What Hi-Fi? June 2019

What Hi-Fi? Sound and Vision is the world's leading independent guide to buying and owning hi-fi and home cinema products. Our comprehensive tests help you buy the best equipment for your cash, with the magazine's advice sections giving you step-by-step information on how to get even more from your music and movies.

United Kingdom
Future Publishing Ltd
13 Issues

in this issue

1 min
a true joy, worth the investment

With all the other desperate things going on in the world in these troubled times, it can be an invaluable relief to be able to escape into music. And, for something so important, so beneficial, it's worth investing in decent equipment; truly to immerse yourself in your favourite tracks, whether by Beethoven or Beyonce, you need kit that makes the music engaging, engrossing–enthralling. And that can cost, of course. But a great piece of hi-fi equipment will last you–if you want it to–a lifetime. In this issue, then, we present our pick of the high-end kit (p32) we've reviewed over the past couple of years, whether that be a turntable, amplifier, loudspeaker, a pair of headphones and more. I would also like to ask for your help, if I may. You will…

1 min
how we test

EXPERIENCE. HERITAGE. We’ve been helping the world discover the best in hi-fi and home entertainment for more than 40 years, and have more than 100 years of reviewing experience under our collective belts–so you can count on our expert opinion. DEDICATED TEST FACILITIES We test every product against its peers in our brand-new, bespoke reviewing facilities in London and Bath. We conduct all our tests as a team–our opinions and conclusions are always the result of collaboration. HOW WE SCORE All review verdicts are agreed upon by the team as a whole–not an individual reviewer. Each product will be listened to and/or viewed by several members of the test team, who will then discuss the final verdict before it appears in the magazine or on the website. This avoids any individual bias creeping in. OUR SCORES…

5 min
naim nd5 xs 2

View offers Network streamer | £2299 | whf.cm/ND5XS2 When Naim describes its ND5 XS 2 network streamer as 'entry level', it actually means that it’s the cheapest dedicated component the company makes in the range. Never mind entering at this level, if this is the best your system ever sounds you’ll be doing your ears mightily proud. But this streamer isn’t boastful. Its black chassis is punctuated only by the company logo and power button, both tastefully illuminated in Naim’s iconic green, and a USB Type-A input subtly located front and left. That means no full-colour screen, something that has been a welcome and attractive feature of Naim’s recent products–but, given that your streamer will be almost exclusively controlled via the app, it’s far from an issue in terms of functionality. In fact, you…

3 min
apple airpods (2019)

View offers Wireless headphones | £159 | whf.cm/AirPods2019 It’s easy to think of Apple as a company that doesn’t make mistakes. And yet, there was the iPhone that wouldn’t make calls if you held it a certain way, Apple Music’s pre-installed U2 album, Apple Maps and the kitchen-top damage caused by the HomePod. But, while its Midas touch might not be perfect, most of what Apple touches does eventually turn to gold, and the Apple AirPods are no exception. When first introduced, they looked daft and didn’t sound great, but, drawn in by their slick design and bleeding-edge technology, enough people bought them to make them a common sight. This second-generation model is much more about sprinkling a little more pixie dust over proceedings than pushing the AirPods into hi-fi territory. But here’s the…

5 min
bowers & wilkins 603

View offers Floorstanding speakers | £1249 | whf.cm/603 Two down, one to go. That’s the current situation with B&W’s 600 Series of loudspeakers. We were impressed by the two standmounters in the range (the 607 and 606) but now it’s time to turn our attention to the solitary floorstander in the family, the B&W 603. Whether it’s budget or high-end speakers, B&W usually delivers on the engineering front, and the 603s are no exception. Peel away the magnetic grilles–a first for the 600 Series–and you’ll see what we mean. Traditionally, a 600 Series speaker would sport B&W’s trademark yellow Kevlar midrange cones. But this has been replaced with the eye-catching silver Continuum cone material, first introduced to its flagship 800 Series Diamond. Here, the cone is actually part of a B&W FST drive unit,…

3 min
nad d 3045

View offers Stereo amplifier | £599 | whf.cm/D3045 Should the NAD D 3045 ever have doubts about its parentage, it won’t need to book a DNA test, nor put in an appearance on The Jeremy Kyle Show. One glance at the distinctive shape and near-identical features should be sufficient proof that it is indeed related to the company’s line of D-series hybrid digital amplifiers. Nevertheless, a similar aesthetic does not necessarily denote comparable sonic performance, and spending an extra couple of hundred quid for more power or connections doesn’t necessarily mean there won’t be a compromise elsewhere. The idiom about books and covers most certainly applies to hi-fi too. But despite it scoring marginally lower than the D 3020 V2 we tested earlier this year, this is another fine amp, retaining much of the…