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

201004_ae_radiance3Price: $3000 per pair

Website: www.acoustic-energy.co.uk

Thom said: Their sound was as crisp and detailed as I might want, but never shrill or overpowering. When bass was called for, they stepped up and produced. And they look attractive -- my wife likes them better than anything else I’ve had in my listening room.

Reviewers' Choice

Read the SoundStage! review.

The gist: Thom's new reference speaker.

201007_argon3_black_b_300hPrice: $2795 per pair in black or white (add $200 per pair for real-wood veneer)

Website: www.amphion.fi

Philip said: Amphion’s Argon3 is the finest-sounding bookshelf speaker I’ve ever reviewed for the SoundStage! Network. It has outclassed my longtime reference, PSB’s Platinum M2. The torch has been passed. 

Reviewers' Choice

Read the SoundStage! review.

The gist: The third time's the charm for the Argon.

201005_aperion_ng_bPrice: $149 each

Website: www.aperionaudio.com

Colin said: As surround or background-music speakers, Aperion Audio’s Intimus 6-IC is a winner. I would never suggest that the 6-ICs replace conventional loudspeakers in a conventional system, but then the 6-IC was never intended to be all things to all people. Keeping its inherent limitations in mind, I can say that the Aperion Intimus 6-IC is a most satisfying in-ceiling loudspeaker.

Read the SoundStage! Xperience review.

The gist: Wow is this product a great value!

201003_audioengine_p4Price: $249 per pair

Website: www.audioengineusa.com

Kevin said: . . . the P4 is a great speaker and an incredible value. You’re going to have to spend a lot more -- a whole lot more -- to achieve the measures of sound quality and packaging convenience afforded by the Audioengine P4.

Great Buy

Read the SoundStage! Access review.

The gist: Get your motor running with the tiny Audioengine P4.

201005_bluecircle1Price: $4900-$6500 per pair, depending on finish

Website: www.bluecircle.com

Doug said: Kudos to Gilbert Yeung and Blue Circle Audio for trying something unique and producing the BM2. It’s an intriguing design well worth listening to for the distinctive things it can do.

Read the SoundStage! review.

The gist: Gilbert's slant on the Ohm Acoustics loudspeaker.

bw_684Price: $1100 per pair

Website: www.bowers-wilkins.com

Randall said: The B&W 684 was a treat to have in my system. It was nice to have a well-designed, very affordable speaker on hand to deflate my speaker snobbery.

Reviewers' Choice

Read the SoundStage! review.

The gist: Are B&Ws best speakers at the lower price points?

201010_bwPrice: $1500 per pair

Website: www.bowers-wilkins.com

Jeff said: The best audio products make bad recordings sound tolerable, good recordings sound better, and great recordings sound sublime. Irrespective of source or perceived quality of amplification, the B&W CM5 did this. It made a case for spending what it takes to get the speakers you want and, if need be, scrimping on everything else.

Reviewers' Choice

Read the SoundStage! Hi-Fi review.

The gist: You just can't go wrong with a CM-series B&W.

Compact WZ-5 SEPrice: $4500 per pair

Website: www.grantfidelity.com

Colin said: The Compact WZ-5 SE Collector’s Edition isn’t a totally bad speaker, but it doesn’t perform at anywhere near the level of such peers as the Definitive Technology Mythos ST, PSB Synchrony One ($4500/pair), or even the less-expensive Paradigm Studio 100 ($3599/pair).

Read the SoundStage! Hi-Fi review.

The gist: Just not very good.

201003_focus_fc9_bPrice: $1999 per pair

Website: www.focusaudio.com

Philip said: . . . the FC 9’s greatest asset is its sound: pure, powerful, and precise, a collection of traits that made for an engrossing listening experience. If you have the space and are in the market for a well-designed, gorgeously crafted pair of floorstanding speakers, you should hear the Classic FC 9.

Reviewers' Choice

Read the SoundStage! review.

The gist: Focus competes with the Paradigms and PSBs of the world.

201011_focus_fp50Price: $4300 per pair

Website: www.focusaudio.com

Doug said: The Prestige FP50 is not inexpensive, but it will be ideal for a particular type of listener: someone who wants exceptional refinement of build quality and sound in a loudspeaker that will complement a smallish listening room.

Read the SoundStage! Hi-Fi review.

The gist: Almost SOTA sound, but needs a sub.

201006_jbl_440hPrice: $1800 per pair

Website: www.jbl.com

Thom said: The LS60 has a lot going for it. It’s an extraordinary speaker -- but it’s not what old-timers such as I have come to expect from JBL. The LS60 is extremely well mannered; whereas older JBLs could be compared to the Delta Tau Chi fraternity in National Lampoon’s Animal House, the LS60 reminded me of the classic dining clubs of Oxford or Cambridge . . .

Read the SoundStage! Access review.

The gist: Excellent, but not classic, JBL sound.

KEF XQ40Price: $4500 per pair

Website: www.kef.com

Aron said: From top to bottom, KEF’s XQ flagship is an exceedingly well-built, classically styled tower that sounds as good as it looks. It may not be the last word in neutrality across the entire audioband, and it might require some close attention in being paired with other audio gear, but the best things in life are never easy, and I have yet to hear a speaker in this price range that can match its low-end prowess.

