The 2004 Products of the Year Joint Budget Products of the Year
Magnepan CC3 center & MGMC1 surround loudspeaker system (review) ($2490/system; reviewed by Kalman Rubinson, Vol.26 No.12, December 2003)
Spendor S5e loudspeaker (review) ($1649/pair; reviewed by Art Dudley, Vol.27 No.9, September 2004)
Runners-Up (in alphabetical order):
B&W 705 loudspeaker (review) ($1500/pair; reviewed by John Atkinson, Vol.27 No.2, February 2004)
Benchmark DAC1 D/A headphone amplifier (review) ($975; reviewed by John Marks & John Atkinson, Vol.26 No.7 & Vol.27 No.5, July 2003 & May 2004)
Creek CD50 CD player ($1495; reviewed by Sam Tellig, Vol.27 No.8, August 2004)
Epos ELS-3 loudspeaker (review) ($329/pair; reviewed by Robert J. Reina, Vol.27 No.1, January 2004)
Infinity Primus 150 loudspeaker (review) ($198/pair; reviewed by Robert J. Reina, Vol.27 No.4, April 2004)
Linn Adikt MM phono cartridge ($349; reviewed by Michael Fremer, Vol.27 No.2, February 2004)
Meadowlark Swift loudspeaker (review) ($1195/pair; reviewed by John Marks & Art Dudley, Vol.25 No.11 & Vol.27 No.1, November 2002 & January 2004)
Pro-Ject Debut II turntable ($279; reviewed by Michael Fremer, Vol.27 No.9, September 2004)
Shure E3c in-ear headphones (review) ($179; reviewed by John Atkinson, Vol.27 No.5, May 2004)
We figured that the Spendor S5e and Magnepan CC3/MGMC1 were such great bargains, we might as well buy them both!
The S5e is a unique two-and-a-half-way design that uses a 1" fabric-dome tweeter, a 5" polymer-cone midbass unit, and a 5" homopolymer-cone woofer, all within veneered, 18mm-thick MDF cabinets. Sure, the Spendors couldn't quite reach the lowest fundamentals of, say, JA rocking out on electric bass, but our man Art Dudley was floored by the S5es' ability to convey large-scale dynamics with superb spatial presentation and impeccable timing while preserving the emotion of everything he played. AD: "I've never heard anything near this price and size that has the Spendor S5e's combination of strengths." At $1649/pair, the S5es are simply "remarkable."
Further proof that multichannel listening is coming on strong, the Magnepan CC3/MGMC1 system just barely fell short in our voting, but was nevertheless close enough that we felt we should honor its accomplishments. The dipolar, wall-mounted MGMC1 is a small (46" H by 10.25" W by 1" D), two-way planar-magnetic speaker with a quasi-ribbon tweeter; its center-channel companion, the CC3, is a similarly small, two-way planar-magnetic that measures 36" W by 10.5" H by 5.5" D. Kal was most impressed by the Maggies' inner detail, clarity, and precision, while noting that the fact that they can be mounted on the wall and swung back flat when not in use makes them ideal for those, such as I, who find it difficult to fit five large speakers in their small rooms.
While the Magnepan system offers very restricted LF, necessitating bass management, Dr. Rubinson still praised their performance and value: "The fundamental properties of the Magnepan speakers are of a quality well beyond their modest prices....A multichannel bargain." Or, as Ice Cool JA might say, "Bling!"