Tuesday, February 21, 2017
Paradigm's Flagship
Persona 9H
Sonus Faber
Speaker Debut
SoundStage!
Simplifi
CES
2017
MartinLogan
Advancements
Gryphon's
Story
Devialet's
Phantoms
NAD's
HP50 Headphones
Newsflash:
Merging NADAC ST-2 on SoundStage! Ultra ... Read the review
Onkyo's A-9010 on SoundStage! Access ... Read the review

Sponsors

ARC LS27Price: $6995

Website: www.audioresearch.com

Howard said: The LS27 will thrill most audiophiles. It raises the bar for what should be expected from a preamp in its price class. Moreover, it may convince all the digital junkies and audio minimalists out there that they really do need a preamp after all. The fact that I’m giving the LS27 a Reviewers’ Choice award may not be entirely surprising, given that it’s made by Audio Research -- a company known for making great preamps.

Reviewers' Choice

Read the SoundStage! Hi-Fi review.

The gist: Another knockout preamp from the company known for knockout preamps.

ARC Reference 5Price: $12,000

Website: www.audioresearch.com

Pete said: The Reference 5 is a superlative musical investment, an indisputable high-end bargain, and a fortification for another 40 years of audio excellence from Audio Research.

Select Component

Read the Ultra Audio review.

The gist: Should be on your shortlist for the best preamps extant.

Gryphon MiragePrice: $25,750

Website: www.gryphon-audio.dk

Jeff said: Describing the Gryphon Audio Designs Mirage and Colosseum as functional or industrial art, or some other such term, seems to minimize just how special they are. I prefer just art. They will grace a listening room with sculptural beauty, provide tactile pleasure in use, and make your music sound as real as reproduced music can. I simply adored them. If you have the money, seek them out for audition, even if you have to travel across land and sea to do so. You’ll be richly rewarded by the experience, in the ways that only great art can reward.

Select Component

Read the Ultra Audio review.

The gist: Simply reference-class in every way.

Herron Audio VTSP-3APrice: $6850

Website: www.herronaudio.com

Ryan said: The Herron VTSP-3A line stage did nothing objectionable, and for that I have terrific respect for it. Its sins were more of omission than the more annoying ones of commission. It did its job of controlling source selection, mono/stereo, phase, and volume in the most unobtrusive ways, while providing an uncolored reproduction of the signal with the convenience of a full-function remote. It was a delight to use on a daily basis, and seems engineered to last. Sonically, it gave up little to the best out there (mostly in macrodynamic swings and presence-region voicing), and let me hear what the rest of my components sound like. It would be at home in a system of any cost, but whether you prefer the VTSP-3A or one of its competitors will depend on how much you want to hear your line stage. You won’t be hearing the Herron.

Read the Ultra Audio review.

The gist: Just really good performance all around.

JE Audio VL10.1Price: $5000

Website: www.je-audio.com

Doug said: I love how the JE Audio VL10.1 preamplifier sounds in my system. It’s one of the few products in recent memory that has thrilled me -- partly because of its great build quality, but mostly because of its incredible sound, which is quite unlike that of any other preamp I’ve heard. When it comes to the pleasure of listening to music, right now I’ll choose the VL10.1 over anything else.

Reviewers' Choice

Read the SoundStage! Hi-Fi review.

The gist: A great value in a reference tubed preamp.

Lamm LL2.1 DeluxePrice: $5990

Website: www.lammindustries.com

Doug said: What I thoroughly enjoyed about listening with the LL2.1 Deluxe was that my attention didn’t dart from one performance parameter to the next, as it does with many audiophile components. Instead, the Lamm presented music so cohesively and convincingly, with so exceptionally natural and thoroughly engaging sound, that I easily lost myself in the music, largely ignoring the nitpicky things that so worry audiophiles -- and especially reviewers. Not many components can do this for me.

Reviewers' Choice

Read the SoundStage! Hi-Fi review.

The gist: There’s just something intrinsically right about Lamm gear.

Marantz Reference SC-7S2Price: $6499.99

Website: www.marantz.com

Howard said: Being the offspring of Marantz’s classic Model 7 preamplifier and Model 9 amplifier, the Reference SC-7S2 and Reference MA-9S2 have some rather large shoes to fill. By my account they do just that, and the folks at Marantz appear to be worthy stewards of the historic company name. If you’re looking for a pair of amps and/or a preamp anywhere near or even above these models’ asking prices, you’ll want to head to your local Marantz Reference dealer to give them a listen.

Reviewers' Choice

Read the SoundStage! Hi-Fi review.

The gist: Classic company produces an updated Model 7.

Purity Audio Design ReferencePrice: $8895

Website: www.purityaudiodesign.com

Michael said: The Reference drew from recordings a great deal of detail and information, but it also made me want to just sit back and be entertained -- it let me connect with the music. If you’re looking for a preamplifier at or anywhere near $9000, Purity Audio Design’s Purity Reference should be on your short list.

Select Component

Read the Ultra Audio review.

The gist: A reference tube preamp from a newcomer on the scene.

Simaudio Moon 350PPrice: $2500; add $500 for DAC and phono option

Website: www.simaudio.com

Doug said: Simaudio’s Moon 350P is a high-performance stereo preamplifier for the audiophile masses -- the kind of preamp that many people can aspire to own and can reasonably afford. Its $2500 base price is very fair, and $500 is little to ask for the options of a phono stage and DAC.

Read the SoundStage! Hi-Fi review.

The gist: Plain-looking, good-sounding preamp.

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