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Awards

Markmaguire

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Mar 8, 2012
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Looking at this year’s awards. Looks extremely similar to last year. Have there really been no better products released this year?
 

jjbomber

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Dec 22, 2006
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Good point. Maybe there needs to be an Andy Clough Memorial Award for the breakthrough product of the year. So Arylic S10 would be the winner this year.
 
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matthewpiano

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Nov 23, 2007
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I've been having a look and I'm not entirely surprised at them.

Yes, some of them are the same as last year, or new versions of the same product. I think the reason for that is some manufacturers are pretty consistent in making class-topping gear. Marantz have had the sub-£500 CD player and amplifier market cornered for some time and for good reasons. The new Rotel Tribute models are their biggest competitors here, but have only just launched so their chance will come next year, depending on reviews and the outcome of those reviews.

The B&W 606s2 take over from the previous 606 version and, again, it's very easy to see why. I've heard most of the competition and the original 606s are (to me) clear leaders, so I would hope the new version is even better.
 
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Al ears

Moderator
It's obvious to see some of the award winners remain unchanged, except for maybe a new facelift model, over successive years.
It is also obvious, when you look at other publications, that WHF appear to have a rather limited amount of material from the usual suspects to review and give awards to, unfortunately.
Taking the turntable section as an example and you're present with the usual Rega and Pro-ject decks, it's like they haven't bothered to get anything else in and they certainly haven't listened to the latest MOFI decks or anything by Origin Live.
 

Romulus

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Nov 21, 2014
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Looking at Amplifier awards WHF have yet again completely ignored Hegel Amps, so it makes the chosen winners sort of judged from a limited selection of new amps in 2020 ignoring the Hegel H95, H390 & H120 .
 
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12th Monkey

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Aug 31, 2015
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I think it's a pity that the ratings section at the rear is gone (because it was far more comprehensive) and now there's just a short section of best buys in each category. That might reflect a lack of sample width, as suggested above.
 
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Simon 13th note

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Largely I think you can take more from the negative reviews of what hifi then the positive ones - if british brands be cautious. The pre ponderance of british brands rated above any American or Scandinavian ones, is a clue at favouring marketing spend.

If you look at the DAC classes they have the headphone capable soundkey from cyrus above the AQ DF black and I thought this Cyrus DAC is bright when I reviewed it in a super test with all the AQ DACs. This counts it down imo because bass and treble balance is a huge part of what makes sound good. They have the Qutest (which I own) as still the DAC to beat around a grand but the DAC in the Hegel H390 I have is at least as good, so is the stand alone German RME ADI-2 DAC FS which I called a 'qutest killer'. It is not only cheaper by £300, it has more inputs , more features, remote, balanced outputs , headphone & IEM out and a parametric equaliser. Everyone I have had around agrees with me. A total no brainer!! A different mid centric sound to the Qutest's dispersion and soundstage and micro details but using the Qutest with the Hegel it lacks a bit in punch and dynamically against the RME. One for one recording and another for another. This is easily a preference rather than better (to most people) thing, which leaves features and price the reason for deciding.

Also I don't think the Mojo is the winner for DAC's around that price. The AQ DF Cobalt is - again Ive got one and tested it against the Mojo and it just does more sound for the money - more neutral too and lovely and involving in a full bodied way, against the Mojo's more brittle sound. Especially if driving IEM's

I totally agree on the Marantz PM7000N and Kef LSX which I tested and are terrific as it would be hard to get better than this for around a grand, although I haven't put any competition against them.Tell a lie cyrus one cast and totem kin play respectively.

On stereo amps I extremely doubt (but dont say categorically) that Naim's Nait XS 3 is as good as the Hegel H120. I totally agree the lack of mention of Hegel amps is worrying when they are one of the class leaders and so revered against Naim. I tried Naim pre and power amps around £5k and they were just 'meh' in dynamics and detail against a Hegel H390. You'd at least expect the newer H95 or price comparable H120 to have been put against the Naim's such is how well revered Hegel is against Naim. Hegel is a brand which is about design and sound but Naim's tend to have high prices for what they do because they can use the Naim...….. see what I did there, to charge more. That's always been perennially the case in HiFi and even more reason to rate the Hegel amps.

It would be great to do a proper test of what 100 audiophiles prefer in some of these rankings sometimes especially when you have products like the RME that doesn't even get a mention. Pro audio pricing sometimes comes from the point of view of a bigger market to the audiophile brands like chord, much like in computer peripherals and network streaming side sometimes, hence why the price is cheaper. The Qutest has a large part of its cost on that case too and I think FPGA seems to prop it up in minds of consumers and make it stand out, when SQ is about all the stages like the output and where 'off the shelf' DAC chips can sound just as good. Case in point Hegel Mohican CD player with AKM DACs sounds as good as a Chord Hugo TT2 using FPGA, whilst both products are fantastic and similar price.
 
