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.
The gist: Even better than the Reference Anniversary?
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.
The gist: One of the best sub-$10k preamps.
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.
The gist: Ayre hits another one out of the park.
Erich said: The SL-100 will easily satisfy those who want a comfortable sound that’s relaxed and laid-back, but who don’t want to deal with tubes. Given its reasonable price and fine build quality, the SL-100 is an attractive choice that should garner a warm reception amongst audiophiles.
The gist: Solid state that sounds like tubes.
Doug said: It’s an incredibly good preamplifier for a reasonable price. Its build quality is excellent, its feature set very good, and its sound is out of this world. It’s my top recommendation for preamplifier pleasure for under ten grand.
The gist: Tube preamp that sent Doug over the top.
Thom said: The C 510's reproduction of recorded sound was as nearly perfect as I’ve heard in 50 years of serious listening. And the higher the resolution of the signal fed to it, the better it sounded -- as you’d expect, of course, but even better than you might expect!
The gist: The perfect hub for an affordable all-digital system.
Jeff said: The M12 is, in my opinion, an example of what tomorrow’s preamps will be: they’ll have analog inputs, but with a clear priority given to digital inputs; streaming capability, and a good app for its control (this is absolutely huge in importance); functionality for a 2.1-channel system; even a front-panel USB port.
The gist: Good-sounding and feature-rich DAC-preamp for an advanced stereo system.
Erich said: I found it a fundamentally neutral and wonderfully musical preamplifier that would easily be at home in an all-tube system, or one in which it’s mated to solid-state gear. In my estimation, the RP-5’s neutrality should make it an easy partner for just about any system.
The gist: American-made tube preamp that is rock-solid all around.