Just a quick blog to say that if you love headphone listening as I do then I can highly recommend the new dCS Lina Headphone system partnered with the new revised 2022 Focal Utopia headphones which we now have on permanent demo, yes it is at the higher end of the headphone market but I can honestly say that if you do want the best you can get then this real really takes some beating.
I have always said that even though I am a Stax user myself that the Utopia's really are the best all rounder out there, although I must say that the new Audeze LCD-5's have got very close but Focal have done a brilliant job with the 2022 Utopia's, now there wasn't really anything wrong with the original Utopia's but Focal have made a few improvements to the new version which has refined the top end a tad but without any loss of detail and there is a bit more power at the bottom end with more resolution in the bass, the originals were brilliant and this evolution has just taken them to another level.
We really are spoilt at the moment as I have been using the dCS Lina system to feed our Stax T8000 with the incredible SR-X9000's Earspeakers and also the new Utopia's and although they are so different both Stax and Focal have moved the game on and with Lina behind them you know you are getting the very best performance from the headphones.
Even though this is very high end headphone listening, and I know everything is relative and this is way beyond most people's budget it does show why headphones are such great value as even though this system is knocking on £30,000+ it is arguably the best sound you are ever going to hear, admittedly you don't get the soundstage of a big speaker system but for overall sound quality, purity and insight either of the Stax of Focal combo's really are a treat for your ears, you have no room issues to worry about, just enjoy your favourite music possibly the best you have ever heard it, if that appeals feel free to come in to give it a listen.
More intimate headphone demo room.
In other news, what with iLounge Racing taking over the space where our headphones used to live I just wanted to say that we still have a dedicated headphone space but we have moved it to a smaller, more intimate space, I actually prefer it, we still have a big selection of all the best headphones on the planet so for all of your headphones needs you can still spend a few hours sitting back, comparing and enjoying the best the market has to offer, whether open or closed back, and know that whatever you decide you've tried the best and have made an informed decision and be happy with your choice.
dCS Lina Open Day
Finally I just wanted to say that we are just putting the final touches to our dCS Lina Open day which will be at some point in December so please watch this space.
All the best,
Hope all is well, I’m happy to announce that we are planning on 2 more open days in 2022, the first is an event in collaboration with Chord Electronics to showcase their Ultima range of Preamps and Power amplifiers on September 24th.
Since the launch of the Ultima range it has proved very popular with our customers but due to the last 2-3 years issues we never got the chance to do an open day around it so really happy to be able to that shortly, it is actually good timing as Chord have just released their more affordable Ultima Pre 3 preamplifier which is the perfect partner for their Ultima 5 and 6 power amps.
We will have 3 rooms running on the day, we will be starting with a smaller system in our upstairs demo room using the Etude as the heart of the system which is based on Ultima Tech, then we’ll have the new Ultima Pre 3 running with an Ultima 6 power amp with a Hugo TT2 and M Scaler then for the big system we will have the Ultima Pre 2 preamp with the Ultima 2 Monoblocks with a Dave DAC with M Scaler on our reference Wilson Audio Alexx V speakers, looking forward getting this final system hooked up as the Ultima 2’s really are amazing amps so this system should really sing.
We will have Chord representatives here on the day to help run the day and answer any questions you may have.
Special offers on the day!
For one day only if you purchase any Chord Products then Chord will be giving very special offers on all their products so certainly an opportunity there if you are looking at any of the Chord range at the moment, please enquire if you’d like to know more.
If you fancy coming along to experience any of these setups please could you just send me a quick mail to the below address, thanks -
We will have refreshments available throughout the day, if the weather is good hopefully we can squeeze one more BBQ in, so look forward to seeing everyone on September 24th, the day will run from 9.30am to 5pm, please find a link to Chord on our website below -
November 5th - time for cake.
This is just a heads up regarding our last open day of 2022 and it is a big one, our 10th Anniversary birthday party, where did that decade go, anyway plans are afoot to make this a fun day, more info to come soon but be great if you can join us as it has been our amazing customers that have made the last 10 years so much fun.
All the best,
Just a quickie to say that if you are going to the UK HiFi Show this weekend at Ascot please come and say hi, you'll find me in the PMC Speakers room where I will be helping them run the room and telling anyone who will listen how great their speakers are, although I'm sure everyone already knows this 😉
PMC Will be running the below so knowing the first system particularly well I am sure it will sound amazing so well worth a day out -
Bryston BR20 Streaming Preamp
Bryston 7B Mono Blocks
PMC Fenestria Speakers
AVM 8.3 Black Edition All In One
MartinLogan 15A Speakers
Full twenty5i series speakers
Martin Logan ESL X speakers
Martin Logan Motion 15i speakers
Martin Logan Motion 20i speakers
You can find more info below -
Hope to see you there,
This is just a quick one to say that we now have the the dCS Vivaldi One Apex on demo and installed in our Reference system, for those who don't know the Vivaldi One Apex is what I, and many others, consider to be the best digital one box source in the world today, it is certainly sounding amazing in our demo system.
There are only 50 of these available in the world, most are now sold I am being told by dCS, so if you would like to come in for a listen please feel free, we have managed to secure one more for stock but once that is gone there will be no more Vivaldi One's I am informed by dCS.
