I grew up in the UK where, for decades, there was a flourishing market for hi-fi magazines. Their heyday, I suppose, was when you could find a passable hi-fi shop in larger towns and cities, which is to say up into the late 1980s (when consumer electronics and appliance retailers even had decent enough entry-level and even mid-fi offerings). I don’t know how well the magazines have fared through the pandemic - I used to pick up copies for flights back to the US - but it used to be great that you could wander into bookshops in most small towns across Britain and find a decent selection of three or four magazines.
What Hi-Fi? caters to more of a mass market (with more AV content than the other mags) and is little more than an advertising platform now.
The same disappointing but understandable trend in which the magazines have increasingly become glorified ads also bedevils the other, more popular/populist magazines. Hi-Fi + probably devotes the most space to headphones and personal or portable audio than the other magazines but far too much of it reads as copy-and-paste marketing blurbs from the manufacturers.
The same can be said for Hi-Fi Choice, which, like the next magazine I’ll mention below, falls under the portfolio of AVTech Media Ltd, which also publishes Stereophile, I believe. Hi-Fi + and Choice aren’t worth the time or expense, unfortunately, compared to the wealth of information available on forums like ours.
The other publication in the same roster is Hi-Fi News and Record Review, which caters to the more exclusive, pricier end of the market, and which passes itself off as a more discerning, discriminating publication. It has probably fared the best over the years insofar as it offers much of the same kind of content as it always did (if memory serves). While much of its content is devoted to rarified gear, the magazine is pretty good for a few things: I like some of Ken Kessler’s articles; the magazine publishes measurements (under “Lab Reports”), and it has good feature articles on classic recordings (and sometimes the studios and producers involved in making them). My favorite pieces, though, are about vintage gear, which are valuable for preserving our historical memory of hi-fi gear.
Alas, Hi-Fi News isn’t so good for content about personal audio. Every other review used to include a snide question about why anyone would actually want to bother listening to music on headphones. Stiil, they’ve finally cottoned on to the fact that the market for headphones has taken off, so you can now sense the writers straining harder to find something nice to say about personal audio. Here’s hoping, then, that this coverage continues to expand and improve.