Just wanted to say that we now have the full range of the new PMC Twenty5i Series speakers on permanent demo, these were announced sometime ago and where due to be with us much sooner than this but obviously a little thing called Covid 19 decided to come along and ruin our fun but the good news is that they are all now here and are sounding excellent.
I don't know how they do it but it really sounds like PMC have made even more gains with their Twenty5 range, now on it's 3rd generation, listening to the new 25.23i's there is definitely a more open and airy midrange with a more refined top end, these really are awesome speakers and it is easy to see over our time as a dealer they have been our most popular speaker.
Anway if you'd like to come in for a listen anytime please feel free to book an appointment.
Another day and more new demo stock, this time I have to say this is one of the prettiest speakers we have ever had at HiFi Lounge, the Focal Scala Evo Speakers in the new Noyer Natural Finish, I nearly went for blue but took a gamble on this finish and I'm so glad I did as they really are gorgeous, they look good in the pictures but are even better when seen in the showroom and the great news is that they really do sound as good as they look.
So far I have run them with Naim, Chord and Accuphase and all 3 give very different presentations, all great but just very different. Priced at £29,999 they certainly aren't cheap but in all honesty you really could argue they are worth every penny when you see and hear them.
If you'd like to come in for a listen anytime please feel free to book an appointment.
Just a really quick one to say that we now have the new Accuphase E-800 Pure Class A Integrated amplifier now on Demo, this is my first foray into Class A solid state amplification and I have to say I can see why people like this kind of amplification as it really does give an extremely natural presentation but with great control, it really is very engrossing.
The E-800 is basically 50 watts into 8 ohms which at Class A is pretty much enough power to drive any speakers out there, it's certainly not small but if you are looking for an amp to get the best out of your speakers and prefer your HiFi more on the musical side then I would highly recommend giving the E-800 a good listen.
Now I am super excited about this new product we have just taken delivery of for demo. In 8 years of HiFi Lounge I would argue this is the most groundbreaking piece of HiFi we have had through our doors. I’m sure Taiko Audio isn’t a name everyone has heard of but I’m pretty confident they are about to change the digital music landscape with their SGM Extreme, for those who don’t know it is basically a £25,000 Music Server and a Roon Core and End Point all in one rather beautiful chassis, but what I love about it is that it has been designed with a no compromise outlook where it ends up costing what it costs but it will be the very best that is possible today and it really is a Quantum leap for digital music playback.
When Taiko was first mentioned to me I really was unaware of them and the rep suggested he bought it in for me to listen to and I’m always happy to try something new but I did tell him upfront that there is no way that I am going to bring on a £25,000 server, I mean who on earth would buy that, and then I heard it and I’m sure you can guess the rest, yep I placed the order there and then and have been waiting patiently and excitedly for the last few months for it to arrive, lockdown couldn’t have come at a worse time.
It really isn’t very often we get something ground breaking in this industry, everything is generally a refinement on what has gone before, but I really feel this is something very special and if you have the system to benefit from a Taiko I cannot urge enough that you give it a try, not necessarily to buy one but just to experience how good digital can be, it is amazing in just a few short years we have progressed from using NAS drives and computers for digital storage to the Taiko Extreme which shows it is still early days for digital and we’ve probably still got a long way to go but with products like this it really does take it to another level.
It has been said that the SGM Extreme can compete with the best turntables and Reel to Reels out there and at last gives something to people who have struggled moving from analogue to digital, I couldn’t really say but for me it was the air, space and naturalness of the sound it gives that drew me in, it really is totally captivating and it is great that there is a company like Taiko willing to push the boundaries and take digital to the next level.
So this is another step towards us putting together our Reference System that I planned out earlier in the year, just one more product to come, well 4 boxes really making up one product, what could it be? Then the listening begins.
But really I can’t stress enough please do come in to experience the Taiko, this is not me being a sales man, if you love your music you owe it to yourself to give the Taiko Audio SGM Extreme a listen to hear digital at it’s very best, I really wish we could do an open day this year to showcase the Taiko but obviously that is not possible at the moment but rest assured as soon as we can then this will be one of our first open days.
This is just a quickie to say that we now have the SME Model 12A turntable on permanent demo to go with our Model 15 that we also have on demo.
At £8550 unbelievably the Model 12A is SME Entry turntable but make no mistake this is a real high end offering, the build quality really has to be seen to be believed and you have to listen to it to understand why SME are considered one of the best manufacturers of turntables in the world today.
It comes with the SME Model 309 tonearm which really takes some beating and at the moment we have it partnered with a Kiseki Blue cartridge which sounds great but we will soon be swapping that out for a Kiseki Purple Heart once with us as I expect this to be a really good match with the 12A.
If vinyl is your thing and you want the best then please feel free to come for a listen anytime, there is nothing better than a turntable demo
Please find more info below -
As we continue to up the specification of our main system in our so called 'Highend Room' I am really pleased to now have a full loom of Transparent Reference Cables here in preparation of the last 2 pieces of the jigsaw to arrive, I think it is fair to say that when it comes to High-end Cables Transparent rule the roost so it really is great to be able to now have a full set on permanent demo, this little lot comes to around £50k which is Transparents Mid level, you can spend much more but I think it is also worth mentioning that they also do speaker cables and interconnects starting from only £145 so they really do cater for all audiophile budgets out there, saying that for the very best in Transparent there is their Magnum Opus range where as an example a 2.5m pair of speaker cable will set you back over £70,000, Gulp.
