Audio/Video

Audiophile Sound Systems, Home Theater, Computer Audio - Purchasing and Upgrades.

Automotive

Purchasing, Storage, Detailing, Aftermarket.

Wine and Spirits

Wine Tastings and Tours, Cellaring, Collecting, Purchases.

Travel and Leisure

Resorts, Hotels, Restaurants, Destinations.

Kitchen, Cooking and Food

Design, Appliances, Knives, Entertaining.

Welcome to Connoisseur Corner - Luxe Consulting and Executive Services

Marty Feldmann, The Connoisseur, is the highly sought after consultant who assists businesses and individual clients with the acquisition of the finer things life has to offer. Whether you are planning a weekend getaway to wine country, selecting audio equipment to outfit your home, planning your dream vacation or purchasing your ultimate transportation, Marty is your personal connection to the good life…

Marty can be contacted at: 916.952.9529 Marty@ConnoisseurCorner.com

7/31/15

6th Annual California Audio Show


 
Do you like music..?  Or maybe in the market for some audio gear..?  Join me at the 6th Annual California Audio Show August 14th – 16th at the Westin SFO for three days of turntables, headphones, digital audio, speakers and electronics for every budget.  Talk with experts, manufactures and other audiophiles and listen to amazing gear, all in one convenient location…!
See you there..!

7/30/15

2016 BMW X1 – Updated and Ready!



The luxury small and mid-size SUV market is hot right now…  I mean smoking, singe your eyebrows hot..! 

On the smaller end of that spectrum, BMW has had the X1 available in the states for a few years now.  Well, guess what…   It’s time for a complete makeover!
Introducing the 2016 version of the X1, or as the Bimmer geeks would call it, the F48.  (That’s a factory chassis code – don’t worry, there is no quiz today)

Brand new from nose to butt, the X1 is actually a tad shorter than the previous model, although it is wider and feels more spacious.  The exterior view is also more SUV-like, as opposed to a bit of a station wagon feel with the prior generation.  A definite improvement to my eye.
A single engine will be available in the states, that being a turbo 4-cylinder powerplant.  With 228 ponies and 258 pounds of twist available, it will be plenty of grunt to motivate the Mighty-Mite sport ute.  An 8-speed transmission and BMW X-drive all-wheel drive finish out the drivetrain specification.

The interior is vastly improved in material quality, fit and finish and design.  BMW is realizing they need to catch up to class leaders Audi and Mercedes in this department, and we are all the better for the competition.  All the usual tech will be available – iDrive navigation with an 8.8” screen, upgraded audio from Harmon Kardon and even full LED headlights…   Cool..!
With main competitors the Audi Q3 and Benz GLA selling well, the new X1 will also be in high demand.  If you are looking at this category, take a look at all three.  But if you want that morsel of Bimmer sporty DNA, this buggy is updated and ready to put a smile on your face…

7/23/15

Mercedes-Benz C300: Notes on a Drive



I’ll just say it up front, the folks from Stuttgart make some fine automobiles.  In years past some might say their appeal has been limited, with a stereotyped audience of the more, shall I say “well-aged” among us.  In recent years however, Mercedes-Benz has made a conscious effort to bring the design language and engineering to a wider range of prospective buyers with sleeker, more aggressive exteriors and less angular interiors.
With this in mind, I have decided to put the folks at Mercedes to the test with a series of drives, the first of which is their recently redesigned C-Class sedan, specifically the C300 w/Sport Package.

And now for a few quick tech tidbits…
·         Inline 4-cylinder engine
·         241 horsepower, 273 lb-ft of torque
·         25/34 mpg
·         MSRP w/Sport Package:  40,575

 I could go on, but let’s get to the drive…
OK, I will be “up front” again…  I was impressed with this car..!  The first thing you notice upon entry is the greatly upgraded interior design and build quality.  The C-Class is now clearly at the top of the pack among its competitors, the Audi A4, BMW 3-Series and Cadillac ATS.  The exterior design is showing improvement as well, especially from the B-pillar forward.  The rear of the car does fall a tad short with too much droop and not enough muscularity to match the forward sections, but a solid design overall.

Driving impressions were on the good side of the ledger as well.  Minimal turbo lag and plenty of juice from the fine engine and generally overall good performance from the 7-speed transmission.  Handling was solid, with enough grip and lightness to feel somewhat nimble at times, although not having the dynamics of the Cadillac ATS or even the Bimmer.  What struck me the most was an excellent balance of capabilities, giving the C300 a range of personalities. The car can be a smooth luxury cruiser or a mischievous, sporty ride, depending on your mood and the weight of your right foot.
An impressive car, and deserving of a look-see, if you are in the market for an entrĂ©e into the luxury sedan world…

7/16/15

Sabrina – Wilson Audio’s Newest Speaker Creation


Dave Wilson and the folks at Wilson Audio have been crafting some of the finest audiophile speakers for many years.  From the trend-setting Watt/Puppy from days gone by to the current top-of-the-line six-figure Alexandria XLF, the quest for the golden sound has been Dave’s passion.  With the release of the Sabrina, a physically diminutive speaker by Wilson Audio standards, Dave has distilled the accomplishments of their flagship designs down to its essence. 

