What Hi-Fi? September 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
ones and zeros? musical heroes

FREE! Portable wireless charger when you subscribe! p26 While it has been clear for a decade or two now that vinyl will never die(!), the same cannot be said for other traditional forms of music media. Although it does feel somewhat odd to be describing the likes of the compact disc as a ‘traditional’ format, the granddaddy of digital music is in its fifth decade now, so it isn’t an inappropriate description. And there’s no denying that the venerable old CD is in what seems to be terminal decline. Mindblowingly fast internet data transfer speeds both down the pipe directly into our homes, and straight to our mobile devices via 4G and 5G mean that, surely, streaming is the only way forward for general music listening? In this streaming special edition, then, we give you our…

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
sony wf-1000xm4

How do you improve on arguably the best all-round true wireless earbuds on the market? Sony has gone back to the drawing board and designed a brand new pair that looks nothing like its predecessor – and the result is the WF-1000XM4. Is it a brave move? Definitely. Crazy? Quite possibly. Sony’s WF-1000X range of wireless earbuds has been a dominant force in this category over the past few years, and the last pair to emerge from its stable, the WF-1000XM3, are two-time What Hi-Fi? Award-winners. But instead of making the odd refinement here and there, Sony’s engineers have gone to town on the WF-1000XM4 with an all-new design, a new charging case and a new audio processor. They have even found time to develop a new eartip material, which here is…

6 min
dynaudio evoke 50 5.1 speaker package

Dynaudio has always been led by engineering. The simplicity of its speakers doesn’t lie in fashionable Scandinavian aestheticism; instead the company, which straddles pro audio and domestic hi-fi products, is more concerned with what goes on inside the box than flashy design on the outside. The Evoke range was first released in 2018 and comprises five different speakers with two options each for floorstanders and bookshelf speakers as well as one centre speaker for use in a home cinema configuration. In addition, Dynaudio offers a choice of two subwoofers designed to complement all of its speaker packages. Trickle-down tech The price of £8249 places it around halfway up Dynaudio’s range, but it’s fair to say that the Danish brand has a bit of a ‘pay it forward’ approach to the high-end tech, which…

4 min
devialet phantom i 108db

Despite having welcomed many Devialet Phantom wireless speakers into our test rooms over the past few years, we still find ourselves struck by the beauty of the latest iteration. This flagship Phantom I brings with it a simplification and expansion of the iconic line: the compact Phantom Reactor is now ‘Phantom II’, above which sits the ‘Phantom I’ (in 103dB, 108dB and Opéra de Paris variants). Devialet has also introduced an Arch configurable connectivity hub (£349) for the Phantom, giving owners the option to add sources (including a turntable) either via its built-in phono stage and RCA line-level inputs, or two coaxial digital inputs. Without it, the Phantom I is reliant upon a network, with support for AirPlay 2, Spotify Connect, UPnP and Roon (up to 24-bit/96KHz) over ethernet or wi-fi.…

7 min
sony xr-65a90j

It is often assumed that if a particular television is great at one size, it will automatically be great at others. But while most core components are carried over from one size to another, many are not – most notably the panel. A 49in panel will likely have a different specification from a 65in one. Audio quality tends to vary with size, too, as a bigger chassis typically results in a fuller sound. So, having been blown away by the 55in version, we’re eager to follow up with the 65in Sony XR-65A90J. And, despite the potential for inconsistency, it turns out that the 65in A90J is every bit as good as its smaller sibling. The move to slimmer sets and thinner bezels leaves little room for creativity to make a TV stand…