Black Friday still feels like a relatively new innovation in the UK. Its another import from the US, the Friday after Thanksgiving in that country and because of the importance of Christmas in the retail calendar, the day on which retailers in that country start to make profits having covered their costs in the rest of the year. However, for the Hifii Hobbyist, whose hobby verges upon the addictive, it is just another time of temptation. Worse, Black Friday sales now start several weeks before the day itself and continue pretty much all the way up to Christmas. To me it feels like being left in the proverbial online toyshop for weeks on end in the run up to Christmas.
So did I get past Black Friday without giving into temptation this year? As you may have guessed, no! Having professed myself satisfied with my audio systems, you might think that I should be satisfied and be able to resist the marketing hype. But it’s an insidious process. The object of my affections was the NAD C700 streaming amplifier, a statement of modern industrial design. I had of course been fancying it for a bit. My Naim Unitiqute was looking rather dowdy in comparison. And of course, the reviews were raving. I just needed a bit of a push and I would fall off the wagon.
The first crack in my relationship with the Naim had occurred when I switched allegiance from Tidal to Quboz. The Unitiqute could not play Quboz directly. For that, I would have needed to switch my affections to the Naim Uniti Atom. Although it looked smarter, at twice the price, I was able to resist that temptation. But the NAD was a different proposition. Even at list price, it was much cheaper than the Naim Atom. It comes with native Quboz, and like the Atom has a big colourful screen on the front. It has an HDMI to connect directly to my TV and the option of a subwoofer output. And its a NAD – the opportunity to rekindle my relationship with the brand that started my hifi love affair over forty years ago was almost irresistible. (Do you ever really get over your first love?)
So I was well and truly softened up. Sevenoaks advertised an ex-demo machine at £200 off, a few weeks before Black Friday and I was almost drooling. However, I was still able to stay loyal to my Unitiqute, which had served me well for 8 years. But the killer blow arrived even before Black Friday itself – Sevenoaks advertised a £300 discount for new models, taking the retail price down into three figures. I was sunk. The credit card was out.
And so the shiny new box arrived. How does it look? Beautiful, shiny, elegant. How did it sound? First hitch – the speaker plugs on my Naim cables are the wrong spacing for the NAD. Unbelievably the connectors that I need to come from the US via Amazon. Still, nothing is too much trouble for the new source of my affections. Connectors acquired, speakers plugged in. How does it sound? Fortunately very good. More detailed than the Unitiqute it replaced. Looks very smart too. No phono input – but the turntables in the other room – and will need to stay there now! Not quite worked out how to connect my NAS drive either, so all is not yet perfect in paradise.
So Black Friday has done lts stuff – pushed me off the hifi wagon (again!). My faithful Unitiqute has been despatched to pastures new via EBay. And the ongoing nagging issue is that subwoofer output. I still have my old BK subwoofer in the garage and Falcon Acoustics have very tempting Q7 LS3/5A kits on sale. The idea of building my speakers and reducing the size of the speakers in the front room is really appealing. Giving into temptation just leads to more!
And to convince me that Black Friday is not so much a day as a season, the NAD C700 is still reduced at Sevenaoaks, nearly three weeks later!