The real bargains.
By Jack Lawson 14th August 2017
Audio Analogue’s products have always offered a lot in return for your hard earned cash and their AirTech Anniversary range ups the ante.
Image © Audio Analogue
The Music Room is upmarket and sells expensive Hi-Fi, but survives as the cheapest source of real Hi-Fi. Today’s online economy does not fool the discerning buyer. There is good reason to buy new from franchised dealers apart from the faking and fraud which is now a cancer in our sector. Disappointment goes high, including some “respected” brands who now market components made in the same so-called fake factories.
All Music Room brands are run by principals who believe that engineering and musical performance “sells itself.” We are pleased by the way the bar has been lifted in recent years and we want to alert everyone to the new world of quality and value. The old bargains are not anymore! After decades of decline, technology is serving music. As an example: the new ProAc DT-8, looks quite conventional floorstander so how can it perform as it does for its size and price?
Here is a personal checklist of super bargains you might overlook.
What other turntable competes with the Bardo at this price? We're the first to admit it’s not pocket change, but it coolly competes with turntable and tonearm combinations at double the entry fee.
The Brinkmann Bardot, or Spyder, or Balance turntables. Each one, by passionate research and precision craftsmanship, perform at a level which surpasses the apparent simplicity and actual price.
As a counter intuitive bargain goes, the expensive Grand Prix Audio isolation supports are probably the most shocking. Like my older customers, I won’t forget the moment JFK was shot and none of us forget the moment we hear Hi-Fi for the first time on a Monaco isolation support.
ProAc DT-8. If we told you they were £2995 you'd be impressed. If we told you they were less than half that...?
A customer who just boasted that he bought a used pair of ProAc D2.5 or D25 for only £1625 popped by to gloat until we played him the new ProAc DT-8 which he had never heard of, but after a few minutes wished he had.
Oppo from California are masters of serious audiophile products made in China under careful scrutiny and quality control. The Sonica DAC simply eclipses the competition up to two or three times its incredibly sensible price of £799. The Oppo headphones are a legend and – more impressive – the choice of our customers who listen!! The all-new universal disc players frankly make strong case for those of us who see today’s CD’s and DVD’s as super quality and outstanding value.
The mighty K-07x SA-CD player. What other "entry" level component looks and – more importantly – sounds this good? This is the benefit of trickle-down technology as implemented by the Japanese masters Esoteric.
If you cherish a collection of CDs and Super Audio CDs … if you love the choice, quality and price of these silver discs, then make no mistake, there is one leader way ahead of the rest and of what they were doing only three years ago. The X-series CD players from Esoteric are so much ahead, technically and emotionally, oh, and wait until you hear their DACs, N-05 and all-new N-01 streamers and the legendary E-03 phono stage is upstaged by an E-02.
Zingali Zero Evo bookshelf monitor. An impossibly large and full sound from these standmounts. And would still be a bargain at quadruple the price.
Zingali loudspeakers. A Music Room speciality for many, many years. Customers are still astounded when they hear them for the first time. Based on the legend, they are good, very good, but you cannot imagine just how good. Continuing a well-rehearsed trick over twenty years, Jack sometimes demonstrates Zingali’s new Zero EVO Bookshelf with the low frequency waveguide at “£12,500” per pair and then asks, what price do you think they are? The customer either walks out puzzled or gets the point: don’t let the reviewers or the market set the price and the value. The entire range up to the flagship Client Name at £35,000 is a bargain either by comparing the value to the competition or by the fact that it is an heirloom product. Perhaps the model Twenty 1.2 EVO hits the sweet-spot at £12,500 - £14,500 depending on finish … perhaps the floorstanders at £4,000 - £5,000 should be £14,000 or £15,000, but while Mr Zingali owns the company he prices by engineering and cost, not market value.
My favourite retro product is the MAX-1 loudspeaker at £4,500 per pair which is a civilized west-coast sound from the 1970’s tradition of JBL, Altec Lansing. If you think that today’s loudspeakers are detail machines that lack the energy and excitement of live music, talk to us!
My favourite amplifiers are the Anniversary AirTech series from Audio Analogue, from £949 to £6,500.
An elegant complete system, all of which (including Clearaudio turntable and Primare's own outstanding R32 phono stage) will cost you just a shade over £7500.
Image © Douglas Whates / The Music Room
My favourite synergy is Primare and ProAc. There is a £3,000 system, and there is a £6,000 system that astute customers who do a lot of research and listening end up buying. If they buy from us, they buy the right cables at the right prices and hear twice as much music!
World's best hi-fi?
And finally, people ask me, what is the world’s best Hi-Fi? Answer: Burmester. Question: how do they do it? I went to Berlin and I saw unrivalled prototyping, craftsmanship and Quality Control.