The European Imaging and Sound Association celebrates the year's most desirable AV hardware
The European Imaging and Sound Association (EISA) is the technology world’s largest independent awards panel, incorporating 53 specialist magazines from across the continent – including Home Cinema Choice. Its goal is simple: to celebrate the most desirable, highest-performing home entertainment hardware that you – the AV enthusiasts – will be spending your hard-earned pennies on.
We've rounded up the awards covering Home Theatre Video and Home Theatre Audio, featuring everything from 4K/HDR TVs to Ultra HD Blu-ray players, multichannel speaker packages, home cinema projectors, AV receivers and more. The winners can be considered the cream of the consumer electronics crop...
For more about EISA, visit www.eisa.eu
LG’s OLED technology gives viewers a superb contrast with absolute blacks and bright highlights, plus vibrant colours that don’t diminish at wide viewing angles, yet the OLED65E7 boosts performance in key areas over previous models – near-black detailing has been improved, and peak luminance increased. The result is a screen suited to 4K HDR images from Blu-ray or streaming services, while standard dynamic range content can gain extra punch via LG’s HDR Effect upscaling. HDR format support is wide-ranging – Dolby Vision, HDR 10 and HLG are all catered for. The TV’s super-thin design, Dolby Atmos-compatible speaker system and slick user interface all contribute to making this our winner in the premium OLED category.
For its second-generation OLED TV, Philips introduces its brand-new P5 picture engine for more efficient processing, yet still targets an affordable price point that ensures it stands out in an expanding OLED market. Excellent picture quality from this 55in set excites not only through rich colours, fine details and deep blacks, but also with motion sharpness. Users are granted full access to the 55POS9002’s extensive picture controls, allowing adjustment to suit personal taste. The sense of immersion with any source is heightened via Philips’ unique Ambilight illumination technology. Boasting Android TV and a low-latency game mode, this is well-featured 4K HDR flatscreen that can be the focal point of any setup.
Sony’s 4K flagship delivers an outstanding home theatre experience, with excellent colour reproduction and best-in-class contrast, plus the option of 3D playback and support of all major HDR formats (including a scheduled upgrade for Dolby Vision). Key to its stunning picture from Blu-ray and Ultra HD sources – even in a bright room – is Sony’s bespoke full-array LED local dimming technology – Backlight Master Drive. Motion processing and upscaling, driven by the company’s powerful X1 Extreme chipset, are excellent. The KD-65ZD9 is a premium home theatre display with the performance power to match.
Samsung continues to push the boundaries when it comes to TV design and user interaction – the QE55Q7F is smart in many ways. Inputs are housed on the external One Connect box, linked to the slim-framed TV via a single near-invisible cable that allows for a tidy installation. Elegant stand options and sleek back panel underline the attractive design. Operating this TV is a pleasure. Voice control via Samsung’s remote is precise and reliable, while the two-tier smart user interface makes navigating its multimedia capabilities and huge number of content apps effortless. And with the TV’s 4K QLED display (based on Quantum Dot technology), exceptionally wide colour range and peak brightness, the QE55Q7F is smart when it comes to image quality too…
LG’s mid-range 55in LED-lit LCD TV is a superior all-rounder, matching its excellent, user-friendly webOS 3.5 interface and Dolby Vision/HDR 10/HLG HDR playback to a colour-rich and bright picture performance. LG’s new Nano Cell 4K panel technology is employed to improve colour finesse, which is maintained (as well as contrast) when viewing off-axis – from TV dramas and sports to Ultra HD Blu-ray movies, this TV shines. Audio from the Harman/Kardon designed 2.2-channel speaker array is clean and punchy, the TV’s design is smart and discreet, and its multimedia talents are extensive. This is a fine addition to LG’s Super UHD TV lineup.
TCL’s U55C7006 combines a 55in panel, wide colour processing and HDR compatibility at an affordable price, and proves the perfect companion for everyday TV watching. 4K upscaling guarantees that lower-resolution signals (terrestrial broadcasts, DVDs, Blu-ray) are displayed with fine details on the TV’s UHD screen, while HDR sources are delivered with a good sense of realism – and compatibility with the HLG HDR standard means this model has one eye on the future. Meanwhile, the front-firing soundbar, developed in conjunction with audio specialist JBL, complements the visual experience with powerful and customisable sound. Smart features on this family-friendly TCL TV are delivered via Google’s Android TV platform.
This successor to the 2014/15 EISA-award winning EH-TW9200 builds upon that model’s superior setup flexibility while embracing new formats and features. Epson’s 4K Enhancement pixel-shifting technology upscales incoming sources for greater sharpness. Ultra HD Blu-ray content (with HDR) is supported via the projector’s HDCP 2.2-enabled HDMI input. Image quality showcases excellent detail and colour vibrancy, aided by impressive brightness and black levels, leading to an immersive largescreen experience. A 2.1x motorised zoom/focus, wide-ranging lens shift options and wireless connection make the EH-TW9300W an easy model to install in a home theatre or living room.
