How I Hi-Fi?

"We don't like you, we just wanna try you," opens the second album, "Take Them On, On Your Own" from Californian heavy rock revivalists, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club.  While the song may be about the excesses of rock 'n roll, it applies just as easily to the consumption side of our great little industry.

There's such a wealth of choice in product and formats that it can make it a little hard to be confident in choosing a path.  Is digital the future?  Will old analogue formats, like vinyl, make it to the hundred year mark?  Is it a waste of money to try and do both?

Whoa there, friend.  So much doubt!  The division isn't black and white, it's one big grey splodge.  Great analogue systems are now open to the digital realm, even from very basic and affordable levels.

Take, for example, our friend the Cambridge Audio 351A, a popular entry level integrated amplifier which is easily paired with a matching CD player or all manner of turntables (I'll quickly plug the bundle while I'm at it).  It also has a super-duper USB input which allows the most classic of stereos to pull sound and music from a computer, effectively acting as an external soundcard.

The other option, easily added to any existing stereo, is a DAC.  These units take one or more digital sources (computer, CD player, TV, Apple Airport Express, etc.) and convert them to a good quality analogue audio stream.  Prices and quality vary, but the idea is fundamentally the same - allow the convenience of digital to interface with the old school cool of analogue.

So if you're not necessarily computer-savvy or technologically flexible enough to undergo a digital transformation, fear not.  You can still try it out on a basic level to get to grips with the fundamentals without having to drop huge money on digital streamers or media centers.

21 February, 2014 by Angus Perry
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