Utilizing trickle-down technology and top flight engineering and manufacturing, the Sabrina brings the Wilson Sound to the mainstream audiophile crowd.  Standing a bit over 39 inches tall (including spikes), each cabinet weighs in at 94 lbs.  Your dog is not going to knock Sabrina on her heels..!  Speaker complement consists of a 1 inch doped silk fabric tweeter for the high frequencies, a 5 ¾ inch paper composite midrange and an 8 inch woofer, also constructed of paper composite.  The enclosure itself is made of Wilson Audio’s proprietary X-Material composite in the front baffle and bottom and is rear ported.  Frequency response (how high does it go – how low does it go?) runs from 31 Hz up to 21 kHz: +/- 3 dB.  Fit and finish is typical Wilson, meaning spectacular!
The sound is impressive..!  The soundstage feels larger than what a speaker of this size should generate and the famous Wilson dynamics are present in spades.  The sound is almost… bewitching..!  (Pun intended, people!)  For some further background, take a look at this excellent video from the Wilson Audio folks.  Priced at $15,900.00, this is money well spent for what may be the last speaker you ever need…  I recommend a listen!

7/12/15

GLE Coupe from Mercedes


It looks like the bean counters at Mercedes Benz decided they needed a competitor to BMW’s X6.  Introducing the GLE Coupe, a swoopy and sporty version of the upcoming GLE SUV.  You may have noticed it rolling around in Jurassic World.  Yes, that silver buggy…

Oh, just so you know, the GLE is the replacement for the current M-Class SUV…
Back to the GLE Coupe…  No, it’s not a 2-door.  The automotive industry has decided that “coupe” now refers to a coupe-like design.  Sure…  What we have here, like the BMW X6, is a sharp looking but less utilitarian utility vehicle.  One buys these for the road presence, and gets part of the utility to go with.

The GLE Coupe will initially be available with a biturbo V6 rated at 362 horsepower and 384 lb-ft of torque.  Of course the AMG team is prepping their full-insanity version with a 5.5L biturbo V8 sporting 577 ponies and 561 lb-ft of twist.  They promise will get you to 60 mph in a scant 4.2 seconds, if you were wondering... 
All of the latest MB tech will be available, from various driver assistance systems to adjustable suspensions and a full suite of Command functions – nav and the like…  Don’t forget luxury..!  It will be available in spades with a long list of standard creature comforts and various available Designo Editions.

The GLE is not a vehicle that will appeal to everyone, but it does fill a niche of the car-buying market.  Starting at 65K and due in showrooms soon, the GLE Coupe is worth a look. 

Reethi Rah – Luxury and Seclusion in the Maldives



In the mood for some seclusion, luxury and pampering of the tropical sort?  I recommend hoping a plane and heading to the Indian Ocean.  Specifically the Maldives and Reethi Rah, brought to you by the good folks at One&Only Resorts. 

128 private villas are spread over 6 km of beachfront property, each outfitted with the necessities for relaxation:  beach verandas, private pools, stone soaking baths…  the list goes on.  Should one need assistance, the Villa Valet and a dedicated Concierge are at your beck and call. 
Care to get a bit closer to the waters of the turquoise lagoon?  The resort has added 4 new water villas, each with their own 325 sq. ft. infinity pool.  Ahhh…  Feel the relaxation setting in?  The villas are 850 sq. ft. and also include overwater netting, reminiscent of giant hammocks.  How clever..!

Amenities include four restaurants as well as the Rah Bar and Beach Club.  There is even an onsite Chef’s garden to add to the gourmet vibe.  Activities including bicycling, volleyball, sailing, big game fishing, yacht charters, snorkeling and diving are available.  If you can think of it, the folks at Reethi Rah can likely make it happen. 
The overall vibe here is sleek and sophisticated, relaxed and secluded, and as the resort calls it, “island chic”.  Reethi Rah – highly recommended..!

7/11/15

The Gin Diaries pt1: Darnley’s View




Yes, it’s true…  The Connoisseur loves a good cocktail..!  With that in mind, I am beginning a series of reviews for all the gin lovers out there.  This following is part 1…

A relative newcomer on the scene, Darnley’s View is a small batch gin crafted by the Wemyss Malts folks in Edinburgh.  Per the website, the name comes from a day in 1565 in Scotland:  Mary Queen of Scots first spies her future husband, Lord Darnley through the courtyard window of Wemyss Castle, the historic family seat of renowned vintners and spirits merchants, the Wemyss family (pronounced 'weems').

As for the gin itself, it is classified as a London Dry gin.  Six botanicals are used in the making of Darnley’s View:  juniper, elderflower, lemon peel, coriander seed, angelica root and orris root.  This is a grain spirit gin and distilled four times.

The nose is balanced with notes of the lemon peel and coriander accompanying the juniper.  As for the taste, let me start by saying I am duly impressed.  The juniper makes itself known on the front palate – the initial impression.  This quickly blends with the lemon peel and other botanicals for a very smooth and balanced mid-palate and finish, with the angelica root leaving a bit of dryness on the tongue.  If you prefer a stronger juniper kick, this might not appeal to your taste, but for a gin with good balance and structure, I highly recommend Darnley’s View.  Well done..!