Please find an overview below and a few pictures -
Latest generation dCS Digital Processing Platform delivers state-of- the-art measured performance
dCS Apex Ring DAC™ with double speed Ring DAC 2.0 mapper – as used in flagship Vivaldi DAC
High-quality streaming from TIDAL, Qobuz, Deezer and internet radio via the dCS Mosaic Control app
Roon Ready, AirPlay, Spotify Connect and UPnP compatible
USB, AES, Dual AES and S/PDIF digital audio inputs
Integral TEAC Esoteric VMK3 VRDS-Neo CD/SACD mechanism
Multi-stage DXD oversampling with optional DSD/64 or DSD/128 upsampling
User-selectable DSP and DSD filters
Flexible output configuration can be used with and without pre amplifier
Comprehensive auto-clocking architecture improves ease of use and minimises jitter
Multi-stage power regulation and twin mains transformers isolate sensitive analogue and clock circuits from digital circuitry
Separate power supplies for digital and analogue sections further enhance power supply cleanness
Firmware upgradeable over the internet for future functionality and performance improvements
Features a full MQA™ decoder. This MQA™ implementation is unique, as it is the first opportunity to enable a DAC which, by providing exact rendering to beyond 16x (768 kHz), matches the desired temporal response with very low modulation noise
Aerospace grade machined aluminium chassis fitted with tuned acoustic damping panels reduces magnetic effects and vibration
More Information -
When we decided to open a dedicated motorsport simulator showroom it wasn't intended to be a Gulf themed room but it certainly ended up that way but to be honest what Livery is more iconic than the Gulf one.
So as cool as it was having my race Radical SR1 in the showroom it didn't really fit the theme so I came across something online a few months ago that would fit in perfectly so the order was placed and it now sits proudly in the iLounge showroom to finish things off nicely.
For me the late 60's/early 70's were a real golden era, especially in sportscar racing, with my 2 favourite cars of all time racing then, the Ford GT40 and Porsche 917, so anyone who visits the iLounge showroom will see the inspiration behind the theme, especially now that we've added the cool 917 from Half Scale Cars, it is basically a 70% scale model of one of the most striking looking and successful cars of all time, it even has an engine and can be driven, please find a link to their site and if you would like any info just let me know and I can put you in touch with the guys there -
Anyway I just wanted to show a few pics of the fun and games of getting the Radical out and the 917 in, there is one last job to do, the 917 sits very low so we are having a plinth made for it to sit on to just raise it a touch.
As an update on how iLounge is going, we have sold a few systems now and we also have Jonathan helping run it so onwards and upwards, will be amending the site soon with some bundle prices + new products + we will finally be holding a launch / open day early in 2023 👍
Time Lapse Video -
We also put this short video together of the fun and games.
I've said it many times but speakers have always been my favourite part of the HIFi chain, the main reason being that they can make the biggest single change to the overall presentation of a system and I love all the different designs of speakers, from a traditional box to Panels to horns and all the different variations within each of those categories, well today I am pleased to say that we have the German Physiks HRS-130 speakers on demo along with their monster Emperor Extreme integrated amplifier for a limited time whilst we assess their performance.
As you can see these are a very different design again being an omnidirectional speaker, meaning that the HRS-130 presents a three-dimensional stereo image as the audio radiates 360 degrees to give a room filling sound unlike most other speakers on the market.
They are known for their DDD driver which sits on the top, it is a very advanced design made from carbon fiber with a really wide operating range of over 7 octaves so there is no crossover in the midrange like a lot of speakers, this radiates the sound 360 degrees to give a very lifelike and concert hall feel, the DDD is matched with a 10 inch bass driver which integrate seamlessly to give a really full and natural sound.
I listened to an earlier version of these here a few years ago and was really impressed so when German Physiks asked if I would like to hear the new and improved version I jumped at the chance, I had some free time Saturday afternoon so sat down to re-acquaint myself with the Omnidirectional sound as it is quite different to a more conventional speaker and does take a little adjusting.
2 things I want to mention first is that they have a very small footprint which makes them easier than some to accommodate, secondly being that they fire the sound 360 degrees you don't have to worry about getting the toe in just right and thirdly there is no sweet spot that you need to tune your listening position to as they are literally filling the room with sound, they are without a doubt one of the easiest speakers to setup, very unfussy.
How do they sound? well what first impressed me was that in our highend room we really struggle with width to the soundstage, I put this down to the rooms being pretty narrow, but with the HRS-130 the sound really did go beyond the walls plus there was real depth to the image where you could place everything that was going on within the demo tracks I was playing and although I hate saying this, I'm sure I heard things in Massive Attacks 'Teardrop' that I'd never heard before, which is saying something as I have played that on everything over the years, maybe it was just the way that the music was presented so differently to the norm.
Also the balance is excellent between the treble, mid and bass, it is just a big overall sound that is captivating which you can get lost in, vocals really are sublime, what is most impressive to me is the size and scale of the sound for such a small speaker that most people can accommodate, The HRS-130 is German Physiks most popular speaker I believe and at £19,500 a pair I can see why but if you have a bigger room and bank balance German Physiks do their Emperor MK11's at £239,00, but there are many levels in between.
I should give a quick mention to the German Physiks Emperor Extreme Integrated Amplifier that we are using to drive the speakers, it really is a solid and beautifully built amp that sounds brilliant with the HRS-130's as you'd expect, I look forward to trying some of our other amps on them though, I have a feeling that our Accuphase amps will really sing on them.
So yes I am very, very impressed, I will have them here for a little longer so if you'd like to come in for a listen please feel free, I have to say that I think they will become a permanent feature in our showrooms soon though.
Please find a link to the HRS-130's on German Physiks website for more info on the technical stuff and some pictures below.
Busy day yesterday getting ready for tomorrow’s REL Acoustics Open Day today but we are all set, been pretty much 3 years since our last open day so can’t wait to welcome everyone back, we’ve got 4 very different rooms setup showing the benefits of adding a REL + the sun is going to be out and the BBQ going, what could be better 🤙
Really looking forward to this Saturday's REL open day although it is looking like it may be a bit of a hot day so using the downstairs demo rooms with all the glass could get a little warm in the afternoon once the sun comes over, it does meant that we will have the BBQ running though so be nice to use the gardens and enjoy the weather.
This is just a quick one to say that REL are going to offer a 10% discount for any of their subs that are bought on the day so if you are thinking of adding a sub to your system then there is certainly a great opportunity here to save a few quid.
