What Hi-Fi? Pick of the Month: Amazon, Goldmund, Yamaha and KEF earn perfect scores

What Hi-Fi? Pick of the Month May 2023, lead image
(Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

Another 31 days have passed, which means it’s time for a fresh instalment of What Hi-Fi?’s Pick of the Month column.

In this feature, we detail the top-scoring products to have passed through our listening and viewing rooms over the past month.

It has been a busy one for our team of product experts, with oodles of fresh hi-fi and TV / AV treats being put to the test. But, only an elite few managed to earn perfect 5/5 scores and our reviewers’ personal seal of approval, making this month’s column a particularly short one.

Without further delay, these are the best products we’ve tried and tested over the past month.

Smart speaker: Amazon Echo Dot (5th Generation)

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Amazon Echo Dot (5th Generation) 

The Echo Dot 5th Generation is the latest small smart speaker from tech and retail giant Amazon. 

Having finally gotten the small spherical unit into our listening rooms, the smart speaker impressed our team of testers. Though its small dimensions and affordable price meant that, unsurprisingly, the sound isn’t perfect or anywhere close to hi-fi level for the money, it is impressive.

Everything from rocking Led Zeppelin tracks to pop from Katy Perry sounds good enough for casual listening during our checks. This, plus its smart functionality, which lets you quiz Amazon’s Alexa digital assistant and use the speaker to control compatible smart home tech, led our reviewers to conclude:

“The latest Echo Dot sees Amazon taking its diminutive smart speaker to the next level as we enter the model’s 5th Generation. We rated the five-star 4th Generation of the Echo Dot so highly thanks to its broad sound, robust Alexa integration and sleek design for the modest price, all tricks that the sequel manages to repeat with unerring confidence.”

Score: 5/5

Read our full Amazon Echo Dot (5th Generation) review 

Pre/power amp: Goldmund Mimesis 37S NextGen/Telos 300

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Goldmund Mimesis 37S NextGen/Telos 300

Goldmund hardware never comes cheap, but if you can afford its Mimesis 37S NextGen/Telos 300 combination you’re in for a treat, based on our testing.

To catch readers up, the Mimesis 37S NextGen/Telos 300 combo is actually one tier below the Swiss company’s flagship pre/power ladder. For your money you get the Mimesis 37S NextGen pre-amplifier and the Telos 300 power amplifier. 

The Mimesis 37S NextGen preamplifier is the brains and comes in two chunky boxes. The first is for sensitive audio circuits while the second houses a hefty power supply. The idea is that by separating the two you can avoid the unwanted magnetic fields created by the power supply impacting the unit’s sonic performance.

Having thoroughly tested the unit this month, we can confirm it works a treat with the Telos 300 power amp – delivering excellent results across the board regardless of what genre we threw at it. This led our testers to report: 

“When it comes to transparency and resolution these are right up there with the best we’ve heard. So whether these Goldmunds are within your budget or not, we’re just glad that products this good exist.”

The only downside is that there’s no phono stage or headphone output, which is a minor annoyance.

Score: 5/5

Read our full Goldmund Mimesis 37S NextGen/Telos 300 review

Open-back headphones: Yamaha YH-5000SE

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Yamaha YH-5000SE 

The Yamaha YH-5000SE are the second uber-expensive item to impress our reviewers over the past month. Though they cost an undeniable lot more than most of the wired headphones we’ve reviewed recently, we can personally confirm they are fantastic performers.

What sets them apart from many headphones is the YH-5000SE’s use of an orthodynamic driver – an older term for planar magnetic. 

If you’re unfamiliar with either term, orthodynamic drivers aim to reduce the potential for distortion you can get on the more common coil drivers seen on many headphones by having the diaphragm etched with a voice coil that sits between opposing magnets. 

Tech aside, the YH-5000SE delivered fantastic results during our listening checks regardless of what kit we partnered them with. Bruce Springsteen’s High Hopes sounded wonderfully detailed and Arvo Pärt’s Tabula Rasa had an uncluttered and expansive feel. This led our testers to conclude:

“We play everything from Stevie Wonder’s Innervisions to Nirvana’s Nevermind, with various works of Ólafur Arnalds in between, and these Yamahas never disappoint.” 

Score: 5/5

Read our full Yamaha YH-5000SE 

Standmount speaker: KEF R3 Meta

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KEF R3 Meta

The KEF R3 Meta are a revamped version of the older KEF R3 standmounters we reviewed and gave 5-stars to a few years ago, and at first glance you may struggle to tell what’s different. 

Out of the box, our reviewers were amazed at how similar they look to the original, featuring the same size, build quality and driver sizes. But the answer’s actually in the name. Specifically, the KEF R3 Meta brings the company’s MAT (Metamaterial Absorption Technology) to the table.

This is a key reason we were so excited to get them into our listening rooms as the tech has always performed excellently on past speakers we’ve tested with it, such as the Award-winning LS50 Meta speakers (which sit below the R Series).

MAT is a clever technology that adds a puck-sized, maze-like plastic structure behind the tweeter. The goal of this addition is to help absorb the unwanted backward radiation from the tweeter into the cabinet, thus reducing distortion. 

Running it through our standard suite of listening tests, the KEF R3 Meta performed excellently delivering a transparent, refined, expressive sound, with an even tonal balance that’s heaps of fun to listen to. This earned it a perfect score and led our reviewers to report:

“We haven’t come across many stereo speakers at this price point in recent years that are so accomplished in all the ‘hi-fi’ ways and fun to listen to in the same breath.” 

Score: 5/5

Read our full KEF R3 Meta review


Check out our picks of the best KEF speakers

These are the best stereo amps on the market we’ve tested

Check out our picks of the best wireless speakers currently available

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.