The stereotypical image of a home Hi-Fi is a pretty bland one. It's all black boxes and no personality for the most part. But Ferguson Hill offers something rather different. Its most famous product is the FH001, a gigantic see-through horn speaker that originally sold for an eye-watering 20 grand. The UK-based Hi-Fi expert has since been working its way back down to planet Earth, and its latest setup, the FH009, is remarkably accessible in price.
It shares the same see-through horn speaker design as its gigantic granddad, but costs just £800, and includes everything you need to get setup. The FH009 still has high-end aspirations, but it's the sort of package that needn't scare beginners.
Part of this is down to its simplicity, from a technical perspective. This is a rudimentary stereo system, and so doesn't require the sort of headache-inducing calculations that come with setting-up a 5.1 or 7.1 system properly.
There are three main units to the FH009 - two horn speakers and the central unit, which houses the dual 5in bass drivers, all the connections and the two amplifiers. The horn drivers and bass drivers are treated to an amp each, rated at 64W a pop.
The main amplifier and bass driver unit is pretty large, standing just under 20cm tall, but should fit on the shelves of most large TV stands. This is where it feels most at-home, and indeed Ferguson Hill is marketing this as a home cinema system, though with it being only a standard stereo system, lacking any sort of receiver functionality, this is a bit of a stretch.
For the most part, build quality of this chunky unit is superb. Crafted from heavy wood and thick black lacquer, it should look the part. But the circular front panel spoils the effect somewhat. It's tactless, pushing a USB slot and 3.5mm mini jack up front when they are at best periphery features. If your main music source for the FH009 is a USB stick loaded with MP3s, you're doing it wrong. The power button also feels a little cheap.
These seeming concessions to practicality are contrary to what this system's all about. The unusual see-through horn design marks this out instantly as a lifestyle system - and a key prerequisite of such a system is that it has to look the business in any lounge. Thanks to these odd design mis-steps, the FH009's central unit doesn't, or at least doesn't to the extent we expect when forking out £800.
The horn speakers themselves fare much better. Each sits atop a speaker stand made up of screw-together anodised metal poles. The stands are not hugely height-adjustable, but you can use either one or two of the poles with each horn, standing at roughly either waist or knee height.
Larger Ferguson & Hill see-through horns appear brilliantly ridiculous, but these smaller units are relatively unassuming. There's something a little strange about a design so odd squeezing itself into such a commonplace form factor, but given the right room they look fab - as the transparent acrylic horns make them sink into the background to an extent, they need a classy environment to feel at home. We think they look best wall-mounted, but the inclusion of decent stands is a major plus when even entry-level Hi-Fi stands can cost around a hundred pounds.