Best Audio Gear of the Year (So Far)

Best Audio Gear of the Year (So Far)

As summer gives way to fall, it’s a great time to take stock of the audio goodness bestowed upon us in the form of 25 top performing audio products we have reviewed so far this year — all recipients of Sound & Vision’s prestigious Top Pick designation. In the following pages we offer plenty to chew on: eight speakers systems, five AV receivers, three subwoofers, three amplifiers, two soundbars, two music players, a music server, and a turntable. In other words, there’s something for everyone. For a deeper dive into our list of recommended gear,
click here.

Focal Sib Evo Dolby Atmos 5.1.2 Speaker System: $1,299

Sib Evo Dolby Atmos 5.1.2 Speaker System
Performance
Build Quality
Value

Cub Evo Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality
Value

Focal of France demonstrates with this compact and reasonably priced home theater ensemble that you can have your cake and eat it too. The Sib Evo system looks and sounds great, which goes a long way toward explaining why it was named a 2017 Top Pick of the Year (the review posted in early 2018). Of course, it doesn’t hurt that its subwoofer rocks and two of its five satellites have an upward firing driver designed to convey ambience and overhead effects in Dolby Atmos soundtracks. Reviewer Dan Kumin summed it up like this: “The Sib Evo is a winner, soup to nuts: elegantly designed, acoustically excellent, and a conspicuous value.”

AT A GLANCE

Plus

Excellent sound quality
Great subwoofer/satellite integration
Plays louder, cleaner than some similarly sized systems
Atmos on board

Minus

Spring-loaded push connectors can be irritating
No prepackaged 5.1.4-channel option

Full Review Here


Definitive Technology Demand Series D11 Speaker System: $3,196

Demand Series D11 Speaker System
Performance
Build Quality
Value

SuperCube 6000 Subwoofer
Performance
Features
Build Quality

The Demand Series lives up to Definitive Technology’s pedigree with satisfying, well-balanced sound — just what you’d expect from the brand audio luminary Sandy Gross created 28 (!) years ago. It further distinguishes itself as one of only two Dolby Atmos-enabled speaker systems on our 2017 Top Picks of the Year list (the review posted in early 2018). Challenging the system with an eclectic mix of music and movies — ranging from Debussy and King Crimson to Alien: Covenant and Logan — Mark Fleischmann commended Def Tech for a “brilliantly unorthodox design that makes good on its rhetoric and aspirations with deeply satisfying sound.”

AT A GLANCE

Plus

Appealing neutral voicing
Laterally offset tweeter
Active 8-inch sub integrated in center speaker

Minus

D11 top radiators complicate placement of Atmos add-ons

Full Review Here


Technics SL-1200GR Turntable: $1,699

Performance
Features
Ergonomic
Value

Vinyl lives! And what better way to experience treasured records — past and present — than with the Mother of All Turntables, the iconic Technics SL-1200, re-engineered and resurrected as the SL-1200 GR. Technics, itself an iconic audio brand that made a triumphant comeback a few years ago, has equipped the table with a new direct-drive motor that’s as steady as she goes. Comparing the SL-1200GR favorably to tables costing much more, LP enthusiast Michael Trei called it “the long-awaited return of the best-selling high-performance turntable in history. While I can’t really comment on its DJ-ing capabilities, I can say that it’s an excellent choice for the audiophile who wants a no-fuss solution that will likely last through a nuclear war.”

AT A GLANCE

Plus

Newly engineered from the ground up
Exceptional pitch stability
Includes 78 rpm speed

Minus

DJ features are irrelevant for most users
Detachable headshell may limit tonearm performance
No factory-installed cartridge option

Full Review Here


Yamaha Aventage RX-A2070 A/V Receiver: $1,600

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value

The 9.2-channel RX-A2070 delivers the up-to-date features and unadulterated sound you expect from an audio stalwart but includes at least one added attraction you won’t find in other brand AVRs: Yamaha’s masterful music listening modes. “Yamaha provides considerable fine-tuning control over DSP effect levels and delays,” observed veteran reviewer Daniel Kumin. “Though, even at its defaults, the Chamber mode — applied to a DSD of contemporary-classical brass-quintet and piano music — was altogether hair-raising. Reverb was grainless and deep but at the same time subtle. Dimensionality, including stage depth and height, was perfectly convincing. Together, they truly begged the “live-or-Memorex” question.”

AT A GLANCE

Plus

Impressive dynamics and clarity in both stereo and multichannel
Quick-response onscreen interface
Four-zone multiroom capability plus wireless MusicCast
Excellent, responsive streaming-audio client

Minus

Remote control is crowded and not illuminated

Full Review Here

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