The Audiofiles: A Musician's Hi-Fi Odyssey

I had a Sony 'boombox' when I was younger (I can't remember how old I was). I remember listening to a record of Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker when I was about 8 years old. It was the first music I really loved. My paternal Grandparents bought me a cassette tape of it around the same time; I still have that. 

My Dad had an all in one music system (not sure which make) with a record player on top. There was also a record of Billy Connolly's "Wreck on Tour" (c1974?) which I listened to so many times, I knew a lot of it word for word. One of my brothers gave me a tape of Queen’s album The Works. I fell in love with Queen and went on to acquire a number of their albums. I was lucky enough to see the Queen Musical twice, and to see Brian May and Kerry Ellis perform at the Albert Hall a few years ago. When I was studying for an MA (Kingston, 2002-03), I wrote about Queens music for Highlander and Flash; and had an email reply from Brian (via the Queen Fan Club) about Highlander.

I remember first seeing a What Hi-Fi? magazine in an art class at secondary school (91-96) - which we were cutting up and using for a collage.

New Adventures in Hi-FI
The first Hi-Fi system I got was a Marantz PM44 amp. There was a Marantz CD63 CD player as well; I can't remember if it was mine or my Dads. I had a Pioneer PD-S703? CD player which was unusual as you had to put the CD in upside down. I had an Aiwa tape player (AD-F450 I believe) that cost around £100 at the time, and a NAD tuner. I had some rubbish no-name speakers, which I upgraded to some Mission 731's (maybe £150?), which were great fun.

I bought some Monitor Audio floorstanding speakers (Pictured) with some money (£400) I inherited when I was 16. I remember wanting to set them up but my parents wouldn't let me because I had to study for my GCSE’s. I used part of a pay cheque to buy a Roksan Kandy amp (£575) around 98 or 99. My parents gave me an REL subwoofer for my 18th birthday (98).

Monitor Audio Floorstanders 
When I received compensation, for injuries I suffered in a road accident it allowed me to do a major upgrade. One of the Focal speakers is worth more than both of the Monitor Audio speakers I’d owned previously! I hope they will last me a similar length of time - 18 years!

Next Hi-Fi Upgrade
I look forward to adding a separate DAC and Power Supply to the Naim components as funds permit.  The biggest upgrade for me now, would simply to have the space to appreciate them.

It's All About The Music
I’ve got lots of (mostly old, some new) LPs. I recently purchased a re-pressing of a Led Zeppelin album. I love the tangible aspect of vinyl, as well as the audio quality.  I’ve seen the Queen branded limited edition Rega turntable in this months What Hi-Fi? and it looks amazing!

When I bought the Naim system, I gave the Roksan and Pioneer to my Dad but he doesn't use them much.
Living at home, means it's often difficult to listen to music at the volume I want to, so I usually only use the Hi-Fi when he's not around (like today).  Otherwise I use my iMac.  I’ve also got some Sennheiser HD-650 headphones (last year, £300) which are a great upgrade from the pair I bought with my student overdraft back in '99 for £140.  I lived in a detached house on my own for around 7 months between October '14 and May '15. It was great to be able to listen to loud music, even relatively loud music at 3am.  I'm looking forward to being able to do so again.

A Slice of Hi-Fi Heaven at Home 
Thank You For The Music
I just shared this on my Cheeky Promo Facebook group; "I purchased some Naim Audio Hi-Fi, CD player, amp, phono stage for my existing Rega Research PH & Rega USA Planar turntable and Focal Aria 926 speakers [total cost £5000 including off-shelf prices + kind discount] from the Reading branch of Audio T last year. I received great customer service and found the staff very friendly and flexible. I appreciated one of them delivering the speakers in their own vehicle to my home address (in SW London) as I was unable to transport them myself. I'm really enjoying all of the new hi-fi."

Someone commented: "You are part of a dying breed of people who listen to music in high quality."

With most people listening on their mobile phones, or on their computers I wonder how much of the music people are actually hearing? 

What got me hooked on music? That's another story..... although the Tchaikovsky is part of it.

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