October 20 2010
What do we feel about spending a substantial sum on the best of a mainstream brand rather than going the extra mile or six for the arcane, ultra-deluxe breed? Is buying the top-spec Ford, Canon or Dell as satisfying as going Mercedes, Leica or Apple?
That occurred to me while testing this trio of CD player, preamp and power amp sold by Richer Sounds. Richer is the Ford dealer of hi-fi, unashamedly high street and leading the serious but accessible market. Yet this China-made gear is designed by real, soldering-iron-wielding engineers in Southwark.
The top-notch Azur 840 series, with speakers and peripherals, can easily reach £7,000 – a sum even the wealthy will regard as a lot for a hi-fi. Yet if it were made in the west, it’d be five times that.
I’ve been listening to Azur 840 for a while, and the units don’t only look reassuringly expensive, they sound simply superb. You may find that you require no more. And perhaps there is a special cachet that they are also a great deal? It’s a thought to ponder, at least.