Thursday, May 25, 2017
High End 2017
in Munich
Brand New
Video Series
NAD C 368
DAC-Integrated
New Integrated
Anthem STR
Vandersteen
Model Seven Mk.II
Ayre Acoustics
QX-5 DAC
Paradigm's Flagship
Persona 9H
Newsflash:
Merging NADAC ST-2 on SoundStage! Ultra ... Read the review
Onkyo's A-9010 on SoundStage! Access ... Read the review

Sponsors

aperion_4t_300hPrice: $650 per pair

Website: www.aperionaudio.com 

He said: The 4T asks little in terms of space, watts, or money, but play through them your favorite but imperfectly recorded LPs or CDs and they’ll make the most of the good that’s there while downplaying the bad. In a world of cynical hi-fi gear, the Aperion 4T is a true optimist.

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Read the GoodSound! review.

The gist: Mini-floorstander with monster sound, direct to your door.

aperion_6t_300hPrice: $1390 per pair

Website: www.aperionaudio.com 

He said: I had to keep reminding myself that these wonderful-sounding speakers are affordable by almost anyone’s standard, not just an audiophile’s. And these speakers always brought me closer to the music played through them.

Read the SoundStage! review.

The gist: Aperion’s flagships are only $1390 a pair and sound terrific. Refreshing. 

dynaudio_x12_220hPrice: $1200 per pair

Website: www.dynaudio.com

He said: But it’s the Dynaudio Excite X12’s considerable strengths that make it special, even unique -- I don’t know of another small speaker that plays quite like this one.

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Read the GoodSound! review.

The gist: The Danes make another great little speaker. 

eggleston_dianne_300hPrice: $2500 per pair

Website: www.egglestonworks.com 

He said: If you’re tired of the razor-like highs prominent in many of the home-theater-slotted speakers that cost between $2000 and 3000/pair, or you’re weary of speakers that seem designed more for extreme sound-pressure levels than for reproducing a recording’s finer details, or you don’t want a thin-sounding bookshelf model that’s unlistenable without a subwoofer, then the Dianne might be the speaker for you.

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Read the Ultra Audio review.

The gist: Audiophile with $2500 to spend, meet Dianne.

focus_fs8Price: $2990 per pair

Website: www.focusaudio.com

He said: Focus Audio’s Signature FS8 is a killer speaker by almost every measure: It looks fantastic, it sounds wonderful, and its price is something many can afford.

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Read the GoodSound! review.

The gist: Not exactly cheap, but hits all the right buttons.

harbeth_m30_250hPrice: $4995 per pair

Website: www.harbeth.co.uk

He said: The Monitor 30 Domestic is a pleasing speaker that has a rich character with generous bass, extremely refined highs, and liquidity through the mids that is intoxicating

Read the SoundStage! review.

The gist: Continuing the storied tradition of excellent Harbeth sound.

infinity_p252_300hPrice: $400 per pair

Website: www.infinitysystems.com

He said: Before hearing the Infinity Primus P252s, but knowing that they cost only $400/pair, I wasn’t expecting much. But I was so blown away by the experience of listening to them that I felt almost compelled to purchase a pair.

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Read the SoundStage! A/V review.

The gist: Whatever your expectations, the Primus P252 will probably exceed them.

lsa1_250hPrice: $2599 per pair

Website: www.thelsagroup.com

He said: Imaging and convenience are their long suits, lack of bass their short. The LSA1 Statement is the finest minimonitor I have heard, and they would be quite satisfying in a smaller room.

Read the SoundStage! A/V review.

The gist: Good speaker, but lots of competition, too.

paradigm_s60v5_300hPrice: $1998 per pair

Website: www.paradigm.com

He said: It is the speaker to get in the $2000/pair area if you want to get the best out of inexpensive electronics, or to hear what more expensive gear can really do.

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Read the SoundStage! A/V review.

The gist: Even if they tried, could Paradigm make a bad speaker?

focus_fp90_300hPrice: $9495 per pair

Website: www.focusaudio.com 

He said: The Signature FS-888? Maybe a bit too rich. The Master 3? Just a touch too big. The Prestige FP 90? Well, it’s just right. Sign me up for a pair . . .

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Read the Ultra Audio review.

The gist: The sweet spot in the already sweet Focus line?

genesis_g71f_300hPrice: $7999 per pair

Website: www.genesisloudspeakers.com

He said: There’s a lot of substance in the G7.1f that gives it the performance potential and flexibility to acquit itself well in a variety of rooms and systems. That it succeeds on almost all counts, and truly excels in a few, is good news indeed for audiophiles shopping for a pair of speakers for around $8000.

Read the Ultra Audio review.

The gist: Easy to fall in deep like with.

thiel_cs24se_300hPrice: $8000 per pair

Website: www.thielaudio.com

He said: The CS2.4SE is one of only a very few audio products I can recommend without the caveat of “. . . but first hear them for yourself.” I can’t imagine anyone not being thrilled with them. Get a pair while you still can.

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Read the Ultra Audio review.

