It’s the final Sunday of the month which means one thing – a fresh instalment of What Hi-Fi? Pick of the Month.
In today’s column, we detail all the top-scoring products to have passed through our listening and viewing rooms over the last 30 days that our team of experts personally and professionally recommends.
It’s been a particularly busy week this month as well, with everything from top-of-the-line OLED TVs, premium floorstanders and a follow-up to one of our favourite AVRs of all time coming in for testing.
The Sony WF-C700N is the middle child in the Japanese giant’s current wireless earbud line-up, sitting between the premium Sony WF-1000XM4 and the more affordable Sony WF-C500.
With the WF-1000XM4 being 2022 What Hi-Fi? Award winners, this meant we had high hopes when we got them in for testing and thankfully, they fully delivered.
After putting them through their paces our team of experts was wowed by their comfortable fit, detailed and dynamic sound, and easy control interface.
This led our testers to report:
“The WF-C700N offer a jump in quality compared to the WF-C500 and a taste of the performance of the WF-1000XM4 in a cheaper package. This puts them in a very strong position and makes them an easy recommendation at the money.”
The only real downsides are the lack of aptX or LDAC support, though considering their cost, we still feel this is an understandable omission.
Read our Sony WF-C700N review
Martin Logan ElectroMotion ESL X
We love what we do at What Hi-Fi?. But every now and then it’s nice to get something “different” to look at month-on-month. And that’s exactly what the Martin Logan ElectroMotion ESL X offered when we tested them a couple of weeks ago.
Featuring an atypical, almost Beetlejuice-like, design the ESL X are the latest entry into the firm’s established line of hybrid speaker designs, which pair an electrostatic panel with moving coil drivers to handle the bass.
As well as loving their atypical aesthetic, our testers were also pleased to find they are capable of delivering wonderful audio full of sonic finesse and exceptional detail and clarity through the midrange and treble. With our only minor quibble being that their bass could be a little more powerful, this made them an easy recommendation and led our testers to conclude:
“If you are lucky enough to buy at this level we think these speakers deserve a high place on the shortlist.”
Read our Martin Logan ElectroMotion ESL X review
Apple TV 4K (2022)
This month we finally got a chance to put the Apple TV 4K (2022) through its paces, and thankfully after the long wait, we’re pleased to say it remains a great purchase in 2023.
Featuring a more powerful processor than its predecessor we found the Apple TV 4K is one of the best streamers on the market, especially if you’re embedded in Apple’s ecosystem.
During our checks, the new chip made navigating the box’s menus much smoother, and its diminished size and price make it a great purchase for any home cinema fan. This is especially true given its wide range of apps and support for all the common HDR standards as well as Apple Spatial Audio and Dolby Atmos.
This, plus its ongoing excellent picture quality when running in our viewing room’s reference system, make it an easy recommendation, with our reviewers concluding:
“The latest Apple TV 4K doesn’t reinvent the media streaming box, instead making small but meaningful tweaks to its predecessor in everything from its design to the performance. The bottom line is that it's better and cheaper than its Award-winning forebear, which kind of says everything.”
Read our Apple TV 4K (2022) review
The Grado GW100x are the latest open-back headphones to pass through our labs, and after thorough testing, we’re pleased to report they are a fantastic set for people that don’t care about noise cancelling.
In essence, they’re a new, improved version of the GW100 model we also gave 5/5 to all the way back in 2019. Key changes include the addition of 44mm drivers, redesigned speaker housings and support for the aptX Adaptive codec, plus a slew of other minor tweaks and fixes.
Sonically the headphones are excellent, delivering a clean, open and enthusiastic sound during all our tests, which include a variety of different genres. This plus excellent battery life and a robust design, led our reviewers to report:
“If you prioritise great audio above all other considerations and you’ve got room to roam the garden, walk the dog or just listen in your front room without irritating other family members or housemates, the GW1000x should certainly be on your radar.”
Read our Grado GW100x review
Sony A80L (XR-55A80L)
The A80L is the first TV from Sony we’ve tested this year. And while it doesn’t feature advanced MLA tech or a second-generation QD-OLED panel, the OLED set performed amazingly well during our tests.
Despite looking a lot like the A80K it is replacing, the TV offered a series of improvements on its predecessor when we compared them – to the point our reviewer raved, “The A80L is incontrovertible proof there’s plenty of life in the OLED dog yet,” and concluded:
“This is a TV that combines the spectacular with cinematic subtlety in very rare fashion. It thrills, but not in a way that’s even slightly showy. And it combines that with a surprisingly atmospheric and engaging sound, though we would still, as ever, recommend a dedicated sound system if you’re serious about home cinema.”
In fact, our only real concern was its price, which places it firmly in the premium end of the TV market, despite it not being top of Sony’s 2023 TV line-up.
Read our Sony A80L (XR-55A80L) review
Revo SuperConnect Stereo
The Revo SuperConnect Stereo is the next generation of a product that originally launched all the way back in 2014. And despite still retaining a wonderfully retro aesthetic it proved to be a completely modern radio full of brilliant upgrades when we tested it.
Key highlights include more stations, more streaming support, and, most importantly, stereo sound. The combined package plus its finely balanced audio made it an easy recommendation for our testers and led them to conclude:
“Packed with features and highly competent at everything it does, Revo’s long-awaited sequel to the original 2014 model has been worth the wait; it’s easy-to-use, fantastic to look at and a pleasure to listen to, and while it may sport a vintage aesthetic, nothing about the SuperConnect Stereo feels remotely out-of-date.”
Read our Revo SuperConnect Stereo review
The Sony TA-AN1000 is the long-awaited successor to the serial Award-winning STR-DN1080. This is a big deal as the STR-DN1080 took home Product of the Year in 2017 and 2018 What Hi-Fi? Awards.
Initially, our reviewers were concerned, as despite looking all but identical to its predecessor, the TA-AN1000 retails for twice the price. But thankfully the moment we powered it up on our test room these fears rapidly began to disintegrate with it proving to be one of the best AVRs currently available, offering spacious presentation, precise and detailed sound and impressive dynamics. Our reviewers' verdict says it all:
“This amplifier ticks all our boxes, with a sleek design, good feature set and outstanding performance, making it so easy to recommend. If you’re looking at buying an amp at this level, then the Sony TA-AN1000 is a no-brainer.”
Read our Sony TA-AN1000 review