There was a time, and I remember
it well, when hi-fi magazines used to spell out, in no uncertain terms, 'the
best'. This was 'the best turntable', that was 'the best amp', and so on.
Indeed, one mag even used to earnestly proclaim, "we tell you the best hi-fi
Journalists' ink bottles would runneth over with paeans of
praise for a particular bit of kit, making it out to be almost a compulsory purchase. Even if you'd had a dem at a dealer,
and product B had well and truly whipped product A, if A had been decreed 'the
best', that's what people would buy!
Well, in this month's issue of Hi-Fi
World, you will not
find 'the best' of anything. Most products featured are ones that were
designed and voiced with the recognition that individual people have
individual preferences, and that we don't all live in a homogeneous world
where what one writer says goes. If there's one underlying theme to this
issue, it's ‘each unto their own'....
Epos's Encore 50 loudspeakers [p10] are a case in point;
these are ‘big bangers', voiced for lovers of thrilling, powerful,
visceral rock music at high levels. They're not going to win prizes for
their transparency with baroque chamber music. Ditto Klipsch's Heresy IIIs
[p24]; no ‘hear through' electrostatics these, but feed them Metallica's
‘Enter Sandman' and they suddenly make sense...
Quad's lovely new Classic II Integrated [p18] isn't the
world's best valve amplifier; if you have horn loudspeakers the size of a
footballer's fridge you'll probably be wanting far lower powered single
ended triodes. But if you're after a great ‘first' valve amplifier, this
is a beautiful and iconic way in. Simaudio's high end Moon 600i integrated
amplifier [p38] attempts, and succeeds, to be most things to most people, but
would never claim to be the best at anything. Ditto Denon's DCD-2010AE,
which is a wonderful mid-price SACD/CD spinner that's just a very nice thing
to own, listen to and live with - yet not the ultimate in any way.
Thinking in terms of 'the best' is unhelpful and reductive;
it won't actually get you any closer to hi-fi heaven. What really matters is
what's best for you. That's
why we're always a little uneasy with sassy journalistic jargon; life's
more complex, as is getting a sound that's right for you and your system.
David Price, editor
here to subscribe to Hi-Fi World