The gist: A Signature Edition fully deserving of the name.

audience_lsa_88_300hPrice: $28,000 per pair

Website: www.audience-av.com

He said: Although the LSA8+8 couldn’t reproduce the bottommost octave of the audioband (20-40Hz) in my room, they reproduced everything -- and I mean everything -- above that better than I’ve heard it done by almost any other speaker at any price.

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Read the SoundStage! review.

The gist: In this case, a lot of drivers equals lots of performance.

audioacoustics_k2_300hPrice: $22,500 per pair

Website: www.audioacoustics.co.uk

He said: They won’t re-create the domination of a symphony in full voice or a rock band in full scream. What they will do is convincingly and passionately re-create the inner world of music as a coherent statement of the musicians’ intentions and performance. 

Read the Ultra Audio review.

The gist: Within their limits, very convincing.

cae_conspiracy_300hPrice: $41,700 per pair

Website: www.consensusaudio.com

He said: The outstanding achievement of CAE is that, in the Conspiracy, they have found a way to get the engineering and the music right.

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Read the Ultra Audio review.

The gist: The consensus? A conspiracy of quality.

cc_arabesque_300hPrice: $65,000 per pair

Website: www.crystalcable.com

He said: But I can imagine a music lover who values great sound, who has more money than God, watching his wife go gaga over the Arabesques as she visualizes these two massive Swarovski crystals perched in the middle of her living room making wonderful music.

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Read the Ultra Audio review.

The gist: A genuine jewel of a loudspeaker.

gemme_katana_300hPrice: $11,750 per pair

Website: www.gemmeaudio.com

He said: It will provide a complete and highly communicative sound in which audiophile pyrotechnics take a back seat to musical involvement. It is also beautiful to look at.

Read the SoundStage! review.

The gist: A gem from Gemme.

lafleur_x1_250hPrice: $14,000 per pair

Website: www.lafleuraudio.ca

He said: The Lafleuraudio X1 is a great loudspeaker that can deliver large amounts of musical satisfaction. However, it’s still a two-way monitor that retails for $14,000/pair. 

Read the Ultra Audio review.

The gist: A good speaker, but at this price it needs to be exceptional.

magico_v2_300hPrice: $18,000 per pair

Website: www.magico.net

He said: It may carry a five-digit price tag, but the V2 is more than a mere status trophy -- it’s a true audiophile-grade performer with an overall sound quality that makes it the best passive loudspeaker I’ve ever reviewed.

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Read the SoundStage! review.

The gist: Magico’s entry level is no entry-level speaker.

ml_summitx_300hPrice: $13,995 per pair

Website: www.martinlogan.com

He said: The Summit X is the latest step in MartinLogan’s ongoing quest for electrostatic perfection. They’ve improved on the technology’s stunning strengths -- transparency, speed, immediacy, midrange presence, soundstaging -- while minimizing its shortcomings, particularly in the integration of the outputs of the woofers and upper-range panels.

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Read the SoundStage! review.

The gist: X marks the sweet spot.

revel_salon2_300hPrice: $21,998 per pair

Website: www.revelspeakers.com

He said: If you have the space, the money, and the desire to own a "statement" loudspeaker that can take its place among the greats, Revel’s Ultima Salon2 is the one to look at. I’m sure someday I’ll review an even better speaker -- progress is defined by the continuing search for perfection -- but for now, at least, the Ultima Salon2 is the best passive loudspeaker I’ve ever reviewed.

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Read the SoundStage! review.

The gist: Plain and simply, the benchmark for under $25k.

rockport_ankaa_300hPrice: $27,500 per pair

Website: www.rockporttechnologies.com

He said: It’s easily the best speaker I’ve had in my home, and one of the best I’ve heard anywhere -- and it’s the best I’ve heard for anywhere near its price.

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Read the Ultra Audio review.

The gist: Stargazing on a clear night in Maine.

rockport_arrakis_300hPrice: $165,000 per pair

Website: www.rockporttechnologies.com

He said: I experienced the best sound I’ve ever heard from my Music Vault listening seat. I took a deep breath as a sense of contentment welled up inside me.

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Read Ultra Audio’s TWBAS 2009: The Arrival and The Event.

The gist: Otherworldly.

vsa_unifield3_300hPrice: $15,000 per pair

Website: www.vonschweikert.com

He said: Albert Von Schweikert has made a genuine contribution with his UniField 3, creating not only a full-range speaker that will be viable in small rooms, but one that I suspect can handle larger rooms with ease.

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Read the Ultra Audio review.

The gist: Competitive in the busy $10-$20k field of compact floorstanders.

wilson_maxx3_300hPrice: $68,500 per pair

Website: www.wilsonaudio.com

He said: There is a humanness to the MAXX 3’s performance; it doesn’t seem to be the product of acoustic engineering as much as the astute, careful observation of people who are intimately familiar with the sound of live music and will settle for nothing short of it.

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Read the SoundStage! review.

The gist: The best MAXX yet.

angstrom_suonoPrice: $2194

Website: www.angstromloudspeakers.com

Vince said: With its home-theater speaker system of on-wall Suono models, Angstrom Loudspeakers has produced one of the best, and best-thought-out, lifestyle speaker systems I’ve had the pleasure of hearing.

Read the Home Theater & Sound review.

