Welcome to the April 2017 issue of Hi-Fi Choice magazine. Spotify is the world’s most popular music streaming service and has recently surpassed 50 million subscribers, according to its own stats. The streaming service giant’s popularity is also confirmed by the results of our own Twitter poll that ran online in early March asking: “What’s the best music streaming service for you?” – see full survey results on p69. Somewhat surprisingly, the results show that even among quality audio fans Spotify’s ad-free Premium subscription service with sound quality only up to 320kbps for its music streams comes top of our poll. 

As an advocate of lossless streaming services, the results are a little disappointing. In our most recent streaming services test (HFC 414) covering six of the main players, Tidal HiFi came out top for its near-CD sound quality from up to 1,411kbps streams. In sound quality terms, Tidal is superior but Spotify’s top place in our poll highlights that a winning streaming service isn’t just about sound quality for listeners. Spotify has risen to the top of the league because of its excellent user interface and uniquely versatile features that make it easy for listeners to access the music they want to hear. 

Lossless audio streaming fans may soon be able to experience Spotify’s slick platform for themselves, as rumours abound that it’s about to launch a Hi-Fi subscription tier, offering near-CD quality streams for an increased monthly fee. How this will affect Tidal is unclear, but we’ll be following the story very closely.

 

This month we take a look at VPI’s Prime Scout turntable, Larsen’s 8 floorstanding speakers, Musical Fidelity’s Encore 225 one-box system, Rega’s Brio integrated amplifier and Rosso Fiorentino’s Elba floorstanders. Plus, Dealer Visit heads to Sound Cinergy in the West Midlands; Music Legends looks at the life and times of super group Fleetwood Mac 

 

 

 

 

Our six-way Group Test looks at six sub-£1k standmount speaker designs that go their own way with models from Acoustic Insight, Arcaydis, Heco, Piega, Russell K and Totem. Find out which models impress us the most and win the day.

 

 

 

 

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