Christmas wish list: Ultimate dream hi-fi and home cinema

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This is probably not going to come as a surprise but with Christmas fast approaching we are all going to be thinking about the ultimate gifts not just for our loved ones but also for ourselves….

There are probably a few of you out there who are thinking about asking for something pretty special to blend into your existing music system or indeed starting from scratch and building the dream from the ground up… I’m going to give your imagination a few ideas to salivate over in a few different categories: Dream Hi-Fi Systems up to £2000 and £2000+ and Surround sound system up to £2000 and £2000+.

An amazing sound system should always include award-winning components like the Cambridge, CXA60.

An amazing sound system should always include award-winning components like the Cambridge, CXA60.

Dream Hi-Fi – Up to £2000

Amp – Cambridge Audio CXA60, Music Source – Cambridge Audio CXN, Speakers – Tannoy XT6F

This package encompasses the very best of what music is about, as every single product here has won awards and the budget is reasonable. The Amp is a top class performer with a huge toroidal transformer at its core; a Wolfson DAC to get the most out of any digital source and compliments the upsampling technology in the CXN network streamer. Any files you have stored on a NAS drive or PC/MAC can be accessed easily and quickly through the apps available or the remote controls. The ATF2 upsampling technology really is brilliant and even the internet radio services sound quite detailed. The speakers are phenomenal in both the way they sound and the way they seamlessly integrate into any system with no particular preference for what they get used for. I‘ve tried just about every genre of music through these speakers and I have yet to find them struggle with anything, in fact they just seem to keep on surprising me time and time again. A wonderful package and a top notch system.

The Novafidelity X40 makes finding your favourite music easy, and so enjoyable!

The Novafidelity X40 makes finding your favourite music easy, and so enjoyable!

Dream Hi-Fi – Over £2000

Amp – Roksan Caspian M2 Amp, Roksan Caspian M2 Power Amp, Music Source – Project 6 Perspex, Novafidelity X40, Speakers – Focal Aria 948 Additional – Cambridge 651P Pre-Amp

There are enough top rated products here to suit any true audio fanatic and wouldn’t look out of place sitting around in a Russian Oil tycoon’s dream home either. The Roksan Caspian equipment is something I passionately admire. At the Richer Sounds Weybridge store we are privileged to have the entire system at our disposal and it really does define the differences between a basic piece of kit and something with a premium price tag.

There are dynamics in these amps that many others would struggle to even get close to and whilst the power may not be earth shattering, the delivery leaves everyone we demo it to in awe. The speakers I’ve gone for are also exclusive to certain branches at Richer Sounds but again are items we all secretly dream of possessing. A unique cabinet design and Flax cones give the Focal Aria speaker a controlled but warm sound that most other manufacturers can only dream of emulating; they’re also strikingly pretty and easy to position. No top end music system is complete without a great source and the Novafidelity X40 and Project 6 Perspex will do just nicely. The X40 is a streaming unit that has an amazing amount of connections to utilize (including an HDMI to link to a TV for easy searching), an enormous 2Tb hard drive for all your CDs to be burnt onto in a variety of file types, inbuilt WiFi, and since it’s recent updates, a huge reliability boost to its UPNP and streaming service access. The Project 6 Perspex is a very special turntable that requires the Cambridge Audio 651P pre amp to boost its signal before reaching such a beauty of an amp. We have a Debut Carbon Esprit SE in our demo room in Weybridge and this version would surpass all build quality niggles and sound qualities in one easy swipe. Drop a needle onto your favourite LP on this and it’s straight to the front row of the concert for you!

For powerful surround sound look the RXA850 offers a superb option.

For powerful surround sound the RXA850 offers a superb option.

Dream AV System – Up to £2000

Amp – Yamaha RXA850, Speakers – Dali Zensor Pico 5.1, Player – Panasonic DMRPWT530eb9

There aren’t many 5.1 surround systems that I haven’t tried together and it’s the type of system that was brought up with as a kid. Nowadays the amps and even the players are a whole lot of awesome sandwiched into a clever, and mostly neat, one box solution for people who just want to get it set up and go. The Yamaha RXA850 is one of the most impressive AV amps that we’ve come across over the past few years, and only a few come close to the ease of operation and even fewer come close to the sound quality it produces. It ticks the ‘future proof’ box by adding the new format for surround sound; Dolby Atmos. It will work as an extra zone for the Yamaha music cast multi-room app and it has been built with both audio purity and surround sound glory all in one.

I reviewed this amp back in August and was quickly blown away with its power and the ease of use and when matched with the Dali Zensor Pico 5.1 speaker package it really is in its element. The Pico’s have come along and amazed us all in stores across the country as they seem to maintain the signature sharpness of Dali speakers with almost all the bottom end presence of the Zensor 1’s that they derive from. The E9F comes straight out of the award winning Zensor 1 5.1 package and certainly gives that bottom end to a package that is slowly becoming one of our best sellers, at least in Weybridge. The Panasonic DMRPWT530eb9 (what a mouthful) is not only a 3D capable Blu-ray player, but will also double as a Freeview box with a 500Gb hard drive for you to record your favourite shows onto. Nice and simple and the quality is up there with the best of them. 

The award-winning CXU offers new realms of entertainment functionality and performance.

The award-winning CXU offers new realms of entertainment, functionality and performance.

Dream AV System – Over £2000

Amp – Yamaha RXA3050, Speakers – Dali Opticon 8 5.1, Dali E60 x2 (for Atmos), Source – Cambridge Audio CXU

Expect nothing but sonic perfection from this system, and a soundscape that would compliment any room size with ease. The E60s are actually in-ceiling speakers that will work with Yamaha’s flagship AV receiver to provide a compelling and engrossing realism in sound that is only going to be improved upon as time goes by. Dolby Atmos sounds incredible and the Opticon 8s are nothing short of perfect in my opinion. The ribbon tweeter combined with the soft dome tweeter give a crisp and sharp sound that is perfect for all those explosive action scenes as well as providing a depth matched by few, thanks to no less than two bass drivers and a mid-range woofer. If you put the Dali Opticon 8s at both the front and the back, supported by a matching centre speaker and the already powerful E12F subwoofer, the result is nothing short of mind blowing and awe-inspiring. I’ve listened to these speakers separately but together the concept is incredible.

The amp is a delight and we have one of these in our demo room right now so I can speak from experience when I say this guy can go “Loud and Clear” all day long. It is simple to set up and with its impressive amount of connections, 4K upscaling and WiFi integration you will not be left wanting for anything. The Cambridge CXU is also a lovely piece of kit that compliments a system like this nicely by having the ablity to play any sort of disc you might want – DVD, Blu-ray, CD, SACD, HDCD or even a DVD Audio disc! It is also one of the first players to be ready with the DARBEE processing chips that can get even more colour, brightness and sharpness from you discs and the upscaling capability on this is magnificent. Content from a Blu-ray couldn’t look closer to the real deal and it is a pleasant experience even when it’s an older piece of material. Overall, there is little else I would want if someone turned up with this at my door, except maybe a monstrous 4K projector or a big OLED screen… Dear Father Christmas…. Are you listening…?

Author: Andrew, Weybridge store