In a standard setup within a lounge, the Ferguson & Hill FH009 replaces both a stereo Hi-Fi and a surround setup. But in pure functionality terms, it's a wholesale replacement for neither.
In connectivity terms, it's rather bare. The FH009 offers just two phono stereo inputs and the 3.5mm jack/USB ports on the front panel. We find it somewhat amusing that both the phono inputs are labelled "Auxiliary", when it's patently ridiculous that they'd be anything but the primary inputs here. Aside from being low-rent in Hi-Fi terms, a connector cable dangling from the 3.5mm input of the front panel is going to do its already-faulty aesthetics no favours whatsoever.
When so much common tech kit is geared towards use with optical or HDMI audio connections - from game consoles to Blu-ray players - having only archaic phono sockets to rely on is hardly ideal. But the audio quality of these connections is perfectly fine.
There's a very old-school approach seen throughout the FH009. Whether you'll find this charming or irritating is something we can't judge, but the dipping of toes in digital waters with the MP3-capable USB slot doesn't work in its favour.
To switch between sources, you have to use the supplied remote control. It's a pretty generic cheapie model, with little dimples instead of proper buttons. We wouldn't mind quite how unimpressive it feels if it weren't for the lack of a source select button on the central unit. Short of teaching a universal remote how to emulate the controller, you're tied to its little plastic body. And to add insult to injury, the FH009 defaults to the USB input upon power-up - the one we imagine most are least likely to use.
The Ferguson & Hill FH009 is a Hi-Fi system we warmed to at first glance. It's unusual, and the product of a company pushing against the norms of the market. But it doesn't make loving it easy. We can understand the simple approach, but the sense of being streamlined hasn't been injected along with it - there are one too many clumsy parts to the FH009.
All our complaints until now have been mere quibbles, though - things we can forgive if the FH009 blows our winter woollens off with its sound quality.