I’ve built a brilliant desktop hi-fi system from the best Black Friday audio deals

black friday
(Image credit: Future)

I’ve been scouring the Black Friday deals with one mission. To try and piece together a five-star hi-fi system using products that have seen a price drop during the sales. And, you know what? I think I’ve managed it!

Now I could have tried to go all out and build a system full of separates. After all we’ve seen a fair few tempting hi-fi deals, from £300 off the Award-winning KEF LS50 Meta (plus £190 worth of free accessories!) to £450 off the Marantz PM7000N streaming amp but I’ve tried to keep things simple and affordable, by putting together a set-up that doesn’t take up a lot of space and won’t break the bank. It will, however, sound sensational. “Tell us more” I hear you shout. Ok, if you insist...

With more of us working from home than ever before, I thought a desktop system might be the order of the day and my first component is a firm What Hi-Fi? favourite. The Grado SR80x headphones look a little retro, but these wired on-ears are sensational performers. They’re not designed to be portable - you’ll want a pair of wireless headphones for that job - but they are designed with top sound quality at their heart.

The Grados are an open-back design and do leak sound, but using them at home in a second room shouldn’t cause any ructions. Plugged in, they produce a wonderfully open and dynamic sound that really entertains and they also come with a 3.5mm headphone connector which makes them a great fit for my next recommendation and the other half of this hi-fi system...

Grado SR80x was £129

Grado SR80x was £129 now £99 at Amazon and Richer Sounds (save £30)
These dynamically fluid open-backed headphones are best suited for quiet environments. At this money, the SR80x remains the finest model in their class. A genuine Black Friday deal for the audio lover (read our review here). Five stars 

AudioQuest DragonFly Black  was £99

AudioQuest DragonFly Black was £99 now £79 at Sevenoaks (save £20)
Better sound doesn't come smaller or cheaper than this. We love the way the logo lights up with different colours to show sample rate - a trait found on all DragonFly DACs. Use it instead of the headphone output on your computer for an immediate musical boost. Now at lowest-ever price of £79 (read our review here). Five stars

Which is the Audioquest DragonFly Black USB DAC/headphone amplifier. That’s right, I’m killing two birds with one audio device. And what an audio device it is! Ever since arriving on the scene back in 2012(!) the original DragonFly has carved out a niche as being a great option for anyone wanting to create a computer- or laptop-based desktop system and who wants to improve the audio options at their disposal. Sure, you could plug the Grados straight into a headphone socket, but trust us, your music is going to sound better coming out via the DragonFly Black.

The USB stick design means it’s easy to store away when not in use and just plug into your computer when you want to embark on a listening session. It plays high-res audio up to 24-bit/96kHz natively – anything higher is downsampled, but for the money, I really don't think this is the end of the world.

Now there are three variations of DragonFly available, (Black, Red and Cobalt) all of which are available with a Black Friday discount. The Grados are the perfect partners for the entry-level Black model – Red and Cobalt we’d reserve for more expensive pairs of headphones.

What we have here is a brilliantly minimalistic set-up, but one that also sounds stunning and at this sort of money is truly difficult to fault. A great excuse to invest in the Black Friday sales!

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Andy Madden

Andy is Deputy Editor of What Hi-Fi? and a consumer electronics journalist with nearly 20 years of experience writing news, reviews and features. Over the years he's also contributed to a number of other outlets, including The Sunday Times, the BBC, Stuff, and BA High Life Magazine. Premium wireless earbuds are his passion but he's also keen on car tech and in-car audio systems and can often be found cruising the countryside testing the latest set-ups. In his spare time Andy is a keen golfer and gamer.