The gist: OK, we’ve said it: On-wall can be high end.

aperion_5t_db_300wPrice: $2829

Website: www.aperionaudio.com

He said:These are marvelous products. If your speaker-system budget limit is around $3k, then I’d short-list them. Turns out the loonies at Aperion aren’t so loony after all.

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Read the Home Theater & Sound review.

The gist:In this case, Internet-direct means high quality and great service.

atlantic_system1400_300wPrice: $1750

Website: www.atlantictechnology.com

He said: For someone looking for a complete 5.1-channel speaker system to enhance his or her audio listening experience without going broke, I recommend Atlantic Technology’s System 1400. A larger center-channel speaker with clearer dialogue and lower bass response would be nice, but otherwise, the System 1400 / SB 224 has a lot going for it.

Read the Home Theater & Sound review.

The gist: Good overall, but needs a better center-channel speaker. Deal breaker?

av123_elt525_300hPrice: $1246

Website: www.av123.com

He said: Paying careful attention to build and finish quality, AV123 has delivered a properly engineered speaker system that is also a great value well within the budgets of many. For only $1246, the ELT525 system can bring into your home the excitement of movie-theater sound. In short, this system could be the one and only speaker purchase the shopper on a budget ever makes.

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Read the Home Theater & Sound review.

The gist: Lotta speaker system, not a lotta money.

deftech_sts_300hPrice: $4355

Website: www.definitivetech.com

He said: The Mythos STS speakers comprise a compact system with striking looks and astonishing performance at a reasonable price. To my mind, there is currently nothing else on the market quite like the Mythos STS SuperTowers, or this surround system based on them.

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Read the Home Theater & Sound review.

The gist: Freakin’ killer! ’Nuff said.

deftech_procinema1000_300wPrice: $1724

Website: www.definitivetech.com

He said: Definitive Technology’s ProCinema 1000 system is a killer combination of looks and performance. Despite its sleek, high-tech-looking cabinets, it gives up little in performance to larger, conventional bookshelf speakers.

Read the Home Theater & Sound review.

The gist: Good-looking, high-tech sound that will fit most any environment.

paradigm_monitor11_300wPrice: $4274

Website: www.paradigm.com

He said: With each subsequent speaker iteration that I’ve heard, Paradigm has outdone itself, and the Monitor 11 v.6 is no exception: it’s an outstanding speaker in all performance respects, including dialogue intelligibility, surround envelopment, and dynamics.

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Read the Home Theater & Sound review.

The gist: The Canadian powerhouse delivers yet again.

yambeka_300hPrice: $299

Website: www.yambekaaudio.com

He said: With the exception of very large rooms, I can’t think of any other home-theater speaker system, at any price, that anyone could need. These terrific speakers are the first bona-fide audio deal of the millennium. Hands down.

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Read the Home Theater & Sound review.

The gist: $299 for all this? They must be kidding . . .

ae_radiance_300wPrice: $6200

Website:www.acoustic-energy.co.uk

Kevin said: Folks, the Acoustic Energy Radiances are the real deal. They deliver natural, fully realized sound without a skosh of strain -- for all that I put them through, I never once felt they would fail to meet the challenge. Yes, the Radiance system is pricey, but it delivers the goods you want a fully mature, full-range home-theater system to deliver.

Read the Home Theater & Sound review.

The gist: Proper British sound for the home-theater aficionado.

angstrom_obbligato_300wPrice: $10,996

Website: www.angstromloudspeakers.com

Vince said: This system changed my opinion about what sorts of speakers make the best home-theater speakers. Although the price of this system is high, its performance is up there with that of the very best systems I’ve heard. If you’re in the market for a high-end speaker package for home theater and music, the Angstrom Obbligato Renaissance should be on your must-audition list.

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Read the Home Theater & Sound review.

The gist: Expensive. Canadian. Very good.

bw_ctsw15_260wPrices: $1350 (CT SW15), $1500 (SA 1000)

Website:

He said: The B&W CT SW15 plus SA 1000 sounded imperturbable and unflappable. . . . the B&W sub fits my décor as perfectly as it fits my room’s acoustic. It stays.

Read the Home Theater & Sound review.

The gist: Wes likes it. A lot.

genesis_s2_12t_260wPrice: $4200

Website: www.genesisloudspeakers.com

He said: Based solely on its stellar sonic performance, the S2/12t warrants critical recommendation. However, when you also consider its features, versatility, and cutting-edge appearance, it can fairly be said to be among a handful of exceptional subwoofers at its price.

Read the Home Theater & Sound review.

The gist: If the looks attract you, the sound will keep you.

jl_fathom_f112_300wPrice: $2800 (satin), $2900 (high gloss)

Website: www.jlaudio.com

He said: If you’re in the market for a wonderfully versatile subwoofer that offers deep, controlled, powerful bass, looks classy, and is impeccably built, JL Audio’s Fathom f112 deserves to be on your short list.

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Read the Home Theater & Sound review.

The gist: A mainstay in compact subwoofer land.

paradigm_sub2_260wPrice: $7499

Website: www.paradigm.com

He said: My recommendation: Find a Sub 2 you can demo, and I think you’ll come to the conclusion I have. Get it. Play it. Be moved by it.

