It's fair to say that the iPod has, to some extent, killed the hi-fi. The audiophiles among you will always own a record player and a CD deck, but Joe Public seems to have migrated to iPod speaker docks. We think that's a terrible shame, because smaller systems just don't cut the mustard. What you really need are some decent stereo speakers, a CD player, an amp and, if you must, a high-quality iPod dock.
Fortunately, Onkyo agrees and as such has announced two bits of audio equipment aimed at the modern home, but with the chops to make your music sound just dandy. First of all, there's the C-5VL (pictured top), a CD player that's also capable of spinning those elusive SACD discs that have never really taken off. The player also handles MP3 CDs, as well as CD-R and CD-RW discs you've compiled yourself. It can also playback WMA discs, although we aren't sure if anyone has ever actually made one of those.
The CD deck has both analogue stereo audio outputs and digital optical and coaxial connectors. The companion amp, the A-5VL (pictured above), has all the necessary hardware needed to decode digital signals from a CD player. With the C-5VL having a built-in DAC it will be up to you to decide which you think sounds better -- the analogue outputs on the CD deck, or a digital connection to the amp, thus letting its DAC do the heavy lifting. The advantage of digital inputs is that connecting a computer or something like Apple TV or Airport Express is simple, and you'll get the advantage of much better sound quality.
The amp is rated at 40W per channel, which might sound low in a world where every audio manufacturer quotes 1,000,000,000,000W. Rest assured though, Onkyo has measured its equipment with science not witchcraft and we're certain this little beauty will push out more than enough noise to satisfy your ears. To get the best out of the amp, Onkyo also suggests you bi-wire your speakers, and provides the necessary outputs to make this possible.
Onkyo also has a high-quality iPod dock available, the DS-A3, or you can use your own. That means you'll still be able to enjoy the music from your MP3 player -- it's not just iPods that are catered for either, as long as you can plug your player into an RCA stereo jack, the amp can handle the pace. Terrific stuff for people not living in the Apple universe.
The A-5VL and C-5VL cost around £350 each and are available in either black or silver. It's not our place to tell you what to do, but we strongly suggest you get these beauties in black. Both will be available in August along with the DS-A3 dock, which will cost £100. We're hoping to have a full review at some point in the future, so keep an ear and eye on our reviews channel and Twitter feed.