Sponsors

Reviewers Choice

  • Simaudio Moon 750DPrice: $11,999

    Website: www.simaudio.com

    Jeff said: When it comes to D/A converters, the Simaudio Moon Evolution 750D is at the top of the heap. It is transparent to the source, has extreme levels of resolution, and is dead-bang neutral in terms of tonality -- by these or any measures, it is a terrific-sounding piece of gear.

    ultra_sel_120x80

    Read the Ultra Audio review.

    The gist: State-of-the-art DAC technology with a CD transport to boot.

  • Simaudio Moon Evolution 810LPPrice: $12,000

    Website: www.simaudio.com

    Graham said: At $12,000, the Moon Evolution 810LP phono preamplifier is not the cheapest way to create an entirely convincing musical event in my listening room, but to my ears it’s the best way. In it, Simaudio has created an effortlessly musical and utterly transparent window through which audiophiles can listen to and, more important, connect with their music. The word reference may continue to relentlessly rain down, but for me, the Moon Evolution 810LP will continue to be the parade.

    Select Component

    Read the Ultra Audio review.

    The gist: As good as it gets for analog.

  • Simaudio Moon Neo 340iPrice: $5450

    Website: www.simaudio.com

    Erich said: Simaudio’s Moon Neo 340i is an excellent example of just how good today’s integrated amp-DACs can be. It’s attractive, well built, easy to use, very easy to listen to for extended periods of time, and can provide nuanced sound at modest or high volume levels.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Hi-Fi review.

    The gist: Mid-priced integrated with all the right attributes.

  • Smyth A8Price: $3670 including Stax SRS-202 headphones

    Website: www.smyth-research.com

    Rad said: What Smyth Research claims the Realiser A8 does, with its intricate SVS algorithm, is to make the sound from the headphones like the sound in your room. It’s like taking a virtual-reality audio tour of the sound of your audio system in your room, one that you can commit to a digital file or preset, and preserve for your regular use.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Xperiencereview.

    The gist: Seems impossible, but it lives up to its claims.

  • Sonus Faber Chameleon BPrice: $899 per pair

    Website: www.sonusfaber.com

    Jeff said: This speaker is well named. It’s the consummate Chameleon, drawing the best from a wide variety of designs and techniques of sound reproduction. Through exquisite engineering, beautiful industrial design, world-class fit and finish, and superior inner detail and resolution in its ability to make music, this speaker is a marvel.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Access review.

    The gist: Under $1000 and made in Italy?!

  • Sonus Faber Chameleon TPrice: $1999 per pair

    Website: www.sonusfaber.com

    Philip said: If Sonus Faber’s goal was to attract a new crowd of consumers to high-end audio, they may well succeed with the Chameleon T, whose exquisite fit and finish were bettered only by its sound.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Hi-Fi review.

    The gist: The least-expensive Sonus Faber floorstander offers a lot.

  • Sonus Faber Olympica IIIPrice: $13,500 per pair

    Website: www.sonusfaber.com

    Doug said: I believe that the Olympica III is an example of exactly what Sonus Faber stands for today: Italian-flavored build quality and styling combined with a signature sound that audiophiles the world over can appreciate. For those who want a speaker that thrills the eyes as much as the ears, Sonus Faber’s Olympica III gets my highest recommendation.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Hi-Fi review.

    The gist: When sound and looks matter equally.

  • Price: $699 per pair

    Website: www.sonusfaber.com

    Sathyan said: In this competitive market for loudspeakers, with so many idiosyncrasies in terms of sound design and buyers’ personal preferences, listeners are well advised to try out speakers with their own ears in their own rooms. The Principia 3 should be included in that evaluative process -- it may well come out on top.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Access review.

    The gist: Sonus Faber goes even lower in price without sacrificing sound quality.

  • Sonus Faber Venere 3.0Price: $3498 per pair

    Website: www.sonusfaber.com

    Jeff said: At the end of the day, the Sonus Faber Venere 3.0 is the speaker I would unhesitatingly recommend to any friend shopping for a pair of speakers costing up to $4500/pair. While there’s stiff competition above that -- the aforementioned KEF R900, PSB’s Synchrony One, the Paradigm Tribute -- I can’t think of any other speaker I’d rather own at the price.

    Select Component

    Read the Ultra Audio review.

    The gist: High style and great sound for a terrific price.

  • Price: $4999 per pair

    Website: www.sonusfaber.com

    Hans said: I enjoyed every minute that Sonus Faber’s Venere S loudspeakers spent in my system -- something that happens very rarely. With its stunning profile and attractive optional Wood finish, this shouldn’t surprise. What surprised me was that the Venere S allied that visual beauty with an involvingly vibrant and neutral sound, while offering thoroughly satisfying bass response down to about 35Hz.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Access review.

    The gist: Beautiful to look at and to listen to.

  • Sony XBA-H1Price: $149

    Website: www.sonystyle.com

    Brent said: I’ve worked on reviews of some 100 earphones, for websites including Sound & Vision and The Wirecutter, and I can’t think of anything I’ve tried for under $300 that I like better than the Sony XBA-H1 earphones.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Xperience review.