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Read the SoundStage! review.

The gist: There’s a new sheriff in town.

paradigm_sub25_260wPrice: $4000

Website: www.paradigm.com

He said: I so loved my time with Paradigm’s Signature Sub 25 that I’ve decided to make it my reference subwoofer. Never has a subwoofer energized my room in so dominant yet so controlled a way. In the past, whenever I’ve written about how this or that subwoofer I was reviewing did a wonderful job of “disappearing” -- i.e., not audibly drawing attention to its position -- I never felt as if I was overstating that quality. I guess it just takes a better one to point out the difference.

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Read the Home Theater & Sound review.

The gist: One of the best, pure and simple.

svs_pc12_plus_260wPrice: $949

Website: www.svsound.com

He said: In fact, for the ticket price of many similarly performing subs, you could buy two or three PC-12 Pluses: one for each of the two front corners of your home theater, and perhaps a third, to be placed close to your seating position. That, I think, would be one awesome setup.

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Read the Home Theater & Sound review.

The gist: Big, tubular bass, dude.

aesthetix_rheasig_300wPrice: $4000

Website:www.aesthetix.net

Peter said: The standard Rhea deserves the accolades it has received over the years, and continues to prove a value leader at $4000. That it now marks the beginning of an upgrade path makes it a fantastic musical investment.

Read the Ultra Audio review.

The gist: Perhaps one of the best phono stages for under $5000.

aesthetix_rheasig_300wPrice: $7000

Website:www.aesthetix.net

Peter said: The Rhea Signature built on the strengths of its namesake while minimizing or even eliminating the few compromises evident in the original. Without any remaining evidence of deviation from neutrality, the Signature’s suitability as a reviewer’s tool was obvious . . .

Read the Ultra Audio review.

The gist: A Rhea realizing what it’s truly capable of: SOTA sound.

artemis_sa1_300wPrice: $7800

Website: www.artemislabs.com

He said: I’d say, in general, that the Artemis Labs SA-1 would be a turntable for discerning music lovers rather than for audiophiles questing for a component that would reveal utter details like the smack of lipstick on a wet pair of lips.

Read the Ultra Audio review.

The gist: Musical, aesthetically refined, and unfussy.

audiotechnica_at33ev_300wPrice: $899

Website: www.audio-technica.com

He said: Having cartridges like the AT33EV around will make life difficult for makers of high-priced MM cartridges -- there’s now reason to question how much more improvement you’ll hear for all those extra dollars.

Read the SoundStage! review.

The gist: The natural step up from an entry-level MC.

belcanto_phono3_300wPrice: $1595

Website: www.belcantodesign.com

He said: I found that its articulate and tuneful bass brought life to recordings of small-ensemble jazz, its sweet midrange captivatingly reproduced voices, and its depth of soundstage imbued many classical recordings with a concert-like feel.

Read the SoundStage! review.

The gist: Right on the money for the price.

bluecircle_fonlo_300wPrice: $349-$974

Website: www.bluecircle.com

He said: But those willing to get past the Fon Lo Thingee’s no-frills looks to just hear how good it sounds might be rewarded: the performance of their systems might be taken to the next level for very little money.

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Read the GoodSound! review.

The gist: Not a pipe bomb, but a good phono stage.

lamm_lp2_300wPrice: $7290

Website: www.lammindustries.com

He said: Don’t let [its] longevity lull you into overlooking the LP2 Deluxe if you’re on the hunt for a truly state-of-the-art phono stage. “New” doesn’t always mean “improved.”

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Read the SoundStage! review.

The gist: Expensive but ultimately satisfying.

moon_lp53_300wPrices: $1500 (LP5.3), $1250 (PSX5.3)

Website: www.simaudio.com

He said: I was mighty impressed by the pairing of Simaudio’s Moon LP5.3 and Moon PSX5.3. The stock LP5.3 is a great phono stage, and a bit of a steal at $1500. But add the PSX5.3 for another $1250 and you have a very serious high-end phono stage that competes with options way up the price ladder.

Read the SoundStage! review.

The gist: You can shoot for the Moons while staying firmly grounded.

arcam_fmj_cd37_300wPrice: $2199

Website: www.arcam.co.uk

He said: After listening to the Arcam FMJ CD37, I can understand why so many audiophiles listen to SACDs. Its performance with these high-resolution recordings was breathtaking.

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Read the SoundStage! review.

The gist: Buy it for your SACDs.

audioresearch_cd5_300wPrice: $5995

Website: www.audioresearch.com

He said: The performance I heard from the CD5 told me silver discs hold more information than I previously thought -- and Audio Research has figured out how to deliver it at an honest price.

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Read the SoundStage! review.

The gist: A sure bet for your last CD player.

audioresearch_dac7_300wPrice: $3495

Website: www.audioresearch.com

He said: It is a beautiful-sounding component that captures the gestalt of finely recorded music. It might not be the absolute champion in terms of high-frequency transparency and upper-treble extension, but I’m not sure how musically relevant those areas are to the majority of music selections recorded at 16-bit/44.1kHz.

Read the Ultra Audio review.

