Sponsors

Reviewers Choice

  • Octave Audio V 40 SEPrice: $4900

    Website: www.octave.de

    Graham said: The Octave Audio V 40 SE is more than a bit special. It combines the grip and drive of a much more powerful amplifier with levels of transparency and detail that you’d be happy to find in a far more expensive product. It appeals to both the heart and head, and delivers a sound that modernizes traditional notions of what a tube amplifier at this price point can be and do.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Hi-Fireview.

    The gist: The line between tubes and solid state continue to blur.

  • Price: $199.99

    Website: www.usa.1more.com

    Brent said: I can’t think of earphones I like better for $200 -- or even for $300.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Xperience review.

    The gist: Great sound and nine sets of eartips!

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Price: $599.99

    Website: www.acousticresearch-hifi.com

    Brent said: What I love about them is that there’s nothing spectacular or exaggerated about their sound -- just as there’s nothing spectacular or exaggerated about the sound of a great violin, tenor saxophone, or singer. If you want something spectacular, that’s fine -- but if you want headphones you can enjoy day after day with all kinds of music, I strongly recommend the AR-H1s.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Xperience review.

    The gist: One of an elite group according to Brent.

  • Price: $1199

    Website: www.acousticresearch-hifi.com

    Rad said: If you don’t carry your music player in your pocket, but use it primarily at home or on long commutes, the AR-M2 should add a lot of quality to your life as a traveling audiophile.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Xperience review.

    The gist: AR is back with a bang!

  • Price: $249

    Website: www.akg.com

    Brent said: That the noise-canceling AKG N60 NCs came pretty close to the sound quality of my reference midpriced headphones, NAD’s Viso HP50s ($299), is remarkable. Overall, I do prefer the HP50s’ sound, but if I had to choose between them -- indeed, if I had to choose only one set of headphones to live with -- I’d take the N60 NCs for their much greater utility.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Xperience review.

    The gist: Great choice for frequent flyers.

  • 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.

  • Amphion Argon 3LPrice: $3695 per pair in black, white, or full white painted finish; $3995/pair in birch, cherry, or walnut real-wood veneers

    Website: www.amphion.fi

    Philip said: At just under $4000/pair it isn’t cheap, but I’ve heard more expensive speakers that don’t sound nearly as good. While there’s no such thing as a perfect speaker, Amphion’s Argon3L comes as close as I’ve heard to reaching that elusive ideal.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Hi-Fireview.

    The gist: Perhaps one of the best small floorstanders under five grand a pair that you can currently buy.

  • analysis_copperPrices: $239 per 8’ pair (Black Oval 12), $315 per 1m pair (Micro Copper Oval-In)

    Website: www.analysis-plus.com

    Colin said: I like Analysis Plus for their strict adherence to a no-BS philosophy -- something exceedingly rare among makers of audio cables.

    Great Buy

    Read the GoodSound! review.

    The gist: Real engineering leads to real-good sound with AP.

  • 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.

    rc_70x80

    Read the Home Theater & Sound review.

    The gist: Expensive. Canadian. Very good.

  • Anthem AVM 50v 3DPrice: $6500

    Website: www.anthemav.com

    Aron said: Fully configured, it generated the best picture and the most holistic soundstage I’ve seen or heard in my room. The levels of performance, engineering, and outright value that Anthem offers for $6500 scream "Benchmark product!"

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Xperience review.

    The gist: One of the best A/V processors on the market.

  • Price: $2999

    Website: www.anthemav.com

    Roger said: If you’re in the market for a high-quality surround-sound processor, I can’t recommend the Anthem AVM 60 highly enough. I would think long and hard before spending more.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Access review.

    The gist: An SSP this good used to cost double.

  • anthem_projPrice: $7499

    Website: www.anthemav.com

    Wes said: Even if you’re not interested in a single-company solution, Anthem’s fair price, outstanding product support, and bleeding-edge design add up to a no-brainer recommendation. I don’t think any other projector at any price will make you happier.

    rc_70x80

    Read the Home Theater & Sound review.

    The gist: Wes likes it, so it must be that good.

