The SRS-X88 from oft-forgotten (these days) Sony is set up to play all the increasingly popular high-quality digital formats – WAV, AIFF, FLAC, ALAC up to 192/24 and DSD – and will quite noticeably upscale lesser, more compressed files, such as those in MP3, AAC and WMA.
The small (35cm x 11cm x 10cm), squared-off one-box system delivers gloriously expansive, truly refined sound. It’s not strictly hifi, but it’s well balanced, never distorted (even when the bass is virtually popping out of the solid cabinet) and exceptionally natural, thanks to a veritable array of speakers and amplifiers; there are two 20mm tweeters and two 40mm mid-range drivers, each driven by twin 15-watt amps, plus a 69mm subwoofer with its own 30-watt amp. It can also be configured with WiFi for multiroom use.
The SRS-X88 is designed as an audiophile Bluetooth speaker, which for a lot of audiophiles is a contradiction in terms, but I think the idea holds up. A more powerful and still louder X99 version that I haven’t had a chance to try is also available for £599, but the X88 should be enough for anyone.