To say that the new issue of What Hi-Fi? is chock-full of bargain hi-fi products is like saying 2020 has been an unusual year. Yes, that is true – but there's just so much more that needs to be said.
The headline-grabber this month is our extensive feature on the best kit for under £500 – turntables, amplifiers, TVs (yes, TVs) DACs, Blu-ray players, soundbars, streamers and multi-room listening upgrades. Whether you're just getting into hi-fi (welcome! You're among friends) or you're a seasoned and listener looking to upgrade, this end of the market can feel impenetrably competitive.
But don't worry, if the separate you've had your eye on is featured in our 30-page roundup, it's worthy of your attention. If not, well... just tread with caution.
Before we go any further, there's a superb subscription offer live right now. This promo deal gives you a year's worth of What Hi-Fi? (that's 13 print issues, including the Awards edition) plus a free Native Union Eclipse three-way USB charger (worth £65!) all for just £47.
To save you the sums, allow us: it's a total saving of £82 on the magazine newsstand and charger retail price. And you don't need mathematics to see it's also a top gift for yourself or someone you love.
Working on a dream
This month, our unique Insider section delves into the realisation of an R&D concept project at Rega, "a happy accident" that ended up becoming a £30,000 limited edition reality. The result was the Rega Naiad turntable – and only 30 have been sold to date.
We haven't tested one, not even in our high-end Temptations section, but we know Rega wanted to create the ultimate turntable and, in the pursuit of perfection, the firm threw every rule, regulation and profit-margin book out the window.
Read all about how Rega did it in the new September issue.
Every day we're shufflin'
With new products arriving daily, our First Tests section is crammed with information. So let's kick off with a Sony 55in TV that combines Sony's 2020 picture processing and sound smarts with LG's 2020 OLED panel. It sits below the company's Master Series AG9 OLED, it's competitively priced and there's no other way of saying this: it's splendid.
That's the first of five hot new hi-fi and home theatre separates in this month's First Tests; a section where we give you the unabridged, warts-and-all review. Next up, it's the turn of 1More, the Chinese answer to Beats headphones, and a true wireless offering featuring two levels of active noise cancellation and aptX Bluetooth 5.0.
There's also the suggestively-shaped iFi hip-dac, followed by a new Bluetooth speaker from Scandinavian brand Audio Pro. Lastly, we've been 12 rounds with Shure's inaugural pair of true wireless, noise-cancelling, over-ear headphones.
When it comes to testing, we never scrimp on detail and we're methodical in our approach. Here at What Hi-Fi?, we tell it like it is – and when we say you can trust our in-depth reviews, we mean it.
The contestants have had their golden hours to prepare. Their chocolate and sugar structures are complete, desserts assembled and the judges' flavour profile notes compiled. Yes, it's just like Bake-Off: The Professionals, except each ingredient is, in fact, a sub-£500 product from the realms of hi-fi and home cinema.
We've got our strictest judging hats on and we won't hesitate to knock a point off when necessary – especially at this competitive, sub-£500 level. We'll explain the merits and shortfalls of each product and give you the upgrade options you need.
If you're planning on forking out for some speakers, an amplifier, a turntable, a DAC, a streamer, multi-room hi-fi upgrade, television, Blu-ray player or soundbar, give our extensive special feature a read before you make your decision: we want you to have the best solution for your particular budget.
To everything, turn, turn, turn
Our sub–£500 special this month is a 30-page romp through the best in hi-fi upgrades, and arguably the crowning glory of any set-up is the turntable.
The days when tonearms, cartridges and phono stages had to be separately considered, purchased and matched are (mostly) long gone, and setting up your deck needn't be a hassle. But choosing the record-spinner that fits best with your current kit can be a daunting task, that's why we've assembled this four-way test.
With decks from Rega, Pro-Ject, Audio Technica and Sony, there are no unknown forces here. Prices range from £150 to £400, and there's a lot to get through in terms of features and sonic performance, but we're confident one will make it to your must-have list.
If you don't want temptation to follow you, don't act all interested...
Temptation: pointless running from it, isn't it? The thing to do is to look it square in the eye. We bring you our high-end review Temptations section so you'll know the product, understand it and know if it's worth the eye-watering price tag.
This month, we bring you two products, firstly the Audio Research Reference CD9 SE: a £15k CD player that still needs the full complement of valves to be fitted by its owner before it can be plugged in and enjoyed. But what an enjoyable listen...
Secondly, there's the Kudos Titan 505 standmount speakers, the baby of the company's high-end Titan range, which will set you back a cool £7000 (£7750 with stands). Are they as forthright, dynamic and detailed as we could hope?
Also in this issue, we've included a feature on the 25 greatest civil rights protest songs, we'll explain how to add a streamer to your hi-fi system, and finally, let's not forget our regularly-updated and extensive Buyer's Guide. If you're looking to buy new equipment or add to your existing system, do yourself a favour and consult us first. We care about getting you the right products for your budget.