Not sure what to buy yourself or a loved one? Have no fear. We have the answers!
A first hi-fi is a treasured possession, something you’ll never want to get rid of. I passed on my Cambridge Audio A5, CD5 v3 and S30 speakers to my parents when I upgraded my system. Many of the people I know had their first hi-fi around 17 or 18 and it’s something they’ve had with them through university and their early career.
If you’re upgrading then you’ve come to the right place. Below are some of the best handpicked system selections we have to offer. So take a look, give us a call, then grab your CDs or music content and come down and see us.
For a source component nowadays I would choose Arcam’s Miniblink, a small little bluetooth receiver that’ll let you wirelessly send music from your smart phone, tablet or bluetooth equipped computer. For the heart of the system, I would select the Cambridge Audio AM10 amplifier. This is a fine sounding amplifier with a great power supply based around a hefty toroidal transformer. It has 4 line level inputs, a line out for connection to a subwoofer or recording device and a phono stage for adding a turntable. Finally for speakers I would probably recommend either the Q Acoustic 2020i or Cambridge Audio SX60. Both are great sounding speakers, and will sing with the amplifier, but it depends on personal music taste and the amount of space available as to which would be right for you. The only other thing you are going to need is some speaker cable to get you going.
If you still buy a lot of physical music (like me) you could add a CD player to this system, such as Cambridge Audio’s matching CD10. Another great addition would be a turntable; with more bands releasing their music on the lovely black stuff (vinyl records) it’s an ideal time to acquaint yourself with vinyl’s unique sound. Something like Pro-Jects Essential 2 (pictured above) is a great deck; it’s a ‘proper’ hi-fi deck with replicable stylus and good solid engineering underpinnings without breaking the bank.
Mid Range £600-£900
For this system the ideal source would be the Marantz CD6005 (pictured above). I know it’s predictable, but it’s a great piece of equipment with superb sound quality. For an amplifier I’d recommend the Cambridge Audio 651A. Although the Marantz PM6005 is a more obvious choice in some ways, and is a fine amplifier, I just prefer the Cambridge for a key reason: more power. The extra power will allow you to run speakers that are harder to drive and as a result will take longer for it to become a limiting factor as you upgrade your system. It has plenty of inputs so you’re very unlikely to run out. As for speakers I would probably recommend the Dali Zensor 3’s, another predictable recommendation. These speakers have the great top and mid range from their little brother, the Zensor 1’s, but with a fuller more rounded sound as a result of the larger driver and cabinet.
An ideal addition to this would be the Pro-ject Debut Carbon, a fine sounding turntable with a great chassis and tone arm.
High end £1000-£1500
At this price point I would again base the system around the Cambridge 651A amplifier (pictured above), but I would say use better source components and speakers. The Cambridge 651C CD player would offer you improvement over the Marantz, or if you’re after a turntable the Pro-ject Debut Carbon SB with its speed box controller and acrylic platter. For the speakers I would pick some good quality floorstander’s. The Monitor Audio BX6’s are great speakers, they have plenty of detail and recreate the songs in realistic, almost live-sounding detail. With its large cabinet and twin bass drivers it’s possible to dig deep into the lowest possible details of a track.
Alternatively, instead of the floorstanders, you could select the Q Acoustic Concept 20 speakers with their dedicated stands. You might be wondering why I put these with this selection and not the cheaper system, as they’re only £350, the reason is the cost of the dedicated stands. To get the best out of these speakers you need the dedicated stands rather than generic ones, however the stands cost £200 a pair; that turns the speaker bundle into a £550 set. I love these speakers. The sound quality they produce is unrivalled at this price point and to find significant improvement you have to spend 100’s of pounds more.
At this price point, I would recommend the Arcam FMJ A19 amplifier. It has garnered deservingly high praise from all corners of the hi-fi industry. I would partner this with the New Arcam CDS27 (pictured above), which combines the old versions high quality CD player with Arcam’s new hi-fi streamer; all in a single box! These combined with the Cambridge Audio Aeromax 6 speakers will give a large sound stage with plenty of space and a smooth relaxing presentation. If you prefer bookshelf speakers I would heartily recommend the Roksan Kandy TR5 bookshelves.
From here and up the sky really is the limit; with the help of the Roksan K3 amplifier and CD player (pictured above) and a pair of Roksan Kandy TR5 or Dyna Audio DM 3/7 speakers you can achieve true excellence in sound. Or you could go the whole hog and go for a Bi amped system using a Cambridge Audio 851c as a source which would feed the matching 851e pre amp. The pre amp would then control a pair of the 851w power amps each running in a bi amped mode to a pair of the Tannoy Precision 6.4 speakers.
All the systems I’ve put together in this guide would lean towards providing a smooth presentation. I can’t recommend enough that you contact your local store to arrange a demo before buying to try out these units and anything else that takes your fancy.
Author: Jon P, Cardiff store
Main Picture: Cambridge Audio Aeromax 6