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1. Bluesound Vault 2
There are many ways to rip your CDs and store music on a network, but nothing matches the simplicity of the Bluesound Vault 2. This 2TB NAS drive acts as a media server for your tunes, but also connects directly to your hi-fi system, like any other component. It rips CDs bit-perfect from its own slot drive to FLAC or MP3, and will download High-Res Audio tracks from commercial sites.
The BluOS app also lets you stream music from Tidal, Spotify, TuneIn, Deezer and Qobuz. It’ll even wirelessly stream to any connected Bluesound speakers on your network, so you can listen to your collection around the house.
2. Onkyo A-9010 stereo amplifier
Still offering unfeasibly good value for money, Onkyo’s A-9010 is a class-leading stereo amp to partner the Vault 2. It’s rated at 44W per channel, features four analogue line inputs, a dedicated phono MM stage, and 192 kHz/24-bit-capable coaxial and 96 kHz/24-bit optical inputs. Attention to detail (we’re loving the large transformer and audio-grade capacitors) is high.
3. Audio Technica AT-LP5
So we’ve got CD ripping covered, but what about vinyl? Enter the luscious AT-LP5. First, this direct-drive turntable is a cracking vinyl player. Fitted with an AT95EX Dual Moving Magnet cartridge, mounted on a retro-style J-shaped tonearm, it’s a perfect complement to our Onkyo amp. However, a USB output also enables you to capture pristine needle drops in 16-bit 44.1kHz WAV, using the supplied Audacity software. Once archived, all you need to do is copy the files over to the Vault 2.
4. Apple iPad 5th generation
The latest iteration of Apple’s evergreen tablet is as good a portable interface for your digital music system as you’ll find. Just load up the BluOS app and browse your Bluesound Vault at leisure (although you could use an Android tablet, or even Mac or PC, instead). Album art looks ace on the sharp 9.7-inch display, and it’s plenty fast enough for browsing tracks.
5. Monitor Audio Silver 100
Complete your sound system with these step-up standmounters from Monitor Audio. Part of a radically revamped 6th-generation Silver line, they feature a number of component improvements (better magnets, improved voice coil) and tweaked cabinet design. The Silver 100 is a ported box, combing a 25mm Gold Dome tweeter with a rigid 8-inch C-Cam mid/bass driver, made from a single piece of ceramic-coated aluminium/magnesium alloy. Given how pretty these look, it’s handy the grille fixings are magnetic.