I am sure many readers will have fond memories of putting together their first hi-fi separates systems, based on thumbing through hi-fi press review pages of the time in search of the best-sounding components to satisfy their quality audio itch at an affordable price. For me, my first hi-fi setup was an eclectic bunch of components comprised of a Rotel integrated amplifier, Sony CD player and a pair of Tannoy Mercury standmounts. I don’t recall the exact model numbers, but I’ll certainly never forget the lively and engaging sound this beer-budget system delivered and the fun I had playing disc after disc. It’s a long way from my system today, but it set me on the hi-fi path and this month’s bargain standmount Group Test aims to do just that for seekers of high-quality audio.

The entry-point passive speaker market is on top form right now, and the sextet of models in this month’s group quite literally evolved into being as the second lineup of standmount loudspeakers we’ve seen this year. It’s testament to just how competitive the sector is, which is fantastic news for audio fans looking for a great-sounding budget speaker design to form part of a setup that has real star quality.

Inside the October issue: Auralic’s Aries G1 streaming transport, Arcam’s SA10 integrated amplifier, PMC’s Cor integrated amplifier, Triangle’s Esprit Australe EZ floorstanding loudspeaker, Denon’s AH-D7200 headphone, Novafidelity’s X45 music server, ripper, streamer and DAC, Lindemann’s Limetree Phono preamp, Sonos’ Beam soundbar. Plus, Music Legends pays tribute to singer and songwriter extraordinaire Elvis Costello, while Dealer Visit heads to Harrow Audio who put together three unique systems at a variety of budgets. Our Group Test looks at six sub-£270 standmount loudspeakers for anyone building a starter stereo system from: Acoustic Energy, DALI, Fyne Audio, Jamo, Q Acoustics and Wharfedale.

Lee Dunkley, editor