The 2001 Products of the Year Joint Budget Components
Creek 5350SE integrated amplifier (review) ($1500; reviewed by Robert J. Reina & Sam Tellig, Vol.24 Nos.3 & 4, March & April 2001)
Perpetual Technologies P-3A D/A processor (review) ($799; reviewed by Robert Deutsch, Vol.24 Nos.1 & 10, January & October 2001)
Polk RT25i loudspeaker (review) ($320/pair; reviewed by Robert J. Reina, Vol.24 No.9, September 2001)
Runners-Up (in alphabetical order):
Acoustic Energy AEGO2 loudspeaker ($599/pair with active subwoofer; reviewed by Michael Fremer, Vol.24 No.3, March 2001)
Alón Petite loudspeaker (review) ($995/pair; reviewed by Wes Phillips & Robert J. Reina, Vol.19 No.1, Vol.20 No.2, Vol.24 Nos.2 & 9, January 1996, February & September 2001)
Paradigm Reference Studio/20 loudspeaker ($650-$900/pair; reviewed by Robert J. Reina, Vol.21 No.2, Vol.24 Nos.2 & 9, February 1998, February & September 2001)
PSB Image 4T loudspeaker (review) ($649/pair; reviewed by Robert J. Reina, Vol.24 No.2, February 2001)
Quicksilver Mini Mono power amplifier ($998/pair; reviewed by Sam Tellig, Vol.24 No.3, March 2001)
Rega Planet 2000 CD player ($950; reviewed by Sam Tellig, Vol.24 No.4, April 2001)
Tivoli Audio Henry Kloss Model One table radio ($100; reviewed by Sam Tellig, Vol.24 No.3, March 2001)
Triangle Titus loudspeaker ($495/pair; reviewed by Sam Tellig & Robert Deutsch, Vol.23 No.8 & Vol.24 No.5, August 2000 & May 2001)
VTL IT-85 integrated amplifier (review) ($2500; reviewed by Chip Stern, Vol.24 No.2, February 2001)
Three products shared the grand prize in this category! The Perpetual Technologies P-3A D/A processor can partner the P-1A upsampler and digital room-correction engine, but also works well as a standalone D/A converter. It takes digital data from 16-bit/44.1kHz to 24/96 via coax S/PDIF, optical TosLink, AES/EBU, and I2S 5-pin mini-Din connectors, and it's said that eventually—things take a long time at Perpetual (Waiting) Technologies—the P-3A will take 192kHz as well. All inputs are automatically upsampled to 96kHz, and, in everything but I2S Direct, output is increased to 24 bits. RD felt a lone P-3A gave a very good account of itself with the upgraded Monolithic Sound P3 power supply: "The sound was dynamic, with good timbral and transient accuracy, and the sort of natural high-frequency detail that I have come to associate with upsampling D/A processors." JA was moved to call it "one of the best-measuring D/A converters I have encountered, particularly regarding dynamic range, resolution, and linearity."
The Polk RT25I came as a surprise to reviewer Bob Reina. It's a two-way, reflex-loaded bookshelf speaker with a 1" trilaminate polymer-dome tweeter, a 5½" mineral-loaded polymer/composite-cone woofer in a cabinet finished with real wood veneer. Yes, there's a "lack of dynamic bloom in the bass" during complex passages, and BJR noticed compression when things got really going. But he was ecstatic over the linear and organic low-level dynamic resolution, "as in live music"; superlative resolution of inner detail on good recordings with a highly accurate depiction of room ambience; flat but natural reproduction of transient articulation; and "extraordinarily uncolored tonal balance from the midbass to infinity and beyond." A pair costs just 320 bucks—can ya beat that?
After more than three months and six speakers, two analog and one digital source, and after comparing the 85Wpc Creek 5350SE integrated amplifier with three other amplifiers, BJR said, "I cannot conclusively point to any instance in which the Creek deviated from a neutral tonal balance throughout the entire frequency spectrum." He also found it bettered all the Creeks he's listened to so far with its lifelike, delicate, yet forceful re-creation of transient articulation, its organized reproduction of low-level dynamic nuances and subtle ambient cues with no trace of electronic artifacts or opacity, "and degrees of bass definition, articulation, clarity, and bottom-end extension unlike any I've heard from any amplifier in this price range and/or power rating." Guess he liked it.