Our favourite hi-fi and home cinema kit 2008


So we thought it would be fun to ask each member of the editorial team here at What Hi-Fi? Sound and Vision to pick their standout favourites for the year. Here we go:

Clare Newsome, Editor-in-Chief

Yamaha DSP-Z7: You'll be able to read our review of this AV powerhouse in the February issue, on sale January 8th, but for now, take it from me – it's a stormer!

Sooloos: We met the makers of this music server in January and I was hooked by first demo. It took a while for a review sample to arrive, but it was worth the wait for a longer play. Now I just need that lottery win...

Clearaudio Performance:
It may have lost its Award-winning status (and a star rating) thanks to the arrival of its new, Thorens rival, but I still prefer the sound – and looks! – of this glorious turntable, which provides much weekend music joy.

Tioti TV+: This neat £1.79 iTunes Store application turns your Apple iPhone or iPod Touch into a portable, bespoke TV guide – and it'll even let you remote record to your Sky+ box. Really handy when you're out and realise you've forgotten to record something important...

Cyrus CDxtSE/DAC X: The best CD transport around combined with a cracking DAC. I've never heard a better source solution in my system (just don't tell the Clearaudio I said that).

Andy Clough, Editor whathifi.com

Yamaha DSP-863SE: HD audio for silly money, a true AV bargain that delivers exceptional sound. By far the biggest improvement to my home entertainment system this year.

Sony KDL-40Z4500: Sensational with Blu-ray, proof that LCD can produce pictures as good as plasma, and no I don't care about clouding if I'm looking at a blank screen.

iPod Touch: Everything you need in a portable media player bar a phone, and I've already got one of those. Plus the new iTunes Apps store makes it even smarter.

Pure Evoke Flow: Great design, great sound, easy to use. Makes internet radio mainstream.

Logitech Harmony One remote: No need to keep buying more batteries thanks to its recharging dock. It's a doddle to program your own macros via a PC or Mac, and easy to update when you get new kit.

Jonathan Evans, Managing Editor

Cyrus CD6SE: Not very original, I realise, but this player brings high-end sound to a midrange budget.

Chord QBD76 DAC: Yes, I know it's three grand, but the difference this piece of kit made to an already great stereo system's sound is simply astounding

Panasonic PT-AX200E: This is the projector that finally persuaded me that I might be able to afford a truly big-screen setup at home. For £800 it really is a movie/sport/Xbox 360 gaming joy. The kids are sold on it – now I've just got to persuade my wife...

Panasonic TH-42PX80:
I'm a bit obsessed with value for money at the moment, strangely; I also still prefer plasma over LCD. Put those two things together and this is certainly the answer you come up with if you want a top-value 42in flatscreen TV.

The West Wing: the complete Series:
Seven series of some of the best drama ever to grace our screens. For £50? That's a no-brainer – especially as I've got quite a bit of catching up to do.

Or, since it's still the festive season:

Sainsbury's Taste the Difference Mince pies £1.50
The classic two four-star parts making a five-star whole. The synergy of mincemeat and pastry is a true joy.

Simon Lucas, First Tests Editor

Cyrus CD6se: It's genius and I don't care that it's sniffy about the occasional disc.

Yamaha DSP-AX863SE:
I thought it was great at £800, never mind £600 or less.

Denon DVD-2500BT:
Best pictures, easily the best sound on Blu-ray.

Sooloos Music Server: Not cheap. Don't care. Brilliant.

Panasonic TX-32LZD85: Better than the Sony, I tells you, better.

Joe Cox, News Editor

Apple iPhone 3G: It's a phone with an iPod, AND you can get on the interweb.

Sony BDP-S350: Iimpressive Blu-ray performance dips under £200.

Audioengine A2s: Well worth a shout – I've got them at home for one. They sound rather spiffing for just £100, and what with everyone using their PCs for music now...

Cyrus CD players: Say no more.

Tom Parsons, Staff Writer

Pure Evoke Flow:
Internet radio that actually works and is user-friendly. And it'll stream music from your PC. Nice.

New Sonos BU130: Only really an update, but still awesome if you want wireless multiroom music.

Sonos app for iPhone: Better than the company's own controller, and free.

New Pioneer Kuro 50in plasmas: I don't care which one, I want one!

B&W Zeppelin: A seriously sexy iPod dock that sounds good too.

Andy Madden, Staff Writer

Pioneer SC-LX81: Multichannel amplifier with awesome performance and excellent features.

iPod Touch (32GB):
The most desirable MP3 player on the planet.

Van den Hul HDMI Flat: Refreshing alternative to the Chord and QED Award-winners of years gone by – a no-brainer upgrade.

Denon DVD-2500BT:
The first Blu-ray player that truly blew my socks off.

So there you have it. Now you know which kit set our hearts racing, let us know which hi-fi and home cinema kit has really impressed you this year.