Anyway I can't wait to get them all hooked up, for any Transparent enquiries or prices please feel free to get in touch.
Firstly it goes without saying that I hope everyone has stayed fit well over the last few months and also you have stayed mentally sane as these have certainly been times like no other we have been going through with a variety of different challenges but it does appear that the worst is now behind us, well let’s certainly hope so and like most of the country’s ‘Non Essential’ shops (although I would argue we are pretty essential for a lot of our customers) we will be reopening from Tuesday 16th which I am delighted about.
I also want to thank everyone for their support through this period, it was really nice to get so many emails and phone calls of genuine concern and like many I really thought we were heading into a really difficult trading period, looking back though it has been the total opposite and I actually felt busier during Lockdown than when we are normally open, obviously we had to adapt the way we worked but lending kit out for people to try at home proved very popular, either sent by courier or by us taking it to peoples houses, Wendy did a 400+ mile round trip one day dropping kit off whilst on the same day I was out also, I think we did 10 drops that day, anyway the main thing is that we got through it but really are ready now to re-open our doors, although I’ve been busy it has still been very strange having the showrooms shut since March 24th and with no one coming in, over the last couple of weeks I have had to get all the kit back though as at one point the shop looked like it had been robbed as most of it was in people's homes but we have everything back now, ready for action.
So what is the new way forward? For the time being we will be strictly appointment only with no drop in’s allowed, I never wanted to make this place appointment only as I don’t like putting barriers up for people but we really have no choice at the moment so until the country is Coronavirus free (I really hope it goes as quick as it came) then we will work appointment only with 1 to 2 demo’s a day and we will have hand sanitiser available when customers come in, we will have a dedicated customer toilet that we will clean thoroughly after every customer and we will maintain social distancing, if anyone coming in can respect this also that will be great as we all need to stay fit and healthy.
I have already had quite a few people book demo’s for Tuesday onwards next week so it looks like we will soon get back to some kind of normality, I can’t wait to start demoing again as really missed that but going forward I think we will run the business slightly differently so if you are a little nervous about coming in due to the virus but would like to try something at home just get in touch and we can arrange something and I also think for a lot of people they would rather try kit at home, which does make a lot of sense, so again just give me a shout and we can get something arranged. I think one victim this year will be open days, we love a good open day here but I think any we had planned will be on hold now till next year which actually is a real shame as we’ve got some great new kit that we could have showcased.
Talking of new equipment we have, just before lockdown I ordered loads of new toys to play with which all just started trickling in before Lockdown was announced so I have had that stored away safely until the moment we could open again so please keep an eye out for more announcements of exciting new products we'll have on demo.
Anyway I’ll shut up now and look forward to some kind of a normal service resuming at HFL and if you’d like to come in for a demo please feel free to get in touch to make an appointment.
All the best,
Paul, Wendy and Ady.
So I’ve been meaning to partner our demo Chord Electronics mighty Ultima 2 Mono Power Amps with some Wilson’s for a while but I knew we would have our new demo Ultima 2 Preamplifier here soon so wanted to wait till then so we could do a full Chord setup and last week we received our Ultima 2 pre so it was game on, now we normally run the Ultima 2 amplifiers on our PMC Fenestria’s and I can honestly say I have never heard them sound better so I was really keen to give a full Chord setup a listen on our new demo Wilson Audio Alexia’s and I have to say it is a pretty potent combo.
We ran our Melco N1ZH into Chord’s Dave, unfortunately our demo M Scaler is out on loan, then into the Ultima 2 Pre and the Mono Ultima 2 amps all connected up with Atlas Asimi cabling so there was no doubt it was going to sound good but I was surprised how different it sounded to what I’m used to with Wilson’s, now I am used to running Constellation and Audio Research with Wilson’s which are brilliant partnering equipment but this Chord setup sounded so different, now bearing in mind how big these amps are you expect a big and powerful sound, which you get when called for but what really surprised me was how quick and agile they are and there is a real finesse and delicacy, such an open and airy sound with amazing seperation, it is really hard to put into words but as a total system it was captivating on all genres of music and although we normally run our Dave straight into the Ultima amps adding the Pre certainly seemed to open up the soundstage quite noticeably, is it £12,500 better? well that is always a difficult question to answer but putting it in the chain certainly helped make the system more immersive.
I love Chord’s kit, one for the sound but also for the looks, it is un-ashmadley attention grabbing and although our new Ultima 2 setup looks stunning it is the sound quality that really impresses, we will have this setup running permantley once we re-open so please feel free to make an appointment to come in for a listen anytime.
Please find more info on our website below –
HiFi News Review
Please also read the HiFi News review of the Ultima 2 Pre and Power Combo which got a 90% rating which is virtually unheard of from Hifi News, Chord really do have a winning combination on their hands here –
So next in our post Lockdown new demo kit announcements is rather special, what with the Munich Highend Show cancelled this year we thought we would up our reference system to bring a slice of Munich to Millow so starting with the speakers we now have the awesome Wilson Audio Alexia 2's on permanent demo, these are the next one up in the range from the brilliant Sasha DAW's which are a really popular speaker for us but the Alexia really takes it to the next level with a more open and bigger soundstage, they just give you more of what Wilson do really well, making really engaging music that you just want to listen to, longer sometimes than you probably should, at £65,000 I know they should be good but they really are so once we are open again please feel free to book an appointment to come and have a listen, I'm really looking forward to try a variety of different amps on these to see what is the best performance we can achieve.
