The 2000 Products of the Year Editor's Choice
Digital Audio Labs CardDeluxe PC soundcard (review) ($595; reviewed by John Atkinson, Vol.23 Nos.9 & 11, September & November 2000)
Vandersteen 2Ce Signature loudspeaker (review) ($1495/pair, optional bases cost $125/pair; reviewed by Chip Stern, Vol.23 No.10, October 2000)
On even days of the week during the preparation of this feature, I decided I would make the latest version of the Vandersteen 2Ce loudspeaker my Editor's Choice for 2000. I first read a review of the Vandersteen Model 2 in a 1977 issue of The Audio Critic, and there Stereophile was in October 2000, reviewing a Vandersteen speaker that looks identical. For a loudspeaker to remain unchanged in production for a quarter century is unheard of, and the 2, of course, has been subject to a regular series of improvements, especially involving the drive-units, which are today as high-tech as one could wish for. But Richard Vandersteen's "boxless" design concept, in which each drive-unit is mounted in as small a baffle as is practicable, has proved its worth all these years. The result is one of those favored few products that is a "safe" recommendation to audiophiles and non-audiophiles alike. No one ever complains after buying a pair of Vandies—the speaker lets the music shine on through in a most satisfying way. Yes, the 2Ce Signature would be a most fitting Editor's Choice.
But on odd days of the week, I was confident that Digital Audio Labs' CardDeluxe PC soundcard would be my choice. In combination with an inexpensive digital audio workstation program like CoolEdit 2000 ($69), this little circuit board turns a Pentium PC into a true high-end 24-bit/96kHz digital source component. The inclusion of S/PDIF data I/O ports makes it possible to feed the audio data on the host computer's hard drive to an external D/A. Multiple cards can be linked to transform the computer into a high-performance multitrack recorder. The CardDeluxe's high-resolution, low-noise A/D and D/A converters equal or exceed the performance of many legitimate "high-end audio" digital components. Measurement software such as the various SpectraLab programs turn a CardDeluxe's host PC into a powerful piece of test gear. Yes, the exciting CardDeluxe, too, would be a most fitting Editor's Choice.—John Atkinson