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Uptown Conversation: Talking Speakers with the Legendary Ron Carter

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Last year, bass legend Ron Carter admitted in this column to having become a new convert to audiophilia. He had just purchased a new pair of speakers that allowed him to hear his own playing as never before. Recently, the night after celebrating his 70th birthday in a gala concert at Carnegie Hall, Carter invited me over to his NYC apartment to hear his newly updated system, including an entirely new pair of speakers, the Tetra 606s ($33,333; I thought it would make a great opportunity to hear how a musician, respected as much for his hearing as for his playing, might listen to his own work via a new tool such as these Tetras. His remarks were telling.

The system was set up in his bright, spacious living room punctuated by tasteful artwork. Carter positioned me in the “sweet spot,” front and center, in a comfortable chair, sat himself on a nearby sofa, and began to play disc after disc, about half of which featured himself on bass. The sound, needless to say, was spectacular. “This will be my last upgrade I hope. It’s measurably better than the last one,” said Carter. He pushed the play button and we listened to Stanley Turrentine’s “Let it Go” featuring Carter on bass and Shirley Scott on organ. “It’s a totally natural balance,” Carter pointed out. “Her organ is there, more present than on other stereos. It’s not louder; there’s just more of it. And listen to that hi-hat-it’s more crisp. Sometimes on other systems, it just isn’t there at all.”

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