Best Hi-Fi Systems Buying Guide: Welcome to What Hi-Fi?’s round-up of the best hi-fi systems you can buy in 2019.
Whether it’s a true all-in-one micro system complete with speakers, a single box of electronics to which speakers must be added or a pair of speakers housing everything you need, a good all-in-one hi-fi system can save you money and space. And the best can deliver superb sound quality.
We’ve rounded up a selection of options, at different price points, each with its own unique appeal. We have CD systems, wireless Bluetooth systems, and premium hi-fi systems, each compatible with an increasingly wide range of music streaming options from AirPlay to Bluetooth, Spotify to Tidal. Needless to say, all the systems we list here sound pretty special too.
How we choose our best systems
Here at What Hi-Fi? we review hundreds of products every year, from TVs to speakers, headphones to hi-fi systems. So how do we come to our review verdicts? And why can you trust them? Allow us to explain.
The What Hi-Fi? team has more than 100 years experience of reviewing, testing and writing about consumer electronics. We have state-of-the-art testing facilities in London and Bath, where our team of expert reviewers do all our in-house testing. This gives us complete control over the testing process, ensuring consistency. We always ensure we spend plenty of time with the speakers, trying them with different electronics, in different positions and with different music.
All products are tested in comparison with rival products in the same category, and all review verdicts are agreed upon by the team as a whole rather than a single reviewer, helping to ensure consistency and avoid individual subjectivity. That’s why our reviews are trusted by retailers and manufacturers as well as consumers.
From all of our reviews, we choose the top products to feature in our Best Buys, such as this one. That’s why if you take the plunge and buy one of the products recommended below, or on any other Best Buy page, you can rest assured you’re getting a What Hi-Fi?-approved product.
The default all-in-one system choice under £250 for years, this Denon multi-award-winner is still at the top of its game.
You can buy it with or without Denon’s own speakers. WIthout, the system is called RCD-M41DAB and sells for around £280. The speakers are dubbed SC-M41, and they’re £100 a pair. Put the two together and you have the £380 D-M41DAB – we’d happily recommend Denon’s speakers if you don’t have your own already.
Sound quality is remarkable for a system at this price. It has a character of performance that could hold its own against groups of separates at greater cost.
Read the full review: Denon D-M41DAB
Here’s a record player – based on Pro-Ject’s well-regarded Primary turntable – that’s also tricked out with an Ortofon OM 5E cartridge, amplification and Bluetooth receiver in one handy package. All you have to do is add speakers. Simples.
And when you do you’ll be rewarded with a sound that’s always enjoyable to listen to, whatever your musical preferences. This is an all-in-one vinyl system that demands very few compromises, given its price.
Read the full review: Pro-Ject Juke Box E
KEF has shrunk its multi-Award-winning LS50 Wireless streaming system (featured further down this list) down to make a miniature, half-price version, the KEF LSX. The LSX shares its successful sibling’s blueprint as an all-in-one hi-fi system: a network streamer, Bluetooth receiver and amplification within a pair of compact stereo speakers.
And KEF has managed to squeeze much of its innovative system’s performance and feature set into a more modest stature, offering the convenience and versatility of the tried-and-tested package at a much more accessible price that is relatively budget for an all-in hi-fi system. The LSX is a scaled-down, carefully crafted copycat of its sibling, and for that is just as triumphant.
Read the full review: KEF LSX
The Mu-so 2 combines amplifier, streamer and speakers in one stylish, sophisticated package. AirPlay 2, Chromecast and Bluetooth allow you to treat the Naim as a wireless speaker, while built-in services like Tidal and Spotify and support for high-res audio formats give it a serious arsenal of streaming skills. But it’s not all about streaming – the presence of an HDMI ARC input allows you to wire up a TV and boost its sound at the same time.
Don’t be put off by the price tag, though – this is a sensational system. It looks like a premium wireless speaker and it performs like one too with a confident, solid sound. Bass is generous and of a high quality. The sound is packed full of detail and delivered with immense rhythmic drive. If you want a do-it-all premium solution with an equal dose of convenience and quality, the Mu-so 2 could be the solution.
Read the full review: Naim Mu-so 2
As a mini-system, the Melody X is a good option for those who already have a pair of speakers they’re attached to – or are desperate to invest in. The midrange is fairly detailed and open, and the CD player completes a mix that has plenty of appeal. There’s AirPlay 2, Bluetooth and Spotify Connect for wireless streaming, plus HEOS multi-room support for connecting to other products from Denon and Marantz. It supports hi-res audio and voice control through Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri, too. A feature-packed mini system with decent sound.
Read the full review: Marantz Melody X
This talented hi-fi system will fill your room with sound, and now that it can be had for less than the £500 we originally tested it at, it’s good value too.
A retro-styled exterior belies the exhaustive list of modern features packed within. The list includes Bluetooth support, internet radio and Spotify Connect. The Revo’s sonic performance doesn’t disappoint either. Given its size (16.5 x 43 x 22cm) we think it would be most at ease in your living room or bedroom – somewhere with more space and preferably away from corners.
Super by name, super by nature. If you have the space and are after a one-box system to do it all, this will do nicely.
Read the full review: Revo SuperSystem
Recent improvements have made this the finest just-add-speakers hi-fi system for less than a grand. You’d need a four-figure budget for a streamer and amp combination before it could come close to bettering the performance of the Powernode 2i.
If the Award-winning Naim Uniti Atom (mentioned below) is out of reach, Bluesound has come to the rescue with another one-box product that refuses to compromise in any single area, representing another superb all-rounder on a smaller budget.
Read the full review: Bluesound Powernode 2i
These KEF Wirelesses are way more than just active versions of the Award-winning LS50s. They’re a complete system wrapped in a neat and brilliant package.
That £2000 price tag looks pretty hefty for such compact speakers, but remember that money also buys you a dedicated streamer, a Bluetooth module, 24-bit/192kHz DAC, preamp and four power amplifiers with a total of 460W of output.
Is this what the hi-fi system of the future should look like? We certainly hope so.
Read the full review: KEF LS50 Wireless
You may see the Uniti Atom being described as a streamer, but to do so is to do it something of a disservice. In effect it’s a system, to which you need only attach a suitably talented pair of speakers.
From the coffee-coaster volume dial on the roof – the pleasure of playing with it, as we found with the Naim Mu-So, is almost enough in itself to justify buying this system – to its full-colour LCD front panel display exhibiting album art as it plays, Naim has nailed the crossover between lifestyle product and premium hi-fi.
Read the full review: Naim Uniti Atom
The Naim Uniti Star is a cutting-edge streaming system – all you need to do is to add speakers. It differs from its pure streaming siblings in having a CD drive built-in. This makes it ideal for anyone who still has a CD collection but also wants the ability to stream music in any manner they choose.
Naim’s engineers have taken care to ensure the level of dynamic subtlety, resolution and musical drive remains consistent whichever source you use. Given our experience of other Uniti products in the range, we’re not the least bit surprised that the Star turns out to be so capable.
Read the full review: Naim Uniti Star
£4200 is a lot of money to pay for a system. Of course, the Uniti Nova looks good, is built to last and is lavishly specified. But by the time you’ve auditioned and purchased appropriate speakers you’re looking, realistically, at a total price of anything between £6k and £9k. That’s nobody’s idea of a frivolous purchase.
But if you have the money and inclination, and want a product of overarching convenience that doesn’t compromise on performance in the slightest, you owe it to yourself to hear the Uniti Nova. Connectivity includes wi-fi, AirPlay, and a spread of digital inputs, including USB and HDMI (ARC).
Read the full review: Naim Uniti Nova