We actually now have the Wilson Audio range from the TuneTot to the Alexia 2's on permanent demo, Only Alexx then XVX and Wamm's left to complete the set
This is the start of our new Highend system, more announcements of the rest of the new kit making it up shortly, all very exciting.
On with some pictures, further down there is a couple of comparison pics of the Alexia 2 v DAW and if you have any questions regarding these awesome speakers please don't hesitate to get in touch.
So the next news we have in readiness for the lifting of retail Lockdown is that we are really proud to add Accuphase to our portfolio of brands and products, for those you don't know Accuphase is considered Japan's High end HiFi offering to the world.
I must admit that when I was first shown one of the integrated amps by my rep a few months ago I was tottally smitten by the looks even before it had made a single note , I mean what is not to love about the VU Meters and their very retro look but once you start using their products you realise they just ooze class, they are so beautifully made and extremely well engineered, every button and knob is a joy to operate, when you are next in please feel free to have a twiddle, Accuphase really are up there with the best when it comes to understanding that everything matters, I'm actually not using the remote so that I have the joy of using the manual volume knob, anyway enough of my perversions, oh yes and they only come in Champagne Gold, which I know may not be for everyone but it they certainly make a statement and actually look really classy in the flesh.
But obviously it is the sound that matters and needless to say they don't disappoint here, for a company that is approaching it's 50th anniversary I think it's fair to say they know what they are doing by now, I first heard the 30 watt Pure Class A E-650 Integrated and we used it to drive the Magneplanar 20.7's which are a very difficult speaker to get the best from but it really did make them sing, in all honesty I have never heard them sound better, I think it is fair to say with the limited listening I have had so far that the Accuphase house sound is honest but slightly on the warmer and full bodied side, very much a Class A sound but even their non Class A amps still carry that sound so they have all the detail but they are not bright or forward, just very natural and musical.
Accuphase Laboratory, Inc. is a Japanese, Yokohama-based high-end audio equipment manufacturer founded by former Kenwood engineer Jiro Kasuga in late 1972 who was unhappy with the direction Kenwood where going in so he took engineers from Marantz and Luxman and formed Accuphase. The name ACCUPHASE was adapted by taking the prefix ACCU from the word “accurate”, and combining it with PHASE which is a most important factor in audio technology. Accuphase are well known for producing extremely high quality products so if you are looking for a new amp and are taken by the looks of Accuphase then feel free to come into HFL to give them a listen as I'm pretty sure you'll be very impressed as I was.
At the moment we have the new E-380 Integrated on demo which is to be followed very shortly by the new monster E-800 50 Watt Pure Class Amp, really can't wait to get my hands on this, all their integrateds and Preamps can be fitted with either a digital DAC board as well as a Phono Board so they really can be a very neat solution for people who don't want loads of boxes.
Please find the full range below, unfortunately Accuphase won't let us publish prices so please do get in touch for more info, as an example the E-380 we have on demo is £6800 and the E-800 will be £15,000, if anything else in the range takes your fancy please also get in touch as we have access to the full range for demo that we can borrow at any time.
Accuphase E-380 Integrated Amplifier
Accuphase E-800 Integrated Amplifier (Coming Very Soon)
So with the end of retail lockdown now in sight I wanted to do a few blogs of a fair bit of new demo stock that arrived just before lockdown, it seemed weird announcing loads of new demo stock when we couldn't do any demos but all being well we'll be back open on June 15th so hopefully it will be all systems go again soon.
Anway due to how much I love the Fyne Audio F1-5's I just couldn't resist ordering the F1-8's for demo which arrived a week before lockdown but that was actually a bonus as they have been my lockdown speaker of choice that I have been playing daily to keep me entertained during this crazy time. The first thing that shocked me was their size, compared to the F1-5's they look huge but once I got over that I was smitten with the sound, they really do give a big, open and airy mid range, with such a large soundstage and they do pack a fair old punch at the bottom end although I still like to run a sub with them but then I like a sub with all speakers.
Their looks really do grab attention and definitely divides opinion but that is a good thing as they really are quite different to anything else out there but one thing is for sure, I know everyone will love the sound the F1-8's give and if you are looking for a highend standmount I would wholeheartedly recommend you give these a listen once we are back open.
So this all goes back well over a decade ago, long before HFL was even a glint in our eyes, when myself and Wendy attended an PMC Open Day at Unilet where the PMC BB5’s where being showcased and I remember it clearly when Wendy looked at me and said ‘We’ve got to get a pair of those’ unfortunately at the time we couldn’t fit them in our living room so we ‘settled’ for the MB2i’s which as I’ve said before inadvertently led to the opening of HFL as I became totally addicted to them and my hifi but that's another story.
