Well it’s that time of year again. The air chills, the days shorten and we retreat indoors for a glass of something fortifying and to reflect on the year’s highs and lows. And what better way to do it than with a copy of the Hi-Fi News Yearbook 2016 with its round-up of “the hardware that turned our heads and the music that stirred our souls” over the past 12 months. This year’s bumper 172-page issue features a real “feast of audio dreams”.
Taking pride of place among them is the Clearaudio Statement v2 turntable, singled out as a Hi-Fi News ‘Outstanding Product’. Here at DDPR we’re huge Miles Davis fans and often reach for one of the great man’s albums to put a piece of high-end hi-fi through its paces, so we were pleased to see that the Hi-Fi News review team did just that – with the 1959/60 recording Sketches of Spain.
“Miles’ trumpet was seductive and expressive in a way that has never been equaled,” concluded the review, “the Statement giving a palpable presence that paid tribute to the LP and deck itself. When you heard the castanets in ‘Concierto de Arunjuez’ you did a double-take for both the requisite hollowness and the precise positioning. ‘Vivid’ is the word.” Close listening to a variety of other albums and musical genres followed, leading the team to their overall verdict: “one the handful of finest turntables that money can buy.” We’ll drink to that.
Meanwhile, raise your glasses to another European brand that revamped an old favourite this year. Italian Audio Analogue marked its twentieth birthday with the Puccini Anniversary zero feedback integrated amplifier, a new updated edition of the company’s very first product. A fitting gesture, since the original Puccini launched the brand and put the company’s name firmly on the high-end audio map, rapidly developing a reputation for delivering high-end performance at a fraction of the cost normally associated with such listening pleasure.
The new Puccini Anniversary edition “has come a long way from the original.” While its input and output stages retain much of the simplicity that made the original great, “it goes about servicing them in a rather more complex fashion, and can also deploy plenty of power. However, what is unchanged is the essential Audio Analogue mix of richness and detail that makes for a very enjoyable and rewarding listen.” (In fact, it’s gone down so well that the company is now continuing its ‘Anniversary’ line. Look out for the next Audio Analogue classic to receive the anniversary treatment: the appropriately-named Maestro.)
So, pull your chair closer to the fire, top up your glass and dive into your own copy of the Hi-Fi News yearbook, Ultimate Hi-Fi 2016.
Or, if you’re heading out, UK distributor Sound Fowndations will point you in the direction of your local Clearaudio dealer, while everything you need to know about Audio Analogue’s UK stockists can be found out from Decent Audio. Wrap up warm, now.