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The Absolute Sound
October 2007

The 2007 Editors' Choice Awards

  This issue contains our biggest feature of the year our annual Editors' Choice Awards, in which we list every component we recommend in every product category. To be included on the list, the product must have been reviewed in The Absolute Sound or a reviewer must have had enough experience with it to confidently recommend it.

Putting together the 38-page Editors' Choice Awards feature begins with examining last year's list, removing those products that have been discontinued, and then adding those select products reviewed in the previous year that may be worthy of an award. The next step is to reconsider every single product on the list. Has a product been eclipsed in performance or value by a newer product? Has a product's price increased to the point where it is no longer competitive? Have we received reports of reliability problems? When considering a product that has been reviewed in the previous year, and is thus a new candidate, I consult the original reviewer as to whether the product should receive an award. Similarly, the original reviewers are asked to reconsider some of their previous selections if a groundbreaking new product has emerged in the intervening year.

We then fact-check the list to confirm each product's availability, price, distributor information, and manufacturer's Web site address. The merits of each product are debated sometimes hotly by our senior editorial staff in choosing which are ultimately worthy of an Editors' Choice Award. This process rakes place during a series of marathon conference calls over a period of several weeks. Each of us on the call brings a different area of expertise to the process. During the debates it struck me just how much collective experience and depth tif knowledge the TAS staff has in high-end audio. For example, Jonathan Valin, Neil Gader, and I have worked on high-end audio magazines for 47 years between us. That figure nearly doubles if you include our rime as music and audio enthusiasts before joining the industry This issue's Editors' Choice list is the culmination of that experience, along with that of our writers, some of whom have written for TAS for more than 20 years each (Robert E. Greene and Paul Seydor).

You'll also find TAS Founder Harry Pearson's picks for Editors' Choice in this issue's HP's Workshop. As always, HP has chosen those components at the edge of the art of music reproduction.

New this year is the addition of Golden Ear and Product of the Year icons to identify those Editors' Choice winners that have also won a Golden Ear Award or have been named a Product of the Year. Below the icon is the year in which the award was given. These icons enable you to quickly see which products have been singled out by an individual reviewer (Golden Ear), as well as those Products of the Year named by consensus of the senior editorial staff.

 

We discovered in updating the prices for this year's feature that many European-made products suffered from price increases because of the U.S. dollar's plummeting value vis--vis the Euro and British pound. Some products more than doubled in price and became poor values, and as a result were dropped from the list. But interestingly, other European-made products had small or no price increases. How could this be?

The answer is that some clever U.S. distributors have made bets in the financial markets against the U.S. dollar. The distributor takes a loss on these bets when the dollar gains against the Euro or pound, and realizes a gain when the dollar drops against European currencies. The amount of this loss or gain is carefully calculated to exactly compensate for the loss the distributor incurs when the dollar drops in value (he pays a higher price in dollars for the imported products), and the additional profit the distributor makes when the dollar increases in value (he pays a lower price in dollars for the products). The net result is that the distributor and by extension, the consumer is insulated from currency-value fluctuations. The distributor and dealer aren't always adjusting the price in response to the world's currency markets. It seems like a win-win situation for everyone, particularly the consumer..

 

 

 

     
 

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