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A Day at Ed Pongs (Read 1840 times)
JBzen
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A Day at Ed Pongs
06/16/23 at 17:13:58
 
June 11th has been highlighted on my calendar for over a month. It was the day that Ed Pong was hosting two musical instrument players at his residence in Ontario Canada. A married couple him a pianist and her violinist. As the day approached there was a thought of canceling because of Canadian wildfires that was chocking the northeast of Canada and America with poor air quality with stay indoor advisories and flight delays. Ed reassured that all is good and the concert would go on as planned. Turns out canceling would have been a huge mistake masking a great time in the works.

The Commute

The drive from Pittsburgh PA to Niagara Falls NY was done on a pleasant Saturday morning taking state routes. The winds were in favor keeping the smoke from the fires well east of our route. We set up camp and prepared for Sundays early drive to east Toronto around the west of Lake Ontario. Sunday morning started with hazy clear skies. It seemed as soon as we crossed the border into Canada the smoke returned and just got worse as we neared Toronto. Ed wanted me to get there early to see his entire process of recording and spend time with all before the 4:30 scheduled concert. It was a great idea.

The Venue

Ed lives in a home designed by him and an architect over 30 years ago. The process took over a year before building. Seeing the floor layout it is apparent that Ed favored music production and reproduction on his list of fine family features in a residence. The concert takes place in an enclosed pool area. The pool room is entered from the kitchen into a large area that the performers play. At a lower level the audience seat in chairs placed around the pool. The ceiling is high above the stage and slopes toward the back of a large kidney shaped pool. The recording takes place in a room just off the pool area that was once an area with a raised platform for his Grand Piano. A short walk from the parlor leads trough the kitchen and a spiral staircase. Climbing the steps and another short walk leads to the audio listening room. This room with a high ceiling starting where the playback equipment is placed slopes down to the listening position continuing into an opening of the parlor below. Listening chairs are placed in front of a knee wall separating the two rooms.

The Production

Ed leaves no room for error in the prep for this performance. He was even confident that an interrupting phone ringing during the recording of the performance could be corrected. The piano was tuned, videographer setup, sound check complete, violinist positioned, rehearsal, violinist repositioned because of pianist request, audio engineer arrives, rehearsal, and Chinese takeout for all involved.

The Sound

While the violinist was tuning the 1738 Italian violin, I sat with Ed stage left mid way back of the pool. The instrument came across very well. There was zero evidence of any room interference. A few minutes passed. I decided to check out the room more and walked around the pool area. The sound in the back center seems to be a bit fuller. The remainder of the seating area had the same sound as the original seated area. Ed recorded this and we went upstairs to listen. I heard the same clean violin as my seated area but not the fullness as noted in the back of the pool area. Eds record/playback system could be defined as faithful uncolored reproduced sound with harmonics intact. No Ifs, Ands, or Buts.

The System

Ed could be considered the production manager. The director would be Tony. Ed is a well liked retired orthodontist. Tony is a retired entrepreneur trained engineer who designed machinery used in his food processing business. He supplied sliced mushrooms as well as other processed food to places like Pizza Hut. Tony is responsible for Eds electronics. He was given an unlimited budget to make the equipment for audio centering on the sound. While some attention was given to ascetics, the main focus was on the final product of sound recording and reproduction of classical music. Tony is frugal using common sense. He reused old cases to house a lot of his hand built components and circuit designs. The rubber tire inner tube isolation use, piano move from the parlor area to the pool for recording, a year spent making the audio cable connecting the tape payback machine from the base of the spiral staircase to the upstairs listening room, on and on Tonys ideas are used. Ed and Tony have been friends for years and neighbors until Ed move to his present home. I spent a couple very interesting hours with Tony when Ed went to pick up the pianist at the airport.

