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Please note, the following is likely to cause drowsiness!!!

Having played the trumpet for over 45 years and taught it for more than 35, music has always been an important part of my life and, unlike many of my colleagues, I have always made time to listen as well as perform.

My hi-fi journey started when I saved a few shillings (actually it wasn’t quite that long ago!) from my first holiday job and bought a Sony cassette deck and half-decent headphones – hardly audiophile stuff but a big step forward from my previous Waltham radio-cassette player! Then, once I started work proper I bought my first hf-fi separates which consisted of an RP3 turntable, NAC 42 NAP110 and a pair of B&W DM14 speakers – a dramatic improvement.

This setup saw two upgrades; the first to an LP12 with basic arm in the mid 80s and the second, more extensive, to an Ittok arm, 32.5, 140 and Linn Kabers in the early nineties.

And that was how things stayed and enjoyed for many years until I got divorced, moved into a small flat and stored it all away for about 7 years.

I now find myself in the fortunate position of having both wife number 2 and a small room that is entirely for my use. So, a couple of years ago I resurrected the hi-fi and got the amps serviced. The LP12 was not in a good state so I decided to try streaming and bought a Unitiqute. Well that was the start, and the bug had well and truly bit. To cut a long story short thanks to James the Qute was soon replaced with an ND5XS, the pre with an 82 and the power with a 200 (via 160) I also added a high-cap – first a CB but now a DR – and replaced the Kabers with Alaes. Oh and James also brought my LP12 back to life. 

This system is in a different league to that circa 80s/90s and great to listen to – which I do most days. I do feel there are still issues to be addressed though - I mainly listen to classical music and often find loud orchestral tuttis harsh and muddled, particularly the upper brass. But that is a project for the future when my bank balance has recovered somewhat!


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Thanks Hugh, please pop in next time your are up our way and we can talk through some ideas. />


Forgive the late addition, I have just joined.

Were the harsh and muddled issues sorted? If they were, how was this done? 

As a musician, you know how the music does sound, so I would be interested in whether this harshness was resolved.

Thank you for any update,. David

Hi David

Yes, it was a summer of experimentation but things are much improved now.

At first I thought my speakers (Alaes) were entirely to blame for the harshness so took them together with my ND5 XS up to St Albans to compare with others. The surprise was how good they sounded in a different space. I did borrow a pair of Neat Motive SX2s but I (and the rest of the family) still preferred the Alaes. I also borrowed an XPS2.

However the main thing I took away was the knowledge that it was not entirely the speakers to blame - though I still think their size in such a small room is an issue and something for the future. I now also have them on Fraim Chips, which has helped.

Regarding my listening room, I have now removed a large unit (with shiny doors) plus CD racks, moved the speakers much further apart and wall mounted by LP12. This has all made an amazing difference.

Back to the XPS2 -  I really liked the improvement it brought  and was very tempted but thought, with all the hype, I had better at least try a Chord Hugo. For me this is a huge improvement to the digital source for most music - though different to the XPS2 and decided to buy one. To be honest if I could afford it I would have both, as analogue out from my ND5 with XPS2 suited some music better than digital out to Hugo and vice versa. For me the Hugo is particularly good a placing instruments in the soundstage and accurately rendering timbre. It also allows me to experiment with DSD audio via my MacBook Pro.

All in all I am much happier with my system and am no longer diving for cover during orchestral tuttis! For the future - well, when I have got more used to the current set up perhaps I will experiment with a couple of acoustic panels. I still think there is an improvement to be made with the speakers, maybe something like PMC Twenty, 23s. Also a move to all black with a 282 (+stageline) would be nice but I doubt funds will allow soon!

Apologies for the lengthy reply - difficult to sum up in one sentence!

Best wishes


Thank you for such a full reply! Much appreciated, enjoy the music. David



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