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Reviewer's Bio

Malcolm Steward

 

Malcolm Steward  Having been born in the 1950's, I consider myself fortunate to have witnessed the rock music era from the beginning probably right through to its end. I've been lucky enough to have witnessed it all from Bill Haley through legends such as Hendrix and Zappa, to Rage Against The Machine and The White Stripes, who appear to represent the last true rock bands of the age.

I began reviewing while working in London as a photographer. An underground hi-fi magazine of the day needed some photographs taking and someone suggested that I might be able to help. I progressed from taking photos to writing music reviews and then to producing equipment reviews before joining the staff and, ultimately, becoming the editor of what turned into a popular mainstream title. This subsequently led to the beginning of my career as a freelance writer, which I enjoyed until the latter part of the 1990s when I stopped writing for consumer titles and launched a trade magazine. But writing about equipment that I wasn't hearing proved frustrating and was lured back into review writing by Hi-Fi Choice and then HiFi Critic.


In the early days, I also worked at the ground-breaking London retailer The Sound Organisation, where I learned how to put musically rewarding systems together, how to set up a Linn Sondek and -- this is a skill that still eludes many retailers -- how to solder 4mm plugs onto speaker cables correctly. Also learned there that one of the most sublime pieces of jazz known to man is "Binky's Beam" from the John McLaughlin album Extrapolation. As well as being an absolute joy to listen to it is also a magnificent test piece: if a system cannot make musical sense of it -- and it is an extraordinarily challenging composition -- then look elsewhere!

This constituted the most valuable lesson that I learned: that hi-fi is nothing more than a means to an end. If a system doesn't convey the spirit of a piece of music then it has little more value than the boxes it came in. This drove me towards favoring mainly British components -- Linn, Roksan, Nytech, Naim, NEAT -- which still form the core of my systems to this day, although I have stepped off this path to pick up some fine Japanese moving coils and tape recorders such as the Sony Walkman Pro, and the Canadian Magnum Dynalab FM tuner. Along the way I've also enjoyed time spent with the Audio Innovations tube amplifiers, sadly no-longer-available, and the characterful American Shahinian omni-directional loudspeakers.

 

Equipment

Primary System
Sources: Funk Vector Sondek LP12 with Naim unipivot and Lyra Clavis DC
Naim CDS CD player
Pre-amplifier: Naim NA52/SuperCap.
Active crossover: Naim SNAXO 3-6/SuperCap
Power Amplifiers: 3 x Naim NAP250s
Loudspeakers: Naim DBL (active) with NACA5 cables
Supports: Quadraspire Sunoko Vent stand

Secondary System
Linn Sondek Pink Link with Naim unipivot and various moving coils
Roksan Kandy CD player
Integrated amplifier: Naim SUPERNAIT
Loudspeakers: Neat Acoustics Motive 1 (passive) with Chord Company Signature cables
Supports: Quadraspire Sunoko Vent stand

AV System
Fujitsu 42-inch plasma
Cambridge Audio 540D DVD player
Cambridge Audio 640R 7.1-channel receiver
Sky Hi-Def satellite system
Loudspeakers: NEAT and B&W loudspeakers. B&W subwoofer.
Cambridge HDMI cables and Chord Company Indigo speaker cables

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     
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