The 2002 Products of the Year Joint Budget
Grado SR125 headphones
Music Hall MMF-7 turntable
Revel Performa M20 loudspeaker (review)
Runners-Up (in alphabetical order):
JMlab Chorus 706 loudspeaker (review) ($450/pair; reviewed by Robert J. Reina, Vol.25 No.1, January 2002)
Mission m71 loudspeaker (review) ($250/pair; reviewed by Robert J. Reina, Vol.25 No.2, February 2002)
Paradigm Reference Studio/20 loudspeaker (review) ($650-$900/pair; reviewed by Robert J. Reina & Robert Deutsch, Vol.21 No.2, February 1998; Vol.24 No.2, February 2001; & Vol.25 No.5, May 2002)
PSB Alpha B loudspeaker (review) ($249/pair; reviewed by Robert J. Reina, Vol.25 No.5, May 2002)
Tivoli Audio Model Two table radio
Once again, in another tight race, the Grado SR125 headphones find themselves in a three-way tie for the prize, this time with the Music Hall MMF-7 turntable and Revel Performa M20 loudspeaker.
Of the SR125s, in comparison with all the budget and top-of-the-line models, BJR remains convinced that they "represent the greatest sound quality per dollar": accuracy, comfort, and value.
MF declared the MMF-7 to be "easily the best of the Music Hall turntables" he's auditioned. It uses a split plinth, freestanding motor, Pro-Ject 9 tonearm, and Gold Ring Eroica H cartridge to give a slightly warm and rich sound with an "impressively solid, well-timed bass foundation." Distributor Roy Hall, who visits the design factory and has the turntables built to his wishes, has apparently "painted his masterpiece," wrote MF, who went on to say that "It's the kind of reasonably priced, well-balanced product that will deceive you into thinking you're getting it all—until you compare it to something far more expensive." And something far more expensive is not what we're looking for in this category.
About $1000 more expensive is the Revel M20 speaker, which had JA scaramouching and doing the fandango right here in the Stereophile office. (You should have seen it.) On the page, however, he kept the thunderbolts and lightning in check: "The overall impression is of a well-engineered, well-crafted speaker that—especially considering its weight—you'd expect would sell for quite a bit more than $2000/pair." Though its ultimate loudness was a bit limited, the M20's treble octaves and midrange were "uncolored" and "exceptionally revealing," while it offered "enough bass extension to sound bigger than it really is." In the end, JA shouted, "Magnifico!" and deemed the M20 a Class A performer at an affordable price.