Welcome to What Hi-Fi?’s new Pick of the Month column, where we reveal the best TV, AV and hi-fi products our team of experts has had the joy to test over the past 30 days.
Every product on this list scored at least four stars or above after being thoroughly reviewed by our team of experts in our dedicated test rooms, to make sure it’s worth your hard-earned cash.
This month has been particularly busy, with everything from affordable TVs to top-of-the-line floorstanding speakers getting top scores, having thoroughly impressed our reviewers.
Without further delay, here are What Hi-Fi?’s picks of the month for January 2023.
The Sonos Five is the largest speaker in the multi-room specialist's current line-up, having picked up the mantle from the older Sonos S5, Sonos Play:5 and Play:5 Gen 2 models we tested many moons ago.
Putting it through its paces in our dedicated test room we found it delivers excellent, incredibly loud audio, with our reviewer reporting:
“Make no mistake, the Sonos Five is capable of significant volume. You’ll never be in any doubt as to where the sound is coming from, of course, because the point-source when using a single speaker is always obvious.
“But unless you are listening in a very big room, or a room with very high ceilings, this speaker is more than capable of room-filling volume. And admirably, it doesn’t change its sonic characteristics when you wind it up, it simply gets louder.”
This plus its wireless Apple AirPlay 2 support – which made it quick and easy for us to pair with other compatible speakers and create a true multi-room set-up – make it an easy recommendation.
In fact, the only serious drawback we encountered is that bottom end dominated during our listening sessions, to the detriment of the rest of the frequency range.
Read our full Sonos 5 review
Fyne Audio F8SP AV
The Fyne Audio F8SP AV is the latest home cinema package to pass through our test rooms. Having put them through their paces with everything from the cinematic majesty of A Quiet Place and The Batman to the beautifully chaotic strummings of Romeo And Juliet by Dire Straits you can colour us impressed.
The standout feature is without a doubt the package’s centre speaker, which – paired with the floorstanding front speakers – gave our reviewers more than a few jump scares while watching horror movies, leading them to conclude:
“The carefully controlled scale and weight across 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.
“Watching A Quiet Place on Blu-ray, the Fyne Audio F8SP showcases this snappiness to terrifying effect. From the accidental noises made by the family to the thrashing of the monsters hunting them down, the power and heft that these colossal speakers serve up while remaining agile, precise and textured are remarkable.”
The only downsides we experienced during our checks are that the rear surrounds lack scale compared with the rest of the system, and the subwoofer wasn't quite as taut as we would like when compared with a rival such as the Dali Oberon 5 5.1 Speaker Package.
Read our full Fyne Audio F8SP AV review
Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 3
The Ultimate Ears Wonderboom is a rugged, affordable Bluetooth speaker designed to be used in bathrooms, pools, parks, and all manner of other outdoor adventures. During our testing the speaker delivered on its goals, proving to be wonderfully portable and nigh-on indestructible.
Under the hood, it also has a few key upgrades compared with the UE Wonderboom 2 including an hour’s extra battery life, a longer 10m Bluetooth range, and a reworked driver system. The battery life is a particular boon if you want to take the speaker on holiday, with our testers getting 14 hours of tunes out of the speaker.
The new drivers, which include two 40mm active drivers and twin passive radiators delivered decent for the money audio. We found tracks sounded dynamic and evenly balanced. The only real downside is that it’s not quite as nuanced or engaging as some of the best Bluetooth speakers we have tested.
We are also slightly annoyed that it charges using the older micro USB standard, not the newer and more common USB-C. But, for a speaker at this price, these are hardly deal breakers.
Read our Ultimate Ears Wonderboom 3 review
The Toshiba 50UK4D63DB is the latest affordable TV to pass through our test rooms. From our time with it, we can confirm it offers fantastic value and is one of the best sets you will find at this price.
Though you will inevitably miss out on some more advanced features, such as HDMI 2.1 for gamers looking to take advantage of the PS5 and Xbox Series X’s next-gen’ features, for the money it delivers fantastic picture quality. Our testers were particularly impressed with its HDR performance, noting:
“HDR pictures are noticeably brighter than we typically see with sub-£500 50-55in TVs [...] By budget standards, the 50UK4D63DB produces comfortably more light with both full-screen bright HDR images and small HDR highlights than expected. The highlighting holds up even within already bright shots too, adding up to a more consistent and convincing HDR experience than you’d normally ever see at this price point.”
