Stereophile's Products of 2006 Product of the Year
Continuum Audio Labs Caliburn turntable with Cobra tonearm and Castellon stand
Runners-up (in alphabetical order)
B&W 802D loudspeaker
Conrad-Johnson ACT2 preamplifier
dCS P8i SACD player
Graham Engineering Phantom B-44 tonearm
Halcro dm88 monoblock power amplifier
Lipinski Sound L-707 loudspeaker
McIntosh C1000 preamplifier
Musical Fidelity kW750 power amplifier
NHT Xd powered loudspeaker system
Quad ESL-2805 loudspeaker
Sonus Faber Amati anniversario loudspeaker
Sound Devices Model 722 portable digital recorder
Vandersteen Quatro loudspeaker
A whopping eight different products received at least one first-place vote in our Product of the Year category, further proof that this has been one heck of a year in hi-fi. Despite this heavy competition—among all nominees, there were two preamplifiers, six loudspeakers, two power amps, a tonearm, a portable digital recorder, and an SACD player—our winner, ladies and gentlemen, is . . . a turntable.
And, whaddaya know, it's the Continuum Audio Labs Caliburn! This $99,500 feat of technological sophistication has been the subject of endless debate, online and otherwise, since it first shimmered and shined its retro-chic self all over our January cover. In the Stereophile.com forum, for instance, a thread that began with one member criticizing us for proclaiming the Caliburn the world's best—"Stereophile has reached the pinnacle of absurdity," he wrote—was still sizzling and burning nearly five months later. As we go to press, that thread has grown to nearly 5000 views and 60 responses.
Have we reached the "pinnacle of absurdity"? Michael Fremer thinks not. He went deep into his pockets and way into hock in order to keep the Caliburn in his system. Permanently. Poor Mikey. He's had to endure a lot of finger-pointing for following his love. Now, a year later, he might be getting close to paying it off.
The Caliburn is worth every penny, we're sure—at least to Mikey, who wrote: "What I marveled at most was not any particular sonic parameter in which the Caliburn performed well, but the unforced believability of almost everything I played." Like the other winners on our list, the Caliburn brings music to life. Congrats to Continuum Audio, and congrats to Mikey!