Are music systems getting smaller? In terms of physical dimensions, audio components are definitely shrinking in my setup. A quick flick through this month’s issue is testament to the audio industry’s move towards compact design and practical portability – and I don’t mean the kind of shrinkage that leaves you feeling short changed as you do with unscrupulous food brands reducing their pack sizes. Technology is a wonderful thing and a move to downsize a hi-fi product doesn’t have to mean a sacrifice in audio quality or resolving power, as our reviews of Chord Electronics’ Hugo 2 and Audiolab’s M-DAC Mini demonstrate. Even the briefest audition of the all-new Hugo 2 DAC and headphone amplifier will leave you in no doubt that this is a tremendously mighty and flexible device that builds on the success of its quirky predecessor and redefines what we can realistically expect from something that’s not much bigger than a pack of cigarettes. 

Portable music players continue to grow in popularity, and this month’s Group Test looks at six models across a broad range of prices to ask if entry-level players do enough to render their more costly rivals irrelevant. With many equipped with wi-fi and Bluetooth connectivity and onboard streaming services like Tidal, these pocket rockets are powerful persuaders for anyone seeking a front-end for either a mobile or home-based music system.

Also inside the October 2017 issue, Exotica takes a look at Italy’s Audiofilia AF-S2 standmount speakers, while our regular reviews section looks at the new entry-level EAT B-Sharp turntable, Auralic’s Altair streaming DAC/preamp as well as Rotel’s new 15 Series RA-1572 integrated amplifier. Plus, Beautiful System looks at a stunning all-in-one system from AVM partnered with PMC’s twenty5.24 floorstander, while Music Legends charts The Rolling Stones and our six-way Group Test of digital audio players looks at models from Acoustic Research, Astell&Kern, ATC HiFi, Onkyo, Questyle and Shanling.

Pick up a copy of the latest issue from your nearest newsagent.

Lee Dunkley, editor