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What HiFi? Awards 2021 Winners

There are so many choices to make in life – it’s sweet relief when we’re given help to narrow some of them down. WHAT HIFI? gives us a gentle nudge in the direction of what audio equipment they think is the best of the year so far. 

Highlights include the Spendor A7 floorstanding speakers, the Rega Aethos stereo amplifier, and the Naim ND5 XS 2 streamer. 

Rega dominates the ‘Best Turntable’ category once again, with the entry-level Planar 1 turntable, Planar 3 / Elys & the mid-level Planar 6 / Ania. They are joined by a new addition to the shop, the Technics SL-1500C  – Japanese engineering at its finest! 

Check the full list of our winners below:

Stereo Speakers ★★★★★

Bowers & Wilkins 607 S2
Best standmount speaker £300-£500

Power & scale that belies its compact form, the 607 S2 Anniversary Edition features the Continuum™ cone and updated crossovers to ensure exceptional resolution and musicality. Ideal for stereo or surround sound use.

Bowers & Wilkins 606 S2
Best standmount speaker £500-£750

The largest standmount/bookshelf in the new range, the 606 delivers refined, room-filling sound, perfect for those who want power from a smaller speaker. The 606 S2 Anniversary Edition blends its advanced Continuum™ cone with an improved crossover for even more insight in your music. 

Turntables ★★★★★

Rega Planar 1
Best Turntable £200 – £500

Rega has improved on both the look and the performance of the entry-level Rega Planar 1. It has a matt finish and comes fitted with the same EBLT drive belt used on the reference-quality Planar 8 turntable. This new belt increases accuracy – revealing even more detail from your vinyl!

Rega Planar 3/Elys 2
Best Turntable £500 – £750

Replacing the multi award winning and five times What Hi-Fi? Product of the Year (RP3) was never going to be an easy task. It took Rega’s team of designers, headed up by Roy Gandy, two years to develop the all new Planar 3 following the biggest re-design of the iconic Three model ever seen.

Technics SL-1500C Direct Drive Turntable
Best Turntable £750 – £1000

This complete turntable has a built-in phono equalizer and cartridge, keeps perfect time, and is rock solid! Available in black or silver.

Rega Planar 6/Ania
Best Turntable £1000 – £2000

The Planar 6 has one goal, to reproduce your vinyl as accurately as possible. Rega have engineered every aspect of this turntable to extract as much detail from the vinyl surface as possible. Advanced materials and engineering solutions have been used throughout the design to ensure the greatest level of performance. 

Wireless Speakers ★★★★★

Naim Mu-so Qb 2nd Generation
Best home wireless speaker over £500

Mu-so Qb 2nd Generation is the latest member of the award-winning Mu-so wireless music system family. Re-engineered from the ground up to create our best compact wireless music system yet.

Music Systems ★★★★★

Naim Uniti Atom
Best Hi-Fi System over £1000

Uniti Atom is a beautiful, compact multi-source music player that will seduce you with its amazing sound quality and outstanding feature-set. Its 40-watt integrated amplifier and high-resolution music streaming capabilities will fill your home with stunning high-fidelity sound.

Stereo Amplifiers ★★★★★

Rega io
Best Stereo amplifier under £400

The all-new io amplifier is designed with every music lover in mind. Simple to set up and operate, the io is designed to integrate seamlessly into any hi-fi system. Powerful, well-balanced musical performance at an affordable price.

Naim Nait XS 3
Best Stereo amplifier £1500-£2500

Naim’s NAIT XS 3, delivers greater pace, intimacy and musical delivery thanks to its upgraded power amp sections – whether it’s driving a pair of loudspeakers or a pair of headphones.

Rega Aethos
Best stereo amplifier over £2500

The Aethos stereo amplifier is housed in a brand new custom-designed case. Employing four 160W 16 Amp output transistors per channel, this delivers 156 W per channel into 6Ω.

The Aethos is a dual-mono design using a custom wound toroidal transformer and regulated supplies for the sensitive amplification and driver stages. The pre-amplifier stage uses class-A discrete circuitry throughout. 

CD Players ★★★★★

Cyrus CDi
Best CD player over £500

Judged the best CD player for five consecutive years by What Hi-Fi? The CD i is without doubt one of the most influential integrated CD players ever designed. You’ve never really heard your CDs until you’ve listened to them on a CDi.

Music Streamers ★★★★★

Arcam ST60
Best music streamer £1000 – £1500

The ST60 is a high-performance streaming source that enables streaming audio from all of the major services (Tidal, Qobuz, Spotify, Napster, Deezer, etc) over Cast or Airplay2. It will also handle UPnP sources and is Roon Ready. Effortless Streaming, Quality Sound

Naim ND5 XS 2
Best music streamer over £1500

The ND5 XS 2 uses Naim’s innovative new streaming platform with an expanded feature set. High-res UPnP™ streaming, AirPlay, Chromecast built-in, Bluetooth (apt X HD), Spotify Connect, TIDAL, Roon compatibility, internet radio and multiroom streaming. A versatile player and an ideal partner for a Naim integrated amp.

Accessories ★★★★★

Rega Fono MM MK3
Best Phono stage £100 – £300

The new Fono MM phono stage has been designed to be effective, easy to use, and above all, to reproduce music. The Fono MM uses a fully discrete, cascaded, complementary amplifier input stage, a configuration designed to optimise the performance of your moving magnet cartridge.

Chord Company C-line
Best analogue interconnect under £50

An original Chord Company design, high performance cable at an affordable price that still adheres to their exacting standards. What Hi-Fi? Award-winner 7 years running!

Chord Clearway Analogue RCA
Best Analogue interconnect over £50

Chord have taken the design from the award winning C-line and upgraded all the materials to produce an outstanding value for money, high-performance analogue interconnect.

Atacama Moseco 6
Best speaker stands

Moseco speaker stands combine all the aesthetic and sonic benefits of Bamboo with the adaptability, strength and stability of twin carbon steel poles. These poles consist of a 50mm front column and a 28mm rear column which features cable management.

DACs ★★★★★

AudioQuest DragonFly Cobalt
Best DAC £200 – £300

DragonFly Cobalt, their new flagship DAC, takes what music lovers around the world have come to expect from the multi-award-winning DragonFly family—naturally beautiful, seductive sound—and strips away fuzz and fog that weren’t even noticeable until Cobalt removed them.

Chord Qutest
Best DAC £500 – £1200

Qutest is a standalone DAC whose performance belies its compact dimensions. With DAC architecture based on the award-winning Hugo 2, Qutest offers class-leading digital conversio

Chord Hugo 2
Best DAC over £1200

Hugo 2 is a powerful DAC and headphone amp that builds on the ground-breaking original. Designed for both home and mobile use, Hugo 2 transforms headphones and audio systems sound quality with its cutting-edge proprietary DAC technology.

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