Reviewers' Choice

Read the SoundStage! Xperience review.

The gist: Great-value speaker with innovative KEF technology.

201006_legacy_frontPrice: $1385 per pair

Website: www.legacyaudio.com

Ron said: Never once did I find the Legacys fatiguing, or the information they presented distracting. Instead, they took me places I’d never been before. I enjoyed the ride every step of the way.

Reviewers' Choice

Read the SoundStage! review.

The gist: The littlest Legacy makes a big splash.

201010_ml_motion12Price: $1499.95 per pair

Website: www.martinlogan.com

Ron said: . . . the Motion 12 did the midrange very well indeed. If MartinLogan made a point of focusing on this aspect of music reproduction in the design of the Motion 12, then I can hardly fault that choice. Ultimately, the Motion 12 shines where it matters most.

Read the SoundStage! Access review.

The gist: MartinLogans for everyman.

201003_polk_rtia1Price: $339.95 per pair

Website: www.polkaudio.com

Aron said: The Polk RTi A1 offers an impressively wide soundstage filled with convincingly solid bass performance, tremendous dynamics, well-focused voices, and a clean, detailed top end.

Reviewers' Choice

Read the SoundStage! review.

The gist: Polk produces perhaps their highest-value loudspeaker yet.

201007_psb_image_t6_300hPrice: $1199 per pair

Website: www.psbspeakers.com  

Philip said: The T6 performed extremely well in so many areas that, for its asking price of $1199/pair, it’s very difficult to beat. There are other speakers I would consider over the T6, but all of them cost at least twice as much.

Reviewers' Choice

Read the SoundStage! review.

The gist: Image beats Platnium for less money.

201006_tannoy_cherryPrice: $3600 per pair

Website: www.tannoy.co.uk

Kevin said: The midrange was warm, the treble sweet, the bass tight and articulate. Every speaker has its strengths and its weaknesses, and in the Definition DC8 the former far outweigh the latter. Tannoy has done a great job; they’ve built a loudspeaker that practically guarantees the company’s continued success and longevity. 

Read the SoundStage! review.

The gist: New-age Tannoy retains old-Tannoy charm.

Von Schweikert Audio UniField 1Price: $3995 per pair

Website: www.vonschweikert.com

Philip said: In terms of precision and soundstaging, it is the finest speaker I’ve ever reviewed. It embodies a unique approach to cabinet design, and comes from the workshop of a man who has spent years fine-tuning his craft.

Read the SoundStage! Hi-Fi review.

The gist: Coaxial driver in a great box designed by Albert himself.

201007_gallo_300wPrice: $6000 per pair

Website: www.roundsound.com

Wes said: Four years ago, when the Nucleus Reference 3.1 came out, I told anyone who would listen that it was a bargain at twice the price. I was wrong. The 3.5 is twice the price, but as good a speaker as most people will ever need.

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Read the SoundStage! Xperience review.

The gist: A really well-rounded speaker.

201008_curvi_frontPrice: $8000 per pair

Website: www.curvi-hifi.com

Kevin said: I thoroughly enjoyed the time I spent with the Curvi-Hifi Model 1 Version 2. It is a musically engaging loudspeaker whose designer has taken a road less traveled, creating deep bass with only a single driver in a fairly compact and uniquely styled enclosure.

Read the SoundStage! Xperience review.

The gist: A real curvy hi-fi speaker.

201006_dynaudio_300wPrice: $7000 per pair

Website:www.dynaudio.com

Jeff said: The Dynaudio Focus 360 offers a lot of performance for $7000/pair. In fact, in terms of value, it’s the most impressive speaker I’ve yet heard from the specialty Danish manufacturer -- and one of the most impressive speakers I’ve reviewed in some time.

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Read the SoundStage! review.

The gist: Essentially a $13k Dynaudio for $7k.

jaton_av803Price: $6000 per pair

Website:www.jatonhp.com

Garrett said: . . . the Jatons, fed sufficient power by the amp(s), nonetheless had a sweet coherence that never failed to produce music, no matter the genre. Add to these fine sonic qualities their eminently affordable price, and it seems a no-brainer that I should strongly recommend the AV-803s.

Read the Ultra Audio review.

The gist: Substantial ribbon-based floorstander for a good price.

201009_s6_blk_2Price: $5798 per pair in standard cherry finish

Website: www.paradigm.com

Roger said: In short, the Reference Signature S6 v.3 is a remarkable achievement: a technologically advanced product that is beautifully constructed and sounds absolutely amazing. The fact that a pair of them can be had for only $5798 makes it a relative bargain in the world of high-end audio.

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Read the SoundStage! Xperience review.

The gist: Close to SOTA without the crazy price.

201011_pmc_fact1Price: $9999 per pair

Website: www.pmc-speakers.com

Kevin said: The Fact.8 is well engineered, and all the technologies PMC has used in it have resulted in an utterly pure sound that is capable of truly grabbing the listener. It drew me in with smooth and extended highs, a transparent and natural-sounding midrange, and deep, expressive bass.

Read the SoundStage! Hi-Fi review.

The gist: Expensive but exquisite small floorstander.