Anyway if I have learnt one thing from this whole Covid-19 thing is that life doesn’t stay the same and it can change in a heartbeat as it has done for everyone in one way or another so I thought to myself what am I waiting for, if there is something you want and you have the means to get it then why wait as who knows what is around the corner, so a quick email to PMC to see if they had any BB5 SE’s in walnut in stock, to my surprise they did and a couple of days later Wendy went over to pick them up from PMC in Luton, so around 12 years later her wish became a reality, have to say a lot certainly changed in those intervening years.
Now I love speakers, they are my favourite part of the HiFi chain as they really do make the most difference in presentation and I have always believed that you can put a big speaker in a small room but when I saw the size of the boxes of the BB5’s even I thought we maybe had bitten off more than we could chew this time but after a couple of hours of unboxing and manhandling the speaker onto their stands it was time to fire up the Bryston amps and see what we had.
Needless to say I was extremely relieved when they sounded incredible instantly, extremely open and spacious with a huge soundstage and with tight and punchy bass with no overhang or room issues but for me it was how 'correct' they sounded, from the very bottom to the very top the balance was perfect, not one aspect stood out other than you really feeling you are hearing the presentation as it should be, there is just this big and airy image that hangs in front of you, as they say with car engines, there is no replacement for displacement, and I feel it is the same with speakers, you just can’t beat a big cabinet to free up the sound.
Now obviously they are on the slightly large side and are not really room friendly for your normal domestic situation but luckily I married a crazy woman who thinks they look awesome in the room and we both love the sound so I think at long last my speaker search for home is now finally over, yes I measured for a pair of BB5 XBD’s but they really won’t fit, now I just want to play with the rest of the system to get the very best from the speakers.
Please find some unboxing pics below -
Wendy get's her dream speaker at last.
Getting a Rough Idea of the toe in.
Deep breathe as we now need to lift it onto its stand.
HiFi Lounge Back on the Race Track in our Radical, Well Virtually!
Hope everyone is continuing to stay safe and well, for me one of the big casualties of this whole mess has been all world motorsport being cancelled for the time being but what has been a real surprise is how well motorsports has adapted to the virtual world and how entertaining it is, Formula One, IndyCar and Nascar amongst others have taken to a piece of Sim Software called iRacing and I have to say seeing the real drivers competing in these races from the comfort of their homes but with full TV production values has been great fun and in many cases the virtual racing has been better than the real thing, seeing Charles Leclerc and Alex Albon change the lead twice a lap for the entire race at Interlagos will go down in virtual racing folk lore, let's hope when real motorsport returns it is as entertaining.
Needless to say I'm really missing driving my Radical at the moment so when Radical announced they were going to start a 6 race invitational championship I was really keen to get stuck in, now I had never heard of iRacing before lockdown but as Radical where using this as the virtual platform I had to get myself setup with a PC based Sim setup meaning I missed the first 2 rounds but I made the third round on Saturday, we had a practice session on Thursday, Pre-Qualifying on Friday with qualifying and the race Saturday afternoon, now I'm not making excuses, honest, but this is a invitational to Radical drivers from around the world and professional iRacer's but we got through Pre-Qualifying where over 100 drivers were trying to make the 50 car grid, we then qualified 35th which I was pretty happy with, my plan for the race was just to try and keep out of trouble and put in consistent lap times, the first half of the race went really well as I went from 35th to 13th, then unfortunately someone came out of the pits straight into me and took me out of the race which was a tad annoying to say the least but overall it was a lot of fun, there are 3 races left then hopefully we can get back on track for real, Mid-Ohio is this coming weekend so hopefully we'll have better luck there, this is a really tricky track so plenty of practice required this week, then we have Spa which I'm really looking forward to.
Below is Saturday's race which is broadcast live on YouTube with full commentary, have to say it was a brilliant race up front, if you love your motorsport and you don't watch the whole race just watch the last 5 minutes as it was an incredible finish for 1st place, one of commentators reckons it was the best finish he has seen in 10 years of virtual racing commentating so can't ask for more than that.
I will update this post with links for the last 3 races once competed for anyone like me who misses real motorsport, or you can watch live on you Tube, the races start at 4pm on Saturday afternoons, please see the remainder of the calendar below -
Rd 4 - May 23 - 15:00 GMT - Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course Rd 5 - June 6 - 15:00 GMT - Spa Francorchamps Rd 6 - June 13 - 15:00 GMT - Road America
So I have been challenged by one of my friends on Facebook to list 10 vinyl albums that greatly influenced my music taste over the years, funnily enough I said to Wendy around a year ago that something similar would make a great blog so I guess with the world in lockdown there is no better time to put my thinking cap on and create a list of albums that helped form my love of music.
I have given this a fair bit of thought over the last few days and I have got it down to 12 albums that to be fair were all recorded between 45 to 25 years ago, as much as I love finding new music it is going back to my favourite's that really give me the most enjoyment when I sit down to listen at home.
The funny thing with this list is that although I love all these albums, it is also the artists that I really love, I mean I could have filled the top 10 with all Bruce Springsteen's albums but this is more the albums that I grew up with, changed me in some way and that I go back to regularly to listen to.
So here we go, these are in no particular order and I apologise for none of them, I will write a few words on each one but will keep it short and sweet and will add another one Daily with my all time favourite album listed last, hope you enjoy and any thoughts feel free to mail me.