  • Anthem MRX 500Price: $1500

    Website: www.anthemav.com

    Vince said: When I first fired up the Anthem MRX 500, I thought it a good receiver with a great pedigree, from a company that has produced highly regarded surround-sound processors. After setting up and using its built-in Anthem Room Correction, I think the MRX 500 is a fantastic receiver worth every penny of its price. Even if Anthem charged twice as much for the MRX 500, I would still think the price fair -- because of ARC. The fact that the MRX 500 lists for only $1500 makes it a genuine bargain among home-theater receivers, and therefore the one to get.

    Great Buy

    Read the SoundStage! Accessreview.

    The gist: The best room correction in a receiver for under two grand.

  • Anthem MRX 700Price: $1999

    Website: www.anthemav.com

    Wes said: Effortless. Muscular. Coherent. Stable. Rock-solid. Sound like what you’re looking for? The Anthem MRX 700 immediately leaps to the top of the marketplace for home-theater receivers. Don’t miss it.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Xperience review.

    The gist: Anthem conquered processors, receivers are apparently next.

  • Price: $2499

    Website: www.anthemav.com

    Vince said: What most impressed me about the MRX 720 was its state-of-the-art Anthem Room Correction, its clean amplification, and its effortless streaming abilities. If you’re looking for a great-sounding HT receiver that sounds better than other HT receivers while giving up nothing in features, and is simple to use, give Anthem’s MRX 720 an audition.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Access review.

    The gist: A class act in an HT receiver.

  • Anthem Performance MRX 510Price: $1599

    Website: www.anthemav.com

    Vince said: The Performance MRX 510 ups the performance of ARC to provide unprecedented control and feedback for room correction, and raises the bar for home-theater receivers. Despite my initial misgivings about the features omitted from the MRX 500 to create the MRX 510, I ended up missing none of them. If you value sound quality and like to take some control over your speakers, as I do, I highly recommend the Anthem Performance MRX 510.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Access review.

    The gist: ARC puts this fine receiver at the head of the pack.

  • Anthem MRX 710Price: $1999

    Website: www.anthemav.com

    Wes said: If sound quality is your primary purchasing criterion, then the Performance MRX 710 should be at the top of your list. Even if you have an MRX 700, the MRX 710’s “1M” improvements in ARC and the Advanced Load Monitoring are enough reasons to upgrade.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Xperience review.

    The gist: Second-generation receiver from Anthem is the best for an audiophile home theater.

  • Anthem Statement M1Price: $7000 per pair

    Website: www.anthemav.com

    Jeff said: What I can unequivocally say is that the Anthem Statement M1 is darn near the ideal of a straight wire with gain, and at 1000W, that gain is almost unlimited. Is that enough for you? I suspect that, for many listeners, the answer will be an emphatic yes.

    Select Component

    Read the Ultra Audio review.

    The gist: Awesome power, great sound quality, reasonable price.

  • 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.

    rc_70x80

    Read the SoundStage! Xperience review.

    The gist: A really well-rounded speaker.

  • Price: $650 per pairaperion_4t_300h

    Website:www.aperionaudio.com

    Ron 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.

    goodsound gb 80x80

    Read the GoodSound! review.

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

  • 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.

    rc_70x80

    Read the Home Theater & Sound review.

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

  • Aperion Verus FortePrice: $1090 per pair

    Website: www.aperionaudio.com

    Thom said: In prizefighting, there’s a phrase to describe a boxer who hits like a fighter in a heavier class: "He punches above his weight." That was the case with the Aperion Audio Verus Forte Tower. I found it to be a really fine speaker overall, and a pretty remarkable one for its size. No, it didn’t have the ultimate bass performance; that’s where a subwoofer would come in. But on their own they provided a wide-bandwidth sound with excellent detail and a fine soundstage, and their depth of soundstage was especially good. This is a speaker that can sound great in many environments, though it does need some space behind it to sound its best. Overall, it was attractive and capable -- I recommend it to anyone looking for a really high-value speaker that sounds good and looks just as good.

    Great Buy

    Read the SoundStage! Accessreview.

    The gist: Aperion's smallest floorstander stands tall in performance.

