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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


Airlander 10 – The World’s Largest Flying Thing

Surely you are familiar with the Airbus A380, the double-decker jumbo jet that is quite simply… enormous!  Add 62 feet to that monstrosity and what do you have…?

The Airlander 10

It’s not a bird.  It’s not a plane. It’s a…  It’s a…
The folks at aerospace firm Hybrid Air Vehicles (HAV) in Bedford, England claim it is indeed a “hybrid” flying vehicle.  Roughly 40% of the lift to keep this monster aloft is provided by the winglets on the Airlander 10, with the remainder from the more obvious helium in the hull enclosures. 

Performance is decidedly un-airline, with a maximum velocity of just over 90 mph.  The flipside is the ability to fly for 5 days, or hover unmanned for weeks at a time.  It can even land on pretty much any surface including water and ice. 
HAV projects the Airlander 10 for cargo transport, luxury transportation, search and survey tasks… the possibilities are only limited by one’s imagination.  Not only are various military entities interested, the British military is the primary investor.  Other financial backers are involved as well, including one Bruce Dickenson, lead singer of Iron Maiden.

This thing must rock!

There is even a big brother on the way:  the Airlander 50.  Expected after 2020, the 50 is specifically engineered for the cargo and heavy lift market.  Guinness will likely certify it as the world’s largest flying airship, replacing the 10 for top honors in sheer size.
Look..!  Up in the sky…  It’s an Airlander..!


Bugatti Chiron – Raising the Benchmark

When Ettore Bugatti founded his eponymous automobile company in 1909, he may not have seen this coming.  Yet his work creating high-performing, high-style cars laid the foundation for what we have here today. 

Move over Veyron…!

Let me take you back a few years, specifically 2005 and the introduction of the Bugatti Veyron.  Designed to be the ultimate production car, the Veyron came with a 16-cylinder engine mounted behind the driver, futuristic superhero styling, and a top speed well above 200 mph. 
Over the years, several manufacturers began producing supercars with performance nipping at the Veyron’s ultra-swift heels.  As expected, Bugatti decided to raise the bar a notch. 

Faster, more powerful, and truly spectacular in every sense of the word, the Chiron has arrived…!
Rolling in with an 8.0-liter 16-cylinder engine producing 1,500 horsepower and 1,165 lb-ft of torque, there is nothing subtle here.  This car is meant to get you there NOW…!  Bugatti is quoting 0 – 60 mph in 2.4 seconds and 186 mph in under 15 ticks.  Top speed is computer limited to a face-melting 261 mph.

It will go faster…
The exterior carries forward some design queues from the Veyron, but includes several changes which ramp up the road presence even further.  All body panels are carbon fiber, and aerodynamics were of utmost importance sculpting the final form.  Wider and lower than the Veyron, the look is purposeful, exotic and stunning in the Bugatti way…!  Myriad exterior and interior color combinations are available, so you can be as gaudy or tasteful as you’d like, provided you pay the expected 2.6 million duckets.

That price is not a typo…
Bugatti’s current company line is that production will end at 500 copies, so exclusivity is guaranteed. 

Sell your Veyron now and place your order for the Chiron, the new benchmark…  The new ultimate…  The world’s best car…!


Mercedes Mainstay Redux – The 2017 E-Class

A, B, C, D, E…   The letter E in Mercedes-Benz speak stands for “bread and butter”.

Or is it “meat and potatoes”...?
Culinary references aside, the E-Class is the centerpiece of the German marque’s lineup.  This has historically been their most identifiable and top-selling model.  When Mercedes revamps the E-Class, they need to get it “just right”.  Sort of that Goldilocks principle.  Otherwise, all hell may break loose in the halls of the Mercedes’ Stuttgart HQ.  They’re a proud bunch, those German engineers.

And here we are now at the W213, factory production code for the 10th generation of the E-Class.  (Today’s trivia: the “E-Class” moniker was not applied until gen six in 1993.)  Due in showrooms this summer, early press information has been released and previews are under way. 
So, what does the Connoisseur think…?

