What Hi-Fi? April 2021

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

2 min
changing times and show time

FREE! Award-winning headphones when you subscribe! p24 One of the joys of working in this remarkable industry is the pace of change – even with products as apparently old-school as stereo loudspeakers. Six months ago, we did a piece on our favourite speakers at £1000-£2000. Now, one Awards season and a few short months later, it’s all-change at the £1000 speaker (p30) mark. And this time we include floorstanders as well as standmounters, to give you a good idea of the whole market. Talking about the pace of change in a remarkable industry, it would be remiss of me not to mention the very first What Hi-Fi? Virtual Show, an online showcase for the AV industry. With Covid-19 forcing the cancellation of live events, the What Hi-Fi? team will be hosting seminars and…

9 min
q acoustics q active 200

View offers Active speaker system | £1500 | whf.cm/QActive200 It’s a simple fact of life that the more there is to do, the more there is to prioritise. For Q Acoustics’ first all-in-one streaming speaker system, the British speaker specialist could have focused most of its attention on the streaming side of things – that is the uncharted territory here, after all. While the brand has some degree of experience in powered-speaker design, the Q Active 200 is its first proper active streaming proposition. It appears to be a speaker-first design, given the ambitious acoustic engineering on show here. Get the speaker part right, as you’d hope a firm with such plaudits in the field would, and you’re halfway there. A new look If you were expecting an active set of speakers resembling Q Acoustics’…

4 min
sony xperia 5 ii

View offers Smartphone | £799 | whf.cm/Xperia5II Sony’s smartphone output seems somewhat erratic. The Xperia 5 II is the second Sony smartphone we’ve tested recently, following something of an extended hiatus. There have been Xperia phones in the preceding years, but you’d be forgiven for not noticing, as Sony hasn’t made much noise about them. That has changed this year and the Sony Xperia 5 II follows the Xperia 1 II, which won our smartphone Product of the Year Award for its video and audio performance. On paper, it looks like this model can impress us in a similar way: it’s smaller, cheaper and similarly specified, so what’s not to like? Unconventional names We’re not entirely on board with Sony’s naming convention – “5 II” isn’t the clearest of model names, even before you realise…

4 min
jbl hdi 5.1

View offers Speaker package | £8400 | whf.cm/HDI51 Of all the things we missed out on last year, trips to the cinema rank pretty highly. On the plus side, we had plenty of time to watch more movies at home during lockdown, but there’s nothing quite like the big screen and the rumble of a great surround-sound set-up. Perhaps that’s why we’re more excited to test this JBL HDI 5.1 speaker package than we might have been 12 months ago. If blockbuster scale and authority are your priorities when it comes to home cinema audio, there’s little chance this sextet of speakers will disappoint. The front right and left channels are the huge HDI-3600 floorstanders (and you could go even bigger with the HDI-3800). Surround duties are handled by the HDI-1600 standmounters and HDI-4500…

7 min
philips 65oled935

View offers Television | £2699 | whf.cm/65OLED935 Combining a television with an integrated soundbar may be the height of convenience, but unless that soundbar is top quality, you’re stuck with it. The Philips 65OLED935 is a sleek, powerful television that aims to get around this pitfall by having hi-fi specialist Bowers & Wilkins design the speaker system. This isn’t Philips’s first TV and soundbar combination. Its predecessor, the OLED934, also had a Bowers bar built into a stand. This time it has a more modest price, with the 3.1.2ch Dolby Atmos soundbar making this a tempting AV solution for those who like to keep things simple and clean on the eye. But to describe the Philips 65OLED935 in those terms is doing it a disservice. Beneath that steel exterior, there is a TV with…

7 min
astell & kern kann alpha

View offers Portable music player | £1099 | whf.cm/KannAlpha The move towards music on the go has been undeniably convenient, but the push back against heavy audio compression has gained ground. For those who want the best of both worlds – portability and high-resolution music – Astell & Kern is one of the best-known providers of premium music players. The Kann Alpha is the third player in the Kann series, but the first to feature Bluetooth 5.0. It has a more powerful built-in headphone amp than the previous Kann series players, and promises added power in a smaller and more portable chassis. The new Kann Alpha is just over 2cm shorter and 5mm shallower than the older Kann Cube (£1500) and, at 316g, is significantly lighter. It’s still a substantial beast, but it will…