201004_vanzyl_frontlinePrice: $7000 per pair

Website: www.vanzylaudio.com

Vade said: The Van Zyl Audio Frontline excelled at most of the things I value in a speaker -- detail, dynamics, soundstaging, tonal accuracy, texture -- while delivering them in a package that looks good and won’t leave your wallet whimpering too loudly.

Read the Ultra Audio review.

The gist: Unique speaker for a listener seeking extreme coherence.

201006_egglestonPrice: $23,500 per pair

Website: www.egglestonworks.com

Jeff said: The Andra has been so successful for so many years not because of what it doesn’t do, but because of what it does so well, and the third iteration of this classic design brought me tons of enjoyment in the two months I spent with it. Putting a price on that isn’t so easy, but I figure it amounts to . . . oh, about $23,500/pair.

ultra_sel_120x80

Read the Ultra Audio  review.

The gist: EggWorks proves the third time's the charm.

201009_kef_205Price: $13,999 per pair

Website: www.kef.com

Randall said: The KEF Reference 205/2 is a well-rounded, lovely-looking loudspeaker that packs a lot of technology into its glossy cabinet -- it’s a true audio gem that you must hear for yourself.

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Read the SoundStage! Hi-Fi review.

The gist: Much more technology -- and sound quality -- than is found in most loudspeakers.

201005_vandersteenPrice: $45,000 per pair

Website: www.vandersteen.com

Pete said: One dealer recently told me that the best $6000/pair speaker you can now buy is the $2200/pair Vandersteen 2Ce II. In keeping with the Vandersteen tradition, some might now say that the best six-figure speaker you can buy is the $45,000/pair Vandersteen Model Seven.

ultra_sel_120x80

Read the Ultra Audio review.

The gist: "Reference" doesn’t have to cost over 100 grand.

verity_amadisPrice: $30,000 per pair

Website: www.verityaudio.com

Jason said: The Amadis is a speaker for music lovers. I imagine that the typical Verity Audio buyer will end up keeping his set for a long time. Once you settle in to listen to these speakers -- and I mean really listen -- you’ll likely find the musical satisfaction that you knew was possible but had never before found.

ultra_sel_120x80

Read the Ultra Audio review.

The gist: Seriously musical loudspeaker for those looking to get off the merry-go-round.

Vivid Audio B1Price: $15,000 per pair

Website: www.vividspeakers.com

Doug said: Vivid Audio’s B1 is an extraordinarily good loudspeaker that has midrange and high-frequency neutrality, transparency, and refinement that are second to none. In resolution and detail in those mid- and upper ranges, every other speaker I’ve heard comes in second to it. Listening with the B1 was like training a microscope on my records -- it was truly revelatory in that regard. This makes the B1 a reference-caliber monitoring tool and a great home loudspeaker.

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Read the SoundStage! Hi-Fi review.

The gist: Vivid is now a force in super-high-end loudspeakers.

201009_deftech1_300wPrice: $4453

Website: www.definitivetech.com

Vince said: I was amazed at the dynamic capability and refined sound of these compact speakers. Each model -- mains, surrounds, and subwoofers -- blended together to provide a well-balanced soundfield that I found very involving when watching movies or listening to music.

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Read the SoundStage! Xperience review.

The gist: If a speaker could be a supermodel . . .

focus_htPrice: $3480

Website: www.focusaudio.com

Vince said: If you listen more to music, whether to two- or multichannel recordings, than you watch movies, I urge you to give this system a listen. Because music is where it truly excels.

Read the Home Theater & Sound review.

The gist: Multichannel music system in a great-looking package

201006_monitorpair_300hPrice: $3975

Website: www.monitoraudio.co.uk

Aron said: My experiences of music, and especially of movies, through these speakers have left me with a strong impression: This system has the uncanny ability to make possible an emotional connection to the sounds it reproduces.

Read the SoundStage! Xperience review.

The gist: Monitor updates its RS line with the much better RX.

201011_milleniaone_singlePrice: $2649

Website: www.paradigm.com

Roger said: If I were looking for a compact lifestyle system, this one would be at the top of my list. The MilleniaOnes and Seismic 110 cost a little more than many small sat-sub systems, but cost a lot less than I would have expected considering their outstanding performance.

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Read the SoundStage! Xperience review.

The gist: High style, high performance, same product.

Price: $3694

Website: www.paradigm.com

Aron said: The new Special Edition models not only look and perform much like Paradigm Reference products, but do so at a much lower cost. If you’re looking for a home-theater package that punches way above its competition while offering genuine tastes of high-end sound and looks, then Paradigm’s new SE range deserves a serious look.

Read the SoundStage! Access review.

The gist: Reference-class sound at half the price.

polk_rtiPrice: $1409.80

Website: www.polkaudio.com

Aron said: The RTi A1s not only looked brilliant in their real-wood veneer, they offered plenty of detail, control, and excellent dynamics, which all came together to reproduce multichannel source signals with an invitingly three-dimensional soundstage.

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Read the SoundStage! Xperience review.

The gist: Real wood and real-good sound at a really good price.

revel_concertaPrice: $4118 (with two subwoofers)

Website: www.revelspeakers.com

Colin said: The Concertas had three qualities that are critical for home-theater speakers: they had impact, were tonally clean and clear, and called no attention to themselves, sonically or physically.

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Read the Home Theater & Sound review.

The gist: You can go small to get big sound with Revel.

