The Deviliad

The walls were tall - very tall - and at least a few metres thick.  Even if soldiers managed to climb them, they'd be vastly too tired to continue the fight when they got to the top.  This was the kind of construction often lazily ascribed to supernatural forces; built by giants, or angels, or gods.  The truth was much simpler; these walls were built by men and women, probably slaves, and paid for by the immensely profitable tin trade coming through the straights the city overlooked.  They were a statement of wealth, of strength and, ultimately, of pride.

As I looked up at the walls, the faces of the heroes immortalised by their role here took shape in the clouds - Hektor, Paris, Priam, even Aeneas - and I thought how incredible it was that we remembered them, the defeated rulers, even now.  Down the hill, upon the plain, beside the shore, there were the camps of Agamemnon, Achilles, Menelaus, Ajax and the hero of the story, Odysseus.  For ten long years, the Helenes looked up at the city upon the hill, hating its walls... though no less in awe of them.

I walked inside the city of Troy led by Mustafa, our guide, as he explained the ruin which lay before us; a ruin encased by impenetrable walls.  Time, rebuilding, the drifting sands had eroded much of the original city, but the message this defeated kingdom sent was still clear these three and a half thousand years later; a great idea can change the course of history.  Odysseus putting a few good men inside a big wooden horse is something we look to, even now, as being the kind of idea which defines the greatest minds.

I know what you're thinking - what does this have to do with hifi?  It's tangentially related, I grant you, but I don't like writing dry, factual descriptions of gear if I can help it.  But this is special, really special, and I feel the comparison is warranted.

We've been witness to an Odysseus moment.  A wooden horse has been wheeled through the gates and the course of history has changed.

I'm speaking of Devialet, the most incredible new product we've had in the store for some time.  The idea is simple - it's an integrated amplifier with a customisable set of inputs and outputs, it's own platform-ambivalent music streaming system and the cleanest, most precise sound courtesy of a minimum of analogue circuitry.  These are ideas that have been tried before with mixed success, but the Devialet engineers are from a telecommunications background rather than being the usual audio and electrical engineers.  The end result is nothing short of stunning.

I cannot stress enough how important it is that you come and see the Devialet and hear the difference it makes.  We've all been blown away by just how good it is and we're sure you will be too.

28 February, 2014 by Angus Perry

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

Creek Evolution 50A Integrated Amplifier

#creek "...The Creek Evolution 50A may set a new benchmark for what's possible at an affordable price. And Creek has packed more features into this amplifier than he has with any of his earlier amps at any price. Finally, don't let the Evolution50A's modest 50W power rating fool you. During my listening, it was never stressed or seemed limited in power or dynamics, and that was when driving floorstanding speakers in a large listening room at loud levels. It never even got warm to the touch.

The Innovation 50A may well satisfy those expecting to pay $2000 or more on an integrated amplifier, and free up more cash to spend elsewhere in the system. And that's always a good thing." - Stereophile, 

23 November, 2013 by Omer Sheikh
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