2017 Editors’ Selection Awards: Cables and Interconnects beneath $1000

Transparent Audio The Link interconnect, The Wave speaker cable, PowerWave 8 AC conditioner
$ 100/1m pr., interconnect $ 220/8′ pr., speaker $ 125, Overall performance Energy Hyperlink $ 1195 PowerWave eight
The $ 100 The Link interconnect brings more than a taste of high-end interconnects to an entry-level value. Similarly, the $ 220 The Wave speaker cable is a bargain, offering superior tonality, wider dynamics, and a a lot more open soundstage. The PowerWave 8 conditioner is also an extremely price-efficient upgrade, rendering wider dynamic expression, smoother timbres, and higher musical involvement.

Wireworld Nano Eclipse
$ 175/1.5m
Nano Eclipse is about midway up Wireworld’s complete line of headphone cables, but it does not skimp in supplies or sonics. Eclipse is composed of OCC high-purity copper conductors in a DNA helix configuration surrounded by Wireworld’s Composilex 2 insulation. The result is so efficient that switching from a stock headphone cable to the Nano tends to make a distinction commensurate with significantly upgrading the headphones themselves. AT claims it’s not possible to overstate how much the Wireworld opens up, cleans up, and tightens up the sound. A no-brainer for any reasonably high-quality personal audio setup.

Audience Ohno
$ 199/1m (+$ 82/m) interconnect $ 209/1m (+$ 20/m) speaker
Audience’s new worth line of Ohno cables runs counter to the thought that fantastic wire usually demands heavy jacketing and complex conductor geometries. Sonically these featherweights were fast and extended with well-focused imaging and dimensionality. Most significantly they were not additive, nor did they crimp dynamics. They were also easy to position for desktop use, providing an unerring sense of musicality without having busting the budget.

Moon Audio Silver Dragon V1 IEM Cable
$ 195/48″
The Silver Dragon V1 IEM headphone cable is a drop-in replacement for use with in-ear monitors where light weight and flexibility are critical. The Silver Dragon IEM is a coaxial design utilizing a 99.99998% UP-OCC stranded silver 26AWG center-conductor for the positive leg. The center-conductor uses the identical Kevlar reinforcing as other Dragon cables. Accessible with numerous source connection alternatives as properly as terminations to match several brands.

Wireworld Equinox 7
$ 200/1m pr. unbalanced interconnect $ 225/1m pr. balanced $ 870/3m pr. speaker
Falling correct smack in the middle of Wireworld’s extensive new Series 7 line, the Equinox seems to be great value. The interconnect presented a pleasingly rounded and warm presentation not unlike that of Cardas Clear Light, even though the Equinox 7 speaker cable was quite related to the Cardas Clear Sky in sonics. Superb hum and noise rejection.

Kimber Kable Hero
$ 219/1m pr.
Yielding only a tiny bit in sheer handle, ultimate top-finish transparency, and inner detailing to PS’ reference Kimber Select KS-1021, Hero’s bass lives up to its name, prodigious in amplitude and definition (rather much better even than its pricier brother). This interconnect is either dead neutral or tilts a notch to the yang, with dynamics at after strong yet finely resolved in an basically grain-free presentation.

Nordost Purple Flare
$ 259/1m pr. interconnect ($ 26 per addl. half-meter pr.) $ 439/1m pr. speaker ($ 52 per addl. half-meter pr.)
Featuring Nordost’s classic flatline configuration the Purple Flare is a rung beneath the present incarnation of Blue Heaven, however it is a tiny trip to heaven on its personal. It genuinely shines in the midband with a driving, slightly forward energy that imparts dynamic liveliness to all genres of music.

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2016 Editors’ Selection Awards: Music Servers $1,000 – $5,000

Aurender Flow
$ 1295
For someone who desires wonderful sound, smooth ergonomics, and a compact footprint, the Aurender Flow provides an elegant answer for headphone and nearfield listening. Place a big tough drive in it, and you have a clever rig for the traveling audiophile (after he’s arrived at his hotel room.) Also The Flow could effortlessly uncover a location with music professionals, who could carry it from studio to studio to guarantee monitoring consistency. If headphone listening from a pc supply is your thing, you need to have to hear the Flow since it was made for you.

Melco NA1 High Resolution Digital Music Library
$ 1999
A laptop audio server that offers a generous 4TB internal difficult drive storage for your digital music file collection in an sophisticated, conservatively-styled chassis that would appear at property in the fanciest method, the N1A plays all file formats commonly employed for music playback, and is simple to set up and operate. It uses Linn’s Kinsky remote-control app to offer unusually flexible manage more than playback of music files on the N1A’s hard drive. And its sound high quality, particularly its detail retrieval and wide soundstaging, is fairly particular.

