The annual What Hi-Fi? Awards are nearly upon us, and with under a week to go until the best AV products of the year are revealed, we look back at some of the past winners in the speakers category...

Since the What Hi-Fi? Awards started back in December 1983, we've seen some fine examples of speaker craftsmanship. Each year we've marked our favourite set of speakers with a Product of the Year badge and, needless to say, all the 2016 Award winners will follow in keeping with those traditions.

Of course, like all our reviews, we judge on a performance-per-pound basis. So these are strictly-speaking the best value speakers in their respective price category. But that's simply not as catchy a headline.

Either way, it's a look back down memory lane at some of the best speakers we've heard this century - and a fairly formidable shopping list should you be in the market for a second-hand pair of bargain speakers. Without further ado...

MORE: Best hi-fi speakers 2016


Mission 780 - Tested at £300

The first stereo speaker Product of the Year of the new millennium was the Mission 780, the smallest member of the 78 series. Not only were the 780s an impressive example of craftsmanship, we were most impressed by how big these Mission speakers sounded.

Equally as capable with rock tracks as with more subtle songs, they got the 21st century off to a fine start.

See all our Mission news and reviews


Mission 780 - Tested at £300

The 780s came again, the 780s saw again... and indeed the 780s conquered again. No one could topple the Missions from their Product of the Year pedestal in 2001.


Quad 11L - Tested at £379

The Mission 780s were unable to make it a 21st century hat-trick after being displaced in 2002 by these Quads, which saw an audio manufacturer with a fine high-end pedigree go after the mainstream market.

The results were quite stunning, with features that would ordinarily belong at the premium end of the spectrum being brought fully into reach for those on a more modest budget.

See all our Quad news and reviews


Quad 11L - Tested at £379

"Luscious looks combined with brilliant sonic performance mean the awesome-value Quad 11Ls hang on to the top Award" - and with that verdict, you can understand just why these speakers made it two wins on-the-bounce in 2003.


Wharfedale Diamond 9.1 - Tested at £180

No doubt a familiar name to many an audio connoisseur, Wharfedale's budget Diamond range has played a formidable part in the history of our Awards.

Ever since the series first made its debut back in 1983 (like our Awards), we've been rather taken with them. These 9.1s took the performance of the sub-£200 speaker to a whole new level.

See all our Wharfedale news and reviews

More after the break


KEF iQ5 - Tested at £400

Unlike many of their contemporaries, the sub-£500 iQ5 floorstanders retained that element of bass control and mid-range realism that could often be sacrificed in favour of deeper bass reach and greater scale. A fully deserving Product of the Year.

See all our KEF news and reviews


KEF iQ5 - Tested at £400

Once again, these KEFs proved themselves to be peerless when it came to picking the best stereo speakers in 2006.

With a big, confident and poised sound that belied their modest dimensions, the iQ5s once again saw off the competition.


B&W 685 - Tested at £380

While it wasn't quite in the speaker wilderness, a good few years had passed without B&W having a strong contender at this price. Then, in 2007, the 685s came along.

It was quite some return, as these standmounters put in a performance more than capable of worrying all but the very best below £1000.

See all our B&W reviews, news and products


B&W 685 - Tested at £380

In 2008, we probably listened to the 685s more than any other individual item of equipment, aside from our reference systems.

With brilliant composure among the many positives, they were super value for money and deservedly retained their Award.

See all our B&W news and reviews


Wharfedale Diamond 10.1 - Tested at £200

"A stunning achievement for the cash". The 10th-generation of Wharfedale's Diamond range picked up where its predecessor (the 9.1s) left off in 2004.

Not only could they outperform just about any price-comparable speaker, but plenty from the price class above, too.


Monitor Audio Bronze BX2 - Tested at £250

The 2010 Product of the Year deservedly went to Monitor Audio's Bronze BX2s.

Incredible value for money and with so much going for them in terms of performance, they were still winning Awards two years later.

See all our Monitor Audio news and reviews


KEF Q300 - Tested at £450 - Compare latest prices

We wondered if these KEFs had peaked too soon, having gone through their First Test early on in 2011. But the standmounters perched at the top of the pile month-after-month, repelling challenges from a range of worthy competitors.

And, in the end, the Q300s were crowned Product of the Year for their all-round prowess.


KEF LS50 - Tested at £800 - Compare latest prices

Looking back since the turn of the millennium, KEF has shown some serious aptitude in the stereo speaker stakes. After the iQ5s and the Q300s came the LS50s, the Product of the Year in 2012.

And judging by their Readers' Award successes in 2013 and 2014, you were every bit as taken with them as we were.



Q Acoustics Concept 20 - Tested at £350 Compare latest prices

It has been a remarkable journey for Q Acoustics. The company was only founded in 2006, yet its stereo speakers have bagged at least one Award in each subsequent year.

The Concept 20s are arguably the company's crowning glory: named our Product of the Year 2013, it was one of the simplest decisions we've had to make in this category.

See all our Q Acoustics news and reviews


B&W 685 S2 - Tested at £500 - Compare latest prices

Our 2014 Product of the Year was the stunning B&W 685 S2, a superb speaker that's still a great shout if you're looking to get into hi-fi.


B&W 685 S2 - Tested at £500 - Compare latest prices

2015 saw the B&Ws fend off the competition for a second successive year, with their huge sense of scale and excellent dynamics setting them apart from the competition.

MORE: 9 of the best budget speakers


The 2016 winner will be announced on Monday 17th October...