Buying the right set of speakers - and choosing an amp to go with them - is a big choice. But your hi-fi system should be awesome, and we can assist with that. Whether it's wireless or wired, tabletop radio or huge subwoofer, tube or solid-state amp, our buying guides and reviews can help.

 

Best Smart Speakers of 2018

Voice assistants can read you your appointments, tell really bad jokes, and take full control of your music. They come packed inside some great speakers, and to help you pick the right one, we've put together a list of the best of this year.

Best Wireless Speakers of 2018

Wireless and Bluetooth speakers are the bomb. Whether you're using a portable Bluetooth speaker at the beach, or listening to music in the kitchen, you're virtually guaranteed solid sound quality and a great experience.

Best Floorstanding Speakers of 2018

Floorstanding speakers have one of the most recognizable profiles of all speaker types. They're designed to slot in next to bookcases and TV cabinets, and their shape has two major advantages...

Best Bookshelf Speakers of 2018

Ever since the glory days, when hi-fi systems were integrated and even color-matched to the furniture, bookshelf speakers have been the beating heart of the party...

Best Soundbars of 2018

If you live in an apartment, especially one with a small living room, then a full surround sound system is most likely a no-go. A soundbar is a much better option, and will pack everything you could possibly need into one convenient, slim box.

Best Soundbases of 2018

Soundbases don’t often get a lot of respect and audio world. This is a landscape dominated by huge tower speakers, feature-heavy home theater systems and sleek soundbars.

Best Speaker Docks of 2018

Docking speakers have been around for nearly two decades now, having grown as a separate, symbiotic A/V branch out of the big Apple tree - almost instantaneously since the iPod’s birthday.

Best Computer Speakers of 2018

Whether you need a pair of low-profile desk speakers for everyday use, or a massive 5.1 surround sound setup for some serious dungeon crawling, you've come to the right place. No matter what your speaker needs may be, below you'll find the perfect setup.

Best Stereo Amps of 2018

An amp should be the center of your hi-fi world. It should be the focus point for all your efforts, the piece of equipment that can make or break your sound. Everything flows into it, and everything flows out of it...

Best Headphone Amps of 2018

You wouldn't expect headphones to need any special equipment to work. They are just about as simple as audio equipment gets. You plug them in, turn your device on, and music comes through. But what if you don’t just want to listen to your music?

Best DACs of 2018

A simple DAC upgrade can do wonders for your audio playback, as for example, a 4K-capable TV might change your movie viewing experience. So why not take the jump?  We’ve gathered some of the most exciting converters currently on the market.

Best Tabletop Radios of 2018

At a time when audio equipment is geared towards the future, when wireless speakers, phone docks and surround sound are ubiquitous, you might think that the humble tabletop radio is extinct. Not even close.

Best Turntables of 2018

Vinyl records are just cool. They deliver music with an elusive and even romantic warmth that audiophiles continue to love.

Best Phono Preamps of 2018

If you’re reading this, you are at the very least intrigued about great-sounding vinyl playback. That’s not an easy thing to get right: record players are very much like fine musical instruments, so you need a damn good preamp.

Best Subwoofers of 2018

You can survive with just a regular set of speakers. You don’t, strictly speaking, need a subwoofer. But you cannot believe the difference having one will make. This big box of wonder will do incredible things to your sound.

Wired vs. Wireless Speakers

Wireless speakers have become the quiet juggernaut of the audio industry. Ever since features like Bluetooth and WiFi became commonplace, manufacturers have been tinkering, slowly freeing us from the chaos of wires and ceiling speakers.

Integrated Amps vs. Pre and Power Amps

Picking the best amp can be a pretty hairy procedure. What inputs and outputs do I need? Is it right for my speakers? Is it going to give me the best sound? Here at TMS, those are the kind of questions we get a real kick out of answering.

Soundbars vs. Soundbases

If you’re curious about the differences between soundbars and soundbases but still unacquainted, let’s delve into their features, similarities and differences - and give you everything you need to choose between them.

