6 Sound reasons to buy a hi-fi system (rather than a Bluetooth wireless speaker) 

A stereo music system really has a lot going for it.

We like hi-fi, obviously. What that really means is that we love music and we really want it to sound as good as it can. That is where having a decent hi-fi system comes into play. 

Where once stereo speakers, an amplifier and a CD player or turntable was the standard set up for a music system, now you can do it all (and more) with a single wireless speaker. And quite some of them are pretty good, and in any case far more convenient and affordable than any traditional system. 

But… it is not quite the same, is it? There are still many reasons why a stereo system makes so much more sense. For instance:

It sounds better

Let us kick things off with an easy one. You like music, right? So why not hear it sounding as good as it should? 99 times out of 100, that will mean a traditional separates system. 

The sum of the parts will almost always deliver better – and better-value – sound than a similarly priced wireless speaker can offer. Each box is a master of its trade, rather than a jack of all trades, the latter always requiring a compromise somewhere. From stereo separation to stereo imaging, Class D amplifiers to the limits of smaller boxes, the technical reasons are plentyful but the end result is the same: when it comes to sound quality, a stereo system is very hard if not impossible to beat by a one-box wireless speaker.

It will ‘always’ work

WIFI not working

Every now and then it just so happens that Spotify is down, or that other streaming platform you love listening to. If you are listening to music on a wireless speaker, there is a fair chance you are out of luck in these circumstances. And who knows, maybe one day your carefully curated music library will disappear? Like when iTunes merged with Apple Music, remember that? 

Yes, you can play locally stored music, and indeed Bluetooth does not require wi-fi, but at long last, wireless speaker will leave most people, most of the time, at the mercy of The Cloud. However there is really very little to stop you from playing a music collection made of CDs, vinyl or even downloads…

You get the best of both worlds

Although we probably just like doing it, we actually do not have to go through our dusty record collection to find the next thing to play. You can now add a music streamer to your amp and speakers and have a whole world of digital music at your fingertips, gathering the sonic benefits of your system as well having the convenience of Spotify or Tidal. You can plug your hi-fi into a multi-room wireless system from the likes of Audio Pro, Sonos or Bluesound whole-home smartness, or take advantage of the fact that an increasing number of hi-fi brands have built their latest streamers to support multi-room music. And on the other hand, you really cannot play a vinyl record on a wireless speaker, believe me.. 

There is often an upgrade path

Another reason why a system still cannot be beaten – the ability to upgrade over time. Fed up with your speakers? Simply buy a new pair and connect them to your system. Feel like adding a turntable? Go for it. A separates system allows you to upgrade components over time, as and when you’re able (financially or otherwise), as well as adding new features with new products. 

Contrary to what you might think, wireless speakers go quicker ‘out of date’ than a pair of passive speakers. Voice control, room correction, new software – all this tech can be great, but already quite soon it can also leave your once shiny new purchase looking sad and a bit ‘version one’… 

It is more than just a box

This idea of upgrading and fine-tuning your system brings us to the next point: a hi-fi system is a living, breathing, beautiful thing… figuratively speaking, anyway. But trust me when I say that you will feel a real connection to a system of components which you have chosen, plugged together, positioned, perfected and sat back and enjoyed. And,  while putting a wireless speaker in the corner of the room and then fiddling with your phone for ten minutes can be satisfyingly convenient, it is not likely to feeling at one with your system and your music collection. 

It is much like the argument for physical media over digital. We love streaming music, but it is not the same. Think of a hi-fi system as the delicious homemade bread, in contrast to a quick sandwich you buy on your way to work (being a wireless speaker).

Buying physical music supports artists

As mentioned earlier, a hi-fi system does not always have to mean playing physical media but most of times does support CDs and vinyl (and digital downloads). And, whether we like it or not, as things stand, if you want to support artists and bands making the music you love, buying physical media is a better way of doing it than streaming. Simply because they earn more money by it. 

Besides, if you are thinking of starting your vinyl collection, you will want more than a wireless speaker anyhow.