  • Aperion Verus Grand BookshelfPrice: $598 per pair

    Website: www.aperionaudio.com

    Colin said: Aperion Audio’s Verus Grand Bookshelf reminded me that great things can still come in small packages. The Bookshelf isn’t just a fine-sounding speaker, it’s a refined-sounding speaker that doesn’t offer only a glimpse of high-end performance -- it’ll take you on a full tour and give you a T-shirt at the end. With a beguiling tweeter and a clean, overachieving midrange-woofer, the Verus Grand Bookshelf proves that its name is no oxymoron. It’s a speaker well worth an audition and its asking price. And it looks fabulous.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Hi-Fireview.

    The gist: Look at that finish!

  • Aperion Verus GrandPrice: $1798 per pair

    Website: www.aperionaudio.com

    Jeff said: Aperion Audio has ticked off all the areas you’d want ticked off by a floorstanding loudspeaker: clean, textured, articulate, full-range sound; solid build quality and a beautiful finish; nice touches such as dual sets of binding posts and magnetically attached grilles; and a price well under $2000/pair.

    Great Buy

    Read the SoundStage! Access review.

    The gist: The new speaker-to-get-under-$2000 class leader.

  • Arcam airDACPrice: $699

    Website: www.arcam.co.uk

    Oliver said: The airDAC is a music maker through and through -- one that offers a huge slice of audiophile sound at a real-world price. It does so without playing favorites in terms of musical genre or listener preference, delivering the musical goods in the most engaging way it can.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Access review.

    The gist: Who says an AirPlay-equipped DAC can’t be high end?

  • Arcam FMJ A19Price: $999

    Website: www.arcam.co.uk

    Hans said: Arcam’s FMJ A19 is a mature, highly accomplished integrated amplifier. Everything it does it does well, and I know of no other company that makes a product that can compete in overall sound quality and functionality for $999.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Access review.

    The gist: Unassuming on the outside, solid Arcam design on the inside.

  • arcam_fmja38_300w

    Price: $2299

    Website: www.arcam.co.uk

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

    ultra sel 120x80

    Read the Ultra Audio review.

    The gist: Unassuming package, unexpected sound quality.

  • arcam_fmj_cd37_300w

    Price: $2199

    Website:www.arcam.co.uk

    Roger 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.

    rc 70x80

    Read the SoundStage!review.

    The gist: Buy it for your SACDs.

  • Arcam FMJ D33Price: $3299

    Website: www.arcam.co.uk

    Hans said: It’s a chameleon of a digital-to-analog converter, lending no personality of its own to the signals it decodes, and going on to reproduce sound of not only exceedingly high resolution, but sound that is exceedingly musical. Its modest chassis conceals first-rate levels of performance, and I suspect it will hold its own against much more expensive components from the industry’s top names. Highly, highly recommended.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Hi-Fireview.

    The gist: State-of-the-art DAC in a modest chassis.

  • Price: www.arcam.co.uk

    Website: $799

    Roger said: Whether used as a conventional DAC or as a DAC-preamp, Arcam’s irDAC-II consistently provided a level of sound quality that exceeded my expectations for something so inexpensive.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Access review.

    The gist: High-value little DAC from longstanding British electronics company.

  • Arcam Solo rDacPrice: $479

    Website: www.arcam.co.uk

    Vince said: Arcam’s Solo rDac has exceeded my expectations for an inexpensive DAC. With a sleek silver-aluminum chassis and a single button on top, it’s a good-looking, easy-to-use audio component. Although I didn’t find that it significantly improved the performance of my Oppo Blu-ray player, its forte was playing music through its USB connection.

    Great Buy

    Read the SoundStage! Accessreview.

    The gist: Asynchronous USB DAC that's a solid deal.

  • 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.

    rc_70x80

    Read the SoundStage! review.

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

  • Astell&Kern AK JrPrice: $499

    Website: www.AstellnKern.com

    Rad said: All in all, listening to Astell&Kern’s AK Jr was pure pleasure.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Xperience review.

    The gist: Littlest brother to the company’s mighty AK380 portable media player.

  • Astell&Kern AK120Price: $1299

    Website: www.iriverinc.com

    Garrett said: I found the Astell&Kern AK120 indispensable for portable listening -- it sounds great with all types of music, its dual DACs providing fabulous resolution, speed, and great timing. While I can’t quite say it matches live performance or even the sound of my reference system, it nonetheless makes possible reference-quality personal listening.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Xperience review.

    The gist: Maybe the best portable for sound quality.

