The 2012 SoundStage! Network Buying Guide features summaries of all stereo and home-theater products reviewed in the calendar year across all of our publications. The Buying Guide is subdivided by product and price, with each article including pricing details, a review summary, a full-review link, and product-award indicators.
All prices are in US dollars.
Vince said: On its own, without the Perfect Bass Kit or the PT-2 Wireless Transmitter, Paradigm’s Series 7 Monitor Sub 12 was a reasonably good subwoofer that performed as well as other subs in its price range; I have no reason to dissuade you from buying one. But two Sub 12s with PBK and PT-2 made an exceptional combo. The depth of bass, the transient performance, and all the features such as wireless transmission and room correction put it in a higher class, and that makes it one of the best options at the price available today.
The gist: A good sub made even better with great accessories.
Price: $795 per pair
Ron said: Anthony Gallo Acoustics’ Classico CL-2 is a reasonably priced, well-made bookshelf loudspeaker that, while requiring a bit more tweaking than I’m accustomed to, gave a very good account of itself, presenting a wide, spacious soundstage with very good to excellent imaging cues. Though not a detailmeister, it was quite pleasant to listen through, finding the “good” in even questionable recordings.
The gist: Classic round sound from a box speaker.
Price: $790 per pair
Hans said: It’s an attractive and thoughtfully designed package that purports to be nothing other than what it is. It forgoes deep bass to focus on producing an expansive, evenhanded sound with admirable imaging. And with its ten-year warranty on drivers and 30-day guarantee, with free shipping both ways, the interested listener can sample a pair without risk. Bearing in mind Aperion’s return rate of less than 5%, the odds heavily favor the 5T making only a one-way trip.
The gist: Very nice little floorstander for the money.
Price: $399 per pair
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.
The gist: The powered monitor to beat at its price.
Price: $2998 per pair
Roger said: When I reviewed the Definitive Technology Mythos STS SuperTower loudspeaker, I was impressed by how good it sounded, especially considering its slim, good looks. I was even more impressed by the excellent performance of Definitive’s new BP-8080ST SuperTower. By any standard, both are exceptional speakers. Those who might dismiss the Mythos STS because of its “lifestyle” look will miss out on a great speaker. Those who might dismiss the BP-8080ST because of its bipolar design or other reasons will miss out on an even better one.
The gist: Big speaker, big sound, not-so-big price.
Price: $398 per pair
Roger said: The Definitive Technology StudioMonitor 45 is an excellent combination of performance and value in an entry-level loudspeaker. It offers a clean midrange, and smooth high frequencies that provide a high level of performance and musicality. It also has enough bass and power-handling capability to play loud enough when my listening sessions get a bit rowdy. All of this is packaged in an attractive bookshelf design at the ridiculously low price of $199 each.
The gist: Ridiculous value for money.
Price: $598 per pair
Philip said: If you like solid bass, clear-cut imaging, and a clean, open midrange, but don’t have the room and/or the money for bigger speakers, Definitive Technology’s StudioMonitor 55 could be what you’ve been waiting for. It does many things well for the audiophile on a budget, and doesn’t take a back seat to speakers costing even multiples of its price.
The gist: Sound quality unheard of at this price just a few years ago.
Price: $2450 per pair
Brooke said: I thoroughly enjoyed my time with the Dynaudio Focus 110 A. It offered a beguiling combination of smoothness, accuracy, and transient speed with low-end extension and dynamic capabilities that belied its small size. The price of $2450/pair is reasonable for what the Focus 110 A does, but the fact that the speaker includes four channels of amplification tailor-made for the drive-units they’re connected to makes them a relative bargain.
The gist: Very good all-around powered monitor from a speaker-making powerhouse.