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Great Song Shootout (pt 1)

Updated: Apr 1, 2023

Great Song Shootout Reaction (Part 1) at devAAudio

Today Laura with Linn Kasa stopped by to prepare for our future event called The Great Song Shootout April 22nd at devAAudio (3:00-5:00). We have something unique and fun planned, and hope you can participate.

For the listening event we will be combining the Linn Klimax DSM, with our reference system featuring Audio Research electronics, Shunyata power conditioning and cables, and Wilson AlexxV speakers. This is our second collaboration with our friendly local Linn Kasa owners Brian and Laura. We thought it would be fun to have a Great Song Shootout. You have an opportunity to attend and share your song with everyone, and listen for yourself. Sign up here. More details below.

In preparation Laura and I are having our own 6-song shootout. The idea is for each of us to pick three songs known to unheard by the other, and play the songs and discuss our reactions. Part 1 of this event was today at devAAudio. In this case I played each song on a different system, and we recorded her reaction and our conversation. I’ll be going to their Kasa for Part 2 tomorrow to hear songs on their system and document much the same. I can’t wait. From these songs and others Laura and I will select a few songs for the upcoming event. The rest are on you.

Today I picked three vastly different songs for her, and played them on three vastly different systems, ranging from $20K, $110K, and $300,000K. The one thing in common will all three tracks and systems, is EACH compelled emotional responses and connections with Laura. That doesn’t surprise me. Great music through a thoughtful HiFi system that connects you to the artist comes at many price points. Audio Nirvana can be found by looking and listening for it.

Laura edited a video of the conversations and full reactions, which are available on YouTube Here.

The first song I admit is NOT a HiFi jewel of a recording. It’s the performance stupid. It it “Kiss it Away” by Dr. Hook, off their debut album Dr. Hook released in 1970. To be clear, this would not be a song to show-off the virtuosity of a HiFi system. I went the

other way. It is a very basic guitar and male vocal that sounds and feels like a one-take recording. This song is about lyrics, and how a strange human voice can compel emotions through a powerful performance. If you have 4 minutes to spare, give it a listen and let me know your reaction. For this song I chose our Mytek/KEF R7 system. At first Laura was nonplused with the song. But it builds, the lyrics become more revealing as does the passion of the vocalist. While this song didn’t elicit goose-bumps for her, the emotional power of the song kept her in rapt attention.

The second song moved to our Audio Research/Wilson system, consisting of Aurender ACS10 Streamer, Audio Research LS28SE preamp and Reference 80S amp, and our Wilson SashaDAW speakers. I chose this system because of the extremely dynamic nature of the recording, and it’s powerful full-range bursts of sounds, along with the quietest music you might hear. This systems does “big” and “small” quite well. The song is “This is a Life” (the extended version), by Son Lux, from the movie Everything Everywhere All at Once.

Her immediate reaction precisely queued for you here YouTube reaction video. The song was nominated for an Academy Award, but I honestly didn’t realize it until I watched the Oscar's last week. A friend shared this song with me 6 months ago, and I’ve been demonstrating it as a showcase recording since. Laura reported to being “startled” at times, and drawn into the music, and feeling in suspense/unsettled. The song made her want to know more about Son Lux and explore what they are all about. This particular song pulls you in with it’s minimalism, unbelievably slooooooow but precise tempo, very detailed tiny instrumental nuances…… and occasional full-bore walls of sound. Intimate female vocals with duet moments of harmonies and counter melodies from male vocals make you listen….even if you don’t understand. By the way….I don’t understand this song at all. But I feel it. So did Laura. Try it!

The third song compelled the most reaction from Laura, and it was “Be Still My Soul” by the Millenial Choirs and Orchestra, from the release Millenial Song. This is basic church hymn, amazingly orchestrated and performed in long-form (nearly 11 minutes) with a 210 person orchestra choir and orchestra. It was immaculately recorded in the Church of Jesus Christ Later Day Saints auditorium in Salt Lake City Utah. This songs unique ebbing and flowing, from 1 soloist to full orchestra and pipe organ, is best heard on a “big” system. We moved to our reference system featuring Aurender N30SA streamer, Audio Research Reference 6 preamp and Reference 160M mono blocks, connected via Shunyata cables to Wilson AlexxV speakers. This song is an emotional powerhouse. To that end, Laura self-reported these 7 (seven) experiences during and after the song: Epiphoria, Dyspnea, Tachycardia, Rhinorhoea, Aphasia, Hyperhidrosis and experienced the Pseudobuldar affect. These symptoms are also known on the streets as: Tearing and crying, breathlessness/un-metered breathing, heart rate over 100 bpm, snot face, inability to communicate freely (can’t talk smoothly), abnormal sweating and involuntary uncontrollable verbal sounds. Yup. It happened. See her reaction to the song (and the surprise test I gave her), at the 15 minute mark of her YouTube Reaction Video.

Does her reaction seem normal? Yup. I created a 10 point check-list of experiences you might experience when engaged with music. It’s observational science (it’s what our customers tell me happens to them). I’ve given the “test” to a few folks, mostly with their knowledge of what I would ask them to report. Laura had no clue I was going to spring this self-survey on her to get her BIO-reaction. Sidebar: A friend of devAAudio who is an Neurologist, when given this test, (scored 6 out of 10 btw), then said, “What you listed are human sympathetic responses to stimuli”. It’s really amazing when you think about it. Through a pair of speakers and recorded art, you can release endorphins and adrenalines and change your state of mind. Better than pills, and with zero side-effects. And from Laura, “…the side-effects are genuine feeling of human connection and wonder at the everything that makes up this crazy thing we call life”.

Tomorrow I’ll be going to Laura & Brian’s Kasa, and hearing a curation of music, and hope to “get my fix” on another bag of musical tricks. Stay tuned and soon we hope to post our reaction videos, tears and all.

With that spirit, if you would like to attend the Great Song Shootout Saturday April 22nd, 3-5 at devAAudio, you can sign up here, where you can submit your song(s). The event is free, and seating is limited to those who register. From the list of songs offered, Laura and I will curate a playlist for the listening event. After each song, we will seek discussions and reactions. You just might find your next new favorite song.

In Music,



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