Pick of the Month: Samsung delivers Dolby Atmos bliss while Luxman’s Swiss Army knife amp breaks the mould

What Hi-Fi? Pick of the Month May 2024
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May was a particularly busy month, so you may have justifiably struggled to stay on top of all of our latest reviews. 

Here to help the busier members of our readership we've created a fresh Pick of the Month column, where we detail the top products to pass through our test rooms in the past 30 days. 

May was a doozy with everything from the uber-swish Samsung QN95D to Triangle’s largest floorstanders being put to the test.

But in this sea of hardware only a modest six products impressed our reviewers enough to earn perfect five-star ratings. Here’s what you need to know about them.

Samsung HW-Q990D

Samsung HW-Q990D soundbar system

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The HW-Q900D is Samsung’s flagship Dolby Atmos sound system and successor to the Samsung Q990C we gave four stars to earlier this year.

The package offers you a central soundbar, alongside a subwoofer and two rear speakers that combine to offer a staggering 11.1.4 channel count. The selling point for people short on space, or who just don’t like cables, is that, like many recent surround sound systems, it offers wireless connectivity between the different parts. The only element you need to cable-connect is the soundbar, which connects to the TV's eARC input.

During testing we were not only happy to see a wealth of subtle improvements on its predecessor, which sounded a lot less exciting when we ran them head to head, but also how competitive it is with the Award winning Sony HT-A7000.

Whether it was booming desert scenes in Dune, or subtle dialogue in quiet Oppenheimer moments, the Q990D delivered a large, immersive and three-dimensional sound.

Which is why our reviewers concluded:

“It’s a hugely compelling package overall, and while it’s certainly not cheap, it is good value compared with alternative systems that offer similar specs and features. If you want something approaching ‘proper’ Atmos sound without buying an AV amplifier and twelve individual speakers, it has to be on your shortlist.”

Read our Samsung HW-Q990D review

BenQ X3100i 

BenQ X3100i home cinema projector

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The BenQ X3100i is generally marketed as a gaming projector, but when we got it in for testing, we found this label doesn’t do the unit justice as it’s actually a stellar performer all-round.

The compact, cubic design of the X3100i definitely has a more “cutesy” feel than many of the “serious” home cinema projectors we review at this price, but powering it up we were pleasantly surprised how well it performed playing movies.

While we initially bemoaned the fact there’s no 4K/120Hz or Dolby Vision support, playing a selection of our favourite 4K Blu-ray test movies, the unit delivered great picture quality. We were particularly surprised how well it handled HDR, with bright and dark scenes retaining key details that are often lost on projectors at this price.

This is a key reason our reviewers recommend it, with them reporting: 

“While BenQ’s X3100i lives up to its flagship gaming projector billing by delivering a fantastically responsive, immersive, vibrant and sharp experience, it also works surprisingly brilliantly with movies. Add in a more than serviceable built-in sound performance, too, and the X3100i’s initially intimidating price actually starts to look like a bargain.”

Read our BenQ X3100i review

Luxman L-509Z 

Luxman L-509Z integrated amplifier

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Simplicity and a goal to do one thing well rather than ten things badly is a common mantra among hi-fi purists, especially in high end separates. But this month Luxman bucked that trend to great effect with its latest L-509Z integrated amp. 

The device is a hi-fi Swiss army knife, offering music fans a built-in switchable phono stage, tone, loudness and balance controls, the power to switch between two pairs of speakers and a plethora of headphone outputs.

Paired with our reference Naim ND555/555 PS DR music streamer and Technics SL-1000R turntable it delivered excellent audio across every genre we threw at it. 

Whether it was Arvo Pärt’s Cantus In Memoriam Benjamin Britten, Beethoven’s 6th Symphony or Michael Jackson’s Bad, the L-509Z delivered a strikingly clean and detailed presentation.

Which is why our reviewers concluded: 

“Luxman’s L-509Z is a superb all-round package that proves a comprehensive feature list and great sound are not mutually exclusive.”

Read our Luxman L-509Z review

Roberts Revival Petite 2 

Roberts Revival Petite 2 internet radio

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“Tiny footprint, fabulous design, serious sound.” That’s how our reviewers described the Roberts Revival Petite after thoroughly putting it through its paces in May.

The dinky DAB radio had every member of the What Hi-Fi? reviews team enamoured with it by the time they’d finished testing, with it delivering a lively, engaging sound with wonderfully clear, detailed and natural vocals, despite its small size.

This plus its lovely looking retro style make it an easy recommendation for anyone on the hunt for a great looking and sounding internet/DAB radio. Our reviewers’ conclusion says it all:

“Whether it’s for your teenage kid, a friend or sibling, or your grandparents, we can see the stylish, versatile, enjoyable-sounding Petite 2 appealing to anyone who still values the humble wireless radio – and wants all the added extras, too. All that’s left is the matter of deciding which colour to choose…” 

Read our Roberts Revival Petite 2 review

TCL 85C805K

TCL 85C805K 4K TV

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The 85C805K is one of the cheapest 85-inch TVs we’ve tested and recommend, which puts it in a pretty small segment of the market. 

The giant is the latest in a long line of TCL TVs to deliver great value for money, following in the footsteps of the Award-winning TCL 845C, which we also gave five stars to last year.

For your money you not only get a giant 85-inches of Mini LED real estate, you also get a pretty solid suite of gaming features, with it packing four, rather than the standard two, HDMI 2.1 inputs.

Most importantly, when we powered it up and ran it through our standard suite of picture quality checks, it offered surprisingly great picture quality considering its modest price.

Peak brightness levels were dazzling, but what really stole the show was how good its black levels were by Mini LED standards. This made HDR material in particular look great and a cut above anything else this price we’ve tested recently.

Hence our reviewers’ conclusion: 

“Despite costing less than some 55-inch TVs, the TCL 85C805K manages to combine the sheer largesse of its 85-inch pictures with excellent gaming support and genuinely cinematic and immersive picture and sound quality. In other words, it’s pretty much a dream come true for home cinema fans who aren’t lucky enough to have limitlessly deep pockets.”

Read our TCL 85C805K review

SPL Phonitor SE

SPL Phonitor SE headphone amp

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On the hunt for a headphone amp that means business? Then based on our testing you’ll want to add the SPL Phonitor SE to your shortlist.

The simple to use amp is an ideal way to add headphone connectivity to any hi-fi set-up. And if that wasn’t enough to tempt you, based on our listening checks, it also sounds great.

The Phonitor SE offers 2 x 5 watts power output, which delivered great results when we paired it with a wealth of hardware – which included everything from Focal’s Clear Mg and Sennheiser’s HD800S as well as more premium options such as Grado’s GS300x, Austrian Audio’s The Composer and the high-end Yamaha YH5000SE

In each check the audio had a taut grippy bass, wonderful levels of detail and stellar rhythmic precision. This led our reviewers to heap praise on it, concluding: 

“If you are seriously into headphones then we highly recommend that you have a listen to the SPL Phonitor SE. It is a hugely accomplished product that ticks all the boxes as far as we are concerned. Given a good enough partnering system, this is a product that shines.”

Read our SPL Phonitor SE 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.