We at What Hi-Fi? love not only reviewing products but also putting compatible ones together to make exceptional systems. As might be apparent from the mind-boggling price of this particular system here, here we have taken the principle of the 'standard' AV set-up and ramped it up to 11.
This is not an AV system for the faint-hearted, obviously; but if you have the money to devote to it, and the space to accommodate it, this is getting very close to home cinema heaven.
Projector: Sony VPL-XW7000ES (£14,999 / $27,999 / AU$25,499)
AV receiver: Arcam AVR31 (£4999 / $5250 / AU$11,495)
Blu-ray player: Panasonic DP-UB9000 (£999 / $1399 / AU$1479)
Speaker package: Fyne Audio F8SP AV (£10,999, $14,999 / AU$24,000)
Total: £31,996 / $49,647 / AU$62,473
Sony VPL-XW7000ES projector
Now, when you are spending the price of a decent car, and half of this considerable budget alone on a projector, you have the right to be going in with extremely high hopes. And, of course, the Sony VPL-XW7000ES delivers in spades. It’s almost relentlessly good; mesmerising. We go so far as to say, in our full review, that it is even capable of surpassing the typical ‘real’ cinema experience. So much do we love it, in fact, that for 2022 we created a whole new category in our Awards for it – we haven’t had such a high-priced category for a projector before this. Suffice to say then, it’s really rather good.
Arcam AVR31 AV receiver
And in this set-up, we feel an obligation to marry that stunning picture provider with equipment to do the image justice.
The heavy lifting for the sound is carried out by Arcam’s impressive AVR31, the sibling to the Award-winning JBL Synthesis SDR-35. We have plumped for the Arcam here both because it is now around £1000 cheaper than the JBL, and also because it has HDMI 2.1 sockets. While not of direct use in this system (the projector isn’t compatible with 2.1), this does make things nicely future-proofed; and it would be perfectly acceptable in our eyes to supplement this set-up with a large-screen TV – the LG OLED65C2 springs to mind – in which case those sockets will certainly come into their own.
This amplifier puts in a lustrous performance with a clean, controlled clarity and a delicacy that we come across only rarely. Don’t let that observation fool you into thinking that there is no power here; far from it. The AVR31 can pack a real punch.
Fyne Audio F8SP AV speaker package
And it works beautifully with a speaker package that is a newcomer to these pages. The Fyne Audio F8SP AV is incredibly entertaining for both movies and music – obviously, as it is here. What really stands out for us though, and what goes a long way to winning it a place in this set-up, is its centre speaker. These can often seem like an afterthought for some manufacturers; here, it is a notable system strength. Fyne has clearly worked hard on the integration of sound across the front three speakers. It is seamless, with a broad soundstage, tremendous dynamic range and scale that is enveloping and engaging.
Panasonic DP-UB9000 4K Blu-ray player
Talking of enveloping and engaging, once again, in our full-on surround-sound system, we can justify going with a disc player, rather than relying solely on streaming for our 4K video and multi-channel audio.
The obvious Blu-ray player to go for in this upmarket set-up is the Panasonic DP-UB9000. This bomb-proof box is remarkable, with a picture that blows us away. It is a focused, high-performance machine that holds its own pretty much anywhere.
It would be remiss of us, though, in a home cinema system from 2023, not to consider streaming options for this set-up. And, while we have not yet, at
the time of writing, had the newest Apple TV 4K in for review, we are confident, loving its predecessor as we do, that this little box of 4K, Dolby Atmos and HDR tricks will perform sterling service in a home cinema anybody should be proud to show off.
Our pick of the best projectors we've tested