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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


Happy 500… and Counting!

500 can be a daunting number.

500 more miles to drive!  500 days until (insert anticipated event here).  And then there’s the old grade school classic “I will not throw spitballs in class” 500 times...!

Would you believe I never had to sharpen a pencil for that last one?     ;-)
What’s with all this 500 hundred crap-ola, you might ask?

Today I am marking a small milestone, and quite frankly just thought I would share and say thank you!
Several years ago, as a component of my Luxury Consulting business, I endeavored to add blogging to the portfolio.  A keystroke or million later, here I am at 500 articles.  Turns out it has been unexpectedly rewarding for me.  I have always enjoyed writing to a certain degree, despite the fact that with every blog post, I realize my 12th grade English teacher is surely writhing in agony in her grave.  Hey teach, don’t take it seriously.  These aren’t novels for crying out loud!

What I have begun to realize over time is that I really enjoy educating people.  Whether through the written word or conversation, my satisfaction is the same.  I believe that to be a big proponent to me getting into the consulting business in the first place. 
Do what you enjoy, right…?

So, without further ado and from the bottom of my heart…   To all of my family, friends, followers, clients, business associates and miscellaneous glitterati…   As of noon PST today, 112,586 of all ‘yall…
Thank you…!

I’ll see you at 1,000…

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


Scotch in New York - The Macallan NYC Experience

I have a feeling there are one or 80 of you folks that like Scotch.  How would you like to spend a weekend in the Big Apple savoring this wonderful beverage?
Hold on to your glass…!

The folks at Moray, Scotland-based The Macallan have teamed up with Gilt City to curate a blissful single-malted weekend.  This trip for two goes something like this…
An American Express gift card goes toward your airline tickets.  Private car service will take the two of you between the airport and the NoMad Hotel in the heart of Manhattan.  After check-in, you are wisked to Williamsburg for a visit to legendary tailor Martin Greenfield.  There the guest of honor is fitted for a custom suit with a custom blazer going to guest #2.  For the final fitting, a tailor from the firm will come to your home...!  And that fellow that is hanging out at the tailor shop chatting with you?  He will be a brand ambassador from The Macallan, providing a private tasting while you “shop”.

After said conclusion of suiting, you would surely be hungry.  Off you go to Zuma for a world-class omakase dinner, complete with pairings of The Macallan. 

The rest of the weekend includes two seats at a Yankees game and a visit to The Golf Club at Chelsea Piers.  You might say they are covering all the bases...
Starting to sound like the ultimate weekend?  Available dates are August 11-13 and August 25-27.  Retail value is reported to be 9K, but the trip can be yours for a tidy $4,999.00. 



Steve Jobs’ Floating Apple: The Venus Yacht

He never saw the finished product…

The late Steve Jobs, founder and creative lead of all things Apple, passed in 2011.  A year later, his floating palace was unveiled and put to sea. 
“Venus” they call her…

A collaborative effort between Jobs and famed designer Philippe Starck beginning in 2007, the 257-foot Venus was engineered by De Voogt Naval Architects and built by Feadship at their De Vries yard in Aalsmeer, The Netherlands. 
You may recall Starck having been involved in other striking yacht design from my blog on Andrey Melnichenko’s 390-foot behemoth.  With Venus, Starck and Jobs created a floating sculpture clearly in the Apple design idiom.  The yacht is all aluminum except for the stainless steel cutwater at the bow and the anchor pockets.  10 by 40-foot glass panels define the clean exterior, all surfaces appearing smooth and uncluttered by design.  Hatches, cleats, even the Jacuzzi are hidden beneath panels or sliding teak covers.

As for the interior, nobody outside of the inner circle wants to provide information.  Few pictures or details have ever been released.  I am guessing they never will…
Where is Venus now?

After a retrofit in late 2015 at Monaco Marine in La Ciotat, France, the yacht has emerged and is likely prowling Mediterranean waters.  Owned by Jobs’ widow, Laurene Powell Jobs, the yacht is not chartered, indicating Laurene and her closest family and friends are the sole occasional residents of this floating homage to Apple. 
Remember, apples do float…



Pass Labs pt.3 – The X250.8 Amplifier Review

I’m here to tell you, the Pass Labs X250.8 amplifier is…

I’ll finish that sentence later.  It’s my version of a teaser trailer.  But first, a little informational infill.  Backtracking, if you will… After all, this is “part three”.
In the first installment of my Pass Labs series, I introduced you to a fellow named Nelson Pass, the godfather of much in the amplifier world, including the 95-pound powerhouse residing in my stereo rig.  Part 2 was your introduction to the Pass Labs “Point 8” series of amplifiers. 

