Welcome to the first HiFi Starters news roundup.

There’s a constant stream of new products coming to market. We aim to help you sift through them, overviewing the relevant ones and explaining why you might consider them. A curation service of sorts; we do the work, not you. Likewise we’ll attend suitable product launches, bringing you the inside track.

To start with we have news articles on KEF’s mini marvels, the LSX II Wireless all-in-one speakers (here). Also iFi’s GO bar USB dongle-DAC (here). Adam Audio’s newly updated A-Series active speakers will follow shortly; we attended their launch in London recently (at Tileyard, a fascinating music business hub). Of course a raft of products has already been introduced in the first half of 2022. We’ve picked through the pile and highlighted the ones below. We hope to review some of them, let us know if any are of particular interest (hello@hifistarters.club).


We love the ZEN DAC V2 (review here), the rest of the range has been well received too. So much so that iFi extended the concept – say hello Zen Air (stripped down versions) and ZEN Signature (souped up ZENs)

Zen Air models come in at £99 each, a keen price. A few features have been lost – there’s no balanced circuitry on the DAC for example. iFi assures us the core sound quality remains though. If so, the ZEN Airs could be hugely attractive for those wanting a USB DAC, phono stage, Bluetooth DAC or headphone amplifier.

ZEN Signature models cost £249 – £349, with two DACs and three headphone amplifiers available. The latter are unusual in that each is focused on a particular headphone such as Meze’s lovely 99 Classic. 

Finally iFi has launched the GO Blue, a Bluetooth DAC that pairs wirelessly with your source device. Connection to headphones is still wired. Weighing only 26g it’s very small and, it has to be said, something of a niche product. For a traditional dongle-DAC (oxymoron or what?) check out that GO bar news article. 

More info here


Pro-ject, doyen of the analogue world, has been busy too, with several new turntables and electronic devices seeing the light of day. First up in January was the £369 A1 turntable, a first for Pro-ject as it’s an automatic model. Expect more as Pro-ject’s acquisition of the old Dual turntable factory beds in (they have expertise in automation that Pro-ject lacked). 

Then came the E1 turntable, a slightly stripped down version of the T1. Available for £269, add £30 for in-built phono stage, £100 for phono stage and Bluetooth output. Which looks attractive, even if a mere £30 more bags you the slightly better T1. Time will tell if there’s room for both in the range.

The X8 turntable looks very interesting but at £2,099 is out of reach for the HiFi Starter, As probably is £1,149, but we just have to mention the Metallica Limited Edition turntable that’s as striking as Enter Sandman is raucous. What better photo to headline this article (the red vinyl is a stroke of genius!)

Finally there’s the Maia S3 amplifier with numerous digital and analogue inputs, including a phono stage and Bluetooth. Oh and a headphone amplifier; all for £539. And did we say it’s tiny? If your speakers are fairly efficient (the Maia S3 puts out 24W a channel) then it could well be of interest. 

More info here

Chord Electronics

Chord’s revered Mojo DAC / headphone amplifier has been with us for 7 years now, an age in digital terms. No surprise that Chord chose to update it – welcome Mojo 2. The essentials haven’t changed – small form factor, quirky operation, a focus on SQ – and it’s getting good reviews. The price has crept up to £495, which isn’t small beer and does open up a number of alternative DACs. It’s still very tempting though – let’s see if we can get one in for review.

More info here


Klipsch’ Heritage speakers do ‘live’ better than any others we know. They’re also big and expensive – from £3,500 upwards. Add a nought for the awesome Jubilee. Fear not, if you want a slice of the sound for sensible money there’s the RP-600M that’s just been updated to Mk II status and costs £729. Still not cheap, we’ve requested a review pair to see if they live up to the reputation of the original. 

They’re from the Reference Premier range, with the rest of the models having been updated too. The smaller standmount RP-M500 II is in HiFi Starters territory at £599. The floorstanders are maybe just over it (they start at £1,250 for the RP-5000F II).

Coming in under the Reference Premier range is the…Premier range. Building a £2k system based around the £950 R-600F floorstander is emminently feasible. Even more so with the standmount R-40M (£275) and R-50M (£325), for which matching subwoofers are available.  

More info here


French audio brand Triangle has revealed its BR02 BT and BR03 BT models, both well connected for the modern world. Meaning (aptX) Bluetooth, a phono input for your turntable, optical input for your TV and a 3.5mm catch-all analogue input. Plus subwoofer output. And they have amplification built in (making them active or powered, it’s not clear which). 

Prices are £499 and £599, with five finishes that are a standout feature to these eyes at least. Just add a source for a complete system (there’s no streamer built in). A matching Pro-ject turntable is also being launched soon. 

More info here

Acoustic Energy

Quick off the mark in January was Acoustic Energy with its new 100 Series Mk 2, the entry level to its ranges. A standmount (£260), two floorstanders (£600, £800), and centre speaker (£230) were later joined by an active subwoofer (£500). They look smart and have been garnering good reviews, particularly the AE100-2 standmount. An alternative to Elac’s B5.2 maybe….

More info here


Launched at the Munich High End show, Denon’s PMA-900HNE integrated network amplifier costs £899. It’s rated at 85W a channel into 4 Ohms (so probably 50W or so into 8 Ohms, the normal measure). The amplifier has the (proprietary) HEOS networking platform built in. And if you still have some of those shiny silver discs there’s a matching CD player (& DAC) for £499. 

The amp is an all-in-one, just needing speakers, and could well be an attractive proposition (hands up those who started their HiFi journey with a Denon mini system?!)

More info here


Not so much a launch as a product now being available (Covid delayed things), Rega’s System One costs £1200 and comprises a turntable, amplifier and speakers, together with 3m of speaker cable. Just add speaker stands if you need them. The turntable is the entry-level Planar 1, the amplifier a specially developed model, the io. And the speakers are the small Kytes. It could be an ideal way to dip your toe into the vinyl world.

More info here


At £949 Rotel’s A12 Mk2 amplifier nears the top of the HiFi Starter price bracket. Helping justify its inclusion are its digital and phono inputs, together with Bluetooth capability. The 60W / 8 Ohms power rating should be fine for most speakers. Two CD players, the £649 CD14MKII and £995 RCD-1572MKII, were launched at the same time. Neither can accept digital inputs from other devices such as a streamer, limiting their appeal a little. For those with big CD collections (guilty as charged) they could be attractive options though. 

A few months later the A11 and CD11 Tribute models saw the light of day, the amplifier costing £499, the CD player £399. 

More info here


April saw Technics announcing the latest in its iconic turntable range, the £899 SL-1200M7L. A limited edition direct-drive model, it’s available in 7 colours and comes with a number of accessories including a slipmat. No surprise it’s aimed at the wannabe DJs amongst us (be honest, who hasn’t wanted to own a Technics table?)

More info here

And that, my friends, concludes the voting from the HiFi Starters jury! Many more products have been launched this year but most fall outside our self-imposed remit (£1,000 per component max, more if functionality is combined). Do let us know any we’ve missed though. For now we’ll keep sifting through the Press Releases coming in to ensure you see the wheat not the chaff.