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Aqua Hifi La Voce S2 DAC
 ($2,700.00): La Voce's big brother, Aqua HIfi's La Scala, is justifiably well regarded as a master of musicality at a non uber-DAC price point. Little brother La Voce wears the family jewels loud and proud for half the price. Years ago, a more expensive Audio Note NOS DAC set a high bar for performance in my system; a bar that wasn't approached again until La Voce arrived.  This R2R NOS DAC is the genuine article; incredibly natural sounding with all genres, easily winning a place in my system up against various and sundry more 'modern' Sabre and delta/sigma based brethren.  Yep; retro everything is a trend among millennials, and Aqua Hifi's La Voce S2 made it one at my house too.  Some things were done a certain way for a long time for good reason. (David Abramson)



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Aurender N10 Music Streamer ($7,999) - Reference quality music streamer that need not make any excuses for its sonic performance or user experience. Highly musical and detailed sounding, the N10 pushes all the right audiophile buttons and will quickly put to rest critics who view computer audio as second rate (Eric Teh).






 

 


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Bel Canto Design - DAC 3.7, Virtual Battery Linear and REFStream
 (see prices below):
Building on the success of it's highly regarded predecessor DAC 3.5 MKII/Virtual Battery Supply (VBS1) combination, and importantly benefitting from technological advances incorporated in the company's highly acclaimed state-of-the-art Black Series, the DAC 3.7 ($3,495.00) and newer Virtual Battery Linear ($1,000.00) represents a serious assault on producing truly outstanding digital sound.  In particular - this combo provides a significant step forward in advancing what's possible in terms of digital sound reproduction and at a price-point that makes it reasonably accessible by high-end audio standards. When coupled to the company's newly developed and highly effective Asynchronous Renderer, known as the REFStream ($2,495.00), this approach utilizes Ethernet connectivity thereby avoiding the driver and wiring pitfalls of USB resulting in the removal of veils for the most presence and natural detail of any digital connection.  Review in progress. (Bill Wells)


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mojo.jpgChord Electronics Mojo ($600.00): This DAC embodies a minimalist aesthetic and substantive build quality vis a vis designer Rob Watt's use of aircraft grade aluminum for its casing. Not only is the device beautiful but Chord also delivers capable renderings of recordings that include a desirable blend of detail and excitement. In addition, from a technical standpoint, the Mojo leapfrogs the competition with the capacity of 768kHz while many portable DAC's throw in the towel after 192kHz or 384kHz. Most significantly, the Mojo offers road-warriors the promise of severely high quality listening via laptop and mobile devices. Review in the works. (Mark Abell)

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MemoryPlayer64.pngPublisherschoice.jpgThe Laufer Teknik Memory Player 64 (Price varies by Configuration): Depending upon perspective the Memory Player is either the oldest or the newest component in my system. Since I purchased it in 2006 it has undergone numerous updates (including October, 2015) as Mark Porzilli and Sam Laufer continue to push the envelope in digital audio. It is my system’s anchor and the only component not subject to replacement. The technology that accomplishes the exceptional performance is beyond my comprehension but I do know I have never heard a better digital source or found one with more features and technology innovations. It is a one-box solution to all of my needs. The Memory Player can rip (CDs and DVD-As), record from analog sources, download, store, and playback with either analog or digital output. Possible configurations an owner can choose rival a Chinese restaurant menu. In addition, the Memory Player can convert any stored file to 16/44 to burn a CD. When I take composite discs burned from the Memory Player to audio shows I frequently receive compliments on the quality of the recordings. I smile and respond that they have been “MP’d.” (Donald Shaulis)