5.1 vs. 7.1 Home Theater Explained

We get it. Home theater can be crazy confusing, especially if you’re just starting out. In one of the biggest decisions you’ll need to make is whether to go for a basic five-speaker system or a more powerful seven-speaker system.

A/V Receiver Setup Explained

Setting up a home theater system can be daunting as hell. Not only do you have to contend with miles and miles of speaker wire, as well as figuring out where exactly you’re going to put the damn things and whether or not you need to drill holes in your...

Review: Amazon Echo Dot (3rd Gen)

Amazon’s Echo series has been a trailblazer for smart speakers. The company was among the first to make virtual assistants available to the world, and with their budget Echo Dot line, they’ve made it even easier to get a smart speaker in your life.

Review: Amazon Echo Spot

Every company in the world is putting out smart speakers. More often than not, they’ll attach a screen to them. At the time of writing this review, the best smart speaker with a screen, in our opinion, is still the tiny little Amazon Echo Spot.

Review: Apple HomePod

When Apple announced they were releasing a smart speaker, we were sceptical. This is not a company known for amazing sound quality. But while we wanted to hate the HomePod, it won us over - and we think it will win you over, too.

Review: Audioengine HD3

It’s hard not to be enamoured with Audioengine. They make some of the most enjoyable speakers available, from the superlative A5+ powered speakers to the thundering S8 subwoofer. And they've really turned heads with the HD3.

Review: Audioengine HDP6

The bookshelf speaker market is hugely competitive, with hundreds of companies putting out everything from tiny wireless wonders to huge monoliths that shade the line between bookshelf and tower speakers. Audioengine have made waves here.

Review: Beats Pill+

Beats by Dre have yet to make a pair of headphones that impress us. But how do they fare when they get a chance to boost the power, and try their hand at an actual speaker?

Review: Bryston BryFi

Bryston are the last people we expected to see in the wireless speaker space. The venerable Canadian company is better known for producing incredible amplifiers, all done with a kind of nerdy, functional charm.

Review: Cambridge Audio Minx Air 200

Wireless audio is a big hit, and is quickly becoming the latest serial home invader. You won’t see it, but these days you will certainly hear it, loud and clear. The Air 200 speaker is the perfect example.

Review: Devialet Gold Phantom

Everybody always forgets about France. When people think of high-end audio, they think of Germany and Austria, Great Britain, and Japan. They don’t think about the French...

Review: Fluance Signature Series HiFi

It's easy to buy a set of acceptable, budget bookshelf speakers. It's very, very hard to buy a pair that truly excel. Canadian speaker-maker Fluance wants to remedy that, with a pair of nifty sub-$200 speakers. But have they succeeded?

Review: Grace Digital Mondo+

Weirdly, we don’t get a ton of tabletop radios for review here. No idea why; we’ve certainly asked. The big companies - Como, Bose, Tivoli - seem curiously resistant to letting us try their gear. Grace Digital are different.

Review: JBL Charge 3

Yes, we’re reviewing another wireless speaker. And before our diehard fans start throwing rotten tomatoes and accusing us of brainwash, we’ll tell you why. Sit back down in your chair and be prepared to read about one of the most popular speakers...

Review: JBL Flip 4

Portable speakers are booming, with new models popping up every couple months. All of them are fighting for the crown, including the all-popular JBL.

Review: Kanto SYD

Every new wireless speaker we receive feels like it’s more complicated than the last. With the SYD, Kanto are trying something a little more old-school, releasing a Bluetooth speaker that is refreshingly simple.

Review: KEF EGG

KEF are legendary. We trust we don’t have to dwell on this. The speaker maker has been wowing listeners for quite some time, with models like the LS50 and LS50 Wireless that offer some truly magnificent sound.

Review: Klipsch The Three

Here at The Master Switch, we've tested an astronomical amount of wireless speakers. From portable to stationary, waterproof to pressurized and potential explosive hazard; we've seen them all.

