It's the time of the year when
the days grow short, frosts set in and Christmas approaches. Which means it's
also time for us to sit down and look at all the products we've reviewed
over the last 12 months to nominate the conspicuous greats, those that stand
out as exceptional. And as always, there were plenty of them.
As Editor I make sure I listen to most of what passes
through our portals and out to contributors, and discuss with them what we
hear. And Quad's Elite QMP mono power amplifiers received universal praise.
What I loved about them was their 'easy' presentation, combined with a
muscularity that seemed to suit all the loudspeakers we connected. All the
same, everyone in the office and out of it swooned when they heard the Audusa
Ariand Pro845. This is a real gem, if also wonderfully esoteric.
Steady refinement based upon good engineering improves
loudspeakers and both our nominations enjoy this advantage: Quadral of Germany
and Martin Logan of the USA have come up with fine loudspeakers in the
Platinum M50 floorstander and Motion 15 standmount models.
Digital gets increasingly complex and Teac's extraordinary
UD-501 DAC, able to play DSD files with its unique, free software player, was
one of the year's “wow” moments in audio. And Naim's NAC-172XS was a
supremely smooth and impressive sounding network preamplifier, providing real
quality from digital.
The most controversial product was the Astell&Kern AK120
reference portable digital audio player. As a portable 'MP3 player' one
(U.S.) reviewer thought its price outrageous. Seen as a reference high
resolution digital audio player whose sound quality eclipses CD, it is a
And finally innovation in turntables is seen in Funk
Firm's well thought out Little Super Deck with its novel drive system –
fascinating. And to go with it Leema Acoustics Elements Ultra phono stage is a
top choice we feel, to get the best from LP.
As if all this were not enough, we have plenty more under
review in this first issue of 2014. I hope you enjoy it all – and Christmas
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