  • Price: $3499

    Website: www.AstellnKern.com

    Rad said: Is the AK380 worth $3499? Is a Jaguar or a Cadillac worth its high price? Yes and no. There’s no question that the A&K is the best portable media player around, but as for how much the best should cost, you’ll have to decide. But I seriously doubt that the AK380 will disappoint anyone, even at $3499.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Xperience review.

    The gist: Pricey, but maybe the best portable out there.

  • 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.

    rc_70x80

    Read the SoundStage! Xperiencereview.

    The gist: Only $99?!

  • Atlantic Technology AT-1Price: $2500 per pair

    Website: www.atlantictechnology.com

    Ron said: The Atlantic Technology AT-1 is more costly than its closest competitor I’ve yet listened to, the $1995/pair Dynaudio DM 3/7, but the extra $505 buys a whole lot in terms of fit’n’finish and performance. The AT-1 just does more, both on paper and in the listening. Nothing about this speaker annoyed me in the least -- and usually I find something that does. To say that the AT-1 should worry other manufacturers is an understatement. Smart people will buy a pair for $2500; the same smart people would be justified in considering the AT-1 even if it cost two, three, or four times as much.

    Great Buy

    Read the SoundStage! Accessreview.

    The gist: The standout budget floorstander of 2011.

  • Atma-Sphere M-60 Mk.3.1Price: $6950 per pair

    Website: www.atma-sphere.com

    Vade said: Atma-Sphere has improved the input circuit to reduce distortion, which has resulted in a sweeter, less mechanical sound. I like it a lot. If I didn’t already own Atma-Sphere’s S-30 Mk.3, I’d be sorely tempted to send in a check for the M-60 Mk.3.1s.

    Select Component

    Read the Ultra Audioreview.

    The gist: Nothing between you and the music -- not even a transformer.

  • Price: $399 with Cipher and analog cables, $349 with analog cable only

    Website: www.audeze.com

    Brent said: If you want top-notch, audiophile-grade sound you can enjoy at home and easily take along to your office, cubicle, or hotel room, I can’t think of a more practical and cost-effective way to get it. This is $4000 worth of sound for $400.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Xperience review.

    The gist: Unique design delivers stunning sound quality.

  • Audeze LCD-3Price: $1945

    Website: www.audeze.com 

    Garrett said: The Audeze LCD-3s created the best head-fi listening experience I have yet had. They’re serious contenders for a reference-level set of headphones and a must-hear for anyone looking at the top-tier of head-fi.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Xperience review.

    The gist: The anti-Beats set of headphones.

  • Audeze LCD-XPrice: $1699

    Website: www.audeze.com

    S. Andrea said: The LCD-Xes imbue every recording with a little extra glow, but their enhanced high-frequency performance, and the fact that they’re more easily driven, will likely broaden their appeal beyond Audeze’s current fan base. Last, the LCD-Xes’ materials, build quality, and accessories embrace both luxury and utility. For anyone truly serious about headphones, the Audeze LCD-Xes are a must audition.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Xperience review.

    The gist: Newish company stands apart in a crowded headphone market.

  • Audience aR6-TSPrice: $5000 with 6’ powerChord e AC cord; $4500 without AC cord

    Website: www.audience-av.com

    Doug said: Going from no power conditioner to the aR6-TS was such a revelation that it was difficult to believe that a mere power conditioner could make such a huge improvement. If you think your system already sounds as good as it can, you might find it hard to believe what an Audience aR6-TS can do for it.

    Select Component

    Read the Ultra Audioreview.

    The gist: One of the best passive power conditioners.

  • Price: $6450

    Website: www.audience-av.com

    Garrett said: I think Audience’s new adeptResponse aR6-TSSOX with Au24 SE-i powerChord is the bomb. My system never sounded so good.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Ultra review.

    The gist: Well, “the bomb” really says it all.

  • Audience powerChordPrices: Standard model, $2400/6’ cord; Medium-Power model, $1250/6’ cord; Low-Power model, $1080/6’ cord

    Website: www.audience-av.com

    Doug said: Audience’s Au24 SE powerChords, interconnects, and speaker cables are the most satisfying wiring products I’ve used in the last 39 years. They sit at the pinnacle of cable performance, and provide an attractive combination of big spaces, a very neutral sound and marvelously balanced performance, from the deepest bass to the highest treble.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Ultra review.