Review: MarkAudio-SOTA Cesti T

MarkAudio-SOTA is a name that not a ton of people outside of the hardcore audiophile world know. It’s a collaboration between Mark Audio and SOTA Acoustics (obviously) and over the past few years, they’ve been putting out some seriously good stuff.

Review: Paradigm PW 600

Nothing makes us happier than replacing an already brilliant bit of kit with something even better, because who doesn’t love a challenger? So we were really, really excited to unwrap speaker maker Paradigm’s PW 600.

Review: Polk Audio Omni S2

We really, really wanted to like the Polk Audio Omni S2. It kind of hurts writing that. Criticising a bad audio product is easy. It’s plain to see when shortcuts have been taken with production, when materials or build aren’t up to scratch...

Review: Raumfeld One S

You’ve got to have pretty big ambitions to compete with SONOS in the wireless speaker market. That company’s already got most of the action sewn up, and with good reason, but that hasn’t stopped others from trying to get some.

Review: Sengled Pulse

Back in the distant past (2014) The Master Switch existed as a general tech site. Sure, we had the best speakers and headphones and amps rounded up, but we also featured everything from laptops and printers to snowblowers and blenders.

Review: Solis SO-7000

We’ve been covering a lot of wireless gadgets lately, and there’s a good reason why. Wireless is the way of the future. Audiophiles and hi-fi fans, feel free to groan, but there’s something liberating about not having to plug everything in.

Review: Solis SO-8000

Did you know that you can still buy actual hi-fi systems? As in, two speakers and a dedicated CD/tape-deck/AM-FM tower - the kind of thing you used to see in dorm rooms in the 1990s. On that note: meet the SO8000.

Review: SONOS One

We always knew SONOS would come out with a smart speaker. The company has positioned itself as a technological trailblazer and smart speakers are right on the bleeding edge.

Review: SONOS PLAY:3

There are very few speakers that ask you to perform an interpretive dance before you can use them. But the SONOS PLAY:3 boldly delves into this new territory...

Review: SVS Prime Elevation

The problem with most modern living spaces is that they’re just not geared up for home theater.  When most people live in an apartment, or a moderately sized house, there’s no such thing as a dedicated media room...

Review: SVS PB16-Ultra

There are some things in life you can’t say no to. Threesomes. That’s a good one. A ride on a private jet. A chance to meet Samuel L. Jackson, courtside seats to a play-off game. The SVS PB16 Ultra is one of those things.

Review: SVS Prime Towers

When speaker maker SVS asked if they could ship us a pair of their Ultra Tower speakers to review, the response was an enthusiastic yes. But what actually arrived, courtesy of a distributor mixup, was a pair of their older Prime Towers...

Review: SVS Ultra Towers

If you’re going to call a floorstanding speaker the Ultra, then you’d better have a set of brass balls backing up that particular claim. Then again, the Ultra Towers are easily among the best floorstanding speakers out there.

Review: UE BOOM 2

Whether it be hiking through rugged forests or a simple day at the beach, we want to be able to take our music everywhere we go. We’ve been compiling a list of the best portable Bluetooth speakers, and this little number has found itself near the top.

Review: UE MEGABLAST

We’ve been reviewing quite a few portable speakers lately, in search of the one that will give us the best value-for-money, sound, and ease-of-use, all in one package. We’ve come across a couple of gems, including the UE MEGABLAST.

Review: UE Megaboom

Ultimate Ears say that their Megaboom speaker “can be immersed in liquid up to 1m for up to 30 minutes.” At The Master Switch, we have only one response to this: Challenge accepted.

Review: UE Roll 2

The tech we review is often classy, usually sleek, occasionally drop dead gorgeous. But very rarely does it invoke a sense of glee, or surprise. The UE Roll 2 does both, in spectacular fashion.

