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Here's to Malcolm Steward's Recovery


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This morning, wanting to link you one of Steward's articles I went but unexpectedly got this message at his site :

This Domain Name Has Expired


I later found that he had been severely injured in a car accident mid-July...


An example of Malcolm Steward's writing, about himself no less, to preserve for his readers :

I apologise: I do not care for writing about myself so this might not turn out to be the most coherent piece of prose that you will ever encounter. It is also the umpteenth biography I have been asked to write recently so I am not exactly overflowing with enthusiasm for the task.


I began my working life with a ten year stint in telecommunications engineering. After not too long, I decided that I couldn’t handle the nine-to-five routine and so, one morning when I was feeling especially full of ennui, I resigned from the world of ‘proper’ employment and moved to London to see if I could find some of those streets paved with Gold.


While working in Soho as a photographer in advertising, a job into which I had fallen more through the grace of God and my girlfriend than good judgement, I wound up, through a circuitous connection, writing reviews for The Flat Response, an infamous, underground hi-fi magazine. Ultimately I exchanged my Mamiya RB67 for a Canon electronic typewriter and joined the magazine’s staff. The title went more mainstream as Hi-Fi Review and I became its editor. With crime-writer, Ian Rankin as my deputy, I set about putting the world to rights.


That was the only job from which I was ever sacked. However, I won my wrongful dismissal case and embarked on what proved to be a successful career as a freelance writer. This was during the 1990s when AV was just starting to muddy the waters for hi-fi buyers. Towards the end of the decade, when Haymarket had closed titles such as Audiophile (formerly Hi-Fi Answers) and Hi-Fidelity (formerly Popular Hi-Fi) and taken all of What Hi-Fi’s writing in-house, and other publishers had forsaken hi-fi in search of more lucrative fields, I gave up writing for consumer magazines and focussed on a trade title that my wife and I published alongside doing commercial writing, web design and other projects. I was tempted out of reviewing retirement in 2006 by Hi-Fi Choice magazine and HIFICRITIC, and discovered that after a ten-year absence nothing much had changed significantly in the performance of hi-fi equipment. In August 2008, Naim released its audiophile hard disk player, the HDX, which I consider represents the biggest paradigm shift in home entertainment since CD was introduced. It looks like the start of a very exciting, and potentially perplexing for some people, new era. [i ignore the iPod because its advent had zero impact on my life although I recognise that it has kept music alive for many others.]


I find it fascinating that my hi-fi system has fundamentally changed so little in the past 20 or 30 years. My speakers have grown larger but that is not exactly what one could call a sea change. Hi-Fi certainly hasn’t kept up with television, telephony or computer technology where we have seen dramatic steps forward in performance. Someone on an internet forum was recently berating my use of a Naim CDS CD player for reviewing: “It’s well out of date,” my critic opined. I would have responded to his criticism but I doubt he would have understood reason; most people who are not allowed unsupervised near sharp objects usually have trouble with it. I have pitted that aging player against a multitude of more modern machines and it has seen them all off – in terms of musical communication – with ease. Why should I replace it with something ‘more modern’ for the satisfaction of someone who has never so much as heard my system?


The criteria upon which my system was chosen and which I use for assessing review equipment are completely musical: hi-fi performance is very much a secondary consideration for me, never more than the icing on the cake. I know that those who profess their belief in pace, rhythm, timing and dynamics are frequently accused of dumbing down music to suit their own agendas but I do not regard music primarily as an intellectual exercise. Composers write music to stir the soul rather than tax the brain: performers play to influence their listeners’ emotions not to assess their intelligence. Equipment either allows music to communicate fluently or it does not: it is as simple as that. Other performance aspects merely serve to provide you with more words to read in the reviews!


My musical tastes, for what it’s worth, are eclectic but I draw the line at Prog Rock, Country & Western, modern so-called R&B, and rap. I thoroughly enjoy acoustic and electric guitar–based rock, and blues. When it comes to jazz I don’t pretend to be an aficionado but I prefer Sonny Rollins, Miles Davis, Art Pepper and music from that era to more modern and older stuff. Neither do I appreciate a great deal of classical music, finding much of it to be derivative and uninspiring. That having been said certain works and composers can light my fire: Ralph Vaughan Williams, Aaron Copeland, and Edgard Varèse being just three members of that select group.


Do I prefer The Beatles or The Stones? Led Zeppelin, thank you!



Sources: Funk Vector Sondek LP12 with Naim unipivot tone-arm and Lyra Clavis DC moving coil

Naim CDS CD player

Naim HDX Hard disk player/XPS

Pre-amplifier: Naim NA52/SuperCap.

Active crossover: Naim SNAXO 3-6/SuperCap

Power Amplifiers: 3 x Naim NAP250s

Loudspeakers: Naim DBL (active)

Cables: Naim Hi-Line and Chord Company Indigo interconnects; Naim NACA5 loudspeaker cables

Supports: Quadraspire Sunoko Vent



Linn Sondek Pink Link with Naim unipivot and various moving coils

Roksan Kandy CD player

Cambridge Audio Azur 640H hard disk player

Integrated amplifier: Naim SUPERNAIT

Loudspeakers: Neat Acoustics Motive 1/Petite Mk2 (passive) with Chord Company Signature cables

Supports: Quadraspire Sunoko Vent



Vintage Telecaster

Marshall MG Series amplifier

Chord Company Cream instrument lead.





Nils Lofgren: ‘Wonderland’ from the CD Acoustic Live! [Vision Music VMCD1005]

And yes, Steward has said elsewhere that he favours :
mainly British components -- Linn, Roksan, Nytech, Naim, NEAT

Well, wishing him a speedy recovery.



an accurate picture

Sono pessimista con l'intelligenza,


ma ottimista per la volontà.

severe loudspeaker alignment »




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  • 1 month later...

For anyone able to help, regarding this « Top Audio Gear – Update » :

Please accept our apologies for the lack of recent content on this site.


Editor Malcolm Steward suffered massive, life-threatening, injuries in a car crash on July 15th. Thanks to the dedication of the team at Southampton General Hospital, Malcolm is still with us, but is now facing many months of rehabilitation in various hospitals.


We hope he will be back with us some time during 2016. In the meantime we will be updating the site with your news and events, and if you’d like to submit a review for our readers, please email [email protected].


If you would like to advertise with us to keep the site ‘alive’ while waiting for Malcolm’s return to health, we would really appreciate it.


Please direct all enquiries to [email protected].



an accurate picture

Sono pessimista con l'intelligenza,


ma ottimista per la volontà.

severe loudspeaker alignment »




Link to comment
  • 3 months later...

Recalling Malcolm's 1989 interview with Naim's Julian Vereker :

In the systems of ten years ago you wouldn’t have heard the difference between BNC and RCA. In fact, in those days we did lots of things that I knew would affect the sound quality but you couldn’t hear the effects at the time. The early preamps used DIN phono inputs, which, in theory, should have sounded better but they didn’t. And whatever connectors one used the ground connection should be isolated where it entered the amplifier – again I couldn’t hear or measure a difference. So back in the early 1970′s we used the cheapest RCA sockets: there’s no point in using something more elegant if it doesn’t bring any benefit. As systems got better we changed to insulated RCAs. And as they got better still you could...

For more archived « Celebrity Interviews » and helpful visits for his site :)



an accurate picture

Sono pessimista con l'intelligenza,


ma ottimista per la volontà.

severe loudspeaker alignment »




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