Publisherschoice.jpgLaufer Teknik Memory Player 32 Core Transport Version with J Rivers ($55,000.00): Consider yourself a part of the upper echelon if you can afford this digital transport. I have been very fortunate to be a proud owner of one of Laufer Tekniks best Memory Player upgrades EVER!!. I have no idea how Mark Porzilli can top their latest top-of-the-line performer in this 32-Core unit. I was silly over the standard 8-Core ($18,500), before I upgraded to the 16-Core ($30k). However, with much reluctance I up’ed the ante to the 32 Core and it was one of the wisest decisions of my audio career. The sonics that this digital player delivers are simply unbelievable. An upgraded operating system with Windows Server 2012 makes this Memory Player the most user friendly and intuitive to date. It's the sound that ultimately wins and that dear reader is out of this stratosphere. (Clement Perry, Moreno Mitchell and Dan Secula use the 32-Core model) 

 

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Yellowtec PUC 2 Lite
 ($): Yellowtec's PUC 2 Lite is a digital interface (USB converter) that laughs heartily in the faces of all other digital interfaces I've tried. Unfailingly musical, the PUC 2 Lite lets through all the bass, pace and tone your computer based source is capable of.  And you might be surprised just how good your stock-standard computer system can sound. My own Mac mini-based system has never been so engaging as when its digits are being served up to my DAC after a thorough washing and alignment by this solidly built and extremely reliable (no dropouts!) converter. A mere digital accessory? I think not.  More like an essential component of a great digital system. (David Abramson)



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ATC SCM 19 SPEAKERS 
($4299/pair: Reviewed here) If you’re in the market for a set of stand mount speakers that really excites, that sounds alive, when the input demands it like when a brass horn blares or a drum is suddenly wacked, rather than always sounding smooth and well behaved like many speakers do then the ATC SCM 19 is a must hear for you. This speaker can purr like a kitten when the music is soft and can make you jump out of your comfortable listening chair when the recording demands it (Allen Edelstein).

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Emerald Physics EP4.7 Loudspeaker
 ($6,995.00/pair: Reviewed here and here) Careful setup is required of this system, which includes two artfully designed speakers, a digital processor, and two external passive crossovers. But once dialed in, the listener is rewarded with a gloriously rendered soundstage and a musically accurate presentation. The EP4.7 is a wonderful image producer but has a shocking amount of good, well-defined deep bass. A steal at just under $7K. (Dave Thomas and Greg Voth)






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IK Multimedia's iLoud BT Loudspeaker ($300.00: Reviewed hereThe iLoud is a mainstay in my arsenal for wireless listening of internet radio and a worthy road-trip companion that bests my car system. The most noteworthy design element is its support for guitar and microphone outputs, allowing gypsy musicians a highly portable studio monitor with a neutral, audiophile worthy frequency range to boot. In addition, the IK can be driven loud without distortion due to its 40 watt amplifier with DSP processing and has become my party-box when listening to reggae, EDM, and metal with friends. This speaker gets more use than speakers in my care that cost many multiples because of its extensive utility: durability, Bluetooth support, long-battery life, ruggedness, and most importantly, portability. (Mark Abell)


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Kharma Butterfly System ($12,000.00): Designed for those who demand a compact lifestyle system with uncompromising performance.  The Butterfly system is a unique combination of satellite speakers and a powerful subwoofer.  The enclosure of the satellite and subwoofer are both completely constructed of high quality aluminum, making them rigid and durable.  The satellites utilize two high quality 3” inch midrange Kharma composite drivers.(Key Kim)

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Langerton Configuration Holograf Monitor 
($5950: Reviewed here
The Langerton Configuration Holograf Monitors ($5960) are worthy of audition by anyone with a moderate space looking for s smaller profile speaker… or just those mildly curious. They played very well in our good-sized loft with it’s 13 foot ceiling - and that’s not an easy feat. When you give the phase-corrected Configuration Holograf's some personal time, you’ll appreciate each persons’ involvement in bringing these small miracles to market. Highly recommended. (Greg Voth) 