The gist: Digital solid-state from a company known for analog tube amps.

ayre_qb9_300wPrice: $2500

Website: www.ayre.com

He said: . . . I’m sure that many thousands of QB-9s will soon be enhancing the lives of many thousands of computer audiophiles.

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Read the Ultra Audio review.

The gist: Awesome asynchronous audio à la Ayre.

belcanto_cd2_300wPrice: $2995

Website: www.belcantodesign.com

He said: But given what I heard, the CD2 on its own will far surpass many other digital components; just make sure it’s in 24-bit/192kHz mode when using its analog outputs.

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Read the SoundStage! review.
Read the Ultra Audio review.

The gist: Modern sound and chic design at a fairly reasonable price.

belcanto_dac3_300wPrice: $2495

Website: www.belcantodesign.com

He said: The Bel Canto e.Ones also made my short list of gear that encourages further listening. The pleasure of my extended listening sessions with them was characterized by a desire to hear “just one more CD,” regardless of the hour. That, to me, distinguishes the best from the rest.

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Read the SoundStage! review.
Read the Ultra Audio review.

The gist: Good now, and upgradeable in the future: a solid buy.

bluecircle_bc501_300wPrice: $4395

Website: www.bluecircle.com

He said: The BC501 is a topnotch performer that bears the hallmarks of the Blue Circle Audio name, and is strongly recommended for those who don’t mind paying a premium for something that looks and sounds distinctive, and comes with the sort of personal touch that’s possible only with handmade manufacturing and customization.

Read the SoundStage! review.

The gist: Gilbert Yeung’s latest digital thinking.

bluesmoke_blackbox_300wPrice: $6995

Website: www.bluesmokesystems.com

He said: Blue Smoke Entertainment Systems espouses the benefits of listening and technical tests for their products, an approach that has always seemed to me the most balanced and most correct. Both litmus tests are very much parts of TWBAS 2009.

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Read Ultra Audio’s TWBAS 2009: The Arrival and The Event.

The gist: Now there are high-end audio computers, too.

esoteric_sa50_300wPrice: $5800

Website: esoteric.teac.com

He said: If you’re like me and own a decent collection of SACDs, a large CD library, and want to future-proof yourself with digital inputs that include a superb USB jack, then the Esoteric SA-50 may end your search for a single machine that can handle all these choices well. It’s ended mine.

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Read the SoundStage! review.

The gist: A jack of all digital trades.

esoteric_x01_300wPrice: $16,500

Website: esoteric.teac.com

He said: Esoteric has expanded its product lineup to include integrated amps, a preamp, power amps, and even a phono stage, but the company’s reputation will continue to ride on its multiformat digital players like the X-01 D2. And that’s a very good position to be in!

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Read the SoundStage! review.

The gist: SOTA digital from a company that lives and breathes it.

hrt_musicstreamer_300wPrice: $89.95

Website: www.hirestech.com

He said: If you’ve been holding off giving the rip-and-download scene a go due to the cost, check out the High Resolution Technologies MusicStreamer. It may open up both your ears and your living space.

Read the SoundStage! review.

The gist: Digital streaming on the cheap.

jbl_wem1_300wPrice: $359

Website: www.jbl.com

He said: If you still own a JBL Paragon, whose size and appearance make it difficult to place in many living rooms, the WEM-1 system may be the perfect way to enjoy it no matter where it is.

Read the SoundStage! review.

The gist: Because wireless is now indispensable.

nad_c565bee_300wPrice: $799

Website: www.nadelectronics.com

He said: The NAD Classic C 565BEE is a CD player that’s close to the state of the art while being something regular people can afford. For many, it will be the last great CD player they’ll ever need to buy; in fact, it’s so good it might tempt even those who are convinced that they’ve already bought their last CD player.

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Read the SoundStage! review.

The gist: NAD’s mega-bargain CD player.

simaudio_cd_5_300wPrice: $1200

Website: www.simaudio.com

He said: If, as many believe, the CD player will soon be a thing of the past, it’s going out on a high note with equipment as good as the last three players I’ve reviewed. . . . All are excellent, but of the three, unless you need SACD playback, the Simaudio Moon CD.5 has the best combination of sound, soundstaging, and rhythm.

Read the GoodSound! review.

The gist: The last CD player you may ever buy.

simaudio_cd_5_300wPrice: $3000

Website: www.simaudio.com

He said: The CD3.3 bested what I’d thought was the best in digital reproduction short of an $8000 megaplayer. In the CD3.3, Simaudio turns out digital performance from the Compact Disc -- a technology well into its golden years -- that is as contemporary as tomorrow.

Read the SoundStage! A/V review.

The gist: Not too budget, not too expensive. Just right.

sonic_amarra_300wPrice: $995

Website: www.sonicstudio.com/amarra/

He said: Is all of this worth $995? For me it is. That may sound like a lot to spend on a computer program, but in high-end audio, $995 isn’t all that much. If you’re using a Mac as your hi-fi audio source, then I think Amarra is must-have.

Read the SoundStage! review.