Price: $15,494

Website: www.paradigm.com

Roger said: The Paradigm Reference Signature v.3 system is an absolutely stellar combination of loudspeakers. At $15,494, it is also the most expensive home-theater speaker system I have reviewed. Even so, I consider it an excellent value for its exceptionally high level of performance.

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Read the SoundStage! Xperience review.

The gist: Super-high-end HT sound from Paradigm.

thiel_scs4_theaterPrice: $13,270

Website: www.thielaudio.com

Howard said: While the SC4S and PowerPoint 1.2 speakers are very worthy of consideration for music listening, their sonic strengths make them especially suited to home theater. . . . Even so, the real star here is the SS3 SmartSub subwoofer.

Read the Home Theater & Sound review.

The gist: Ease of placement and really good sound, coupled with mammoth bass.

201007_axiom_subPrice: $2350

Website: www.axiomaudio.com

Vince said: . . . if you have a large room and you’re in the market for a cost-no-object subwoofer, then give the Axiom Audio EP800 v3 a listen. It competes with subwoofers that cost several thousand dollars more, and might just save you a ton of money.

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Read the SoundStage! review.

The gist: Axiom's worthy entry into the bad-boy subwoofer sweepstakes.

201004_elementaldesignsPrice: $800

Website: www.edesignaudio.com

Rob said: The A5-350 was equally at home with music or movies -- a great attribute, and the sort of all-around versatility that makes purchasing an A5-350 a valid choice for audiophiles who seek a substantial subwoofer at a terrific price for their own large listening room or home theater.

goodsound_gb_80x80

Read the SoundStage! Access review.

The gist: Forget those little dinky subs -- shake the walls with this monster.

201008_jbl_subPrice: $1099

Website: www.jbl.com

Thom said: Throughout my listening sessions, I was most amazed by how seldom the LS120P’s presence was obvious to me. It just did its job -- when it was needed, I heard deep, sonorous, well-articulated bass. When the recording didn’t include deep bass, the LS120P might as well have not been there at all.

Read the SoundStage! Access review.

The gist: JBL has always been known for bass, and for good reason.

201005_jlsub_bPrice: $2100 USD in Black Satin finish; $2200 High-Gloss Black finish

Website: www.jlaudio.com

Vade said: $2100 is pretty pricey for a 10” subwoofer -- but that’s like comparing Chevy’s Aveo with its Corvette. While they’re both cars, the Corvette provides a level of performance that’s totally beyond the Aveo’s capabilities. And while the Corvette is unquestionably expensive, you’d be hard-pressed to find a car that provides more performance at its price point. The Fathom f110 is similar: It’s not the cheapest 10” subwoofer on the market, but I challenge you to find a better one at its price -- or at any price. I haven’t.

goodsound_gb_80x80

Read the SoundStage! Access review.

The gist: Possibly the best 10" subwoofer you can buy.

MartinLogan Dynamo 700Price: $695

Website: www.martinlogan.com

Ron said: Not only did the Dynamo 700 give me true full-range sound, it had a pinpoint curative effect on the response curves of the partnered speakers: When I’d set it to fix only what needed fixing, it did, and then stepped out of the way to let the Snells and Motion 12s sing. Pinpoint cures. I like that in doctors, too. Highly recommended!

Read the SoundStage! Access review.

The gist: Known for 'stats, now known for woofers, too.

201011_velodynePrice: $1199

Website: www.velodyne.com

Kevin said: If there is a subwoofer out there that delivers the brand of honest sound that the Optimum-10 does, I want to hear it. But folks, I’m not sure it exists. The Optimum-10 is an outstanding audio product. Highly recommended.

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Read the SoundStage! Xperience review.

The gist: Tiny sub that delivers big on bass and room friendliness.

201009_asr_miniPrice: $2900

Website: www.asraudio.de

Peter said: In making sound engineering choices that have decanted into an attainable “mini” package much of the magic of the big Basis Exclusive, ASR has produced yet another example of German engineering excellence.

Read the SoundStage! Hi-Fi review.

The gist: A very competent German phono stage.

201005_bc703_300wPrice: $6995

Website: www.bluecircle.com

Jason said: Throughout this entire review, I’ve raved about how good the BC703 is. Unlike essentially every other piece of stereo gear in my experience, there wasn’t one area of its performance that dissatisfied me. 

Reviewers' Choice

Read the SoundStage! review.

The gist: Another kick-ass phono stage from Gilbert Yeung.

esoteric_e03Price: $5900

Website:www.esoteric.teac.com

Graham said: If you value reference-level transparency, space, detail, soundstaging, imaging, extended frequency extremes, and deep, tight, thunderous bass . . . well then, you’ll love the Esoteric E-03.

Read the SoundStage! review.

The gist: Neutrality personified.

201008_nagra_vpsPrice: $5995

Website: www.nagraaudio.com

Graham said: The VPS has been very well engineered, and will probably prove as reliable as a Swiss bank vault -- something you should expect for $5995. This phono preamplifier taps that lustrous, rich analog experience that vinyl enthusiasts love; it drives home the joy of listening to LPs, and that makes it pretty good bang for the buck.

Read the SoundStage! review.

The gist: A jewel-like phono stage with tubes.

