So here we are at the end of 2020, I think it is fair to say it ended up being a year that none of us expected and I’m not really sure what to say really other than good riddance, surely 2021 has got to be an improvement.
As bad as it has been on so many levels the only thing that ultimately matters is that we are all safe and well, never has the saying ‘If you have your health then you have everything’ been so true and as we head into a different type of Christmas and an uncertain start to 2020 then I’ll raise a drink to that.
On a personal note I really want to thank everyone for their support throughout 2020, when Boris announced the first lockdown I remember saying to Wendy that I thought we were screwed, I mean who is going to buy HiFi when there is this much uncertainty around, luckily I was wrong and we have had our best year ever which is crazy when you stop and think about it as we have been shut for over a third of the year and we couldn’t hold any open days to promote new products, but with everyone being forced to stay at home, not socialising, no holidays it has been a case of buying things for home and luckily we fell into that category, we have done the same, our home HiFi has had a total overhaul this year, but on the flip side I feel extremely sorry for businesses that have been affected the other way as running your own business has its challenges and for no fault of their own a lot of good businesses have fallen on hard times, it was like Business Russian Roulette so I am grateful we have been very fortunate here so thanks again everyone, it really is much appreciated.
2020 HiFi Action!
Anyway onto more positive things, So it is always nice to look back at the top HiFi releases of the year but understandably there hasn’t been the normal amount of product releases due to manufacturer’s struggling to get parts and I would say without shows and open days to promote them they have been holding back till normality returns but for me there have still been some standout products that I would like to highlight below –
To start with we had the Taiko Audio SGM Extreme music server / player earlier in the year, for me this transformed what is possible for digital music, also earlier this year PMC launched their new Twenty5i range of speakers, a refinement on an already stunning range that improved them again, then we have the Franco Serblin Ktema speakers, I find these totally beguiling, offering a unique and captivating sound, then Wilson Audio unleashed the new Sabrina X redefining what is possible from a smallish speaker, in reality no one needs more than a Sabrina X, more recently Fyne Audio launched the F501SP, a really brilliant speaker that is so musical they make you want to rediscover your music collection all over again, I also want to mention the 2 CAD USB Cables, both are brilliant but the top of the range USB II transformed my home system for the better in a way I have never heard a cable do before, well worth a try, finally we bought on Accuphase this year and I have become a bit of a fan, they are so well built but most importantly all the products just sound right, I have never taken on a brand before that has had so much interest as Accuphase so I’m looking forward to adding some more demo bits next year.
So I guess looking at the above it has been another pretty stellar year but I have a feeling once normality returns we are going to be spoilt with new HiFi components coming thick and fast, certainly something to look forward to.
Favourite Albums of 2020
A bit like HiFi I wouldn’t say 2020 has been a vintage year but there are still 3 albums that stood out from the rest for me, if you have anything you recommend that I may have missed though please let me know.
3rd Place The Killers
The first one that grabbed me was The Killers “Imploding The Mirage’ this is definitely the best album they have released since ‘Sam’s Town’, it is worth buying just for the 1st track that I can wait to see live, it is just an explosion of energy that makes you want to jump up and down in a crowded stadium somewhere.
It’s a Tie For No 1
Now trying to choose between the next 2 albums for my favourite of the year is impossible so I’m going to to a joint 1st place I’m afraid.
First we have Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Letter To You’ this is classic Bruce and the E Street material and arguably the best rock album they have done as a group since Born In The USA, I love the fact he has recorded 3 songs wrote originally in the 70’s, ‘Ghosts’ is also worth a shoutout but in all honesty every song is pure Bruce + E Street band, another album I am desperate to see live at some point.
So what in my humble opinion can share top spot with my Idol Bruce, well that honour goes to Jack Garratt’s ‘Love, Death and Dancing’ I loved his first album but we had to wait 4 long years for the follow up which quite honestly I am addicted to, brilliantly produced and written with catchy melodies that is beautifully sung that sounds awesome on a great HiFi, I’ve just treated myself to the Vinyl for Christmas, if you haven’t listened to Jack’s work before, basically he is a one man band, very much like Prince in that regard, so writes, sings, produces and plays all the instruments, give either ‘Better’ or ‘Circles’ a try on Tidal / Qobuz and see what you think.
Finally this isn’t released till next year but you can listen now on Qobuz, The White Stripes Greatest Hits, been listening to this a a lot lately and I’d forgotten how much I love this band, such a raw and powerful sound, quite incredible for just 2 people, well worth a listen.
Looking ahead to 2021
So you would think 2021 has got to be a better year than 2020 although it may take till Spring / Summer I guess but here’s hoping we can start to see normal life returning, personally I’m desperate for a fix of live music again and I really hope we can start having our Open Days again, really missed them to be honest as they are always so much fun and it is a great way to stay in touch with everyone.
For HFL we have some exciting news early next year regarding a new business venture, the headphone shop is being moved to another more intimate room to make way for something a little different, a first for UK retail so please watch this space.
Amazingly we pretty much got a full season in our Radical which was great news + I’ve done a lot of Karting this year, the karting will continue at Rye House in the Senna Cup next year, if anyone wants to join me get in touch as it is so much fun and really doesn’t break the bank and it really is some of the best racing you can experience. After 3 years of the Radical adventure it is time to park that for 2021 as I am going to be entering a different championship driving a different Marque, one that is very close to my heart so I’m very excited to be able to announce more early next year. I really thought I could do a couple of year of Motorsport then walk away but it is now in my blood and I am fully addicted so will continue as long as I can afford it.
So all that is left to say is a huge thanks for everyone’s support this year and although this Christmas probably isn’t the one we all had planned, we were supposed to be staying at Wendy’s Mums’ but had to cancel at the weekend after we went into tier 4, we just want to wish everyone the best Christmas and New Year possible, stay safe and well and let’s all look forward to a more normal 2021 all being well.
Take care everyone and have a good one.
Paul, Wendy and Ady.