Perfect Sound Forever at Pitch Perfect Audio, San Francisco

Posted on by Mike Quinn

My family and I recently had the good fortune to spend part of an afternoon at San Francisco’s quasi-sub-rosa audio salon, Pitch Perfect Audio (www.pitchperfectaudio.com). To reveal that we all left host and owner Matt Rotunda’s sonic womb with our jaws well-dropped, and our ears in near-orgasm would be understating the experience. Piling a few additional adjectives on top of this description would get us a little closer: revealing, dazzling, satisfying, sensuous, musical and captivating.

Pitch Perfect Audio, San Francisco Photo ©Matt Rotunda

There. Are you getting the gist?

Matt’s operation is a far cry from the average audio store, or even the above-average audio store. His selection of gear is focused and purposeful. Unlike most high-performance audio dealers who half-heartedly mouth the claim that they are “just about the music”, Matt’s place just IS about the music. No bells. No whistles. Few CDs (we didn’t actually see ANY!). Fewer remotes. Instead, you find gear designed to convey the essence of music without getting in the way of its emotion or its goose-bump-inducing immediacy.

The prevailing design philosophy of Matt’s equipment offerings seems to be “simpler is better”. In evidence, then, are modern interpretations of old, classic technology: minimalistic tube circuitry, single-driver loudspeakers (in reality, mostly multi-driver systems that approach the coherency of singles), vintage design turntables. Yeah, there’s a bit more than that, but Matt has established his (growing) business and (fine) reputation concentrating on brands which adhere to these “purist” ideas: Shindo Laboratory, Auditorium 23, DeVore Fidelity, Leben, Line Magnetic, EMT Cartridges and Arms, Well Tempered Lab and a small handful of others comprise Pitch Perfect’s lineup.

(Note: I’m a Shindo/DeVore/EMT/A23 owner and fan, so I’m predisposed to drooling over Matt’s inventory.)

On our too-brief visit, we primarily listened to the Shindo Latour Field Coil Loudspeakers powered by Shindo’s Masseto preamp and modestly priced Cortese amplifier, fed music by Shindo’s amazing 301 turntable system. We were all in hog heaven.

Pat Metheney "80/81"

Pat Metheney’s powerful 80/81 LP featuring Dewey Redman, Jack DeJohnette, Michael Brecker and Charlie Haden alongside Pat’s nimble, airy guitar sounded astonishingly real, better than I’ve ever heard it before. I could say that it seemed as though these masterful musicians were in the room, but that would be a cliché, and maybe a bit silly, unbelievable. So I won’t write it that way, even if it may have been true, which is was. But, the music was palpable, involving, and packed with feeling and detail. Why did that have to end?

So we progressed through a few more LPs and, at Cynthia’s request, ended up parking on The Beatles’ Abbey Road. Now, we’ve all heard this record a thousand times, know every single note inside and out. However, again, we collectively gasped in awe of how different “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” sounded through this Shindo system. The often-MIA McCartney bass was in full bloom, though absolutely NOT boomy, Lennon’s blood-curdling vocal was blood curdling and piercing, his guitar equally so. So much definition and clarity made even Ringo’s drums sound as we wish they always should have: woody, deep and with plenty of slamming attack on the heads and rich ping and deep swoosh on the cymbals. Again, none of us had ever heard this record sound as good, allowing as it did, some better perspective on the genius of this groundbreaking quartet.

(Ken Shindo, I love you and hate you. I love the result you achieve through your thoughtful, always musical designs. I hate you because I can’t afford more of your thoughtful, always musical designs!)

Many of the lines Matt offers are exclusive to Pitch Perfect on the West Coast. So let me recommend to music lovers in need of a new system or component who live west of DeVal’s Bluff, Arkansas, to consider a visit to San Francisco and Pitch Perfect. You will not regret it, particularly if you leave with a new amp or loudspeaker (figuratively) under your arm. I promise YOUR music will never sound the same or as good. But be advised that Matt and Pitch Perfect are available by appointment only, so give him plenty of advance notice of your visit, it will be worth the effort.

Matt, I love YOU and hate YOU for the reasons stated above in regards to Shindo. But thanks so much for the spectacular afternoon, and the soul-enriching listening. We’ll be back soon!

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