Interior motive: the curse of the entertainment system

 (ES Magazine)
(ES Magazine)

I am a contrary character, always have been. Hi-fi when I need to be, lo-fi most of the time. And I love technology — it has made everything I do so much easier, communicating ideas quickly while remaining personal.

I’m not a fan of hiding televisions in complicated cabinets or even in those hideous things that appear to be mirrors you find at ‘luxury’ developments, where with the flick of an app… tadaaa! It reveals itself.

Instead, I like and always suggest the largest TV you can fit in the space. Please understand that I am far from a ‘TV on all day’ type of person but, like everything in life, if I’m going to have an experience I’d like it to be as satisfying as possible. I bought a new TV last Christmas: I went with my sons to the local shop and allowed them to talk me out of the whopping 55in screen I craved and settled on a mere 43 inches. Obviously this is still great and I was being greedy, but I’ve regretted it ever since and still hold a low-level grudge.

I try to steer my clients away from many of the lighting and sound systems high-end contractors suggest; almost all are instantly out of date and rely on software upgrades, bug fixes and are generally — I’m going to say it here in print because it matters — soulless. I don’t want to live my life in a series of pre-set ‘scenes’ that spookily fade in and out, or have my audio piped from the ceiling or a speaker that looks like a fencing mask.

This whole rant was inspired by the glorious 1970s cassette radio set pictured here, which is not a low-key piece of tech but marvellous. If I am looking for vintage hi-fi in London, I tend to go to Audio Gold in Muswell Hill. At home I run my (too small) TV and audio through an old Cambridge Audio amplifier and a pair of Kef studio monitors, which deliver a slightly analogue sound which is far from perfect but still brilliantly fat and juicy.

A killer tip was delivered by a friend in the music business who came over and lay the speakers on their side, which instantly transformed the sound. That night I had my usual group of pals over for a drink. As I fussed about in the kitchen, I could feel the bass resonating in a newer, clearer way and I felt everything would be alright after all.