$ 1999
As the flagship model for Sony’s “High Definition Music Initiative,” the new Sony HAP-Z1ES defines what Sony sees as the future of two-channel audio. It attempts to be effortless for a naïve user to operate, yet capable of the highest audio quality. And whilst it is comparatively basic to make an audio item that is straightforward to use, quite few ergonomically elegant mass-industry audio devices also make state-of-the-art sonics. This one does. Throughout the assessment period as SS place the HAP-Z1ES via its paces, he looked for factors it might be not be regarded a correct higher-overall performance element and identified none. If you program to spend far more than $ 2000 on any digital front end and you don’t audition a HAP-Z1ES, you are failing to think about what could properly be the benchmark digital item of 2014.

PS Audio PerfectWave DAC II, PerfectWave Memory Player, Network Bridge II
$ 2499/$ 3999/$ 799
This suite of items, collectively called the PerfectWave Music Group, comprises the PerfectWave Memory Player, PerfectWave DAC II, and PerfectWave Network Bridge (a slide-in card for the DAC that turns the system into a network-connected music server), and eLyric server software program. The program offers outstanding sound good quality across the board, but is especially adept at removing any trace of hardness and glare from older CDs. With high-res material, it reproduces the complete majesty of an orchestra from a mid-hall perspective.

Aurender N100T
$ 2695
Aurender’s N100T brings you a surprising quantity of the technologies, sound quality, and outstanding user expertise of the flagship W20 for a fraction of the value. You don’t get features such as dual-wire AES and clock input, but most users don’t need to have these capabilities anyway. The internal storage is 2TB rather than 12TB, but you can constantly add a NAS drive for more capacity. What you do get is the same outstanding Conductor app, Tidal integration, and Remote Support. Aurender’s Conductor app for iPad is by far the very best RH has used—fast, visually appealing, stable, intuitive, capable, and uncluttered, with features that have been clearly refined by way of actual use. Sonically, the N100T comes fairly close to the W20’s state-of-the-art efficiency, especially thinking about the cost differential.

Baetis Audio Revolution II Media Pc
$ 2995
This attractively priced media server—it’s been designed for the demands of higher-resolution video as well as audio—takes on many unquestioned assumptions in the still-nascent discipline of laptop audio. Utterly inaudible fans have been implemented inside the enclosure to let a powerful CPU to operate as tough as necessary. And Baetis employs a proprietary coaxial SPDIF stereo output, taken directly off the motherboard, that provides significantly better sound than the standard USB interface. The Rev II comes loaded with the industry-standard JRiver MC 19 software program and the business actually answers the telephone to offer whatever help is required to use their device properly.

Bryston BDP-two Digital Player
$ 2995
The BDP-two Digital Player is a technological tour de force that bridges generational divides: amongst the Old Planet CD player and the New World of high-resolution files and music-library management. The BDP-2 performs the very same function as a CD transport, but plays information files from removable USB storage media at their native resolution and in a multiplicity of file formats. Compared with the BDP-1, the BDP-2 incorporates the same digital audio circuitry, but incorporates a more effective system board and a correspondingly heftier energy provide. Processor speed and memory capacity are both increased. Connectivity is expanded to incorporate an internal SATA connection, an eSATA port, two gigabit Ethernet ports, and six complete-current USB two. ports. The Bryston BDP-2 does not merely “sound much better,” the expertise of hearing music through it is qualitatively diverse. It plays music with unprecedented purity.

3beez Wax Box three Management Method
$ 4600
The Wax Box is a turnkey music server constructed into a traditional laptop enclosure. But inside is a pc specially built for the very various demands of high-functionality audio. Just take it out of the box and you’re prepared to load music and listen. But that is only half the equation the Wax software is a classical-music lover’s delight in that you can categorize your library by composer, function, conductor, or performer. Most music-management software program is designed around the paradigm of artist, album, and song.

Linn Majik DSM
$ 4740
The Linn Majik DSM was developed to be a one particular-box integrated answer for music lovers who want a component that can play practically any music file in any room of their property. It also does all the issues you have come to anticipate sonically from a Linn component. It is tuneful, with excellent pace and musical delivery. On the practical side it’s painless to set up (thanks to your local Linn dealer), and easy to use. 