Review: Bluewave GET

On a recent trip to Toronto for the TAVES audio show, we got chatting to two guys from Montreal, Pierre and Stéphane, who owned a company called Bluewave. What they were showing was a single product: a tiny little portable headphone amp called the GET.

Review: Bryston B60R

Sometimes, you just need noise. Good, old-fashioned, wonderful noise. No Bluetooth, no cute input lights, no digital displays. Just a big, grunting monster of an amplifier that you can use to mess things up.

Review: Burson Audio PLAY

Headphone amps, for the most part, break down into two categories: ones that you plug in and forget about, and ones that invite you to tinker - messing with the settings, switching out various bits, and generally getting your hands dirty.

Double Review: Cambridge Audio CXN (V2) & CXA80

This is going to be an unusual review. For the first, time, we're reviewing two products at once. Cambridge Audio's CXN (V2) streamer and CXA80 amplifier may retail as separate products, but we've never seen another pair that work so well together.

Review: Feliks Elise MkII

Feliks Audio is a Polish boutique headphone amplifier manufacturer that specializes in tube circuit designs. Their Elise MkII model has been making waves on tube amp forums and trade shows

Review: FiiO A5

Portable amps are tricky little things. While they unquestionably make your sound better, they don’t have the luxuries that desktop models do. They can’t be heavy, or feature cool-looking tubes, or have loads of connections.

Review: FiiO Q5

Convincing people to carry around a portable amplifier in addition to a phone is a bit like asking Usain Bolt to strap rockets to his feet. Yes, it will technically make him faster, but it’s also cumbersome and annoying, and will probably explode.

Review: Goldmund Telos 2

We’ll be honest: we never expected to review a product from Goldmund on this site. They’re not just a high-end audio brand; they’re floating somewhere above the very concept of high end. And yet: here we are.

Review: H2 Designs MIYO

We flatter ourselves that we know most, if not all, of the audio industry players, and what they do. But we hadn’t heard of H2 Designs. They recently got in touch to ask if we’d like to try out their new MIYO audio interface.

Review: Hafler HA75

There’s no denying that high-end headphones and headphone amps can be amazingly nerdy. Wade into even the shallow end, and you’ll find yourself swamped by a discussion of whether a 12AX7 tube is better than a 6S7L, or an endless debates about...

Review: iFi Audio micro iCAN SE

It can often be a challenge to go for an audio company that prizes rigorous engineering over marketing flair. Judging by their website and their staid, sober presence on social media, you might be forgiven for bypassing iFi Audio. Don't.

Review: JDS Labs The Element

One of the biggest debates in the audio world is whether an amplifier should change the quality of the music, or simply present it as objectively as possible. The JDS Labs The Element can help with that.

Review: JDS Labs Objective2

Quick question. How much color do you like in your music? Do you like your bass to be fat, your mids to be warm, your soundstage to be wide of the hills? Or do you prefer no color at all, with an aggressively analytical sound?

Review: Linear Tube Audio MZ2-S

The MZ2-S is that something. It’s expensive, and specialised, and not for everyone. But if you’re willing to give yourself over to it, you’ll be in for one of the greatest musical experiences a human being can have. 

Review: Mayflower ARC

It’s actually quite rare to find dedicated amplifiers for gaming headphones. If a gamer does spend money on amp – as opposed to splurging on screen, mouse, and headset – it’s not likely to be a specialised one.

Review: NAD D3020 V2

Stereo amps can be boring as hell. The companies that make them are more often than not concerned with treating the internals, and ignoring what things look like on the outside. The NAD D3020 V2 is different.

Review: Peachtree Audio nova300

You want to know the reason Apple was so successful? The reason they, above all others, dominated the first fifteen years of this century and became a global juggernaut? They kept it simple. So does Peachtree Audio.

Review: Rotel RA-1572

Rotel don’t often get the love they deserve. Perhaps it’s the name, which, if you’re not familiar with the brand, sounds like a copy machine manufacturer. We think they deserve to be a household name.

