The 2003 Products of the Year 2003 Digital Source Component
dCS Verdi-Purcell-Elgar Plus SACD/CD playback system (review) ($33,985, reviewed by Michael Fremer, Vol.26 No.4, April 2003)
Runners-Up (in alphabetical order):
Apple iPod (review) ($499 as reviewed; reviewed by Wes Phillips, Vol.26 No.10, October 2003)
Ayre Acoustics CX-7 CD player (review) ($2950; reviewed by John Atkinson, Vol.26 No.5, May 2003)
Classé Omega SACD player (review) ($12,000; reviewed by Jonathan Scull & Paul Bolin, Vol.24 No.11 & Vol.26 No.8, November 2001 & August 2003)
Esoteric DV-50 universal player (review) ($5500; reviewed by Paul Bolin, Vol.26 No.8, August 2003)
Meridian 800 DVD-A player (review) ($17,000-$19,000; reviewed by Kalman Rubinson, Vol.26 No.8, August 2003)
Musical Fidelity Tri-Vista SACD player (review) ($6495; reviewed by Michael Fremer & Sam Tellig, Vol.26 Nos.5 & 7, May & July 2003)
Weiss Medea D/A processor (review) ($13,500; reviewed by Kalman Rubinson, Vol.26 No.2, February 2003)
While each of these pieces occupies its own niche in the hallowed Class A+ of our "Recommended Components" pages, together, the dCS Verdi, Purcell, and Elgar Plus form a two-channel triumvirate of unrivaled audio power. With nearly twice as many votes as the runners-up in this category—not one of them technological or musical slouches—the dCS components made the competition seem almost unfair.
Analog guru Michael Fremer was assigned the task of reviewing the trio as a trio, and though he held tight to his vinyl roots and constantly questioned the credibility of their $34,000 price tag, he finally admitted: "Whatever dCS has done here, their computational, electronic, and mechanical brilliance add up to what must be the state of the art of getting the most from digitally encoded music....Spend some time with the dCS Verdi-Purcell-Edgar Plus. You'll understand how someone with $34,000 to drop might gladly do so for the pleasure of their company."
John Atkinson went on to note that their use of a FireWire datalink makes all three dCS products effectively future-proof: "It is hard to see how digital technology can get any better than this." Indeed, they may not be able to work miracles on DDD CDs ca 1984, but they bring us the future of digital playback today.