In fact, we were so impressed that, at the time of publishing, we added the Toshiba 50UK4D63DB to our best HDR TV guide. This is one of the only TVs at this price to earn such an accolade.
The only real downsides we experienced are ones common to all the sets we test this price. The speakers aren’t great for anything but basic viewing, lacking the punch and detail we get reviewing moderately more expensive sets. And, the black levels aren’t anywhere near what you will find on even the cheapest QLED - but, for the money, that’s to be expected.
Read our Toshiba 50UK4D63DB review
Sonus Faber Lumina V
Lumina is Sonus Faber's entry-level range of loudspeakers which includes two standmounters, two floorstanders and a matching centre speaker.
The Lumina V are the largest speakers in the range, and they are also classy performers that have plenty of charm, based on our time testing them.
“Tonally, these speakers fall on the richer, full-bodied side of neutral, but never err so far as to sound less than articulate. Rivals such as the Spendor A4 or ProAc Response DT8 are certainly more precise in the way they outline instruments and voices, and particularly bass notes, but the Sonus Fabers’ natural sonic grace and easy-going nature balance the scale.”
The only downside is that, based on our experience with them, they require a fairly large space to really flex their sonic muscle, which will be an issue for people living in flats or smaller houses.
Read our Sonus Faber Lumina V review
Fyne Audio F502SP
The Audio F502SP are the second set of speakers from Fyne to earn a recommendation from our team of product experts this month.
Costing nearly twice as much as the Sonus Fabers (above), these floorstanding speakers delivered in all the key areas we would expect during testing. This was particularly true when we played classical tracks, with our reviewers noting:
“As we listen to Beethoven’s Symphony No.9 in full flow it is hard not to be impressed by the F502SP. These are big speakers for the money and the benefits of their generous proportions are obvious.
“These Fynes reveal an impressive amount of detail and arrange all that information in a cohesive and controlled way. There’s a crisp snap to the leading edge of notes and the ability to paint the rest of the sound envelope properly. This is a colourful presentation that is bold and confident.”
They are not the final word in sophistication compared with something like the Spendor A7, and they do need careful partnering with electronics, but if you want to be entertained, then the Fynes are more than happy to oblige.
Read our full Fyne Audio F502SP review
The Panasonic TX-65LZ2000B is a top-of-the-line big screen TV. Based on our testing it is also the best option currently available for people that want the best “as the director” intended home cinema experience.
The 65-inch OLED offers incredible colour accuracy and stellar HDR performance based on our tests, with our reviewers going so far as to note:
“If it’s balance and authenticity you most value in a TV, you’re going to love the Panasonic LZ2000. Everything we watch, from test favourites Blade Runner 2049 and No Time to Die, to TV shows The Book of Boba Fett and Slow Horses, plus the brilliantly silly Foo Fighters horror film Studio 666, has an effortless correctness to it.”
This, plus its immersive sound quality made it an easy recommendation for the What Hi-Fi? reviews team.
In fact, the only real downsides relate to its gaming performance, with its inclusion of a measly two HDMI 2.1 ports making it tricky for the hardcore gamer to accommodate a sound bar alongside their shiny new PS5 and Xbox Series X.
Check out our full Panasonic TX-65LZ2000B review
This month the team of experts at What Hi-Fi? had the unique, exclusive, pleasure of reviewing the Epos ES14N. And what a joy it was.
During our tests the twin stand-mounted speakers seriously impressed offering audio that delighted our testers, who noted:
“These standmounters major in analysis, control and organisation. Give them a dense recording like Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring and they dig deep into the production, revealing low-level instrumental strands and dynamic nuances many rivals would ignore.
“The ES14N are bold and confident sounding, refusing to get flustered even with music as complex as this. Push volume levels and they stay composed. Play quietly and they remain persuasive. Sounding good at low levels is a rare talent, but one that we appreciate.”
Our only minor quibble was the surprisingly cheap-feeling bolts, used to mount the speakers on their matching stands.
Read our in-depth, world exclusive, Epos ES14N review
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