 In today’s part trois, let’s focus on the afore-mentioned X250.8 stereo amplifier.  With 250 watts into an 8-ohm speaker, double that rating into 4-ohms, this amp won’t drive your auntie to church, but it will drive nearly any speaker out there, and do so without raising a sonic eyebrow.  I won’t geek you out with slew rates and damping factors, but I will tell you that build quality is top shelf and the design has just enough subtle “audio jewelry” to delight the audiophile crowd.  Pride of ownership is part of the equation after all.  Try to avoid being impressed by the Furutech speaker cable binding posts on the rear panel or the hypnotizing blue glow of the bias meter on the front...!
While most of my critical listening is done seated in the “sweet spot” in front of the stereo, I also pay attention to what it is like living with audio gear, having music playing while reading, cooking or entertaining.  Summed up, all perspectives can be revelatory, including the reactions of other unwitting guest “reviewers”.  As an example, a longtime friend of mine, an accomplished and talented female jazz singer, commented on the “incredible intimacy between mic and voice” that the amp put forth.

Some other notes from my listening…    Let’s start with The Civil Wars from their EP Between the Bars.  Listen to their cover of M.J.’s Billie Jean and specifically John Paul White’s vocal work.  The detail of technique and emotion presented by the Pass Labs amp is spot on.  Now go to layered vocals such as the Fairfield Four or even backing vocals with multiple singers and everything is correctly represented as singular parts of a whole, as opposed to a mash-up of voices.  This excellent separation of singularities carries over into classical music, while listening to the various sections of an orchestra.  You don’t hear a blur of cellos, but the singular instruments working in concert.  (was that a pun?) 
Jazz anyone? 

How ‘bout some big band from Dave Holland’s Overtime album.  A lessor amp will present this combo of multiple saxophones, trumpets, trombones, a vibe/marimba and of course drums and Mr. Holland on bass as a slightly cacophonous mess when the whole band energetically riffs.  Not so with the Pass Labs.  Everything makes perfect sonic sense, from the scale and location of the instruments to the tonal colors and dynamics. 
Even hard rock/metal works with the X250.8.  Think of Maynard James Keenan’s offshoot band A Perfect Circle and the opening cut The Package from their Thirteenth Step CD, or some Nine Inch Nails or Disturbed’s latest.  The crunch of the guitars, power of the drums and drive of the bass are all present and accounted for in a palpable, real-life manner.  Trust me, I did that stuff (rock and roll bassist) for 12 years. 

As you are starting to realize, all genres of music flow correctly from the Pass Labs amp.  There is no bias toward intimate jazz or chamber music, as some audio gear is wont to do.  Craving a listen to J.T. or Mary J?  Go right ahead… It will rock your world! 
And now for today’s Q and A…

·         Can an amplifier be appropriately authoritative and refined at the same time?

·         Can an amplifier be catlike nimble and still contain a drop of honey when called for?

·         And can it achieve this without changing or “coloring” the intended sonic presentation?

The answer is an unequivocal YES…! 
Along with my home system, I have heard the Pass Labs .8 amplifiers in multiple systems with many different brands of speakers, cables, digital or analog sources and so on.  The result is always the same.  I am pulled into the music.  Are there other similarly priced amplifiers that will give it a run for the money?  Products from Constellation Audio, Simaudio, Hegel or Gryphon Audio come to mind, but do they have that certain something?

Hocus Pocus…
To my ears there is a little magic going on here.  I think what Nelson Pass and his team have done is to create an amplifier that viscerally connects you to the heart and soul of the musician(s) you are listening to.  Clever and inventive engineering combined with exhaustively thorough listening tests have done the trick.

…the Pass Labs 250.8 amplifier is…   amazing!

13395 New Airport Rd.
Ste. G
Auburn, CA  95602
(530) 878-5350

 Review system:
·         Logitech Squeezebox w/custom power supply
·         Parasound Zdac dac
·         Simaudio Moon P3 preamp
·         Meridian G57 amp
·         Dynaudio Contour S3.4 speakers
·         Richard Gray power
·         Cables from Transparent, Zu Audio and A.R.T. Audio
·         Dedicated 20-amp home circuit
·         All music in FLAC format

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


Negroni Week – Drink One for Charity…!

One of the old-guard classic cocktails, the Negroni, has been enjoying a resurgence as of late.  You will find a version residing on almost any comprehensive craft cocktail menu at your watering hole of choice.

