New issue of What Hi-Fi? out now: superb sounding speakers for smaller spaces

What Hi-Fi? June 2024
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For the most part with stereo loudspeakers, a bigger cabinet will be able to provide more in the way of bass output, that's simple physics after all. 

Big, booming bass, however, isn’t the be-all and end-all when it comes to music reproduction. And we can’t all accommodate a massive pair of boxes in our homes (even if we wanted to). Which is where the stars of this month’s What Hi-Fi? come in. We have a compact speaker round-up that brings you the best bijou boxes out there to make your music as revealing, compelling and downright entertaining as it can be.

Also in this issue, we have a look at what is available as far as 43-inch TVs are concerned. And here the outlook isn’t quite as rosy, compared with the speakers above. There are bargains to be had, it’s true – but there are also sets best avoided…

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

Smaller can be better

What Hi-Fi? June 2024

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Good things come in small packages, we are told, and when it comes to stereo speakers, that’s true. Or, at least, it can be. Yes, there is no substitute for a large cabinet if you want a sound with real scale and the deepest bass, but today’s speaker technology is so good that even the smallest speakers can deliver an authoritative and dynamic sound with convincing bass – especially in smaller rooms. That is good news indeed because many music lovers simply don’t have the space for big speakers.

If you are after a smaller speaker you do, though, need to choose carefully. To help you do so we have compiled this round-up of eight little wonders whose performance belies their dimensions. Four of them are passive, which means they form the last link in a chain that also includes a source and an external amplifier. The other four are powered models. These contain their own amplification, so all you need to do is add your source. In some cases, these powered speakers also include network streaming smarts, making them all-in-one systems – the ultimate space-saving devices.

With prices running from £349 for the Ruark MR1 desktop speakers (18cm high) to £1995 for the Neat Petite Classic (30cm high) there is a little something here for every budget.

Premium soundbars

What Hi-Fi? June 2024

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Last month we turned our spotlight on the top budget ’bars – those sonic boosters that lift your TV’s sound from something that is as flat as the screen that produced it into the realms of three-dimensionality, clarity and substance.

This month, we move up a notch to consider more premium soundbars – more specifically those costing between £500 and £1000. For this kind of money you can expect a significant step up in sound quality; better detail, greater scale and a more finessed approach to dynamics being the most obvious markers. All of which can make the difference between your TV and movies being merely enjoyable and becoming truly immersive.

As well as better sound, you will also find more features in this price bracket. All of the products here, for example, can process Dolby Atmos signals in one form or another (sometimes several forms) and offer wider connectivity than their more affordable cousins. One even comes with a separate subwoofer.

So, whether you are stepping into soundbar territory for the first time or looking to upgrade, we invite you to peruse our pick of the step-up models.

System of the Month

What Hi-Fi? June 2024

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We often base our systems on the source we want to use, and add appropriate equipment from there. This month, though, we are looking at things from the other end of the sonic production line, and using the speakers as our kick-off point.

What if, for example, your listening environment is on the smaller side, and you simply cannot accommodate, or have no desire to have your room dominated by, large speakers? Your best option may be to go for some smaller speakers that outperform the promise of their dimensions.

And so, following the theme of this month's magazine – compact speakers – we've take the Neat Petite Classic as a starting point and added price-appropriate components that will make the best of those smallers speakers' talents. These are all top-notch products, and if you're looking for a compact yet superb set-up, our suggested hi-fi system should be just the thing.

Bargain 43-inch TVs

What Hi-Fi? June 2024

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Back in the day, if you were watching a 43-inch television at home, the resulting sense of total immersion would have made you feel as though you were sitting in the front stalls of a giant West-End cinema. These days, though, a 43-inch screen is considered small, and manufacturers have largely turned their attention – and their resources – to the bigger sets.

That’s good news for anyone looking to buy a smaller screen, as prices have fallen to such an extent that bargains are emerging all over the place, and some brands are virtually giving away their smaller TVs. What’s more, many of these modestly sized tellies are almost as well featured as their bigger brothers, carrying much of the same picture-processing wizardry and streaming smarts.

Just before you do splash your cash, though, we feel duty-bound to add that, at this price level, picture quality cannot compete with that of the larger, more sophisticated screens. Nor can you always expect much in terms of sound – although, as we shall see, some models fare notably better than others on that score. Nevertheless, if you have an eye for a bargain and all you need is a decent small telly with wide content access, there is gold to be struck. And each of the three models featured here glitters in one way or another.

First with reviews

What Hi-Fi? June 2024

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

We begin with Cambridge Audio's CXN100 music streamer. A new hi-fi product from Cambridge is always an enticing prospect, and when the company's latest offering is intended to supplant an Award-winning piece of kit, our attention is truly grabbed. The CXN100 replaces the excellent CXN (V2), which had the distinction of being the first network audio streamer to enter our illustrious Hall of Fame. Can the CXN100 reach such lofty heights? Find out in this month's mag!

Also in this month's First Tests, our expert team of reviewers take an in-depth look at a brace of OLED TVs, with LG's C4 and Samsung S95D passing through our testing labs. At the risk of spoilers, both sets are superb. Elsewhere we run the rule over Audio Pro's C20 wireless speaker, the WiiM Amp, Hisense C1 home cinema projector, Nakamichi Dragon soundbar and Audio-Technica ATH-TWX7 in-ears.

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

Can you resist the allure?

What Hi-Fi? June 2024

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

This month we have for your delectation the Naim NSS 333 music streamer. Naim, as you will know, makes some mighty fine products, and this new streamer ticks all the right boxes. Our expert reviewers found that the Naim NSS 333 is "expert at delivering rhythmic drive and communicates the changing momentum in Stravinsky's The Rite Of Spring brilliantly".

Also on test this month we have a high-end pair of open-back headphones from Austrian Audio, called The Composer. "They are impressive," our review confirms, "but not in a flash-bang-wallop kind of way. They are more mature than that."

If both of those products aren't making you lick your lips, you're obviously hard to please. Read more about them in this month's What Hi-Fi?

What Hi-Fi? June 2024

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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 June 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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