Elvis - Moody Blue
Elvis was my first love in music, I was 8 when he died and it left a real mark on me how his death affected people around me, this was my first Vinyl record bought by my Nan for me in 1977 and Elvis's last studio album, I went to Graceland in the early 90's and even today Elvis is the biggest part of my vinyl and CD collection which I listen to regularly.
Hope everyone is staying safe and sane in this new world we are living in at the moment, here are a couple of new offers from IsoAcoustics and Benchmark that we are participating in so if either is of any interest just let me know, I have to say that the home demo schemes we have been running have proved very popular but here's hoping normality returns soon as I can't wait to open our doors again to everyone.
I have to say that the IsoAcoustics Gaia Speaker isolation feet really do make a difference, we recently installed a set to a pair of Magico S5 speakers and the difference in bass control and mid range clarity really wasn’t subtle and they do work on any floorstanding speaker with the same effect so if you want to unleash the true performance of your speakers then I would most definitely recommend these and the great news is that they are not silly money, I know, rare in HiFi, please see pic below where we compared recently the Focal Aria 906's with and without Gaia's which gave quite a stunning upgrade.
Anyway at the moment IsoAcoustics are offering for every set of 8 Gaia Isolation feet sold they will also throw in for free 3 IsoAcoustics Graphite Orea equipment isolation supports and they are so confident that as we can’t demo this at the moment that if for any reason they are not giving you the performance boost you were hoping for they will give you your money back within 30 days of purchase, can’t ask for more than that really so if of any interest just let me know and I can get the required set of Gaia’s sent out to you, all I need to know is what speakers you have to determine which Gaia’s are suitable for you.
Benchmark really do make great, honest sounding amps, Pre's and Dac's, during lockdown if you'd like to try any of their range please get in touch and we can arrange to get any of their range shipped out to you.
I put a post up on the forum around 6 years ago looking for my 1st ever Lotus, an Elan M100 that I ordered in 1989 and took delivery of in 1990, I worked my nuts off to afford her back then, I'll never forget seeing the cover picture on Autocar launching the M100, It is still my favourite Lotus, it really surprises me how it is so unloved by so many, for me it is still a beautiful car.
Anyway a couple of weeks ago I got a random phone call at work by someone telling me that my original M100 was for sale on facebook, needless to say I couldn't resist, I got her delivered to home during the week and I have to say it is probably the best £4000 I have ever spent, I mean in the car world what can you get for £4k that is better than this, she is not perfect but pretty good for a 100,000+ mile car and she runs beautifully.
This will be a keeper now, I'm going to change my red S2 for a mint Norfolk Mustard one if I can find one, but for this one I will restore her over the next couple of years to her former glory, never to be separated again, this really is the car that started my love affair with all things Lotus so great to have her back again.
I hope everyone is keeping well, normally at this time of year I would be spending most Sunday's at a race track or at a car show somewhere but obviously that is not possible at the moment so last Sunday I used the time wisely to pull out my home system, give it a spring clean and a few hours later, and a hell of a lot of cables, it was all back together and I also used the opportunity to install the new Arcam AV40 Processor with the also new 7 Channel Glass G PA720 power amp and to my disbelief it all worked first time, probably more luck than judgement I'd say.
It was time well spent though mainly due to how impressed I have been with the AV40 / PA720 combo, I have been running Arcam at home for cinema duties for over 15 years now and have owned most iterations from the AVR600 onwards, now I think it is fair to say that the new Arcam range of receivers and processors has not been the smoothest launch in history with quite a few firmware bugs but fair play to Arcam they have worked tirelessly to get these issues fixed with firmware updates coming thick and fast, I know this isn't really the answer but Arcam admitted they made a mistake launching a little too early but the strength of any company is how they deal with any issues and Arcam really did jump on this and resolved the issues pretty swiftly, anyway due to these issues I had been running the new AVR30 at home, basically the top all in one unit, to test new firmware and feedback how things are progressing and I have to say with the firmware around 3 weeks ago I was really happy that it worked as it should so was happy to install the AV40 and PA720 into our home system, we have a reasonably simple system of Sky, Apple TV and a Pioneer LX-800 BD Player but it does have to feed both a Sony Laser VW760ES Projector and Panasonic OLED which was a problem with the previous generation, I had to keep swapping HDMI cables over which was a real pain, but with the new range this is no longer and issue which is great news and stops Wendy moaning at me.
So how does it sound? Well I can honestly say that I really enjoyed the AVR30 but I was not expecting such a step up in performance by going to the AV40/PA720 setup, there is much more clarity overall but especially on speech and everything feels more dynamic and fast, just more engaging which is really important for home cinema, we run a 5.4.3 Atmos system at home and even the height channels seemed more effective adding to the immersion. If you have one of the previous range of Arcam Receivers, like the AVR850 or AVR750 for example I would really consider this combo, I know you are adding another box but you will get a real upgrade as obviously it is always going to be better to take the amps away from the processing but this range is a total ground up redesign so you definitely get more than just different casework and now Arcam are offering a 7 channel amp again, this time Glass G which sounds great, then the combo really does make a lot of sense, especially at the prices they are as the combo isn't massively more than the AVR30. The new range also offers a really good streaming board which I have been using, it isn't quite as good as the Bryston BDA-3.14 I am currently using for 2 channel listening but it does a really good job to be honest so for general listening I use this and power up the Bryston for a serious listening session.
