And the winner is…
Behind the scenes of the 2013 Awards
Thursday, October 17th is a big day for What Hi-Fi? Sound and Vision: it’s when we reveal the winners of the 2013 Awards. This year is particularly special as it’s the Awards’ 30th anniversary…
Back in December 1983 the first Awards event was a low-key affair. 30 years on and it’s grown into one of the key industry events of the year, with the winners announced at a prestigious black-tie dinner at The Dorchester hotel in London in front of 350 guests.
A special Awards issue of the magazine, with bespoke photography of all the winners, goes on sale the same time whathifi.com reveals the winners. This year there will be 99 winners in 22 product categories.
So, how do we pick the winners? Well, for the last couple of months our test team has been burning the midnight oil testing all the latest hi-fi and home-cinema kit in our suite of bespoke, £1m test rooms at Teddington Studios in London.
From TVs to tablets, smartphones to speakers, our reviewers have been flat out putting every piece of kit we could get our hands on through our rigorous test process. We review as a team, so there have been plenty of heated discussions (including some long lunches down the pub!) as we’ve debated long and hard the products that are worthy of our coveted Best Buy and Product of the Year accolades – and which are not.
Products are extensively tested in bespoke, £1million listening suites
This year the most hotly contested categories were, without doubt, smartphones and home-cinema amplifiers. Competition has never been tougher.
In each product category we pick Best Buys at a range of different prices, to suit your budget, and then one overall Product of the Year – our ultimate favourite product in that market sector.
This year we’ve added two new categories to the list: soundbars, and wireless speakers/docks.
Such is the impact of the Awards around the world that often manufacturers will fly the first production sample to the UK specifically to meet our final deadline for entries in the middle of August. This year we’ve had big-name brands bring in their key new products from as far afield as Japan, China and Korea, which means we get to see and hear the latest tech before anyone else does.
As always, we judge on a sound- or vision-per-pound basis. In other words, a product is tested in the context of similarly priced products. So a £100 Blu-ray player, for example, will have to outperform all its rivals at around the same price to win a Best Buy. We’ll then take a look at the next price level, say £150-£300, and pick a winner at that price, and so on. That way you can choose from a range of Best Buys at different prices, depending on how much you want to spend.
Our overall Product of the Year in each category could come from any of the price bands – so it could be a £150 Blu-ray player, or a £1000 TV. For us, it’s a case of choosing the product that combines the best balance of price v performance.
Rest assured, whatever type of product you need, and whatever your budget, a What Hi-Fi? Sound and Vision Award is the ultimate seal of approval.
Andy Clough is brand editor of What Hi-Fi? Sound and Vision magazine
Click here to find out more about how we test