We encounter a lot of admirable products every year, ones that have not a peep wrong with them and do everything expected well. And so they get a hearty recommendation from us, with our advice that you should check them out. I’ll quote the FiiO X3 high-resolution portable player straight away: small, inexpensive at just £150 and just about perfectly honed. But it wasn’t an Astell&Kern in sound quality, nor a Lotoo PAW Gold either, and now Chord have released Mojo the whole market is going to have to look to its transistors. My point being that in a constantly moving market there is the honourable mainstream – but there are some stand-out products.
Stand-outs are the subject of this month’s issue, revealed in the Awards we bestow upon those products we felt were exceptional. You can find our summaries starting p11 and read the original reviews from p23 onward. I hope you enjoy this great round-up, it’s eternally popular and we came across some fine products over 2015.
Just missing out on our awards discussion and compilation process because it came a tad too late was the new Mojo DAC from Chord Electronics you’ll find reviewed in this issue on p76. Perhaps it will make it next year. In the meantime, after lengthy measurement and use, we were nothing other than amazed by just how good it is. I hope you enjoy our coverage.
New digital products are being released fast and Quad’s Artera DAC/CD player with current-dumping power amplifier is a great combo, reviewed by Martin Pipe on p90.
And finally an apology and an explanation that you may find interesting. Last month we featured a lovely Clearaudio turntable on p96, Next Issue contents page, but it is not in this issue. The turntable had been measured and worked superbly but the fascinating new in-arm Absolute phono stage – a second sample – was a tad odd in behaviour. In the end measurement pinned down the problem: it only suits Clearaudio MC cartridges they admitted. That’s why our top Ortofon A95 didn’t sound quite right! Hopefully, whilst we await a matching Clearaudio MC cartridge and re-measure the unit, all will go well and we will be able to look at this unusual phono stage in our February 2016 issue.
Meanwhile, I hope you find what we did manage to bring you in this issue – Awards as well as a quiz and crossword – keep you happy over Christmas. And remember – do not use brandy as a stylus cleaner. Drink it instead – and have a happy Christmas!