I like to think of myself as a hi-fi enthusiast – don’t get me wrong, I’m not some kind of nerd who’ll waffle on for hours about tweeters, woofers and valve amps, I just like a good sound.
I would love to be able to hear the music as cleanly as possible, i.e. as close to the original sound in the studio as possible, but to get this type of sound would require large amounts of cash to buy equipment made with high end components and I can’t really afford that – as it is I’ve spent far too much on equipment than I ever should have: over 3000GBP so far!
I started out with a modest amplifier (the box with the volume knob on) – a Denon PMA450 – but lacked anything to go with it so was limited to listening to my computer through some of dad’s headphones.
Dad lent me 100GBP to buy a CD player – a below par Akai – and once I’d paid him back I decided to get myself some speakers. After spending a day visiting 4 different hi-fi shops and listening to about 12 pairs of speakers I got seduced by stupidity and bought a pair of Cerwin Vega! AT-40’s. Whilst these were a rather large addition to my setup, with their own treble and mid-range adjusters, they weren’t exactly the clearest sound available. Still, they were bloody loud!
A year or so later I spotted an Audiolab 8000S (amplifier) in a shop window and went in to have a listen; I fell in love immediately and decided to buy it. Unfortunately I didn’t have the 600GBP required at the time so I went about raising the cash by selling a shed-load of CDs and saving like mad for 2 months. Eventually, I got the cash, bought the amp and my life improved significantly.
Next to go were the speakers: several auditions saw me acquiring an nice pair of Kef Q55s and parting with another 400GBP. Mum didn’t believe that they could sound any better than my Cerwins on the basis that they were smaller, so I played her one of her favourite tunes (“… Running Bear, loved little White Dove …”), swapped the Cerwins with the Kefs and then re-played it; she conceded that they were better and was even happier when I pointed out that they weren’t as loud as the old ones!
I then splashed out 300GBP on a Marantz CD63 mark II KI Signature. My eldest brother took the piss because he couldn’t understand how two CD players could sound any different from each other because “they’re digital: it’s only 1’s and 0’s”. A quick comparison later and he too was impressed.
Since then I’ve purchased an Audiolab 8000CDM and matching 8000DAC as an “upgrade” for my Marantz, but so far have failed to rearrange my lounge to fit them in: I’m citing the missus as the main obstacle – she has no objection to the units themselves, but my current set-up is housed in a cabinet that was a gift from her family, so ditching it for something that’ll allow a bigger stack of components is some way off. In the meantime, the Audiolabs are being stored at a friend’s house and he assures me that they’re fine and haven’t been sold on eBay … yet.