What Hi-Fi? August 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
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…

1 min
2019’s top tvs: worth the wait

While CES (the Consumer Electronics Show, the annual industry showcase of everything tech) is always a spectacular event, with loads of kit on display to get us all overexcited for the year (and years) ahead, it also brings inevitable minor irritations. Mostly those are down to frustration – we want all that kit to be available now… Patience is a virtue, however; certainly when it comes to televisions, it has been worth the wait. This month, we are concentrating on the best TVs that 2019 has to offer, with a Group Test of some stunning 65in sets (p34) – and also a roundup of our pick of what else is available (p48). Plus, don't miss our First Test of Sony's new 8K TV (p6), and, to go with your new set,…

12 min
sony kd-85zg9

View offers 8K Television | £13,999 | whf.cm/KD-85ZG9 We’re in a real chicken-and-egg situation with 8K. Without more 8K TVs being sold, no one will be interested in streaming or broadcasting 8K content. And as long as there’s no 8K content to watch few people can justify the extra outlay for an 8K TV. And we are talking about a huge outlay. The Sony ZG9 is available in two sizes, the biggest of which (98in) will set you back £85,000. The smaller, 85in ZG9 is cheap by comparison, but at £14,000, it’s still £9000 more expensive than Sony’s top 4K LCD, the KD-85XG9505. In other words, you’ve got to have extremely deep pockets and really want to be at the bleeding edge of TV tech. But if those two statements describe you, there’s really…

4 min
dual cs 505-4

“Considering how little has changed over the years, it’s surprising how capable this Dual remains. The CS 505-4 is a viable choice for anyone wanting good sound with a high degree of convenience” View offers Turntable | £599 | whf.cm/CS5054 Back in 1983, the first generation of Dual’s evergreen CS 505 cost just over £90. At that time, it was the go-to budget turntable and was ideal for those who wanted a good sounding, fuss-free record player. Back then, you’d have to spend a third as much more to buy Rega’s even more talented first generation Planar 2. While the Dual has been developed over the intervening years, anyone comparing that original turntable with the current Mk4 version would be hard pressed to tell the difference. Look closely and you’ll find a slightly different plinth…

4 min
audiolab m-dac nano

View offers Portable DAC | £149 | whf.cm/M-DACnano If you want to improve the sound of your phone or laptop, there aren’t many options. Until now, our recommendation would have been a portable USB DAC such as Cyrus’s Soundkey (£79) or the Audioquest Dragonfly Red (£169). These are excellent devices and do their job brilliantly for the money, but they’re not ideal for truly portable use. Both need an extra lead to work from a phone, meaning that you have to carry around an unwieldy combination of phone, adaptor cable and DAC. That’s a lot to fit in one pocket, no matter how small the DAC. However, Audiolab is offering an enticing alternative with its new M-DAC nano. Cream of the crop The M-DAC nano is a tiny unit, barely bigger than a custard cream…

5 min
google pixel 3a xl

View offers Smartphone | £469 | whf.cm/Pixel3aXL In a market dominated by Samsung and Apple, Google’s Pixel smartphones may not top the class but, since their arrival in 2014, they have unquestionably offered the best and purest Android user experience. No bloatware, no over-the-top Android skins, just pure Google OS. And the latest Pixel 3 and 3 XL flagships didn’t buck that trend when they arrived last October, offering typically impressive screen and camera performances. But at a usually quiet time of the year, Google surprised everyone with the introduction of mid-tier models for the first time. The newest additions are the 3a (£399) and, tested here, the 3a XL (£469) – both reasonably priced in an age where smartphones have smashed through the four-figure barrier. The 3a XL has more modest specs than its…