Welcome to our relentlessly cheerful March newsletter

Some years ago I remember receiving a birthday card for the confirmed pessimist. It carried the wish that my birthday be ‘less bad than it probably will be’. Looking back at my February ‘bleak mid winter’ missive reminded me of this. Sorry.

A month later, and it all feels surprisingly different.

Reasons to be upbeat? Well look at these green shoots pictured above on the trees outside St Cecilia’s House. I spotted them on Saturday. Spring is underway, skies have been blue and most of us on the wrong side of sixty now seem to have received our first covid vaccine injections.

As a result of the populace being under house arrest since Christmas, the local infection rate seems to have tumbled quite dramatically too. Some degree of freedom is beginning to look like a possibility.

So, are supplies any better? Not especially, lead times are still extended, although we have just received a fair amount of fresh stock from Naim. If instant gratification for you involves NAP300DR, NAP250DR, NDX2 and / or Supernait3, we are in a position to make things happen.

The same holds for Chord TT2, M Scaler and Qutest. It’s good to talk . . .

Rega, ATC and Linn are still under pressure. Rega’s issues are mainly on the lower-end decks up to Planar 3 and they have stopped manufacturing the Elys 2 cartridge due to supply issues with the cantilevers. Exact is unaffected.

Dynaudio deliveries have started to arrive rather more rapidly. We received some more Heritage limited edition speakers but sold them before we could even get them on demonstration. More are in the pipeline.

We had a particularly uplifting response from a local customer who upgraded to a Naim NAC252 / Supercap DR / NAP 300DR on Friday and his description of being ‘in heaven’ right from the start warmed the cockles. It all needs to run in, of course, and will probably be going ‘off’ about now, but, on Saturday, with the sun, it all added to a sense that we can still get a buzz from what we do.

ATC news

The ‘happy’ ATC news is of a forthcoming price rise that you can avoid by ordering soon. See? I’m getting the hang of this positivity at all times malarkey. Let’s quote their email:

“ATC have not increased prices since 2017 and unfortunately this can’t continue. To offset increased overhead and component costs, prices will be increasing from April 1st 2021. The majority of products will increase by 8%.

There will be a handful of exceptions where increases are a little lower and some that are a little higher, but these will be in the minority. We appreciate that 8% is quite a jump but we hope you can balance this against stable pricing over the past four years and the value for money we feel the products still offer.”

To reiterate, orders placed before April are at the current prices.

New Accuphase DP 570

It’s 2021 and I’m getting hot under the collar about a CD player, worse, one that plays both CD and SACD. And this is despite me having yet to play a single disc on it. Thing is, this £10200 player is also a DAC, and an utterly magnificent one at that.

It arrived at the end of last week and I took it home to try with an E-480 integrated amplifier that I’ve temporarily purloined. Connected via an AudioMica USB cable to a trusty Melco N1Zs SE music server and I’ve been in my own personal heaven.

It does all the air, space, solidity, clarity and dynamics hi-fi stuff but somehow goes a lot further than that. I’m completely spellbound and simply want to play track after track, album after album.

In typical Accuphase style, supply of these is fairly limited but then so is the market for ten grand CD players. As a rather special DAC that can also play CD / SACD, though, it could have a broader appeal. I must take it back to work to see what my colleagues make of it. Yes I will do that, perhaps later in the week . . . no rush!

Focal Chora offer extended

You can still make significant savings on the rather impressive high value Chora range. To our ears, the substantial but remarkably well behaved Choras 816 and 826, the latter pictured above, are the stars.

Chora 806 stand-mount SRP £599, save £100

Chora 816 floor-stander SRP £1099, save £200

Chora 826 SRP £1299, save £200

Chora 826-D (as above but with built in Atmos channel) SRP £1699, save £200

If something further up the Focal range is tempting you, this could be a very good time to have a conversation!

Many thanks for your attention. Stay safe, play music and, please, continue to buy stuff!

Alastair, Andy & Mick

PS Mick and Kirsi are now both fully recovered from their brush with Covid and thank you for all your good wishes last month.