    The gist: The best cables Doug has heard.

  • Audience Au24 SEPrices: speaker cables, $2295 per 2.5m pair; interconnects, $1290 per 1m pair

    Website: www.audience-av.com

    Doug said: Audience’s Au24 SE powerChords, interconnects, and speaker cables are the most satisfying wiring products I’ve used in the last 39 years. They sit at the pinnacle of cable performance, and provide an attractive combination of big spaces, a very neutral sound and marvelously balanced performance, from the deepest bass to the highest treble.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Ultra review.

    The gist: The best cables Doug has heard.

  • Price: $4600 per 6’ cord

    Website: www.audience-av.com

    Garrett said: If you’re looking for peak performance in a power cable, I strongly urge you to audition the Au24 SX powerChord.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Ultra review.

    The gist: Garrett’s new go-to reference power cord.

  • audience_lsa_88_300h

    Price: $28,000 per pair

    Website: www.audience-av.com

    Vade 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.

    rc 70x80

    Read the SoundStage! review.

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

  • Price: $7995 per pair

    Website: www.audiophysic.de

    Roger said: I highly recommend the Audio Physic Avanti. In the game of high-end loudspeakers, it’s a serious contender that deserves very strong consideration.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Ultra review.

    The gist: German-made speaker is a soundstaging wonder.

  • Audio Pro Avanto 5.0Price: $1499

    Website: www.audiopro.se

    Kevin said: The Avantos are a terrific value. Okay, $1499 isn’t chump change, but if all you want is one system that will perform excellently with music and movies while looking fabulous, you may not have to look further.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Xperience review.

    The gist: You get all this for that?!

  • audioresearch_cd5_300w

    Price: $5995

    Website: www.audioresearch.com

    Tim 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.

    rc 70x80

    Read the SoundStage! review.

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

  • ARC DAC8Price: $4995

    Website: www.audioresearch.com

    Vade said: ARC’s DAC8 is a well-engineered, well-built machine that advances the state of the audio art and finally makes it possible to assemble a no-holds-barred, computer-based music server whose sound is competitive with just about anything -- which is just what I was looking for.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Hi-Fi review.

    The gist: Sure to be a popular choice for computing audiophiles.

  • 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. 

    rc_70x80

    Read the SoundStage! Hi-Fi review.

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

  • ARC DSPrePrice: $7495

    Website: www.audioresearch.com

    Vade said: The DSPre did full justice to ARC’s reputation for superb sound, and did so without using tubes. It sounded fantastic, looked great, and was easy to use. Equally important, it would save space and money over separate components. If I didn’t need a separate DAC and line stage to pursue my reviewer’s craft, I’d gladly live with the ARC DSPre. Easily a Reviewers’ Choice.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Hi-Fireview.

    The gist: An excellent DAC and preamp that happens to be in one box.

  • Price: $7500

    Website: www.audioresearch.com

    Vade said: For me, the point of diminishing returns is the LS28. If your budget can swing it, I strongly recommend that you audition the LS28. You might like it as much as I did.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Hi-Fi review.

    The gist: The, ahem, foundation of your new stereo system.

  • 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-Fireview.

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

  • Audio Research Reference 10Price: $30,000

    Website: www.audioresearch.com

    Pete said: The ARC Reference 10 is one of the most thrilling, intoxicating, musically engrossing preamplifiers ever made. Congratulations to Audio Research Corporation for their aspirations and their execution. Kudos, too, for the introduction of a superior user interface, more attractive appearance, and tactile luxury.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Ultra review.

    The gist: Even better than the Reference Anniversary?

  • ARC Ref 250Price: $25,990 per pair.

    Website: www.audioresearch.com

    Peter said: Ultimately, and as good as I know the sound of my reference amplifiers to be, I must conclude that the sound of Audio Research’s Reference 250s is finer. If I had air-conditioning, and if my primary reference system were dedicated solely to me and my music, I would have been more than tempted to buy them.

    Select Component

    Read the Ultra Audio review.

    The gist: Peter was smitten.

  • 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.

  • 201006_arc_front_300wPrice: $3995

    Website: www.audioresearch.com

    S. Andreasaid: 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.

    rc_70x80

    Read the SoundStage! review.