The Players

Alena Baeva is a striking good looking young violinist. She is curious and conscious of her surroundings and interactions. She as an artist is involved with the recording process and provides input. I think this is why she likes to play at Eds because of his attention to her thoughts. Her husband Vadym Kholodenko younger by years is a gentleman. He arrived later in the afternoon so I really did not get a sense of his interests. He told a story of traffic jambs getting to the airport in Houston that morning. His Russian accent carries heavily into English spoken words. Both are highly regarded soloists in the world.

The Performance

Bravo! Bravo! Bravo! These two together are a powerhouse. His lightening fast hands with a delicate touch are simply amazing. Her bow strokes as light as a butterfly in flight changing to concentrated powerful attacks no doubt made the 1738 Giuseppe Guarneri(luthier) give all it can. She is a master at this. She is fun to watch. He is amazing to watch. His hands are so fast it seems to not match what is heard. What is heard is sheer bliss with these two. My wife made the comment it was just like having great sex when the playing ended. There was not a soul in their seat at the end, all clapping hardily with cheers being heard throughout.

After the scheduled pieces, Alena reappeared with a white violin just finished by luthier Ed Pong. She explained that when she tried playing it at rehearsal that it was hard to put down. A good sign she said. Alena proceeded to play a piece with it. It seems to have a richer tone then the 1738 and sounded just as good. The crowd gave Alena and Ed standing applause. Ed is making a Cello at this time. His first, second. I believe.

I can not say enough of how well the Canadians treated me. It almost seems like celebrity status. Ed surely had a lot to do with it! There were no awkward moments other then a self generated one during the performance. Yeah, it was my phone ringing during the first recital piece. Sigh. I thought for sure that Ed was glad when I pulled out of the driveway despite the contrary treatment. Turns out it was all self generated sub conscious guilt. One attendee even told me that it reminded him to place his phone in airplane mode.

Looking forward to attending another of Eds gigs!

John
The Parlor with sound engineer preparing and piano tuner relaxing.

Playback tape machine

Listening room

Alena rehearsing

Back of pool room

Ed showing his isolation procedures

Tony







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Dominick
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Re: A Day at Ed Pongs
Reply #1 - 06/16/23 at 17:53:16
 
Holy Jesus!! John.I sat here and read your review is sheer amazement. We all know how Steve raves about his analogtape recordings, but this solidified how much attention to detail Ed pays when it comes to his concerts. I can only imagine how well it sounded live in person.

Im so glad that you got to attend such an event and had an amazing experience. I will have to make sure when I plan a trip to Canada, that I attend one of his events.

Dom
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Geno
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Re: A Day at Ed Pongs
Reply #2 - 06/16/23 at 19:38:30
 
Great write up, John! And great pictures to go with it!

And you got to see Alena, as icing on the cake. She and Vadym are so talented.

I wonder how long it will take before this performance is released and for sale. Be cool for your first tape from Ed, to be the recording of the one you attended.

What is Ed doing to the base under his turntable? Is that a bicycle tire air pump???
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Sean
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Re: A Day at Ed Pongs
Reply #3 - 06/16/23 at 21:48:06
 
Awesome write up and thanks for sharing! Hopefully when you get the tape it doesnt trigger a psychosomatic smell of wild fire.

Im guessing hes got an inner tube under the TT for isolation.
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Ed Pong
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Re: A Day at Ed Pongs
Reply #4 - 06/16/23 at 21:54:09
 
Hi Geno,
Yes, that's a bicycle pump adding air to an inner tube for the turntable isolation... I use wheel barrel inner tubes from Home Depot...cheap! $8.99 in the old days!
We always look for the cheapest way for the biggest effect!

I've just cut the master tapes & there will be a solo piano tape of Liszt. (killer playing & sound!)
And the Beethoven Kreutzer Sonata will be on 2 tapes along with another solo piano piece & the encore pieces.
The Liszt tape is ready to go, I just need to find the right piece to top up the 2nd reel of the Kreutzer tape. (I want to give you all, the most most music on the reel)

It was fun to have John visit & see the whole chain of what happens...