The plan is still to run a modest system in our upstairs room, then in our first downstairs room we will run either a S/510 or S/812 with something a little higher end then with our Wilson Alexx V's we will be running a stereo pair of Carbon Specials which I have no doubt will sound amazing.
Thanks to everyone who has registered so far, looks like it is going to be a busy day, if you'd like to come and haven't registered it isn't too late, just fire a quick mail over to me at the below address, ta -
Well is has certainly taken some time to arrive since being announced but I am really pleased to say that the new Audio Research I/50 Integrated Valve Amplifier is now with us and it has certainly been the wait.
I won't go on for too long but firstly I really can't think of a better spend of the £5198 asking price for this amp in HiFi today, it's not very often you put the words 'ARC' and 'good value for money' in the same sentence but this really is, firstly it is all hand assembled and tested at Audio Research in Minnesota to the same exacting standards as their other products, including their Reference range, the look and build quality is stunning, the sound is pure ARC so open, big, organic, full and very natural, and I love 2 pillars at the front that count down from 49 at boot up as the valves warm up then they become the volume control and input select indicators, very cool, It is also available in 6 different colours and can be specced with a phono stage and DAC if required.
I guess it is pretty obvious that ARC are going after the PrimaLuna EVO400 with this amp but the great news is that we have both here so if you are in the market for a new amp feel free to get in touch to come in to compare, please find a few pics below of the I/50 in place as my new office system amp, works really well with the Wilson Audio TuneTots and HiFi Rose RS150 streamer, really not sure how I am going to get any work done.
All the best,
Unbelievably we are now 10 years old, how did that happen, what an amazing 10 years it has been though and I just want to say a huge thanks to everyone for their support over that time, watch this space for our 10th Anniversary party plans coming soon.
Over that 10 years it started with me on my own as we got HFL off the ground, then Wendy joined a couple of years later as the business grew, then Ady joined 3 years ago and now it is time for the next chapter as we welcome Billy to our closely knit team here at HFL.
I would say over the 10 years the hardest part is finding the right people to work with and to represent HFL, for me one of the most important asset is finding someone who is really personable and easy to get on with, it really isn't looking for a salesperson as we don't really sell at HFL but more like advise so customers can make the right decision for them, but the most important attribute has to be a love for music firstly and HiFi a close second and in Billy I really believe we have found the right person to wave the HFL flag and help all our customers.
A bit of background on Billy, I actually met him when he came in to buy some headphones for his composing and we go on straight away, he is a guitar teacher, composer and played guitar in band called 'New Street Adventure' you can check them out on the streaming services. An important part of working here is to be able to chat about music, that is the main avenue for conversation in here and Billy really does know his music so I have no doubt he will fit straight it. He has a bit to learn about all the kit but he is like a sponge at the moment and super keen to learn so I know he will pick it all up very quickly, I mean how hard can it be.
The plan is for Billy to write a weekly Music blog discussing new and favourite albums and will also be keen for any recommendations for him to check out and customer participation, we'll put this up on the website and social channels.
Anyway I'll shut up and leave Billy to introduce himself below -
'I’m really excited to be joining the team at the Hifi lounge and meeting all of you guys! It’s a great opportunity and I feel very lucky. My background has primarily been playing guitar in bands and live performance. I also studied music production and mixing for a number of years. I’m really passionate about sound and music and completely get the never ending pursuit for audio perfection…..if it exists! Outside of music I have an understanding wife, a beautiful daughter and two rescue dogs that are bonkers! I also enjoy a curry every now and then.'
I really feel that with the addition of Billy we have a really strong team of Myself, Wendy, Ady and Billy to keep on top of things at HFL and help our customers with any enquiries going forward and I know he is really keen to get to meet all our great customers and become part of the HFL family.
Always been happy to share my toys so for Goodwood FOS this year I split the runs up the hill with Peter, better known as YouTuber PetrolPed so he could make this video, He really is a top guy and the No24 couldn't have been in safer hands, thanks Peter for returning her in one piece
We were both as nervous as each other as neither of us had any experience of a car with this much power but he did a stella job, his film really shows what an experience it was driving the 24 up the hill, please see below, enjoy.
It’s 6.30 am Monday 27th June 2022 and I am at work the day after the best few days of my life, I really should be looking at the 400+ e-mails I have just come back to but I just want to briefly write down how I am feeling after this years Goodwood Festival of Speed whilst it is still fresh in my mind, there have been so many amazing memories made over the last 4 days that it is hard to know where to start but here we go, have to say that I have mixed feelings at the moment, even getting a bit emotional as I’m still buzzing from what just happened but am really sad that it is now over, it is going to be a huge come down, I’m such grateful that I have the best day job also to help me get back into the daily groove.
So I went to the very first FOS in 1993, 29 years ago, where it was more like a garden party compared to now and I have been to nearly every one since when I can but this year was very different, after a few months of planning and negotiations we got invited to actually drive up the hill twice a day for 3 days in front of 10’000’s of people and the best part of it all is the car we would be doing it in.
I am a big Nascar fan, started watching that in the early 1990’s, for me it is the best motorsport on the planet and can be misunderstood in this country but there is no purer form of racing in my view, the skill involved in oval racing is incredible, it is like chess at 200mph as the various strategies play out and the skill to race in a pack on 40+ cars at 200mph cm’s apart is incredible. My Nascar hero was and still is Jeff Gordon, a real legend of the sport, he famously raced No 24 for 22 years, winning the championship 4 times and 93 races from 805 start, it is the reason why I race no24 myself. So to cut to the chase, I was actually going to drive a 2012 Jeff Gordon Nascar up the hill, it is around 900hp and I had only driven it for 10 minutes or so a week before in a quick shakedown at Millbrook Proving Ground, so no pressure then, but never one to turn down an opportunity I just had to go for it, I mean what could possible go wrong.