Launched in 2013 by the clever marketing team at Campari along with Imbibe Magazine, Negroni Week celebrates the cocktail and raises money for various charities.  The 2016 edition runs from June 6th through the 12th.  The concept is simple: buy a Negroni and proceeds are donated to a charity selected by the folks behind the bar.  Last year alone, more than 3,500 establishments around the world raised over $320,000 for various charitable causes. 

Well done...!

So… what is the Negroni all about, anyway?

Like all classic cocktails, there is a story behind the beverage (truth or fiction can never truly be divined).  We travel in time back to Florence, Italy, in the year of our lord 1919.  A thirsty gent brandishing the title Count Camillo Negroni walks in to the Caffè Casoni and asks the bartender to replace the club soda in his Americano cocktail with gin.

A bright flash of light came down from the heavens, and the Negroni was born…!  (pardon my embellishment…)

Over the years, many variations on the theme have evolved, but I will stick with the original.  The construction of the Negroni is simple, with 3 ingredients in equal parts.
·         1 oz gin
·         1 oz Campari
·         1 oz sweet vermouth
·         Garnish with orange peel

Pour all ingredients except the garnish in a rocks glass with ice and stir.  My optional addition is 1 dash of orange bitters to crank up the citrus notes a notch.  Please use a good quality gin, to preserve your own well-being.



All-New Audi A5 and S5 Coupes Arrive..!

At its Ingolstadt, Germany headquarters, Audi took the wraps off the total redux of their A5 and S5 coupes. 

All of you nervous Audi Geeks can relax… 

Everything is as it should be.  In other words, not much has changed, despite the fact that this is a complete, ground-up reengineering of these coupes.  Is that a good thing?  Audi has recently taken to a safe, incremental style of design updates.  I gather they don’t want to upset the Audi faithful. 
While most automotive experts consider the previous gen A5 to have been the best designed of the class, it may have a difficult time holding on to that claim.  A quick glance at the official press pics reveal subtle changes; a sharpening here, a pinch there, an increase of overall grille size.  Is it enough to set it apart? 

Fortunately the interior has been successfully updated, following in the footsteps of the recent A4 update.  Design, fit and finish and well integrated tech complete what will likely be the best interior among rivals. 
There are definite engineering improvements under the skin.  The powertrains will be updated, again reflecting the motors in the new A4, with increases in power and miles per gallon.  The A5 gets 4 cylinders and the S5 adds two more, along with the power bump.  Overall vehicle weight will be down, assisting in better handling and that mpg thing.  Even the aerodynamics have been improved.

For the sporting amongst you, word is that a high-zoot RS5 is definitely coming to our shores.  Expect upwards of 450 horsepower and more aggressive bodywork.  My guess is we will see this beast a year after the base cars come to market.
Speaking of which, Audi has released no official timetable for the 5-twins’ arrival to our shores.  My guess is early next year, after a fall release in Europe.  Pricing has also not been released, so take a look at the current levels and add a couple grand for good measure.  That should get you in the ballpark. 

A final “3D” in person viewing will be the final determinant, but it looks like Audi will have another stylish but reserved looker on its hands.  Nicely done…


Cabot’s Pistol is Out of This World… Literally!

So, here is this 77-pound hunk of Gibeon meteorite from Namibia.  What exactly is one to do with this prehistoric brick of iron-nickel alloy from the outer reaches of the universe?

Pistols, anyone…?

Cabot Guns, a custom gunmaker based in Sarver, Pennsylvania, decided that was exactly the case and brainstormed a pair of 1911-style, caliber .45 pistols. 
Really?  And what the heck is a 1911…?

If you are guessing the year had something to do with it, you would be correct.  In March of 1911 the U.S. Army officially adopted this sidearm as standard issue.  The design, a single-action, semi-automatic, magazine fed pistol with the .45 cartridge, served as standard issue for the military in various incarnations until 1986. 

So back to the space rock…  The folks at Cabot literally forged a pair of the 1911s from the extraterrestrial ore.  “From a space-rock, we crafted a complex and precise mechanism. We unlocked the ancient secrets of a lifeless hunk of iron-nickel alloy, formed it and gave it breath with which to speak, showcasing an other-worldly creation to the world. Billions of years through time and space are perfected now into an ultimate achievement of American design, willpower, and can-do spirit.”
The resulting pistols are stunning in both look and manufacturing artistry, let alone the jaw-dropping fact that they are from space.  Test fired and prepped for sale, Cabot is currently listing this one of a kind set at a cool 4.5 million…!

If you happen to be both a gun collector and space enthusiast, this is just the ticket.  You can kill two birds with one… meteorite!
Truly out of this world…!