New issue of What Hi-Fi? out now: amazing amplifiers for hi-fi and home cinema

April 2024 What Hi-Fi? out now
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We have a power-packed issue this month, with a round-up of our favourite stereo amplifiers below £700 – perfect for that system upgrade you had always promised yourself. There is also a plea to the industry from our technical editor to bring back the entry-level amplifier; it’s a breed that seems to have pretty much disappeared in the past couple of decades.

We juxtapose the step-up two-channel amps with some absolute powerhouse (and extremely premium) home cinema amplifiers to show you just what might be possible with a high-end cinema set-up in your own home. An audition with these behemoths is a real experience – and there are two products brand new to our test rooms to showcase.

Also in this issue we have our usual packed First Tests section, where the latest of KEF’s impressive line of speaker systems brings the range well below the £1000 mark.

You can subscribe or buy the latest issue here, or buy the digital edition on iPhone, iPadAndroid devices or Kindle edition.

Power to the people

April 2024 What Hi-Fi? out now

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As the power generator at the heart of any system of hi-fi separates, the amplifier plays a key role in determining the quality and character of that system’s overall sound. So when it comes to buying one, it’s important to make an informed choice.

The good news is that there are plenty of models to choose from. Some, of course, are better than others, and so this issue we have curated a shortlist of star performers within a popular price bracket to help you find the amp that’s right for you.

Our focus here is on affordable integrated amplifiers, ranging from £350 to £700 and in which the preamplifier and main power amp are combined into a single unit.

The seven models featured this month are all What Hi-Fi? five-star products, so quality is assured.

The best for big cinematic sound

April 2024 What Hi-Fi? out now

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When it comes to enjoying films at their best in your home, there are two essential ingredients. Number one: a big screen; number two: big sound. 

In our view, impressive sound is at least as important as a big picture if you are to get the best out of your domestic movie-viewing. And the only way to achieve it is to invest in the best AV amplifier you can afford. If you are lucky, you will be able to afford one of the four terrific machines we look at in this month's What Hi-Fi?

These devices sit at the pinnacle of the mainstream AV market and are as fully equipped as the most discerning home cinema devotee could want. 

More than anything, these amplifiers are powerful and can comfortably provide the scale of sound needed to fill the largest listening rooms without making compromises. Add in superior levels of detail, spaciousness and multi-directional integration and – with a similarly talented speaker package installed – you might as well be in your local multiplex. But with your slippers on.

Battle of the noise-cancellers

April 2024 What Hi-Fi? out now

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Bose invented noise-cancelling headphones, so a new pair from the US brand is always big news. Especially when they’re as well specced as the new flagship QuietComfort Ultra Headphones – they pack Bose’s take on spatial audio, as well as upgraded noise cancelling tech.

But how do they fare against some of our favourite ANC headphones ever, the Sony WH-1000XM5? This month we put both pairs of over-ear noise-cancelling headphones head-to-head, to find out which cans are best.

Find out which we rate as the best noise-cancelling headphones in this month's What Hi-Fi?

Streamer versus streamer

April 2024 What Hi-Fi? out now

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Music streamers are ideal for anyone who wants to improve their digital music and streaming set-up’s capabilities from one talented box. They offer wireless playback to your hi-fi, with a bucketload of streaming methods and supported music apps thrown in, bringing the convenience of music streaming into your set-up without sacrificing audio fidelity.

The Bluesound Node (2021) and Cambridge Audio MXN10 are two affordable music streamers designed to offer value for money to consumers who want to add network streaming to their hi-fi. They may be at the budget end of the market, but that doesn’t mean they have skimped on features: these streamers have a plethora of playback options – both when it comes to streaming services and physical connections – plus support for a wide variety of hi-res file formats.

So which of these Award-winning streamers comes out top in our comparative testing? Find out in this month's mag!

First with reviews

April 2024 What Hi-Fi? out now

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This month, as always, our First Tests section is packed with in-depth, impartial and expert verdicts on the very latest hi-fi and AV gear. 

Kicking off with the KEF LSX II LT, we find a pair of five-star powered speakers that take the best of the LSX II and bring the price down to a nicely affordable level in a 'lite' version. They are still excellent despite KEF making a couple of cost-cutting measures; crucially their sound is still a cut above.

Moving on to the world of home cinema, we have a couple of projectors on test this month. First up it's an ultra short throw model from new brand AWOL Vision, the LTV-3500 Pro. This premium UST laser model makes 100-inch TVs feel puny, and could well be the perfect substitute for such cinematic-sized TVs in your home. Next we have the Epson EH-LS650, another UST projector that, at its affordable price for its talents, will also do great service in your home cinema.

Also this month we test a brace of in-ear headphone models, the Denon PerL Pro and Philips Fidelio T2, plus a new soundbar from Bose, the Smart Ultra Soundbar. But we're not done there. In a packed reviews section, we also have in-depth expert reviews of the Rega Fono Mini A2D Mk2 phono stage, the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra smartphone and the Technics SL-1200GR2 turntable. If it's trusted new product reviews, where else would you go?

Find out what our review team thought of all these products in April's What Hi-Fi?

Pricey, premium and presented for your pleasure

April 2024 What Hi-Fi? out now

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Our Temptations section of the magazine is all about the best. And, sometimes, the best doesn't come cheap.

High-end hi-fi brand Moon has long mastered the art of making its products look expensive, and the 681 oozes luxury in a way few rivals can match. Of course, it is expensive, but this music streamer's sound is up there with the best, too. Our expert review team found that the Moon 681 "has an impressively clean presentation that digs deep into the fabric of the recording and paints on a pleasingly large-scale canvas”.

Also this month we take a good look at Tannoy's Stirling III LZ Special Edition floorstanding speakers. They certainly look the part, but do they match up to Tannoy's previous premium loudspeakers? Find out in this month's What Hi-Fi?

April 2024 What Hi-Fi? out now

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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 2023'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 April 2024 issue of What Hi-Fi?. Grab a copy today, or simply download it onto your tablet or smartphone. Enjoy!

You can subscribe or buy the latest issue here, or buy the digital edition on iPhone, iPadAndroid devices or Kindle edition

What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi?, founded in 1976, is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home entertainment products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the very best for your money, with our advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies. Everything is tested by our dedicated team of in-house reviewers in our custom-built test rooms in London, Reading and Bath. Our coveted five-star rating and Awards are recognised all over the world as the ultimate seal of approval, so you can buy with absolute confidence.

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