    The gist: The buck-fifty earphones to beat.

  • Soulution 711Price: $65,000

    Website: www.soulution-audio.com

    Jeff said: The Soulution 711 is everything you expect in a $65,000 power amplifier, and it’s everything and anything you need from any amp at any price. Its excellent Swiss build quality is exceeded only by its nigh-on perfect sound. I have no criticisms. This machine is awesome.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Ultra review.

    The gist: The state of the art in solid-state amplification.

  • Spin-Clean Record WasherPrice: $79.99

    Website: www.spincleanrecordwasher.com

    Jason said: For $79.99, the Spin-Clean Record Washer Mk.II is a smokin’ deal. It does a fantastic job, it’s easy to use, it’s quiet and sanitary. I’m thrilled with it.

    Great Buy

    Read the SoundStage! Access review.

    The gist: The one to get for the money.

  • Stanford Research Systems PERF10Price: $3495

    Website: www.thinksrs.com

    Howard said: The bottom line is that the PERF10 and its lower-priced siblings, the FS725 and PRS10, will virtually eliminate clock jitter at a price -- $3495 or less -- that is nothing short of revolutionary.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Ultra review.

    The gist: Like they say, timing is everything.

  • Stax SR-507Price: $1099

    Website: www.stax.co.jp

    S. Andrea said: If you value detail, transparency, openness, and timbres and textures just to the warm side of realistic, regardless of volume level or musical complexity, then the combination of Stax SR-507 Lambda Signature headphones and WooAudio GES amplifier is far and away the best I’ve heard. You may be able to do better, but I have a feeling that it will cost you a lot more.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Xperience review.

    The gist: The reference electrostatic headphones.

  • stello_ai500Price: $3495

    Website: www.aprilmusic.com

    Philip said: It’s taken a long time for an integrated amplifier to come along that I’ve enjoyed as much as the Bryston B100 SST, but the Stello Ai500 has finally arrived, and with it, April Music has a clear winner on their hands. Although it’s not cheap, I suspect that significantly improving on its performance would require spending many multiples of its price, and in this sense the Ai500 offers excellent value.

    rc_70x80

    Read the SoundStage! review.

    The gist: Joins the upper ranks of mid-priced integrated amps.

  • Price: $299

    Website: www.sumikoaudio.net

    Thom said: If your budget can’t stretch to $299, check out the Rainier for half that. But if you can afford $299 and you want the ultimate in detail, smooth response, and great tracking from a MM cartridge, audition the Sumiko Oyster Moonstone. It’s fabulous.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Access review.

    The gist: Top of the Oyster series is solid buy.

  • Price: $149

    Website: www.sumikoaudio.net

    Thom said: I think Sumiko might have a hit on its hands. The Oyster Rainier offered a lovely, warm sound with a wide range of recordings, but could still kick up its heels as required.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Access review.

    The gist: Sumiko hits a low point . . . in price, that is.

  • Price: $1899

    Website: www.sumikoaudio.net

    Jason said: The Reference Starling slapped me in the face. While I know that Sumiko has been in the cartridge business forever, and obviously should know by now how to make a good cartridge, I hadn’t expected this level of performance for a (pretty much) affordable price.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Ultra review.

    The gist: If you’re in the budget cartridge market, Jason thinks you should spend a bit more and get this.

  • SVS Prime Satellite and SB-1000Prices: Prime Satellite, $134.99 each; SB-1000 Subwoofer, $499.99

    Website: www.svsound.com

    Kevin said: The SVS combo of Prime Satellites and SB-1000 subwoofer should be terrific for any environment challenged by too little space and/or too much furniture, and that rewards nearfield listening. The Satellites’ sound was clearly articulate, squeaky clean, and utterly faithful to the music, and SVS has artfully managed their integration with the SB-1000 subwoofer to create a listening experience that is coherent, cohesive, and musically engaging.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Access review.

    The gist: Internet-direct combo that packs big sound in a small package.

  • SVS Prime TowerPrice: $999.98 per pair

    Website: www.svsound.com

    Vince said: The SVS Prime Tower competes favorably with models from such established names as Monitor Audio, Paradigm, and PSB. And with SVS’s unique Bill of Rights, it’s a no-brainer to recommend that you give the Prime Towers a home audition, especially if you’re in the market for a speaker with a small footprint and excellent low-frequency output.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Access review.

    The gist: Amazing value in a small floorstander.

  • Price: $999.99

    Website: www.svsound.com

    Diego said: The bass I heard from this small box, unassuming yet nice to look at, bordered on the difficult to believe -- very fast, very tight, very deep, with more than enough output to fill my 15’L x 12’W x 8’H room with sound-pressure levels that would satisfy all but the most demanding bass heads.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Access review.

    The gist: Hard to believe you could do better in the sub department for the money.

  • Price: $1999.99

    Website: www.svsound.com

    Roger said: The SVS SB16-Ultra is a fantastic subwoofer that offers exceptional performance for $1999.99, but it faces strong competition from other great subs, such as the aforementioned JL Audio and models from GoldenEar, Paradigm, Hsu Research, and Outlaw Audio, to name just a few.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Access review.

    The gist: Tremendous bass-for-dollar proposition.