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matthewpiano

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Nov 23, 2007
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What Hi-Fi appeals to a much wider readership than most other hi-fi magazines, and so it is inevitable that the reviews are focused on more mainstream brands and products. It's a consumer magazine that provides recommendations to people beyond hard-core hi-fi enthusiasts - those people who are more likely to visit their local Richer Sounds or Sevenoaks, or to buy online. The other magazines don't do this, often concentrating on kit priced way beyond the means of most of us.
 

myrrhman

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Apr 24, 2020
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It seems clear WHF reviews and ratings focus on a relatively small subset of available products, particularly those carried by their advertisers. Products sold direct, or through smaller numbers of retailers tend to be ignored or given less prominence. They also have their favourites, like Rega and Chord, which may or may not be the best examples of their respective products.
I'm not saying the products they recommend are not valid or useful, but there are a lot of other reviews on the internet (which of course are subject to their own biases) which might suggest there are equally good / better alternatives.
 

nopiano

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Feb 15, 2009
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The surprise for me is the absence of Q Acoustics in any speaker category. I think buyers of previous winners get upset when a great product, like repeat winners from QA, KEF and ATC, for example, suddenly disappear.

And TVs don’t dare compare with last years models which are mostly similar but miles cheaper. You need to look in Which? magazine for that though their latest issue is almost identical to the WHF awards for tellies.

Did I miss the cartridges, cables and stands, or have they vanished?
 
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martinmj

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Oct 6, 2020
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Much as I love my Cyrus 8 QX DAC, when I needed a replacement for my now ( still very good) Marantz CD5004, I thought long and hard about getting a CD transport-only to make full use of the Cyrus DAC.
But no way could I justify the cost of the Cyrus model that features in the What Hi-Fi awards 2020. Plus the reliabilty from what I saw online looked questionable, although I know from previous experience with Cyrus their service department is/was very good. So I looked elsewhere, and it was a toss-up between the Cambridge and Audiolab transports, and I went with the Audiolab 6000 CDT in the end. Superb, and retrieving information that even the Marantz failed to find. But can I see even a mention in the What Hi-Fi awards, or even a past review! So how can you justify the Cyrus in that category when you have not even auditioned the Audiolab?
 
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Adam W.

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Aug 19, 2020
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I have read the odd comment about What HiFi? favouring UK brands and frequently giving them five stars and/or awards.

Personally, I don't think that's the case. I think it's simply that it happens to be a British publication and therefore reviews a lot of British gear... And where better for British brands to advertise their products at home?

I'm originally from the UK (I'm British), but have been living in the U.S. for just over a decade. I can tell you that British HiFi is very well regarded here. It's something the UK is really good at. I think some Brits have a tendency to talk down or ridicule anything British. The UK's HiFi industry is something to be proud of.
 

myrrhman

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Apr 24, 2020
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I agree that there are some great British hifi brands and there is nothing wrong with giving high quality British-made gear due prominence (although of course many of these brands - Rega, Chord, Spendor excepted of course - actually manufacture in China). But a domestic bias doesn't explain the absence of otherwise well-regarded products from the likes of (for example) Trichord or Harbeth, and limited coverage of brands like Meridian, Creek or Linn. The common denominator I'm afraid does appear to be advertising spend rather than provenance.
 

doifeellucky

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Feb 3, 2016
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A high proportion of these are 2019 or older, like the Grado 325e, which was released in 2014. I've seen and read many reviews of similarly priced headphones released in the last year or so. None of them reviewed by WHF. Where's the likes of Schiit? One WHF review. As someone else mentioned where is Hegel? One DAC from 2011. They need to start looking at Chi-Fi too. You can't just ignore that market. Looking at the frequent number of re-reviews, just changing the published date is very lazy (especially for products that are several years old), manufacturers just aren't sending new products to WHF. Bit of a shame. I've been a reader since the days of the A400.
 
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Friesiansam

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Feb 3, 2015
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manufacturers just aren't sending new products to WHF.
This is likely the main problem. Mainstream publications, such as WHF, have to rely on manufacturers or importers, to supply them with new products for review. If those manufacturers/importers don't feel WHF is read by their target buyers, then WHF won't be sent products for review. If you want to see a greater range of products reviewed, cast your net wider.
 

myrrhman

Well-known member
Apr 24, 2020
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A high proportion of these are 2019 or older, like the Grado 325e, which was released in 2014. I've seen and read many reviews of similarly priced headphones released in the last year or so. None of them reviewed by WHF. Where's the likes of Schiit? One WHF review. As someone else mentioned where is Hegel? One DAC from 2011. They need to start looking at Chi-Fi too. You can't just ignore that market. Looking at the frequent number of re-reviews, just changing the published date is very lazy, manufacturers just aren't sending new products to WHF. Bit of a shame. I've been a reader since the days of the A400.
Couldn't agree more. Give a fair hearing to US brands like Mofi, Mytek and Schiit, consider Chi-fi DACs like Denafrips in comparison to Chord - we can then decide as consumers whether we want to favour British or European products over US or Chinese.
 