Anyway we have the AV40 / PA720 setup in our Atmos cinema room at HFL so once we are allowed to open the doors again please feel free to come in for a listen anytime, I can assure you that you will be impressed.
Take care everyone,
Firstly I want to say that I hope everyone is OK and staying safe as needless to say since our last blog things have got much worse and all that really matters at a time like this is that we all stay fit and healthy and look forward to a time where we can travel about freely again, makes you stop and think how we take for granted just moving around at our own will.
I also want to thank everyone who has been in touch with calls and e-mails of support and genuine concern that we will we be able to survive this, I have genuinely found it moving how everyone really cares as in reality there are much more serious things to worry about at the moment but it just goes to show what awesome customers we have and what a great community HFL has become, so thanks again everyone, we really do appreciate it.
As an update from the last blog, Ady and Wendy have been furloughed but I have to say I have been really surprised how busy I have been, certainly not complaining especially as I thought I would be twiddling my thumbs with no interest in HiFi at this time, which would be totally understandable, but I’m still doing 12-14 hour days trying to keep up with it, all I can really put this down to is that everyone is now at home and music is now more important than ever, one for entertainment and also as an escape to all the terrible news out there, so as ever I am here to help with any queries you may have on either e-mail or phone, one customer said something funny the other day, basically socialising is a really expensive past time which he can no longer do so he may as well spend that money saved on HiFi, certainly no complaints from me.
One thing is for sure as soon as this has passed we are going to do a really big OPEN day, not to promote anything but just to say we are open again and to have a big social event, with a BBQ hopefully, to just catch up with everyone and look towards a brighter future, roll on that event.
Home Trial Offers
Anyway onto the point of this blog, I have to say that the new normal at HFL of sending kit out daily for customers to try at home has proved very popular indeed, as the below picture shows, and needless to say I am happy to carry on with this so if you fancy trying anything just let me know and we’ll make the necessary arrangements.
We have also teamed up with 3 manufacturer’s to offer something similar but with their support which is very much appreciated as I only have one of each product in most cases so I have now got a ‘Covid-19 HiFi Loan waiting list’ but the support like this will really help, please find more details below and any interest of question just give me a shout.
So for me Melco offer the best range of servers out there, in the old days we all used NAS drives and lap tops for servers but there really is no need for this any longer with Melco offering a full range of servers / Players which give a big upgrade in sound quality compared to a NAS or computer, they also offer a ripper and the new network switch so if you would like to discover the benefits of adding any of their products into your system please get in touch then I will speak with Melco to arrange the loan, please find the full Melco range below –
We were supposed to be holding a CAD open day next month to demo and explain the performance benefits of their grounding blocks and other equipment but obviously that has been postponed but this is is arguably a better alternative as CAD are happy to send out their grounding blocks for you to try at home, these really are a great upgrade, totally passive and funnily enough work brilliantly with Melco, so if you have a Server, DAC, CD Player, Phono Stage, all in one player, basically most things and would like better performance then please get in touch to arrange a home demo, the beauty is that the grounding blocks are extremely easy to try, no setting up and no mains, just connect it up with the supplied cable and enjoy the upgrade which basically lowers the noise floor improving transients, clarity and making the music more rhythmic, please find the CAD range below and check out the downloads tab in each product for more information. I’m actually home trialling their USB cables at the moment on my system to see how they compare to what I currently use and so far so good I have to say.
Obviously Quadraspire are not going to send out HiFi Racks to try but their QPlus range of HiFi isolation feet are perfect to test at home under any hifi kit really, the idea is that if you haven’t got the room for a dedicated Quadraspire rack then put these under your equipment and it is just like putting them on one of their racks, they really do make a difference so well worth a go, below is a video by Terry Ellis of Pursuit Perfect Systems that has been done in collaboration with Quadraspire as a teaser to the QPLUS range, keep an eye out as he will be doing a full review very shortly, also please find more information on our website from the below link –
So to sum up if you’d like to try and of the above feel free to get in touch or if I have anything in the shop of interest just let me know.
Once again take care and stay well,
Paul & Wendy
Hope everyone is continuing to stay fit and healthy in these crazy times, I just wanted to send out a really quick update since our last newsletter as obviously now we are in lockdown things have changed a little.
Firstly obviously we are now closed for any customer visits and demo’s but I am still coming in to work at the moment, basically here on my own so I can’t see any harm it that really, actually want to use the time to do all the jobs that I never have time for.
Secondly my master plan of home visits and home demo’s is obviously out the window but on the flip side UPS are still working as normal so I am happy to ship anything out that you would like to try at home, may as well this self isolation time wisely, already this week I have shipped out quite a few products for home demo so if there is anything you fancy trying just get in touch and we can get something arranged, I can see the shop being empty soon but that is fine, saying that, if you want to try the dCS Bartok there is quite a queue forming.
