CLOSER TO BEAUVECHAIN
This year is already third in a row that I visited Beauvechain, a little village located thirty kilometers from Brussels Ring. And if it is the third time there is something to it. I mean not only the shared interest in the Lenco turntables – since it is LencoHeaven forum members meeting. There are several factors making people want to come back to this place. But let’s start from the beginning.
Lencoheaven is a Internet forum gathering fans of classic idler drive Lenco turntables.
Lenco L 75
PTP SolidThis kind of turntable drive in a few words is a drive where a turntable p
latter is moved by a wheel touching the platter as opposed to the more common belt drive or direct drive where a platter spindle is an extension of a motor axe.
Back in old days idler drive was one of the most common type used in broadcast turntables. Lenco L 75 (original on the picture on the left) had its golden years in sixties and seventies of last century. It was manufactured by Swiss company Lenco AG. Thanks to the production on more massive scale Lenco was selling at the lower price than reigning in the upper range British Garrard or, also Swiss, Thorens. Thanks to the simplicity and what is more important ingenuity of construction it became an object of desire in analogue audio circles. Especially because after a few improvements it can become a fabulous turntable full of dynamics and if properly matched with a right tonearm and cartridge it can compete sonically with very expensive and esoteric turntables of current production. That’s why a crowd of fans all over the world and that’s why Lencoheaven.net.
It should be noted here that the current Lencomania has begun well over ten years ago with a thread started on American audiogon forum by Jean Nantais.
The farm in Beauvechain, where we meet usually in May, is an exceptional place and possibly it is one of the reasons the meetings have so good reception and don’t lose its dynamics year after year, in fact the opposite happens. It is not a typical audio show location but boutique estate inhabited by Marc Antoine – the artist.
It can be seen in every corner. Each space is furnished with an uncommon taste. There is plenty of refined eclecticism. A furniture and bibelots of different periods as well as works and installations made by the host. And with the years quite a collection has grown up. Adjacent to a street the farm is located on the rectangular plan. From the street a large old wooden gate with iron bolts opens to the inner court where the old stone paved pathway blends with green. When we arrived for the first time it was late in the night and we entered the estate by the other entrance. The next morning when I saw the court in the sunlight I cried out to myself “I want to live here!”.
Beauvechain is a village, but one has to keep in mind that it is just thirty kilometers from Brussels, which means the area is rather wealthy and refined.
The central point of the farm is the barn… but if there is a beautiful sunny weather outside the inner court is beyond competition. In the end the sounds of music reach the greens throughout the big green door, that can be seen on the picture above!
In the barn as in the barn, there is plenty of space and… audio items of different kind. There are guest rooms and bathrooms in the attic. Everything is arranged and furnished to the last detail. By the entrance in the corner on the small podium a big round table made probably of mill wheel occupies a central place and on the adjacent wall two famous pictures of Sie kommen cycle (Dressed) and (Naked) by Helmuth Newton attract attention right away. In big size they are even more impressive. The pictures, that the host kindly permitted to post on my blog transmit only a fraction of this place ambience. The garden surrounding the property has its own secrets, but to discover them it is better to come here.
People meeting in this scenery are not accidental I guess. They are put together not only by a phonostage interconnect. The spiritus movens of the whole
event, its central force is Jean, friend like a brother of Marc Antoine. A doctor lost in music and great vintage audio gear aficionado. Naturally a Lencoheaven member, who has on his account one of the most successful and elegant Lenco restoration – The Yoda.
Each year Jean with his family and friends keeps organizing these meetings. And people keep coming. Those interested in sound and its reproduction, obviously mainly from vinyl. Record collectors, some of them very knowledgeable, one would say a walking jazz encyclopedia. There are experts on legendary speakers constructions especially horns, with diy replicas projects on their accounts that are extremely unique even on the global scale. Among participants also there are tonearms experts and even manufacturers like Frank Shroeder and Thomas Schick. Finally arrive those who are starting their vinyl adventure or are returning to it after years. And there is François – of course – l’enfant terrible de Lencoheaven, but about this maybe some other time (Salut Francois!) – in any case without him it would not be the same. Ladies, yes they are visiting Beauvechain too accompanying their men, and there’s more, they want to come back again. The point is that Beauvechain has its climat. People arrive here from different countries and even continents. It is a great opportunity to talk about almost everything starting by music, through arts, customs, wine and cooking. Yes the audio gear, records, pressings differences etc. are also the topics of conversations together with anything that is used to playback vinyls.
The gear[one_half]Since we talk about gear it started with Lenco, but this is only a beginning. In fact it is a place where one can see and listen to the idler dive turntables with a cult status like Garrard 301 or 401, Thorens TD 124, Commonwealth, Pierre Clément or unique EMT 927 in double console.
The last one is a big restoration project of two EMT decks that Jean has undertaken few years ago right after finishing Lenco Yoda – on the picture below together with the Nagra tape recorder. Now during the meetings we can treat ourselves with music served from this console. A lot of effort was put into this project by many experts, in order to make it work and shine again. For those who are interested the whole story is here. Beauvechain is alive by the dynamics of the organizing team, but also by friends of this place as I would describe it. Therefore each year some new interesting things emerge both technical and musical. Another turntable, another tonearm. A box of exquisite chocolates, pardon, phono cartridges. This is an opportunity to listen to the very “exotic” and sometimes extremely expensive diamonds of current production or vintage and difficult to obtain. For example this year François played a ZYX cartridge which sounded as good as it looked and the barn speakers system with Sato horns treated us with the relaxing sound envelope created by Nils Frahm on his keybords.
Music is the keystone. I think that after each meeting everyone brings back home something. A piece of music be it on the vinyl bought during occasional trip to record shops, sounds listened to, artists or songs carefully written down in order to look for them after returning home. And if it will be a trip to the past, which we rediscover or we discover as new because earlier we had no opportunity, we were too young to appreciate or we weren’t born yet. There is still so much music to discover.
Neatly composed, perfectly performed and recorded with the attention to the slightest detail. It may be also discovering of modern music, which is flooding us and there is no time and strength to get through what’s interesting. That’s why I appreciate, and not only me I suppose, the opportunity to spot something new and worthy. May it be sometimes a few titles or even one but which make a lasting impression and takes place in the record collection.
Nils Frahm 2
To make it even more attracting, this year we had an opportunity to listen in the barn to the life performance.
Unplugged only voice and guitar. On the picture a promising vocalist Kiù Jérôme.
Food not only for soul
Another small/big thing that makes the place a kind of magnet. Each year Gilbert – the cook, takes care of our palate and makes sure we take back with us a tasty memories. And those delicious turntable cakes …Tort
It is a quintessence of Beauvechain. A blend of wonderful hospitality, sometimes a touch of madness, excellent music and omnipresent taste of art. Finally an
openness of the people who meet there. The shared experience is a paramount of this international social mixture which feels so good at the farm and keep coming each year travelling sometimes very long distances in order to dip dive in this ambiance for a few days.We will be back…