Mini hi-fi systems can be expensive and temperamental, but our aim is to make sure you don’t end up out of pocket or with a useless product. Unlike other review sites, we go out and buy every single mini hi-fi we review, just as you would, and then we take it to our lab for stringent testing.

In our mini-hi-fi testing, we look at everything from simple, budget models costing less than £100, to pricey, feature-packed devices going for upwards of £500.

We test models from the biggest brands on the market, including Panasonic, Sony, Cambridge Audio, Denon and Pioneer, and look at a wide range of models for each so you can decide when it’s worth spending your money and when it’s not.

Those we judge to be Which? Best Buy mini hi-fis sound fantastic and are easy to use, with no convoluted instruction manuals to wade through or overly-complicated processes to change music source. You can be sure that it is a genuinely excellent device.

Our thorough lab tests look at every aspect of the mini hi-fi, including:

How easy it is to set up and use

How well it sounds whether you’re listening to classical, jazz, rock or pop.

What useful features it has, such as a radio, CD player, and music streaming capabilities. We also look at the ability to hook up an external device such as a smartphone or MP3 player and play music through your hi-fi speakers. We’ve been testing mini hi-fi systems in our labs for more than 20 years so we know what separates the cream from the crop.

And we don’t just reveal the best – we also highlight poor scoring Don’t Buy mini hi-fis, so you don’t inadvertently end up with an overpriced dud that you’ll soon want to replace.

What methods do we use to find the best tiny hi-fi systems?

There’s no way to know how a tiny hi-fi will sound till you’ve put it up in your living room if you buy it online. Even attempting to test a system on the shop floor will not provide you with an accurate picture. Our rigorous lab examinations include over 100 distinct checks and measurements, in addition to our professional listening panel.

This allows us to provide detailed ratings for all of a tiny hi-fi system’s essential features, so you can get a sense of what to look for and what options are accessible to you. We evaluate each tiny hi-fi according to the following criteria:

The sound quality is excellent.

Our expert team evaluates sound quality by listening to recordings from a set of test tracks chosen to put each system to the test.
Setting up and ergonomics

We then test the many functions and features of the hi-fi systems in the manner in which you would use them, determining how easy and intuitive each is to use and whether there are any notable downsides.

Energy consumption

We measure how much electricity each little hi-fi consumes when it’s turned off and when it’s playing music at a normal volume. This is converted into a star rating to reflect how much it will likely increase your electricity cost.

 

Mini hi-fi systems reviews

 

Denon CEOL N10 (Denon SC-N10 speakers included) review

£549.00View retailers

Test scoreShow Context

73%

Key features

  • Separate speakers
  • Bluetooth

 

verdict: Impressive sound system

If you’ve been waiting for a mini hi-fi that you can use to stream music, look no further. The Denon CEOL N10 did well in all our tests: it sounds great, and is easy to set up and use. There’s a lot of potential here for creating the perfect audio setup for your home. It’s a well-deserved Best Buy.

Pros

  • Great sound quality
  • Lots of features and connection options
  • Very good app

Cons

  • Will be too complex for some

Panasonic SC-HC2020 review

£249.00Typical price

Test scoreShow Context

69%

Key features

  • Built-in speakers
  • Bluetooth

 

verdict: Great range of functionality in a compact package

Panasonic is one of the most popular mini hi-fi brands, and with the flat-panel Panasonic SC-HC2020 they’ve proven they can deliver. For a mini hi-fi system with built-in speakers, the sound quality is among the better models we’ve tested, and – aside from a few quirks – its highly convenient to set up and use.

Pros

  • Great range of features including Google Assistant voice control
  • Chromecast multi-room support
  • Wi-fi
  • Bluetooth and DAB/FM radio
  • Fantastic app

Cons

  • Sound quality could be even better
  • Screen is a bit small

Ruark Audio R3 review

£649.00View retailer

Test scoreShow Context

69%

Key features

  • Built-in speakers
  • Bluetooth

 

verdict: Very good all-in-one mini hi-fi

The Ruark Audio R3 is a success: an easy-to-use mini hi-fi system with built-in speakers and very good sound quality. It only narrowly misses getting a Best Buy. That’s a very strong result for a built-in-speaker system, where good-sounding models are pretty rare. Provided you’re not put off by the price, or that the accompanying app takes some learning, this is a nice solidly built mini hi-fi that delivers where it counts and is well worth buying.

Pros

  • Sounds good
  • Easy to use
  • Lots of features
  • Versatile connectivity
  • Built-in-speakers

Cons

  • Companion app isn’t very user friendly
  • Expensive

John Lewis Tenor Hi-Fi Music System review

£249.00Typical price

Test scoreShow Context

68%

Key features

  • Bluetooth

 

verdict: Full of interesting and useful features

John Lewis has produced a mini hi-fi packed full of features with the Tenor Hi-Fi Music System. The sound quality is below average, but its sleek design with built-in speakers will suit everyday listening. Read our full review of the John Lewis Tenor Hi-Fi Music System to find out more.

Pros

  • Easy to use and set-up
  • Lots of features
  • Loud volume
  • Built-in wi-fi
  • Smart and compact design

Cons

  • Below-average sound quality
  • You can’t buy parts separately if anything breaks

JVC UX-D750 review

£149.00Typical price

Test scoreShow Context

68%

Key features

  • Separate speakers
  • Bluetooth

 

 verdict: Very easy to use mini hi-fi

This is a very user-friendly mini hi-fi that’s straightforward to set up, and the sound quality is very nearly enough to make it a Best Buy. It can reach high volumes, and the audio coming from both speakers is very balanced, but it can be a bit unnatural-sounding at times.

