The 2004 Products of the Year Multichannel Music Component

2004 Multichannel Music Component
Linn Unidisk 1.1 multichannel universal player (review) ($10,995; reviewed by Kalman Rubinson, Vol.26 No.12, December 2003)
Runners-Up (in alphabetical order):
Bel Canto Pre6 multichannel preamplifier-processor (review) ($3990; reviewed by Kalman Rubinson, Vol.26 No.12, December 2003)
Fosgate FAP V1 multichannel preamplifier-processor (review) ($13,000; reviewed by Kalman Rubinson, Vol.27 No.6, June 2004)
Krell SACD Standard multichannel SACD player (review) ($4000; reviewed by Michael Fremer, Vol.26 No.12, December 2003)
Magnepan CC3 center & MGMC1 surround loudspeaker system (review) ($2490/system; reviewed by Kalman Rubinson, Vol.26 No.12, December 2003)
Marantz DV8400 multichannel universal player (review) ($1694; reviewed by Kalman Rubinson, Vol.27 No.5, May 2004)
McIntosh C45 multichannel preamplifier (review) ($3600; reviewed by Kalman Rubinson, Vol.27 No.3, March 2004)
Outlaw ICBM bass-management system (review) ($249; reviewed by Kalman Rubinson, Vol.26 No.12, December 2003)
Sony SCD-XA9000ES multichannel SACD player (review) ($2999; reviewed by John Atkinson & Kalman Rubinson, Vol.26 No.12 & Vol.27 No.4, December 2003 & April 2004)

While there's nothing new about listening to music, the ways in which we listen have changed dramatically. We are in the middle of format wars and disputes over the optimum number of channels for music reproduction. If multichannel music is the future—as our surround-sound guru, Kal Rubinson, believes—and if we are indeed becoming increasingly surrounded by music, then it is inevitable that revolutionary products will arise to accommodate our ever-growing needs. We have decisions to make, and we want a component that will help us make them.

Kal posed the question: "Is the Unidisk 1.1 the answer to everyone's dreams?" The answer: Yeah, pretty much. Whether you're a diehard two-channel enthusiast holding tightly to your sweet spot or a multichannel listener trying to find the best place to hang your center-channel, the Unidisk 1.1 should be able to make life easier for you. This thing plays CD, CD-R, CD-RW, SACD, DVD-Audio, DVD-Video, DVD-R, DVD-RW, DVD+RW, VCD, SVCD, and probably a few other things that haven't been invented yet.

Though it lacks decoders for multichannel Dolby Digital and DTS and has no bass-management facilities, it does come "tantalizingly close to being able to play every type of 5" silver disc" out there. And whether multiple channels or only two, it played them all excellently. Decisions, decisions...

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