JC’s comments news

Avantgarde Acoustic

30th October 2014

On a recent visit to Germany I had the great pleasure of visiting the team at Avantgarde Acoustic. I think it was around 15 years ago that I first listened to these speakers at the Hi-End show in Frankfurt. At that time I think the style was a little too much for the UK market and our narrow vision. Fast forward to today and Avantgarde don’t have a speaker for every budget (well not yet) but they have speakers that tingle both my sonic and visual sense of appeal. I am certain that anyone who hears or sees these speakers in the flesh will agree, welcome to the brave new world.

In Edinburgh we have the stunning new Zero 1, a fully digital active horn loudspeaker. They are fast, fun, detailed and exciting yet subtle and graceful. They can also be very “Loud & Clear” which we like very much!

Inspired by what I saw and heard at Avantgarde Acoustic and also by the great conversations with Holger & Armin, Loud & Clear will soon be inviting our customers to experience a full Trio set up very soon.

Loud & Clear are set to be the first point of contact for Avantgarde Acoustic in the UK. For more information on these stunning products please contact myself at the Edinburgh store, 0131 555 3963


Kind regards


John Carroll

Take a look


Norwegian Tunes

13th June 2014

Loud & Clear are happy to announce an exclusive arrangement with Hegel of Norway. The first product that will arrive into the Edinburgh shop will be the stunning little HE-80 amplifier and digital hub. Priced at only £1300 the product just plays music as it should. We auditioned it yesterday with a MOON 260D and a pair of Living Voice Auditorium 3 and were amazed at the sound. Anders from Hegel was also blown away with the sound that we created in our demo room and will now have a really disappointing tour of the UK trying to match our standard.

Contact Iain in Edinburgh for more details

Kiseki Purpleheart N.O.S.

16th April 2014

This is number 48 of only 49 made. Again Loud & Clear Edinburgh have secured several of only 10 coming into the UK. Priced at £1995 this is a must for the real music fan. Contact John or Iain in Edinburgh for full details, but be quick!

SMARTractor set up tool

5th February 2014

With vinyl playback reaching a new peak, top performance turntables and cartridges have always got more to give with a precise set up. Having the correct tools for the job makes this a whole lot easier. Welcome the SMARTractor from German company Acoustical Systems. £449 and only available in Scotland via Loud & Clear


More info available here or contact John Carroll

Please trust your ears

7th November 2013

Here in my hidden little page on the Loud & Clear site I sometimes have a rant about things. Today is one of those days when the rant comes out all guns blazing.

Please, for the love of god ( or your equivalent ) trust your ears. Over the past few months I have listened to some spectacular systems, some very cheap that just blow me away. At the same time I see customers choosing their new and sometimes very expensive system based on “Can you airplay this crap music file to that” or ” The meta data on this does not look good enough” or ” I need it to do gapless playback”. Just stop please and listen, if it sounds great then be happy and use your i-Pad for something else.

Hi-Fi is for playing music, music is for pleasure, if there is no pleasure then it is not Hi-Fi

Music is at our core

3rd October 2013

Just had lunch with one of Scotland’s rising stars of the ‘singer song writer’ genre. Well, she is much more than that, she is a ‘music charm’. Who is she? You’ll have to wait for a little more info but she will be performing a very special live set at The Mill in Edinburgh during the dark winter months and a couple of lucky Loud & Clear customers will receive free tickets.

Please stay in touch for updates and further info on “Live at the Mill” gigs.


John Carroll

Classic Album Sundays Edinburgh – Miles Davis "Kind of Blue", Sunday 3rd March

16th February 2013

Classic Album Sundays with Loud & Clear Hi-Fi Present

Miles Davis “Kind of Blue”

Loud & Clear @ The Mill, 72 Newhaven Road Edinburgh EH6 5QG
Sunday 3rd March 2013
£6 on the door or online: Spaces limited
12 Noon – 4.00pm (album plays at 4.00pm)
0131 555 3963

“One of the world’s great albums, played on one of the world’s finest hi-fi systems in conjunction with one of the world’s best hi-fi stores.”

Classic Album SundaysA Communal and Audiophile Listening Experience is joining forces with Loud & Clear Hi-Fi again for this now semi-regular event in Glasgow.

Listed as one of the Top 20 Trends of 2012 by London’s ES Magazine, Classic Album Sundays has become a media sensation in a little over a year. With features on BBC Breakfast, BBC 6 Music, NME, Elle, The Word, The Independent, The Evening Standard and more. Why all the fuss?

The concept is to enable people to experience music as close as possible to the way the artist intended, to treat music as a precious commodity and a classic album as a work of art which should be appreciated in its entirety. Classic Album Sundays’ use audiophile hi-fi equipment to ensure an awe inspiring listening experience. Visitors are invited to switch off their phones and refrain from unnecessary conversation: just sit back, listen and immerse themselves in the experience.

