With February now underway, it’s fair to say that some form of communication from us is probably overdue. Here’s our take on the bleak mid winter.

We hope to find you healthy, covid free and coping with the strange new rhythm of life. Our way of working has certainly been altered significantly but we feel exceedingly lucky to be able (and have the need) to work somewhere separate from our homes. Small businesses like ours have some useful characteristics.

When lockdown 1 started last March we assumed that business would grind to a halt so set about sorting through piles of random items that were sitting in stores both here and at my home. Just as we filled the place with this detritus, we found that we were actually quite busy too. It turns out that being stuck indoors stimulates a desire for improved home entertainment facilities. Who knew? 🙂

Since then, we’ve lurched through phases of being open and closed for face to face business to the point where I’ve genuinely lost track of when the current level of restrictions properly kicked in. The phone and email are being used a lot. Facebook and Whatsap too. We’ve upped our spend with courier services and have started planning full days worth of deliveries and collections in the signals van. Partly, this has become a ruse to minimise how many of us are in the office at any given time.

A telephone call last Friday from Mick was unsettling, though. His wife had tested positive for Covid. A day later we had confirmation that both he and she have it. At time of writing, neither of them are particularly ill, just somewhat isolated! Fingers crossed that this is all it amounts to for them.

There had been sufficiently large time buffer since we last saw him and I had my weekly test several days later than that, so, figuring that we’re well, Andy and I embarked on an extended doorstep delivery & collection programme last Saturday. My goodness, it’s still rather busy out there. Astonishingly, delivering another Naim S1 preamp was part of the remit. With that, plus an arm stretchingly heavy Accuphase box, being why two of us were involved.

Gradually, as we edge into 2021 the impacts of Covid and, dare I say it, Brexit are starting to bite. All companies are reporting significantly extended lead times and anything that gets imported is almost certainly being delayed for customs clearance. Products manufactured or distributed in Europe from Dynaudio, Auralic and AudioQuest are all affected. With so many goods that hitherto could ship freely without friction into the UK now requiring customs clearance in both directions, the system is now showing significant signs of strain. Even products that arrive from the Far East or North America, such as IsoAcoustics, are being slowed down by the lack of manpower to process things.

Lead times for Linn, Naim and particularly Rega are all also affected by unprecedented levels of demand, although shipment delays on parts are contributing hugely.

To mitigate this, as mentioned in previous communications, we are ordering some items speculatively ahead of actually having orders, so not everything bought from us need be quite as slow as quoted.

To give you an idea of expected lead-times, here is what Naim advised in December:

New(ish) from Rega:

With the lack of opportunity to arrange product launches and, more significantly, restrictions on who can work together to develop them, new products from existing suppliers are also on something of a go-slow.

Even the apparent exception to this, the new Rega Kyte loudspeaker (pictured below) is not quite the exception it appears. Early production versions were shown at the Bristol HiFi show last February. We think we remember liking them 🙂

Less ‘new’, more ‘delayed’, then! It kind of sums the year up.

We should have our own pair of them very soon indeed.

In the midst of this, the Planar 1 has seen minor upgrade / revision with a change to much higher quality textured finish for both black and white versions. The new and improved Rega belt, not yet available as a replacement part, is also part of the deal.

The RRP of the Planar 1 has risen to £275. There is a commensurate rise in the Planar 1 plus, Planar 2 + Planar 3, the Couple 2 Interconnects and high end mains leads.

Focal Chora offer

This February, you can make significant savings on the rather impressive high value Chora range. To our ears, the substantial but remarkably well behaved Choras 816 and 826 are the stars.

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

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

Chora 826 (pictured below in light wood) SRP £1299, save £200

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

Hint, we think the Choras look best in black!

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

Stay home, stay safe!