My grades were good and my first hi-fi system was on order.
I went straight to the top of the hi-fi class with efficient 15-inch Tannoy Monitor Golds in homemade brick cabinets, Garrard 401 turntable, SME 12-inch arm, Shure V15 cartridge, and an Armstrong solid-state amp… all of which made me very popular with my peers because we’d all gather at my home to devour the latest rock and pop albums.
TW: Where do you think your system is going, or has it arrived?
NN: My system has a long way to go before I’ll be satisfied. There is work to improve the sound-stage, the low-frequency response and the room acoustics. I’d also like to start upgrading my audio library to higher-res source files. I’m somewhat happy with the mid and upper registers, but my panel speakers don’t have a good bottom end—they’re a bit thin. I’ll get one or two Rythmik Audio sub-woofers, cross them over at around 100Hz. I also have a new preamp on order—it’s the Emotiva XSP-1—to complement my Emotiva XPA-2 power amp. [ This new preamp was received before this article went to press and is shown in some photos. T.W.] When I work on the acoustics I want to do it in a scientific way. I’ve used REW (Room EQ Wizard) with a calibrated microphone to ‘see’ what my room is doing. I plan to build my own limp-mass bass absorbers, specifically tuned to my room’s problem frequencies at 50Hz and 70Hz. I’d like to reduce or eliminate the room correction dialled into my DSP (by DSPeaker) that I use right now. Lastly, I really should experiment with other speaker positions in my room— being dipoles they need more air behind them to sound their best.
TW: We talked earlier of MQA (Master Quality Authenticated). It hasn’t taken off yet, perhaps it’s still too early, but do you see a place for it in high-quality streaming services perhaps, for example Tidal?
NN: Yes, it may be too early, but 50+ companies have expressed interest in it so far. I think that 2016 is the year we’ll see it start to kick off. It’s brilliant as a mathematical solution to the issue of how to pack high-res into a small footprint. Streaming would be a great application for it. I’d be happy to subscribe to such a service. I still prefer to have the music/ data local, but streaming is the direction music is headed. I think streaming is being promoted because the sellers of the music don’t lose control over it.
TW: What’s your favourite piece of equipment at the moment, something that you wouldn’t sell?