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Issue 83    October/November 2011
Best Of The Best
Editorial By Alan Sircom


Issue 83 October 2011  Welcome to what would normally be our Awards issue. However, this year, we decided to take a break and come up with something a little different. The reason for this is simple; Awards suggest there are products that are ‘The Best’ in a market where there might be no ‘best’ – how do you judge whether one preamp is better than another out of the context of a system and the same applies to any branch of the audio experience. In other words, what’s ‘best’ in one system may not be ‘best’ in another. So we have pulled together the finest products – both from our records and from our sister title The Absolute Sound in the US – to come up with the longest shortlist around. Depending on you, we may alternate these concepts every year.

The fascinating part of compiling a group of components like this is just how many of them there are, in such a relatively small business like high-end audio. It’s also clear that there are high-end products without the high-end price, which rub shoulders with products that cost as much as a small cottage in Wales. How do you stratify such things? The simple answer is… you don’t! We’ve deliberately viewed these products without the benefit of their price tags – if something is good, it’s good. Yes, there are products that are good ‘for the money’ and this is often duly noted, but there are other products that are just good. They would be good if they cost 10x as much and they would be good if they cost half as much.

The other fascinating part is the longevity of audio equipment, and I reckon this is where audio is increasingly out-of-step with the modern world, in all the right ways. We live in a disposable culture and today’s technological style icon is tomorrow’s landfill. Good audio doesn’t subscribe to short product life cycles and that makes it inherently expensive in the short term, but 10 years time when your latest player is still current, the resale values suggest otherwise. We’ve put a limit on this to products reviewed in the last two years, but there are even a couple of products from issue one of Hi-Fi Plus that are still made a dozen years later!

However, companies need to adapt or die, and that is perhaps why Focal and Naim Audio announced the two companies have joined forces. The two brands already had a reputation for high-tech high-end; between them, the results could be formidable!  

Alan Sircom, Editor Hi-Fi+















































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