This month's standmounters Group Test is incredibly tight – one of the tightest we can remember, in fact. It shows that the contest for supremacy at the lofty heights of £2500-plus is fierce indeed when it comes to speakers. That’s a lot of money, of course – but when you appreciate these wonderful speakers will serve you brilliantly for many, many years, the investment is surely worth considering.
If you would rather your loudspeakers stand on their own, without the need for any support, we also have a round-up of our favourite premium floorstanding speakers; some astonishing performers there as well.
And, while we are on the subject of superb sound, it remains the case that wired headphones will always best their equivalently priced wireless siblings – and so we also have a round-up of the best wired headphones this issue too.
And, as usual, we also have reviews of the very latest hi-fi and AV products in our First Tests section.
Loud and standing proud
As the crucial final stage of an important sound journey from your source to your ears, your speakers' role is make or break. And if the highest audio quality is important to you, you should look to the level of standmounted speakers we have on test here. We wanted to see how four of our favourite pairs of two-way premium standmounters would fare against each other – and it wasn’t an easy job to set ourselves. All of these speakers are extremely talented and all have something different to bring to your system, in terms of design, engineering and sonic character. These speakers are at the pricier end of the market (£2000 and above), but at this level, you can certainly expect a high quality return for your investment.
Truthfully the quality here is extremely high, making the competition as close-run as we’ve seen in any What Hi-Fi? group test. Find out just how close in this month's magazine.
Down to the wire
Pound for pound, you will almost always enjoy better sound quality from a pair of wired headphones than from the ubiquitous wireless variety. In some cases you will even need to pay twice as much for your cable-free cans to get sonic equivalence. In a world where perceived convenience often holds sway over outright quality, that often gets overlooked; but for those of us who care about music as food for the soul rather than just a pleasant distraction, it is of critical importance.
In this month's What Hi-Fi? we round up our favourite, quality affordable wired headphones, ranging from AKG’s remarkable K92 at just £49 to the excellent Meze Audi 99 Classics.
In April's What Hi-Fi? we discover the secret behind the AirPod Pro 2's audio success, thanks to an enlightening chat with Esge Andersen from Apple’s acoustics team. Find out just what makes the Pro 2 sound so good, only in this month's mag!
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 welcome back the HomePod, and the second generation of Apple's smart speaker sounds better than ever – find out more in this month's mag!
Another wireless speaker sequel, Tribit's Stormbox Micro 2, is also reviewed this issue, as is Rega's Elex Mk4 integrated amplifier, which we found puts in "a revealing and accomplished performance".
The superb Philips 65OLED937 was next on our test benches, and our reviewers proclaimed this set to be no less than "one of the most all-round spectacular TVs ever made".
In this issue, we also test new headphones from Final, the UX3000, as well as Samsung's 43-inch BU8000, Fyne Audio's F8SP AV speaker package, and Atacama's Nexxus 600 Essential speaker stands.
Find out what we thought of all these products in the April 2023 issue of What Hi-Fi?
The best (lots of) money can buy
Our Temptations section of What Hi-Fi? is where you'll find high-end hi-fi and AV products with a price-tag to match.
Epos' 1980s ES14 standmounter delivered exceptional sound quality thanks to a raft of clever engineering solutions – and here we have an impressive update in the form of the ES14N. The Epos ES14N standmount speakers don't come cheap, but they are beautifully balanced and insightful, delivering an all-round performance that we haven’t heard bettered at the money.
We also take a look at the NW-WM1ZM2, Sony's latest and priciest personal music player. For the kind of money you're looking at here, you'd want this latest Walkman to come in gold. Oh, wait, it does!
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 April 2023 issue of What Hi-Fi?. Grab a copy today, or simply download it onto your tablet or smartphone. Enjoy!