My first exposure to the differences between audio components came in my early twenties when I heard a vintage system with a Decca London cartridge on a Garrard 301 turntable, Leak Stereo 20 tube amp and Quad ESL 57 loudspeakers. Despite or maybe because of its vintage this was a mind blowing system, one that reinvigorated my favourite records so comprehensively that I was hooked forever more. I started reviewing when I joined Hi-Fi Choice magazine for its transition from an A5 to an A4 monthly publication in 1987. By dint of persistence I was made Editor and stayed until 2001. I still contribute to HFC alongside a number of audio publications. For reasons that aren’t hard to fathom I have become a sound junkie but would rather be listening to a great new record than a shiny piece of kit, well most of the time anyway. My obsession began as a result of a love of music that I was unable to imitate on a musical instrument, this lead to a rather protracted case of so-called air-guitar but with effort I have managed to overcome it. One day I hope to get a proper job but for now listening to great music on great kit keeps me off the streets.
My audio tastes are pretty broad and I find that the majority of well made components can be made to produce a musical sound if set up appropriately. But when you want to hear Frank Zappa’s music at its best it's hard to beat big speakers and capable amplifiers, I’m not averse to turntables either. Why else would you fill the house with vinyl?
Below is a list of the components that I use and some of the musicians and composers that I enjoy.
Turntables: Rega RP10, SME Model 20/3A, Rega RP6
Tonearms: Rega RB2000, SME Series V, Rega RB303
Cartridges: Rega Aphelion, Rega Apheta 2, Transfiguration Proteus, Dynavector DV-20X2L
Phono stages: Trilogy 907, Dynavector P75 Mk3, Trichord Delphini
CD players: Rega Saturn-R, Leema Antila
Streamers: Cyrus Stream X, Resolution Audio Cantata Music Center
Computer: Apple iMac 2.8 GHz i5, Macbook Air
Software: Audirvana Plus, JRIver MC19
DACs: CAD 1543 MkII, Primare DAC30, Metrum Octave MkII, Audioquest Dragonfly
Servers: Melco N1Z, Naim UnitiServe with Long Dog Audio XLCR PSU
Preamplifier: Townshend Allegri, Music First Baby Reference V2
Integrated amps: Rega Elex-R, Leema Tucana II Anniversary, Rega Brio
Power amp: ATC P1
Speakers: PMC Fact8, ATC SCM150ASL Pro active, Bowers & Wilkins 802 D3, PMC twenty.22
Interconnects: Townshend Fractal Wire, Chord Sarum TA, Vertere Pulse C
Digital cables: Vertere HB USB, Chord Sarum Super ARAY coax & ethernet, CAD USB, AudioQuest Cinnamon ethernet
Speaker cables: Townshend Isolda DCT, DNM Solid Core Stereo, Kondo Copper
Power cords: Isotek Premier, Russ Andrews Classic Powerkord, Vertere HB
Supports: Townshend Seismic Stands, Townshend Seismic Podiums, Hi-FI Racks, Custom Design FS104 Signature
Abdullah Ibrahim, AC/DC, Al Green, Anouar Brahem, Arvo Pärt, Beethoven, Bert Jansch, Billy Cobham, Bob Dylan, Brian Eno, Bugge Wesseltoft, Captain Beefheart, Charles Mingus, Cinematic Orchestra, Conjure, David Bowie, Esperanza Spalding, Dr John, Fleetwood Mac, Frank Zappa, Funkadelic, Genesis, Gillian Welch, Goran Kajfes, Gregorio Paniagua, Herbie Hancock, Howlin’ Wolf, Jimi Hendrix, Joe Walsh, John Fahey, John Martyn, John Surman, Joni Mitchell, JS Bach, Keith Jarrett, King Crimson, Kurt Vile, Laura Marling, Laurie Anderson, Led Zeppelin, Leo Kottke, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Massive Attack, Miles Davis, Mozart, Mulatu Astatke, Nick Drake, NIls Frahm, Nina Simone, Parliament, Patricia Barber, Rage Against the Machine, Rainer, Randy Newman, Robert Fripp, Rush, Samuel Yirga, Stanley Clarke, Steely Dan, Stevie Wonder, The Doobie Brothers,The Rolling Stones, Tom Waits, Van Morrison, Yes, ZZ Top etc