Like every year, the eminent magazine Stereophile unveils its Recommended Components 2019 ! This selection rewards the best HiFi and Home-Cinema products available on the market. Amps, headphones, speakers, sources, turntables, accessories… All types of products are represented!
When it comes to turntables, you can trust Stereophile! The number of turntables tested by the editorial staff is impressive. The most prestigious record players have also passed through their expert hands. According to them, the best current turntable is a direct drive turntable built by the VPI firm! This is the impressive Classic Direct ! For 30,000€, it is still delivered to you with a very high-tech JMW Memorial tonearm. Among the high-end turntables, we also note the appearance of the superb Technics SL-1000R sold for €16,000 with its tonearm. Of course, more affordable turntables like the Sony PS-HX500 (449€), Rega Planar 1 (375€) and to a lesser extent Rega Planar 3 (889€) are also part of the recommended products!
When it comes to building high-end phono cartridges, our Japanese friends have a solid reputation! It is therefore not surprising to find esoteric firms based in the land of the rising sun in this ranking of the best 2019 phono cartridges. Etsuro Erushi, Ikeda, Kiseki, Koetsu, Miyajima or even My Sonic Lab (Yoshio Matsudaira)… not find a cell costing less than 4 figures at home! Note, more mainstream manufacturers are also able to offer luxurious products with formidable performance. This is the case ofaudio-technica (ART-1000 to 5000€), but also grade (Epoch to 12000€) orOrtofon (Century at 12000€, Anna Diamond at 10500€). Note that the most expensive cell of this selection is the DS Audio Master 1 + EQ, which can be yours for the sum of €20,000. Rest assured, you can also achieve very good results with affordable cells. The Denon DL-103 (299€), Ortofon 2M series (from 115€ to 579€), Rega Elys 2 (179€) or Audio Technica AT95E (40€) are there for that!
Between servers at almost 10000€ like theAurender N10 and CD transports over €20,000 such as the dCS Rossini, there are better known brands such as NAD and Naim with their excellent network drives M50.2 and ND5 XS 2 (5000€ and 3500€). There are also luxurious walkmans including the incredible Sony DMP-Z1 (8000€)! And also the excellent Astell&Kern SP1000 (3500€), or the most affordable Acoustic Research AR-M2 (1000€). Ordinary CD players are also shown with the Rega Apollo, while the Marantz CD6006 shines surprisingly by its absence… Finally, the LG V30 is the only smartphone on the list. It is there thanks to its MQA compatibility and its very good DAC. It should be noted that portable players, servers and network players are increasingly present in this category of audio sources. Unlike traditional CD players…
MyTek and Chord are the most represented brands in this category of DACs! If the firm Mytek is still little known in Europe, this is not the case for chord. Their converters Dave (11000€), Quest (1900€) and Hugo TT (4700€) won praise from the testers of the magazine Stereophile. But we still wonder where Hugo2 went… Anyway. The Japanese do not seem to have the same favors. Indeed, no manufacturer has been able to make their way onto the RC2019 podium. On the other hand, we are happy to come across the iFi Audio Pro iDSD 4.4 (2500€), whose price/performance ratio is simply incredible. Finally, there is also something for small budgets! Whether with the DAC Arcam irDAC-II (750€) or the Pro-Ject Pre Box S2 Digital (399€). Note that the most expensive model in this selection is manufactured by dCS. baptized Rossini DAC, it is sold for more than 23000€ and has native PCM 384kHz + DSD128 decoding. Note that other much cheaper devices support these files…
Home Cinema Components
If esoteric multichannel amps like theexaSound e38 MK.II, the Merging NADAC Multichannel 8, where the Theta Digital Dreadnaught D are out of budget, what could we say about the preamp Trinnov Altitude 32 sold for €25,000? Of course, Americans from Parasound appear several times in this ranking. First with the 3 channel amp Halo A-31, then with the 7-channel preamp Halo P7, and finally with the 5 channel amp Halo A 52+ (from 2400€). Among the best-known manufacturers, note the presence of high-end preamps Marantz AV8805 and NAD M17 V2. They are respectively sold 4500€ and 6500€ and will have to be associated with power blocks of your choice. We will finish by mentioning the only speaker in this section. It is a loudspeaker Dolby Atmos KEF R8a (1000€ the pair), intended to be placed directly on your front speaker.
A lot of dreams once again, with preamps signed by the most prestigious brands in the world. AudioResearch, AVM, Ayre, Bespoke, convergent, darTZeel, Lamm, Mark Levinson, VTL, Pass Labs, Shindo, VAC… Don’t expect to get one of these products for less than 10000€! And since we are in unreason, we might as well go all out. the amp Boulder 2110 is the most expensive of the Recommended Components 2019, with a sale price of around €59,000. In fact, the cheapest component of this selection costs around 1700€. This is the excellent Rogue Audio RP-1, a stereo preamp featuring a pair of 12AU7 dual triodes and a solid-state MM/MC phono preamp.