    Award: Reviewers' Choice

  • SVS Ultra TowerPrice: $1998 per pair

    Website: www.svsound.com

    Thom said: The SVS Ultra Tower is a phenomenal accomplishment at the price; there’s just nothing I’ve heard for $2000/pair, or even for significantly more, that comes close.

    Great Buy

    Read the SoundStage! Access review.

    The gist: A solid value in a full-range floorstander.

  • Price: $2995 per 5’ cord

    Website: www.synergisticresearch.com

    Howard said: Although the changes wrought by the Atmosphere cords warrant a separate review, suffice it to say that, compared to the Elements, they significantly expanded soundstages and delivered more detail and a greater sense of rhythm and flow, all while further reducing noise.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Ultra review.

    The gist: The power cords to round out your Synergistic-based cable setup.

  • Prices: speaker cables, $4995 per 8’ pair; interconnects, $2495 per 1m pair

    Website: www.synergisticresearch.com

    Howard said: Kudos to Synergistic Research for earning Reviewers’ Choice awards for these products, and for being one of a very small number of companies that consistently and innovatively push the state of the art of high-end audio.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Ultra review.

    The gist: Howard says these are better than the more complex Synergistics he had been using.

  • Synergistic Research Element CopperPrice: $1200-$7500 depending on model

    Website: www.synergisticresearch.com

    Howard said: Are the Synergistic Elements the best cables that can be bought for the money? I have not heard all the cables out there, so I can't say for sure. What I do know is that they make my music sound better than any of the many other cables I’ve tried in my system.

    Select Component

    Read the Ultra Audio review.

    The gist: A new generation of Synergistics for the Ted Denney fans.

  • Price: $17,500/8’ pair for speaker cables; $7500/1m pair (RCA) for interconnects

    Website: www.synergisticresearch.com

    Howard said: I’m smitten with the sound of Synergistic Research’s Galileo SXes: breathtakingly lively, exciting, and dynamic, yet gorgeously rich, musical, and accurately full-bodied.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Ultra review.

    The gist: Howard says Synergistic has upped their game again.

  • Price: $15,000 per 8’ pair (speaker cables), $7500 per 1m pair (RCA interconnects), $9500 per 1m pair (XLR interconnects), $2000 per pair (jumpers)

    Website: www.synergisticresearch.com

    Howard said: The Synergistic Galileo UEFs are serious contenders for the designation SOTA.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Ultra review.

    The gist: The best cables Howard has heard in his system.

  • synergistic_galileoPrices: $2500 per pair (Speaker Cells); $1500 per pair for RCA, $2000 per pair for XLR (Interconnect Cells)

    Website: www.synergisticresearch.com

    Howard said: If you want your system to really swing in the big leagues, these products may get it a good part of the way there. In short, these are remarkable products from a truly innovative company.

    ultra_sel_120x80

    Read the Ultra Audioreview.

    The gist: Don't know how, but apparently they work.

  • Synergistic Research HFTPrices: $75 each, $995, $399, respectively.

    Website: www.synergisticresearch.com

    Howard said: They fundamentally improved the sound of my system. I suggest that you rush to a Synergistic dealer to give these remarkable products a listen. I doubt you’ll go home empty-handed.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Ultra review.

    The gist: Howard was simply blown away.

  • Price: $5995

    Website: www.synergisticresearch.com

    Howard said: The PowerCell 12 UEF SE just might represent the state of the art of power conditioning. It is a testament to the long way Synergistic Research has come since Ted Denney felt that he had yet to discover a power-conditioning technology worth taking further.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Ultra review.

    The gist: The best power conditioner Howard has heard.

  • Price: $20,000 per 5’ cord

    Website: www.synergisticresearch.com

    Howard said: If you choose to forgo the kids’ college educations for the silver-laden SR25, be prepared to experience what could very well be the state of the art of power delivery.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Ultra review.

    The gist: Crazy expensive, but if you want the best power cord . . .

  • synergistic_teslaapex_300w

    Prices: $3600 per 1m pair (Tesla Apex interconnects), $2600 per 1m pair (Precision Reference interconnects), $6500 per 8’ pair (Tesla Apex speaker cables)

    Website: www.synergisticresearch.com

    Norm said:  While no technology can ever be said to be fully perfected, the various Tesla Apex and Precision Reference cables I used are proof that Synergistic Research has taken what was, by all accounts, a very good set of products and propelled them into a whole new league.

    rc 70x80

    Read the SoundStage!review.
    Read the SoundStage! follow-up review.
    Read the Ultra Audio review.

    The gist: Three reviews, one conclusion: these cables rock.

  • T+A Criterion TCD 110 SPrice: $13,000 per pair

    Website: www.taelektroakustik.de

    Aron said: T+A’s Constant Directivity driver array is incredibly well implemented and does a commendable job of presenting aural images in space with appropriate levels of depth, texture, detail, scale, and focus. The innovative twin bass driver/transmission-line combination partners wonderfully with the CD array to deliver deep, accurate, powerful bass that remains palpable and controlled regardless of volume level. Add to that a cabinet built and finished to last a lifetime, and one of the most attractive and well-thought-out protective grilles in the business, and T+A has a winner.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Ultra review.

