Year in Review: Vintage amps and speakers, listening sessions, interviews, and audio primers

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Looking back on 2022…

As we at In Sheep’s Clothing Hi-Fi prepare for a thrill-filled 2023, our final 2022 round-up focuses on a few things: Posts that you in the community have responded to and shared the most – that is, an overview of the tips, explorations, random riffs, and recommendations that hopefully serves as a bookend that, while backward facing, should also serve as a portent, a teaser, a trailer – pick your metaphor – for our path forward; and a glimpse at the listening sessions and in-store events we’ve hosted at our record store in LA’s Fairfax District and the listening areas of our West Hollywood headquarters.

Our online experiences are a mere fraction of our mission, which remains and will alway revolve around in-person listening experiences, the kind that build on-the-ground communities based around the notion of focused high-fidelity immersion. While our headquarters, and many of our events, are currently in Los Angeles, our aim for ISC online is to encourage, and serve as a hub for, worldwide community building centered around music and sound. Expect ISC in ’23 to further this aim.

Our most popular posts involve getting the most from your vintage stereo gear, exploring of spaces designed for group listening, and recommending dynamic, masterful recordings that will carry you into the proverbial mystic.

ISC’s Guide to Listening Bars

Though we were just starting to witness the rise of post-pandemic listening cafes when we penned this overview fifteen months ago, revisiting it offers a blueprint for the movement.

Since this published, hosts of similar spaces have opened, including the excellent Part Time Lover in San Diego (read Phil Cho’s interview), Eavesdrop in Greenpoint, and Port Sa’id in Tel Aviv.

https://insheepsclothinghifi.com/isc-guide-listening-bars/

Seven Vintage Amplifiers That Won’t Bust Your Budget

In late ’21 we posted the results of an informal poll posted to a major audiophile Facebook group.

In our preface to the survey, the mysterious E. Little wrote:

Here’s a scenario that virtually anyone who has entered the home listening game by investing in a vintage power amp or receiver has likely confronted. You’re aware of the brands — Sansui, McIntosh, Marantz, Pioneer, Harman Kardon — but you don’t know where to start and you don’t want to mess up by buying something too old, battered or temperamental. 

We hear you. Unless you’re lucky enough to be the offspring of a noted gearhead like Jimmy Carter, who taught his kids to listen to music through a McIntosh amp and high-end speakers, we all enter audiophilia and intentional listening as novices looking for answers.

The good news is that the internet exists, and so do very smart people who know how stuff works. Whole forums are devoted to which companies’ components still hum like Cadillacs and which turned out to be Saturns. For instance, we asked a populous vintage gear Facebook group this question: “We’re compiling a list of 10 great vintage solid state amps for $600 or so (or less). What models need to be on the list to avoid embarrassing ourselves?”

Readers were curious to read the results.

https://insheepsclothinghifi.com/seven-vintage-amplifiers/

Should You Buy Klipsch RP-600M Bookshelf Speakers?

Audio writer Ian White, whose column for ecoustics is so good that he graciously allows us to reprint it in its entirety, went deep on one of the most iconic brands in home audio, Klipsch.

A lot of ink has been spilt about the Klipsch RP-600M; I rather enjoyed my time with them but I also have firsthand experience with them driven by a lot of amplifiers and have been exposed to their limitations and warts over a much longer period of time.

Most consumers will order them online without even an audition and that’s often a recipe for disappointment if the rest of the system isn’t a good match.

I had the chance to listen to them again recently with another batch of amplifiers and I still stand by my original review; you learn something new every time you switch out an amplifier or source.

Read his whole column:

https://insheepsclothinghifi.com/klipsch-rp-600m/

Celebrating the Smooth, Sexy Sounds of Chris & Cosey

Honestly, a certain ISC writer banged this primer out in about an hour. Don’t get this writer wrong, it was developed after years following the brilliant work of Cosi Fanni Tutti and her musical and life partner Chris Carter’s long running project. But the overview below resonated, which makes sense. Chris & Cosey’s post-Throbbing Gristle music video projects, which mixes music and video to amazing effect, remain profoundly gratifying experiences.

https://insheepsclothinghifi.com/chris-cosey/

Thorens TD-160: A Classic, Floating Chassis Turntable from the 70’s

The famed Thorens TD-160 is pretty much unparalleled when it comes to classic vintage turntables models. The Swiss clock company first launched its phonograph division back in 1903 when much of the world didn’t even know what a turntable was. That changed in 1928 when Thorens produced their first electric (motor-driven) record player and quickly became one of the most heralded phonograph machine manufacturers in the world. Our overview of this gem remains a go-to on the popular model.

https://insheepsclothinghifi.com/thorens-td-160/

Translations in Dub: A Conversation with Bill Laswell

In Sheep’s Clothing’s editor-in-chief Phil Cho interviewed bass hero / sonic visionary Bill Laswell with in-depth discussions about his current health situation, ambient translations in dub, Japan in the ’80s, working with Ryuichi Sakamoto, Haruomi Hosono, DJ Krush, Toshinori Kondo, Gigi, future music, and upcoming projects.

