Nostalgia isn't what it used to be. Once
upon a time, we'd hanker after the thwack of leather on willow, and the smell
of freshly mown summer lawns. But nowadays we're watching ‘how we used to
live' TV programmes about the nineteen eighties, smiling affectionately at
Sinclair C5s, BBC Micros, women in shoulder pads and men in red braces. Not to
mention that famous episode of Tomorrow's
World when they spread jam over the then new-fangled CD, and
amazingly it still played!
It's shocking to think that Compact Disc will soon be thirty
years old, and all the more curious that it's still, in the absence of
anything else, the de facto
music carrier of our time. Still, when a product like the dCS Paganini DAC
[see p26] comes along, suddenly I am more comfortable with digital audio. The
dCS shows that, given fiendishly clever design, very decent performance can be
coaxed from the creaky old 16/44 format.
Still, the Paganini is not inexpensive, and if it's the best
sound per pound you're looking for, those Tomorrow's
World presenters would have been amused to learn that at the end of
the first decade of the twenty first century, the value choice is vinyl. Avid's
Diva II SP [p111] is a potent weapons-grade musical extraction tool, for
around one fifth of the dCS's heady price. They'd also be amazed to learn that
one of the best turntables you could buy in 1982 is alive and kicking in 2009.
Linn's classic Sondek LP12 has just got another revision, and a profound one
too; DC power, no less! See p100.
Yamaha's Soavo 1.1 Piano loudspeaker [p10] would be a
veritable ear-opener for our 1982-based time traveller. Using modern cone
materials and subtle engineering, it gives a strikingly modern sound, yet one
that's svelte and smooth too. I can think of few early eighties speakers that
would come close, at any price. It's a sobering reminder that progress can be
a good thing.
Indeed this issue's packed with interesting new takes on
classic ideas; we tell the Tubetech valve story, made at the old Mullard site
[p63], try the latest in a long line of budget loudspeakers in the shape of
Wharfedale's Diamond 10.1 [p80] and pit the direct descendent of another early
eighties evergreen, the Naim Nait XS, against its premium integrated amplifier
rivals in this month's supertest [p15].
We've tried hard to make this an issue to remember, so
David Price, editor
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