It starts with your music, of course. But whatever you love, and your preferred source through which to play it, the beating heart of your system is the stereo amplifier, while the evidence of its soul – the part that ultimately allows you to experience the joy that music brings – comes from the loudspeakers.
In the October issue of What Hi-Fi?, available on newsstands right now, we've picked out five serious amplifiers for your consideration. These are premium-level integrated amps at around the £3000-£4000 mark. All garner 5 stars from us, so you can trust they'll get your music sounding the best it can. Switching to speakers, we've rounded up our favourite pairs priced around the £500 sweet spot, taking in the cream of the crop between £250 and £750 in a collection that includes seven standmounters and four floorstanders.
As always, we are first with reviews of the latest kit in our First Tests section, while two pricey, but highly tempting, products feature in our regular Temptations slot. And there's so much more besides...
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Heart and Soul of your Hi-Fi!
No part of your hi-fi system has a better claim to being its beating heart than your amplifier. Fed by your choice of music source, it's what gets that music pumping around the rest of your hi-fi. If you're serious about your hi-fi then, we've got some serious amplifiers for your consideration this month. Integrated amplifiers combine the functions of a preamp (volume control, balance, tone etc) and power amp, and with laptops, smartphones and streaming services becoming ever more popular, the integrated amplifier now has to do more than ever. These five-star, premium amps have sophistication, features and finesse for days.
Meanwhile, it’s your speakers’ job to carry your music on the last leg of its journey to your ears – and transport you in the process. The soul of your system, if you will. So we've rounded up our favourite pairs of standmounters and floorstanders round and about the £500 sweet spot.
All that, of course, alongside our usual First Tests and features!
Hands-on with the Naim Solistice Special Edition
We take a good look around Naim's premium new turntable, the Solstice Special Edition, in this month's Insider. A complete package of tonearm, phono stage and cartridge, the Solstice is a fascinating mix of clever engineering and fuss-free operation. See this month's What Hi-Fi? for more!
First with reviews
In our First Tests section, you’ll find reviews of all the latest hi-fi kit, and the October issue of What Hi-Fi? features a TV that's huge in more ways than one. Not only is the Samsung QE75QN900A a massive 75-inches (not easy to get up the winding staircase to our testing room, let us tell you), but its mini LED backlighting and 8K resolution make it a spectacular viewing experience. Find out more in our exclusive First Test!
Elsewhere, Naim prioritises headphones over speakers with its Uniti Atom Headphone Edition, and we check out this unique take on Naim's own Award winning desktop streaming system.
This month’s First Test section also features a new native 4K projector and the latest Xperia 1 III smartphone from Sony, new headphones from Grado, a generously featured LG soundbar package, Beats' demure (for Beats!) Studio Buds, and the excellent Google Pixel Buds A-Series.
How do these measure up against the best kit around? Find out in the October issue of What Hi-Fi?.
30 Best Podcasts on Spotify
Spotify has doubled down on podcasts for 2021 and there are now more than two million podcasts on the streaming platform. So how do you choose which one to listen to? Allow us to offer some tips, with our round up of the best podcasts on Spotify for music, true crime, history, sport, entertainment, comedy and more.
Tempted? Of course you are...
They're pricey, but you know you want them. In our regular Temptations slot, we've got a couple of bits of high-end kit guaranteed to get you drooling, including the JBL Synthesis SDR-35 home cinema amplifier - which we find to be "a clear cut above any other AV amplifier we’ve tested over the past few years". A pair of in-ear buds for a grand? You can bet the Sennheiser IE900 in-ear headphones are top-notch for that kind of outlay. Find out more in this month's mag!
Also, check out our Buyer’s Guide, featuring a definitive list of all the best home entertainment kit you can buy. If you’re looking to purchase anything from a pair of wireless headphones to a speaker package, this section will tell you where to spend your money wisely.
The October issue is not to be missed. So grab a copy of What Hi-Fi? on sale today. Or simply download it onto your tablet or smartphone instead. Enjoy!
You can subscribe or buy the latest issue here (opens in new tab), or buy the digital edition on iPhone, iPad (opens in new tab), Android devices or Kindle edition (opens in new tab)