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Gear Of The Year 2019

2019 was the year that hi-fi’s big hitters and new boys raised the bar. Here’s the cream of the turntable crop, together with a host of desirable amps, phono stages and speakers…

While the rest of the planet seemed to lose its collective mind in 2019, we’re pleased to report it was business as usual in the wonderful world of hi-fiengineering. It was impossible to ignore the existing giants of the industry, notably Rega, who consolidated their position as heavyweight champions with notable additions to the range such as the sublime Planar 10.

Elsewhere, other established big hitters such as Cambridge Audio, Monitor Audio and KEF again pushed the envelope, delivering top-level products at attainable price points – the latter continuing its fearless foray into the world of wireless. But it wasn’t all about the veterans this year, with AVID HiFi upping the stakes with their range of brilliantly engineered turntables and amps that challenge the status quo – and with the excellent entry-level Ingenium P&P deck, a genuine masterpiece from Conrad Mas and his team that we mere mortals can conceivably afford. True audiophile listening has never been more affordable than today. Other names, too, such as fast-emerging speaker brands Fyne Audio and Q Acoustics demonstrated that the new breed of British hi-ficompanies have plenty to offer.

So without further ado, on to the awards. Judging was tough before several sleepless nights and a heated pub debate resulted in the following roll of honour. Consider it your Christmas list to forward to Santa…

Turntables UNDER £300

Rega PLANAR 1

£230 www.rega.co.uk

Rega has long dominated the turntable market at higher price points, while Pro-Ject et al have swept up the budget dollar. In 2019, there was only one answer to the question “Where should I spend my money if I want a new deck for less than £250?” The RP1’s handsome aesthetics, minimalist plinth and simplified RB101 arm, coupled with a pleasingly straightforward setup left us asking, “How the hell do they make it so cheap?” An emphatic winner.

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About Long Live Vinyl

Issue 34 of Long Live Vinyl is now on sale! Farewell to 2019! Our massive end-of-year special rounds up the very best of the year in vinyl. First up, we bring you the top 100 new albums of the last 12 months, selected by an expert panel of record shop owners, labels, bands, writers and festival organisers. Once you've filled your Christmas list with that lot, we've picked the top 20 reissues of 2019. You'll find interviews with some of the heroes of the year, too, including Fontaines DC, The Specials, Amyl & The Sniffers, Weyes Blood, Bill Callahan and The Murder Capital. If you're on the lookout for a new turntable, amp, speakers or headphones for Christmas, you'll want to check out our extensive Gear Of The Year awards, and after more than 10,000 of you voted, we name our second annual Record Shop Of The Year. Pick up your copy to find out who's won! In other news, former Led Zeppelin legend Robert Plant sits down for a chat about his new boxset and podcast, while Beck opens up about his latest album, Hyperspace. We also reminisce with The Pop Group over their classic 1979 album Y and tell the story of the label that brought us Love, The Doors and MC5: the one and only Elektra Records. If all that's not enough, you'll find the widest range of vinyl-related news, features and reviews anywhere on the newsstand. Long Live Vinyl is THE magazine for Vinyl lovers.