The gist: Audiophile iTunes essential.

stello_cdt100_dac100_300wPrice: $895

Website: www.aprilmusic.com

He said: The benefits wrought by the CDT100 were more subtle but still tangible and meaningful if transparency and dimensional imaging are important, and to most audiophiles they certainly are, no matter where they can get them.

Read the SoundStage! review.

The gist: A perfect mate for the Stello DA100.

stello_cdt100_dac100_300wPrice: $995

Website: www.aprilmusic.com

He said: Overall, I found the Stello DA100 Signature to be an extremely flexible DAC with a refined sonic character. It gave me multiple ways to experience and enjoy music. I always see people asking for a DAC that sounds more like analog, or at least one that doesn’t sound like digital.

Read the SoundStage! review.

The gist: Getting a bit long in the tooth, but hanging tough.

wadia_170itransport_300wPrice: $379

Website: www.wadia.com

He said: Wadia must be congratulated not just on the excellent performance of the 170iTransport, but also on its appreciation of a gap in the marketplace and the skill with which it has filled it.

Read the SoundStage! review.

The gist: The first to extract digital signals from an Apple iPod. Kudos.

zanden_2500s_300wPrice: $22,000

Website: www.zandenaudio.com

He said: The Zandèn 2500S is a highly specialized product intended for those who value gorgeous styling and impeccable build quality, aren’t concerned with bang-for-buck value, and want that unmistakable Zandèn sound -- that analog-like sound -- from their CDs.

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Read the SoundStage! review.

The gist: Voiced, built, and priced for the luxe market.

arcam_fmja18_300wPrice: $1099

Website: www.arcam.co.uk

He said: One thing that the Arcam FMJ A18 made abundantly clear in these listening sessions is that it’s an overachiever. Built on a rock-solid platform, it’s brilliantly engineered, and performed admirably against an A/V receiver offering half again as much power.

Read the GoodSound! review.

The gist: Bulletproof sound from a Full Metal Jacket.

arcam_fmja38_300wPrice: $2299

Website: www.arcam.co.uk

He said: It’s solidly built, its operation during the review period was straightforward and without fault, and, most important, it sounded simply fantastic.

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Read the Ultra Audio review.

The gist: Unassuming package, unexpected sound quality.

classe_cap2100_300wPrice: $5500 (add $500 for optional phono stage)

Website: www.classeaudio.com

He said: The CAP-2100’s seductive smoothness throughout the audioband is reminiscent in ways of the silky sound of tubes, but with proper bass and high-frequency extension.

Read the SoundStage! review.

The gist: Still great integrated after all these years.

luxman_l509u_300wPrice: $10,000

Website: www.luxman.co.jp

He said: The Luxman L-509u is a versatile, full-featured integrated amplifier, complete with a MM/MC phono section and a headphone output, and it offers sonic performance that easily outclasses my current reference.

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Read the SoundStage! review.

The gist: Luxman is back with a vengeance.

marantz_pm8003_300wPrice: $999

Website: www.marantz.com

He said: The Marantz PM8003 is a fine amplifier! It has all the inputs and outputs you could want, and delivered sound as good as anything I’ve heard for the price.

Read the GoodSound! review.

The gist: Classically styled integrated from a company that knows about classics.

pass_int150_300wPrice: $7150

Website: www.passlabs.com

He said: As for its presentation of the music, I really came to appreciate the INT-150’s more diffuse staging, and I suspect that others will enjoy this too. You just have to give it time so you can get used to the perspective, which, to my ears, replicated the live experience in an obvious way.

Read the SoundStage! review.

The gist: Does anyone know more about amplifiers than designer Nelson Pass?

moon_i5_300wPrice: $1200

Website: www.simaudio.com

He said: The key point is that the Moon i.5 is among the best of the best at its price. If you have a relatively small listening room and/or efficient speakers and you’re looking for an integrated amplifier that sounds really fine, find your local Simaudio dealer and check out the Moon i.5.

Read the GoodSound! review.

The gist: Entry-level ampage from a northern heavyweight.

moon_i33_300wPrice: $3300

Website: www.simaudio.com

He said: If you value a revealing, engaging sound that will get your toe tapping and your head nodding, you owe it to yourself to audition the Simaudio Moon i3.3.

Read the GoodSound! review.

The gist: Better than the i.5, and better than most at the price.

teac_agh600nt_300wPrice: $1499

Website: www.teac.com

He said: In the AG-H600NT, TEAC America has achieved a quality that, through the years, the best receivers have been famous for: big bang for the buck.

Read the SoundStage! review.

The gist: TEAC price, almost Esoteric sound.

behold_apu768_300wPrice: $58,000 as configured ($30,000 base price).

Website: www.behold.eu

He said: It can work wonders, and it won’t be outclassed by any other single component in the equation. The Behold APU768 is the most advanced piece of high-end electronics I’ve ever used.

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Read the Ultra Audio review.

The gist: The future of ultra-high-end preamps?

belles_vt01_300wPrice: $4695

Website: www.powermodules.com

He said: The Belles VT-01 sounds spectacular, looks gorgeous, is easy to operate, and, considering its performance, is reasonably priced.

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Read the SoundStage! review.

