Best of the Week: Black Friday deals, Amazon and Sony smart speakers tested

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This week, Denon and Marantz's AV receivers became the first to support DTS Virtual:X technology, Warner Bros announced a collection of Christopher Nolan films in 4K and the entirety of ECM Record's library has been made available on the major streaming services.

For reviews, we have Chord's Blu MkII CD transport, Amazon's Echo Plus smart speaker and Sony's SF-LS50G smart speaker.

MORE: Best Black Friday deals 2017

MORE: Great savings on a Christmas gift subscription to What Hi-Fi?

News

Select Denon and Marantz AV receivers first to support DTS Virtual:X technology

DTS's virtually surround sound technology is set to be integrated into home cinema amplifiers for the first time.

DTS Virtual:X is a way of getting three-dimensional sound without extra speakers, by creating the effect of 7.1.4 surround through a 5.1 or stereo channel set-up.

A number of Denon and Marantz's AV receivers are set to be the first amps to include it, with the rollout set to start now and continue until Spring 2018.

MORE: Select Denon and Marantz AV receivers first to support DTS Virtual:X technology

Seven Christopher Nolan films heading to 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray

Christopher Nolan's films are set to make the jump from HD into 4K, with Warner Bros's announcement of several films hitting the format later this year.

Titles include The Dark Knight Trilogy, The Prestige, Inception, Interstellar and Dunkirk (which had already been announced on the format).

These films will take advantage of HDR and Wide Colour Gamut (WCG), though expect them to carry over the theatrical 5.1 and 7.1 audio mixes.

MORE: Seven Christopher Nolan films heading to 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray

Entire ECM Records catalogue arrives on streaming services

The entirety of ECM's (Edition of Contemporary Music) library has been made available to subscribers of the major streaming services.

The library includes artists such as Keith Jarret, Avro Part and Meredith Monk. The reason behind ECM's decision was down to the unauthorised sharing of its artists' recordings via video-sharing and piracy sites.

Users of Tidal, Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music Unlimited, Deezer and Qobuz should be able to access this treasure trove of music right now.

MORE: Entire ECM Records catalogue arrives on streaming services

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Google Home speakers get price cut for Black Friday

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Review

"The Chord Blu MkII delivers the most informative and enjoyable sound we’ve heard from the CD format"

"The Chord Blu MkII delivers the most informative and enjoyable sound we’ve heard from the CD format"

Chord Blu MkII

Chord's Blu MkII is not just one of the finest, but the finest CD transport we've heard.

It delivers the most informative and enjoyable sound we've heard from from the CD format, with exceptional insight and dynamics.

Pair it with Chord's own DAVE DAC and we doubt you'll hear a finer combination.

Read the full Chord Blu MkII review

"There's no doubt the Echo Plus is certainly the best sounding Amazon Echo yet"

"There's no doubt the Echo Plus is certainly the best sounding Amazon Echo yet"

Amazon Echo Plus

Not to be confused with the Echo 2, the Echo Plus is the most feature-laden of Amazon's smart speakers.

But we're more interested in its sound – and while it has a clear midrange and smooth treble, it won't beat other similarly-priced dedicated speakers.

As a smart hub it's fantastic, as a wireless speaker it's merely a good one.

Read the full Amazon Echo Plus review

"It sounds better than the Amazon Echo (£70) and Google Home, but it doesn’t come close to matching the Sonos One"

"It sounds better than the Amazon Echo (£70) and Google Home, but it doesn’t come close to matching the Sonos One"

Sony LF-S50G

Sony's LF-S50G is a smart speaker that comes with the promise of high-quality audio.

However, it lacks in confidence and features some unwelcome sibilance at volume.

As a smart speaker, the integration of Google Assistant is welcome, but the speaker's sound makes for a tiring experience.

Read the full Sony LF-S50G review

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