Despite investing only in five-star hi-fi components as featured in this publication (well done on that, by the way) do you ever wonder whether the prized product you've just bought will partner up perfectly with what you already own?
Fret not. The latest issue of What Hi-Fi? – on newsstands today – is all about compatibility. We've removed the guesswork to make tinkering with your system both a joy and a pleasure, all achieved while perusing the best analogue and digital combinations currently on the market.
But before we go any further, there's a stonking subscription offer going live right now. This promo deal (opens in new tab) gives you a year's worth of What Hi-Fi? (that's 13 print issues, including the coveted What Hi-Fi? Awards edition) plus a free Native Union Eclipse three-way USB charger (worth £65!) all for just £47.
To save you the work, allow us: it's a total saving of £82 on the magazine newsstand and charger retail price. And you don't need mathematics to work out that it's also a top gift to give yourself or someone you love.
And Sonos built the Arc
Our in-depth First Tests section this month offers a first look at no fewer than seven hi-fi, personal listening or home cinema products – and when we say first look, we mean a thorough test over a number of days, including a no holds barred review and carefully compiled star ratings.
This month, we'll kick off with the Sonos Arc – "a soundbar of rare quality" – as well as Technics' first shot at true wireless earbuds, an iconic-looking Marshall speaker with Alexa voice control, a DAC you could mistake for an iOS Lightning-port dongle and a beautiful pair of premium ebony hardwood cans from Audio-Technica.
We also have two 4K TVs for your perusal: a Samsung 55in 4K QLED and a superb 4K Sony 49-incher.
To read a What Hi-Fi? review is to understand a product inside and out. We'll explain the technical terms, debunk any jargon, and we don't shy away from giving you the honest truth about a product. Want to know if a piece of kit should be in your home (or around your neck, or in your ears)? Read our new issue.
System got it down
We'll get straight to it: 46 components, 13 systems expertly put together by your What Hi-Fi? team, 28 pages of detailed images and explanatory information to make your chosen set-up sing. And it's all designed to cater for a wide range of budgets and listening tastes.
For example: you'll find a duo of TV set-ups – one based around a soundbar, the other a fully-fledged home cinema system – and of course, with vinyl's continued resurgence, most of our compositions feature a turntable. That said, it doesn't matter if you're a digital devotee or an analogue-only household, there's a system here for you, with both CD and streaming options covered.
Whether the budget you've set aside for a hi-res portable system stretches to £1000 or you're looking to invest up to £35,000 in a complete home set-up, we'll bring you the best sound-per-pound compatible products.
Buying an entire set-up for a loved one who's just getting into vinyl is now like looking to upgrade one of the separates you've been enjoying for years: you just have to let What Hi-Fi?'s systems special be your guide.
The atmosphere defines the environment of sound
It isn't all in-depth reviews and superb system partnerships, of course. This month, our editor-in-chief, Joe Cox, gets a few things off his chest about Dolby Atmos.
We have championed the wonderful, immersive experience that is Dolby Atmos technology from its very beginning, but is the current trend towards Atmos-badged soundbars, TVs, smartphones and tablets too much of a good thing?
Plastering the Dolby Atmos name on all manner of diminutive, often handheld, products devoid of the components to deliver it effectively can only lower the benchmark for quality sound. So why water it down?
And while we humbly offer our opinions, we always seek out the thoughts of others too. Also featured in our Insider section this month, KEF's head of acoustics, Jack Oclee-Brown tells us about his early hi-fi tinkering days, his mum's singing and his current inimitable flair for drive unit engineering.
Passion drives. (Reason holds the reins)
No issue of What Hi-Fi? would be complete without our Temptations section, where we review the ultimate best in high-end hi-fi. This month is a little special, as we detail the Ayre Acoustics KX-R Twenty and VX-R Twenty – a pre/power amplifier that'll set you back over £50K. And it's not just the sleek exterior we're showcasing either; buy the new issue of What Hi-Fi? and you'll get to see the sonic brilliance that sets it apart from the inside out.
Also in our Temptations section this month is a pair of Grado open-backed headphones that use Cocobolo for the driver housings – a tropical hardwood thought to work well with the company's carefully tuned in-house 50mm drivers. If you've got a dedicated listening room and a fair chunk of disposable income – or even if you haven't but you just love reading about high end kit – you should spend some time over this review.
Revenge of the Nerds/Real Genius
Okay, so those two classic 1980s flicks aren't in this list. But there are some belters here. Lockdown measures are beginning to ease, but with cinemas and theatres still dark, there's still time to go back and revisit the classics – and we'll wager there are several in this list you've never actually seen. We believe that should change.
Plus, we've also updated and included our definitive guide to the best home entertainment your money can buy, our extensive and unparalleled Buyer's Guide.
Stay safe, and happy reading.