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

  • Audio-Technica ATH-MSR7Price: $249.95

    Website: www.audio-technica.com

    Rad said: Audio-Technica’s ATH-MSR7 headphones blindsided me. I’d expected very good commuter cans that would be good for casual listening. Instead, I discovered a set of audiophile headphones that live up to the Hi-Res Audio badge they wear.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Xperience review.

    The gist: Good sound on the go from a respected source.

  • Price: $299

    Website: www.audio-technica.com

    Rad said: There’s much to like in the ATH-DSR7BTs. Are they harbingers of the digital future? Perhaps -- but as alternatives to traditional designs of Bluetooth headphones, their time is now.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Xperience review.

    The gist: New-tech by AT seems to work like a champ.

    Award: Reviewers' Choice

  • Audioengine 5+Price: $399 per pair

    Website: www.audioengineusa.com

    Hans said: In juggling many considerations in its 5+, Audioengine has contrived to not drop one. As well executed as it is well designed, this attractive bookshelf speaker is a thoroughly practical product that worked, and worked well, practically right out of the box. You could spend the same amount of money on a pair of passive bookshelf speakers and perhaps get better sound. You could invest in an identically priced pair of active speakers and get similar sound. But the 5+ combines quality sound with an attractiveness and remote-controlled, multiple-input convenience that separates it from its competitors. Emphatically recommended.

    Great Buy

    Read the SoundStage! Access review.

    The gist: The powered monitor to beat at its price.

  • Audioengine D2Price: $599

    Website: www.audioengineusa.com

    Doug said: The Audioengine D2 is not only one of the most innovative products I’ve reviewed in a long time, it’s also one of the best. The fact that it’s so affordably priced makes this game-changing DAC all that much easier to buy. Highly recommended for those who want excellent sound quality and the convenience of wireless transmission.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Xperience review.

    The gist: Yes, you can get great performance and wireless connectivity all in the same DAC.

  • Audioengine N22Price: $199

    Website: www.audioengineusa.com

    Kevin said: The Audioengine N22 is a terrific little component and an incredible value. It's small, inexpensive, and ridiculously easy to use.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Xperience review.

    The gist: The amp to get for a portable hi-fi system.

  • 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.

  • Price: $699.99

    Website: www.audiofly.com

    Brent said: Their combination of wear-’em-all-day comfort and superbly balanced sound makes the AF1120s one of the most appealing sets of earphones I’ve reviewed.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Xperience review.

    The gist: A marked improvement over the company’s AF140 earphones.

  • AudioQuest DragonFlyPrice: $249

    Website: www.audioquest.com

    Doug said: The AudioQuest DragonFly is a high-bang-for-the-buck Reviewers’ Choice, and an easy recommendation for anyone on a tight budget who’s looking to move computer-based music playback to the next level.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Hi-Fi review.

    The gist: Don’t let the size and price fool you -- this is a great little DAC.

  • Aura Note V2Price: $3000

    Website: www.aprilmusic.com

    Jeff said: With V2 of the Aura Note music system, April Music has produced a versatile, adaptable, complete home-audio system in a single box.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Xperience review.

    The gist: The centerpiece of your new living-room entertainment system.

  • Aurelia XO CericaPrice: $7100 per pair

    Website: www.aurelia.fi

    Doug said: Antti Louhivaara’s focus on the acoustical solution has resulted in the XO Cerica looking different from anything else out there, and in it outperforming, in certain areas, almost everything else. When you’re sitting in the sweet spot, two of those areas are its soundstaging and imaging, which put the speaker in a league of its own, regardless of price.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Hi-Fi review.

    The gist: Doug contends it’s the soundstaging champ.

  • Aurender FlowPrice: $1295

    Website: www.aurender.com

    Brent said: The Flow is an upscale product with excellent sound quality and ergonomics, and impressive versatility. I expect it to be a big hit with headphone enthusiasts whose primary source component is a laptop computer.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Xperience review.

    The gist: Perhaps the coolest headphone amp out there.

  • Aurender W20Price: $17,200

    Website: www.aurender.com

    Pete said: For the well-heeled, obsessive-compulsive audiophile, and/or all who have invested in statement-level digital gear and strive to eliminate from their systems any compromises, the W20 should fit the bill.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Ultra review.

