Most played CD:
Joni Mitchell “Hejira”. This truly extraordinary CD has grabbed me in a way I no longer thought possible. There’s some magic here that I just can’t explain. I mention this because I’ve bought her CDs from either side of this release, and they just aren't quite ‘there’ to the same extent. For me, impossible to over- praise.
Depressing but true:
The above mentioned CD has been played through my very modest office system; a dirt-cheap old Denon receiver, through dirt cheap JPW tiny bookshelf speakers, driven off Apple i-tunes from my Apple G5. Yes of course my big systems offer more, but in terms of value, this little office system is quite something.
My 3 most played tracks:
“Amelia”: Joni Mitchell - Hejira
“Two Time Tango”: Christine Collister - Live
"Win My Train Fair Home" (the Live in Timbuktu version): Robert Plant with Justin Adams - La Festival au Desert
My top 5 Live Gigs of the year:
Live venues of the year:
My digital equipment discoveries of the year:
(a) The Musical Fidelity X-RAY V8 DAC driven by my North Star Transport and (b) my North Star Sapphire one box CD player.
My preamp of the year:
The LFD Linestage-3. Possibly the most neutral yet engaging preamp I’ve ever owned.
My power amps of the year:
My pair of LFD Powerstage-3 monos. I really didn’t think I’d be able to recapture the purity of my now sold Accuphase P60 with the drive and grunt of my old Meridian 107, but I have – and then some.
Unreasonable and therefore frustrated expectation of the year #1:
My Krell KSP-7B preamp. Beautifully built. Noiseless. Great value on the used market. Bass grip ‘n grunt to die for and yet in my main system, un-engaging. Inappropriate mismatch on my part.
Unreasonable and therefore frustrated expectation of the year #2:
My Levinson ML28 preamp; see above.
Biggest ‘Oh wow” factor from a loudspeaker this year:
The Harbeth HL-PES-2. Astonishing is too mild a word here. These little stand-mounted miracles are as near perfect a 10 litre cabinet design as I’ve ever heard. An LS3/5a on steroids. Obviously the other Harbeth designs go louder ‘n deeper – and I stock those too, but for breathtaking credibility / neutrality, at a reasonable price and small footprint, these are the benchmark.
Greatest ‘Oh how I miss you’ factor this year.
My Lumen White Silver Flames, now in their new home in Switzerland.
A pity, but no regrets experience this year:
Resigning my profitable STAX agency and closing down simply-STAX. Unreliability and issues regarding a few box-shifting UK retailers who spoiled it for the handful of other STAX retailers all doing a good job meant it was no longer fun. The brand was in my view becoming merely a commodity.
The hmm – I wish I could have made a go of this experience:
Thiel CS 1.6 loudspeakers. Bloody amazing when partnered with the Ayre integrated. A synergy made in heaven, at a very reasonable price too. My biggest audiophile failure this year.
Magazine revival hope for 2008:
The revitalised (if the January 2008 issue is representative) Hi-Fi News magazine. Under new editorship, it’s really making a comeback. Now destined to give Hi-Fi World a run for its money. Can only be good news for enthusiasts.
The ‘hey, after all these years, I got one’ experience:
My lovely, stupidly heavy and I hope wonderful very old Luxman FQ 990 receiver.
The ‘I'm really happy for them’ experience
Boothroyd Stuart Meridian being valued at $40m by investors and as a consequence poised for accelerated expansion. A fine achievement for a UK audiophile company, given all the media paranoia about Apple i-pods and the credit squeeze. Congratulations.
Enthusiasts website of the year:
No doubt about it, John Mayberry’s Lecson site. A text-book example of how to do it.
The ‘bucket of bile’ website award this year goes to:
Pink Fish Media. I'm not in favour of censorship and I do uphold the ethos of free speech. However, and I guess this is inevitable, the quantity of ‘hand-bags at dawn’ bitchiness is extraordinary. The moderators do remove those that become particularly offensive though. Increasingly looking like it is infiltrated by the LNM – the Linn Naim Mujahadin.
More later - possibly.