Firstly, I have to thank the UK Nascar Community, these guys are awesome, I’d met a couple beforehand at Carfest last year but at Goodwood I met many more of the gang and what a really lovely bunch of guys, within 10 minutes I felt I had known them for years, so knowledgeable and passionate about the sport but more importantly to me just really fantastic people, without these guys it would be impossible for me to drive a Nascar over here but with their support I knew I was in safe hands, when I left Goodwood last night I really felt like I had made some amazing new friends for life, so thanks again guys, thank you so much for the weekend and helping give me a truly off the scale weekend.
Goodwood FOS Thurs - Sun.
So here we go then, let’s run through the weekend, it is all a bit of a blur really of early starts, late finishes, very little sleep, a lot of coffee and thank god for adrenaline. I agreed to run the 24 a couple of months before but once I pulled into the car park on the Thursday it all became a bit real, this was really happening, I agreed to meet the guys in the car park where we sorted out all the passes and tickets then headed into Goodwood where the 24 was sitting in the paddock looking stunning, I want to thank Shaun at Road to Race for his support also in getting the car to Goodwood and collecting it after the event, so Thursday was a day of checking the car over, a few systems checks, getting signed on and collecting our access all areas passes and we even got a really cool medal to which would gain us access to the Driver Club where we were fed and watered for 4 days and then we had a wander around waiting for the big day on Friday.
Here we go, the first run!
Did I sleep Thursday night? Very little if I am honest, I really don’t get nervous but this was like nothing I had done before, it would have been nerve racking enough in a normal car but in a 900hp Nascar Monster it is enough to give anyone nerves, especially as it is a big car and the 2nd part of the run up the hill is very narrow, to make things worse as I sat in the holding area 10 minutes before Dario Franchitti, 3 time Indy 500 winner, said ‘Be careful, I’ve crashed loads of these, they are a handful’ thanks Dario.
From the collecting area you drive back down the track to the Start line, here you line up and wait to be called forward where you are told to wait, you watch this one man and once the car in front is far enough up the road ahead he waves you to go, I sat there waiting and all I could think was not to stall it which is really easy in a Nascar as the clutch is like a switch, on or off, but then I was told to go so I gave it loads of revs and we were off with a little wheel spin, the last thing you want at Goodwood is to be the person who gets it wrong so I drove it more like Miss Daisy than anything and although I had practised it a lot on my sim there is nothing like going up the iconic hill for yourself, the funny thing was though that although the hill was lined with 1000’s of people I never saw one of them as I was so focused on not getting it wrong that I may as well have been the only person there, it was all very surreal, so we poodled up, around the flint wall that everyone made me were of and I have never been so happy to see a finish line before but that was run one complete, I’d just done something that very few people had done before, driven a Nascar up the hill at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, the sense of relief was amazing but I was absolutely buzzing.
What is it like to drive a Nascar? It is basically like sitting in the middle of a volcano, it is a very brutal environment, incredible noise and power, you can feel the cars anger as you sit in it as it shakes and rumbles side to side, it seems to want to spin its wheels at every opportunity and it really wouldn’t take much for it to bite you but show it some respect and it is an exhilarating experience, it could be further away from my other cars I race which are generally lightweight but low power, but once you have tasted a thoroughbred top tier race car like this it is very addictive and as the runs ticked by I found myself just wanting to get back in asap for another go.
We had 6 runs through the weekend but that was my run done for the Friday as I had been introduced to YouTuber PetrolPed, again a really nice guy, and we were going to split the runs, 4 for me, 2 for him, so that he could do a film for his Channel about the experience of running a Nascar up the hill, really can’t wait to see this.
Next it was Saturday, this was going to be a full on day, as I had 2 runs then it was the Driver Ball at Goodwood House, the 2 runs went really well again, each time I was getting more confident with the 24 as I pushed it a little bit harder each time, that could be dangerous but I really wanted to get a feel what she could do. Our last run finished around 6.30pm and the ball started at 7pm, luckily the drivers had showers so it was chaos as everyone tried to get ready, have to say it is very surreal seeing loads of your heroes in the their undies getting dressed ready for a night out.
The Goodwood Drivers Ball.
Just when you think things can’t get any better Wendy and myself found ourselves at the Driver Ball, I was looking forward to this just a much as the driving to be honest. So we arrived at Goodwood house around 7pm, where all the Bentley’s and Supercars are pulling up with all the rich and famous, then walk in for a champagne reception in the Goodwood Gardens, again surreal surrounded by loads of your motorsport hero’s, now I feel that you really shouldn’t approach these drivers in this sort of environment, just didn’t seem the right thing to do but another of my real heroes is Mika Hakkinen, I used to follow him all round Europe attending Grand Prix to cheer him on so when I saw him I just had to go and say hello and get a picture with him, he was as lovely as he seems to happily stood there to have picture taken, what a great start to the evening.
After the reception we are asked to take our table, we were sitting with 6 others, mainly from a Biking motorsport side of things but had some great chats, food was served which was incredible, basically smoked Salmon to start with, Beef for main and what was probably the best chocolate desert I had ever had to finish things off, all washed down with as much red and white wine as we wanted, as I was driving the next morning early I actually drunk more water than anything, what a shame.
Next we were asked to go outside for the entertainment to start and what a show that was, fireworks like I’d never seen before, amazing singers, pyrotechnics, drone planes firing rockets, a jet man landing on the stage followed by more singing and fireworks, all you could do was watch in awe at the spectacle, I’d certainly never seen anything like this before and what blew my mind was that all this was for just around 1500 of us, Lord March really knows how to throw a party.
After this was finished we were then asked to go back inside to the concert area for the live band, this is kept very secret and there have been many big bands over the years apparently, I knew that Lord March loves his rock music, as do I, so was looking forward to this, who could it be?
