Chris Baillie

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I was introduced to music and playing records at the age of three. I still remember my dad going up to the loft and throwing down these strange little black discs. Before I knew it, there was this little box in the corner of my bedroom, which turned out to be a Dansette Musique record player. Little did my dad know that this would be the start of an obsession. The Dansette gave way to a stereo radiogram, the brand of which eludes me, but it had an integrated Garrard record deck. The next upgrade would be my first separate turntable, a BSR deck, which fed a Sony cassette/radiogram with dreadful speakers. Eventually, the Sony gave way to a Realistic Receiver, feeding a small pair of Goodmans  speakers and a National Panasonic cassette deck. Much as I loved playing records, the cottage we lived in did not, causing the stylus to skip if an adjoining door was closed shut or someone walked on the wrong floorboard. So I moved over to CD pretty early and stopped buying records, something I regret in many ways.

Upgrades came thick and fast as I found employment. It was now the late 80’s, and like many others, I bought a Pioneer A400, along with Mission speakers and a Technics mid-end CD player, which my cousin still uses. Having been a few years since I got married and bought our first house, it was time for my first glimpse of the high end. This system, comprising of a Densen B400XS CDP and B100 amp, feeding a pair of Shahinian speakers had a profound effect on me. I would continue to upgrade. A Larvardin IT amp, Reference 3a speakers, still using the Densen CD player, was a system I will never forget. Finally, we moved to our first detached house, and I just had to have a pair of floorstanding speakers. A pair of Neat SX1’s, fed now by the Densen B440 CDP and their B150 amp, gave me my first set-up that could produce a decent amount of bass. Whilst I was delighted with this system, CDs were taking over the house. Conveniently, this gave me the excuse to upgrade again, which my wife agreed to the promise there would be no more CDs in the house. The purchase of a Melco NA1/2 server, the CD player, getting traded in for a Moon 280D streaming DAC, giving birth to new obsessions: ripping SACDs and spending far too much on hi-res downloads. A few canny purchases later, and now enjoy the following system: Moon 780D, Moon 600i amp, Totem Forest Signature speakers, Melco NA1/2 server, D100 ripping drive, Tellurium Q Ultrablack 2 speaker cable and interconnects, with Audioquest digital cables. I also enjoy headphones and portable digital audio playback. The highlight of my portable set-up is a Chord 2Go and Hugo2 combo.

Even the best audio systems are worthless if their owner does not love music. Throughout my life I have enjoyed gigs. Living within a couple of miles of the Glastonbury Festival site made that an annual event when I was younger. I have not been able to get to as many concerts as I would have liked in recent years, but I have seen some great bands in the last few years, including Rush, Massive Attack, Thee Oh Sees and Sleaford Mods. I enjoy all kinds of music; jazz, electronic, metal, classic rock and prog.

I am very new to reviewing, and it was a proud moment when Jason asked me to write for The Ear. I balance writing about audio equipment with a career as a driving instructor and a passion for road cycling. I love messing around with audio products, discovering what tweaks do and do not work etc. From an early stage in my audiophile journey, I learnt that I am sensitive to even small changes to sound quality and sonic balance brought about by both tweaks and component changes. I hope readers enjoy my contribution to The Ear.

Source: Melco NA1/2 server, D100 ripping drive, Melco S100 switch, ADOT MC01 Fibre Kit
DAC: Moon 780D v1
Amplifier: Moon 600i v1
Speakers: Totem Forest Signature
Speaker cable and interconnect: Tellurium Q Ultrablack 2
Ethernet cable: Audioquest Vodka & Supra Cat 8
USB: Audioquest Coffee

I have an extensive collection of FLAC, WAV and DSD music files. Here are some of the highlights that I have been playing lately; Kamasi Washington – The Epic, Massive Attack – 100th Window,  Radiohead – Kid A Mnesia, In Rainbows, A Moon Shaped Pool. David Bowie – Ziggy Stardust, Miles Davis – almost everything, Black Midi – Cavalcade, Dead Can Dance – everything. I am still working through the recently released Pink Floyd hi res catalogue.