201008_arts_driveiiPrices: $11,000 (Tube-DAC II SE), $12,000 (Drive II)

Website: www.accusticarts.de

Michael said: The Accustic Arts Reference Tube-DAC II SE and Reference Drive II are easy to recommend to anyone who can afford this level of performance and has a large CD collection. As a pair, they’re right up there with the best I’ve heard.

Select Component

Read the Ultra Audio review.

The gist: Perhaps the ultimate combo for your CD collection.

201007_aperionPrice: $149

Website: www.aperionaudio.com

Kevin said: After struggling for years with trying to stream or otherwise play Radio Paradise over something other than the Audio Engine A2s connected to my Mac Mini, the HAL has provided a painless, wireless solution. It’s one of those lovely appliances that will have you wondering how you ever did without it.

Read the SoundStage! Xperience review.

The gist: Painless wireless for everyman.

Asus O!Play HDP-R1Price: $99

Website: www.asus.com

Roger said: The Asus O!Play HDP-R1 is a lot of media player for $99. While it lacks the polished user interface of, say, the Western Digital WD TV Live, its excellent performance meant that it was not out of place in my reference home-theater system.

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Read the SoundStage! Xperience review.

The gist: Only $99?!

201009_ayre_c5xePrice: $5950

Website: www.ayre.com

Tim said: Perhaps the strongest compliment I can bestow on the Ayre C-5xeMP is that it changed my perspective on what digital sound reproduction is capable of. It brought me closer to the music, and I’m spoiled all over again.

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Read the SoundStage! Hi-Fi review.

The gist: All you really need in an audio-only disc player.

belcanto_dac3vbPrices: $2695 (DAC3VB), $1495 (VBS1)

Website: www.belcantodesign.com

Tim said: . . . you simply have to try the e.One DAC3VB with VBS1 power supply to see if the dramatic differences I experienced are possible in your home as well. The DAC3VB significantly and substantially improved the best digital sound I’ve had in my system.

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Read the Ultra Audio review.

The gist: Competes with the best, but at a reasonable cost.

201006_benchmark_hdrPrice: $1895

Website: www.benchmarkmedia.com

Doug said: I know of no other component that offers these three functions and such a high level of sound quality across the board. The DAC1 HDR can be compared with components costing much, much more -- which is exactly what I did in my listening.

goodsound_gb_80x80

Read the SoundStage! Access review.

The gist: Three-in-one component with separates sound quality.

201010_gs_thingee2Price: $399

Website: www.bluecircle.com

Colin said: The USB Tunnel 24/96 offers a fantastic way to get computer-audio signals into an existing DAC; it will almost certainly inspire many audiophiles to relegate their CD players to the dustbin of digital history.

Read the SoundStage! Access review.

The gist: Latest digital converter from Gilbert.

devilsound_dacPrice: $399

Website: www.devilsound.com

Jeff said: What impresses me is that such an inexpensive device can get so many things so right. And when you factor in the cost of the included cables, well, it’s easy to envision the Devilsound in a system based on a computer you already have, a pair of EgglestonWorks Dianne speakers, and a Simaudio or Bel Canto integrated amplifier -- for about $6000, you’d have quite satisfying sound.

Read the Ultra Audio review.

The gist: DAC’n’cables cheap and easy.

201008_esoteric_d07Price: $4800

Website: www.esoteric.teac.com

Peter said: I can unequivocally state that the sound of the Esoteric D-07 DAC is very elegant and refined, and its appearance is stunning; if you’re shopping for a DAC for somewhere in the vicinity of $5000, the Esoteric D-07 is definitely worth auditioning.

Read the SoundStage! review.

The gist: A few limitations, but fantastic nonetheless.

hegel_cdp2aPrice: $2650

Website:www.hegel.com

John said: If you’re looking for your final CD player, the one that will last you until hi-rez downloads become commonplace, and you don’t feel like spending all of your kids’ college fund on it, then find a Hegel dealer and give the CDP2A a good listen.

Read the SoundStage! review.

The gist: Yet another good CD player.

201008_logitechPrice: $299.99

Website: www.logitech.com

Rad said: At $299.99, the Logitech Squeezebox Touch is a bargain. It gives audiophile results with high-quality music files, offers superb Internet Radio with a choice of hundreds of stations, and has a bright, impressive, responsive touchscreen.

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Read the SoundStage! Xperience review.

The gist: Wireless music for everyman.

201007_simaudio300DPrice: $1599

Website: www.simaudio.com

Colin said: It has all the traditional Simaudio virtues in spades, plus an even-greater-than-normal degree of performance per dollar spent. Even when I’m being exceedingly picky, I can’t find fault with this excellent DAC.

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Read the SoundStage! Access review.

The gist: Colin's new reference DAC.

Simaudio Moon 750DPrice: $11,999

Website: www.simaudio.com

Jeff said: When it comes to D/A converters, the Simaudio Moon Evolution 750D is at the top of the heap. It is transparent to the source, has extreme levels of resolution, and is dead-bang neutral in terms of tonality -- by these or any measures, it is a terrific-sounding piece of gear.

ultra_sel_120x80

Read the Ultra Audio review.

The gist: State-of-the-art DAC technology with a CD transport to boot.

teac_h600Price: $999

Website:www.teac.com

Ron said: There’s still a lot of potential in the humble CD, and good-sounding, high-value players like the TEAC PD-H600 prove that. Recommended.

