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  • Writer's pictureKeith Cooper

Hi-Fi my part in its downfall!

Hi-Fi magazines, actually made from paper, don't exist any more of course but before the interweb you could buy them scattered around in newsagents, find them dogeared in dentist's waiting rooms, their influence could not be underestimated.

Annual Hi-Fi show's such as London's 'Penta' and later 'Heathrow' were absolutely packed you had to wait for ages in a queue outside popular rooms, there were Hi-Fi and record shops everywhere, Tottenham Court Road was literally stuffed with them, back then a young man wanted a car, girlfriend and Hi-Fi and not necessarily in that order.

Howard's 'Subjective Audio' was I suppose what today would be called 'High-End' .

I remember one day sitting on what I thought was a smart seat, I was told sharply not to sit on what I quickly learned was an early Krell amplifier, it was massive compared to the 35w amps I was used to.

'Krell' so evocative the name taken from the film 'Forbidden Planet, the seemingly solid aluminium construction, the screws on the handles, the sheer size of it it, heady stuff!

I don't recall Howard ever trying to sell me anything, cables then were just that wires of the correct gauge to connect components, there were no accessories to speak of all of that was in the future.

I kept the same Meridian M10s for years, GyroDEC, Syrinx PU3, Koetsu Black system for years, I added a CD player, which I thought was great, really quiet, convenient to me CD appeared to be a giant leap forward.

Koetsu were so exotic, even the scent of the sandalwood box they came in, later Howard suggested I try, A. Van Den Huls new cartridge a modified EMT the MC1B it didn't look like much but I kept that for years until a duster/cantilever interface accident.

The beginning of my downset:-

In a magazine one day I read an article about B&Ws new 'Nautilus' speakers, black resin midrange head, diamond tweeter in its own streamlined enclosure perched on top, hugely solid bent and formed plywood enclosure, I ended up buying a pair and the retailer recommended a DNM pre/power combination, DNM were designed by Dennis Moorecroft

they looked great I thought in their perspex cases.

The DNM preamps had separate left and right channel attenuation, which was a bit of a faff, making sure both volume knobs were at the same level.

The power amp's output was pretty modest, and when I connected everything up to the new B&Ws for the first time there was hardly any bass output, I should have known, I should have had the technical knowledge to have looked at the B&Ws impedance curve and realised what a difficult load they presented to the amplifier.

I shouldn't have taken the retailers suggestion without question, but back then I believed everything I was told or read, it just didn't cross my mind to question.

Pretty naive.

I tried a number of amps with the B&Ws, Pass Labs, Nagra Valves, an ASR Emitter ( that was fun four large boxes connected by thick steel umbilicals.

See below:-

Preamp was the Nagra PLP ,what a cute thing it was made when there was just one Nagra Kudelski group before Nagra split operations and went 'oligarch'!

A really pretty piece, connections on the side though, I think it had a valve in it, but it was pr quiet, particularly compared to a hugely expensive Audio Note UK pre, built in phono too.

One day I was reading on ( the now sadly departed Hi-FI Wigwam forum) about horn loudspeakers, which appeared to be the ultimate Hi-Fi expression.

I was asking about 'AvantGarde' which were about the only commercial horns available in the UK at that time, Guy Sargeant ( Voyd/Audio Innovations) replied and said that I should check out this new German horn manufacturer 'Cessaro' who used decent TAD ( a division of Pioneer) drivers.

We went over to Germany to meet Thomas Woschnick, to discuss cartridges and tonearm options for my new TW Raven ( Thomas had more cartridges than I had seen in one place before).

Incredibly Thomas not only knew Ralph, but had a pair of bespoke Cessaro horns.

Ralph drove up that evening to meet me as I had written to him re Cessaro, extraordinarily serendipitous.

The Cessaro 'Alpha' horns were in reality much larger than they looked on the Cessaro website much, much larger, Ralph played some Elle Fitzgerald and she did sound great.

We used 'my' pair at the very first Munich Hi-End show, the rrp of the Alpha's back them was £25k which made them the most expensive pair of loudspeakers that year at Munich!

Munich set up Cessaro 'Alpha' horns TW turntables ( Munich is o expensive it makes sense to split the costs) Kronzilla amps, no CD player!

Streaming hadn't been invented.

Next time, Purité Audio lives and have I learn't anything at all in twenty years.

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