September 2010 - Page 5

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Over the past 5 years or so I’ve been probably spending too much time reading, hopefully adsorbing much of the information put in front of me by publications like yours. Now I’m the sort of person that may never jump on the wrong train, but being so concerned about that wrong train, I may miss the right one! If something is worth doing, then it’s probably worth over doing! Now thoughts like this have stopped me buying on a whim, but with so many possible choices, reading can cloud the mind, although some progress has been made.

I’ve come to the conclusion convenience and quality is my way forward, which is why I have decided not to go back down the vinyl route. Yes shock, horror! Sorry to all you vinyl buffs who consider there is no other way and that I should be taken away and locked up, but development in electronics of late, plus busy lifestyle means that's the way forward for me. Monitor Audio's  PL200 loudspeakers were, after many auditions, purchased not so long ago (great) as an upgrade, with the idea of going for a Naim HDX or something similar.


Now let's assume at this point I went with an HDX, with the above speakers, can you suggest an amp that may complement the above.

I would like to go with a one box unit, but if preamp and power amp are the way forward, then so be it.

Budget? I would rather try to get things right, or at least not be left thinking if I only spent a little more.

As far as musical taste goes, well most really. Any help would be greatly appreciated.


Kevin Forsey




Naim Supernait is a top quality solid-state amplifier well worth considering.



Hi Kevin - well if you’re going for convenience, then why spoil the ship for a ha’peth of tar, so to speak? If you’re set on an HDX, which is certainly no bad thing, then it makes sense to match it with the Naim SuperNait (£2,600). It’s a visual and a sonic match, and will drive your Monitor Audio PL200s with skill; Hi-Fi World’s very own Adam Smith uses it as a reference amplifier. Alternatively, if it’s a no holds bar top end integrated you want, I must suggest the Musical Fidelity AMS35i, which is a barnstorming full Class A integrated for £6,000. The SuperNait is a big, punchy and fun sounding device, whereas the twice-the-price Musical Fidelity has more depth, space, detail, insight and grip. Both are brilliant at their respective price points; it’s simply a matter of choosing the one that suits your wallet. DP



That was an interesting leader in the June edition noting the transition in the market place and the current position. As someone who has lived through it all and listened to all manner of equipment over the past 40 years it occurs that, while one fondly remembers certain specific items such as Lowther horns, the big IMF transmission line speakers, the original Bose 901s, various amplifier combinations, Garrard 401 chassis (which you used to be able to buy in Tottenham Court Road for £50) and much more, it is never-the-less certain combinations of components which stick in the memory as being special. Often such combinations seem rather unlikely - a favourite was a Radford transistor pre-power amplifier driving a pair of B&W DM7s (I think they were called DM7s - with a dome tweeter housing on the top surface) fed by a Thorens / SME 3009 and Shure V15 cartridge, which provided a sound so smooth, completely unforced and natural in character as to make the system

almost disappear sonically.

We had for a time one of the big and ugly Goodmans receivers (called the 130, I think) which, while a little plasticky in appearance had an FM section which seemed to be of a high quality and perfectly matched to the amplifier, providing a quality of sound well beyond what was expected, driving some medium sized Tannoys - again a fairly natural sound which didn’t scream “hi-fi” at you.

More recently, I have had some surprises when listening to relatively modest components well matched into holistic sounding systems.

The opposite can also be true of course - great individual components badly matched and not delivering their promise.

It all serves to remind me that one of the pleasures of this hobby of ours is tweaking and matching sometimes seemingly unlikely combinations of components, and being surprised and delighted by unexpected sonic results. Different combinations providing significant alterations of character - one of the components of course being the listening room itself. However, such experimentation may become more difficult if the market polarises to be ‘high end’ and little else as far as two channel audio is concerned. Cambridge Audio have shown that there is still a viable market at the affordable end of the scale and it will be interesting to see how things pan out in the next few years in this context. Perhaps, as your welcome comment suggested, we might look forward to greater diversity in the future, supporting further experimentation by a wider range of enthusiasts. I hope so.

Douglas Marc





B&W DM7, with tweeter on top and ABR beneath bass unit (picture courtesy of B&W)



A long time ago, I constructed one of your World Audio Design amplifiers, the K5881. If I remember correctly, it cost me about £350. It has given me excellent service and still sounds as musical as ever!

However, in one of your rival magazines, I have just read a favourable review of a 5881-based amplifier,  the Synthesis Shine. True, it has remote control but that appears to be the only visible difference between it and the K5881  except that it retails at £2449! Is this some kind of clone or merely testament to the quality of your original model?

One other difference is that Synthesis has managed to squeeze 40 watts RMS out of the same configuration, so my guess is that must be at the expense of some sweetness.

Well done Hi-Fi World!

Roger Bick




Our World Audio Design K5881 amplifier, still going strong for Roger Bick.



I think it was Andy Grove who suggested we use the sturdy Russian 5881 valve in our Mullard 5-20 update and the result was a lovely amplifier, one that in tuned form (i.e. Black Gate bypass electrolytics, Jensen paper-in-oil coupling caps.) David Price uses today as an example of easy euphony.

Running a valve hard for maximum power output shortens its life. The 5881 valve is inexpensive so this is not such a big deal perhaps. But we designed for long life and reliability, and used the very best Andy Grove designed output transformers, a real distinguishing feature. I'm glad yours is still providing much pleasure. NK



I picked up the May issue of Hi-Fi World this past Saturday and read your review of the Denon DCD-2010AE SACD player. As you have probably been made aware, “its deja vu all over again” was not said by George Bush. He would need a super computer welded to his head to say something half that clever. The quote is attributable to Yogi Berra, the longtime New York Yankees catcher.


He is famous for his many “Yogi-isms.” One of my favorites was his comment about a restaurant. He said, “No one goes there anymore; it’s too crowded.”

Have a good week!

Kent Johnson

St. Louis,




Hi Kent. Thanks for that interesting correction. Yogi Berra and Maggie Thatcher seem to something in common with their loaded aphorisms.

A few good jokes at his expense were, sadly, the only funny thing about George Bush. NK



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