Read the Goodsound! review.

The gist: Esoteric lite?

201009_weissPrice: $6670

Website: www.weiss-highend.ch

Jeff said: If you can cough up $6670 for a DAC, and if you want to explore the outer reaches of sound quality with a hi-rez computer-based source, then the Weiss DAC202 should be at the top of your must-audition list.

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Read the Ultra Audio review.

The gist: One of the best DACs in the world as of this writing.

201006_westerndigitalPrice: $149

Website: www.westerndigital.com

Roger said: If you need an inexpensive media player to play hi-def video files, the WD TV Live is a good choice. If you’re looking for something to play audio files through a high-end system, I suggest you look elsewhere.

Read the SoundStage! Xperience review.

The gist: Good and cheap for video. No for audio.

Wyred 4 Sound DAC-2Price: $1499

Website: www.wyred4sound.com

Vade said: The W4S DAC-2 was easy to set up, easy to use, and sounded fabulous. Its high-speed USB input sounded every bit as good as its S/PDIF input, so computer audiophiles no longer need worry about building a server around S/PDIF -- the ubiquitous USB input can sound just as good.

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Read the SoundStage! Hi-Fi review.

The gist: Maybe the best DAC deal on the market today.

201009_asl_300wPrice: $1495

Website: www.tubehifi.com

Colin said: The Antique Sound Lab AQ1003 DT Mk.II is a good, robust, simple, attractive integrated amplifier that would serve as a fine entry into the world of vacuum tubes.

Read the SoundStage! Access review.

The gist: Your first tube amp.

201008_asr_emitterPrice: $10,950

Website: www.asraudio.de

Uday said: The Emitter I is a fantastic product that’s so close to the audiophile ideal of a straight wire with gain that it’s hard to believe that’s true without hearing it for yourself.

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Read the SoundStage! review.

The gist: One of the best integrated amps in the world, bar none.

201008_arc_dsi200Price: $5995

Website: www.audioresearch.com

John said: I don’t care what you’re looking for, whether you’re on a budget, looking to downsize, upgrade, or whatever: You need to hear this integrated. But get ready to have your preconceptions about solid-state and class-D amps take a beating: The DSi200 can stand with the best separates I’ve heard. 

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Read the SoundStage! Hi-Fi review.

The gist: Class-D from ARC? Yes, and it sounds great.

201006_arc_front_300wPrice: $3995

Website: www.audioresearch.com

S. Andrea said: The Audio Research VSi60 is not inexpensive at $3995, but its sound and build qualities are commensurate with its price. When you consider that it’s designed and built in the US by a company with a long and solid reputation, that price seems even more reasonable.

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Read the SoundStage! review.

The gist: Get into classic ARC sound for under four grand.

belcanto_s300iuPrice: $2195

Website: www.belcantodesign.com

Randall said: Bel Canto’s e.One S300iU 24/96 is a top-notch product in both performance and price, and the fact that it comes in such an unassuming package makes it one of the more unique high-end bargains I know of.

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Read the SoundStage! review.

The gist: Get a lot for a little.

bluecircle_gdcPrice: $1795

Website: www.bluecircle.com

Thom said: If you’re into the game of ‘my amp is bigger than your amp,’ the GDC will come up a bit short -- put it in an equipment rack and you probably won’t even notice it. But if your priority is fine, solid, realistic sound, the Blue Circle GDC is just the ticket.

Great Buy

Read the GoodSound! review.

The gist: Plain-Jane looks, real-looker sound.

esoteric_ai10Price: $5000

Website: www.esoteric.teac.com

Philip said: With an onboard analog-to-digital and digital-to-analog converters, as well as a master-clock sync generator for use with Esoteric’s other digital products, the AI-10 occupies a product class all its own.

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Read the SoundStage! review.

The gist: Esoteric’s entry in the growing integrated amp-DAC product genre.

hegel_h200Price: $4400

Website: www.hegel.com

Uday said: The H200 may be new to North America, but Hegel Music Systems has brought to the table a formidable competitor in terms of both performance and price. Being able to perform as well as amps costing much more marks the H200 as a great value -- and in these trying economic times, even more of one.

Read the SoundStage! review.

The gist: From Norway comes competition for the Brystons of the world.

201011_icon1Price: $800

Website: www.iconaudio.com

Kevin said: The Stereo 25 is a very good budget amp. Yes, there were some tradeoffs in sound, but they weren’t enough to interfere with my listening pleasure -- and that’s what counts.

Read the SoundStage! Access review.

The gist: $800 can buy a good tube amp.

201011_karanPrice: $10,500

Website: www.karan-acoustics.com

Michael said: It’s hard for me to admit that an integrated amplifier could be worth $10,500, but in this instance I must. Is the KA I 180 as good as Karan Acoustics’ separates? No. But it does provide a portion of what’s possible at that next level of performance without the buyer having to pay the prohibitive prices of Karan separates.

Read the SoundStage! Hi-Fi review.

The gist: Integrateds are getting better and better.

Micromega IA-180Price: $2495

Website: www.micromega-hifi.com

Ron said: I like Micromega’s approach: Pack the biggest, most accurate sound into the smallest possible box. Anyone who values quality over quantity should give the IA-180 a listen.

