The Audio Appraisal Reference Hi-Fi System 4

Please see This Post for a detailed rundown of our reference system.


This article is currently undergoing significant revisions and will be reposted in due course.


About Ashley

I founded Audio Appraisal a few years ago and continue to regularly update it with fresh content. An avid vinyl collector and coffee addict, I can often be found at a workbench tinkering with a faulty electronic device, tweaking a turntable to extract the last bit of detail from those tiny grooves in the plastic stuff, or relaxing in front of the hi-fi with a good album. A musician, occasional producer and sound engineer, other hobbies include software programming, web development, long walks and occasional DIY. Follow @ashleycox2

Share Your Thoughts

4 thoughts on “The Audio Appraisal Reference Hi-Fi System

    • Ashley Post author

      Ah, you must be an audiofool. Marketing and BS technology doesn’t make your music sound any better. Audiophiles could learn a lot from pro audio.

    • Ned

      For 99.9% of the population, this is a dream system. I see a pragmatic and measured approach to the selections here. The fact that it is not a $100,000 rig means that a lot more people can relate to it… or at least be in the ballpark. It can be frustrating when people review gear and contrast it with an esoteric reference system that I will never hear. If I have any criticism, it would be that Musical Fidelity can be hard to find locally for many outside the UK. At least it is well reviewed so you can get some sense of what it’s like. (This from a guy who owns 2 MF amps already). Well done, Ashly.

      • Ashley Post author

        Thank you. Though I could have one, I wouldn’t want a 100K system. There is a point where the money is wasted unless the environment is perfect, and even then you’re reliant on the source material. Assuming a perfect room and a 100K system, the source material then comes into question. Some have a limited taste that spans a selection of audiophile releases, but I’m not one of them. My system is assembled based on its technical performance and its suitability for all types of music.

        Plus, one shouldn’t be fooled into thinking that more money directly correlates to better sound. That couldn’t be more true than in the hi-fi industry. In fact some of the best engineered products would be considered at the lower middle end of the market. Take turntables for example. You can buy a 350 kg turntable for 100k or so designed with a view to maximising mass in the belief that the mass, by absorbing the energy, will mitigate the effects on vibration. Or you can buy a low-mass turntable like the Rega Planar 10 for about £5.5k with a cartridge included, based on a fairly unique principle that has been thoroughly researched by a company who by their founder’s own admission are more of an engineering firm who just happen to make hi-fi than a hi-fi maker specifically. Or you can spend less on something like the SL-1200G and get one of the best drive systems available in a 20KG turntable where the materials, and not necessarily the mass, achieve the goal of mitigating vibration. All of these solutions are a compromise. The former I would never buy nor recommend, but to me either of the latter are perfectly viable.

        I also see little value in over engineering for the sake of over engineering. Enormous power supplies for power amplifiers for example with a far greater capacity than the amplifier could ever need, even if operated in conditions that the components within simply couldn’t handle. If something is competently designed, it will do its job perfectly well and should do it as good as any other, with its character the only differentiating factor sonically.

        Plus, there is always the room to consider. Most of us have to house our systems in a domestic environment, and in a typical UK home where thousands of watts of power will simply never be used, because the resultant volume would be unbearable. While it’s certainly true that high power is useful under dynamic conditions, there is only so much power that one can use at a given level and at the most dynamic a piece is likely to get. If an amplifier can achieve the desired sound level under those conditions, then it is ideal. If I had a large space, power hungry speakers and didn’t mind the electricity bill, I would likely have outfitted the system with the M8 monoblocks or the stereo amp at the very least. But given the space in which the system resides and my preference for efficient point-source loudspeakers, the M6 PRX is more than adequate.

        I could ramble on about audiofools and their money for days. This article is due some updates which I will be publishing in due course.