What systems do the people who make your hi-fi use at home? Time to find out

PMC founder Peter Thomas with his personal hi-fi system
PMC founder Peter Thomas with his personal hi-fi system (Image credit: PMC Speakers)

Ever wondered what an industry expert's home hi-fi system looks like? Perhaps an extravagant set-up with stacks of separates, multiple sources and endless cable runs? Or maybe something much simpler – perhaps just a pair of active speakers to deliver hi-res music streaming?

Well, look no further, as we have spoken to five names from home-grown hi-fi brands as part of our British Hi-Fi Week 2024, and they've been kind enough to share what equipment they are currently using at home.

In a similar vein, you can also find out which test tracks some of the top British hi-fi engineers use when tuning products – and there's a playlist for you, too.

Peter Thomas, PMC founder and owner

PMC Fenestrias on white background

(Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

"I love vinyl and I'm using two turntables, a Michell Orbe and a Vertere SG-1, plus a third for my 78rpm collection, an old Garrard 401. My preamp is a Bryston BP17 with two Bryston 7B Cubed mono-block amplifiers. CD playback is via a Mark Levinson 390S, and I use a Studer B67 tape deck for my tape collection with the PMC Fenestrias as my main loudspeakers."

Kashfia Kabir
Kashfia Kabir

I'm envious of Peter's system. Not just because he can accommodate the towering PMC Fact Fenestria speakers (PMC's flagship high-end speakers that also won our Temptation Award 2022), but also because he uses not one, not two, but three different turntables. Why? All hi-fi products have their own sonic flavour, each with a different presentation that will suit different types of music – and some days, you may just prefer one particular flavour to another. 

Vertere and Michell make phenomenal sounding and looking turntables, and whether Peter is in the mood for incredible bass authority or wants spectacular rhythm and dynamics, well, he has the freedom to swap between the models.

I've only listened to the "entry-level" models – DG-1 S and GyroDec SE – and have loved them, so I can only imagine just how terrific the flagship step-ups can sound. A girl can dream...

Simon Webster, Rega sales and marketing coordinator

Rega Planar 6 with Ania MC

(Image credit: Rega)

"Unsurprisingly it is all Rega, I use a Planar 6 with Ania Pro MC cartridge, a Fono MC MK4 phono stage, Elicit MK5 amplifier and I have an older set of transmission line Rega RS7 loudspeakers, which I love."

Andy Madden bio pic
Andy Madden

One-make systems are a rare breed these days, so it’s nice to see a set-up with obvious synergy. The Rega team will have designed all these products and presumably tested some if not all of them together at some point, so there shouldn’t be any surprises in terms of compatibility. 

The Planar 6 is a tried and tested favourite of ours, not to mention a What Hi-Fi? Award-winner, while the Elicit MK 5 is another five-star performer. It’s a stereo amplifier that we found requires careful matching, but being surrounded by members of the same family, it should fit in pretty well.

Stephen Oakes, Neat Acoustics sales manager

Stephen Oakes' home hi-fi set-up

(Image credit: Neat Acoustics)

"I have an Atoll ST300 streamer/preamp and AM300 power amp hooked up to Neat Majistra loudspeakers. I also have a Funk Firm turntable and a Cyrus CDt-XR CD transport, but through sheer idleness, I mostly just stream from Qobuz or Tidal these days. The rack and stands are Lateral Audio and the cables are by Chord Company."

Tom Parsons
Tom Parsons

I've had a real soft spot for Neat speakers ever since I was involved in the review of the laidback Motive 2 way back in 2008. Back then I was just a wet-behind-the-ears Staff Writer, but I've pined for those speakers ever since and would still love to have a pair at home one day. Unfortunately, I've not had the pleasure of hearing the small but premium Majistra speakers that Stephen uses, but that's something I'd like to rectify in the not-too-distant future. 

It's also pleasing to see someone from the industry admitting to going for streaming convenience at home, though of course with both a classic turntable and CD player available for those really serious listening sessions.