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2016 Editors’ Decision Awards: Loudspeakers $five,000-$ten,000

Harbeth Monitor 30.1
$ 5695-6295 (depending on finish)
The ideal compact 2-way speaker method PS has heard, the 30.1 boasts higher neutrality, superb resolution, and a matching of drivers with respect to sonic character that is equaled by only a tiny handful of numerous-driver dynamic loudspeakers. Speaking with a single voice in a way reminiscent of Quad ESLs, it is also of related vanishingly low coloration and distortion, higher transparency, and sheer musical authority, with an totally ravishing midrange. You can listen to it with no fatigue for actually hours on finish.

Raidho X-1
$ 5800 (stands $ 850)
The X-1 may be the smallest loudspeaker in the Raidho line, but its sound is something but. With the same tweeter discovered in Raidho’s mighty $ 220k D-five, the X-1 gives a stunningly lovely midband and treble, with an ease, delicacy, and refinement rarely heard in this category. The very modest (4″) mid/woofer has limited excursion, bass extension, and dynamics, producing the X-1 ideal suited to smaller sized rooms. A giant-killer above 100Hz.

Dali Rubicon six
$ 5995
The objective of the 5 model Rubicon Series was to bring Epicon-like performance to a sweet-spot price tag. Mission accomplished. The 2.five-way R6 exemplifies a ripe, wealthy sound with outstanding upper-octave delicacy, thanks to the excellent hybrid dome/ribbon tweeter configuration—a Dali mainstay for years. Blessed with considerable slam, it has a bold, effortless, near-full-range sound that can be a bit plummy in the midbass. All issues considered the R6 tends to make a excellent musical statement in its segment.

Emerald Physics EP2.three
$ 5995
The EP2.3 (formerly the CS2.3 II) delivers the most precise imaging and very best soundstaging PS has heard anywhere, actually holographic. Dynamic variety is very wide, the midrange rich and open, and the bass substantial, though shy in the bottom-most half-octave. Orchestral music is notably spectacular, but all music is reproduced superbly with a tonal balance that is organic and neutral. The technique requires 4 channels of amplification, two for the bass drivers and two for the coaxially mounted midrange/treble module. Sensitivity is higher adequate to eschew sheer wattage in favor of top quality. Although the 2.3 is very transparent, these for whom the last degree of detail is major could wish to appear elsewhere.

Magnepan MG3.7i
$ 5995
Maggie’s 3-way, correct-ribbon/quasi-ribbon planar 3.7 effectively addresses 3 troubles that have long plagued “true-ribbon” Maggies: the seamless integration of that ribbon the retention of detail and dynamic variety at fairly low volume levels and the reduction of “Maggie grain.” The solution of these problems combined with the renowned virtues of correct-ribbon Magnepans produces what is, in JV’s opinion, a greatest get. Be conscious that the 3.7i’s are big, power-hungry, and restricted in low bass and ultimate SPLs.

Spendor D7
$ 5995
Spendor’s neo-classic 48″ tower is superbly completed, and sonically offers up-front power, near full-range frequency response, and high dynamic potency. On balance and to the D7’s credit, it sounds much closer to a true three-way than to a two.five-way in that it maintains a close to continual level of tonal stability and dynamic drive via the midband—a feat that most 2.five-methods struggle to accomplish. It is the uncommon loudspeaker at any price that touches all the bases for each set of ears, but the reasonably priced D7 comes extremely close in a lot of areas.

Vienna Acoustics Beethoven Baby Grand SE
$ 6000
Refined, luxurious, and lovingly hand-constructed in Europe, the Austrian-made BBG is 1 of the highest-worth elements RD has run across. Very detailed and possessing a convincingly 3-dimensional presentation, the BBG conjured photos that had been stable across the soundstage with more than a hint of vertical imaging details thrown in for good measure. Bass was fast, tight, tuneful, pitch-best, and properly-integrated into the speaker’s all round frequency balance.

Audio Physic Classic 30
$ 6000–$ 7000
The Classic 30, a three.five-way bass-reflex design, has the sheer enthusiasm of an extrovert. No require to baby this elegantly streamlined floorstander—it produces clean, dynamic, and alarmingly high output levels without having losing its meticulously crafted voice. It’s a loudspeaker capable of the intimacy, transparency, and coherence of a fine two-way compact, coupled with the exuberance and power of a multiway that doesn’t shrink from the wide dynamics and deep-bass challenges of huge music.

Reference 3A Taksim
$ 6990
Reference 3A’s latest loudspeaker model is priced at a point exactly where you’d have to devote a lot a lot more to improve upon its numerous virtues. This two-way design attributes the “hyperexponential”-shaped mid/bass driver introduced by the company’s founder half a century ago and constantly enhanced upon since. This mid/bass unit is capable of exceptional linearity and dispersion, which translate into wonderful detail and tonal realism. A beryllium tweeter is implemented practically without having the use of a crossover, protected from low frequencies and higher power by a single non-inductive capacitor.

