Enjoy the Music.com's Best Of 2017 Blue Note Awards celebrates the many great achievements by audiophile manufacturers within the high-end audio and Hi-Res Audio industry. Our 2017 Blue Note Awards is a culmination of seventeen years of reviewing and carefully choosing what products have earned special recognition for our annual awards. Our Best Of 2017 Blue Note Award celebrates the very best products we have reviewed during the previous 12 months. Recipients have been carefully chosen after much debate and consideration. With each passing year our industry has experienced great advancements in technology including analog circuitry, vinyl LP and analog tape playback, digital-to-analog converters (DACs), headphones, loudspeaker design, plus of course portable media players, computer software and streaming media. While there are many great pieces of high fidelity audio equipment now available within the marketplace, the below list is compiled from products we have reviewed within the past 12 months that have earned extra special attention.
From October 2016 through September 2017 our staff found only 17 products earn this award. This is quite generous, actually, as in 2016 we bestowed 15 high-end audio components to receive an Enjoy the Music.com Blue Note Award (11 in 2015 and 13 in 2014 if you must know). Let it be said here and now we make no apologies that during 2017 our staff chose 17 extraordinary products to receive our special Best Of 2017 Blue Note Award. With so many products spanning an array of categories reviewed from late 2016 through September 2017, this does not mean that everyone gets an award. This is not to say that other products do not merit your attention, it is simply that only the very best of the bunch should stand out and be recognized clearly and concisely.
Take note that we do not carry over products from our Blue Note Awards 2016 or other previous annual awards. Giving away so very few awards each year seems to be the anti-norm for a magazine hoping to get free commercial promotion, since such awards always find their way into being featured on Web sites, social media networks and of course within print advertisements.
Our longstanding staff here at Enjoy the Music.com, with hundreds of years in combined expertise, now presents to you our choices for Best Of 2017 Blue Note Equipment Award. And the winners are:
Dynamic Sounds Associates Pre I Linestage
From the outset, the way the DSA Pre I gets the job done is not just relevant, it borders on revelatory at its asking price. The Pre I offers extraordinarily refined sound that, while is unmistakably exceptional, never calls attention to itself as being sonically spectacular. It delivers a presentation in which you find yourself utterly and inescapably immersed in musical expression, not caught up in "the sound."
This linestage is smooth and utterly non-fatiguing, yet richly detailed, with deep, articulate, and muscular bass, magically engaging mids, and sparklingly clear, delicately delineate highs. Its soundstaging and imaging abilities are pushing world class. It can recreate dynamic contrasts that can evoke a fight or flight response. Its ability to render any source it is fed accurately approaches that of the best available today from gear badged CH Precision, Constellation, Pass Labs, Soulution, or VAC; some at more than twice, even four times, its asking price. While not the complete equal of those exquisite products, it affords the listener the lion's share of the exhilaration and expressiveness one experiences at the feet of those loftier priced, über preamplifiers.
This is one stirring performer; one that is laden with truly useful features, like variable gain selection (each of the 6 rear inputs has its own three position toggle switch; the up position offers +3dB of gain, centered is unaffected, with normal throughput, and down attenuates, -6dB), phase inversion, and a headphone jack.
With a selling price of $16,500, while the Pre 1 cannot be considered "affordable" by any measure, given that there is no dealer network or other middle men to compensate and otherwise conflate the price by as much as double, it must be seen as the true value that it represents in today’s available linestage offerings.
Previous Annual Blue Note Awards