Welcome to the February 2016 issue of Hi-Fi Choice – the essential guide to getting the best possible sound from your hi-fi, whether you're buying, tuning or tweaking...

As a fellow audio enthusiast, you will already know that listening to music is an art, one that gives a tremendous amount of pleasure – especially when the tunes in question are played back at the highest quality available. I have always believed that compression is a plague to my enjoyment of music, no matter how impressive it is at reducing the size of the files to allow me to store more of them on my device. The codecs may be efficient in the way that they save me space, but there’s always a price to pay and the reduction in resolution is so often to the detriment of the quality of what I’m hearing.

Compression in music is a fact of life and inherent in its many forms throughout the audio chain – it’s introduced at the recording studio at the mastering stage to make one performance sound louder than the last (the so called Loudness War), and in the transmission of radio broadcasts, for example. For me, it was a great day when high-resolution material finally became available and I have since had a FLAC and ALAC hi-res habit that’s eating away at my device’s valuable storage space. Thankfully Meridian’s revolutionary Master Quality Authenticated (MQA) lossless format – which reduces hi-res files to a more manageable size without sacrificing quality – looks set to be more commonplace and Pioneer’s XDP-100R reviewed in this issue is the world’s first MQA-compatible portable player.

Lee Dunkley (Editor, Hi-Fi Choice)



Also in the February issue: we put the Analogue Works Zero+ turntable package through its paces as well as Elac's dazzling Debut B6 standmount loudspeaker.






Group Test: six sub-£400 phono stages to put your vinyl on track from Alpha Design Labs, Creek, Graham Slee, Pro-Ject, Rothwell and Vincent








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