Music fans have enthusiastically responded en masse as Classic Album Sundays’ monthly listening sessions in London and New York have been selling out, with festival sessions featuring at The Vintage Festival at the Royal Festival Hall in London (for which Loud & Clear put together a £130,000 hi-fi system), plus Camp Bestival and Bestival amongst others.

Here is what some visitors had to say:

Joni Mitchell’s “Blue” was our first visit, and it was excellent. Sounded as if Joni was playing live, and heard in reverential silence by a deeply appreciative audience.” – David Lye, CAS attendee

“Hearing that fabulous cello line in ‘Eleanor Rigby’ – I could’ve wept with the sheer beauty of it.” – Annette Corbette, CAS attendee

The event format:

Join us from 12noon to get in the mood by listening to some of the music that inspired Miles Davis, along with tracks from his musical contemporaries and collaborators around the release of the album in 1959. We will be serving refreshments and nibbles in the usual style.

At 2.30pm the lights go down, the volume goes up and we play the album from beginning to end on a reference MOON Hi-Fi System, with a VPI Classic 3 turntable and the amazing KEF Blade loudspeakers

Miles Davis “Kind of Blue”

“Miles often surprised everybody. He craved change, and never thought twice about how it would affect anything or anybody, but the music…I think he enjoyed hearing the consequences.” – Drummer Jimmy Cobb in the liner notes for the album “Miles Davis and John Coltrane: The Complete Columbia Recordings 1955-1961”

Going Modal

Ever the musical chameleon who continuously challenged himself with new musical forms, Miles wanted to move away from the hard bop sound he had been championing in his live performances and on albums like 1954’s “Walkin’”. Inspired by French composers Maurice Ravel and Claude Debussy, performances by Les Ballets Africains de la Republique de Guinea and George Russell’s 1953 book “The Lydian Chromatic Concept of Tonal Organization”, Miles wanted to abandon traditional harmonies and experiment with modes. Instead of harmonizing over quick chord changes in the style of Charlie Parker and John Coltrane, Davis wanted to pursue a music where the musicians improvised over a series of “church modes”, eight modes (or scales) that were used in ancient Gregorian chants. Traditional harmonies were abandoned and the players were set free.

Legendary Sextet

From 1955-1958, Miles had the “first great quintet” with a line-up that included John Coltrane on tenor saxophone and Paul Chambers on bass. Cannonball Adderley joined on alto sax in ’58 and Bill Evans replaced Red Garland on piano. Plagued by a nasty drug habit, drummer Philly Joe Jones was fired numerous times and eventually left, replaced by Jimmy Cobb. Master blues accompanist Wyton Kelly (Evans replacement when he left to pursue his own solo career) was brought in to play on one song, “Freddie Freeloader” as Evans felt he had nothing to contribute.

Simplicity and Spontaneity

Miles wanted to record quickly and with very little rehearsal as he wanted to capture the spontaneity. Very little was written out and instead Miles would “speak” the charts, giving sketches of the scales over which the players would solo and sometimes telling the musicians which note to play and how to play it. They aimed to capture the songs in first takes and aside from false starts, they managed a final take relatively quickly. “Flamenco Sketches” was recorded in one take. Modal jazz is organised in a scalar (horizontal) way whereas bebop is organised a chordal (vertical) way and Miles wanted the space and simplicity that was in stark contrast to the density and fast forward motion of bebop.

The Most Successful Jazz Album Ever Made

Despite the quick and improvisational manner in which it was composed and recorded, “Kind of Blue” has become one of the blueprints for jazz. It is often cited as a great introduction to jazz as it is extremely beautiful and listenable while embracing the tenets of experimental free jazz. It is has been named as the best-selling jazz album of all time and has influenced a host of musicians from many different disciplines. Pink Floyd keyboardist Rick Wright said the album influenced his chords on “Breathe”, soul musician/producer Quincy Jones said he played “Kind of Blue” everyday and it was his “orange juice”, and experimental pioneer Terry Riley reworked and manipulated “So What” (albeit Chet Baker’s version) for one of his first compositions. “Kind of Blue” is often named as one of the most influential albums of all time.

Listening to “Kind of Blue” on a fabulous hi-fi system will let you here it as never before; taking you closer to the live performance.
More info:


The passion for vinyl replay continues at Loud & Clear

3rd November 2012

With some of the finest phono cartridges in world on demo the passion for vinyl replay continues at Loud & Clear. We are now able to let you hear Lyra, Soundsmith Grado, Ortofon, Transfiguration, Kiseki, Dynavector, Nagaoka, Rega & many more. Now you may well have seen similar lists before but we actually have these available for demo (by appointment only).

The image shows the Lyra Atlas mounted on a VPI Classic 3, surely one of the best vinyl sources available today.

Is the more to music than 4 blokes in a band?