Read the SoundStage! Hi-Fi review.

The gist: A good little French integrated.

201009_ams35iPrice: $8999

Website: www.musicalfidelity.com

Vade said: Who should be interested in the Musical Fidelity AMS35i? Someone who loves the sound of tube amplifiers but not the hassle of maintaining them, who has reasonably sensitive speakers (95dB or higher), and who listens to unamplified music (classical or jazz) at less than ear-splitting levels.

Read the SoundStage! Hi-Fi review.

The gist: Low-power class-A in a really good integrated amp.

201009_musicalfidelityPrice: $2999

Website: www.musicalfidelity.com

Ron said: Musical Fidelity and Antony Michaelson promised -- and have delivered -- an amplifier based on the design brief that less is more (except, of course, in the area of power).

Read the SoundStage! Access review.

The gist: Lotsa power in a tank-like package.

nad_c326Price: $499

Website: www.nadelectronics.com

Jarrett said: In the end, for those looking for a solid integrated amplifier that puts out a healthy 50Wpc and excellent sound quality at a reasonable price, they should consider the NAD C 326BEE.

Read the SoundStage! Access review.

The gist: NAD proves yet again that good sound doesn’t have to cost a fortune.

naim_unitiPrice: $3795

Website: www.naim-audio.com

Jeff said: Sure, it plays CDs and plays them well, but the Uniti’s real benefits -- its integration with the Apple iPod and its ability to stream Internet Radio -- render everything else redundant at best, and at worst, obsolete.

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Read the SoundStage! Xperience review.

The gist: Naim defines a new product genre.

peachtree_novaPrice: $1199

Website: www.peachtreeaudio.com

Kevin said: The Peachtree’s sound won’t threaten products costing three or four times as much, but the Nova is a transparent and composed integrated amplifier with an overall musicality that anything at or anywhere near its price will find hard to beat.

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Read the SoundStage! review.

The gist: Ushering in huge value by skillfully combining two product genres.

201011_raysonic1Price: $2690

Website: www.raysonicaudio.com

Jeff said: . . . in the tube world, the Raysonic SP-300 is a powerful, sweet-sounding, easy-on-the-eyes, reasonably priced honey of an integrated amp.

Read the Ultra Audio review.

The gist: Stylish tube integrated with good power rating.

simaudio_600iPrice: $8000

Website: www.simaudio.com

Philip said: The 600i is exceptionally transparent, and sounds completely effortless in everything it does. Connect it to a pair of high-quality speakers and a decent source -- I enjoyed immaculate sound from a $500 CD player, which goes a long way toward saying how much performance the 600i is capable of -- and get ready to pick your jaw up off the floor. If audio reproduction gets any better than this, I haven’t heard it.

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Read the SoundStage! Hi-Fi review.

The gist: The integrated that takes no prisoners.

stello_ai500Price: $3495

Website: www.aprilmusic.com

Philip said: It’s taken a long time for an integrated amplifier to come along that I’ve enjoyed as much as the Bryston B100 SST, but the Stello Ai500 has finally arrived, and with it, April Music has a clear winner on their hands. Although it’s not cheap, I suspect that significantly improving on its performance would require spending many multiples of its price, and in this sense the Ai500 offers excellent value.

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Read the SoundStage! review.

The gist: Joins the upper ranks of mid-priced integrated amps.

TEAC CR-H500NTPrice: $799

Website: www.teac.com

Thom said: It’s a great piece of gear, and I don’t want to return it to TEAC. It’s incredibly versatile, compact, and fairly full-featured, with enough power to fill with excellent sound a room of moderate size. It has all the latest kit -- USB port, Internet Radio, iPod connectivity, etc. -- while looking backward as well, with a competent FM tuner and a fine-sounding phono preamp. The CR-H500NT can serve as the foundation of a very fine stereo system, and for all it offers, it’s inexpensive. I heartily recommend it.

goodsound_gb_80x80

Read the SoundStage! Access review.

The gist: A great foundational component for a small stereo system.

Ayre KX-RPrice: $18,500

Website: www.ayre.com

Peter said: As for the KX-R, I can’t say enough good things. I believe it to be the most complete product Ayre has ever made -- a defining achievement for a company known for its string of audio achievements. The KX-R is an ideal reference tool for my life as a reviewer, and an ideal instrument for my audiophile passions.

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Read the Ultra Audio review.

The gist: One of the best preamps in the world, period.

201003_bluecircle_bc310fyPrice: $6250 as reviewed; base price $4500

Website: www.bluecircle.com

John said: If you can get past the BC310FY’s looks, you’ll be rewarded with sound that is always musical and enjoyable.

Read the SoundStage! review.

The gist: Not a nuclear power plant, but a really good preamp.

201010_bryston_bp26daPrices: Bryston BP26 DA ($2695) with built-in DAC (add $1295), MPS2 power supply (add $1500), and BR-2 remote control (add $350)

Website: www.bryston.com

Howard said: The Bryston BP26 DA preamplifier and matching MPS2 power supply together comprise a flexible, feature-laden, great-sounding preamplifier that will likely make most owners extremely happy. They have a 20-year warranty, they look great, and, like all Bryston products, are built to survive nuclear Armageddon.