In all honesty, if you bought an E-Class this past year, you are going to kick yourself for not waiting!  The redesigned interior is THAT good.  The recently remodeled C-Class took a giant leap for interior design in the entry-level luxury sedan class, and the E has followed suit and gone another wrung up the luxury ladder.  With several different design options available, this will be one fine place to wile away the hours when blasting down the interstate, or more likely, stuck in stop-and-go traffic on the drive home from work. 
As for the exterior, Mercedes-Benz has now completed a one-design-fits-all remake of their C, E and S-Class sedans.  From a distance the casual observer would be pressed to tell a difference between the three.  Luckily for Mercedes, the form works well on all three sizes, as lines and proportions were well thought out.  None are stunning, but they look like a Mercedes, with just enough freshness thrown in to keep the style arrow pointing upward.

And now, a few quick tech notes for the car geeks out there…
The E300 will get a 2.0 liter turbocharged 4-cylinder motor attached to a nine-speed G-Tonic transmission.  An E450 model will bring a turbo 6-cylinder motor under hood, and surely a hotrod AMG E63 will have a stonking V8 with something in the neighborhood of 600 horsepower.  All manner of suspension control systems, automated driving and safety aids and interior tech will be along for the ride.  You even get an ambient interior lighting system with 64 different available colors.  By the time you figure out which one you want, it till be time for a new Benz…!

Driving the new E-Class will still provide that famous Mercedes solidity, but don’t be surprised if the overall experience feels a smidge lighter and nimbler.  Credit weight reduction, improved aerodynamics and more granular chassis tuning for these sensations. 
So there you have it, the new Stuttgart “meat and potatoes”, due at a grocery… er… showroom near you this summer.  Pricing will start in the mid-50s…


Pass Labs pt1 – Who is Nelson Pass?

A universal truth:  Everyone loves music in some form.  For those of us that have enjoyed their favorite tunes on a home hi-fi system, I ask you to say a brief thank you to Nelson.


Let me introduce you to Nelson Pass, one of the pillars of the hi-fi music world.  Just how did this humble and unpretentious man acquire monolithic status?   A 41-year legacy of innovative brilliance in the world of amplifier design and several patents will do the trick. 
Let’s go back in time a minute…

Armed with a Physics degree from UC-Davis and experience gained working in the audio field, Nelson began work on his first amplifier designs in 1974.  A year later this work begat his first commercially released amplifier, the 800A under the Threshold Electronics label.  Further creations for Threshold were the CAS-1 and CAS-2, followed by the Stasis 1 amplifier, considered a landmark in amplifier design.
Nelson departed Threshold in 1991 and founded Pass Labs, which this year celebrates a 25th anniversary.  (Threshold Electronics was sold in 1987.)  The first products were the ALEPH series of amplifiers, which garnered further critical acclaim for Nelson.  Currently producing amplifiers, preamplifiers, phono stages and a headphone amplifier, Pass Labs continues a steady march of product refinement and innovation, all with the stated goal of keeping listeners “emotionally involved in the music”. 

Over the years Nelson has been guided by a couple of principals which I believe greatly contributed to his success.  The first is his philosophy of simplicity, stating “the goal is to explore the possibilities of simple designs with regards to sound quality”.  Bookended with this mindset is Pass’ belief that listening tests and evaluations are of utmost value, refusing to rely solely on instrumented testing and measurements. 
To this day the man remains as passionate and inquisitive as ever.  Along with Pass Labs, Nelson runs First Watt and is essentially the sole employee, as he hand-builds small quantities of low power amplifiers, allowing him to explore new avenues of design.  He is also a proponent of the DIY audio world, interacting with many of the build-it yourself hobbyists.

Thank you Nelson Pass…   You’ve made the ears of a great number of music lovers very happy!
Next up, I’ll take a look at the Pass Labs current product line and production facility.  Stay tuned…