What a year it's been in the world of hi-fi. From turntables to televisions, soundbars to smartphones and portable music players to projectors… there has been a stream of superb hi-fi products throughout 2019, many of which are worthy of a prize.
Thankfully, it's that time of the year again when the What Hi-Fi? review team decides on its favourite kit in each category. We have already named 111 Best Buys – each product a winner in its own particular price category – but we have saved the best until last.
In our special Awards 2019 issue, we reveal which 26 products have been crowned Product of the Year. This is our pick of the very best hi-fi kit of 2019, and with recommendations for all product categories and at all price levels, there’s something here for you, whatever your budget.
Over the past few weeks, our review team has been hard at work drawing up a list of Awards winners in each category – the result of our efforts was our list of 111 Best Buys, released a few weeks in advance of the Awards ceremony.
The 26 Products of the Year remained a well-kept secret, until they were announced at an Awards ceremony at the Sheraton Grand Hotel in central London last night. However, you can now read all about them in the Awards 2019 issue of What Hi-Fi?.
From super speakers to terrific televisions, all our favourite kit of the year is listed, rated and reviewed in this 164-page special issue.
Awards 2019: Stereo speakers
The range and variety of stereo speakers available, and the number of different price points, make this one of the most hotly-contested Awards categories.
There were so many great standmounters to choose from, but the Dali Spektor 2s, Elac Debut B5.2s, Revel Concerta 2 M16s, KEF R3s, and Dynaudio Special Fortys all picked up Best Buy Awards. But the overall winner of the Product of the Year went to the B&W 606s.
In the floorstander category, the Fyne Audio F302s, Dali Oberon 5s, ProAc Response DT8s, Spendor A7s and Wharfedale Evo 4.4s were all winners of Best Buy Awards, while the Ruark Audio MR1 Mk2s won the best desktop speaker category.
Awards 2019: Turntables
It has been another great year for turntables, as some models embrace the latest in Bluetooth and streaming technology, while the revival in vinyl sales shows little sign of slowing down.
Rega managed to walk off with three Best Buy Awards in different price categories, with the Planar 1 winning the Award for Best Turntable £200-£500, the Planar 6/Ania winning at the £1000-£2000 price category and the Planar 8/Apheta 2 being chosen as the Best Turntable over £2000.
Other winners included Technics' SL-1500C turntable and the Pro-Ject Primary E, which was chosen as our best budget deck at the under-£200 price category.
But the overall winner was Rega (again) for its Planar 3/Elys 2 combination, which scooped the Product of the Year Award in the Best Turntable £500-£750 category.
Awards 2019: Headphones
Whether you're listening at home or out and about, a good pair of headphones is an essential piece of hi-fi kit. Thankfully, for the What Hi-Fi? Awards, we had plenty of great ones to choose from again this year.
With three separate categories (wireless, in-ears and on-ears) there were several winners across the different categories, including the Sony WH-1000XM3s, which took the wireless headphones Product of the Year Award in the over £250 category.
Other highly recommended wireless headphones included the Cambridge Audio Melomania 1s, Sony WF-1000Xs and the AKG N60NC Wirelesses
In the in-ears category, the winners were the Klipsch T5M Wired, which took the Product of the Year Award. Other Best Buy winners included the SoundMagic E11Cs (Under £50 category) and the Shure SE425s (Over £100).
In the on-ears category, AKG’s Y50s won the Product of the Year Award, as the Best portable on-ear headphones under £100, beating off competition from Grado’s SR80e and SR325e models (Best home on-ear headphones under £100 and £100-£400, respectively) and the Beyerdynamic Amirons (Best home on-ear headphones over £400).
Even as we celebrate the best hi-fi kit of the year, the products keep on coming. In the First Tests section of the 2019 Awards issue, we also review the Naim Mu-so Qb 2nd Generation wireless speaker. Almost identical to its predecessor, this revised version brings some exceptional sonic upgrades.
We review Apple's most powerful iPhone ever, the iPhone 11 Pro. This is a smartphone with an exceptional camera, a superb screen and great sound, but is it worth the hefty price tag?
Also on review is a pair of speakers, in the shape of the Revel Performa M126Bes, and the Samsung UE43RU7470 television. Now considered a 'smaller' TV, this 43in screen features 4K, HDR and, more importantly, a reasonable price tag.
There are reviews of two streamers, the Marantz PM7000N network streamer and the NAD C 658 music streamer, the Epson EH-TW9400 projector and the Dali Katch soundbar, while we complete our First Tests line-up with Klipsch T5 True Wireless headphones – which we describe as producing “a flab-free, heavyweight performance”.
And there's more...
Read our feature on the Wharfedale Pacific Pi-40 speakers from the turn of the century. With Wharfedale once again attempting to break into the high-end speaker market with the Award-winning Evo 4.4s, could it be a case of history repeating itself?
Plus: Don’t miss our special offer – a free Juice Power Station (worth £30) – when you subscribe to What Hi-Fi?
With so many prizes handed out to such great hi-fi kit, the Awards 2019 issue is not to be missed. So grab a copy of What Hi-Fi? from your local newsagents today. Or simply download it onto your tablet or smartphone. Enjoy!