    The gist: This smartly designed speaker from Germany provides a great price-to-performance proposition.

  • T+A DAC 8Price: $3250

    Website: www.taelektroakustik.de

    Garrett said: If you’re in the market for a desktop or console-top DAC, I strongly recommend checking out the T+A DAC 8. It can be the solo source for a superb three-piece system of DAC-preamp, power amp, and speakers. And as the hub of a digital system it’s completely flexible, accepting USB from a computer, S/PDIF and optical systems from other digital sources, and works terrifically with most any headphone out there. I loved it.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Hi-Fi review.

    The gist: Highly configurable DAC is a product of fine German engineering.

  • T+A Elektroakustik E-SeriesPrice: $4200

    Website: www.taelektroakustik.de

    Howard said: The T+A Elektroakustik E-Series Music Receiver is a chef of the future that will propel you into the new digital age of computer and streaming Internet audio. It’s also a chef of the past, allowing you to indulge in such traditional audio pastimes as playing a CD, listening to FM radio, or hooking up a tape deck or phono stage and turntable. It’s a fairly small, extremely well-made product that not only sounds fantastic, but is one of the coolest components to pass through my listening room in some time.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Xperience review.

    The gist: Audiophile receiver with German engineering.

  • T+A E-SeriesPrice: $3100

    Website: www.taelektroakustik.de

    Jeff said: T+A Elektroakustik’s E-Series Power Plant Balanced is the finest piece of electronics I’ve ever had in my system, exerting a beautiful control over a wide range of musical demands: It can play loudly without strain, or quietly with force and solidity. In very little time, I fell in love with the E-Series Power Plant Balanced’s speed, grip, tautness, and punch. And it never felt warm to the touch, and never broke a sweat. Truly, it is one cool customer -- an integrated amp for all seasons.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Access review.

    The gist: Classically styled, great-sounding solid-state integrated from Germany.

  • Price: $8500

    Website: www.taelektroakustik.de

    Hans said: From top to bottom of the audioband, it is a complete integrated amplifier, whose sound quality is matched by its impressively solid aluminum build. For a reviewer prone to cast a skeptical eye on everything that comes through his listening room, I’m at a loss. This thing is faultless.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Hi-Fi review.

    The gist: Advanced German-made integrated amp could anchor your system.

  • Price: $23,500

    Website: www.ta-hifi.de

    Jeff said: Not only did I really enjoy my time with the PA 3100 HV -- I could easily envision my no-compromise self living with one long term. I bet you’d feel the same way.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Ultra review.

    The gist: Big, expensive, great integrated amplifier.

  • Price: 12,495 per pair

    Website:www.technicalaudiodevices.com

    Jeff said: The TAD ME-1 is one of the finest loudspeakers I’ve had in my room. From 40Hz up, it rivals anything else at any price.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Ultra review.

    The gist: Best small speaker Jeff has heard.

  • TEAC CR-H500NTPrice: $799

    Website: www.teac.com

    Thom said: It’s a great piece of gear, and I don’t want to return it to TEAC. It’s incredibly versatile, compact, and fairly full-featured, with enough power to fill with excellent sound a room of moderate size. It has all the latest kit -- USB port, Internet Radio, iPod connectivity, etc. -- while looking backward as well, with a competent FM tuner and a fine-sounding phono preamp. The CR-H500NT can serve as the foundation of a very fine stereo system, and for all it offers, it’s inexpensive. I heartily recommend it.

    goodsound_gb_80x80

    Read the SoundStage! Accessreview.

    The gist: A great foundational component for a small stereo system.

  • Price: $999

    Website: www.technics.com

    Al said: With the Ottava f SC-C70, Technics has created a sleek-looking all-in-one system that combines wired and wireless streaming with CD playback.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Simplifi review.

    The gist: Technics is something cool again!

  • Price: $2500

    Website: www.technics.com

    Hans said: As long as you don’t need a ton of power, the SU-G700 should be at the top of your list for an integrated amp at the $2500 price point.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Access review.

    The gist: Tremendous sound quality with looks to match.

  • thiel_cs24se_300h

    Price: $8000 per pair

    Website:www.thielaudio.com

    Jeff said: The CS2.4SE is one of only a very few audio products I can recommend without the caveat of “. . . but first hear them for yourself.” I can’t imagine anyone not being thrilled with them. Get a pair while you still can.

    ultra_sel_120x80

    Read the Ultra Audio review.

    The gist: A Signature Edition fully deserving of the name.

  • Thiel SCS4TPrice: $3650 per pair

    Website: www.thielaudio.com

    Philip said: Thiel’s newest floorstander is a true reference product, and the attention to detail that has gone into both its construction and the execution of its design is extraordinary. Given the SCS4T’s neutrality, transparency, and wonderful balance, it is a loudspeaker that you’ll likely own and cherish for many years. It’s difficult to put a price on that.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Hi-Fireview.

    The gist: Thiel’s smallest floorstander plays big performance-wise.