The gist: Dave Belles hitting his stride.

lamm_ll21_300wPrice: $5990

Website: www.lammindustries.com

He said: Perhaps the highest compliment I can pay the Lamm LL2.1 Deluxe is to say that, after I came to know it, I didn’t want to review it -- I just wanted to hear music through it. By the end of my listening sessions, the audiophile words tended to fall away.

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Read the SoundStage! review.

The gist: Vladimir Lamm improves on a classic.

trends_pa10se_300wPrice: $265

Website: www.trendsaudio.com

He said: The SEs cost significantly more than the earlier Trends products I’ve heard and admired, and with higher cost come higher expectations of sound quality -- in that regard, these models delivered.

Read the GoodSound! review.

The gist: Tubes on the cheap.

belcanto_ref500_300wPrice: $4990 per pair

Website: www.belcantodesign.com

He said: The REF500 monoblocks delivered on [their] promise of low noise, as evidenced by good detail retrieval and heft amidst notable dynamic drive and power.

Read the SoundStage! review.

The gist: “Ice, ice, baby.” But not too cold at all.

belles_sa30_300wPrice: $4695

Website: www.powermodules.com

He said: So: fairly priced, terrific sounding, trivially easy to set up and maintain -- what are you waiting for?

Read the SoundStage! review.

The gist: Statement class-A sound without the statement price.

bryston_4bsst2_300wPrice: $4195

Website: www.bryston.com

He said: I think I’m in love. An amplifier I’d already thought great has been improved without sacrificing any of the sonic attributes that made the original so outstanding. Every difference I heard between the 4B SST and 4B SST2 was a change for the better.

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Read the SoundStage! review.

The gist: Evolution of a classic.

genesis_gr180_300wPrice: $4850 (add $3850 for Maximum Dynamic Headroom Reservoir)

Website: www.genesisloudspeakers.com

He said: I’m delighted to say that, for my taste in music, class-D has finally arrived. Gary Koh has created something special with the Genesis Reference GR180, and the sound quality it conveys is simply outstanding for its price.

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Read the Ultra Audio review.

The gist: This D gets an A.

jeaudio_vs70_300wPrice: $2200 (KT77 tubes add $120)

Website: www.je-audio.com

He said: At its $2200 price ($2320 with KT77 tubes), the VS70 has to be considered an outright bargain. And while my over-five-times-as-expensive reference system sounded a bit better in some respects, it surely didn’t sound five times better.

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Read the SoundStage! review.

The gist: Beauty not only skin deep.

parasound_a52_300wPrice: $2250

Website: www.parasound.com

He said: The Parasound A 52 is one of the finest multichannel power amplifiers I’ve used in my system, with sound qualities on a par with those of more expensive amplifiers. It had me asking myself, Why spend more? This is one amplifier I can recommend with no reservation whatsoever.

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Read the Home Theater & Sound review.

The gist: Solid value at a competitive price point.

sunfire_grand_300wPrice: $4450

Website: www.sunfire.com

He said: The puckish Bob Carver has done it again: an amp that shape-changes between two great but different types of sound (tube and solid state), has plenty of power and a nice, long warranty, and at a fair price. It all adds up to another in the long line of winning Carver amplifier designs.

Read the SoundStage! A/V review.

The gist: Bob Carver doing what he’s always done: making really good amplifiers.

trends_pa10se_300wPrice: $199

Website: www.trendsaudio.com

He said: The SEs cost significantly more than the earlier Trends products I’ve heard and admired, and with higher cost come higher expectations of sound quality -- in that regard, these models delivered.

Read the GoodSound! review.

The gist: For compact spaces and budgets.

bryston_9bsst2_300wPrice: $6695

Website: www.bryston.com

He said: The Bryston 9B SST2 looks like a million bucks, and its rock-solid construction means it will likely see your kids through nursery school, kindergarten, grade school, college, and grad school. And it performs at a level that will scare the bejesus out of amps costing twice as much.

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Read the Home Theater & Sound review. 

The gist: Solid performance from a venerable company. Yet again.

classe_omegamicron_300wPrice: $25,000 per pair

Website: www.classeaudio.com

He said: But if you want the best sound that transistors can produce, you just better go out and invest in some Classé Omega Omicron Monos before their ilk disappears altogether.

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Read the Ultra Audio review.

The gist: Canadian powerhouse flexes its muscle.

dehavilland_50a_300wPrice: $7250 per pair

Website: www.dehavillandhifi.com

He said: Their combination of top-to-bottom balance, clean and resolving highs, magnificent bass and slam, articulate speed and PRAT, and gorgeous brocade of sound, seems to me very hard to beat.

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Read the Ultra Audio review.

The gist: Back to the future.

raysonic_m100_300wPrice: $7850 per pair

Website: www.raysonicaudio.com

He said: If vividness and excitement are what you like about listening to recorded music, the M100 monoblocks will certainly deliver. They never sound languid or limp, always enhancing the rhythmic qualities of the music and especially conveying the space on well-made recordings.

Read the SoundStage! review.

The gist: Looking for good Chinese? Taste these.

zanden_9600_300wPrice: $51,975 per pair

Website: www.zandenaudio.com

He said: While vacuum tubes will always have their issues, audiophiles will continue to admire them, and an amplifier like the Model 9600 only increases the pull. If your audiophile rite of passage begins with the Model 9600, I predict it will end there as well.

