As the year draws to a close, each of the Expressive Audio team were tasked to look back over the past 12 months and choose the one HiFi product that they've liked the most, or have used most frequently in 2021.
So, in no particular order, here are the Expressive Audio team's top HiFi products of 2021!
Stephen Nelson-Smith (Founder) - Primare SC15
I've been a fan of Primare since I first heard it in my very first job in the industry. For me it's the perfect product - fabulous styling and a wonderful, open, uncoloured sound. The SC15 is the streamer/preamp in the three-quarter-size range that includes the I15 integrated amplifier, the R15 phono stage, and the CD15 CD player. I'm also impressed by Primare's Prisma solution, which allows their products to work with Roon, Chromecast and Apple Airplay.
At present I'm using the SC15 with a huge power amp which we took on a trade-in from a customer, but before that I was experimenting with the System Audio WISA active speakers - WISA being another fascinating technology packed into the SC15. Overall it's a really excellent little preamp, versatile, handsome, and great-sounding.
Helena Nelson-Smith (Co-Founder) - Blue Aura v40
After enjoying the Blue Aura v40 Hybrid Valve Amplifier for well over a year now, it is not hard to vote for this as my favourite HiFi product of 2021. Being a valve pre-amp followed by solid state amplifier in one unit, it combines the warmth and tonality that listeners love about valve amplification, while retaining the convenience and efficiency of solid state technology. It includes features like full Bluetooth aptX connectivity so you can stream CD quality music straight from your phone, as well as a sub-out and a rather entertaining theatrical power up light show on the main valve. The high quality components combined with the fantastic sound and convenient form factor and connectivity features make this an easy to recommend amplifier at just £499.
John Nelson (General Manager) - Fyne F700
Well what more can I say about the Fyne Audio F700? For such a small compact loudspeaker they are simply fabulous, and from the moment the Fyne Audio representative brought them round for me to listen to, I fell in love with them. They are without a doubt my favourite product of the year: they have incredible sound staging, and fast and tuneful bass from such a compact stand mount speaker. You really need to listen to a pair of these wonderful speakers to hear just how good they really are.
Saskia Egeland-Jensen (Marketing) - Dali IO-6
My favourite product this year has been the Dali IO-6 wireless headphones with active noise cancellation. They are extremely comfortable, which means they’re great for studying, or out on a walk listening to music or a podcast. Pairing them to my device was simple, and they automatically connect again when I turn them on. The controls are also easy to use, and the noise cancelling options are very effective. They have a brilliant 30 hour battery life, and for £349 they’re a good quality and affordable option for a university student, with significantly better sound quality than the equivalent fashion accessory Beats option!
Corin Nelson-Smith (Web Manager) - Dali Katch G2
As a 20 year old university student, value for money is everything. That's why I have chosen the superb Dali Katch G2 portable wireless speaker as both my favourite and my most used HiFi product of 2021. The sound quality surpasses any of the competition, the 30 hour battery life means I'm rarely without my music, and the Bluetooth 5.0 technology lets me take my speaker and listen in whatever room I'm working in, or even pair my speaker with a friend's Katch G2 for a full stereo HiFi system that can fit in a backpack. For £329, I think this is hard to beat.
If you'd like to see these speakers in action, check out the YouTube video we made earlier this year!