Ed
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Same Old DD
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Re: A Day at Ed Pongs
Reply #5 - 06/17/23 at 00:59:36
 
Amazingly well done write up, John!
What an experience!


Ed, I may have just stolen an idea from you. I do not own a large high mass, high dollar turntable system and isolation can be an issue for me.
Great idea. I am going to try that soon.
Smiley
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Ed Pong
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Re: A Day at Ed Pongs
Reply #6 - 06/17/23 at 02:38:00
 
I use this inner tube under thick wooden chopping boards or granite slabs for all amplifiers with sensitive tubes. It's the simplest cheapest way to get good isolation...

Near the sub woofer, ideally all tubes need isolation from vibrations. We even built spring suspensions for the WE300b tubes in the line stage. As well, this line stage sits on a thick wooden chopping block before sitting on the rack shelf.

Simple physics...
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Geno
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Re: A Day at Ed Pongs
Reply #7 - 06/17/23 at 03:54:21
 
Hi Ed.

What a great idea! Do you have to do anything special to make sure the base is level? How did you decide how much air pressure worked best?
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HockessinKid
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Re: A Day at Ed Pongs
Reply #8 - 06/17/23 at 10:52:49
 
John and Ed,

Thanks for sharing your amazing experience with your forum member friends. A truly amazing recording venue and equipment with such exceptional performers. I am simply in awe of Ed's passion and commitment to capturing live music. Cheers to you both!

HK
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JBzen
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Re: A Day at Ed Pongs
Reply #9 - 06/17/23 at 11:01:48
 
Geno,
There is a lot of wheel barrel tubes being used thruout. All that I noticed are just placed between the stands and a board with the components resting on top. The turntable has a box encasing the tube.

I purchased the trio tape and carried it home. Did not get a chance to play it yet. We did not have time for vinyl listening at Eds. Plan on doing that some time in the near future.

Thanks guys!

John
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Geno
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Re: A Day at Ed Pongs
Reply #10 - 06/17/23 at 15:40:34
 
John,

This reminds me, have you modded your ZP3 with the tape head function? Im very interested in your opinion about the difference with/without this option.

Very best,

Geno
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Ed Pong
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Re: A Day at Ed Pongs
Reply #11 - 06/17/23 at 18:54:49
 
I've just cut all the masters from this concert & there will be 3 tapes soon to be released on the website:

1) Liszt: Dante Sonata, Tarantella
2) Beethoven Kreutzer Sonata Mov't 1&2
3) Beethoven Kreutzer Sonata Mov't 3, Ades: Traced Overhead, Wagner,
   Liszt Transcription Parsifal, Horowitz: Carmen Variations, Encore with my
   white violin (waiting to confirm name of piece!)

It was a thrilling concert, everyone was wowed, & these tapes are a very close snapshot of the event!

Enjoy!

Ed
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JBzen
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Re: A Day at Ed Pongs
Reply #12 - 06/18/23 at 10:52:48
 
Geno I did not get the mod done yet. The plan is to do a loop out to Steve' then visit some nation parks and then pick up the modded unit on return. We will see how that works out.

Dom, e-mail Ed and asked to be put on the concert mailing list. You will get notified of any upcoming concert when he solidifies an event.

Ed, that June 11th event will be etched in my soul.

John
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Ed Pong
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Re: A Day at Ed Pongs
Reply #13 - 06/30/23 at 17:16:58
 
Hi John & Geno

Here are the links to the video shot by my recording engineer friend Ron Searles at the June 11 concert!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9p7uc4QmCWU&t=169s
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nB-KcTWQqgI&t=55s
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kOBim7mbIE8&t=27s
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dI2USQ2DBtw&t=4s
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jedIzwVjP28&t=3s

Enjoy!

