Price: $24,999

Website: www.accuphase.com

Doug said: The C-2850 embodies the best of what a high-end hi-fi component is about—quality in every respect.

Reviewers' Choice

Read the SoundStage! Hi-Fi review.

The gist: Extreme Japanese thoughtfulness throughout.

Price: $19,500

Website: www.allnicaudio.com

Howard said: [K.S. Park] set out on the apparently more difficult road of transformerlessness and has created something special in the directly coupled L-9000 OTL/OCL preamplifier, which sounds exceptionally immediate, detailed, and captivating.

Read the SoundStage! Ultra review.

The gist: Far from another me-too tube preamplifier.

Price: $17,000

Website: www.audioresearch.com

Aron said: Audio Research’s Reference 6SE preamplifier is a big step forward from their Reference 6 in terms of transparency, and thus in terms of all the sonic nuances that a superior preamplifier can communicate.

Reviewers' Choice

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The gist: Yet another in a long line of great ARC preamps.

Price: $9999

Website: www.classeaudio.com

Aron said: If you’re looking for a central hub for your system that can handle all of your analog and digital sources in one svelte, easy-to-use package, Classé’s Delta Pre is one to check out.

Read the SoundStage! Ultra review. Read the SoundStage! Australia review.

The gist: A do-it-all source component for the high end.

Price: $28,000

Website: www.karanacoustics.com

Doug said: From its extraordinary build quality, to its noiseless operation and extremely high-resolution sound, to its stellar performance on the test bench, which reveals that what I heard can be largely if not entirely attributed to excellent engineering and execution (note that our measurements are done after listening), to its compatibility with the various power amps I hooked it up to, I have no criticism of the LINEb—other than wishing it offered finer volume adjustment than increments of 1dB.

Reviewers' Choice

Read the SoundStage! Hi-Fi review.

The gist: Solidly among the state of the art.

Price: $3599

Website: spl.audio

Aron said: The Director Mk2 was vanishingly quiet, dynamic, neutral, and exceedingly communicative of the music, particularly in the lower frequencies.

Reviewers' Choice

Read the SoundStage! Ultra review.

The gist: Competes well above its price point in terms of features and sound quality.

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