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  • Writer's pictureKeith Cooper

Hi-Fi Its part in my downfall.

Where and how does it start this cruel and unusual affliction.

I clearly remember going with my Dad to the 'Comet' warehouse trying and failing miserably to persuade him to buy Sony's then brand spanking new top of the range 'PS-B80 Biotracer' direct drive turntable, in hindsight I am not even sure if Comet would have stocked it as it was hugely expensive but the interesting equipment was always at the back of their catalogue and thats where I always looked. He actually bought a Sony midi system but it was still pretty cool, this was 1978.

I must have read Hi-Fi magazines back then I remember that Hi-Fi News & Record Review was extremely data heavy, their reviews were all specs, measurements with only the slightest nod given to any subjective description, 'a little 'boxy' sounding compared to the Quad ESL57'. Really very hard to read if you didn't have a technical background which I didn't.

Many years later I did purchase the PS-B80 Biotracer and great fun it was too, no fiddling with counterweights to set tracking weight with this baby oh no.

My first system, I don't know how but somehow I heard of Howard Popeck who at the time was working from his home in Palmers Green but was just about to open 'Subjective Audio' in Morninigton Crescent.

Howard had some Meridian M1s in his front room and well I don't think I heard bass before that, turntable was a Michell but I think this would have been to early for the GyroDec so perhaps a Transcriptor which I believe John Michell had a hand in designing?

The Subjective Audio shop was beguiling I would have lived there given the opportunity. I recollect three purpose built listening rooms, my first ever demonstration was of the then new Meridian M2 active loudspeakers, probably using the Meridian 101B preamp and a turntable of course, the equipment was sited behind so all your saw was the Meridians, they just seemed so modern, aesthetically, proportionally they were just right, Boothroyd and Stuart had of course already designed the super cool Lecson pre/power .

The M2s just seemed right and technically they were advanced.

My original pair were in a beautiful Yew veneer ,( which now like so much of my audio history I wish I had not sold) the above pair I bought years later they were in superb condition and in a gorgeous Rosewood, one of Meridian's premium finishes.

I don't know why I became so interested/addicted in Hi-FI, I liked music very much went to see loads of bands, the pub scene was very active back then as were the University student unions.

This was just post-punk, Spandau Ballet ( they weren't called that then 'Trees' possibly) played one of their first gigs in the school canteen, it was lively.

But to be honest the equipment was always as important if not more so than the music, when I look back it was first hearing that extra information that the Sony midi system just didn't reproduce, one wondered just how much more information is on the record, how much more to be discovered.

Meridian then introduced the extraordinary M10 active loudspeaker.

Howard had a pair, again in Yew, I thought they were the most gorgeous things ever, seven drivers, three way design, passive radiator on the rear.

They were an 'arm and a leg' chopped in my M2s and my Audio Research SP8 ( couldn't afford the SP10 which was 'the' preamp at the time).

A few yers back I took a pair of Dutch@Dutch 8Cs to a really charming man who had a pair of Meridian M10s which he too had bought from Howard Popeck at Subjective Audio, he also still uses a gorgeous Trio turntable and a Burmester component preamp ( still made today), when we compared the 8Cs which are amongst the best if not the best measuring current loudspeaker designs to the M10s there really wasn't that much difference between them the D&D8Cs were clearer, greater bass extension, and of course their built in PEQ allowed us to 'fix' the room.

But still testament to the excellent design of the M10's.

I bought a GyroDec which I thought far more chic than the Linn LP12 which at the time was being really heavily marketed, also the Michell works were in Borehamwood ( still are I believe) and they didn't seem to mind me visiting and chatting to John who was a really nice guy and extremely straightforward, I remember he dissuaded me from buying the newly released SME 'V '( nearly £1500 back them £8k now!) arguing that it wouldn't bring any improvement over my Syrinx PU3 and he was almost certainly right!

I used a Meridian 'component' preamp, which again was a really good idea, it was modular and you literally just added modules as required, MM phono,MC phono preamp, tape etc although if you had a lot of sources the length could become a little unwieldy and the grey Nextel finish over time could become 'sticky'!

I kept my Meridian M10s for nearly twenty years and just listened to music, how carefree just listened to music didn't think about Hi-Fi at all.

Then one day I made a fatal mistake of picking up a Hi-FI magazine...

Next time, 'Hi-FI my part in its downfall' the Purité Audio story.

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