Hi-Fi Choice Yearbook 2019

Hi-Fi Choice is the essential guide to audio excellence in the home. It is a no-nonsense guide to the finest products available, from vinyl and valves, to multi-channel digital audio and high-fidelity video. Hi-Fi Choice sorts the best from the rest with rigorous test processes and a highly experienced team of reviewers.

United Kingdom
AV Tech Media Ltd
13 Issues

in this issue

1 min

Welcome to HFC’s 13th issue of 2019 – a 164-page Yearbook special that celebrates the year’s hi-fi high-points. Inside we’ve packed more reviews than ever before, highlighting the real strength of today’s stereo audio sector with a diverse range of components that cater for all kinds of music listener. Each of the products selected for this ultimate product guide is a coveted Hi-Fi Choice badge winner, applauded by our team of expert reviewers for a winning combination of outstanding sound quality and value for money – prices shown are from the time of original publication. 2019 has been a year of change in the audio industry with some unexpected losses, but through mergers and diversification many familiar brands are stronger and in better shape for 2020 – see p151 for a…

3 min
avid ingenium plug&play

AVID’s Ingenium Plug&Play turntable is part of an increasingly familiar breed of packaged decks that allow vinyl fans to get on with the business of playing records without the fuss of a complex setup procedure. This means that the tonearm and cartridge come fitted, aligned and ready to play and all you have to do is simply slide the counterweight into position to be up and running in next to no time. Unlike the Cambridgeshire-based company’s original Ingenium deck reviewed in 2013 (HFC 379), this packaged version includes a threaded spindle and platter clamp, which AVID says play an essential role in the deck’s energy dissipation process. The motor is separate from the main chassis and is positioned beneath the cork-topped MDF main platter to drive the sub-platter via a rubber…

2 min
analogueworks tt zero

REPRESENTING A DECENT turntable starter package, the TT Zero’s spec incorporates a Jelco TS-550S 9in tonearm, Audio-Technica VM740ML moving-magnet cartridge and Easy VTA adjuster. Built around a solid birch ply plinth, the Zero has a high-mass aluminium platter supported in a leaded bronze bearing that you have to spin up to speed by hand as it has insufficient torque to overcome the platter’s inertia from rest. If you want to get ‘hands on’, this is your deck. According to AnalogueWorks designer Tim Chorlton, all the materials and shapes have been chosen to balance or prevent resonance, but the aesthetic upshot is very pleasing, too. He also mentions that replacing the standard Black Eye power supply with the Wave Mechanic One PSU £500 is an easy and effective upgrade. Sound quality From the start…

2 min
eat prelude

THE PRELUDE’S TONEARM incorporates a headshell optimised for moving-magnet cartridges. The bearing housing is designed to act as a sink, pulling vibrations away from the playing surface. Conical spikes are also employed to combat vibration, while the direct current motor is placed in its own dedicated housing. There is no speed control, instead the belt is moved between upper and lower pulleys. An Ortofon 2M Red cartridge is fitted and correctly aligned so that setup is limited to fitting the antiskating weight and setting tracking force. Sound quality Connected to a Cyrus Phono Signature phono stage (HFC 408), the Prelude is completely silent and a quick strobe test suggests it is admirably pitch stable too. With the basics handled, it doesn’t take very long to establish that it delivers EAT’s philosophy of…

2 min
pro-ject primary e phono

FOLLOWING THE LAUNCH of its Primary E turntable with cartridge in 2018, Pro-Ject’s Primary E Phono package adds a built-in moving-magnet phono stage for just £50 more. As a complete starter option it can be connected to any amplifier or active speaker system with a stereo RCA line-level input without anything additional needed. The phono stage is positioned on the underside of the plinth and provides gain for the pre-mounted Ortofon OM cartridge. A switch on the side enables you to bypass the built-in preamp to hook up an external preamp stage and there’s a grounding post too. Sound quality Connecting up the Primary E to my home setup reveals that as a value package, the Phono version makes a lot of sense. The urgent and slightly dark tone of the Slow Readers…

2 min
technics sl-1500c

THE CLOSEST APPROACH to Technics’ flagship SL-1000R for less than a grand, the SL-1500C uses a coreless direct-drive motor with sophisticated speed management circuitry housed within a beefy, well-damped chassis and, just like its sibling, has an S-shaped tonearm with detachable headshell. It also features a built-in MM phono stage and pre-fitted Ortofon 2M Red cartridge, while the high-torque coreless motor is claimed to have all but eliminated cogging for rock-solid speed stability. The aluminium platter is fairly lightweight, but is damped on its underside to kill resonances while the apparent simplicity of the plinth disguises a sophisticated blend of aluminium, ABS and glass fibre that optimise rigidity and control vibration. Even before settling back to listen, the immediate acceleration of the platter looks like magic after the hand spins that are…