My Systems...

A quick look at some of my bits and pieces. Most of the images can be enlarged by clicking on them...

Please note that this page is rather out of date because since moving house I've not really got things set up. There are quite a few new items to add, once they've been photographed. This page will change quite a bit over the next few months...

Main system

Apart from the CD player and speakers, the main system has remained much the same for a while now.

  • Thorens TD125/SME3009

    Thorens TD125/SME3009 (9K)

    A classic deck and arm combination from the mid-70s - bought from a car-boot sale many years ago for just £4 - but as it was my birthday, a friend paid for me. Result! (Thanks, Richard!)

    The cartridge is an basic Ortofon 510, which works well and is easily upgraded by buying a more expensive stylus (the fixed bits are the same throughout the range)

  • Arcam DiVA CD72

    Arcam DiVA CD72 (5K)

    Definitely worth the premium over the Alpha 7SE even if they are very similar electronically - you get better build quality and looks, plus a much-improved remote...

  • Sony MDS-JE520

    Sony MDS-JE520 (6K)

    I really liked MiniDisc. As a cassette replacement, it was a great format; obviously these days it's been somewhat eclipsed by CDRs and MP3s, but in the mid-1990s MD was quite something. I was always very impressed with ATRAC, from version 4.0 onwards at least. I bought this machine second-hand, and mainly used it for producing compilations for the car. Well, until the in-car player died...

  • Technics RS-B205

    Technics RS-B205 (7K)

    Good solid budget machine from the late '80s. Has resisted several attempts at replacement on sound quality grounds. Hardly used nowadays...

  • Technics ST-G570

    Technics ST-G570 (5K)

    Bought to match the cassette deck (and the SL-P222A CD player I had at the time). Still sounds fine...

  • DIY Hi-Fi Preamp

    Homemade Hi-Fi Preamp (15K)

    A comprehensive remote-controlled pre-amp with multichannel support. This was quite a project - my first to use a PIC processor, and has worked well for many years now. It is documented in some detail elsewhere on this site...

  • A4 Power Amplifier

    A4 Power Amplifier (8K)

    Another home-brew unit - this power amp has 4 channels at 50 watts each, or in bridged mode it'll output around 150 watts per channel. It's a compact unit; not much bigger than a Quad 405. Read more...


    ATC SCM20SL (14K)

    These monitor speakers are modern classics, not to mention a serious piece of engineering! Even at second-hand prices, these are the most expensive item of hi-fi I've ever bought, but 8 years on I'm still really impressed by their accuracy and dynamic abilities. They have their own page dedicated to them.

Not yet shown are the AV components: a 28" widescreen Sony TV, a TVonics DTR-FP1600 Freeview+ receiver (which I can't recommend highly enough, but such a shame TVonics went under), a Sony DVD player and an old Panasonic hi-fi stereo S-VHS machine, which is basically a large digital clock these days! These all sit in a pine cabinet that I made a couple of year back which uses a couple of glass shelves rescued from an unwanted widescreen TV stand. Nothing goes to waste around here!

The hi-fi kit currently stands on a hopeless pine rack that will be replaced soon. I have a plan that involves building a nice cabinet from some hardwood recently salvaged - it's just a question of finding some spare time...

Workshop Hi-Fi

An essential part of any workshop... Unfortunately, I haven't got a proper workshop in this house yet, so this is the system that was in the much-missed old workshop.

  • Technics SL-PG480

    Technics SL-PG480 (5K)

    Budget model that sounds fine in this application.

  • Sony MDS-JE510

    Sony MDS-JE510 (6K)

    Thrown out from work after a hard life in local radio - a slightly duff laser means that it sometimes fails to write the TOC, effectively wiping the disc. Fine for playback-only...

  • Denon DRA-455

    Denon DRA-455 (7K)

    Bought to replace an ancient Rotel RX-152 unit - the difference in sound quality was quite a shock! Comes with RDS, Radio Text and remote control. Highly recommended...

  • Rogers dB101

    Rogers dB101 (14K)

    Genuine bargains from Richer Sounds. Don't be put off by the strange looks, these speakers sound fantastic for the £100 they cost...

    They have a page dedicated to them with more pictures and info...

The workshop television is connected to this system as well, via a switchbox that makes feeding line-level audio into the amplifier much easier. The sound from this system is really rather nice - the acoustics of the garage definitely help - see the workshop conversion page for details.

Other Stuff

A few things sitting around unused at the moment...

  • Musical Fidelity A1

    Musical Fidelity A1 (4K)

    Classic 1980s amplifier. For lots more information, including a full technical breakdown, check out the Musical Fidelity section...

  • Rogers LS3/5A and LS5/9

    Rogers LS5/9 and LS3/5a (12K)

    I have a decent collection of Rogers speakers and a section of this website is dedicated to them.

    Currently I have a pair of 11 ohm LS3/5As, a pair of LS7s and a pair of LS5/9s. I occasionally listen to the LS3/5As in the main hifi, just to remind myself of their magic!

  • Sony SRF-M48RDS

    Sony SRF-M48RDS (14K)

    AM/FM walkman, complete with RDS which I guess is a bit gimmicky on a walkman... Sounds nice, though...

  • Sony MDS-JE500

    Sony MDS-JE500 (6K)

    I paid real money for this back in 1997 or thereabouts. Having borrowed one from work, I decided it was time to invest in MiniDisc, and picked this up for £220 from Richer Sounds. About two weeks later, the price fell to £179. Hey-ho...

  • NICAM Tuner

       Tuner (4K)

    I made this in 1991, when NICAM was relatively new and the equipment was very expensive... Read more about it here...

  • Arcam Alpha 2

    Arcam Alpha 2 (9K)

    Classic '80s amplifier from Arcam, which still sounds very nice. I've reverse-engineered the circuit, and taken lots of internal pictures, so maybe there will be a page with more details about it one day....

  • Sony DTC-1000ES

    Sony DTS-1000ES (6K)

    Huge and heavy first-generation DAT machine. It features many of the "ES" tweaks, such as a copper-plated chassis and liberal helpings of "audio quality" electrolytic capacitors, but despite all that, it doesn't sound all that nice. Indeed, I'd rather listen to MiniDisc as the ATRAC artefacts are much less noticeable than the sound of the ancient ADC in this unit (the DAC isn't bad). And because it predates SCMS, I couldn't bypass the ADC to make a digital recording. Apparentely, the sound quality was variable from unit to unit, and there is a distortion adjustment in the ADC, but I never investigated that. To be honest, I never got into DAT as a format, and I gave this machine away a few years back.

  • Class A Headphone Amp

    Class A headphone amplifier (8K)

    A compact class-A effort that sounds OK and runs almost as warm as the A1! It sat in the tape-loop and also provided a much-needed aux input. This was made back in 1992, and looking at the recently unearthed schematics, it was nothing special - perfectly competent, given how young I was, but I wouldn't recommended that anyone else tries to build one. Perhaps I'll put a page together in the future...

  • Philips CD634

    Philips CD634 (6K)

    Circa 1990 Bitstream model with an incredibly OTT operating system. It is currently used at work in the office, and is still working well after 20+ years.

  • JVC JA-331

    JVC JA-331 (8K)

    Huge '70s silver monster! As was typical for the time, it's very well equipped, having tape-loops and dubbing modes, and a useful switch that lets you choose between various mono and stereo modes. The service manual is available on-line, and it is fairly well designed. The sound quality is surprisingly good, and all the controls have that reassuring solid feel that Japanese gear always seemed to have. I have no idea what I'll use this for, but I can't bring myself to move it on!

There's plenty more junk where that lot came from - I wish I could learn to part with stuff!