Luke Milnes, Wilson Benesch sales and marketing director

Floorstanding speakers: Wilson Benesch A.C.T. 3Zero

(Image credit: Wilson Benesch)

"Wilson Benesch A.C.T. 3zero loudspeakers with an original Wilson Benesch Turntable. Trilogy Audio System’s 994 Monoblock amplifiers and 914 valve preamplifier, along with a Ypsilon VPS-100 Phono Stage."

Andy Madden bio pic
Andy Madden

This is a premium set-up that oozes quality. It also serves up a bit of a hi-fi unicorn in the shape of the original Wilson Benesch Turntable, the company’s first-ever product back in 1990.

The stars of the show here are, in my opinion, the stunning A.C.T. 3zero loudspeakers. I’ve heard these five-star floorstanders and can vouch for their ridiculous breadth of talents. The level of transparency and insight on offer is quite remarkable. This is a system that I would really love to hear.

James Luce, Acoustic Energy creative director

Acoustic Energy AE1 Active speakers paired with a Bluesound Node streamer/pre-amp

James Luce's minimalist streaming set-up (Image credit: Acoustic Energy)

"I currently use a pair of Acoustic Energy AE1 Active speakers paired with a Bluesound Node streamer/preamp, and a Samsung Galaxy S23 with Tidal as the main source!"

Alastair Stevenson What Hi-Fi profile
Alastair Stevenson

Using your smartphone as your primary source is an increasingly common practice now, even among "proper" hi-fi fans, and this setup speaks volumes to that point. I'd also add that this phenomenon has been helped by the increasing number of excellent streamers and just-add-speakers systems we've recently seen flooding our test rooms. Although I love the beauty of a full separates rack and playing vinyl, I have also succumbed to the convenience of streaming in recent years.

In this instance, the streamer and speakers are a solid, real-world system. Until last year the five-star Bluesound Node was the top option in our best music streamers guide. And the Acoustic Energy AE1 Active are so good that they won a What Hi-Fi? Award when we tested them in 2018 and they remain a firm favourite if you're after premium active speakers.


We asked top British hi-fi engineers for their favourite test tracks

The biggest UK brands talk manufacturing, distribution and the future of British hi-fi

9 of the most underrated British hi-fi products we've ever tested

Staff Writer

Ainsley Walker is a staff writer at What Hi-Fi?. He studied music journalism at university before working in a variety of roles including as a freelance journalist and teacher. Growing up in a family of hi-fi enthusiasts, this naturally influenced his interest in the topic. Outside of work, Ainsley can be found producing music, tinkering with retro tech, or cheering on Luton Town.

  • Rui
    i think there is old saying about this matter ,in english i don´t know what is the saying but in Portugal people say something like ,in a blacksmith's house, wooden skewer.

    it makes sense, i know a bass player that at home ,having a lot of money, at home to hear music he as a 30 years sony compact system with all components needed at the time, the amplifier part as a 5 frequencies equalizer he put all high´s to the minimum and all lows to the maximum and says ,"perfect",

    a band that got some success in early 90´s when recording their first album in CD ,all knocked at my door ,they were 4 saying "can you let us listen to our cd? " none of them had a cd player, most of the songs allthough they were in their early 20´s i knew them all since i was 23 ,it took 8 years so they recorded the first album, lot´s of songs to choose from, but some i thought it were the best were all lefted out

    so i know this man equipment but i found it very bad ,maybe he was born or was a child in the 90´s so he ain´t got sensivety to know what is good sound in all genres of music recording, as an example the epic motown records released in the 80´s was horrible, i remenber buying a Isaac Hayes LP ,i thought to my self "they destroyd this man career"high´s were so high that to hear it i had to put the treble in -1/2 from defeat to make it sound aceptable, that had never happened to me

    but if one wants to built something it´s going to be and any one knows because there are tables of sound listening and the main adjustments are there but not saying that one copies all from standart quality but it comes close to sell more,

    i myself with a dutch friend in the 70´s when bricolage was fashion we built a set of speakers and they were above standart quality,

    all the work in curving wood and the shape of the speaker´s box itself it´s a dirty work after is a matter of buying the right woofer , mids and highs , menbrane tweeter or horn tweter, but the box i remenber being the main factor to a well built set of speakers, or the shape inside to drive the sound by reflex,

    sorry if confuse but my technical englsh isn´t good