"What a refreshingly honest blog about listening to music through hi-fi. So happy to see views based upon the enjoyment of music rather than so-called sound 'quality'." - Peter Comeau, Director of Acoustic Design at Mission / Wharfedale


Images are in approximate chronological order - most recent (and current system) pictures are at the end of the page.

I remember sitting in front of one of these Marconiphone behemoths, listening to my brother's Beatles singles, some of my parents music and my very first single - Solid Gold, Easy Action by T-Rex:

The first way I could play my own choice of music in my own room was via an ITT Pinto FM/LW/MW/SW portable radio.  Only mono, but very well built and allowed the ability to play a cassette machine through its amp via a 5pin DIN socket on the side.  Radio Tees was the favoured station (with thanks to Radiogagah) :

My first hifi component was a Technics RS-M8 cassette deck, one of the earliest compatible with the newfangled Metal formula cassettes.  It was plugged into my parents' Marconiphone Radiogram (much later than the one above - it was stereo with a Garrard turntable and separate floor standing speakers) and looked very much like this sister "HMV" model, also made by Thorn / EMI:

The M8 was somewhat better made and better sounding than the competition from the likes of Pioneer, JVC and Marantz. I seem to remember it being around the £90 mark in approx 1981 from Gilson Audio in Darlington.  Flourescent VU meters were pretty advanced at the time.  Initially I used BASF Chrome tapes, then later Sony UX:

First amp - I know, bit of a cliche, but it just had to be a NAD3020.  This and the above Technics resided in my bedroom and drove a pair of elliptical speakers extracted from old television sets and mounted in some chipboard speaker cabinets built at after school woodworking club using reclaimed school desks!  The amp itsself was superb and is still doing good service in a mate's conservatory.  £89 from Gilson Audio in Darlington, probably 1982:

Mission 700 Speakers - with the Technics and the NAD, these completed the full first proper system.  Approx £110, again from Gilson Audio in Darlington in 1982 or 1983.  I still have these and another NAD 3020 in the garage, just for fun(!) - great value for money, given that they're now pushing 30 years old:

Although many would argue (and I'd probably agree) that cassettes were never really hifi (but you'd probably make an exception for the later Nakamichi decks) - you really need a turntable.  And here it is, a Thorens TD160BC Mk II with Mayware Formula 4 unipivot arm and Nagoaka MM cartridge - my first turntable.  It was secondhand from the "other" hifi shop in Darlington at the time, McKenna & Brown.  It was about £130, so very good value.  It was appaullingly set up by the shop though, with rubber washers squeezed in between the arm and armboard even though the board was clearly cut to mount without them, the turntable bounced sideways rather than vertically - what a mess!  Learned lots setting it up though - and it sounded 10 times better when sorted!  First cartridge was a NAD 9200, then a Nagaoka MP-11 and finally a Nagaoka MP-20. Note the felt mat in place of the heavy standard rubber mat - that meant a whole new round of set up for the suspension due to the reduced weight on the platter.  Steely Dan, Dire Straits etc through Thorens / NAD / Mission were superb:

Audio Technica AT1120 - A temporary replacement for the Mayware arm when I got bored with constantly adjusting the unipivot's settings:

First upgrade - a 3 head cassette desk with Dolby C Noise Reduction - from Lasky's HiFi in Newcastle for £149.  Great sound with my favoured Sony UX-S pseudo-chrome formula cassettes:

First tuner, a Sony ST-A35L - it was cheap (£59) and merely adequate:

Cambridge Audio DACMagic (used to upgrade from the internal DAC in a Logitech Touch.  Made a big difference and within 3 months lead to the purchase of a Cyrus DAC-X to form first really good sounding streaming solution).  A great value sound per pound DAC:

My last upgrade in the cassette arena - an Aiwa AD-F800 3 Head Dolby HX-Pro cassette deck.  Great sounding deck (within the severe constraints of cassette).  Its photographed here in the main system in early 2011, collecting dust.  Its now collecting dust in the second system:

Last turntable - Linn Sondek LP12 with Cirkus & Trampolin, Linn Ittok LVII, Dynavector DV20HX, Origin Live DC Power Supply and Motor.  Simply better, but now in a new home with a happy new owner.  Replaced by a Linn Akurate DS/0

Linn Sondek LP12 Cirkus Trampolin / Linn Ittok LVII / Dynavector DV20HX / Origin Live DC Power Supply and Motor:

Logitech Squeezebox Touch (playing DJ Eros' Summer 2008 Mix), Origin Live DC Power Supply for the Sondek (has gone with the LP12 to happy new owner) and Cyrus DAC-X in brushed black.  This was the first attempt at a serious sounding streaming solution.  It out performed my Meridian 508.20 and lead to me taking streaming very seriously. Touch still in the system for internet radio and Spotify, but the DAC has now gone as streaming of FLAC files from NAS storage is now through the Linn Akurate DS/0.

