I quite literally went romping around the British Sussex countryside on Friday. Don’t rely on Apple iPhones for Sat Nav duties, for they don’t seem to like postcodes here much. Maybe if they were directed to an iStore perhaps. Never one for liking to be late, feeling a bit sheepish, I pulled up to visit John Gorodecky at his new shop and foray into HiFi, called ‘The Department of Music’.
I like quirky titles for businesses and products and this appeal. It helps to convey a relaxed intention for a business. The Department of Music is certainly set in a relaxing location in Sussex, near Petworth – in a village called Barlavington, in fact.
This is Sussex downs territory ; Chalk Hills that span the southern part of the UK – for anyone who is not native or local. It is a really lovely part of the UK. People can moan about space and high population density and EU migration. However driving around this locality, where you are so hoping not even a Fiat Cinquecento comes the other way, as there is no space for passing, is not an area frequented by many. Unless you are a sheep, horse or bull.
John’s new shop is situated in an old converted stud farm occupying various rooms, for listening purposes. You park up in a large car park facing an equine field and lush forested high sided escarpment. The ex stud farm is organised in a typical courtyard fashion with each room having exposed timbers, original brick walls, and the horse tethers still set in the walls. It’s very quaint and it shouldn’t be where you’d expect HiFi to be, right?
This idea of lifestyle HiFi dealerships has been a relatively new one, but nonetheless a great idea for audiophile HiFi. You go along and listen to music in a relaxing environment, taking as much time as you want, with no pressure. Maybe combine it with a visit to a country pub or ramble. This relaxed ideology sets this dealership apart from the usual high street type. You go here for a purpose, not combined with running around manic on a Saturday afternoon! It has been a winning formula in some similar dealers, so one has to wish John every success here too.
I caught a glimpse of a bottle of whiskey in the main office room, stacked up with all the coffee paraphernalia. If I wasn’t driving, how tempting would it have been to ask for a shot? With John’s friendly disposition, I’m sure he would have obliged….. sorry I was texting whilst driving officer! It’s just we have all done things we regret when we are drunk. Sorry….. blame Jimmy Carr!
There are two main rooms that John showed me when I arrived and we sat listening to a great system comprising Kudos X2 speakers, and a Rega Elex-R integrated amplifier. Also with a Chord Qutest DAC, Bluesound Node2 passing through digital to the Qutest, and using both an Innuos Zenith Mark 2 (straight into the Qutest over USB) and Innuos Zen Mini Mark 2 (using its ethernet into the Node2).
This combination of speakers, amplifier, DAC and streamer, is modest, as far as audiophile HiFi goes. However it’s a tremendous combination of what good value audiophile HiFi is all about. If you are a HiFi lover, I’d recommend getting down here, just to check this combination out alone. Or even a top Naim system with a pair of Focal’s, or the new much more modest, Mu-so 2 (now with Roon integration). They are all terrific.
The rooms at The Department of Music are a perfect square shape, and I think really do help show off HiFi gear acoustically, so it’s not a dealer you won’t get a true representation of good HiFi.
We were talking about how much people spend on 4K TVs and how much rubbish TV there is nowadays. So when ‘Celebrity love island’ or whatever nonsense comes on TV in 4K, just remember how enriching great HiFi and a book is, instead. Indeed friends chatting over great music too. I hope this doesn’t make me sound like a fuddy-duddy, for I’m only 44 and I won’t be relinquishing my like of The Prodigy to social norms just yet, but maybe I’ve got a point…. You cant help feeling that the HiFi industry needs to get out there and much better sell the virtues of faithfully reproduced music if captive audiences are lost to such 4K banality. This dealer goes a long way to trying to achieve this and why can’t a HiFi dealer exist tying in country rambling and a pub visit, or any other pursuit. Rather than perhaps an awkward, stayed, functional visit, to an intimidating high street shop.
The brands that are being taken on presently at The Department of Music are : Naim, Rega, Bowers & Wilkins, Kudos, Chord Electronics, Chord Company Cables, NAD, Quadraspire, Innuos, Tellurium Q, Audioquest, and Bluesound. All these reputed brands are top of the tree, which isn’t a bad effort at a pun considering where I am!
I can wholeheartedly recommend that you check The Department of Music out. Just remember to let your partner or friend drive because the whiskey probably beckons, and anyway going for a trip into the Sussex downs is a great excuse for visiting a pub and tying it in with a bit of whiskey drinking anyway!
Why not, it is the summer after all, isn’t it!
If you are coming from the direction of Petworth from the North, turn left before the Church in Barlavington and follow the sign up the road to Barlavington Stud. Conversely turn right if approaching from the south and Chichester direction. Helpfully John has marked the location on Google Maps which I should have noted! If you want a place to visit I can recommend Petworth nearby which is a great country town with narrow streets.