Pick of the Month: KEF, Rega and more earn hi-fi glory

What Hi-Fi? Pick of the Month January 2024 lead image
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January is in the rear-view mirror, and what a month it was. Despite our team of experts reviewing 18 products, including everything from affordable Samsung TVs to top-of-the-line stereo amps, a modest four products impressed us enough to earn perfect five-star scores.

Here’s everything you need to know about them.

DS Audio DS 003 

Turntable cartridge: DS Audio DS 003

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The DS Audio DS 003 is the latest optical phono stage cartridge we’ve tested, which makes it interesting from the get-go. These work differently from the more common moving magnet and moving coil cartridge designs. 

Instead of magnets and coils it uses an optical system that converts stylus movements into audio signals in a bid to eliminate electromagnetic and frictional forces.

During testing, we found the tech works incredibly well, with our team of experts describing the DS 003 as an “excellent advert for optical cartridges”, with it delivering stellar results in all our checks. 

Paired with our reference Technics SL-1000R’s tonearm and standard Burmester 088/911 MkIII amplifier and ATC SCM 50 speakers, the sonic results were excellent, with our reviewers going so far as to report:

“As it stands, if you have a record-playing system that justifies this kind of expense you owe it to yourself to have a listen to this DS Audio package.”

Score: 5/5

Read our DS Audio DS 003 review

Rega Fono Mini A2D Mk2

Phono stage: Rega Fono Mini A2D Mk2

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The Rega Fono Mini A2D Mk2 is the second phono stage to appear in this column. At first glance, it may not look too different to its predecessor, featuring a suitably unassuming, boxy design that from a distance looks identical to the previous-gen model. 

But there have been a few notable upgrades to the magnetic phono stage. The biggest is the addition of a USB (Type B) output which sits next to the level control on the A2D Mk2’s front. This makes it a great option for buyers looking to digitise their vinyl, with the USB making it quick and easy to connect the A2D Mk2 to a computer.

Pairing it with a variety of kit, ranging from KEF’s LSX II speaker system to proper separates set-ups with the Rega Planar 2, Cambridge Audio’s CXA61 amplifier and the Bowers & Wilkins 607 S3 standmounters, results were excellent. 

This led our reviewers to report: 

“Its ability to convert the signal from vinyl into digital is handy, but for us it is the quality of the sound that continues to impress. Quite simply, we haven’t come across a better-sounding alternative at this entry-level.”

Score: 5/5

Read our Rega Fono Mini A2D Mk2 review

Kerr Acoustic K300 Mk3 

Kerr Acoustic K300 Mk3 on stands in front of bookshelf

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The Kerr Acoustic K300 Mk3 are the latest set of high-end standmount speakers to impress our testers.

Coming from Kerr, which is a fairly young brand in hi-fi having only launched in 2017, during our tests we found these speakers easily match, if not beat, the performance of established rivals.

Designed for medium-sized rooms, the 42cm-high speakers have a wonderfully premium wood finish and solid internal specs, featuring a transmission line design with a 60mm ribbon and sliced 16.5cm mid/bass unit.

The atypical design performed excellently when we paired it with our standard reference system, which includes a Naim ND555/555 PS DR music streamer and Technics SL-1000R/Kiseki Purpleheart MC record player feeding Burmester’s 088/911 Mk III pre/power amplifier.

This led our testers to conclude:

“Why should anyone looking at this end of the market consider these Kerr Acoustic speakers above the much more established competition? In our view, they excel in transparency and balance when used in a small to medium-sized room. If you really want to hear what’s on the recording, these are about as good as it gets at this level in revealing that.“

Score: 5/5

Read our Kerr Acoustic K300 Mk3 review


Standmount speakers: KEF LSX II LT

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The KEF LSX II LT are the affordable sibling of the What Hi-Fi? Award-winning KEF LSX II. The big difference is that, unlike the base LSX II speaker system, there’s no option to wirelessly link the speakers and the aux input, and some colourway options have been cut.

Outside of that they are all but identical to their more expensive siblings. The external chassis is the same and they feature the same 11th-generation 11.5cm Uni-Q driver array, which places the tweeter in the middle of the mid/bass unit, that impressed us last year.

The combination makes the LSX II LT incredible value for money, and a fantastic option for any buyer looking for a compact, fantastic sounding speaker system.

Our testers concluded: 

“The KEF LSX II LT are a fantastic value alternative to the more illustrious, expensive LSX II model. By taking a great system and streamlining it without compromising the sound, the LSX II LT have nailed it.”

Score: 5/5

Read our KEF LSX II LT review


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Alastair Stevenson
Editor in Chief

Alastair is What Hi-Fi?’s editor in chief. He has well over a decade’s experience as a journalist working in both B2C and B2B press. During this time he’s covered everything from the launch of the first Amazon Echo to government cyber security policy. Prior to joining What Hi-Fi? he served as Trusted Reviews’ editor-in-chief. Outside of tech, he has a Masters from King’s College London in Ethics and the Philosophy of Religion, is an enthusiastic, but untalented, guitar player and runs a webcomic in his spare time.