Also we can ship any of our demo stock if there is anything you fancy buying, we heard yesterday that Rega and Naim have ceased production for the time being and I would imagine everyone else will follow suit soon so our ex-display kit, which is all as new and boxed, is a great way of getting something now and saving a few sheckles, please see our ex-display section on our website below but if there is anything on our website that you are interested in let me know as most manufacturer’s are now happy to ship direct as they are keen to help in anyway they can -
Also we do have quite a few bits and bobs on our eBay page which is also available for instant shipping so please see below and if anything takes your fancy please do get in touch, keep an eye on this as I do add kit regularly -
So really that is all we can offer at the moment but if you’d like to discuss anything please either give me a call or email me on 01767 448121 / [email protected]
I look forward to our next update to say that normal service is resumed in the not too distant future hopefully but at the moment music is the best antidote we have so please stay safe, well and sane whilst self isolating.
Take care everyone,
So this is probably the hardest blog I have had to write over the last 8 years as I am pretty speechless, rare for me I know, for what the world is going through right now, I know you have probably received many of these types of emails over the last few days so sorry for yet another clogging up your mailbox but I just wanted to send out a message of well wishes and our plan to hopefully get through this.
Firstly I sincerely hope that everyone is OK and is keeping well, obviously the health and well being of our customers is our main concern but also I think it is fair to say that the effect Covid-19 is having on the economy is pretty devastating, there really are not many businesses that are not going to be affected by this, personally we have had an extremely quiet week with only a couple of people coming in so my thoughts really are also with all businesses out there affected by this virus alongside the health concerns.
I should also say that we had some cool open days planned but needless to say they will have to be postponed till further notice but more importantly all world Motorsport is now cancelled as well as the summer’s concerts are starting to be cancelled, this really is no laughing matter.
Now I totally understand that HiFi really isn’t a high priority for most people at the moment, unlike toilet rolls for some bizarre reason, but the world needs to carry on somehow and my thoughts are that if you are penned up at home then surely this is the best time to try some new kit in your system and enjoy your music like never before so below are a few bullet points on how I hope we can ride out this crisis, so please see below and let me know your thoughts and if you have any other ideas how we can help support fellow audiophiles please let me know.
1, Firstly, we are still open as normal, I will need to be dragged kicking and screaming from this place, so if you have any questions please do email me on - [email protected] or ring on 01767 448121.
2, If you would like to order anything we are happy to ship direct so you don’t have to risk coming in, just get in touch and we can make arrangements to suit you.
3, Now this is my master plan, let’s take HFL on the road, so if you have got anything you’d like to try in your system at the moment, the perfect time being at home, then please get in touch and we can make plans to either drive to you or if you’d rather we can courier most things to you, again please ring and we’ll see what we can arrange.
4, If you do want to come along for a demo anytime please feel free, we are lucky that we are not on a high street so the chance of the virus finding us is very slim, could I please ask though if you do have any symptoms please do stay away until better to avoid us catching it, thanks.
5, We have upped our hygiene in accordance with the Government Guidelines and are wiping down hard surfaces regularly and have hand wash available.
6, We do have 4 demo rooms so in theory if you book then you can almost self isolate in one of our demo rooms as there is no need to see any other people other than Myself, Wendy or Ady.
To sum up we are here to help with any HiFi queries so just get in touch and we’ll do everything we can to help, Wendy has even just taken delivery of the below post apocalyptic, Corona beating truck in readiness for hopefully more home deliveries and home demo’s, hilariously it is called the ‘Deranged’ version which suits Wendy perfectly.
Also please keep an eye on the blog part of our website on the homepage as I will probably have quite a bit more time on my hands for awhile so will update this regularly with any HFL updates.
Finally, In all seriousness though let’s all keep safe and well and hope that this passes sooner rather than later and please do keep in touch as I am sure we will all get through this and come out the other side stronger on so many levels.
All the best,
Paul & Wendy.
I have heard it said many times that Mark Levinson started Highend Hifi as we know it today, to be 100% honest I had never really sat down and listened to it but towards the end of last year I was approached by the distributor to give it a try so I thought why not, a few hours later I had signed on the dotted line to become a Mark Levinson dealer, I really didn't know what to expect but the sound quality is right up my street, neutral, clean, dynamic, just basically very honest and what with the new 5000 Series just being launched it seemed like good timing to become a dealer, actually got it running now as I write this hooked up to a Rega Planar 6 and the JBL L100 Classic speakers and it is sounding particularly sweet.
For demo we have gone with the No 5805 Integrated amplifier which we have here now and the soon to be released No 5101 CD, SACD, Streamer and DAC, which combined will make a very potent 2 box solution, just add a turntable and you'll have all the HiFi bases covered.
Several things impressed me with the 5805 amplifier, firstly is the build quality, this is a very solid unit designed to last years, the sound quality for me is hard to fault and it is impossible to not be impressed by the feature set of this amp, it is a real swiss army knife of HiFi, as a quick overview it has the latest Sabre DAC's and is full MQA Compatible, has a full MM and MC phono stage, has multiple analogue and digital inputs, Bluetooth, high quality headphone amp, HT Bypass and dual mono design with a massive custom Toroidal transformer + loads of other clever stuff so as integrated amps go this really does tick all the boxes.
Really looking forward to partnering the new No 5101 Player with this amp once it is released as at £5000 I can see this being a combo that is very difficult to beat for a 2 box system.
Please find all the Mark Levinson products on our website from the link below and a few pictures and if you'd like to come in for a listen anytime please feel free.