Review: Schiit Fulla 2

Let’s get one thing out of the way first. We solemnly swear that in this review, and in all future reviews, we will not make any jokes, puns, bon mots or witty jibes at Schiit Audio’s name.

Review: Schiit Magni 3

It’s almost a right of passage for anybody looking to get into the world of audio. For many, the first stop in upgrading their headphones sound is a little outfit out of Valencia, California: Schiit Audio, pronounced exactly like you think it is.

Review: Schiit Lyr 3

Rule number one when writing a Schiit review: don’t make jokes about the name. They’ve not only heard them all before, they probably wrote most of them. Rule number two: don’t expect a newer version of a product to even be close to what the old one was.

Review: Solis SO-8000

Did you know that you can still buy actual hi-fi systems? As in, two speakers and a dedicated CD/tape-deck/AM-FM tower - the kind of thing you used to see in dorm rooms in the 1990s. On that note: meet the SO8000.

Review: Sony TA-ZH1ES

Dear Sony marketing department: can we talk? Can we be real for a sec? Thank you. We’re just trying to understand, you see. We want to figure out how your minds work. How do you name something the TA-ZH1ES with a straight face?

Review: AudioQuest Beetle

It’s often easy to forget in the seemingly endless mission for better and better sound, but the role of a Digital-to-Analog Converter (DAC) isn’t just to improve the audio quality. It’s also there to make it easy to send the audio where you need it.

Review: Benchmark DAC3 HGC

If you like to tinker, if you like to go deep into your equipment, and if you like to have your efforts rewarded, then you are going to want to hear this. It’s spectacular.

Review: Chord Mojo

Chord Electronics, the purveyors of handmade British hi-fi have been - since the eighties, no less - making waves with their innovative DACs and headphone amplifiers. The Mojo is one of them.

Review: Chord Hugo 2

Chord Electronics are mad. Other companies will make a high-end DAC, and call it done. Chord made one, then gave it Bluetooth, then put in a package small enough to slip into a pocket, then made it look like something you'd see in a music video from 1988.

Review: iFi Audio micro iDAC2

No piece of audio equipment is more contentious than the humble DAC. It can cause some pretty major arguments. iFi Audio’s Micro iDAC2 isn’t going to help either side work out their differences with the other – but in our opinion, it’s solid.

Review: iFi Audio nano iOne

iFi Audio are nothing if not consistent. That’s the kind of first review sentence that normally has most readers rolling their eyes - don’t lie, we saw you do it - but we use it deliberately. But in the Nano iOne, there is a surprising spark of life

Review: iFi Audio xDSD

iFi Audio badly needed a rebrand. The company has a reputation for delivering superb and focused audio gear, but in the past, they’ve done so with all the panache and pizzazz of a statistics symposium.

Review: JDS Labs OL DAC

The debate about whether DACs (Digital-to-Analog Converters) actually make a difference to your sound is still one that has yet to be resolved. As good as it is, the OL DAC from JDS Labs isn’t going to convince the doubters.

Review: Meridian Audio Explorer2

That shelf at Meridian Audio’s HQs displaying their hifi innovation awards must be a substantial one - they’ve come up with plenty of firsts since their formation back in 1977. With the Explorer2, they're hoping to do it again.

Review: Optoma NuForce uDAC5

It’s not often that you can call a piece of audio equipment cute. You can with the Optoma uDAC5. When we took it out the box, our first thought was that someone was pranking us. This thing costs $200?

Review: Naim Uniti Atom

Audiophiles don't like listening to music wirelessly. Wires, they say, are the only way to guarantee pristine audio quality. They just haven't heard the Naim Uniti Atom yet.

Double Review: Cambridge Audio CXN (V2) & CXA80

This is going to be an unusual review. For the first, time, we're reviewing two products at once. Cambridge Audio's CXN (V2) streamer and CXA80 amplifier may retail as separate products, but we've never seen another pair that work so well together.