Origin Live DC Power Supply for Sondek and Cyrus DAC-X (both left the system in Summer 2011):

Source components on their racks as at early Summer 2011.  The Sondek was on a rigid wall shelf I fabricated myself, most components are sitting on Mission or Cyrus Isoplats and the main rack is Quadraspire QVAM in Cherry.  The small black box under the Sondek is a TVonics Freeview PVR.  The large black box standing in the corner is the REL Storm subwoofer:


Apologies for the carpet - the room upgrade was long overdue. As part of the decorating project and as a result of selling the LP12, a major re-config was planned for when the decorating was finished (see current system pictures below) underway.

Linn Akurate DS/0 in Black (library picture):

Sony BDP S370 Blu-Ray and Pure DAB Tuner:

Meridian 541 Pre-Amp and Dolby Pro-Logic Processor:

Meridian 508.20 CD Player:

Centre channel Linn Tunebox (Toroidal Power Supply) and Rotel RB850 power amp (one channel for treble, the other for bass):

Linn Tunebox (Slimline Power Supply) on Isoplat and 3 x Rotel RB850 Power Amps for front left and right channels on Quadraspire Q4 rack in cherry.  2 power amps drive the Keilidh's bass drivers and one drives the tweeters:

Front right Aktiv Linn Keilidh:

Front right Tri-Aktiv Linn Keilidh and the front left and right Linn Tunebox and 3 x Rotel RB850s.  The large black skirting boards are the Linn LK600 speaker cable:

Logitech Squeezebox Touch:

Bi-Aktiv Linn Tukan rear speakers on Atacama SE24 stands, 2/3rds sand filled:

Rear Linn Tunebox (Toroidal Power Supply) on Isoplat and 2 x Rotel RB850s (one for treble, the other for bass) on Quadraspire Q4 rack in cherry:

Photos below are the system @ Feb 2012 following a major update of the system and the room (this didn't last long as the Cyrus amps weren't quite what I was hoping for, and lead to a move to Linn amps within days)

Main Quadraspire Racks With Source & Control Equipment

Linn Akurate DS/0 Digital Streamer and Linn AV5103 Pre-Processor
Linn Akurate DS/0 with Dynamic Power Supply

Linn AV5103 Pre-Amp / Surround Sound Processor

RH Rack - Linn Akurate DS / Linn AV5103 / Meridian 508.20 CDP / Rotel RB-970QX Phono Stage

LH Rack - Thorens TD280 MkII / Sony BD-S480 Blu-ray / Humax HD-FOX-T2 DVR / Pure DRX-701ES DAB Tuner

General Views Including Linn Keilidh Speakers & Samsung LE40A756R TV

From The Listening Position

Rear Bi-active Linn Tukan Speakers, Linn Tunebox Crossover & 2 x Cyrus SmartPower Amps

Centrik Centre Speaker, 2 x Linn Tunebox Active Crossovers & 4 x Cyrus 8 Powers With PSX-R Power Supplies

Linn Centrik Bi-active Centre Speaker - the LH Linn Tunebox Is Its Active Crossover & Its Powered By Both Channels Of A Cyrus 8 Power & PSX-R Power Supply

Centrik Centre Speaker, 2 x Linn Tunebox Active Crossovers & 4 x Cyrus 8 Powers With PSX-R Power Supplies
Linn Centrik centre speaker, Linn Akurate 2200/D power amp, Linn C5100 power amp, Linn M5100/D power amp, right hand Linn Keilidh loudspeaker

Linn Akurate 2200/Dynamik

Linn Centrik centre speaker, Linn Akurate 2200/D power amp, Linn C5100 power amp, Linn M5100/D power amp

Thorens TD280 MkII Turntable, Goldring Elite MM cartridge

(playing Nick Drake's "Five Leaves Left")

Main sources racks
Thorens TD280 MII turntable, Linn Akurate DS/0/D streamer, Linn Akurate Kontrol/0 pre-amp, Denon TU660 FM tuner