It's always big news when PMC launch new speakers but I would imagine that following up the brilliant Twenty5 range must have been one of their toughest jobs yet but talking to PMC they are really confident that they have taken the Twenty5 range to another level with the new Twenty5i Series of speakers so can't wait to find out for myself shortly when our demo stock arrives.
I must admit I feel a little nostalgic as it was the original i Series from over 12 years ago that originally got me into PMC Speakers, over a short time I seemed to have owned them all ending with the epic EB1i's, I really loved those speakers, so it is great to have the I Series back again.
Regarding the improvements, from what I understand, there is a new tweeter developed from the Fact range, the crossover has been changed and a lot of work has been done to reduce any unwanted vibrations resulting in the removal of anything that detracts from the music, providing greater realism, transparency and musicality, which all sounds very good to me.
Below are a few words from Oliver Thomas, head of design, “The twenty5 series was a phenomenally hard act to follow, winning awards and plaudits around the world. We knew from our recent research and development that there were a number of areas we could improve, including the design of the tweeter, the crossover tuning and isolation from vibration.
We will have the full range on demo very shortly so please feel free to get in touch to book an appointment, feel free also to discuss any trade ins you may have as we offer great P/X values, they now also come in a funky silk white finish which I would think should look stunning, please find the full range below -
It has been a while since we have done a headphone blog, to be honest I have been re-assessing our headphone side of things and have decided to refine what we offer so we now focus on a few main brands, basically the brands everyone wants to listen to, so we have had a bit of a clear out but we still have over 40 pairs of headphones on demo so we should still have something for everyone. We have also decided to take down the dedicated headphone website, mainly as it is hard enough to keep one website up to date but it became too difficult to maintain both so we have kept our Highend Headphones webpage as a link to all our headphones that are listed on HiFi Lounge.
Anyway the point of this blog is that part of the re-focusing is to fill out the ranges of the brands that we have decided to keep representing so we have added to demo 2 very different ends of the Audeze headphone range with the £399 LCD-1 and the £3599 LCD-4z, the LCD-1 is a great sounding headphone but I am really hoping that they release a closed back version soon as that will make a great replacement for the OPPo PM-3 that was discontinued some time ago, as for the LCD-4z, this really is a worthy opponent for the Focal Utopia's as it is a great all rounder headphone and is extremely easy to drive making it easier to accommodate compared to the standard LCD-4, personally I prefer the presentation of the LCD-4z to the original LCD-4 and we have had a lot more enquiries about the 4z.
So there we go, we are still loving our headphones but after a few years it is time to refocus, to celebrate we will be having a headphone open day shortly so watch this space.
So PMC announced their new Ci range of speakers towards the end of last year but last week they completed the range by adding 4 new models, taking the range to 6 models, and I have to say they look awesome and I am sure they will sound equally as impressive.
The Wafers have always been very popular but have been around a long time now so this new range is most welcome and is bound to be equally popular if not more so, I use Wafer 2’s at home for rears and in the shop so I am hoping to put the new Ci140 in at home and also in the shop very shortly.
The model lineup looks very similar to the Twenty5 range really but for cinema and installs, so there are 5 speakers + a sub with prices ranging from £995 each for the Ci30 up to £3495 each for the much bigger Ci140, which in all honesty seems extremely good value, the number basically refers to the height so the Ci30 is 300mm high whereas the Ci140 is a massive 1400mm tall, I can really see a lot of people using these as stereo speakers for their main HiFi as not everyone can accommodate a floorstander and we all know these will sound amazing but will be much more discreet than a conventional speaker so easier to accommodate.
Needless to say they incorporate all PMC’s magic tech with ATL and Laminair amongst other goodies + a new ingenious install system for in-wall called Qikfire, all the speakers can be used either in wall or on wall other than the Ci140 which is on wall only, the Ci140 even has its own matching on-wall sub, now that would be a pretty potent combo.
Anyway if you’d like more info just let me know as I have a PDF here that I can mail over and hope to have some of the range on demo shortly and will add them to our website once I have all the info.
So what with the Bristol HiFi show just a few days away Chord Electronics have unleashed 5 new products at both ends of their product ranges, 2 new Stereo power amps in their Ultima Range and a new Ultima 2 Pre-amp + 2 really interesting new products called 2go and 2yu, 2go bolts onto Hugo 2 to make it a dedicated streaming / player unit and 2yu is a really interesting product as it turns 2go into its own Dac'less streamer / player which can be connected to any DAC + can be used with the M Scaler which really is brilliant and it can be used with the Qutest, TT2, DAVE + any other DAC, a really interesting product.
I won't go on about each product but please find the relevant links to each product on our website and needless to say they will be on demo shortly -
Chord 2yu - https://hifilounge.co.uk/product/chord-electronics-2yu-audio-interface/
Chord 2go - https://hifilounge.co.uk/product/chord-electronics-2go-streamer-player/
Chord Ultima 5 & 6 Stereo Power Amplifiers - https://hifilounge.co.uk/product-category/brands/chord-electronics/chord-electronics-full-size/
Chord Ultima Pre 2 Reference Preamplifier - https://hifilounge.co.uk/product/chord-electronics-ultima-2-reference-preamplifier/