  • Tidal Piano CeraPrice: $23,990 per pair

    Website: www.tidal-audio.com

    Jeff said: The Tidal Piano Cera is one terrific-sounding loudspeaker. It’s transparent and quick, and plays with more weight and depth in the bass than you would ever suspect from a glance at its driver array. In fact, looking at this speaker either on paper or in photos will give you no hint of the performance lurking beneath its rather simple but elegant appearance. There is a ton of clever engineering inside, and that technical expertise translates into audible results.

    Select Component

    Read the Ultra Audioreview.

    The gist: Tidal is here to stay as a force in high-end loudspeakers.

  • Price: $39,900

    Website: www.tidal-audio.com

    Aron said: Yes, there are other speakers on the market that offer more in terms of deep-bass extension and utter neutrality for less money. But, as with a Bugatti, what you pay $39,900 for is not the highest sound quality alone. You pay for a bespoke visual and aural experience by way of musical seduction, and Tidal’s Piano G2 has seduced me as has no other speaker.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Ultra review.

    The gist: Aron thought the world of these.

  • Price: $49.99

    Website: www.tribitaudio.com

    Brent said: If you want a cheap set of Bluetooth headphones to use in the office or on the bus or subway, these are a terrific choice.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Solo review.

    The gist: Good ergonomics and a slightly elevated treble.

  • TW-Acustic Raven 10.5Price: $5500

    Website: www.tw-acustic.de

    Garrett said: The Raven arm had so much extension, pitch definition, and responsiveness that it could render very deep, complex bass with ease and superb musicality. It was more, umm, lifelike. And ain’t that the point? So I bought it. The Raven 10.5 tonearm is mine. If you have a turntable comparable to my Raven Two, I strongly suggest you consider making a Raven 10.5 yours as well.

    Select Component

    Read the Ultra Audioreview.

    The gist: Ain’t German engineering great?

  • Tyler Decade D4MPrice: $2400 per pair

    Website: www.tyleracoustics.com

    Jeff said: The D4M was superlative with tubed and entry-level solid-state amplification, with CDs and with lossless digital files. I heard no flaws: It managed to retrieve the maximum amount of information from each recording, and deliver music with a flowing, nonfatiguing continuity, song after song after song.

    Great Buy

    Read the SoundStage! Access review.

    The gist: Big monitor, factory direct, really good sound.

  • U-Turn Audio Orbit PlusPrice: $299

    Website: www.uturnaudio.com

    Thom said: U-Turn Audio’s Orbit Plus is a fabulous effort for a new startup, and worthy of consideration by anyone who wants a good, very basic, but very capable turntable for getting back into vinyl or for trying it for the first time. And the Orbit Plus and Grado Prestige Black1 go together like coffee with cream. I recommend the Orbit Plus.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Access review.

    The gist: All-around solid turntable value.

  • Ultrasone Edition 8Price: $1499

    Website: www.ultrasone.com

    S. Andrea said: Given the personal nature of listening to music, and especially of headphones, there will never be one design on which all can agree -- but Ultrasone's Edition 8 headphones clearly belong on that short list of contenders for World's Greatest Headphone.

    Select Component

    Read the Ultra Audio review.

    The gist: Damn these are cool!

  • 201009_vacPrice: $9900

    Website: www.vac-amps.com

    Garrett said: . . . the VAC Renaissance Mk.3 boasts the most impressive combination of serious sound, first-class build, great looks, compatibility with a range of amps, and overall flexibility in its numerous features of any model I’ve yet had in my system.

    ultra_sel_120x80

    Read the Ultra Audioreview.

    The gist: A great combination of qualities that should suit almost any music-loving audiophile.

  • 201009_vacPrice: $9900 (line stage), $11,900 (with phono stage)

    Website: www.vac-amps.com

    Garrett said: In the past few years I’ve auditioned a number of different preamps, some for review, some not. A few could be critiqued as being too incisive, too polite, too limited in features, not compatible with a wide enough range of amplifiers. Another few could be considered "serious" in terms of their sound. But of all these preamps, the VAC Renaissance Mk.3 boasts the most impressive combination of serious sound, first-class build, great looks, compatibility with a range of amps, and overall flexibility in its numerous features of any model I’ve yet had in my system.

    ultra_sel_120x80

    Read the Ultra Audioreview.

    The gist: Garrett's choice in an expensive tube preamp.

  • Price: $14,000

    Website: www.vac-amps.com

    Garrett said: If you’re in the market for a powerful tubed stereo amplifier, and if you appreciate precision in sound, great looks, and the last word in tube reliability and performance, you must audition the Valve Amplification Company’s Signature 200iQ.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Ultra review.

    The gist: Garrett's new reference amp.

  • 201005_vandersteenPrice: $45,000 per pair

    Website: www.vandersteen.com

    Pete said: One dealer recently told me that the best $6000/pair speaker you can now buy is the $2200/pair Vandersteen 2Ce II. In keeping with the Vandersteen tradition, some might now say that the best six-figure speaker you can buy is the $45,000/pair Vandersteen Model Seven.

    ultra_sel_120x80

    Read the Ultra Audio review.

    The gist: "Reference" doesn’t have to cost over 100 grand.

