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Mini hi-fi systems to avoid in 2017

Our testing helps you choose the best mini hi-fi systems as well as avoid the duds

We’ve just put five mini hi-fi systems to the test and uncovered a surprising number of Don’t Buy models, including from some big-name brands, highlighting that the latest isn’t always the greatest.

Ranging in price from a purse-friendly £89, all the way up to an eye-watering £680, our tests show that money and brand name are certainly no guarantee of quality when choosing a new sound system for your home.

Price isn’t taken into account when we review mini hi-fi systems, but it’s always surprising to see expensive models that feel flimsy or are made from cheap materials, or ones that don’t sound anywhere near as great as the manufacturer promises. If you’re buying a mini hi-fi online, there’s no real way of knowing how it will sound once you’ve set it up in your living room. Even trying out a system on the shop floor won’t give you an accurate idea.

As well our expert listening panel, our extensive lab tests make over 100 individual different checks and measurements on each model. This helps us to assess how easy it is to set up and use, how it sounds and whether you should buy it. Read on to find out about the latest five mini hi-fi systems we’ve had in our lab.

Best Buy mini hi-fi systems – find a sound system that is music to your ears

The latest mini hi-fi systems we’ve tested

JVC RD-D70

At £130, the JVC RD-D70 all-in-one mini hi-fi is very reasonably priced. It has two 5-watt speakers, a CD player and a FM/DAB radio, and it’s Bluetooth-enabled, so you can wirelessly stream music from smartphones and tablets. As well as the buttons and dials on the front, it also has a remote control so you can change what you’re listening to without having to get up. To find out how easy this mini hi-fi is to set up and use, as well as our expert listening panel’s verdict on the sound quality, read our full JVC RD-D70 review.

JVC RD-D90

A larger version of the JVC RD-70, the JVC RD-90 costs £150 and it has much bigger 20-watt speakers. It has exactly the same range of functions as its cheaper counterpart, including a USB socket and an aux-in socket for a wired connection if you want to stream music from a device that doesn’t have Bluetooth. The USB port will also handily charge USB devices while you listen. But do its larger speakers mean this mini hi-fi system sounds better than the RD-70? Take a look at our JVC RD-D90 review to discover how it fared in the lab.

Panasonic SC-ALL7CDEB-K

This all-in-one mini hi-fi system is part of a multi-room range, which means it can be hooked up to other Panasonic speakers to play music in multiple rooms simultaneously. It also has a CD player and can digitise your music collection, as well as wirelessly stream from other devices that are NFC (near-field communication) and Bluetooth compatible. With the ability to record FM, DAB and internet radio and link up with Spotify, Napster and AllPlay Radio streaming services, it seems worthy of the £320 price tag. But make sure you read our full Panasonic SC-ALL7CDEB-K review for our in-depth analysis.

Pioneer X-EM16

It would be tough to find a cheaper mini hi-fi than the Pioneer X-EM16. At just £89, this low-cost hi-fi has FM radio, a CD player, a USB socket and an aux-in socket to play music from smartphones and tablets, as well as a remote control. Usually mini hi-fi systems with separate speakers sound better than all-in-ones, which have the speakers built in, but to find out whether that was the case with this particular mini hi-fi go to our full Pioneer X-EM16 review.

Ruark Audio R4 MK3

Ruark Audio’s products do not come cheap, but it has a reputation for manufacturing high-quality and feature-rich radios, speakers and mini hi-fi systems. The R4 MK3 costs £680, but for this you get 80-watt speakers, as well as a CD player, Bluetooth and FM/DAB radio, plus a 3.5mm aux-in and USB port for wired streaming. Ruark promotes it as being one for modern-day technophobes because you simply plug in and play. But to find how this all-in-one really performs take a look at our full Ruark Audio R4 MK3 review.

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