Among the best HiFi and Home-Cinema products, integrated amplifiers have a place of choice. We will leave aside the power amplifiers here, which are for the most part far too expensive. How much can a pair of amps afford? Moon by Simaudio 888 Where Boulder 2150 more than €100,000 a pair? Things are different when we talk about stereo amplifiers. From €600, there are models with formidable performance such as the NAD C-328 (590€). A few hundred euros more lead us to Rega Brio (1000€). Finally, in the affordable top of the range, we will highlight the praise obtained by the superb Naim Uniti Nova (7500€), Cambridge Edge A (5000€), NAD Master Series M32 (4399€) and Arcam FMJ SR250 (3600€). Be careful, as Stereophile points out, keep an eye on the recent NAD M10 which could hurt the RC20s very badly…
This is a first in the history of Stereophile and Recommended Components: the best product in a category is made in France! These are the Devialet essentials Phantom Gold, which topped all-in-one systems. After a quick test in Paris, the American editors wanted to continue their investigations… They thus auditioned a pair of Phantom Gold on their feet in their own apartment. These gentlemen were stunned by the sound stage of the whole, as well as by the depth of the bass delivered! The manufacturer’s multiroom components Bluesound come to rest just below. This is their latest revision (identifiable by an “i” in the reference), which adds Airplay 2 and the APT-X codec over the older models. Finally, it is not without astonishment that we learn that theApple HomePod has, I quote, “the best sound I’ve heard for a wireless system in this range”. Okay…
By consulting this list, we come across loudspeakers Sonus Faber Aida (130000€), B&O BeoLab 90 (85000€), B&W 802 D3 (22000€), Focal Sopra n°3 (20000€) or KEF Reference 5 (20000€). You will tell me, it’s still cheap compared to the 215,000€ that you will have to pay to afford a pair of Tidal Audio Akira. But don’t worry, there are still speakers under €10,000 that sound good… Between €5K and €10K, there are obviously the Focal Kanta n°2 (9000€), the B&W 805 D3 (6000€), the Q Acoustics Concept 500 (6000€) or the Dynaudio Contour 20 (5000€). Between 2000€ and 5000€, the tone is set by the B&W 702 S2 (4500€), Klipsch Forte III (4000€), Dynaudio Special Forty (3000€, our darling), Klipsch Heresy III (2600€) and Monitor Silver 300 (2000€). More affordable but not low-cost, we are not surprised to find the KEF LS50 (1500€) and KEF LSX (1000€). At less than 1000€, the KEF Q350 (650€) and Klipsch RP-600M (550€) stand out as extremely judicious choices.
According to Stereophile, J.L. Audio, SVS and Martin Logan are the only ones to build subwoofers worth having. From 1000€ to 8000€, there is no doubt that the boxes on offer are heavy… On the other hand, we have some reservations about the objectivity of this classification. No Dynaudio Sub 6 (2500€)? Too bad, its parametric EQ and its 500W amp are very effective. No B&W DB4S (1600€)? However, its automatic calibration system is remarkably efficient. Not to mention the bass it broadcasts! No Focal Sub 1000F (779€) either? Yet it is one of our favorite boxes under the 1000€ mark… And it is made in France!
Helmets and accessories
One thing is certain, Stereophile testers are fans of audiophile headphones HiFi Man… The same goes for the American brand Audeze, present in the ranking with 3 references: LCD-4 (4000€), LCD-X (1700€) and LCDi4 (2500€). It’s as much as Focal, which integrates the RC2019 with its Utopia (4000€), Clear (1500€) and Elear (1000€). At 2000€, the Sony MDR-Z1R stands the comparison with more expensive references. It will also combine perfectly with the DAC / headphone amplifier Sony TA-ZH1ES (2200€). Among the more affordable references, there are must-haves such as the Sennheiser HD650 (500€), the Meze Audio 99 Classic (300€), or the Master & Dynamic MH40 (250€). This without forgetting the Grado SR60e (80€) and Koss Porta Pro (50€), unbeatable for less than 100€. As for portable DACs, the fantastic Chord Mojo (500€) is in the game. He is accompanied by the AudioQuest DragonFly Red (200€) and Black (100€). Also keep an eye out for new Cobalt (€300), which could not be tested before the completion of RC2019.
Here, here you are with a beautiful overview of the best HiFi and Home Cinema products currently available on the market! Note that this is an American magazine, and that local brands are therefore particularly highlighted. We forgive them, What Hi-Fi does the same with English manufacturers 🙂
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