Simon 13th note

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This is likely the main problem. Mainstream publications, such as WHF, have to rely on manufacturers or importers, to supply them with new products for review. If those manufacturers/importers don't feel WHF is read by their target buyers, then WHF won't be sent products for review. If you want to see a greater range of products reviewed, cast your net wider.
that's not it at all. What HiFi with the readership is an established magazine that can be, pretty much, sent any products it wishes. Even little old me can get loads of products.

The issue is that, rightly or wrongly, whf needs those sending products to sponsor them (in advertising) for the exchange. It's a commercial operation. If the brand isn't prepared too eg ATC or Harbeth, then whf won't do the reviews. In one way of thinking this is fair, not to consumers though.

The reason Harbeth doesn't get a look in is because Alan Shaw of Harbeth won't lend his products out. He doesn't believe in reviews where everything he wants is measured. They are half a mile down the road from me and wont even let people around their factory, so sometimes its more about brands.
 

MUSICRAFT

Well-known member
new amps in 2020 Hegel H95, H390 & H120 .
Well at least the H95 and H120 are in good company as they have stiff competition with the recent introduction of Lyngdorf Audio's new TDAI-1120 and amongst its other qualities the ability to tackle and keep in check the most important element THE ROOM with the bees knees of digital room correction Lyngdorf Audio's RoomPerfect.

Btw, the H390 is also happens to be in good company in the form of the TDAI-3400.

Peter Lyngdorf CEO Steinway Lyngdorf on Lyngdorf Audio's RoomPerfect room correction -

"one of the things that people don't realise is that if they buy the best speakers in the world and put it in a normal living room about 85% of the sound they hear is coming from the room"

"speakers are 15% of the sound and the room is 85% and those 85% typically are not so good"

"when you can digitally compensate in the correct way, we can actually make sure if you buy Bowers & Wilkins speakers or DALI speakers or really good loudspeakers it will sound the best that that speaker can sound in your own room and that is what really matters"
 

Romulus

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Nov 21, 2014
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Well at least the H95 and H120 are in good company as they have stiff competition with the recent introduction of Lyngdorf Audio's new TDAI-1120 and amongst its other qualities the ability to tackle and keep in check the most important element THE ROOM with the bees knees of digital room correction Lyngdorf Audio's RoomPerfect.

Btw, the H390 is also happens to be in good company in the form of the TDAI-3400.

Peter Lyngdorf CEO Steinway Lyngdorf on Lyngdorf Audio's RoomPerfect room correction -

"one of the things that people don't realise is that if they buy the best speakers in the world and put it in a normal living room about 85% of the sound they hear is coming from the room"

"speakers are 15% of the sound and the room is 85% and those 85% typically are not so good"

"when you can digitally compensate in the correct way, we can actually make sure if you buy Bowers & Wilkins speakers or DALI speakers or really good loudspeakers it will sound the best that that speaker can sound in your own room and that is what really matters"
I thought this was a HiFi forum not Classified adverts for your stock as so comprehensively and brazenly shown above:(
 
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Simon 13th note

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Well at least the H95 and H120 are in good company as they have stiff competition with the recent introduction of Lyngdorf Audio's new TDAI-1120 and amongst its other qualities the ability to tackle and keep in check the most important element THE ROOM with the bees knees of digital room correction Lyngdorf Audio's RoomPerfect.

Btw, the H390 is also happens to be in good company in the form of the TDAI-3400.

Peter Lyngdorf CEO Steinway Lyngdorf on Lyngdorf Audio's RoomPerfect room correction -

"one of the things that people don't realise is that if they buy the best speakers in the world and put it in a normal living room about 85% of the sound they hear is coming from the room"

"speakers are 15% of the sound and the room is 85% and those 85% typically are not so good"

"when you can digitally compensate in the correct way, we can actually make sure if you buy Bowers & Wilkins speakers or DALI speakers or really good loudspeakers it will sound the best that that speaker can sound in your own room and that is what really matters"
85% is definitely not coming from the room. If the volume is low then the room effects are drastically reduced and lower than people think.

If I spoke in a room and then in another room, even as loud as I could, could my relations say that the sound of 'me' is 85% of the room to the extent they can't discern what I 'sound' like? Based this way it makes the argument a difficult one.
 

bigboss

Moderator
The issue is that, rightly or wrongly, whf needs those sending products to sponsor them (in advertising) for the exchange. It's a commercial operation. If the brand isn't prepared too eg ATC or Harbeth, then whf won't do the reviews. In one way of thinking this is fair, not to consumers though.
Have you got any evidence to back up your libelous comment?
 

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