Is is it a bit sad to have a dream hifi? It probably is you know, but I bet a pound to a penny that the vast majority of folk reading this have dreamed of owning a particular set up. Well perhaps they haven’t physically dreamed it as that would be a bit wrong, but you get my point I’m sure.
When I was fourteen, perhaps a little younger, my mate had a Japanese separates system that I thought was the bee’s knees and it certainly showed my Amstrad tower system a clean pair of heals. I think his system was Akai or Aiwa or something like that – all silver and massive with buttons and knobs all over it and I longed to own something similar. I think this was the first hifi that really made me think “must have”. Looking back I’m sure it was pretty horrible and I’m sure having the speakers on the floor, either side of the cabinet didn’t help at all, but it belted out Axe Attack to neighbour annoying levels and I loved it. My mate was quite attached to it too, perhaps a little too attached to it as it turns out: One night we were having a party at his house (his parents were Samaritans and handily for us used to do the red eye shift on a Friday and Saturday night) when all hell broke lose and my mate was screaming like a banshee. By all accounts someone had “touched” his precious turntable and the arm now just majestically swept across the record and failed to play anything at all. An ex girlfriend of mine got the blame and a bottle of cider was hurled at her, smashing on the wall just above her head. Looking back I think he may have over reacted just a tad!
Around the same time I started reading Hifi magazines and this was when the Holy Grail was a Linn and Naim set up. On the budget end of things the standard was a Dual turntable, Nad amp and a pair of Wharfedale Diamonds. I really, no I mean REALLY, lusted after a Dual/Nad/Wharfedale set up and I almost won one (well the amp was a Marantz) in a competition in one of the mags –my highly original and thought provoking submission got a mention, but sadly for me no cigar.
At the back of my mind I always thought that one day I would get my hands on an LP12 and all the Naim electronics to go with it… and perhaps even a pair of Isobariks, but I was keeping my dreams in check and was mortified (sorry, over the moon chuffed for him) when my mate acquired a Dual, Nad, Wharfedale set up. It sounded gorgeous and made my newly acquired Hitachi/Technics hifi sound appalling in comparison. You know what though, I reckon I got just as much enjoyment out of that set up as I do my much more expensive kit now…perhaps!
So what makes a dream hifi system? Well for me, in the early days of reading magazines and scant chance of hearing any real high end hifi, the write ups and reviews were what did it. The advertising did its job and little seeds of want were duly planted and these in turn matured into towering regal “must have thats”. It’s a little different now as I get the odd occasion to hear some pretty high end hifi, but advertising and marketing still manage to do their job…it’s what these people are paid so handsomely for after all and so it should do really.
A dream system for me now is having something that allows me to see into the music, get lost within it, forget the hifi and connect on an emotional level with the tunes.
I did realise my dream (or part of it) at one point when my first term’s grant was blown on an LP12 and some Crimson electronics to connect to my previously acquired Diamonds. I was living the dream! I loved it! It was great! I sold it…or rather swapped it!
I have a dream system now and I’m close to realising it. I know some of my colleagues on Hifi Pig have dream hifi components and I know some of them have realised their dreams too. For me though the journey never stops and when one dream system is realised, there is always another to take its place and that is, for me, the nature of an audiophile’s dreams.
“A man is not old until regrets take the place of dreams. “ John Barrymore
Perhaps I’m not as old as I look!