Well it certainly didn’t disappoint as it turned out to be one of my favourite bands who I have been to see many times before over the years, The Darkness, and what a show they put on, pure rock’n’roll, Justin the lead singer was really on it, again it was like I had been imported into some alternative motorsport universe as I’m down the front row enjoying The Darkness then I turn round and Mr LeMans, 9 times winner Tom Kristensen is jumping up and down behind me standing next to Lord March who was really loving it, I look a couple of people over and there is Jenson Button rocking out along with his Radford partner Ant Anstead, in the end everywhere you looked there were famous drivers and boy do they know how to enjoy themselves, I guess if you are willing to risk your life racing cars at crazy speeds then you really are going to enjoy life at every opportunity.
The Darkness finished around midnight then a DJ set started to finish things off, it was such an amazing night but I was keen to get to bed as I was going back up the hill in the 24 around 9am, so 3 hours sleep later I was back in the paddock and getting ready for my final run, who knew having so much fun would be this exhausting, although I am sure I won’t get any sympathy.
The Final Run!
Here we go then, my 4th and final run up the hill in Jeff Gordon’s 2012 Nascar, so I lined up behind world rally champion Stig Blomqvist, unbelievable I know, the Stig fired off up the hill and I was ushered forward, when I got to the line for the first time I looked up and as I did that I saw hundreds of people hold their phones up to film me pulling away, really wish I hadn’t done that as straight away the nerves set in, all I could think was don’t stall it now, I was given the go signal and I gave it loads of revs and we were off, I was determined to make this run my fastest attempt but at the 2nd corner I tried a bit too hard, touched the grass and got a little loose, at that point I decided to not be a hero and just get to the finish line which I did and that was that, I had completed my 4 runs up the hill with the car still in one piece, result. Next PetrolPed had one more run at the end of the day which he did successfully and that was that, the 4 best days of my life complete, huge smiles all round.
I’ve been racing for 5 years now and this was the first time I actually felt like a Race Car Driver, to be in the inner circle at Goodwood is like nothing else I have experienced and being in the drivers club, this is basically where all the drivers hang out away from the crowds, when in your race overall then all the drivers are happy to talk to you, I’ve just jotted down some of the people I spoke to below, talk about a Who’s Who of motorsport.
I even got asked twice for my autograph, I explained that I was no one but as I had driven Jeff Gordon’s car they still wanted me to sign pictures of Jeff, hilarious really but great fun.
So to coin a phrase, ‘if Carling did dream weekends’ then I have just lived mine, I really couldn’t have had more fun if I tried, I’m hopeful I’ll get invited back one day to do it all again but if not I’ll be fine with that as I now have the memories of a truly incredible weekend.
Finally I’d like to thank everyone at Goodwood for the invite and the hospitality, it really is an incredible event like nothing else in the world and to be a very small part of it has been such an honour and privilege so thanks again Goodwood and the UK Nascar Community for making this Petrolheads dreams come true, a weekend I will cherish forever and will never forget.
Please find some random pictures below -
As a lifelong motorsport fan something beyond my wildest dreams is about to kick into gear tomorrow for 4 days, here is a clue, any ideas? tbh it is all a bit terrifying and the enormity of it won’t sink in for a few days after I’m sure, all very exciting though and an amazing opportunity, all will be revealed tomorrow
Here we go then, our first Open Day for over 2.5 years, be so good to get things back to normal again as got so many new products to showcase since our last open day in 2019.
So to kick things off again we have a REL Subwoofer Open Day on July 16th, as a lot of you will know I have been banging on for years about how necessary a Subwoofer is in any HiFi, I have yet to hear a system that won’t benefit from adding a REL, for me a Sub is as integral a part to get the best performance from a HiFi as an amplifier and if you haven't tried it you really should.
I must admit through the last 2 years we have seen a real up turn in our Sub sales into 2 Channel systems as have REL, I put that down to the fact that people actually had time to do some research and once they have tried a sub there really is no going back, it is the easiest demo we do as it only take 5 minutes to show the advantage.
As I have said before funnily enough it isn’t always about the bass when you add a REL, it actually changes to whole sound, yes you get more depth and texture at the bottom end but for me the main advantage is that is really helps clean up the mid range and refine the top end too, the thing is that you have the Sub set pretty low to integrate with the speakers so with a bit of time you will get a seamless match between your REL and speakers, it isn’t until you turn your sub off that you notice what you are lacking.
So I believe that any Sub is better than no Sub and even better is a stereo pair, I used to run 1 REL 212 SX at home with my PMC BB5 SE’s but a little while ago I added another and I certainly have no regrets, running a stereo pair isn’t necessarily about adding more bass but loading the room better so it all sounds more balanced, saying that I ran 1 REL for years and was more than happy.
My Subwoofer for HIFi Nirvana moment came when I was lucky enough to go to Dave Wilson’s house in Utah to hear the mighty Wilson Audio Wamm’s and they were running with a Sub on each speaker so there and then I realised that any speaker will benefit from a sub, the beauty of REL is that they cater for all budgets, starting at £449.
Without wanting to go on too much, when you go to a gig it is the bass that really drives the music along, it is the foundation that the music is built on and as good as speakers are a powered Sub really adds to the presentation as it is designed to do one job and it can do things that the speaker just can’t.
Anyway I think I’ve made my point, back to the open day, we will be running 3 rooms showing the different levels or REL subs from entry level to highend, we’ll probably run something like a T/7X upstairs, an S/812 in our first downstair demo room and one of the Reference subs in our Highend room, there may even be something new to talk about, we will have representative here from REL all day so you can discuss what would be right for your system and refreshments will available throughout the day.
Please find a link below to the full REL range on our Website -
If you’d like to come can you just fire me over a quick mail to my below email so we have a rough idea on numbers, thanks -
Can’t wait to get the shop buzzing again full of people.