  • Prices: $62,000 per pair (Model Seven Mk.II) and $52,000 per pair (M7-HPA)

    Website: www.vandersteen.com

    Pete said: The quality of sound I’m hearing from them is beyond what I could have hoped for, let alone expected, even a year or two ago.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Ultra review.

    The gist: Pete’s reference.

  • Vandersteen TreoPrice: $5995 per pair

    Website: www.vandersteen.com

    Doug said: As I wrap up this review, I’m listening to Stars and Satellites, the latest album from Trampled by Turtles. I’m mesmerized by how natural the banjo sounds. It’s as if I’m listening to my own banjo being played by someone else. This doesn’t happen very often -- it takes a loudspeaker that gets everything right to sound this convincing.

    I love the sound of the Vandersteen Treo.

    Select Component

    Read the Ultra Audioreview.

    The gist: Reasonably priced high end lives on.

  • 201011_velodynePrice: $1199

    Website: www.velodyne.com

    Kevin said: If there is a subwoofer out there that delivers the brand of honest sound that the Optimum-10 does, I want to hear it. But folks, I’m not sure it exists. The Optimum-10 is an outstanding audio product. Highly recommended.

    rc_70x80

    Read the SoundStage! Xperiencereview.

    The gist: Tiny sub that delivers big on bass and room friendliness.

  • verity_amadisPrice: $30,000 per pair

    Website: www.verityaudio.com

    Jason said: The Amadis is a speaker for music lovers. I imagine that the typical Verity Audio buyer will end up keeping his set for a long time. Once you settle in to listen to these speakers -- and I mean really listen -- you’ll likely find the musical satisfaction that you knew was possible but had never before found.

    ultra_sel_120x80

    Read the Ultra Audio review.

    The gist: Seriously musical loudspeaker for those looking to get off the merry-go-round.

  • Vienna Acoustics Mozart GrandPrice: $3500 per pair

    Website: www.vienna-acoustics.com

    Doug said: Vienna Acoustics’ Mozart Grand SE doesn’t toe the line of accuracy to the nth degree, but it’s balanced well enough overall, and its genuine strengths include: generously full bass that belies the speaker’s size; silky-sweet, thoroughly extended highs; and a smooth, sultry midrange that gives the sound real presence and makes it an absolute joy to use for listening to all kinds of music.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Hi-Fireview.

    The gist: Voiced just like Doug likes them.

  • Vivid Audio B1Price: $15,000 per pair

    Website: www.vividspeakers.com

    Doug said: Vivid Audio’s B1 is an extraordinarily good loudspeaker that has midrange and high-frequency neutrality, transparency, and refinement that are second to none. In resolution and detail in those mid- and upper ranges, every other speaker I’ve heard comes in second to it. Listening with the B1 was like training a microscope on my records -- it was truly revelatory in that regard. This makes the B1 a reference-caliber monitoring tool and a great home loudspeaker.

    rc_70x80

    Read the SoundStage! Hi-Fireview.

    The gist: Vivid is now a force in super-high-end loudspeakers.

  • Price: $93,000 per pair

    Website: www.vividaudio.com

    Jeff said: The G1 Spirit reigns atop that fine line, a worthy flagship for a man and a company with histories as rich as Dickie’s and Vivid’s.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Ultra review.

    The gist: Perhaps the best rock speaker available today.

  • Vivid Audio Giya G2Price: $50,000 per pair

    Website: www.vividspeakers.com

    Doug said: The Giya G2 is not only the best loudspeaker I’ve ever reviewed, it’s the best loudspeaker I’ve ever heard. It may be the best loudspeaker in the world.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Hi-Fireview.

    The gist: Cleary one of the top loudspeakers available at any price.

  • Vivid Audio Giya G3Price: $40,000 per pair

    Website: www.vividaudio.com

    Pete said: While it hits the ball out of the park in all the traditional hi-fi categories of soundstaging, coherence, detail retrieval, etc., perhaps the Giya G3’s greatest strength is its total absence of cabinet-imposed colorations or character. The G3 performs a sonic disappearing act like no other speaker I’ve heard.

    Select Component

    Read the Ultra Audio review.

    The gist: Funkified looks, SOTA sound.

  • Vivid Audio Giya G4Price: $30,000 per pair

    Website: www.vividaudio.com

    Hans said: This looker of a loudspeaker promises to deliver only the music in your collection -- nothing more, nothing less. Given their size, what they can do is nothing short of extraordinary.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Ultra review.

    The gist: Even the smallest Giya plays with the big boys.

  • Price: $18,000 per pair

    Website: www.vividaudio.com

    Jason said: Their combination of solid, forward-thinking engineering, unique appearance, excellent finish, and stunning sound make them a standout product.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Ultrareview.

    The gist: If the Giyas look strange to you get these.

  • Price: $28,000 per pair

    Website: www.vividaudio.com

    Doug said: When I heard that Laurence Dickie had begun revising Vivid Audio’s Oval B1, I didn’t think he’d be able to make much of an improvement. But the Oval B1 Decade doesn’t sound only a little better than the original model -- it sounds so much better that it now stands alongside Vivid’s very top models, the Giyas, all of which cost much more.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Hi-Fi review.

    The gist: Hard to imagine a better midsized speaker than this.

