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2018 SoundStage! Network Equipment Buying Guide

Price: AU$46,650

Website: www.absolare.com

Josh said: While it may be considered for some to be expensive, its performance capabilities in so many areas frankly exceed what could be achieved in preamplifier-amplifier separate combinations at far loftier price points, therefore making it an attractive proposition as a statement amplifier for those slightly short of space or for those demanding electronics capable of the very highest standards.

Read the SoundStage! Australia review.

The gist: Sound that is said to strike a near perfect balance between tube and solid state.

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: $299.95

Website: www.akg.com

Rad said: The more I listened, the less I liked AKG’s N60 NC Wireless noise-canceling headphones.

Read the SoundStage! Xperience review.

The gist: These pretty much sucked.

Prices: $1750 per 4’ pair for speaker cables and 766 per 0.5m pair for interconnects

Website: www.analysis-plus.com

Roger said: You could spend even more on cables from some other manufacturers, but in my system, Analysis Plus’s Silver Apexes provided absolutely stellar sound.

Read the SoundStage! Hi-Fi review.

The gist: Competes with the best for less.

Price: $4499

Website: www.anthemav.com

Roger said: I can’t overstate how impressed I was by the execution of its overall design. In my years as an audio reviewer, the STR Integrated is one of the most impressive examples of a fully fledged audio product I’ve come across.

Reviewers' Choice

Read the SoundStage! Hi-Fi review.

The gist: Anthem Room Correction puts this powerful integrated over the top.

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.

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: $8995

Website: www.balanced.com

Aron said: The sound of BAT’s VK-255SE is therefore not quite my cup of tea -- but if tube-like warmth, buttery textures, and arresting dynamics are what you find most inviting, then this amplifier deserves to be on your audition list.

Read the SoundStage! Ultra review.

The gist: Will fit some listeners better than others.

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