Price: $4990 per pair
Bob 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.
The gist: “Ice, ice, baby.” But not too cold at all.
Vade said: So: fairly priced, terrific sounding, trivially easy to set up and maintain -- what are you waiting for?
The gist: Statement class-A sound without the statement price.
John 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.
The gist: Evolution of a classic.
Price: $4850 (add $3850 for Maximum Dynamic Headroom Reservoir)
Albert 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.
The gist: This D gets an A.
Price: $2200 (KT77 tubes add $120)
Vade 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.
The gist: Beauty not only skin deep.
Jeff 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.
The gist: Solid value at a competitive price point.
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.
The gist: Bob Carver doing what he’s always done: making really good amplifiers.
Roger 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.
The gist: For compact spaces and budgets.