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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.

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