“I’m not a research person. I’m not good with memory with everything. But I think you absorb it, and that’s what dub is anyway. It’s not the visual thing that you see. It’s the shadow.”

https://insheepsclothinghifi.com/bill-laswell-in-conversation/

Classic Album Sundays: Gil Scott-Heron & Brian Jackson’s “Winter in America”

For our first deep listening session of the year, we presented Gil Scott-Heron & Brian Jackson’s Strata-East classic “Winter in America” as a part of Classic Album Sundays LA. The session included full album playback along with a Q&A with none other than Brian Jackson himself who shared stories about meeting Gil, their collaborations together, and upcoming projects.

Open Format: Suzanne Kraft & Manoj Dias

Open and In Sheep’s Clothing presented a series of events featuring a unique and immersive combination of music and guided meditation. The events featured some of our favorite local artists including Suzanne Kraft, Nailah Hunter, and badbadnotgood’s Arrangeent Studio.

From the first event: “Over the course of an hour, Los Angeles-based artist Suzanne Kraft will create a sonic landscape complementing prompts from Open meditation teacher and co-founder Manoj Dias. Together they’ll explore concepts of returnal and home with the participation of a limited audience.”

Sam Wilkes & Sam Gendel

A secret show from two of the best around…




Syng x ISC: Leaving Records Showcase

Another of our ongoing collaborations, Syng x ISC presented a pair of listening sessions / live performances at In Sheep’s Clothing HQ. The event will opened with a deep listening session featuring unreleased music and selections from the featured label presented in “Super Spatial Sound” on Syng’s Cell Alpha speakers. Live performances followed in our intimate outdoor space. Artists included Sam Wilkes, Green-house, Matthewdavid, Rejoicer, and Frankie Reyes.

Scientist Rids Hollywood of the Curse of the Evil Vampires

In Sheep’s Clothing does reggae… In June, we hosted a special live dub performance at In Sheep’s Clothing HQ with the legendary Scientist featuring Incient Rootsman, DJ Lady Eyela, spoken word from Tangianna Saint Aleis, and local dub/reggae crew Tuff Shed with island food by Rubie Los Angeles, pre-rolls from Pure Beauty, and drinks from In Sheep’s Clothing.

Common Time & In Sheep’s Clothing present: CS + Kreme

One of our favorite new acts, Australian experimentalists CS + Kreme, joined us at our headquarters for a rare live session supported by Mana’s Madalyn Merkey, Leaving Records’ Maral, and Total Stasis.




Eddie Chacon and John Carroll Kirby

Pleasure Joy and Happiness … Enuff said. This is one of our favorite duos making music right now and there’s much more to come. Be sure to check out their latest singles Comes and Goes and Holy Hell. The second album should be coming soon!

Bronze Hours: A Listening Party

We explored the history of Bronzeville jazz with listening sessions and DJ sets hosted by the team + select Japanese whiskey, beer and wine. Selections included classic albums from Duke Ellington, Charlie Parker, and Miles Davis. More of these coming soon probably closer to Spring 2023…

Purelink + Motion Ward Showcase

Towards the end of the year, we presented two live electronic music showcases featuring some of the best new artists around including Purelink, Smoke Point, Vestals, Ulla, Ura, AshTreJinkins, and Motion Ward.

“new life from the faint ash of reminiscence”




Crates LA Record Popups

Crates LA is a music blog uploading obscure and unknown songs across a multitude of genres including sweet soul, cosmic jazz, soft rock, digital reggae, latin funk, and more! The founder of the channel, who prefers to remain anonymous, has dedicated countless hours diving deep in the bins to discover under-the-radar gems and certified classics. “Crates LA listens to thousands of bad records so you don’t have to.”

Check out the Crates LA YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/c/CratesLA/videos

Minor Figures: Deep Tasting Sessions

A journey through origin stories, flavor, and music… In May, we explored the connection of music and coffee during a weekend long take over by Minor Figures oat milk. Pairing exclusive roasts by Chicago’s Metric coffee with sonic selections from the brews country origin, handpicked by ISC contributor Tana Yonas!

Deep Listening with Nabihah Iqbal

Nahihah Iqbal made a stop at the In Sheep’s Clothing HQ during her spring tour of the west coast and shared personal and eclectic vinyl sections from her extensive home collection in our HiFi listening room.

Be sure to check out Nabihah’s NTS radio show: https://www.nts.live/shows/nabihah-iqbal


In Sheep’s Clothing is powered by its patrons. Become a supporter today and get access to exclusive playlists, events, merch, and vinyl via our Patreon page. Thank you for your continued support. 

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