Pure iPod dock/DAC, Logitech Squeezebox Touch, Sony S-480 Blu-ray, Humax HDR-T2FOX Freeview DVR, Pure DRX-701ES DAB tuner

Linn Akurate DS/0/Dynamik, Linn Akurate Kontrol/0/Dynamik

Refreshing view

General view of system
Wider general view of room

Sources and left hand Linn Keilidh loudspeaker

From the listening position.  Acer Iconia Tab A100


General overview - now with Linn Majik 140 speakers


Main Sources and LH Majik 140

General Room View With Acer Iconia A500 Tablet

Side View

Source Components and Quadraspire Racks

Majik 112 Centre Speaker and Majik Power Amps

Just For Fun

System On Tour At The Scalford Hi-Fi Show, March 2013 - in 2 channel guise


Linn Klimax DS/1

Thorens TT;  Klimax DS/1; Akurate Kontrol/0/D; Akurate Tuner


Sources and LH Linn Majik 140 Speaker

Linn Klimax DS/1 and Akurate Kontrol/0/D

Side View

General View of the Room

From The Listening Seat


Because Someone Always Asks

Centre Rack: Samsung LCD; Linn Majik 112 Centre Speaker; Linn C5100D & M6100D Power Amps


Linn Klimax DS/1 streamer, Linn Klimax Kontrol/1 pre-amp, Linn Akurate Kontrol/0/D DAC and AV processor, PS Audio P5 Mains Regenerator
Klimax Sculptures

On the left: Ariston RD80SL / Linn Basik LVX / Goldring Elektra turntable, Sony BDP-S480 blu-ray player, Humax HDR FOX T2 Freeview PVR and a future PSU project

Source racks and artwork

Source racks, subwoofer and left hand Majik 140

Complete system view

Majik 140 2k Array

Majik 112 2k Array

Majik 112 Centre Speaker
Majik 109 Rear Speakers


Top to bottom:  Linn Akurate Exakt DSM; Linn Akurate Kontrol/0/D; Linn AV5125/D centre channel amp; PS Audio P5 Power Regenerator

Left rack top to bottom: Ariston RD80sl / Linn LVX Basik Plus / Goldring 900IGC; Sony S-480 BDP; Humax Freeview PVR; Musical Fidelity Bluetooth receiver disguised as a Linn amp

Linn Trikan centre speaker; Linn Akurate Exaktbox 10; 2x Linn Akurate 4200/1 power amps

Sources and control

General view: sources; Exakt Ready PMC Twenty.26; TV and amps

View from the listening seat

General view

Sideview showing the lean-back on the PMCs
Sources and Control Rack



Overall View

Rear Lejonklou Tundra Stereo power amps.

PMC Twenty.C, 3x Lejonklou Tundra Stereo 2.5 power amps and Linn Akurate Exaktbox6/1 digital crossover / DAC

Universal system upgrade technology :)


The only significant change since this time last year is the replacement of the REL subwoofer (it was approx. 20 years old and gave up in Oct 2020) by a BK Electronics Monolith+ which, as with the REL, is confined to movie duties, at which it is a massive improvement on the REL and at a very good vfm price.


With a glut of Klimax "classic" front ends arriving on the market due to Linn's new Klimax DSM/3, it seemed like a good time to take advantage of the prices to upgrade the Akurate Exakt DSM streamer / pre-amp to the last version of the Klimax System Hub in the classic casework.  As the Klimax System Hub does not have an onboard phono stage (I guess you're expected to have a Urika  or Urika II in your LP12), a used Rega Fono MM has also been added.


A re-prioritisation of investment has been implemented.  After considering how much the system actually gets used for serious movie watching (once or twice per month) then it seems to me that the equipment required for Exakt active operation of centre and rear channels is perhaps a little over specced for that level of use and some funds could be released to enhance the stereo channels.  So the Exatkbox-i/1 (8 channel DAC and 8 channels of power amps) that was actively powering the rear channels has been re-purposed.  It is now in "pass through" mode which means that each DAC / power amp deals with the full range signal for each channel.  The centre and rear speakers have been converted back to passive and the Exaktbox-i/1 is now driving all 3 of those channels.

This frees up 1x Exaktbox/1 and 1x Power Amplifier, releasing funds to contribute to the major upgrade - a pair of PMC fact.12 speakers and a Klimax Exaktbox/2 (Organik).

Please note - most of these photos are mine.  Those that have been found on the net: if they're yours and you're not flattered by them being re-published, let me know and I'll take them down immediately.  Thanks.