At Sound+Image we always recommend buying from a proper hi-fi shop which can recommend the right gear for you. In the first of a new series of chats, we talk with Geoff Haynes from Tivoli Hi-Fi in Melbourne, which is celebrating its 45th anniversary.
SOUND+IMAGE: So what’s exciting you at the moment in two-channel hi-fi?
GEOFF HAYNES: Room acoustics! We’ve just done the room acoustics in our high-end room and it’s actually changed everything. It’s allowed us to hear everything better, add more bass in... we feel we’ve actually upgraded all our hi-fi.
S+I: Something consumers may not often think about — a room’s a room…
GH: Definitely not. And some people just look at it and say ‘what’s that ugly stuff on the wall?’, but it’s actually doing some really really cool things.
S+I: And it doesn’t have to be ugly stuff!
GH: No it doesn’t! You can get it in different colours and patterns…You can even cut out the panels in your plaster and sink it in to the wall so it becomes flush with the stud and you can cover it. And what we’ve also learnt is the difference with absorption versus diffusion. So our room used to have red velvet curtains...
S+I: Absorbers but not diffusers...
GH: Exactly, and now all of our speakers have just come to life, it’s really exciting.
S+I: It’s that first reflection point where people put absorbers and you should have diffusers. GH: Exactly. Which is a mistake we’ve had in the back room...
S+I: So if you’re a consumer and someone says ‘room treatment’ to you, where do you start? GH: You book a time with our technician to come out and do a sweep of your room. It’s a chargeable service, and we’ll give you a proper report, then work through colours and pricing.
S+I: Is there a particular brand of acoustic treatment you work with? GH: No. We’re looking at ourselves as being the consumer, which means that we’ve access to three different brands of room acoustics, and we will find the appropriate one that’s going to suit the customer.
S+I: What about new and exciting kit or tech? GH: Two things for us. One is the Cocktail Audio CD rippers. We so often have products where the ‘does it have this’ questions get so far along the process and the answer is no. But not with a Cocktail Audio! And that’s electrifying us at Tivoli, how good these Cocktail Audios are — really reliable, fun to use, a single box.
And the other thing is Roon. I’ve got a Roon account, I’ve got a Cocktail Audio, I’ve got a Linn, I’ve got a Marantz processor, I’ve got three zones of Sonos, I’ve got Bluetooth headphones — and Roon as a single platform can play across all those zones. I don’t have to get out of the software, I don’t need to explore anything else... and for example I was listening to Rivers of Babylon, and the lyrics didn’t make any sense — I realised I’ve never known what they were, and I scrolled up and with Roon I could read the lyrics as well. How good’s that? Still didn’t make any sense but…
S+I: Are you also an MQA convert?
GH: Yes, but I do believe very strongly you should listen to the music you most want to listen to, you shouldn’t just listen to the best quality recordings.
S+I: Any issue with Roon being tied to Tidal? GH: I think anyone who loves music should be listening to Tidal anyway!
S+I: Finally, a favourite piece of music — whether ‘hi-’fi or just a favourite — you could share with our readers? Not Boney M, please. GH: I demonstrate all the time with Take Me To The Alley by Gregory Porter. Absolutely awesome, beautiful voice — it’s big, it’s lively. Wonderful.