29th October 2012

Is the more to music than 4 blokes in a band? Sometimes I wonder if there is anything new that can be done with music. You may think the classic 4 piece rock band is the best, or a full orchestra, a jazz trio or maybe even a smart guy or girl with some samples a few records and a new MacBook! Well they are all relevant. But once again, as has happened in passed years with people like Bugge Wesseltoft. Performers who can put a whole mess of styles together live on stage just blows my mind.

Well, it has just happened again. Enter Efterklang, together with the Norther Sinfonia at the Usher Hall Edinburgh, these guys popped my cranial organ!

Please follow the link and get a taste of what these guys do and trust me the video only scratches the surface of the musical journey they can take you on. True genre busting stuff…. They are still in the UK if you can get a ticket please go and enjoy them.

Dishwashers and HiFi together, not really my thing.

30th July 2012

Just as I was in the thick of conversation with Hi-Fi reviewer Roy Gregory discussing the Development of The VPI brand in the UK my door bell rang. Enter dishwasher repair man, with his accepting nod I continued my call. Eventually having completed putting the world to right with Roy and agreeing to make further step towards improving service in the UK Hi-Fi industry I now focussed my attentions on the repair man.

“Can ye no open it when it’s running” was to the opening line, not what I was expecting from him, he had just started it on a 142 minute wash cycle! “Not sure” was my reply. The conversation was all down hill from there and he left me to monitor the progress of the machine having concluded that the newly reset angle on the waste hose may fix my issue. He also pointed out that he didn’t really know the brand but would come back and have another go if things didn’t improve. Needless to say, my confidence in the “fix” is low.

This left me thinking, what is the perception of customers when they get a visit from us Hi-Fi guys. Normally I feel welcomed, tolerated and happy on departure that problems have been solved, sounds have been improved and plans laid to fix any other ‘not fully dealt with niggles'( more often than not I have also had a nice cup of coffee or a glass of wine). That is however my perception but I fear that this is not always the case when customers wave goodbye to the guy from the Hi-Fi shop. If you fall into this group, please share your experience with others by posting a short reply. And I also am sure there are great dishwasher service people out there who may need a mention too!

Demo discs, will we miss them?

20th April 2012

Now that we are spending our days doing more dems using music on a hard drive I wonder if the demo disc will become a thing of the past. As I type there is a bloke sitting next door listening to his own CD copy of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s classic, Tin Pan Alley. It was nice of him to bring it but we do have a copy on our hard drive ( we also have 2 CDs and and 2 vinyl copies). He also has a stack of discs that I don’t know very well and that is a joy and I am really pleased he brought them. Problem is fewer people are bringing new music (well, new to us) in and that has always been our life blood. So, here’s the deal…. you bring what ever you fancy listening too and we will provide some good coffee but remember to bring that whacky new band’s CD or the odd disc you bought back in 1997 when you went to New York for the weekend and we may just show our gratitude by making it sound better than ever before.

Classic Album Sundays needs that classic edge… a classic cartridge.

21st March 2012

I have really warmed to the the whole concept of Classic Album Sundays but feel that the whole experience is enhanced with the correct choice of kit. Flicking through my own record collection lots of great memories (and a few scary ones) from the 1980’s jumped out. Grace Jones Night Clubbing, Human League Hysteria, Aztec Camera Love, LKJ IN DUB,The KLF The White Room to name but a few ( told you it could be scary ). One other thing that was deep set in my musical memory was my old vinyl system of the time, Logic DM101, Syrinx PU3 and Kiseki Blue pick up.

The Logic and the Syrinx are a thing of the past but the Kiseki is back. And when I say back I really mean it, I have just bought a Kiseki Blue N.O.S. A limited run of this 80’s Hi-Fi classic have been built using the original blue aluminium bodies and other new parts to give ‘Re-birth of Cool’ another meaning.

Sadly they are all gone but the next re-born classic will be the Kiseki PurpleHeart N.O.S. with Boron cantilever. If you want a taste of what to expect my cartridge is available to listen to.

For the full story visit the Kiseki site and contact me if you want to try a Kiseki.

Self indulgent Hi-fi, the ultimate expression of you. Headphones!

Without a doubt the most self indulgent item of Hi-fi has got to be headphones. Walking through Heathrow’s terminal 5 at New Year I noticed the sheer volume of people wearing headphones and earbuds. From street style kids wearing Dr Dre cans to ‘suited chaps’ with B&O’s very ‘clean looking devices’ right back to studious girls with classic retro AKGs to match their 35mm camera with black and white film. All styles can be expressed with the vast array of headphones on the market but in the end the wearer slots deeply into a world of beautiful self indulgence that no one can invade. What they hear no one else can experience, their soundtrack, their ears, their space.

So taken by this New Years Revelation I went straight to a shop and bought my self a pair of self indulgent cans. In our noisy world it is nice to choose your own soundtrack…

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