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

Theatre or stereo? Why not both?!

I grew up in a world of stereo.  My first system was a tower of AKAI, playing two tapes, radio and vinyl through a pair of speakers which were simple two-ways in enormous boxes.  The music was king - ABBA, Neil Diamond, all the heroes - and the parties were rocking.

Nowadays, there's a more common sight in living rooms; a TV, five speakers and a sub, all arranged to give the best sound for two or three seats in the centre.  Turning the system over to stereo to listen to music, the limitations become apparent.  While great at distributing reasonable power to all channels via a plethora of small amp stages, sending big power to just the two speakers at the front can sound deficient, harsh even.

For people who want to relive the glory days of stereo without dismantling the surround system, two solutions have been available heretofore:

1. The expensive, yet effective, choice has always been to purchase a pre-processor and separate power amplifier.  With newer digital pro-processors, the expensive idea is being challenged, but all too often the price point is beyond most budgets.

2. The second option is to buy a big, juicy and catastrophically heavy integrated AVR which has big enough amplifier stages to perform in a stereo system.  Pushing well into the three, four and beyond thousand dollar mark still asks a little too much of many budgets, (and let's not think too hard about the price of the truly awesome Denon AV-A1 series!) although we have a great suggestion to fix that right up.

Cambridge Audio 751R and BD 752 Package

Presenting the Cambridge Audio 751A, an AV receiver designed to be the best solution to our problem and leave change in your pocket.  The big toroidal power supply and massive amplifier stages (200w/channel for stereo!) allow even the most demanding of speakers to drink deeply of the electrical supply without ever sounding lean or harsh.  The surround decoding into up to seven speakers or two zones is state-of-the-art, simply eschewing unwanted and excessive feature lists in order to save on both licensing and manufacture costs.

The special price speaks for itself, and to make the flavour even sweeter over Christmas we've also bundled it with the matching Cambridge Audio BD752, a bestseller in its own right as the alternative to the Oppo BDP105.

Cambridge Audio 751R and BD 752 Package

Have a look at the special and act fast!  We have three of the bundles to sell!


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