Come in from the rain and hang your wet coat on the radiator. It'll be dark soon, but fear not – the glorious light from your TV will make everything feel cosy. Forget to buy milk? Meh, you're not going back out now. You're going to kick back, assume your position on the sofa, and get stuck in to some great entertainment.
The only thing you really must keep to hand? The latest issue of What Hi-Fi?, of course. Out today, in print and in digital form, it will ensure your autumn entertainment is every bit as good as it could be.
To read What Hi-Fi? is to join us on our quest for the best in hi-fi and home cinema. And, unlike your favourite TV show, we won't leave you hanging before divulging the outcome. We'll give you the tale of the tech tape as the latest products do battle, with in-depth commentary during the bout, and, when all's said and done, we promise you'll feel like it happened in your very living room – where the winner now stands victorious. Which is a roundabout way of saying; fancy some buying some new gear? Let us guide you.
Small screens, big dreams
It's a funny old time when 49 and 50-inch TVs almost class as small. But in 2019, with the focus on flagship 55 and 65-inch sets, smaller models can get left behind. That's why we've rounded up five screens around the 50-inch mark that deliver flagship performance in a more manageable format.
Will these bijou flatscreens break the bank? That probably hinges on two things: which you choose, and how well you know your bank manager. At the top of the pile you'll find Samsung's mid-level Q70 and the Sony XG9005, both of which will set you back one pound under a grand. Then, there's a Polaroid TV (yes, you read that correctly) which retails for less than half that money. Quite a bit less. Which of the five is our money on? It's all in the stars...
You IFA know, or you don't...
Pronounced 'Ee-Fah' and now in its 95th year, the annual Internationale Funkausstellung in Berlin is where heavy-hitters of home technology go for a big reveal. What did our razor-sharp ear detect at this massive audio trade show?
Let's see. While circumnavigating our way around 23 football pitches-worth of show space, we noted Philips' partnership with B&W, an update on premium wireless noise-cancelling cans from Sennheiser, landmark unveilings from Dali, Sonos and Audio Technica, plus a limited edition Sony Walkman that's never been near a cassette tape.
What did we like? You'll have to read our Insider feature. It'll be like a long weekend in Germany – minus the steins, bratwurst and conversations that rely heavily on gestures.
Gratify, glorify, amplify
Is it too much to quote lyrics from a 1991 song by KLF? No, we didn't think so either. In the fast-moving world of consumer tech, then, the Rega Elex-R is justified... and it's ancient. Having first won an award from this publication back in 2014, which it has continued to do every year since, this distinguished amp comes up against the new Cambridge Audio CXA81 in this month's issue.
Will it be another win for the Rega, or has it finally met its match in the young gun from Cambridge? You can find out which amplifier is all bound for MuMu Land in the new issue.
Tower of Power
The head-to-heads come thick and fast this month, and, with neither contender in this heavyweight speaker tear-up holding back the punches, it could go either way. As Wharfedale squares up against the impressive newcomer Fyne Audio, you'll be ringside, getting our round-for-round commentary. Which floorstander will come away with the belt? The answer may surprise you...
First Test to be the best
As fresh products enter the haloed sphere that is hi-fi, we want you to know about them. We need you to know – it's our raison d'etre. That's why at the front of every issue of What Hi-Fi? you'll find our First Tests section, which this month features no fewer than 11 in-depth, detailed reviews of new products.
We've put Sonos' first portable Bluetooth speaker through its paces, the Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 and the Activo CT10 portable hi-res music player (from Astell & Kern) – and that's just the first three.
If names like Grado, Sharp, Naim, LG and Marantz mean anything to you (and we truly hope they do), we humbly implore you to read our full-fat, director's cut First Tests section.
Hitting the 'bars
Up for testing a quartet of £400-or-thereabouts soundbars? Come on, you know you want to! Luckily, we've done the legwork – you can close that decibel meter app on your phone.
By simply picking up this month's mag, you'll be able to work out which soundbar is your best option for upping the levels – and quality – of the sound coming out of your TV. We've crowned our winner, and (spoiler alert) it wasn't the most expensive model of the bunch.
...and Temptation's strong
We're not suggesting you head out to a reputable hi-fi dealer this instant and spend an Awful Lot of Money on the sublime SME Synergy turntable or the excellent Wilson Benesch Precision P1.0 stereo standmount speakers – although if you have the means and inclination, we applaud you and will watch with envy as you head off.
That's the beauty of our Temptations section. We've had our mitts on each product – for a decent but ultimately finite period of time – and we'll let you know whether they're worth the significant asking price. As Elton John once sang, "It's no sacrifice". Even if a purchase is out of the question, you'll get detailed, impartial information on the product's merits plus our experienced analysis on the majesty. Yes, these things are expensive. But you want them anyway – we do too.
That's not all, folks
On top of all this, our Apple TV+ feature tells you everything you need to know about the newest and biggest Netflix rival, you'll learn which streaming service reigns supreme when it comes to Spotify vs Tidal, and there's our updated Buyer's Guide – a definitive and unparalleled guide to the best home entertainment your money can buy.
Even if it is cold, wet and dark outside where you are, we hope you enjoy the new December issue of What Hi-Fi?.