What Hi-Fi? July 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
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13 Issues

in this issue

1 min
what goes around…

Who would have thought, a quarter of a century ago, that that most venerable of music-reproduction systems, the vinyl disc, would be going strong well into the 21st Century? And fighting above its weight, what’s more; not against that ‘new upstart’ the compact disc, but entirely unimaginable (at the time) digital music streams – in better-than-CD quality, no less. And yet the annals of the analogue are being updated still – here we are with our vinyl-special issue for 2021. In this issue, then, we bring you our favourite turntables (p30) at a variety of budgets, should you wish either to find out what all the passion is about, or to upgrade your deck. Your new turntable won’t be any use to you, however, if you don’t have a phono stage to…

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 extensive, 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…

11 min
lg oled65c1

LG’s C-series model has been the go-to pick of its OLED range for several years. It has always been the most affordable model with the company’s best panel and picture processing wizardry. Spending more would get you a fancier design and potentially better sound, but the picture would be no different. That’s not the case in 2021. LG has introduced a new, brighter and sharper ‘OLED Evo’ panel, and the C1 doesn’t have it. With so much of the focus on the upgraded G1, it’s perhaps predictable that the C1 isn’t a huge step up over its predecessor. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, as its predecessor was one of the best TVs of 2020, and the C1 benefits from a few subtle performance nips and tucks as well as a…

7 min
cowon plenue d3

Remember matchbook quotes – those little sayings written on complimentary matchbooks you could pick up in high-end bars or hotel lobbies? Should the Cowon Plenue D3, a matchbox-sized portable music player, come adorned with its own saying, it might read, “Be cautious of people whose actions don’t match their words.” The Plenue D3 arrives with no boastful fanfare whatsoever. Despite both its previous iterations gaining five-star reviews and What Hi-Fi? Awards, the demure black packaging divulges little about this machine, apart from the fact that there’s now a Cirrus Logic CS43131 dual DAC onboard where the last generation used just one. There’s also Bluetooth support, so you can pair your wireless headphones or speaker, and a new rotary volume wheel. Despite its decorated lineage and all these useful extras, the D3 is…

4 min
sennheiser hd 560s

There’s an old Chinese proverb, “Although gold dust is precious, when it gets in your eyes it obstructs your vision”, attributed to zen master Hsi-Tang Chih Tsang in 800AD. Back then, he probably didn’t have access to Sennheiser’s HD 560S open-back headphones, but his summation reminds us that items deemed highly desirable can produce the greatest disdain, should we find them disappointing. In hi-fi circles, any product claiming to have been “crafted for the analytical audio enthusiast” but with a price tag of less than £200 will turn out to be either exceptionally good value or a huge disappointment. So, has Sennheiser struck gold with the HD 560S, or is it about to rub the dust in our eye? Really rather comfortable Sonically, Sennheiser is pushing these cans as the closest option to…

4 min
piega ace 30

Roger Federer isn’t the only Swiss maestro serving up aces; Lake Zurich-based Piega is also launching the Ace speaker series, its most affordable aluminium range to date. The Piega Ace 30 bookshelf is joined by their Ace 50 floorstanding and Ace Center speaker siblings, comprising the Swiss brand’s most compact speaker line yet. The Aces replace the miniature TMicro models that we concluded were “classy compact speakers that make sense if you don’t have lots of space”, when we reviewed the bookshelf TMicro 40 AMT. Do the Ace 30 serve the same purpose? Not just compact, but tiny ‘Compact’ is a term we often use to describe the crop of smaller than average standmounters aimed at those short on space or with a desire for discreet designs; but the Ace 30 are tiny.…