Harbeth SuperHL5plus
$ 6995 (stands, $ 739)
Alan Shaw’s new Harbeth SuperHL5plus is one particular of the most stunning-sounding speaker systems reviewer Paul Seydor has heard because the original Quad electrostatic, with the exact same musicality and naturalness of the Quad, and a truly extraordinary best-to-bottom coherence evinced by handful of dynamic speakers of any type. The principal deviation from absolute neutrality is a slightly forgiving high quality throughout the presence range yet, the speaker in no sense lacks presence or lifelike vitality. The midrange is drop-dead beautiful, the best finish sweet and detailed. In sum, a reference-caliber element that usually sounds like music.

Larsen Model eight
$ 6995
The Larsen Model eight speakers are uncommon amongst floorstanders—they are made to be placed against the wall, with the wall and floor used as element of the acoustic design, rather than as one thing to be avoided. This approach to producing sound in rooms grew out of work of the late Stig Carlssen (with whom designer John Larsen worked) decades ago, and the principles stay valid. The profound understanding of how speakers and rooms interact embodied in the design and style leads to an unusually convincing presentation of music of all sorts, each modest-scaled and large. Unusual but excellent.

PSB Think about T3
$ 7500
Paul S. Barton’s current flagship solution is an exceptional value—a beautifully created complete-variety loudspeaker that, at a fraction of the cost, holds its own with the most heroically engineered transducers on the marketplace. The five-way T3 is a hugely versatile speaker, developed to perform at its ideal in a wide variety of rooms, thanks to the flexibility of its three woofers. Due to the fact of its voicing and energy-handling capability, the Picture T3 is a great rock ’n’ roll speaker, but it also has the tonal finesse and spatiality required to admirably serve classical music and acoustic jazz.

Joseph Audio Pulsar
$ 7700
What’s special and maybe even distinctive about these 2-way, bass-reflex compacts is their potential to combine all the greatest sonic qualities of a excellent mini-monitor with these of a bigger speaker. With a midrange purity that equals ribbon and electrostatic styles, and the dynamic weight of a larger speaker, the Pulsar is the closest factor to that not possible dream of a small speaker that can produce the SPLs of a a lot bigger transducer without having sacrifices in inner detail or harmonic purity.

Vandersteen Treo CT
$ 7990
A loudspeaker of uncommon musicality and precision. Building upon the R&ampD that went into the flagship Model Seven, the 4-driver, medium-scale Treo CT conveys a single-driver-like coherence that immerses the listener in the really moment the recording was captured. It combines uncanny image specificity, color, and texture with an enveloping sense of air and immersion. At least some credit should go to the Model Seven-derived CT (carbon tweeter), which is as transparent and open as it is extended. Basically a passive version of the Quatro Wood CT, the Treo could not have quite the significant bass slam of that model, but you hardly miss it due to its excellent pitch definition.

Endeavor E-3
$ 8000
For $ 8k you get a nicely developed and voiced speaker capable of satisfying your every single musical need, be it rock, classical, jazz, blues, or Katy Perry. These speakers are versatile, dip deep into the low finish, offer terrific soundstaging and imaging, and do all of this for not a lot of cash. A “must-audition” for any person buying in the sub-$ 15k category.

JansZen zA2.1
$ 8750 (plus $ 495 side-firing tweeter choice)
This unusual design—with compound electrostatic elements flanked by dynamic woofers above and below—offers an extraordinary sonic experience. A controlled horizontal pattern, a vertical pattern that basically eliminates early floor reflection, and extraordinarily low distortion all combine to give a really pure sound. With woofers and electrostatic components set ideally, in-area response is exceptionally flat and the sound virtually perfectly neutral. Bass is surprisingly extended for a speaker of moderate size. Optional side-firing adjustable ring-radiator tweeters generate a much more “spacious” sound.

MartinLogan Montis
$ 9995
The Montis is state-of-the-art in all the regions exactly where electrostatics shine: supremely smooth and organic tonal balance (slightly forgiving in the 2k-4kHz variety), with a transparency that rivals PS’ reference Quad ESLs, a dynamic variety that is fairly beyond the capability of any Quad, and for that matter any other ESLs of his knowledge, and an capacity to reproduce vocalists, instrumentalists, and ensembles to life size. By any reckoning this is a really great speaker program capable of supremely satisfying reproduction of all kinds of music. 

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