  • Vivid Oval V1.5Price: $7700 per pair

    Website: www.vividaudio.com

    Hans said: It’s a world-class two-way loudspeaker, with obscene speed and transparency, and an ability to resolve the finest recorded details, that would be laudable even at twice the price. To find these qualities for well under $10,000/pair is a most pleasant surprise. If there is a better demonstration of high-end engineering successfully trickled down to an affordable product, I’m unaware of it.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Ultra review.

    The gist: Super-resolution two-way is the entry into the Vivid Audio world.

  • vsa_unifield3_300h

    Price: $15,000 per pair

    Website:www.vonschweikert.com

    Garrett said: Albert Von Schweikert has made a genuine contribution with his UniField 3, creating not only a full-range speaker that will be viable in small rooms, but one that I suspect can handle larger rooms with ease.

    ultra_sel_120x80

    Read the Ultra Audio review.

    The gist: Competitive in the busy $10-$20k field of compact floorstanders.

  • VSA VR-35Price: $10,000 per pair

    Website: www.vonschweikert.com

    Uday said: Von Schweikert Audio’s VR-35 Export Deluxe is a remarkable loudspeaker. It performed wonderfully, handling all musical genres with aplomb. I recently heard VSA’s new VR-44 model at T.H.E. Show in Newport Beach, California, and the VR-35 definitely has the DNA and house sound of the company’s other models: carefully executed engineering resulting in little sonic compromise, to achieve a sound worthy of any audiophile’s expectations.

    Select Component

    Read the Ultra Audioreview.

    The gist: If room placement is an issue, this could be the speaker for you.

  • Price: $6000

    Website: www.vpiindustries.com

    Jason said:Stay tuned. I have a decision to make.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Ultrareview.

    The gist: Jason might buy it.

  • Wadia di322Price: $3500

    Website: www.wadia.com

    Jeff said: But the di322 wasn’t just a pretty face with nothing behind it. Its sound was full, big, and played deep -- deep bass, deep soundstage, wide dynamic range. It relished music that I like to play at high volumes with fist-pumping verve.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Ultra review.

    The gist: Jeff’s favorite DAC under $4k.

  • Wavelength ProtonPrice: $900

    Website: www.usbdacs.com

    Doug said: It’s difficult to heap enough praise on this $900 DAC without sounding like an employee of Wavelength’s PR firm. But if you want your digital recordings to thrill you the way you’re thrilled by a fantastic analog front end, while retaining everything that’s good about digital playback, the Proton is the least expensive way I know of to get there. It delivers ultra-high-end digital sound at a price that’s realistic for audiophiles who can’t consider products that cost many times as much.

    Great Buy

    Read the SoundStage! Accessreview.

    The gist: One of the best USB DACs from the company that helped create the genre.

  • 201009_weissPrice: $6670

    Website: www.weiss-highend.ch

    Jeff said: If you can cough up $6670 for a DAC, and if you want to explore the outer reaches of sound quality with a hi-rez computer-based source, then the Weiss DAC202 should be at the top of your must-audition list.

    ultra_sel_120x80

    Read the Ultra Audioreview.

    The gist: One of the best DACs in the world as of this writing.

  • Well Tempered Lab AmadeusPrice: $2850

    Website: www.welltemperedlab.net

    Jason said: Whichever way you slice it, the Well Tempered Lab Amadeus is a cohesive, well-made, wonderful-sounding turntable that’s worth every penny of its $2850 asking price. 

    Select Component

    Read the Ultra Audioreview.

    The gist: If you don’t mind a golf ball on your turntable . . .

  • Price: $349 per pair

    Website: www.wharfedale.co.uk

    Philip said: It’s packed with features, extremely well built, and has a nice, unassuming design. Most important, its superclean sound and transparency will appeal to those many music lovers who crave detail and resolution. If you’ve got the money, you can’t go wrong with the Hegel Music Systems H360.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Hi-Fi review.

    The gist: Stylish little bargain bookshelf.

  • WideaLab Aurender S10Price: $6990

    Website: www.aurender.com

    Vade said: A Reviewers’ Choice award for the Aurender is a no-brainer, but I think it deserves to be a Recommended Reference Component. In my view, the Aurender S10 advances the state of the digital art.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Hi-Fireview.

    The gist: Best of breed.

  • wilson_maxx3_300h

    Price:$68,500 per pair

    Website: www.wilsonaudio.com

    Marc said:There is a humanness to the MAXX 3’s performance; it doesn’t seem to be the product of acoustic engineering as much as the astute, careful observation of people who are intimately familiar with the sound of live music and will settle for nothing short of it.

    rc_70x80

    Read the SoundStage! review.

    The gist: The best MAXX yet.

  • WooAudio GESPrice: $1450

    Website: www.wooaudio.com

    S. Andrea said: If you value detail, transparency, openness, and timbres and textures just to the warm side of realistic, regardless of volume level or musical complexity, then the combination of Stax SR-507 Lambda Signature headphones and WooAudio GES amplifier is far and away the best I’ve heard. You may be able to do better, but I have a feeling that it will cost you a lot more.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Xperiencereview.

    The gist: A perfect match for Stax headphones.

