Tannoy Arena Highline 300 review

The Tannoy is a capable system, but when up against the best in this class it’s possible to pick holes Tested at £1695.00

What Hi-Fi? Verdict

We remain fans of the Arena range, not least if you want a wall-mounted system, but sonically this model just falls short of the best


  • +

    Solid build and design

  • +

    versatile range

  • +

    refined, natural sound

  • +

    good with music


  • -

    Lacks clarity, openness and some dynamic reach when compared to the class leaders

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This is the ‘Tannoy Arena HighLine 300 wall-mount and tower combination', to give the system its full name. The slightly wordy title alludes to the fact that its part of a real mix-and-match set of components. Due to our understandable desire not to drill holes in our test rooms, we tested the 300 satellites used as rears in this system with stands – an option Tannoy offers, if you don't want to wall-mount them.

Two 300 Tower speakers are at the front, along with the good sized, dedicated 300 centre and a TS500 subwoofer. Like the other systems here, we're please to report this system boasts the feel of something that's been built with plenty of care and thought. It may not have the slick, melt-into-the-room style of the Radius, but it was still greeted by compliments from all and sundry.

The electric opening scene of Cars shows the package has real pace, as our animated heroes zoom around the screen with sound effects zipping from one speaker to another, integrating well. The rears interject when asked, helping to create a very full, complete sound that successfully encircles you, drawing you into the film.

Rich and refined
These Tannoys deliver a rich, refined sound. As we perch on the edge of our seats waiting for the next jumpy moment, dialogue has a natural, if rather thick, sound to it. While we applaud the extra emotion on display, there's a slight lack of clarity and openness that detracts from the presentation.

This slightly closed sound is apparent elsewhere, too – not just in the dialogue. Soundtracks lack space, which allows this system's peers to organise the different layers of sounds neatly in order in the busiest scenes. As a result, the action-packed finale to Event Horizon can sound a little cluttered and confused, while there isn't quite the dynamic reach of the very best either.

The Tannoy is a talented system – a fast, detailed, refined option that's good with music –, but up against the best in this class, it's possible to pick holes. Small ones, mind...

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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