an almost organic essence of what sound and thus music really are. Which format do you prefer yourself, (SA)CD, vinyl, hi-res downloads? For the last couple of years I’ve been mostly busy with digital audio files. The sale of my turntable (and eventually the LPs themselves) actually unexpectedly felt like a liberation. Looking back, I was then more concerned with sound than music and perhaps most of all with the setup and tuning of the turntable. Was the cartridge still aligned, how does the arm go, what’s the course of components in the RIAA amplifier, is that tube still fresh, what if I put 20 volts more on it? And so there were more variables that made life not really pleasant on it. After a silence of a couple of years it became the convenience of digital audio files. I don’t make much difference in resolution. Older recordings are still very pleasant on 16/44.1. In my opinion, modern recordings do have an advantage with a higher resolution, although I think we have to be careful not to go overboard with the resolution of them, where we might end up in some sort of resolution wars. Anyway, ‘files’ it is. Recordings until the early ’00s on 16/44.1 and after that it may be higher. The older high-resolution recordings never really charmed me. I prefer the Beethoven sonatas by Artur Schnabel many times through Pearl to the recently released version by Warner ‘Remastered at Abbey Road Studios’ version… Then you understand why the albums The Beatles never sounded really good… We have to ask… What’s your favourite TRPTK recording? Tricky question… I’m going to write Helena Basilova’s A Fearful Fairy Tale. A lot of things come together on this album. The piano, the full attention to pieces that are sometimes ‘contractually’ noodled through, the more than beautiful performance by Helena, the fact that I reread Tolstoy’s childhood stories last year with a lot of pleasure and that give an extra dimension to the backdrop in which this album takes place. Plus of course a very nice recording and production, what more could you wish for? And your favourite non-TRPTK album? That’s got to be Uncle Meat of The Mothers of Invention. Rock meets Jazz meets Classical, meets Spoken Word meets Freakness. Zappa at his creative peak. After that it became, for me, more of an elaboration of concepts that originated before that time. Also a rare moment of pure and personal sentiment from Zappa at Cruisin’ for Burgers; a nod to Don van Vliet to keep the friendship. If you could give one piece of advice to a new audiophile, what would it be? Don’t stare yourself blind at spectacular low-end or high-end details. Keep in mind, within the boundaries of the preferred you’re looking for, to always keep a harmonic representation of the music! Recommended listening by Michel A Fearful Fairy Tale Rated 5.00 out of 5 based on 1 customer rating Select options Posted by Michel van Meersbergen.