Having been the main source of recorded music for a century or so, the vinyl disc became a bit of a niche product in the final fifth of the 20th century; niche, but ever present.
And, as regular readers of this magazine, and any other fans of music and its reproduction in the home, are only too well aware, that ‘niche’ product has made a resurgence. The turntable is now becoming, if not mainstream, at least relatively common.
Three cheers to that, we say. As well as offering a tone and sound that many prefer above all others, the turntable brings both ritual and a respite from the fast-paced worries of a troubled world.
And it’s never too late to see what the fuss is about. In this issue, we take a look at the more affordable end of the market, for those looking to dip their toe into the world of the vinyl disc. We have roundups of our favourite decks under £500 and a superb quartet from £500-£1000. We also do our best to unravel the mysteries of the cartridge as well as bring some tips and tricks on getting the best from your set-up.
And, as usual, we also have reviews of the very latest hi-fi and AV products in our First Tests section.
Top turntables under £1k
Joining the vinyl revival needn’t cost the earth. Our pick of the best turntables under £500 are guaranteed to have you playing record after record and delighting in the experience and warmth that vinyl replay can provide.
At this price point you’ll certainly find some excellent choices from the likes of Audio-Technica, Dual, Rega and more.
Yes, you can spend less on a first turntable; there are plenty of budget turntables knocking about, aimed more at absolute vinyl beginners. But the What Hi-Fi? approved turntables we’ve rounded up here will, quite simply, sound much better – and will serve you and your vinyl faithfully for years to come.
Whether this is to be your first experience of vinyl, or you just want to keep some budget aside for building your record collection, sit back, relax and let us guide you to a great record player that will let you play your precious vinyl at the very highest quality possible at this level.
We also, if your budget allows, present our pick of £500-£1000 turntables that will delight in playing your records. Either way, if you're after the best turntable at the money, you're sure to find a winner in our double-header of turntable round-ups this issue.
Make the most of your vinyl replay
To carry on the theme of vinyl replay this issue, we give you the low-down on everything vinyl-related, from changing a turntable's cartridge (including the difference between moving magnet and moving coil types) to how to get the best sound from your turntable, how to add a deck to a Sonos system and more. If you're a vinyl fan, in August's What Hi-Fi? we've got you covered.
Fifty years young
A good number of legendary hi-fi manufacturers are celebrating their 50th anniversary this year, while more still are there or thereabouts in their maturity. So what was so special about the 1970s that it birthed so many great companies and products? This month, we look at just why the Seventies was a golden era for hi-fi.
The best vinyl records to test your turntable
If you want to know just how good your turntable can sound, may we point you in the direction of some of our favourite test albums that really shine on vinyl. Any one of the LPs we recommend here would put your vinyl system through its paces – so sit back in your favourite listening spot and give these great discs a spin.
First with reviews
Our First Tests section is where you'll find our famously in-depth, impartial and expert reviews of the very latest AV and hi-fi kit.
This month we begin another packed reviews section with a First Test of KEF's five-star R3 Meta standmounters. As with all recent KEF products, these speakers make use of the company's ingenious Metamaterial Absorption Technology (MAT) – and the results speak for themselves.
Then we check out the third generation of Amazon's Fire TV Cube – how does this latest streamer fare in our testing? Find out in August's What Hi-Fi? We also had JBL's Tour Pro 2 earbuds, LG's C3 TV, Revo's SuperConnect Stereo radio, Audiolab's 9000A amplifier, Samsung's QE65S95C television and the Amazon Echo Dot (5th gen) speaker pass through our metaphorical laboratories. Our expert reviewers, or 'boffins' as we never call them, put them to rigorous testing as always.
Find out what we thought of all these products in the August 2023 issue of What Hi-Fi?
If we were rich...
The Temptations section of What Hi-Fi? is where you'll find the very best high-end hi-fi and AV products.
It's always a pleasure to test a new product from revered hi-fi brand Naim, even if, as in the case of the NSC222 streaming amplifier, they're on the pricier side of things. But does this latest product live up to the Naim, um, name? Just one of the things our reviewers noted was that “There is greater punch to transients than rivals deliver, so the NSC 222 is impressively accomplished at revealing the excitement and drama of music”. So, yes, in other words.
Another product with lofty aims and a price tag to match is Lavardin's ITx amp – the latest model from the French manufacturer, and one that trades off past glories. Does the 'x' version of the brand's 1990s IT amp deliver this time around? Find out in August's What Hi-Fi?
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 August 2023 issue of What Hi-Fi?. Grab a copy today, or simply download it onto your tablet or smartphone. Enjoy!