OPPO’s first disc player since its BDP-103D was worth the wait. The UDP-203 adds Ultra HD Blu-ray and HDR to its universal ethos, making this a player that’s unrivalled when it comes to format support. Image quality (including from Dolby Vision titles) is peerless, matched to user control over bit-depth, chroma sampling and HDR-to-SDR conversion. When it comes to audio, the UDP-203 partners its SACD/DVD-Audio talents with networked hi-res file compatibility, multichannel analogue outputs and 32-bit AKM DAC. Music collections are in safe hands – this player sounds clean, crisp and precise. Class-leading build quality and streamlined menus sweeten the deal. A remarkable 4K debut.
Panasonic has lowered the entry point for Ultra HD Blu-ray with its well-priced DMP-UB300 and DMP-UB400 series. Compact designs, these players can find space in any setup, but remain capable of crowd-pleasing visuals. Inside, Panasonic’s 4K High Precision Chroma Processor is employed to fine-tune imagery, while picture adjustments let users match the performance to the talents of their 4K TV. The DMP-UB300/UB400 Series double as network media players, too, supporting hi-res music playback (including DSD and 192kHz/24-bit FLAC), as well as video-on-demand via their app portals. These are an excellent choice for those seeking an affordable Ultra HD upgrade.
If you thought Focal’s Sib & Cub series was the height of compact style, along comes the Sib Evo to shake things up and introduce a new dimension of performance. With a revamped design that makes its predecessor seem pedestrian in comparison, plus Dolby Atmos and DTS:X 3D audio via up-firing drivers, this is a slick speaker package where sound really does surround the listener, even from above. Tight, rhythmic bass from the discrete subwoofer joins the rich midrange and detailed high-frequencies – it’s astonishing to believe that such a mighty sound emanates from such a tiny footprint. This is a superb addition to Focal’s range.
Don’t be fooled by its affordable price – this AV receiver is fully loaded when it comes to features. Thrilling 5.1-channel surround sound with Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio compatibility is joined by 4K passthrough (including Dolby Vision and HDR 10) plus upscaling of SD video to HD and Ultra HD over HDMI. Bluetooth is on hand for wireless streaming, while Yamaha’s simple-to-use MusicCast technology lets the receiver become the central hub of a multiroom setup. With its smart design, solid construction and Cinema DSP 3D sound effects bringing the marvels of the multiplex to your viewing room, the RX-V483 is an impressive all-rounder.
It’s rare to find a soundbar that combines elegant design with a bombastic movie performance, but that’s precisely what LG has produced with its Dolby Atmos-compatible SJ9 flagship. Two upwards-firing speakers cut into the top of the bar provide the Atmos height thrills, in tandem with a wide, detailed soundfield from the rest of the drive array, and rich bass via the wireless standalone subwoofer. Connectivity includes 4K/HDR-capable HDMI, while wireless hookup is catered for by Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Music lovers can enjoy LG’s MusicFlow app and the soundbar’s built-in Chromecast tech for streaming and multiroom, while 192kHz/24-bit hi-res upscaling squeezes every last detail from your tunes.
Once again Sonos has managed to replicate the same no-nonsense approach to sonics that has made its multiroom speakers such a roaring success. A sleek, sophisticated design is combined with an enthralling performance from three tweeters, six mid/bass drivers and integrated woofer to ensure that dull, lifeless TV sound becomes a thing of the past. Simple plug-and-play operation means that even AV newcomers will have the PLAYBASE up-and-running in a matter of minutes, while Wi-Fi and Ethernet connectivity – plus Sonos’ superior app – are on hand to provide access to a world of streaming music services.
Phantom by name, Phantom by nature! DALI’s high-end in-wall system is the ideal setup for home cinema enthusiasts who like their speakers to be heard but not seen. The company has packaged its sonic knowhow into a series of discrete models to deliver a solid, detailed soundstage every bit as immersive as that developed by regular loudspeakers. With its four drivers, including a Hybrid Tweeter module and two additional passive radiators for extended bass, the PHANTOM S-280 sits at the heart of the system, combining with the smaller S-180 and S-80 to provide a premium cinema soundstage that must be heard to be believed.
With its HEOS AVR, Denon reimagines the traditional home cinema receiver for the wireless, multiroom generation by allowing cable-free HEOS speakers to be used for the rear channels and subwoofer. Add in the uncluttered front panel and slim chassis, plus extensive connectivity for Ultra HD sources, and you get a receiver that can grace any modern living room. Powerful five-channel Class-D amplification breathes life into Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio mixes, and the HEOS AVR plays nice with hi-res audio, too, streaming up to DSD128 wirelessly or via USB. Integration into a wider HEOS setup, and foolproof setup and operation, are the icing on the cake.
Summing up what makes this subwoofer such an impressive performer requires just two words: size and power. Whether it’s the huge cabinet (with three mighty high-flow ports), the monstrous 16in driver or the 1.5kW Class-D amplifier, nothing about this SVS woofer is shy or retiring. Yet with movie soundmixes or music, it matches its room-filling presence with poise, control and exquisite lows. Setup is aided by onboard parametric EQ, with smartphone app operation making access and user adjustment an absolute breeze. A concrete fist inside a velvet glove, the PB16-Ultra is a subwoofer fit for the finest of home theatres.
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