This is a real quick one to say that we now have the new and exciting HiFi Rose RA180 amplifier on permanent demo.
I really didn't know what to expect with this amp to be honest, the looks and features certainly left an impression when it was first announced but now I have had some hands on time I can also say that the build quality really is impressive too.
This is such a feature packed amp that I may have to read the manual, Ssshhh, don't tell anyone, that will certainly be a first for an analogue amp but I have it hooked up to our Wilson Audio TuneTots to start with which it is driving with ease.
Looking forward to getting to grips with this amp but if you'd like to come in for a demo anytime please feel free to get in touch to make an appointment.
Being a big fan of headphone listening myself I find the news that dCS have just launched their new Lina Headphone system which is designed to get the very best headphone listening experience for the most discerning headphone listeners out there very exciting indeed.
It is a 3 box system comprising of a Streaming DAC, Master Clock and Headphone Amplifier, basically I like to think of it as a Vivaldi system for the headphone listener which will give all the key attributes of a dCS System that is guaranteed to get the very best from whichever headphones you use and is guaranteed to drive the hardest headphones out there.
Incorporating a totally new and smaller design you can either stack the 3 boxes or configure them side by side to suit your living space, have to say that I think it looks really cool, can't wait to get my hands on it.
We will have Lina on demo very shortly which will be set up in our dedicated headphone room where you will be able to try it with a selection of the best headphones on the planet.
For me, what I love about headphone listening is the intimacy and insight it gives, I still think some people see it as 2nd best to a full HiFi system but I strongly disagree, I would say it is equally as enjoyable but it is a different experience, in some ways it is better than a speaker system as you are not getting any interaction with the room so you basically just hear the music as intended with no room coloration, I know you don't get the scale of a speaker system but you really can hear into the recording with all its nuances that can sometimes get lost on a more conventional HiFi, for me I'd say there is a strong argument to have both a great HiFi and Headphone system if you love music as they are both 2 very different but equally good ways to enjoy your music and with Lina you know you will be getting the very best headphone experience available.
Please find more on Lina below on our website and if you have any questions or would like to come in for a demo sometime please feel free.
Once I have had some hands on time I will write my thoughts.
So it has been a good couple of years since we've held an open day for obvious reasons but last Saturday we jumped back on the saddle with a behind closed doors event which proved a lot of fun.
Thanks to Covid I really got back into my sim racing, especially iRacing, and being that I raced a Radical in the real world at the time I naturally gravitated to racing the Radical SR8 in the simulator and then discovered league racing with the UK&I Radical Race Series where we all meet up every Thursday night for a weekly league race online, the main advantage of league racing is that you race the same people every week so there is a mutual respect there and the quality of racing is much higher and enjoyable.
The funny thing is that we speak all the time on Discord and race every week but most of us have never met so with the iLounge Racing Showroom now ready for action it seemed like the perfect opportunity to arrange a get together which we did last Saturday and I have to say I was thrilled that pretty much everyone came along, travelling from all over the country and we all got along as if it was a old school reunion where we had known each other for years, obviously helped by our common love for sim racing but I must say everyone was so nice, such a great bunch of people.
So we spent the day enjoying the Sims and HiFi, fired up the BBQ where Ady was top chef, then the real fun part was to take us bunch of Virtual Racers to Rye House Go Kart track to race for real, again I was so pleased that we managed to get a full grid of 24 Karts together for this and just like on iRacing there was great respectful racing throughout the whole field, not one to blow my own trumpet but I was over the moon to get pole and win the race in such a competitive field or racers but I am the first to admit that I had home advantage as I do race at Rye a fair bit so it was a little unfair. Then after the racing a bunch of us went out for a curry to talk sim racing some more, it really was the perfect day.
Look forward to doing it all again next year.
If anyone would like to join the RRS league please find a link to the website below, you'll be very welcome and will experience some of the nicest people in Sim racing and will have some excellent racing too -
Also this week's race at Monza is well worth watching, one of the most fun races races I have ever raced on iRacing.
I know I keep banging on that a sub is a fundamental part of any HiFi but I have never had the pleasure of trying a Wilson Audio subwoofer until last week when our demo Loke Sub arrived, this is Wilson's smallest sub to date and to be honest it really is intended to be used with their TuneTot's, Sabrina's, Yvette's and Sasha DAW's but I couldn't resist pairing it up with our demo Alexx V's and I have to say it is a brilliant match and really enhances what the Alexx V can do.
I still think that there is a misconception with subs for 2 channel but I've been to a couple of Gary Numan gigs lately and when you listen to live music it is the bass that really does drive the music along and it is the same with HiFi, with any passive speaker it just can't do what an active sub can do, being that it has its own amplifier it gives a tighter and more powerful bass that the speaker just can't do, it's not the speakers fault but when you pair them correctly you really can take your speakers and music enjoyment to a whole new level, for me it is the best pound for pound upgrade you can do to your HiFi.
In all honesty my main experience with subs for 2 channel has been with REL, these are brilliant and work a treat with all speakers, until recently I had been running one of their Reference G1 MKII's with our Alexx V's so I was really keen to see how one of Wilson's own subs would partner up and could it really be worth twice the price of the REL.
So to sum it up, it is all about integration, you can tune the REL's in and it is very seamless but there really is a 100% match with the Loke and our Alexx V's, I can probably fine tune it a tad more but as it is now you really just hear one pair of speakers but with a more solid and weighty bottom end which really helps free up the mid and sweeten the top end, it really isn't just about the bass.
I am so used to the way REL's bass sounds which is really full and deep, I run 2 x REL 212's at home and love them but the Loke is a very different type of bass, tighter, punchier, faster a tad maybe but for me it is the way that it seamlessly marry's up with our Alexx V's that is impressive, I guess a lot of people would think when spending £150K on a pair of speakers that you shouldn't need a sub but that really is missing the point as you don't need a sub but it really does help get the best from your speakers once one is added.
