Working with Audio-Visual products gives me an advantage when it comes to buying gear & over the years I have had many different systems. I have listed below my current equipment & my reasons for choosing them.
Project Perspective Turntable
After owning a succession of Project turntables including the Project Debut II & The Project 6.9 I have always been amazed by their performance. Vinyl is still the best way to play music, it's just a shame that the vinyl itself is rarely looked after. Pound for pound, if you compare a clean record to it's CD counterpart, the record will usually win in the performance stakes.
Perspective is a gorgeously crafted machine made with an acrylic base,
an MDF frame mounted by a 3-point suspension system (with built in
Spirit Level) & a vinyl sandwich platter. When combined with
a good cartridge (I use an Ortofon MC15 Super) & Phono Pre-amp it
sounds fantastic & probably outclasses everything else in my system.
Musical Fidelity XLP Phono Pre-Amp
Anyone who considers vinyl to be one of their primary source components should look very seriously at purchasing a good Phono Pre-Amp. The pre-amp built into your hifi amplifier will usually only be of pitiful standard & replacing it with something more serious will transform your expectations of your record player.
The Musical Fidelity XLP is probably the best piece of kit in its price bracket & is highly sought after since they ceased production due to its incredibly detailed performance (and its almost double increase in price since the version 3 unit was released)
DMRPWT420 BluRay PVR
string of Pioner DVD/PVR combi's I thought it was about time I upgraded
to a BluRay/HD unit. This covers several bases for me functioning as a
competent BluRay player & PVR, while also serving as a HD tuner
& TV on demand source for my projector with Netflix, AmazonTV, iPlayer, ITV player, 4OD, DemandFive, YouTube etc.
Tascam CD Recorder
After owning a succession of CD recorders I find it pretty dissappointing that most manufacturers have now abandoned the format in favour of MP3 devices. MP3 is all very well for convenience but just doesn't have the performance of a CD. Also we still seem to be a few years away from having car head units with MP3 storage on board, & I do not want to have to plug in an external storage unit to my head unit every time I get into the car.
I settled on
the Tascam unit as it is one of the few full size CD recorders
available & in production for the pro-audio market. It has
full text support, stereo digital & analogue recording levels &
an auto sync function with adjustable sensitivity. Being a
pro-audio device it is also not limited to only 'music' CD-R's &
will probably last a lot longer than most consumer models.
Pioneer VSXAX2 AV Receiver
receiver is the heart of the system & if you have a lot of kit
you're gonna need a big one. The Pioneer has a full compliment of
inputs & output with plenty of accomodation for all your kit.
The auto speaker calibration is fantastic & will re-calibrate your
system to account for time alignment, frequency response, room
resonance & reverb, multi-band phasing & of course output
levels. This makes a real noticable difference sharpening &
focussing the soundfield.
Another great feature I use is the multi-zone capabilities, allowing speakers in the kitchen to play music while someone else in the lounge is watching a film.
B&W P5 Speakers
B&W have long been my favourite speaker manufacturer with an excellent balance in sound that suits all types of music.
The P series was my first real favourite when I moved into the industry & still stand up extremely well to today's speakers. These retailed at £800 when released & when I compared them to B&W's current ranges I was startled to find that I would have to spend at least £1400 to improve on them with the B&W 700 Series. The 684's that are currently available for £700 are still class leaders but due to Inflation the P5's happily kick their arse with a huge jump in the level of detail & sound staging that the 600 series could only dream of.
B&W LCR60s3 Centre Speaker
It is an often forgotten fact that in your Home Cinema system the centre speaker is the most important component doing 90 percent of the work in any film. The LCR60s3 does a fantastic job with a pair of large Kevlar Cones (A B&W Patent) & a tweeter derived from their flagship Nautilus range. It fits in beautifully with the B&W HiFi Speakers giving a seamless performance.
B&W DS6s2 Tripolar Surround Speakers
Tripolar speakers really are the Dogs Dangly's of surround sound & the B&W's are the best around. They have a pair of full range drivers firing forwards and backwards in an out of phase Dipolar arrangement giving a truly enveloping atmosphere & one of the impeccable Kevlar cones firing directly at you with a punch unheard of in conventional Dipoles.
The only fault with Tripolar speakers is their cost. Do you really expect to get what is essentially 3 surround speakers in one box for the same price as a standard speaker?
Rel Q200e Subwoofer
The Rel Q200e really is a deceptive little thing, at what amounts to little more than a 1 foot cube it packs a lot more punch & depth than you ever expected. Yes it's true that a bigger sub will perform better and more naturally than it's smaller counterpart but as with most UK buyers I simply don't have the room.
Rel have been making subwoofers over in Wales for an awfully long time now and there's no better pedigree. They were building subwoofers a long time before Surround Sound was in the home and as a consequence if you need a subwoofer for your music as well as you AV Rel are the people to talk to.
Sony Playstation 3 Games Console
Although non-gamers will sneer at the inclusion of a games console, those who don't have a PS3 don't know what they are missing. With continued software upgrades the PS3 now not only plays games, but also has a DLNA media player allowing streaming of music, photos & video from your PC, support for BBC iPlayer, ITV player & 4 OD for TV on demand, Love Film for film rental downloads, a music video jukebox & more. To top all this off the PS3 is a fully fledged high definition BluRay player making it a true member of the Audio-Visual system.
Epson EHTW3200 LCD Projector
probably the most significant product of my system giving me a 6 foot
high definition picture for all my Audio-Visual needs. No Home
Cinema is complete
without a picture of this scale & if you don't have one you should
make this your most immediate priority. I still recommend LCD
over DLP at this price point as I have yet to see a budget DLP
projector with a picture as clean & stable as those given by LCD
Nevo Touchscreen Remote System
As anyone with a large AV system will know, making the thing easy to use is the biggest challenge. After experimentation with many remote controls I settled on the Nevo system. Although very expensive this is the most flexible system I have come across in the sub £1000 category & when setup right it can make any system operable by a complete novice. The best way to do this is by using a context sensitive setup whereby the user tells the screen what they want to do (e.g. watch a video, listen to music etc) & the remote then reels off a series of commands to set all the equipment into the appropriate modes.
customisable user interface using either the supplied images or you own
JPEG's, a huge online database , a learning capability & page link
functionality this is a remote that's hard to beat at its price.