I’m not an expert reviewer, let's get that straight from the start. The team that we've selected here are the experts and have reviewed far more equipment than I've had margaritas. But don’t get me wrong, I love testing stuff whenever the opportunity knocks, and spending far too much time doing it, so I am always up for trying out new kit – even though it drives the rest of the household bonkers.
Back in the day, probably around the time the hi-fi show go-to album, Hats by The Blue Nile was released, I did some manager-type stuff on a bunch of hi-fi titles including What Hi-Fi?, High Fidelity and Audiophile. It was great. I loved the enthusiasm of the reviewers and a lot of the people in the industry, which far outweighed the malcontents who continually complained that there was no longer any good music to listen to. Around the same time, many of the Sound Advice team were cutting their ears reviewing and I've worked with them on and off for the past 30-odd years.
There are a lot more areas that I'm not a specialist in than those that I am. I'm not the bloke to talk to about home cinema, except in its most basic forms, or turntables. I love convenience, so hi-res streaming is where I hang my hat.
Putting together this review website has been great fun and hats off to the reviewers for turning around a huge number of carefully considered recommendations in a remarkably short space of time. What's even better is the enthusiasm they have brought to the project because it is something a bit different. They are able to honestly say “I love this bit of kit” because it is their own personal recommendation, chosen by the reviewer without any influence from me or the manufacturer.
During the various lockdowns over the past couple of years, things started to look pretty weird. You couldn't go to the shops to listen to a new bit of kit so it was a case of taking reviews at face value or simply going by your own gut feeling.
When spending several thousand pounds on an amp or a pair of speakers, I for one want a little more than gut feel. We spoke to the reviewers, manufacturers and the retailers about a joined up process where the guys review and recommend the kit, you can speak to them for reassurance or more info and then we put you in touch with a trusted retailer who will arrange a demonstration and, if all goes well, ultimately an installation.
Putting on a track that I know well and hearing details in it that I've never heard before and didn't know were on the recording. It could be an instrument, a different rendering of a bass line or even some background noise. Live classical recordings are a real treasure trove of discovery.
Hi-fi bore (many a kitchen I've been kicked out of at parties) and enthusiast. I really get a kick out of listening to new bits of kit or new tracks on my own stuff.
I prefer to listen to the music, that's the interesting, revealing and relaxing part. However, even when I'm not reviewing something, I often find myself fiddling with inputs, speaker positions, volume settings etc. It drives my partner nuts.
I love my NAD M33 streaming amplifier. It's a hefty great brute and it does everything I want with subtlety and finesse. One YouTube reviewer described it as boring - he's very wrong. The BluOs interface is really intuitive and one that everyone in the household can use because it’s so simple. Oh yes, and it sounds absolutely gorgeous. Aficionados will probably scoff but my Bowers & Wilkins AM-1 outdoor speakers are also a great favourite, especially during the summer. The sound is wonderfully sunny and they deliver exception bass performance from something so small. They represent incredibly good value for money, too, even though they are only used when the sun’s out.
Calms the soul, stimulates the brain, makes you think, makes you wonder, sends you to sleep, makes your skin have orgasms, sends you on journeys, makes you happy, sad, reflective, there's not much else that can do all of that for a few quid.
Definitely streaming. The choice, the ease, the quality… what's there not to fall in love with? Mind you, some of the streaming platforms could do with a bit of work on their interfaces and some of the download sites need to up their game in terms of what you get for spending £15 on an album; the music on its own without any sleeve notes is just plain mean.