Price: $14,995

Website: www.balanced.com

Aron said: If you’re in the market for a top-spec tubed preamplifier, I strongly recommend that you take the time to listen to it -- it might just be love at first listen.

Read the SoundStage! Ultra review.

The gist: Warmish-sounding tube amp that’s built really well.

Prices: Pictor, $18,000; DC filter, $5000

Website: www.constellationaudio.com

Doug said: The sound of the Pictor-Taurus-DC filter combination wasn’t just special -- to my ears, its spaciousness, resolution, and smoothness were spectacular enough to be considered the state of the art.

Reviewers' Choice

Read the SoundStage! Hi-Fi review.

The gist: Pair it with a Constellation power amp for SOTA sound.

Price: $399.95

Website: www.martinlogan.com

Wes said: As far as I can tell, it offers the least expensive way to get a clear- and clean-sounding preamplifier and a fine-sounding DAC married to one of the top room-correction softwares available.

Read the SoundStage! Simplifi review.

The gist: Cheapest way to get great room correction.

Price: $10,000

Website: www.trinnov.com

Al said: If you have a troublesome room, or just want to hear how good your system can sound when problematic room/speaker interactions are removed from the equation, Trinnov’s Amethyst is well worth a listen.

Read the SoundStage! Simplifi review.

The gist: Clean up your room, clean up your sound.

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