    The gist: Probably the best music server.

  • Aurender X100LPrice: $3490

    Website: www.aurender.com

    Jeff said: If you’ve wanted an Aurender S10, but were put off by its price and don’t need its myriad connection options, then I see nothing that should hold you back from the X100L. It’s a killer little product.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Ultra review.

    The gist: Excellent choice for a plug’n’play music server.

  • av123_elt525_300h

    Price: $1246

    Website:www.av123.com

    Randall 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.

    rc 70x80

    Read the Home Theater & Sound review.

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

  • Axiom Audio ADA-1000Price: $1340

    Website: www.axiomaudio.com 

    Roger said: It’s a great-sounding amplifier. I was impressed by the sound quality of this budget-friendly amp, and was more than happy to have it in my reference multichannel system for an extended period.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Xperience review.

    The gist: Watts-per-dollar champ that sounds good, too.

  • Price: $799 to $1616.25

    Website: www.axiomaudio.com

    Vince said: If you’re looking for a small yet powerful music system for streaming tunes, look no further than the AxiomAir N3 -- you won’t be disappointed.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Xperience review.

    The gist: Potent portable goes anywhere you want music.

  • 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.

    rc_70x80

    Read the SoundStage! review.

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

  • Axiom Epic systemPrice: $3406.70

    Website: www.axiomaudio.com

    Kevin said: The Epic 60•500 isn’t something you’ll like for a while, then start finding nits to pick about. It’s a keeper. If you audition this system, I don’t think you’ll even dream of taking advantage of Axiom’s 30-day return offer -- and I suggest you audition the Epic 60•500 system as soon as possible, if not sooner.

    Great Buy

    Read the SoundStage! Access review.

    The gist: All about all-around HT performance.

  • Axiom Audio Epic 80-800Price: $4786.10

    Website: www.axiomaudio.com

    Vince said: Axiom Audio’s Epic 80-800 home-theater speaker system brings phenomenal performance to the masses. It can play at concert-level loudness without requiring costly, high-powered amps -- a remarkable achievement. This system gets my highest recommendation.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Xperience review.

    The gist: A heck of a lot of home theater for the money.

  • Axiom Audio M100 v4Price: $2790-$4167.60 per pair

    Website: www.axiomaudio.com

    Oliver said: Axiom deserves a gold medal -- or, better still, a Reviewers’ Choice award -- for how much sonic goodness they’ve packed into the wonderful M100. That they’re able to do so for a starting price of only $2790/pair is wondrous indeed. The Axiom M100 stands as one of the best-balanced reasonably priced speakers I’ve heard.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Hi-Fi review.

    The gist: Driver-packed large floorstander that costs less than you’d think.

  • Price: $968-$1474 per pair, depending on finish

    Website: www.axiomaudio.com

    Philip said: A speaker like Axiom’s M5HP is proof that you can get incredible sound, superb engineering, and fantastic build quality at a reasonable price.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Hi-Fi review.

    The gist: Re-evaluate what you think great speakers cost.

  • Price: $12,950

    Website: www.ayre.com

    Uday said: If you buy one, I’m confident that it would be the last amp you bought for a very long while, if not the very last.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Ultra review.

    The gist: Ayre squeezes even more performance from the integrated amplifier.

  • 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.

    rc_70x80

    Read the SoundStage! Hi-Fireview.

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

  • Ayre DX-5Price: $9950 in silver (add $250 for black)

    Website: www.ayre.com

    Pete said: Digital audio has never sounded better in my system than when I use Ayre Acoustics’ DX-5 as the source. Refined, resolving, musical, and engaging, the DX-5 is exactly what the doctor ordered: an electrifying performer and an unequivocal bargain, despite its price of nearly $10,000. The folks at Ayre have outdone themselves -- the DX-5 is better than their C-5xeMP at spinning audio discs, leagues ahead of their QB-9 for computer audio, and provides 2D images of unequaled quality, without the ailments typically inflicted on an audio system by the inclusion of video.

    Select Component

    Read the Ultra Audioreview.

    The gist: Maybe he best universal player yet.