With many of us spending extra time at home these days, more and more people valuing a physical connection with music in this digital age, and everyone always eager to hear the music they love at its best, I think it’s a good a time to build and enjoy a brilliant, versatile and maybe even a state-of-the-art hi-fi system. 

Happy listening






Fodder On My Wings, the 1982 album from legendary singer, songwriter and activist Nina Simone, became recently available on the Verve/Ume label. A personal favourite of Simone’s, and a long-sought-after rarity, this expanded edition of Fodder On My Wings can now be found on CD and vinyl and, for the very first time, in both standard and hi-res audio formats.

Nina Simone Album

The number of Nina Simone albums is close to a hundred, and this one is one of her most obscure, and most interesting. Recorded in 1982 in Paris, shortly after she settled there, at a difficult time in her life; financially, psychologically and physically. Not only was Simone feeling isolated in a new country, but her mental illness was worsening and her family life was broken. However, she channelled her despair into writing some of her most powerful material, including ‘I Was Just A Stupid Dog To Them’ and the near-title-track, ‘Fodder In Her Wings’, which Pitchfork included in their roundup of Simone’s most iconic songs.

The publication proclaimed that the original version of the composition, which Simone would revisit several years later, “Captured with startling intimacy the pain of this period”. Pitchfork added that, “Simone’s vocal makes a song of weariness and defeat carry an air of defiance, a wise word from someone who survived to tell the tale”.


Another standout track is the triumphant ‘I Sing Just To Know That I’m Alive’, which became a popular live song for the artist later in her career. Full of upbeat percussion and horns, the song was clearly influenced by the African musicians that Simone had met in France.

She recorded ten very personal songs for the original album, with African-French musicians who all excelled; Jacco Pastorius-like bassist Sylvin Marc and percussionists Paco Sery and Sydney Thaim. Nina sings in both French and English. Songs that were very dear to her are witnessed by later performances. And she plays piano and harpsichord, arranged her own soulful compositions, and morphed the stately sound of her classical piano education in Philadelphia past with her then-current travels; through Europe and the Caribbean—and of course, the blues. Living her best and freest life, Fodder On My Wings was truly her declaration of independence, of no compromise. The CD reissue includes three additional tracks from the same recording session, including Gilbert O’Sullivan’s Alone Again Naturally, with adapted lyrics, about her father. 

What makes this album so special? Simone was able to accurately put into words her misery at the time, and her piano playing and vocals sound extremely lived-in. 

A very welcome re-issue, as this reanimation might be an odd, but certainly beautiful surprise. Rich in dynamics and contrasts, like Simone was, and always would be.

Her most famous song, My Baby Cares For Me, was already recorded in 1958, for her first album Little Girl Blue, aka Jazz As Played In An Exclusive Side Street Club (issued in 1959), but it was used for a Chanel No.5 commercial in 1988 and it was an instant hit again. This brought her a good deal of money, but at the time her career and personal life were on a low point. A good friend of her invited her to come and stay in Nijmegen, the Netherlands, to get rest and care, far away from the craziness in France. She bought an apartment nearby the city center, overlooking the wide valley of the river Waal, and lived there for two years, after which she moved to Amsterdam for another couple of years. It was in this time that I first came aware of Nina Simone as a person and great performer of a huge repertoire, not only of the singer of that catchy and famous song. 

Writer of this article was born in Nijmegen, a quiet midsized provincial town nearby the German border, in the east of the Netherlands. Although for a little while it was the talk of the town that a world famous singer resided in –of all places- Nijmegen, she could actually live an anonymous life there. Which helped her very much in recovering from bad times, although she in this period also got diagnosed with a bipolar disorder, and received treatment for it. Nevertheless, slowly she worked her way up towards a real come back on the stage. Later on she moved from Amsterdam back to France, and recorded several more albums there.

Needless to say that after I got to know more of her and her music, I became a big fan. Especially interesting I find her fascinating piano play, which in many songs by nature but at the same time very inventively fused classical themes from J.S. Bach with modern jazz and blues styles. Just listen to this first track of Fodder On My Wings, played on harpiscord and piano: 

It’s giving me chills.