  • Wyred 4 Sound DAC-2Price: $1499

    Website:www.wyred4sound.com

    Vade said:The W4S DAC-2 was easy to set up, easy to use, and sounded fabulous. Its high-speed USB input sounded every bit as good as its S/PDIF input, so computer audiophiles no longer need worry about building a server around S/PDIF -- the ubiquitous USB input can sound just as good.

    rc_70x80

    Read the SoundStage! Hi-Fireview.

    The gist: Maybe the best DAC deal on the market today.

  • Wyred 4 Sound MS-1Price: $1999

    Website: www.wyred4sound.com

    Vade said: Wyred 4 Sound continues its tradition of bringing the latest technology to market at extremely reasonable prices. I wouldn’t call their products cheap, but their value-to-dollar ratio is off the scale. The MS-1 music server sounded superb, was user-friendly, and wouldn’t look out of place in the priciest audio system -- which pretty much checks all the boxes on my list.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Hi-Fi review.

    The gist: High-value all-around-good music server.

  • xlo_speaker_300wPrices: $840 per 1m pair with RCAs (Signature 3 interconnects), $3700 per 8’ biwire pair (Signature 3 speaker cables)

    Website:www.xloelectric.com

    Doug said: XLO’s Signature 3 cables are one of the two holy grails of neutrality I’ve found so far. I have the highest regard for the Signature 3s, for their honesty and for their complete refusal to play games with the sound of my reference system.

    ultra_sel_120x80

    Read the Ultra Audio review.

    The gist: About the best Doug Blackburn has heard in his system.

  • Price: $749.95

    Website: usa.yamaha.com

    Al said: For a mass-market stereo receiver, the R-N803 delivers warm, dynamic sound that’s easy on the ears. The fact that it’s also easy on the eyes and wallet makes it easy to recommend.

    Read the SoundStage! Simplifi review.

    The gist: Room correction helps set this one apart from the pack.

  • yambeka_300h

    Price: $299

    Website: www.yambekaaudio.com

    Kevin said: With the exception of very large rooms, I can’t think of any other home-theater speaker system, at any price, that anyone could need. These terrific speakers are the first bona-fide audio deal of the millennium. Hands down.

    rc_70x80

    Read the Home Theater & Sound review.

    The gist: $299 for all this? They must be kidding . . .

  • YGA CarmelPrice: $18,000 per pair

    Website: www.yg-acoustics.com

    Uday said: . . . given its level of engineering, heroic construction, excellent fit’n’finish, and terrific sound, that price doesn’t seem out of line. I haven’t had a chance to hear YGA’s Anat Reference III or Kipod II, both of which cost significantly more, but given their published specifications, I’m confident that most of the differences between them and the Carmel will be heard in the lower octaves. The fact that the Carmel achieved a level of performance near that of its big brothers at this price is one impressive accomplishment.

    Select Component

    Read the Ultra Audio review.

    The gist: Don't be fooled by the size.

  • YG Acoustics Kipod IIPrice: $49,000 per pair

    Website: www.ygacoustics.com

    Howard said: In most real-world applications -- i.e., those that don't require stupid SPLs -- the Kipod II Signature will redefine what the buyer thinks is possible in the art of reproducing music. It may even convince some that YGA's claim that it's the best speaker on Earth is not as audacious as it may seem. It's just that good. Period. And exclamation mark!

    Select Component

    Read the Ultra Audioreview.

    The gist: He bought them.

  • zanden_9600_300w

    Price: $51,975 per pair

    Website: www.zandenaudio.com

    Marc said: While vacuum tubes will always have their issues, audiophiles will continue to admire them, and an amplifier like the Model 9600 only increases the pull. If your audiophile rite of passage begins with the Model 9600, I predict it will end there as well.

    rc_70x80

    Read the SoundStage! review.

    The gist: Are there better-looking tube amps? Uh, no.

  • Zanden Audio Systems 120Price: $7500

    Website: www.zandenaudio.com

    Garrett said: I believe that a convenient way for correcting equalization and phase is a must-have tool for any serious vinyl lover who haunts thrift stores, estate sales, and used-record shops, looking for treasures from the past. The Zanden 120 is that tool, and is my new reference. I heartily recommend that you audition it before considering any other phono stage in its price range.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Ultra review.

    The gist: This level of equalization flexibility is unique in the world of vinyl.

  • zanden_2500s_300w

    Price: $22,000

    Website: www.zandenaudio.com

    Doug said: The Zandèn 2500S is a highly specialized product intended for those who value gorgeous styling and impeccable build quality, aren’t concerned with bang-for-buck value, and want that unmistakable Zandèn sound -- that analog-like sound -- from their CDs.

    rc_70x80

    Read the SoundStage! review.

    The gist: Voiced, built, and priced for the luxe market.

  • Price: $12,500

    Website: www.zandenaudio.com

    Garrett said: Attractive, compact, and a sonic wonder, the Zanden 3100 preamp is one of the finest contributions to high-end sound I’ve ever heard.

    Reviewers' Choice

    Read the SoundStage! Ultra review.

    The gist: Another gem from Japan.

    Award: Reviewers' Choice

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