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New and Old HiFi - Old Happy Man

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A few days ago, on another thread, I posted about my intentions for my sound system.

Many years ago I used to sell Hi-Fi, mostly the rack systems typical of the time, the late 70s to early 80s. IMHO a golden age for Hi-Fi with good quality gear available for the first time at a reasonable price, the arrival of CDs and the pinnacle of turntable design for vinyl playback.

Some of the gear I sold was from the upper end, not the extravagant stuff that was, and still is, an expensive con trick foisted upon those who are unwilling to admit that the emperor is wearing no clothes.

Anyway, when I became a student I was unfortunate in that my home was burgled and as a result, I lost most of my equipment, almost all of my LPs and CDs. All that was left was my Sony home theatre setup - a Sony SA-VA15 setup. Probably because the speakers were too big and heavy to carry away. I have been using those as the heart of my music system since then.

A while back I started to become interested in making my music sound as good as I could. For some reason these days, Hi-Fi buyers and sellers seem focused upon the output end of the system, ignoring the old adage of garbage in = garbage out. I chose to be rational and started looking at upgrading the sound by improving the inputs. Most of my listening is to digital sources, stored on my PC or using Spotify and Amazon HD music.

Until recently I simply used my ethernet connection to an Nvidia Shield, an advanced set-top box. It sounds fine. But I was unable to listen to it for long. It was great for home theatre use and background music but something was wrong if I couldn't listen to music for long. My next choice was to get a Google Audio Chromecast. That was a revelation. Music had depth and seemed to have gained height. This is a real phenomenon, not 'woo-woo' and now, for the first time in years, I found myself listening for long periods of time rather than watching movies or episodes.

A little later and a little bit of reading suggested that the Chromecast was far from the ultimate. So, I researched more and ended up deciding to buy a 'proper' digital to audio converter (DAC) and that the Allo Boss DAC was a good option as it could function as a source for my music pleasure, using my PC based music files as data as well as my streaming subscriptions. This is the fellow: By all accounts it is a bit of a giant killer, is very well designed and made and great value for money. After a delay, it arrived chez moi a few days ago. I plugged the unit directly into my Sony SA-VA15 system. It sounds wonderful. Somehow it is getting a load lower frequency sound out such that even with tone controls flat some music creates a sensation of vibration in the body and through furnishings without sounding overly bassy. Instruments all have their own place in front of me. One small but noticeable thing, there is no hiss, the output from the amp and speakers is now silent. Every previous input added noticeable hiss.

Just a note, the Sony SA-VA15 is an active system with the amplifier located in the left-hand speaker and controlled by remote control. Common enough now, but not 25 years ago when this thing was built.

My original intent had been to start to replace the old Sony system and I had been considering getting an amp from the same firm that made the DAC. Like the Allo Boss, the amp was reputed to be something of a giant killer and is certainly made with high-quality components and careful design. But I became distracted with the idea of buying something more beautiful. I went to look at a Bang and Olufsen (B&O) 5000 system, an antique from the mid-80s. In the showroom, I was swayed to something different and even more beautiful. A Beocentre 9000 from the same period. I have lusted over this item since it came out. Absolutely not the best in Hi-Fi, but pretty good for all that, and it looks like something off the bridge of a starship. All components are hidden away under sliding metal covers that react to the lightest touch. All controls are accessed by touching the glass from which the unit is built.

The Beocentre 9000 has a preamp out connection which means I can use it with the SA-VA15. I love it!
Music sounds very different when played through the Beocentre as compared to directly through the SA-VA15. It is smoother somehow, slightly warmer but all the things I liked about the Allo Boss are still true through the Allo and Beocentre combination.

Only one problem. I have now got the B&O bug. I have been looking at getting some Beovox Penta speakers to match the Beocentre 9000.

The pic below shows the Beocentre 9000 and the Beovox Penta speakers.

I have seen a good looking set for sale in Denmark for just €800, but it'll cost a lot to send them over to me.

Damn that thing looks old!  I got a Denon M41 mini system for a few hundred quid that does the job fine. 

It is old, about 35 years old.

I used to drive a Renault 12 that did the job fine and cost only a few hundred pounds. I much preferred driving my MB S500 which did much more than do the job fine.

If I wanted a bedroom music box I might think of something like the Denon m41. Fortunately that role is already filled by a beautiful looking and great sounding LG fb166 system. I'd not consider such a thing in my living rooms.

Many cheap Japanese gears play great sound nowadays.

Even cheap China gears can play great sound, but the quality is not guaranteed.

I guess I will buy a new Onkyo gear this winter, and connect it to my China BW clone.

Which new UK brand speaker should I choose?  I can pay around ₤3,000.00 for one stereo pair.  Made in UK is preferred.

I like speakers sounding wide and deep sound stage.


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