Read the SoundStage! Hi-Fi review.

The gist: Predictable solid performer.

201005_ear_868_300wPrice: $5295 (linestage only); $6995 (with phono stage)

Website: www.ear-usa.com

Garrett said: The EAR 868 is yet another superb piece of engineering from Tim de Paravicini, and deserves serious consideration by anyone looking for a full-function preamp of stunning good looks that produces a big sound and an unforgettably rich tone with all kinds of music.

Read the SoundStage! review.

The gist: At the price, might as well get the phono stage.

201008_jatonPrice: $1300

Website: www.jaton.com

John said: If you’re looking to move up to separates from a receiver or an integrated amplifier, the Operetta RC2000P is definitely a component you should hear. Add in its ability to be run fully balanced, and you have the makings of a top-flight music system. Unprepossessing? Yes. Musical? Most definitely.

Read the SoundStage! Access review.

The gist: Entry-level preamp with some upscale features.

201009_vacPrice: $9900

Website: www.vac-amps.com

Garrett said: . . . the VAC Renaissance Mk.3 boasts the most impressive combination of serious sound, first-class build, great looks, compatibility with a range of amps, and overall flexibility in its numerous features of any model I’ve yet had in my system.

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Read the Ultra Audio review.

The gist: A great combination of qualities that should suit almost any music-loving audiophile.

201009_vacPrice: $9900 (line stage), $11,900 (with phono stage)

Website: www.vac-amps.com

Garrett said: In the past few years I’ve auditioned a number of different preamps, some for review, some not. A few could be critiqued as being too incisive, too polite, too limited in features, not compatible with a wide enough range of amplifiers. Another few could be considered "serious" in terms of their sound. But of all these preamps, the VAC Renaissance Mk.3 boasts the most impressive combination of serious sound, first-class build, great looks, compatibility with a range of amps, and overall flexibility in its numerous features of any model I’ve yet had in my system.

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Read the Ultra Audio review.

The gist: Garrett's choice in an expensive tube preamp.

belcanto_ref500mPrice: $3990 per pair

Website: www.belcantodesign.com

Dan said: The e.One REF500M represents good value for what, these days, is a reasonable price in high-end audio. It’s hard to go wrong with these beauties; they prove that small can be beautiful, even in the high end.

Read the SoundStage! review.

The gist: Big power in a small package that also sounds quite good.

Ayre MX-RPrice: $18,500 per pair

Website: www.ayre.com

Peter said: The MX-R monoblock amplifiers signified the dawning of a new era at Ayre. With their prodigious power capabilities, they can drive the difficult loads of low-sensitivity speakers with aplomb. Most important, however, they deliver the sonic goods, possessing that very rare ability to communicate in captivating fashion even the music on less-than-stellar recordings. That multiple tube fanatics of my acquaintance have ditched their tube power amps in favor of MX-Rs says it all.

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Read the Ultra Audio review.

The gist: Compact design, reference sound.

201007_ear890Price: $7595

Website: www.ear-usa.com

Garrett said: . . . with fine fit and finish in England, and a product of the duly deliberated engineering of electronics wizard Tim de Paravicini, the EAR 890 is indeed an amp for all seasons.

Read the Ultra Audio review.

The gist: Treat your ears to EAR power.

201005_esoteric_a03Price: $14,000

Website: www.esoteric.teac.com

Randall said: If you’re in the market for a new stereo amplifier and can afford an A-03, you may find it to be the last amplifier you ever buy. I fell in love with this amp from the moment I pulled it out of its box.

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Read the SoundStage! review.

The gist: A very sweet 50Wpc in an equally sweet package.

201008_titanPrice: $30,000

Website: www.musicalfidelity.com

Jeff said: The Musical Fidelity Titan kicks butt. It is competitive in every sonic category you could name, and moves ahead of the competition in some. One thing that should give prospective owners confidence is the notion that they can choose whichever speakers tickle their fancy, with no regard for their power requirements.

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Read the Ultra Audio review.

The gist: Big bass, big power, for a big system.

201005_nad_ti75_300wPrice: $2999

Website: www.nadelectronics.com

Roger said: The NAD T 175 may lack some features and flexibility, but it’s still an excellent performer. It includes the latest VXP video processing, and has exceptional sound with both movie soundtracks and music, all for a reasonable price of $2999.

Read the SoundStage! Xperience review.

The gist: The modularity makes this worth a serious look.

nad_t747Price: $1200

Website: www.nadelectronics.com

Colin said: The T 747’s look might be new, but this latest NAD creation adheres to the company’s founding philosophy: that high-quality sound doesn’t have to come at a high price.

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Read the Home Theater & Sound review.

The gist: Budget HT in the classic NAD tradition.

Subcategories


Loudspeakers reviewed on the SoundStage! Network in 2010 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 2010 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 2010 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 2010 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 2010 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 2010 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 2010. 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 2010. 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 2010. 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 2010. 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 $5000 and under reviewed on the SoundStage! Network in 2010. 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 over $5000 reviewed on the SoundStage! Network in 2010. 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 2010. 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.

Projectors and video displays reviewed on the SoundStage! Network in 2010 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.

Analog interconnects and speaker cables, digital interconnects, and power cords reviewed on the SoundStage! Network in 2010. 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 2010. 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 2010. 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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