The What Hi-Fi Awards 2020 recognize, as every year, the best Image & Sound products currently available on the market. For this edition, we find some winners already present last year (see the 2019 edition), but also some particularly interesting newcomers. However, we regret some rather questionable choices, especially in the category of loudspeakers or amps. There is clearly favoritism for English brands but no matter: the choices remain completely relevant!
And the winners of the What Hi-Fi Awards 2020 are…
The What Hi-Fi Awards 2020 are made up of 26 categories (Televisions, Amps, Headphones, etc.) in which we find the best products of the year classified by price bracket. Do you want to know which is the most efficient projector for your Home-Cinema and you have a budget of 2000€? What Hi-Fi journalists make it easy for you! Don’t forget to go confirm this choice by testing the products… The tastes of some are not necessarily those of others.
Of the 8 televisions awarded this year, half are from Samsung! Special mention for the best 8K TV of the year, the excellent 75Q950T. Philips TVs take up 2 places with the OLED805 series, and Sony the remaining two with their recent 48-inch A9 series OLED and their 65XH9005 4K Full LED TV.
No surprises when it comes to soundbars! The Yamaha YAS-207 remains the ideal entry level in this category. Note however that it was recently replaced by the YAS-209. The Sonos Beam and ARC follow, then the majestic Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar with its Dolby Atmos-compatible 5.1.4 system.
Lots of English Hi-Fi speakers here. Among those we know in France, there are the brand new LS50 Meta from KEF (best library £750-1500) and their metamaterial of the future. Note also the anniversary edition of the excellent B&W 606 S2 (best library £400-750). The most prestigious column is the Spendor A7. The best desktop speaker is the Ruark M1 MKII.
Rega wins 3 Awards out of the 6 awarded with its Planar 1, Planar 3 and Planar 6! Fortunately, Technics is in the ranking with the Hi-Fi version of its SL-1200MK7, the attractive SL-1500C (integrated phono preamp, no pitch…). The best entry-level turntable is a Project Primary E, and the most expensive a Vertere DG-1.
On the wireless speaker side, the JBL Flip 5 is the perfect portable solution for small budgets. If you have a little more, the AudioPro Addon C3 and C10 will amaze you with their typical Hi-Fi sound. Finally, the wealthiest are invited to fall for the very sexy all-in-one Naim Mu-So QB2 system.
Haha, our little friends from Grado are still here! It must be said that at less than £150 and £400 respectively, the SR80e and SR325e headphones are unbeatable in terms of sound. Beyond this price, the What Hi-Fi journalists recommend the BeyerDynamic Amiron Home, heir to the timeless T90. For intra it’s Sound Magic E11, Klipsch T5M and Shure Aonic 3.
Nothing new under the sun, Sony still stands out as the master of consumer wireless headphones with its WH-1000XM3 and WH-1000XM4. In wireless too since to find better than the WF-1000XM3, it will be necessary to spend nearly 300€ for the Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless 2.
CD and Blu-ray players
As for 4K Blu-ray players, things have calmed down a lot. The proof: it is the Sony UBP-X700 (- £250) and Panasonic DP-UB820 (+ £250) that are elected for 2020. Not a lot of madness in CD players either with the Marantz CD6007 (-500 £) and the Cyrus CDi (+£500). We would have hoped to see things a little more exciting like the NuPrime CDP-9 or the Marantz Model 30.
Chord is recognized as one of the best DAC manufacturers around. It’s simple, above £300, there is only Chord (Mojo, Qutest and Hugo 2)! The Audioquest DragonFly Cobalt (nomadic) and Ifi Zen DAC (sedentary) are the more affordable options selected for these What Hi-Fi Awards 2020.
It’s a bit the same as with network players: there are only English brands. Two Rega amps here (iO + Aethos), two Cambridge amps there (CXA61 + CA81), a Naim on top (Nait XS3)… Phew, a Marantz PM6007 in ambush! We’re joking of course, all these amps are excellent and are very popular with our neighbors across the Channel. Just remember to confirm your choice with a listen!
Home Cinema Amps
The aging Sony STR-DN1080 is still one of the winners. It must be said that the Home-Cinema amplifier market is quite complicated at the moment and that few references are available in Europe. Fortunately, the Denon is there with recent creations equipped with the latest technologies such as the AVC-X3700 or the more radical AVC-X6700!
This year again, it will be difficult to beat Sonos in its chosen field. The Californians win the title of best premium multiroom system for the umpteenth time! The proposed alternative for a smaller budget is none other than AudioPro, whose C3 and C10 have already won awards in the wireless speaker category.
Here is an eclectic section since we first find there a traditional micro-system with a traditional appearance, the Denon DM-41DAB. We then go upmarket with the Marantz PM7000N and Naim Uniti Atom connected amplifiers, to which speakers will have to be added. Then we end with ultra-complete wireless Hi-Fi speakers like the KEF LSX and LS50 Wireless II.
Astell & Kern flies over the category with almost insolent ease thanks to its SR25 and SE200. But we can understand that not everyone is ready to put 700 or even 2000€ in an audiophile player… The Cowon Plenue D2 (typically audiophile, 319€) and Sony NW-A55 (typically nomadic, 219€) are there to answer to the expectations of the most reasonable of us.
We admit that it’s hard to fault the Audiolab 6000N Play network player for less than 500€. Ditto for the Cambridge CXN V2, NAD C658 and Naim ND5 XS 2 in their respective price categories. Well that’s still a podium made up of 100% British equipment! A mere coincidence no doubt…
No DLP among the best projectors of 2020. If this surprises you, try testing an Epson 3LCD projector like the TW7100 and TW9400. For these models, 4K images are simulated by wobulation. If you want native 4K, you will have to opt for the expensive Sony VPL-VW270 and its SXRD technology. Another good idea since it received important updates, the JVC DLA-N5.
Here is a selection of products present in less important categories. The AudioQuest Rocket 11 was voted the best cable under €15 per meter. Radios that weigh in are the Roberts 94i and Pure Evoke H2. Tidal and Netflix are the streaming services for you. The queen of tablets is the 8th generation iPad and the king of phones is
Apple iPhone 12 the Sony Xperia 1 II. 🙂
You can find the What Hi-Fi Awards 2020 in the latest issue of What Hi-Fi. It is also possible to consult the list of all the winners on the What Hi-Fi website. Finally, most of the products awarded a Award 2020 on BH.fr and in BH stores in Paris 11, Paris 17 or Boulogne-Billancourt.