Ayre KX-R TwentyPrice: $27,500

Website: www.ayre.com

Jeff said: It stands to reason that if Ayre Acoustics’ original KX-R was the best preamp I’d ever had in my system, and the KX-R Twenty is even better, then the KX-R Twenty is the new “best preamp I’ve ever heard.” It is. I used the Twenty in a system that acts as a microscope on my recordings, and I heard no shortcomings in the Ayre. Smooth, revealing, neutral, utterly effortless, liquid -- it does it all.

Reviewers' Choice

Read the SoundStage! Ultra review.

The gist: As good as a preamp gets.