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Read the SoundStage! review.

The gist: Are there better-looking tube amps? Uh, no.

cambridge_dvd99_300wPrice: $349

Website: www.cambridgeaudio.com

He said: Machines that can play SACDs and DVD-Audio discs in addition to DVD-Videos are becoming somewhat rare these days. A few years ago, many mass-market electronics companies offered such models, but “universal” players today are primarily the domain of specialty audio/video manufacturers. Cambridge Audio is one of those manufacturers that specialize in high-quality electronics at reasonable prices.

Read the Home Theater & Sound review.

The gist: A good DVD player for the three people still looking for a DVD player.

dvdo_300wPrice: $799

Website: www.dvdo.com

He said: For those of you who already have a good system but want to push its performance up that last step, DVDO’s Edge is the ticket. In its little area of the marketplace -- outboard video processors -- the Edge sets a new standard. 

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Read the SoundStage! A/V review.

The gist: If you need a standalone video processor, here’s a good choice.

integra_dhc99_300wPrice: $2000

Website: www.integrahometheater.com

He said: The $2000 Integra DHC-9.9 is the king of A/V processors under $7499.

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Read the SoundStage! A/V review.

The gist: If you can’t afford the Anthem, get this.

oppo_bdp83_300wPrice: $499

Website: www.oppodigital.com

He said: I can’t think of another Blu-ray player at anywhere near its price that I would rather have in my system than the Oppo Digital BDP-83. It features excellent audio and video performance, state-of-the-art video processing, above-average build quality, and playback of both SACD and DVD-Audio.

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Read the Home Theater & Sound review.

Read the SoundStage! A/V review.

The gist: The Blu-ray player to buy. Period.

Subcategories

Loudspeakers reviewed on the SoundStage! Network in 2009 in the context of a stereo system. All prices are in US dollars unless otherwise noted and are accurate at the time of the review.

The entries are shown alphabetically by company name.

Loudspeakers reviewed on the SoundStage! Network in 2009 in the context of a stereo system. All prices are in US dollars unless otherwise noted and are accurate at the time of the review.

The entries are shown alphabetically by company name.

Loudspeakers reviewed on the SoundStage! Network in 2009 in the context of a stereo system. All prices are in US dollars unless otherwise noted and are accurate at the time of the review.

The entries are shown alphabetically by company name.

Loudspeakers reviewed on the SoundStage! Network in 2009 in the context of a home-theater system. All prices are in US dollars unless otherwise noted and are accurate at the time of the review.

The entries are shown alphabetically by company name.

Loudspeakers reviewed on the SoundStage! Network in 2009 in the context of a home-theater system. All prices are in US dollars unless otherwise noted and are accurate at the time of the review.

The entries are shown alphabetically by company name.

Subwoofers reviewed on the SoundStage! Network in 2009 in the context of a stereo and/or home-theater system. All prices are in US dollars unless otherwise noted and are accurate at the time of the review.

The entries are shown alphabetically by company name.

Turntables, phono stages, cartridges, etc., reviewed on the SoundStage! Network in 2009. All prices are in US dollars unless otherwise noted and are accurate at the time of the review.

The entries are shown alphabetically by company name.

Stereo digital source components (CD and SACD players, DACs, music servers, etc.) reviewed on the SoundStage! Network in 2009. All prices are in US dollars unless otherwise noted and are accurate at the time of the review.

The entries are shown alphabetically by company name.

Stereo integrated amplifiers and receivers reviewed on the SoundStage! Network in 2009. All prices are in US dollars unless otherwise noted and are accurate at the time of the review.

The entries are shown alphabetically by company name.

Preamplifiers reviewed on the SoundStage! Network in 2009. All prices are in US dollars unless otherwise noted and are accurate at the time of the review.

The entries are shown alphabetically by company name.

Mono, stereo and multichannel power amplifiers reviewed on the SoundStage! Network in 2009. All prices are in US dollars unless otherwise noted and are accurate at the time of the review.

The entries are shown alphabetically by company name.

Mono, stereo and multichannel power amplifiers reviewed on the SoundStage! Network in 2009. All prices are in US dollars unless otherwise noted and are accurate at the time of the review.

The entries are shown alphabetically by company name.

Home-theater components reviewed on the SoundStage! Network in 2009. All prices are in US dollars unless otherwise noted and are accurate at the time of the review.

The entries are shown alphabetically by company name.

Analog interconnects and speaker cables, digital interconnects, and power cords reviewed on the SoundStage! Network in 2009. All prices are in US dollars unless otherwise noted and are accurate at the time of the review.

The entries are shown alphabetically by company name.

Power conditioners and power cords reviewed on the SoundStage! Network in 2009. All prices are in US dollars unless otherwise noted and are accurate at the time of the review.

The entries are shown alphabetically by company name.

Accessories, stands and other uncategorized products reviewed on the SoundStage! Network in 2009. All prices are in US dollars unless otherwise noted and are accurate at the time of the review.

The entries are shown alphabetically by company name.

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