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Marshall Headphones Kilburn Black Bluetooth Loudspeaker ($299.00): The sex appeal of the Kilburn's cloth grille, leather handle, gold-tinged aluminum upper panel, and black or cream sides is undeniable. Thankfully, its outward beauty does little to underscore the heftiness of its construction which includes a Class D amplifier that can output 40W of power, demonstrating the impressive ability to drive hard and to reproduce frequencies accurately without misshaping the overall sound signature, which is quite enjoyable. The qualities that set it apart from the competition are its iconic look  and vintage flip stitch and precision knob controls, welcome vestiges from the analog age that are woefully absent from most Bluetooth speakers today. A full review will be forthcoming. (Mark Abell)

 

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PureAudioProject TRI0 MundorfAMT Loudspeakers 
($4,799.00): The PureAudioProject bridges the gap between pure DIY and completely hands-off prebuilt by shipping flat-packed open-baffle speakers which the buyer assembles. This results in providing drivers and crossover components at a level of quality unprecedented even at several multiples of the Trio10 MundorfAMT’s price. PureAudioProject removes the guesswork and provides the opportunity for audiophiles to be involved in creating speakers that out-perform speakers costing much more. The Trio10s accomplish with ease what many speakers struggle with, they disappear. The Trio10s present a holographic but solid soundstage and remind me a lot of planar-magnetic speakers while taking up much less space. Performance is excellent at both low and high volume levels. These small speakers can easily fill a large room. A full review will be published here soon.(Donald Shaulis)



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REL Series S3 Sub Bass System
 ($1,999.00): The REL Series S3 has to be the most compatible sub I’ve ever owned in my system. Much to my dismay of the others I’ve tried, I had yet to find a sub that was truly compatible. Since the addition of the REL Series S3 this sub becomes an extension to the bass and does it easily without any hints as to its existence. The Series 3 is powered by 350 watt self-powered amp, pushing a single 10" driver and one passive 12" woofer. Super fast and accurate while the build quality is also second to none. The price is very affordable for a sub of this quality.(Moreno Mitchell)

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Silverline Audio Prelude Plus 
($1,999.00/pair): These slim, attractive tower speakers impressed me with their excellent soundstaging, precise focus, and delightful midrange and high frequency performance. They compare very well to my reference WaveTouch Grand Teton SE speakers—so much so that I decided to keep them as an alternate reference. Add in articulate bass to below 40Hz and moderately high 92dB/watt efficiency and you simply can’t go wrong! (Frank Alles

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Publisherschoice.jpgSoundkaos Wave  40 Speakers($20k) 
I enjoyed every bit of music I played through the  Swiss-made soundkaos Wave 40’s monitors ($20k -$25k with sub). The Wave 40’s simply disappeared from the stage, rarely, if ever, drawing any attention to themselves. These speakers seem to augment percussive input, yielding drums with more skin and depth, guitar plucks with more meat and vocals with greater body, no doubt the result of their tone wood and solid wood construction. If you are looking for speakers at this bold a price point, please do find the time to audition these fine, Swiss-made widebanders. (Greg Voth and Clement Perry)


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Thrax Audio Lyra Loudspeaker
 ($19,500.00/ pair with stands): Lyra is a unique two-way, three-driver stand mounted loudspeaker.  The cabinet is a solid aluminum, ported enclosure.  It features a new breed of innovative high-frequency driver, loaded with a special horn system. It employs two 6.5” magnesium diaphragm mid/bass drivers in a D’Appolito arrangement.   The Lyra rendered music stunningly. Transparency, imaging, and soundstaging were all remarkable. Its midrange and treble presentation were exceptional.  Review in works. (Key Kim)

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Wavetouch Grand Teton SE ($3,495.00/pair): These highly efficient (94dB/watt) monitor speakers have been improved in the SE version. They have a slightly taller cabinet than the original GT, which houses a premium-quality crossover using Mundorf capacitors, Nordost internal wiring, and Jensen foil inductors. They provide superb frequency balance and expansive precise imaging with a very good sense of dynamics to boot. And they play quite well with my 300B mono amps. (Frank Alles

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