How we test

Why we're No.1

We've invested almost a million pounds in our state-of-the-art testing facilities, where our world-renowned reviewers put more kit through its paces than any other magazine. We can, and do, handle anything from the smallest MP3 player to the largest home cinema system.

We're the only magazine in the UK to have a dedicated team of in-house reviewers, all working in the same suite of acoustically-treated listening rooms. We don't use freelancers, so we have complete control over how products are tested and the environment in which they are tested.

Between us we have more than 30 years experience of reviewing, testing and writing about consumer electronics.

The test labs

We're based at Teddington Studios by the Thames and our test complex includes six bespoke rooms:

Room 1

The main hi-fi test room, acoustically treated by Absolute Audio, used for all separates stereo components such as CD players, amplifiers and stereo speakers.

Our current hi-fi reference system is:

Naim CDS3 + Naim 555 PS power supply (£10k)
Naim NDS streamer + 555 PS power supply (£12k)
Naim UnitiServe (£2200)
Clearaudio Innovation Wood turntable (£13k)
Bryston BP26 preamp and Bryston 4BSST power amp (£7k)
ATC SCM50 speakers (£7k)

Room 2

The main home cinema room, again acoustically treated by Absolute Audio, is currently equipped with:

Marantz UD7007 universal Blu-ray player
Yamaha RX-A3030 home cinema amp
Panasonic PT-AT6000E projector
Mordaunt-Short Performance 6 surround speaker package
Sky+ HD and Freeview


Room 3

A smaller room for testing micro systems and home cinema in a box systems, plus small-screen TVs.

Room 4

A dedicated MP3 room for testing portable media devices, PCs and Media Centres, fully equipped with wi-fi.

Room 5

A dedicated TV test room with dark walls to minimise reflections. This room enable us to compare two screens side by side, and is equipped with Freeview and Sky HD TV.

Room 6

The Ultimate Guide room: another large, acoustically treated room for testing larger hi-fi and home cinema systems, plus large-screen TVs.

We also have our own dedicated photographic studio and in-house photographer, so all equipment is photographed to the highest standards. We don't just rely on standard press shots like other magazines.

All products are tested in comparison with rival products in the same price category. We have a warehouse full of kit, so even in a First Test a product will be reviewed in the context of other products in that sector of the market.

All review verdicts are agreed upon by the team as a whole – not an individual reviewer. Each product will be listened to and/or viewed by several members of the test team, who will then discuss the final verdict before it appears in the magazine or on the website. This avoids any individual bias creeping in.

No manufacturer or their PR is EVER shown a review prior to publication – in fact, not even our own advertising department knows what the test verdicts are before the magazine is published.

So you can rest assured that all What Hi-Fi? Sound and Vision reviews are fair, honest and accurate and brought to you by the most experienced team in the business.