2020: A year of hi-fi and music
I think we can all agree 2020 has been a very difficult year for most of us, well, all of us. With a global pandemic and the politics of the day all looking decidedly uncertain, it is little surprise many people turned to their enjoyment of music to pass the year as peacefully as they can. Just as many have flocked back to the written word in books, so the same has happened online with hifiandmusicsource.com, seeing traffic increase substantially.
With this bump in numbers, hifiandmusicsource.com has grown as a team to increase the content and news online. I have been joined by Lee Dunkley, a former editor at Hi-Fi Choice magazine (2013 to 2020), who brings his editorial and publishing expertise, social media knowledge and a passion for all-things consumer tech and hi-fi.
Jo Holmes also joins the HF&MS team. Jo is a popular personality within the hi-fi and AV industries, she brings ten years’ experience working on print and digital advertising and publicity teams and is well-known within the sector.
As a team, we have over 30 years’ experience in the hi-fi, AV and consumer tech industries, and listening to music on quality audio systems is our shared passion.
HF&MS highlights of 2020
While the outside world has been in meltdown, I have been very fortunate to listen to some exceptional pieces of hi-fi equipment and peripherals as I go through my established hi-fi reviewing process. In January, I got off to an amazing start to 2020 with the addition of a Naim XPS PSU to power my NAC-N272 preamplifier, where it delivered a noticeable step up in performance.
In February, I had the pleasure of reviewing one of the finest pieces of equipment I have ever heard, when Rega’s Planar 10 turntable arrived. The Planar 10 was joined by the fabulous beryllium led Paradigm Persona 3F floorstanding loudspeakers that were simply sensational as well and I was feeling like a lucky boy until the first COVID-19 lockdown happened.
I was eased into lockdown when I received the T+A HA 200 headphone amplifier complete with proper, programmable back-lit VU meters. What a treat! Shortly after the HA 200 was joined by T+A’s new Solitaire headphones. I described them as the Rolls Royce of headphones at the time and I’ve not heard better since.
As the summer wandered away and lockdown restrictions relaxed for a time, I took delivery of another Rega product in the form of its Aethos integrated amplifier, which I went on to describe as a ‘blockbuster integrated’ with ‘effortless presentation’. This really was turning into a year of outstanding hi-fi highlights.
In the last few weeks, I’ve been busy redirecting the website, but this has coincided with three products that I will dream of (yes!) for a long time to come. I have heard some exceptional speakers over the years, but the way the PMC twenty5 22i speakers opened up the sound from my hi-fi system was remarkable. I feel privileged to have spent some
time with them and their arrival coincided with a review of Melco’s N100 digital music library. With the PMC twenty5 22i standmounts in place, I was able to clearly hear the difference between the WAV and 24-bit FLAC files in my library. Sourced by Auralic’s Vega G2.1 streaming DAC (review also coming soon), which is just the cleanest and most proficient DAC I heard around at the moment, these were spinetingling moments.
Finally, a slightly older product but the Degritter ultrasonic vinyl record cleaner has been revelatory in terms of cleaning up my viny collection. You’ll need deep pockets but it comes highly recommended if you love listening to vinyl in pristine quality.
Also, and definitely, finally, you haven’t read about it yet (review coming very soon) but the newly launched Achromatic cable from Atlas that was launched last month is simply a level up from many other cables you may consider in its price range, so look out for that review too.
2020 started out as something of a disappointing year in music. I had to wait until September when I really heard something exciting that wasn’t Taylor Swift! The Fleet Foxes’ album Shore, with the accompanying film, was a real creative joy for me and a musical highlight. With the excitement of Fontaines DC, Blossoms and a new album by my perennial favourite Ryan Adams this week, returning after a period of exile; I guess it hasn’t been such a bad year for music after all. Other notable album mentions this year include the Blue Note Re:imagined, which I really like, and the jazzy Nubya Garcia album, Source.
Happy listening and here’s to an amazing 2021!