What Hi-Fi? Awards 2023: JBL win proves that all-in-one systems are maturing

What Hi-Fi? Awards 2023: JBL win shows that all-in-one systems are maturing
(Image credit: JBL)

The What Hi-Fi? Awards 2023 have spoken: of the many and motley hi-fi systems available on the market that we have tested, just seven are exceptional enough to win Best Buy awards this year.

In this inherently eclectic category, the winners (or The Magnificent Seven, if you like) range from the modest Denon microsystem to just-add-speakers streaming amplifiers from Technics and Naim, and all the way up to full-blown stereo speaker systems from Triangle, KEF and JBL.

All but one are repeat winners, so let's start with the newcomer to the group. The JBL 4329P Studio Monitor speaker system (pictured top) doesn't replace anything in last year's category; it simply expands it beyond £3000 for the first time ever, proving that the all-in-one stereo system is becoming more sophisticated. While we have heard many streaming speakers of the JBL's ilk across the price spectrum, none at this level have before compelled us to include them in our What Hi-Fi? Awards season.

KEF LS50 Wireless II

KEF's LS50 Wireless II win their fourth consecutive Best Buy award (Image credit: KEF)

If you have the desire to domesticate your whole audio system into two speaker boxes and the budget to accommodate such a convenient concept, the JBL offers a clean, punchy and transparent performance that shows that all-in-ones needn't be big compromisers of sound quality.

If your budget doesn't stretch quite that far, KEF's similarly featured LS50 Wireless II (above) or, smaller and more affordable still, LSX II are at your service, offering network streaming and class-leading (at their respective prices) performances from just two nicely designed boxes. And if your budget is tighter still but you really want that true stereo sound you can't often get from one-box wireless speakers, the Triangle AIO Twin stereo speaker system is your best bet. The two neat, compact cabinets will be awesome additions to your desktop or bookshelf to soup up your computer, phone or even turntable sound.

These three repeat winners (and one newbie) are joined by three more veteran winners that go without one key ingredient of their fellow winning trio: built-in speakers. The Technics SA-C600 (below) and Naim Uniti Atom are part of an increasingly popular collective of streaming amplifiers often referred to as 'just-add-speaker systems' – and with good reason. They lead the field at their respective price points (sub-£1000 and sub-£3000) as super-solid, single-box source-and-amplification foundations for a physically convenient and yet still serious performing system. The Technics even offers a CD drive for those discs you (sensibly) haven't consigned to the bin.

After something more modest in the performance and features department, you say? The Denon D-M41DAB limits its wireless offering to Bluetooth (there's no network streaming), but still majors on sound quality in the sparse sub-£500 space. We know what you're thinking, regular readers: will it ever be beaten?

Technics SA-C600

The Technics SA-C600 wins again, being the best hi-fi system below £1500 (Image credit: Technics)

The Technics arrived last year and not only scooped its first What Hi-Fi? Awards Best Buy but also the category's most esteemed Product of the Year award, so which of The Magnificent Seven will take it home this year? Watch this space on Wednesday 15th November, the date of the What Hi-Fi? Awards 2023 ceremony, to find out.

Becky Roberts

Becky is the managing editor of What Hi-Fi? and, since her recent move to Melbourne, also the editor of Australian Hi-Fi magazine. During her 10 years in the hi-fi industry, she has been fortunate enough to travel the world to report on the biggest and most exciting brands in hi-fi and consumer tech (and has had the jetlag and hangovers to remember them by). In her spare time, Becky can often be found running, watching Liverpool FC and horror movies, and hunting for gluten-free cake.