It’s not often that a genuine, almost shocking, bargain comes along to our test rooms at What Hi-Fi? We test plenty of products, naturally, that offer excellent value for money – we are in the business of sniffing them out for you, after all. TCL’s 65in mini-LED television, though, had us double and triple checking things.
Suffice to say, if you are in the market for a large-screen TV, but don’t fancy splashing two grand on one, you should take a look at what the TCL has to offer in our budget 65in TV round-up this month. Also in this AV focused issue of What Hi-Fi? we present our favourite OLED TVs at a variety of sizes, some fine budget soundbars, and a quartet of terrific AV amps under £2000 that can provide absolutely stunning sound to massively enhance your movie and TV watching enjoyment.
This issue is by no means all about AV. In our First Tests section, we give our definitive verdict on two outstanding new pairs of Bowers & Wilkins standmount speakers, a wonderful radio system from Ruark – and plenty more besides.
Affordable cinematic experience
Time was, a 65-inch television would have not only seemed huge, but prohibitively expensive to boot. But this has become an increasingly common size many TV buyers opt for, for good reason. Those 65 inches hit a nice, sweet spot where the TV set is large enough to offer a wonderfully immersive, big-screen experience, but just about small enough to sit in most regular-sized living rooms without completely dominating.
Prices for this size of TV have tumbled considerably over the years, meaning you don’t necessarily need to spend multiple thousands of your hard-earned pounds to get one anymore. But of course, not all TVs are created the same – and among the reasonably priced 65-inch sets available now there can be massive differences in max brightness levels, high dynamic range (HDR) performance, colour accuracy and sound quality – and let’s not even get into all the different TV technologies that can make choosing an affordable cinematic TV a bit of a minefield.
As always though, we’re here to help. In December's What Hi-Fi? we’ve chosen a trio of our current favourite 65-inch sets – those we feel give the best performance-per-pound value and have the best processing, panels and feature-sets for under £1500.
All of these models have been tested by our experts in our dedicated viewing rooms, so you can be in no doubt that, whichever one you opt for, you’re getting a lot of TV for your money – both in size and amazing performance.
A home cinema system is within reach
Let’s be clear about this; if you want to enjoy movies at home in the best way possible there is no substitute for a proper home cinema system.
Central to every such system is its AV amplifier. These marvels of technological wizardry not only provide the muscle required to deliver cinema-like sound, they also carry the necessary audio – and video – processing ability to refine that muscle. So, in conjunction with the speakers positioned around your room, they can recreate the fully immersive sonic experience you would get at a quality cinema.
Typically, the more expensive the amp the more power it will be able to deliver through a greater number of channels, and the greater subtlety will be available through each of those channels.
These machines recognise a myriad audio formats too – even at the affordable end of the market. And if your budget precludes actual Dolby Atmos speakers, they can effectively simulate the height effect that such speakers would provide.
To help you choose the AV amp that’s right for you, we have picked out four of our favourite models – only in this month's What Hi-Fi?
Why go open-back
"Why open-back headphones are the only kind for me" – What Hi-Fi?’s managing editor Becky Roberts explains the sonic benefits of an open-back design – and wonders if they might be best for you too…
First with reviews
As always in our First Tests section, you'll find our famously in-depth, impartial and expert reviews of the very latest AV and hi-fi kit.
This month we have not one but two pairs of speakers from lauded British hi-fi stars Bowers & Wilkins. First up are the B&W 607 S3 standmounters. We found they "delivered a satisfying sense of power and punch where needed, with an eagerness that is immensely likeable".
Then we have the Bowers & Wilkins 606 S3 – a step up from the 607 S3, but no less impressive. Find out how both pairs fared in our test rooms this issue. We also got our hands on the Technics SU-GX70 one-box streaming system, the Ruark M2 Mk4 radio, Sonos' latest speaker the Move 2, Samsung's Galaxy Tab S9 Ultra and last but not least Q Acoustics' 5040 floorstanding speakers.
Find out what our review team thought of all these products in December's What Hi-Fi?
High-end hi-fi heaven
Our Temptations section of the magazine is where we feature the latest high-end products, and this month is no exception.
Moon's latest integrated amplifier delivers a bold statement of intent, firmly pushing its focus upmarket. That means that the Moon 641 carries a price tag almost as high as the Moon; but with its high standards of build and sound quality, it's worth every penny. "This Moon merges finesse and force better than any rival we have heard at this level," raved our review team. Find out more this month!
Fyne Audio's Vintage Classic X, meanwhile, are gorgeous floorstanders with a retro-modern appeal, and as our reviewers found, are true five-star performers, stating: "Vocals come through with clarity and passion while the instrumental backdrop is immaculately organised." Find out more in this month's What Hi-Fi?
Expensive, yes, but you know you want them!
Finally, don't forget to check out our Buyer’s Guide, featuring a definitive list of all the best home entertainment kit you can buy – including winners of 2022's What Hi-Fi? Awards. If you’re looking to purchase anything from a pair of wireless headphones to a home cinema speaker system, this section will tell you where to spend your money wisely.
Whatever you do, don't miss the December 2023 issue of What Hi-Fi?. Grab a copy today, or simply download it onto your tablet or smartphone. Enjoy!