Hi-Fi Choice Yearbook 2021

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

Call it what you will – the very best of the best, the cream of the crop, top of the list, head of the heap, king of the hill – the sheer quality of the choice collection of kit contained within this very special issue of HFC is testament to the creativity, resilience and ambition of the hi-fi industry in a year that, we surely don’t need reminding, has been the toughest we’ve ever seen. While there have been many consequences to much of the UK being locked down, one of the few upsides has been that many of us have found more time to enjoy our home hi-fi and have discovered – or rediscovered – music that is dear to us, helping us cope with the gloom. Some have developed a…

3 min
acoustic energy ae520

Essentially an AE509 (HFC 456) on steroids, this new floorstander is a true three-way design with a claimed frequency response of 30Hz-28kHz, a valve amplifierfriendly sensitivity figure of 90dB and a peak power handling of 300W. The tweeter is a new 25mm carbon fibre dome design with a cast aluminium WDT waveguide. It’s set between the AE520’s twin 125mm midrange drivers, which sport carbon fibre cones with rubber surrounds, oversized 35mm voice coils and optimised motor and suspension systems. Treble-to-mid crossover takes place at 2.8kHz, above the critical presence region where the ear is most sensitive. Then comes the cavalry – three new specially designed carbon fibre coned woofers take care of the bass from 373Hz downwards. The cabinet also sports Resonance Suppression Composite material – Acoustic Energy’s own version of…

5 min
audiovector qr5

Danish brand Audiovector isn’t the kind of speaker maker you can pigeonhole. Not as large as DALI or Dynaudio, it has a core product range that stretches all the way from the £1,025 QR1 entry-level standmount (HFC 418) to the uber-high-end £200k R11 Arreté. The QR range was designed by Audiovector CEO Mads Kilfoth. He explains his thinking: “I wanted a speaker family with build quality and value for money rarely seen at the price point.” And it’s a tweeter practically unseen at the price that gives the clue to the QR5’s ambition. Effectively the same Gold Leaf Air Motion Tweeter (AMT) used in the R11 flagship, it really is a thing of beauty, replete with compressionreducing double rear chamber and exposed gold mesh ‘S-Stop Filter’ to smooth sibilance, rather like…

3 min
dynaudio evoke 30

One of the most common issues mentioned when it comes to considering floorstanders is the room that’s needed to accommodate them. For those who are limited for space, the Evoke 30 has the distinction of being among the more compact options currently on the market. In this respect, there’s a lot to like. Dynaudio’s designers apparently put in the extra hours, taking prototypes and models home to live with them as well as visiting interior design stores and a cross section of real homes in an effort to gain inspiration. The result, with its straight tapered cabinet walls, splayed bolt-on outriggers and, in the review sample’s case, very tactile natural open-grain walnut wood veneer cladding, is a retro vibe that I guess won’t be to everyone’s taste, but I’d certainly make…

5 min
focal chora 826

Since the early eighties, Focal has endeavoured to bring new materials and composites to market in the search for the perfect driver diaphragm. These have included poly Kevlar, titanium, titanium dioxide, polyglass, flax, beryllium and the mysteriously named ‘W’ composite. Now slatefiber makes its debut as – described by Focal – “a new standard in affordable loudspeaker design and performance”. What it means in practical terms is that Chorus, its long-established entrylevel speaker range, is replaced by Chora with the new and unique slatefiber drivers. As the flagship tower, the 826’s mid and bass drivers are built around slatefiber cones – the name refers to the attractive slate-grey colour, not an ingredient. Being a three-way design, there’s a 165mm unit dedicated to the midrange and two 165mm bass drivers, low-frequency output augmented…

3 min
kef r5

Far from being shy and retiring, the three-way R5 is a quite astonishing amount of floorstanding real estate for the money. What’s more, it appears to be built and finished to a standard that sets a high bar for rivals to follow. Colourcoordinated drivers and flawless piano black lacquer gloss, too? Glorious. Let’s call it a value perk that big companies find easier to offer. As with every current KEF speaker, the centrepiece is a 12th-generation Uni-Q driver array. In this instance comprising a 125mm midrange element with 25mm aluminium dome tweeter seated in the middle. Behind the tweeter is a damped cavity to reduce the effects of the engineered gap between the two drivers. KEF has been using and evolving the Uni-Q principle for decades, a firm believer in its…