Pros

  • Very straightforward to use with a large remote
  • Good maximum volume
  • Easy to play audio from other devices such as your smartphone or tablet

Cons

  • Not much
  • Although the sound quality could be even better

John Lewis Cello review

£200.00Typical price

Test scoreShow Context

64%

Key features

  • Built-in speakers
  • Bluetooth

 

 verdict: Versatile mini hi-fi system

Those looking for an all-in-one mini hi-fi solution could well be satisfied with the great degree of functionality, ease of use and stylish looks of the John Lewis Cello. However, our expert listening panel found the sound quality a touch disappointing compared with the best mini hi-fis with built-in speakers on the market. The bass can be excessively strong at times, and it doesn’t produce a significant stereo sound effect. You can get excellent-sounding mini hi-fis with plenty of features and connections in this price range. Have a look at our Best Buy mini hi-fis for the best available.

Pros

  • Lots of functionality: Internet radio
  • CD player
  • USB socket
  • Dual alarms

Cons

  • The sound quality could be better

Denon D-M41DAB (Denon SC-M41 speakers included) review

£399.00Lowest price (not in stock)

Test scoreShow Context

64%

Key features

  • Separate speakers
  • Bluetooth

 

verdict: A great package but not flawless sound

The D-M41DAB doesn’t live up to the sound of the best mini hi-fis available, but it’s a very competent unit in a stylish package with lots of functionality, so could be worth a look if you’re not a stickler for flawless hi-fi sound quality.

Pros

  • Lots of functionality
  • DAB+/FM radio
  • CD player
  • Separate speakers usually included
  • Great looks

Cons

  • Sound quality doesn’t match the very best mini hi-fis
  • Cluttered remote
  • Not the easiest to set up

Panasonic SC-PM250EB-S review

£93.03View retailers

Test scoreShow Context

57%

Key features

  • Separate speakers
  • Bluetooth

 

 verdict: Average hi-fi

It may be cheap, but this micro hi-fi never rises above mundane. The sound is a letdown for the most part, and the model lacks any feeling of care in its construction. This is one that’s best avoided.

Pros

  • Inexpensive
  • Easy to set up

Cons

  • Sound is lacklustre

Panasonic SC-HC302 review

£149.00View retailers

Test scoreShow Context

57%

Key features

  • Built-in speakers
  • Bluetooth

 

 verdict: Rivals are better

This is a reasonable but not exceptional Panasonic mini hi-fi, sporting the same popular design common with other models. The sound quality isn’t bad, but won’t match those of more traditional mini hi-fis with separate speakers. And those looking for convenience will be disappointed by the poor menu and unintuitive remote control. We’d recommend having a look at our Best Buy and Great Value mini hi-fis instead.

Pros

  • Simple setup
  • Radio with generous number of presets
  • Wall mounting
  • Supports music-streaming services via smartphone app

Cons

  • Unimpressive sound quality for a mini hi-fi
  • Poor remote control and menu design

Denon DT-1 review

£179.00Typical price

Test scoreShow Context

53%

Key features

  • Separate speakers
  • Bluetooth

 

verdict: Good sound but not much more

If you’re looking for top-quality sound, the DT-1 delivers – it’s almost a match for Denon’s higher-end models. However, the impressive audio quality comes at a cost: the hi-fi has few advanced features and cheaper build quality. What’s more, design issues mean that although it has fewer functions, they’re more difficult to use. We’d recommend considering our higher scoring mini hi-fis instead.

Pros

  • Good sound
  • Can save radio station presets
  • Sleep timer

Cons

  • Remote control can be a pain to use
  • No DAB radio

Panasonic SC-HC200 review

£79.99View retailers

Test scoreShow Context

50%

Key features

  • Built-in speakers
  • Bluetooth

 

verdict: Awkward to use with disappointing sound

This is one of the cheapest launch-price mini hi-fis we’ve ever tested, and there proves to be a reason for that. Sound quality is pretty disappointing for a mini hi-fi system; even casual listeners won’t be that impressed. You’re highly unlikely to get a good mini hi-fi in this price range. You’ll need to spend a bit more to get really great sound – have a look at our top-scoring mini hi-fis for the sound quality you deserve.

Pros

  • Cheap
  • Bluetooth

Cons

  • Disappointing sound quality
  • Difficult to use

Sony CMT-X3CD review

£149.00View retailer

Test scoreShow Context

44%

Key features

  • Built-in speakers
  • Bluetooth

 

verdict: Thin in stature and sound

We’ve tested a handful of these thin, compact mini hi-fis, and we’re yet to be impressed. The CMT-X3CD hasn’t changed our opinion, with lacklustre sound that will only disappoint. It’s a Don’t Buy.

Pros

  • Slim with small profile

Cons

  • Sound is mediocre
  • Buttons and display poorly placed

Sony CMT-S20B review

£95.00Typical price

Test scoreShow Context

40%

Key features

  • Separate speakers

 verdict: Not for audio fans

 

Sound quality is a bit of a letdown and it’s not that easy to use. It’s not a Which? Best Buy.

Pros

  • DAB radio
  • USB input

Cons

  • Poor ease of use
  • No line-input of headphone socket
  • Disappointing sound