One of the most varied and versatile product categories in hi-fi, systems offer the best of convenience, features and sound quality all rolled into one box (or a pair of speakers). It's also a category with three brand new winners from three different hi-fi brands at the What Hi-Fi? 2022 Awards, all in various guises.
The six winners below are a showcase of just how talented and enticing this evolving category has become, as they aim to offer the best of everything with panache: hi-fi sound and extensive specs in a neat, lifestyle design.
We start with an old favourite: the Denon D-M41DAB microsystem holds on to its trophy for the sixth year in a row. It's a simple yet brilliant-sounding system with Bluetooth, DAB/FM radio and a CD player, though no networked streaming smarts. Remaining affordable and easy to recommend year on year, it once more proves that pound-for-pound hi-fi sound doesn't need a stack of separate boxes or a high price tag.
If network streaming is a must and your budget is higher, we would point you to the first of our new winners, the beautiful Technics SA-C600 just-add-speakers streaming system. We've encountered many one-box systems of this type in recent years, but none so musically talented at this relatively affordable price point. It looks lovely, adds a CD player and phono stage alongside its extensive streaming talents, and sounds stunning – expressive, punchy, smooth and refined. Just add a pair of speakers, such as the Wharfedale Diamond 12.3 floorstanders or Dali Oberon 1 standmounts, and you are good to go.
Like the concept of a just-add-speakers streaming system but have a little more cash to splash? Returning once more to the premium winner's table is the veteran Naim Uniti Atom, one of the original systems of its kind. It packs amplification, streaming features and extensive physical connections into a stylish unit that boasts a pleasingly large colour display. It's been an Award winner since 2017, and while there's been no shortage of new competition trying to dethrone the Atom, they haven't had much luck.
The Atom remains an unbeatable performer, combining astonishing insight, textured detail and a superb sense of timing and dynamics to bring music to life. And if you were wondering, the Triangle Borea BR08 floorstanders and KEF LS50 Meta standmounts are two examples of excellent speaker pairings for the Naim.
French speakers brand Triangle offers a new budget winner in the all-in-one speaker systems category currently dominated by KEF. The Triangle AIO Twin is essentially a pair of compact bookshelf speakers that house amplification, wi-fi and streaming smarts. There's no need for extra boxes if you are happy to solely stream to your heart's content, though it does a phono stage built in so you can plug a turntable directly into the system if you so wish.
The AIO Twin is effectively a KEF LSX II at half the price – and if that's not alone to tempt you, its enthusiastic and tremendously capable sound quality should impress. The Triangle system is ideal for smaller rooms (or a large work desk), it's easy to use and it can play nearly anything in a cheery, mature manner.
KEF nabs the two top prizes in the all-in-one speakers system category. First is the new LSX II, a sequel to the original and last year's Award-winning LSX. It's a multi-talented wireless streaming system that might just be the only hi-fi sound system you'll ever need. There's no barrier to how you can stream and play music, and it even has an HDMI input so it can be given the reigns over your TV's sound. Its diminutive design makes it ideal for small rooms, too.
The speakers use KEF’s 11th Generation Uni-Q driver, and the sonic quality remains well-rounded with excellent imaging and dynamics, and a toe-tapping sense of rhythm that you'll never tire of listening to.
The bigger, more premium and well-specced LS50 Wireless II continues KEF's winning streak. It transcends the LSX II's performance thanks to the addition of the innovative Metamaterial Absorption Technology (MAT) that sits alongside a later generation of the Uni-Q driver. Playback options are extensive and versatile on both streaming and physical connectivity fronts, and the stylish design still stands out from the crowd. The sound quality is on another level: captivating, precise, subtle and thrilling.
Considering how much you get for such a well-designed system, we still think it's a bargain compared to an equivalent set-up of hi-fi separates.
You're on to a winner with any of these systems, but only one of them will be the recipient of the even more prestigious Product of the Year trophy for the systems category. You can find out which one wins when those special awards are announced at the What Hi-Fi? Awards ceremony on 9th November. Check whathifi.com that evening for the final results.
Want more choice? Check out our long list of the best hi-fi systems
See all the What Hi-Fi? Awards 2022 winners
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