Graham said: The Octave Audio V 40 SE is more than a bit special. It combines the grip and drive of a much more powerful amplifier with levels of transparency and detail that you’d be happy to find in a far more expensive product. It appeals to both the heart and head, and delivers a sound that modernizes traditional notions of what a tube amplifier at this price point can be and do.
Read the SoundStage! Hi-Fireview.
The gist: The line between tubes and solid state continue to blur.
Brent said: I can’t think of earphones I like better for $200 -- or even for $300.
Read the SoundStage! Xperience review.
The gist: Great sound and nine sets of eartips!
Prices: $11,000 (Tube-DAC II SE), $12,000 (Drive II)
Michael said: The Accustic Arts Reference Tube-DAC II SE and Reference Drive II are easy to recommend to anyone who can afford this level of performance and has a large CD collection. As a pair, they’re right up there with the best I’ve heard.
Read the Ultra Audio review.
The gist: Perhaps the ultimate combo for your CD collection.
Price: $3000 per pair
Thom said: Their sound was as crisp and detailed as I might want, but never shrill or overpowering. When bass was called for, they stepped up and produced. And they look attractive -- my wife likes them better than anything else I’ve had in my listening room.
Read the SoundStage! review.
The gist: Thom's new reference speaker.
Rad said: If you don’t carry your music player in your pocket, but use it primarily at home or on long commutes, the AR-M2 should add a lot of quality to your life as a traveling audiophile.
The gist: AR is back with a bang!
Brent said: That the noise-canceling AKG N60 NCs came pretty close to the sound quality of my reference midpriced headphones, NAD’s Viso HP50s ($299), is remarkable. Overall, I do prefer the HP50s’ sound, but if I had to choose between them -- indeed, if I had to choose only one set of headphones to live with -- I’d take the N60 NCs for their much greater utility.
The gist: Great choice for frequent flyers.
Price: $2795 per pair in black or white (add $200 per pair for real-wood veneer)
Philip said: Amphion’s Argon3 is the finest-sounding bookshelf speaker I’ve ever reviewed for the SoundStage! Network. It has outclassed my longtime reference, PSB’s Platinum M2. The torch has been passed.
The gist: The third time's the charm for the Argon.
Price: $3695 per pair in black, white, or full white painted finish; $3995/pair in birch, cherry, or walnut real-wood veneers
Philip said: At just under $4000/pair it isn’t cheap, but I’ve heard more expensive speakers that don’t sound nearly as good. While there’s no such thing as a perfect speaker, Amphion’s Argon3L comes as close as I’ve heard to reaching that elusive ideal.
The gist: Perhaps one of the best small floorstanders under five grand a pair that you can currently buy.
Prices: $239 per 8’ pair (Black Oval 12), $315 per 1m pair (Micro Copper Oval-In)
Colin said: I like Analysis Plus for their strict adherence to a no-BS philosophy -- something exceedingly rare among makers of audio cables.
Read the GoodSound! review.
The gist: Real engineering leads to real-good sound with AP.
Vince said: This system changed my opinion about what sorts of speakers make the best home-theater speakers. Although the price of this system is high, its performance is up there with that of the very best systems I’ve heard. If you’re in the market for a high-end speaker package for home theater and music, the Angstrom Obbligato Renaissance should be on your must-audition list.
Read the Home Theater & Sound review.
The gist: Expensive. Canadian. Very good.
Aron said: Fully configured, it generated the best picture and the most holistic soundstage I’ve seen or heard in my room. The levels of performance, engineering, and outright value that Anthem offers for $6500 scream "Benchmark product!"
The gist: One of the best A/V processors on the market.
Roger said: If you’re in the market for a high-quality surround-sound processor, I can’t recommend the Anthem AVM 60 highly enough. I would think long and hard before spending more.
Read the SoundStage! Access review.
The gist: An SSP this good used to cost double.
Wes said: Even if you’re not interested in a single-company solution, Anthem’s fair price, outstanding product support, and bleeding-edge design add up to a no-brainer recommendation. I don’t think any other projector at any price will make you happier.
The gist: Wes likes it, so it must be that good.
Vince said: When I first fired up the Anthem MRX 500, I thought it a good receiver with a great pedigree, from a company that has produced highly regarded surround-sound processors. After setting up and using its built-in Anthem Room Correction, I think the MRX 500 is a fantastic receiver worth every penny of its price. Even if Anthem charged twice as much for the MRX 500, I would still think the price fair -- because of ARC. The fact that the MRX 500 lists for only $1500 makes it a genuine bargain among home-theater receivers, and therefore the one to get.
Read the SoundStage! Accessreview.
The gist: The best room correction in a receiver for under two grand.
Wes said: Effortless. Muscular. Coherent. Stable. Rock-solid. Sound like what you’re looking for? The Anthem MRX 700 immediately leaps to the top of the marketplace for home-theater receivers. Don’t miss it.
The gist: Anthem conquered processors, receivers are apparently next.
Vince said: What most impressed me about the MRX 720 was its state-of-the-art Anthem Room Correction, its clean amplification, and its effortless streaming abilities. If you’re looking for a great-sounding HT receiver that sounds better than other HT receivers while giving up nothing in features, and is simple to use, give Anthem’s MRX 720 an audition.
The gist: A class act in an HT receiver.
Vince said: The Performance MRX 510 ups the performance of ARC to provide unprecedented control and feedback for room correction, and raises the bar for home-theater receivers. Despite my initial misgivings about the features omitted from the MRX 500 to create the MRX 510, I ended up missing none of them. If you value sound quality and like to take some control over your speakers, as I do, I highly recommend the Anthem Performance MRX 510.
The gist: ARC puts this fine receiver at the head of the pack.
Wes said: If sound quality is your primary purchasing criterion, then the Performance MRX 710 should be at the top of your list. Even if you have an MRX 700, the MRX 710’s “1M” improvements in ARC and the Advanced Load Monitoring are enough reasons to upgrade.
The gist: Second-generation receiver from Anthem is the best for an audiophile home theater.
Price: $7000 per pair
Jeff said: What I can unequivocally say is that the Anthem Statement M1 is darn near the ideal of a straight wire with gain, and at 1000W, that gain is almost unlimited. Is that enough for you? I suspect that, for many listeners, the answer will be an emphatic yes.
The gist: Awesome power, great sound quality, reasonable price.
Price: $6000 per pair
Wes said: Four years ago, when the Nucleus Reference 3.1 came out, I told anyone who would listen that it was a bargain at twice the price. I was wrong. The 3.5 is twice the price, but as good a speaker as most people will ever need.
The gist: A really well-rounded speaker.
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