Whether it's sublime-sounding speakers, worry-free wireless streaming, a virtuoso vinyl experience or the cutting edge in home-cinema set-ups, the latest issue of What Hi-Fi? – on actual and virtual newsstands today – will have your system singing. At a time when most of us are spending many evenings indoors, we want you to furnish your homes with the right kit. That is where we step in – metaphorically speaking.
While we prioritise sound per pound value, it's no secret that the premium products under our microscope this month are aspirational at first glance – it's a high-end special, after all. Essentially, we'll explain and debunk the features these flagship products pack in to justify their eyebrow-raising price-points. And we'll tell you what they actually sound like – because we've listened to them at length in our listening facility. Scheduling a serious glance at the bank account can always wait...
And because it's What Hi-Fi?, you know that we'll gather together only the very best performers. Get ready for products that really have to be heard to be believed.
You can currently subscribe to our digital edition (the whole magazine, in digital format, delivered promptly to your inbox) for just £3 per issue – a huge saving, and you don't even need to leave the house.
Prefer a proper analogue, bricks-and-mortar magazine? We get it. See below...
Perfect screen grabs
First though, the newest OLED screen from LG. It's a screen (and 4K TV model) that LG thinks will set the standard not just for its 2020 rollout, but across the entire TV landscape. It's name? The LG OLED65GX. So is it a sight for sore eyes, or merely an eyesore? We've taken it for a thorough and lengthy socially-distanced spin, and we'll give you the cold, hard truth regarding this four-figure TV.
Our in-depth First Tests section will always give you the nitty-gritty – the director's cut of reviews – because we think you deserve to know what's what. Read our First Tests and you'll know whether the product is right for you.
Also in this section, are Audio Pro's A26 powered speakers (which come in at a respectable £499), the iFi Zen Blue Bluetooth receiver, Disney's much-hyped new streaming service, Disney Plus, a budget-friendly Hisense Roku TV (50-inches of 4K resolution for a three-figure price tag) and the Philips PH805 noise-cancelling wireless headphones. Never heard of them but like the look of those Award-winning cans from Sony? You might want to take a look at this particular First Test.
You down with ATC? Yeah, you know me
To celebrate our high-end issue (and before lockdown measures put a stop to such frivolities) we jumped in the car and headed to Stroud, Gloucestershire, to try to understand what British firm ATC is doing differently; what makes its glorious, transparent ATC SCM50 floorstanding speakers a cut above the rest.
We had a great pot of tea and the best biscuits. We had the full tour, saw a pair of ATC SCM50s being made and met the entire team responsible, many of whom have been with this small firm for decades. We also made some discoveries about care, precision, unique high-quality engineering and rigorous testing at each stage of manufacture. Come on the virtual journey with us; right now it's really the only way.
Simply the best
We don't need to tell you that building a hi-fi system is all about gathering together the right kit – kit that'll get the sonic best out of whatever it is partnered with. That's why you're here.
So let us be clear: our extensive 36-page round-up this month features the best products on the market regardless of cost. Nothing has changed; we want you to have the ideal hi-fi set-up for your budget and needs. Sometimes though, it's nice to look at the Ferrari of amps, say, even if owning one is currently off-limits. And if ever there was a time for understanding the true spiritual and emotional value of our music collections, it's now, during lockdown.
Top-flight streamers, phono stages, speakers, turntables, DACs, CD players, amplifiers and headphones, as well as a special feature on the superlative ProAc Response 2 standmount speakers and Classé CD-202 CD player are all showcased here.
Want to know how the Chord 2go/Hugo2 stacks up against the Cambridge Audio Edge NQ, Moon 390 and Naim ND555/555 PS DR? That last music streamer costs £21K. Is it worth it – and by that we mean in comparison to the closest in its class? Do your due diligence: read the new issue of What Hi-Fi? and find out.
Your amplifier is the beating heart of your hi-fi system, but which of these high-end tickers is the best in our six-strong round-up? It's not an easy one to answer. Every amplifier you'll read about here gained a coveted five-star review from this publication – and at these prices, we're nothing if not brutally honest.
The key, of course, is that while we don't know your particular system, we know what makes an ideal partner for these amps. That's because we've tested each one thoroughly, including the Copland CTA408, the Mark Levinson 5805, the Krell K-300I and Ayre Acoustics KX-R Twenty/VX-R Twenty. Combine your knowledge with ours, and there's an amp here with your name on it – if only at the top of your wishlist.
Need a quick break from our in-depth reviews of astronomically-priced kit? Good; it's best to ponder these products and whether they could (or should) gain entry to your home. And while you're taking a breather, why not read our feature entitled A history of the strangest vinyl records ever made?
Ever heard of an EP that's just two inches wide? How about a chocolate record, or vinyl that plays something different each time you place it on the platter? From augmented reality iOS app support to records pressed from your loved one's ashes, it's all here. Maybe you'll even find yourself searching crates for a few, to spin on your new SME Synergy turntable (also featured in our July issue). After all, with just £50 change from the 15 grand outlay, you may as well put it to good use...
On top of all this, our Insider Top Five Launches section this month includes Astell & Kern's newest hi-res portable music player, the A&norma SR25, Sonos' Playbar- and Playbase-superseding Arc soundbar, Dynaudio's new Contour i speaker range and the Yamaha A-S3200 – the most premium of the firm's trio of brand new valve stereo amplifiers.
We've also updated the definitive guide to the best home entertainment your money can buy, our unparalleled Buyer's Guide. And we've thrown in our pick of the best albums of the 1970s – required reading for your next virtual pub quiz.
Stay alert, control the volume, and happy reading!