  • Ayre Acoustics KX-5Price: $7950

    Website: www.ayre.com

    Aron said: The attention to detail, quality, and performance that I have experienced while reviewing the formidable KX-5 preamplifier has reaffirmed my position that Ayre Acoustics makes some of the best audio gear money can buy. Putting aside my quibbles about ergonomics, I found nothing to dislike in the KX-5 -- it performed flawlessly, exhibited outstanding sound quality, and proved to be the quietest preamplifier I have ever heard in my system. Add to this a five-year warranty, and an undeniable dedication to customer service, and I can enthusiastically recommend it not only to you, but also for a Reviewers’ Choice award.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Hi-Fi review.

    The gist: One of the best sub-$10k preamps.

  • Ayre Acoustic KX-5 TwentyPrice: $8950

    Website: www.ayre.com

    Aron said: The KX-5 Twenty strives for purity of sound through purity of signal, and emphasizes that the first step toward true transparency is silence. The levels of build quality, and the close attention paid to selection and implementation of parts and materials, have resulted in what I consider to be the industry benchmark in solid-state preamplification for less than $10,000.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Ultra review.

    The gist: Ayre hits another one out of the park.

  • 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.

    ultra_sel_120x80

    Read the Ultra Audioreview.

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

    ultra_sel_120x80

    Read the Ultra Audioreview.

    The gist: Compact design, reference sound.

  • Ayre Acoustics MX-R TwentyPrice: $29,500 per pair

    Website: www.ayre.com

    Pete said: With the Twenty-series models, and particularly the MX-R Twenty monoblocks, I’m convinced that Ayre Acoustics has closed the gap between tube sound and solid-state sound.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Ultra review.

    The gist: New version of Ayre’s flagship amplifier delivers the goods.

  • ayre_qb9_300w

    Price: $2500

    Website: www.ayre.com

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

    ultra sel 120x80

    Read the Ultra Audio review.

    The gist: Awesome asynchronous audio à la Ayre.

  • Ayre Acoustics QB-9DSDPrice: $3495

    Website: www.ayre.com

    Colin said: When a component raises the bar as much as the QB-9DSD did in my system, I think I’d sell a kidney to keep it. So far that hasn’t proved necessary, and at the $700 upgrade price I won’t have to sell even an eyelash.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Hi-Fi review.

    The gist: One of the original USB DACs gets a makeover.

  • Price: $8950

    Website: www.ayre.com

    Philip said: What I can say is that the QX-5 Twenty is a beautifully designed, well-built component that could easily anchor a state-of-the-art sound system for years to come.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Hi-Fi review.

    The gist: Classic Ayre sound in a modern digital source.

  • Ayre VX-5Price: $7950

    Website: www.ayre.com

    Doug said: The VX-5 is an extremely accomplished-sounding power amplifier that I could easily listen to and live with as my personal reference for a long, long time, without ever feeling in the slightest shortchanged. For many -- even those expecting to spend a lot more -- it may be the perfect amplifier.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Hi-Fi review.

    The gist: Ayre’s entry level might just be your reference level.

  • Ayre Acoustics VX-RPrice: $14,950

    Website: www.ayre.com

    Doug said: The Ayre Acoustics VX-R is that rare component: a luxury audio component in every way, a reference-caliber performer, and a very good value at its high price. It’s not only one of the best products of any kind I’ve ever reviewed, it’s the very best power amplifier I’ve ever heard.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Hi-Fireview.

    The gist: A reference stereo amp in a class-leading package.

  • Ayre AX-5Price: $9950

    Website: www.ayre.com

    Uday said: As of today, the AX-5 is not only, overall, the finest-sounding amp I’ve ever heard, it ranks as one of the finest components I’ve heard of any type. Or, to put it another way while emphasizing one of its strongest suits: This is the best damn integrated I’ve never heard. The AX-5 is truly a Goldilocks amp: not too hot and not too cold, it’s just right.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Hi-Fireview.

    The gist: Might be the best integrated you can buy.

  • behold_apu768_300w

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

    Website: www.behold.eu

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

    ultra sel 120x80

    Read the Ultra Audio review.

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

  • 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.

    ultra_sel_120x80

    Read the Ultra Audio review.

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

  • belcanto_cd2_300w

    Price:$2995

    Website: www.belcantodesign.com

    Tim 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.

    rc 70x80

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

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

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