My appreciation of what a sub can add was when I was lucky enough to go to Dave Wilson's house to hear the Wilson Wamm's and they had a sub partnered up with each speaker that made me realise that if the Wamm benefitted from underpinning from a sub then surely any speaker will.
No the only thing better than adding one sub is to run a pair, one for each speaker, as I do at home, and I have to say that I really can see me adding another Loke to our reference system before too long.
Please find a link to Wilson on our website and some pictures below, if you'd like to come in for a demo please feel free to get in touch to make an appointment, it is the easiest demo we do as it really doesn't take 5 minutes to hear the benefit that the Loke brings.
So here we go again with another season or racing, for the last 4 years I have raced in mostly 20 minute sprint races with the odd longer 45 minute race in both the Radical SR1 Cup and Lotus Elise Trophy and it has always been the longer races I have enjoyed the most and have been the most competitive at so for this year we thought we'd try something different, endurance racing in the Elise in the 750 Motor Club 'Club Enduro' championship, which it turn out is the biggest grid in UK motorsport, for our first race at Donington we had 58 cars on track which certainly kept me busy for the 2 hour+ race.
So there are 3 classes we could enter depending on the power to weight, we decided to unleash all of the Elise's power to be bang on the 300bhp per tonne limit to be in the top class A group, I was going to share the drive with my driver coach Tom and we really thought that we could be competitive and maybe fight for the title, how wrong we were.
We arrived at Donington for Friday practice but we suffered brake issues all morning but once we sorted them we soon realised that the Touring Car type cars, TCR's for short, are much faster than us even though we all run to the 300bhp per tonne limit, they are basically specially built race cars where our Elise is a road car we turned into a race car.
Anyway come race day I did my mandatory 3 laps for qualifying then Tom went out to see what could be achieved, he is basically one of the quickest guys around and he could only manage 14th on the grid, it was decided I would start the race and Tom would jump in at the fuel stop. I must admit I was a little nervous at the start as I starting higher up than my natural speed would normally put me being Tom qualified and at the start I got eaten alive by all the quicker guys but in the end I fell back to where my pace was competitive and settled into the race, after an hour or so I was summoned into the pits for a fuel stop and driver change, I jumped out the car and refueling started and whilst out the car I decided that I'd like to do the whole race which Tom was happy with as I need the practice and he doesn't and at the end of the day we weren't competitive so I may as well get more seat time, so in the end I did the full 2 hours and 5 minutes which I must say was brilliant fun, towards the end though I could see I was getting low on fuel and as I was going through the Craners with a couple of minutes left when the car spluttered and I thought, bugger, I'm not going to finish the race so I decided I would limp home to the pits but as I came round the last corner the chequered flag was out so I just made it across the line to finish, talk about relieved.
In the end we finished 25th out of 58, there were quite a few Elise's entered and we finished as the top Elise so I guess that's something to take away from the weekend, but it certainly wasn't the weekend we were hoping for, at the end of the day though I loved being in the car for 2 hours+.
What to do for the rest of the season? well there are 6 rounds left, I have decided to do the next one at Croft in 2 weeks as never raced there then we are off to Spa in July so will do that as that is a huge tick on the bucket list then I will decide what to do from there, I have an historic racing itch I'd like to scratch but more on that later.
Please find sme pics below, they are quite funny as they make you realise just how small the Elise is.
This is just a quickie to mention a promotion that Meze Headphones have just announced, basically trade in your old headphones for a saving on either the Liric, Empyrean or Elite headphones, we have the full range of Meze headphones on demo so please feel free to come in for a listen.
Promotion ends 24 June 2022.
Please find promotion details below -
Liric - Trade in your old headphones and save - £299
Empyrean - Trade in your old headphones and save - £399
Elite - Trade in your old headphones and save - £599
Please find more info on the Meze Headphone range below on our website -
So needless to say at around £75,000 the Vivaldi One Apex isn't for everyone but price aside this really is quite possibly the ultimate one box HiFi piece of equipment that ever existed and one of the finest pieces of HiFi full stop, the original was launched in 2017 to mark dCS 30th Anniversary, there were 250 of these and they sold out very quickly, since then dCS have recently released their new Apex DAC technology so to mark this they have decided to put the Vivaldi One back into production, this time for only 50 units worldwide, once these have gone I am told that there will never be anymore Vivaldo Ones released so if you did miss out last time then I'd move fast to get your order in.
We have actually secured 2 Vivaldi Ones for stock as I know dCS are constantly getting requests to bring back the Vivaldi One so we decided to grab a couple whilst we can before they are all sold, we have been told we will get ours from the first batch of 10 produced and will be with us beginning of June.
Please see below for more info from dCS.
Following the launch of the dCS Ring DAC™ APEX, and our new Rossini and Vivaldi APEX models, we’re thrilled to announce the release of a new, limited-edition version of the Vivaldi One—our beloved single-chassis Network Music Player and CD/SACD Transport.
The Vivaldi One was released in 2017 to mark dCS's 30th anniversary. Inspired by the success of our Vivaldi series—which comprises a DAC, Upsampler, CD/SACD Transport and Master Clock—we set out to create a limited-edition system that distilled the Vivaldi’s core features and technologies into a single, exquisitely finished playback device.
Just 250 Vivaldi One systems were produced, and they quickly sold out. We’ve since received numerous emails, letters and phone calls from music lovers around the world looking to purchase a Vivaldi One. Whilst we were delighted to see such a strong demand for the product, and had often considered re-releasing the Vivaldi One, we ultimately decided to focus our efforts on developing new features and enhancements to our Vivaldi and Rossini ranges, as well as developing the dCS Bartók.
