Friday, 17 December 2010

Everything's relative

I've been thinking about and looking at Hi-Fi lately. Little else to do in this freezing weather.

Now I always had an interest in developments in record playing systems, since attending Radio Shows and Audio Shows in London with my Dad when I was a nipper. I well remember being treated like royalty when entering the hushed surroundings of the Quad room. Quad still exist and in fact still repair their earliest equipment if you send it to them.! You wouldn't get that service from Technics or Sony!

Being a bit of a tub thumper, I am only interested in British Hi-Fi, especially as it's still something we actually DO and do better than anyone else, too.
When, in 1982, I decided that it was time to get myself a decent system, I went off to Rayleigh Hi-Fi and settled on a beautiful Rega Planar 3 turntable and RB250 arm, an A&R Cambridge A60 amp and a set of very punchy, stylish Mission 700 speakers. It cost me £503, cash, speaker leads thrown in, I still have the bill.

I built a very substantial brick and blockboard structure at one end of my living room to stop extraneous vibration and set up what was to be the most astonishing experience in music pleasure. And I do like my music.
Alas, a couple of years later I got hard up and sold the outfit, lock, stock and barrel to a friend of a friend for £495. You wouldn't get that kind of resale value from Japcrap either!

So, in my random thoughts and researches into what is now around I wondered what £503 would be equal to these days. Astonishingly, it seems that is equivalent to £1320! What, I wondered, would that buy me of today's "good buys"?
What a surprise! I could buy a Rega P3-24 turntable and RB310 arm, a suitable cartridge, a Rega Brio 3 amp and Rega RS1 speakers. The modern equivalent of what I bought back in 1982 when Rega only made turntables.
But, interestingly, I would also have enough left of my modern day £1320 to buy what is now apparently considered essential, a Phono stage, some gizmo that punches the tiny signal from the stylus to the amp. A Rega Fono would do the trick and I would still have change from my £1320! In fact, I'd have £50 change, Hmm, upgrade the cartridge, maybe?
Needless to say everything is very much improved on the standards of 1982, so I'd be getting much better quality, plus a fourth bit of very high tech for even more performance, for effectively LESS than I spent back in 1982!

Of course, living, as I do, in a mobile home, there isn't the slightest chance of my ever having this set-up since if one dog walks across the floor the whole thing shakes, so a half-gram tracking weight on a top-end Hi-fi wouldn't stand a chance, but it is an interesting comparison. And proves that not everything today is necessarily expensive, it just sounds it.

If I wanted to buy my original stuff back, say through ebay or a top dealer, I find that I could buy the deck for around £150, the amp for maybe £50 and the Missions for around £50 also. So £250 to get the same as I had in 1982 for £503. Not bad and an absolute testimony to British Hi-Fi's quality and durability.

My cousin has just started working for Rega. I shall become a nuisance!

Meanwhile, I have an ancient Connoisseur Craftsman III deck that my Dad put in a heavy cabinet years ago. It's equivalent cost today would be £340. About the same as a P3-24.
In its day it was very well thought of. I wonder if it still works. It's in the garage somewhere.
Sorry Dad!

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