Ed

PS. Of course there are 15ips 2 track analogue tapes of all these pieces for those interested. Will be released on the website soon!
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JBzen
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Re: A Day at Ed Pongs
Reply #14 - 07/01/23 at 08:17:48
 
Thanks Ed! Ron did a great job! Is there going to be a Blu-ray available?
My ZP3 safely made it to Steve for the tape mod. Going to pick it up in mid July and audition the Headwreckers.
How are the P10s working out in open baffles Geno? Palomino?
John
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Ed Pong
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Re: A Day at Ed Pongs
Reply #15 - 07/01/23 at 12:09:57
 
Hi John,
Yes, I've made a Blu-ray of the concert & being Hi-Res it looks & sounds much better than YouTube!
I totally agree, Ron did a great job of shooting & editing, it's wonderful to "relive" this concert again!
Please email me if you're interested in a Blu-ray

Ed
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Geno
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Re: A Day at Ed Pongs
Reply #16 - 07/02/23 at 02:25:08
 
Ed,

I watched portions of each of the videos you posted on YouTube. Outstanding!

John, you were very lucky to see the performances that you saw.

The break-in on the PT-10s is coming along nicely. Im prolly around 45 hours, and things are starting to really smooth out. Im waiting on 100 hours to really pass judgement, but I am listening to some fantastic sounding music.
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Ed Pong
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Re: A Day at Ed Pongs
Reply #17 - 07/05/23 at 13:50:54
 
Geno,

I'm glad you enjoyed the videos!

When someone mentions a "house concert", the mental image is usually, people crammed into a living room with local musicians playing right beside them, with a very direct sound...

Honestly, this is very far from that! One thing people really don't realize, is these are current touring international soloists on the world stage! You will never hear them in a "house concert".... except in our place!

This coupled with the crazy sound in my pool room, it takes this to a level, that one does not even hear, in a "real" concert in a large hall..

This is an experience like none other...(of course I'm a bit biased! Ha!)

The tape recordings of these concerts are just the added benefits to share with like minded audiophiles.

Every time, I have a concert, it takes me a few days to come down from the clouds....

I have a new Columbian cellist coming onboard later this year...!
More fun!

Ed
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Ed Pong
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Re: A Day at Ed Pongs
Reply #18 - 07/10/23 at 14:22:38
 
For anyone interested, here are the 3 new tapes from that June 11 concert!

These were recorded with 16 new caps in the bypass circuits of the microphone pre-amp which had the effect of giving even more naturalness, a lightning quick transient response with intense focus & beautiful timbres!

You never know the effects, till you build it & try it!

1) Solo Liszt tape: https://ultraanaloguerecordings.com/new/shop/tapes/musician/vadym-kholodenko/lis...
zt-dante-sonata-petrarcas-sonnet-no-123-tarantella-venezia-e-napoli/

2) Beethoven Violin Sonata No.9 "Kreutzer" Mov't 1&2:
https://ultraanaloguerecordings.com/new/shop/tapes/musician/vadym-kholodenko/bee...
thoven-piano-violin-sonata-no-9-op-47-kreutzer-movt-12/

3) Beethoven Violin Sonata No.9 "Kreutzer" Mov't3, Ades Traced Overhead, Horowitz Carmen Variations, Paradis Siciliene:
https://ultraanaloguerecordings.com/new/shop/tapes/musician/vadym-kholodenko/bee...
thoven-piano-violin-sonata-no-9-op-47-kreutzer-movt-3-ades-traced-overhead-encor
es/

Enjoy!

Ed
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Ed Pong
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Re: A Day at Ed Pongs
Reply #19 - 11/16/23 at 22:00:03
 
I just had a great solo piano recital with Van Cliburn winner Vadym Kholodenko. My usual video guy was busy, so it's just my little camcorder, but I think you can get a sense of the excitement...

Beethoven Piano Sonata No.32, Op.111
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3cJgur6aX-Q&t=852s

As great as the live concert was, we also recorded Beethoven's last 3 piano sonatas, Op.109, 110, 111. We want to release the last 2 Sonatas No.31 & 32 on LP as well as tape!

This is a completely new journey for me but very exciting as I'm in consultations with some mastering engineers & will keep you posted!

Ed
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