This year, however, we launched a major hardware upgrade that allowed us to further enhance the performance of the Vivaldi DAC, Rossini DAC and Rossini Player. Our new dCS Ring DAC™ APEX hardware is measurably better in several ways, and brings a range of sonic improvements, with listeners noting enhanced dynamics, rhythm and timing, greater soundstage resolution and image focus, blacker backgrounds, and a heightened sense of realism.
Following extensive development, and several rounds of testing, we decided to launch new APEX editions of the Vivaldi DAC, Rossini DAC, and Rossini Player, which feature the Ring DAC APEX hardware as standard. We also announced the launch of a global upgrade programme for existing owners of the Vivaldi DAC, Rossini DAC, Rossini Player and original Vivaldi One.
The response to the upgrade programme, and the launch of our Rossini and Vivaldi APEX models, has been overwhelming. The positive feedback we received from the audio community inspired us to explore the idea of releasing an APEX edition of the dCS Vivaldi One, and with our 35th anniversary just around the corner, it seemed like the perfect time to release a new, improved edition of a much-loved and celebrated dCS product.
The Vivaldi One APEX combines all of the benefits of the original Vivaldi One with our new, enhanced Ring DAC APEX hardware to deliver an even more profound musical experience.
Just 50 units will be available, in anodised silver or black—classic dCS finishes. The system will be unveiled at the 2022 Munich High-End show, and dCS will host demonstrations throughout the four-day event.
If you would like to discuss the Vivaldi One Apex please feel free to get in touch.
So this is a little different, I've always said that HiFi Rose are a brand to keep an eye on, they have already given us 2 excellent streamers and an all in one player but now they have unleashed an integrated amplifier on the world and it really is like nothing I have seen before, needless to say I ordered one for demo straight away, I'm a sucker for something different and this really does look unique, can't wait to find out what all those dials and knobs do, it retails for for £5499 so certainly looks to be good value for money.
It has a built in MM/MC Phono Stage, Active Crossover ability, Tone Controls, App Control, it also sounds like it has some interesting amplifier technology inside also which is capable of up to 400 watts per channel, please see below from HiFi Rose -
'4 Mono Amplifiers - Multi Output Configuration using Modules
The HiFi ROSE RA180 consists of two modules: one AMP module specialised for stable mid-bass and balance, and another specialised for smooth high-pitched and super tweeter areas.
Each AMP module supports 200 W (8 Ohm) and can output up to 400 W per channel. When two independent modules are connected to a speaker's high and low frequencies separately, the driving force can be greatly improved without being affected by a counter electromotive force.
BTL mode combines two independent modules for rich, balanced sound.'
It is due with us soon as if you are as curious as me then feel free to get in touch to arrange a demo.
Please find some pics below and a link to the RA180 on our website -
So the closed season is now behind us and iLounge Racing is getting ready for another season of racing, I have spent 4 years now doing 20 minute sprint races in the Radical SR1 Cup and the Lotus Elise Trophy so for this year I fancied trying something different so we have entered the 750 Motor Club 'Club Enduro' Championship which comprises of 7 races weekends with races ranging from 125 minutes to 180 minutes with a driver change and refueling required so as a big LeMan fan it will be really interesting to try some mixed class racing over a longer race distance.
I will be sharing the drive with my Race Coach, Tom, he is seriously quick so the pressure will be on me to not lose too much ground to the leaders before he jumps in as it looks like I will be starting the race.
We will be racing in the top A class which is 300bhp per tonne so I have no idea how our very light and little Lotus will compete against the much bigger and heavier cars with more power on the grid, the first race is this Easter Monday at Donington so not long to find till we find out.
For anyone who would like to come along and spectate then please find the calendar below, yes we really are racing at Spa this year, that is a big tick on the Bucket List + I have never raced at Croft or Anglesey so plenty to look forward to this year -
Donington GP - 18th April
Croft - 29th May
Spa - 8th/9th July
Snetterton - 31st July
Silverstone - 21st August
Anglesey - 11th September
Oulton Park - 8th October
Watch Races Live - https://www.750mc.co.uk/live.htm
If you would like to see how we get on please find a link above to live coverage on YouTube or Alpha Timing also have the below coverage -
We tested at Donington last week to get back in the groove, thanks to being on my sim at home all winter I was straight on my pace but please find a video of Tom below on a quick lap, great to watch, if I can get within a couple of seconds of his lap time then I'm happy
I've also uploaded to complete race from Brands Last year from getting in the car to driving to the paddock to show the whole process for anyone who likes this stuff, this was one of my best races ever finishing 2nd in class, did a great undercut during the pitstop which helped make up time after the first corner incident.
Finally I am racing in the Senna Cup at Rye House kart track this year also which has just been resurfaced, please find another video of a quick lap in the wet, great fun I have to say as sideways more than anything -
As normal I will update on how each race in the Club Enduro goes after each round and also please feel free to subscribe to our iLounge Racing YouTube page for videos from each event.
All the best,
It really looks like this is going to be a great year for new HiFi as every week we seem to have something new to get excited about.
This week it is SME's turn to unleash their new Reference Flagship Turntable on the world and being that I love my Vinyl and SME this really is exciting news.
It is a totally new design using machined aluminium for the chassis with a new Reference tonearm based on what is already considered by many to be the best tonearm in the world, the Series V, this new one is known as the Series VA, where the A stands for advanced, there is also a new Controller Unit with the power supply in a seperate box to reduce any unwanted interference, so as you can see no stone has been left unturned to get the very best performance.
Being that it is a ground up new design and from SME you really can expect the ultimate in engineering and precision using only the best materials, it will start at around £50,000 for either the standard Black or Brushed Silver but Premium colours of your choice are available for around an extra 10-15%, have to say that the blue looks stunning.
Please find a few pictures below and if you'd like any further information please don't hesitate to get in touch.