The best home cinema kit made by British hi-fi brands

Q Acoustics 5040 5.1 speaker package in white, arranged against a grey wall
(Image credit: Future)

Yes, I’m well aware that it’s British Hi-Fi Week, but as What Hi-Fi?’s TV & AV Editor, I couldn’t resist cramming some home cinema action into our coverage.

It should come as no real surprise that the British brands responsible for some of the best hi-fi speakers in the world are also purveyors of quality surround packages, but did you know that one of the best AV receivers that money can buy is also from a British company? You do now. Or, more accurately, you will once you’ve scrolled down to read this round-up of the best home cinema products made by British hi-fi brands.

Wharfedale Diamond 12.3 HCP – £1299 / $2025 / AU$4122

Wharfedale Diamond 12.3 HCP

(Image credit: Future)

Wharfedale has generally shown more commitment than most of its hi-fi peers to home cinema speaker systems, and the results speak for themselves: the brand took home three speaker-package gongs at the most recent What Hi-Fi? Awards alone.

Also by Wharfedale

If money and/or space are tight, take a look at the also-Award-winning Wharfedale Diamond 12.1 HCP, which swaps the Diamond 12.3 floorstanders for a second pair of 12.1 standmounters. The Wharfedale DX-3 HCP, meanwhile, is cheaper and even more compact. If, on the other hand, you have lots of space and a bigger budget, do check out the Wharfedale Evo 4.4 5.1 pack.

Of those Award-winners, it’s the Diamond 12.3 HCP that we are flagging here. Using excellent stereo speakers in a surround package is no guarantee of success, but it certainly helps, and this package features two excellent pairs: the five-star Diamond 12.1 and Award-winning Diamond 12.3.

In a surround package such as this, the centre and subwoofer often feel like an afterthought. Not here, though, as the 12.C centre and SW-10 sub more than play their part, delivering clarity and tuneful weight respectively. All told, this is a classy and composed system with detail and dynamics for days, and it’s unbeatable at this price.

Read the full Wharfedale Diamond 12.3 HCP review

Bowers & Wilkins 606 & 607 S3 speaker package – £2496 / $3799 / AU$3947

Speaker package: Bowers & Wilkins 606 & 607 S3 surround speaker package

(Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

Like the Wharfedale package above, this B&W package features two pairs of excellent stereo speakers. As the name suggests, the stereo speakers in question are the 606 S3 and 607 S3, both of which are current Award-winners that we love for their clarity, detail, spaciousness and all-round entertainment value.

Also by B&W

As well as producing its own speakers and headphones, Bowers & Wilkins produces the sound systems for other products, including many Philips TVs. The OLED908 is the most recent result of this collaboration – and it’s one of the best-sounding TVs you can currently buy.

Thankfully, these music maestros are not let down by the HTM6 S3 centre or ASW608 sub with which they are partnered in this system, and that translates to an awesome movie experience.

In fact, in our review, we wrote that ‘we find ourselves grasping at straws when it comes to finding things to complain about, as the Bowers & Wilkins 606 and 607 S3 Surround Speaker Package is nothing short of spectacular in the sonic department’. You can’t get much higher praise than that.

Read the full Bowers & Wilkins 606 & 607 S3 speaker package review

Arcam AVR31 – £5799 / $5250 / AU$11,495

AV receiver: Arcam AVR31

(Image credit: Future)

AV amplifier land has been dominated by Denon for years now, but Arcam has recently proved that there is room for a sound-first, features-second AVR at the most premium end of the market.

Also by Arcam

If you want a sound-first AVR and can’t stretch to the AVR31, the ‘entry-level’ (by Arcam’s standards) AVR5 should be right up your alley.

Not that the AVR31 is exactly a slouch in the features department: it’s got umpteen HDMI 2.1 ins and outs, support for every sound format you are ever likely to need (and many you never will) and one of the best DACs in the business. Some people, though, will be put off the AVR31 because it has only seven channels of amplification, so going full Atmos requires the addition of extra amplifiers. You can buy a Denon AVR with more amplified channels than the Arcam for about a fifth of the price.

But it’s not the number of channels that matters, it’s the way you use them, as Arcam would almost certainly never say, and the AVR31’s premium credentials are made crystal clear through its sound, which combines delicacy and power like Blade Runner’s Roy Batty.

Read the full Arcam AVR31 review

Fyne Audio F8SP AV – £10,999 / $14,999 / AU$24,000

Speaker package: Fyne Audio F8SP AV

(Image credit: Future)

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again; the centre is arguably the most important speaker in a surround system. Yet, time and again, speaker manufacturers bundle their big, brilliant floorstanders with a weedy, undernourished centre that makes dialogue hard to decipher and robs the overall system of its cohesion.

That’s not something that you have to worry about with the Fyne F8SP AV package, though. Its F57SP-8 centre speaker is a beast that has clearly been carefully designed and tuned to be a perfect match to the gloriously imposing, five-star-rated F502SP speakers.

“The front three full-range speakers are almost disarming in their precision and speed, adding a tangible layer of excitement to action sequences and making nearly every sudden move in horror films unbearably unnerving,” we said in our review.

The F501SP floorstanders used as surrounds don’t quite match the other speakers tonally, so we would consider upgrading these to another pair of F502SPs if you have the money and space. The twin subwoofers aren’t the very best in class either, so you might want to consider specifying a non-Fyne alternative (or two!) there as well. Even as it comes, though, the F8SP is an incredibly entertaining speaker package.

Read the full Fyne Audio F8SP AV review

Q Acoustics 5040 5.1 Home Cinema – £2475 / $3595 / AU$5199

Home cinema speaker package: Q Acoustics 5040i Home Cinema Package

(Image credit: Q Acoustics)

Q Acoustics is such a fixture of the British hi-fi scene that it’s easy to forget that the brand has only been in existence since 2006. Over the past 19 years, it has shown a real dedication to producing seriously good surround sound packages that feature its seriously good stereo speakers, and the 5040 5.1 Home Cinema is just the latest of those.

Also by Q Acoustics

If the looks and sonic approach of the 5040 system appeal but your budget won’t stretch that far, take a look at the 3050i 5.1 Cinema Pack. The 3010i Cinema Pack, meanwhile, is even more affordable and features two pairs of standmounters, so is more compact than the floorstander-based systems.

The Award-winning stereo speakers in question are the Q Acoustics 5040s that give this package its name. They feature as the front-left and -right speakers, with a pair of 5010s as surrounds, a 5090 centre and QB12 subwoofer.

Despite the use of different speakers throughout, the system produces a really cohesive sound that’s also packed with energy, detail and dynamism. The soft, modern look of the speakers will appeal to those for whom the straight edges and wood finishes of traditional hi-fi don’t appeal.

Read the full Q Acoustics 5040 5.1 Home Cinema review

Tom Parsons

Tom Parsons has been writing about TV, AV and hi-fi products (not to mention plenty of other 'gadgets' and even cars) for over 15 years. He began his career as What Hi-Fi?'s Staff Writer and is now the TV and AV Editor. In between, he worked as Reviews Editor and then Deputy Editor at Stuff, and over the years has had his work featured in publications such as T3, The Telegraph and Louder. He's also appeared on BBC News, BBC World Service, BBC Radio 4 and Sky Swipe. In his spare time Tom is a runner and gamer.