Stereophile's Products of 2007 2007 Budget Product of the Year
PSB Alpha B1 loudspeaker
Runners-up (in alphabetical order)
Aperion Audio Intimus 533-T loudspeaker ($750/pair; reviewed by Robert J. Reina, Vol.30 No.4, April 2007 review)
Benz-Micro MC20E2-L phono cartridge ($199; reviewed by Art Dudley, Vol.30 No.9, September 2007 review)
Harbeth HL-P3ES2 loudspeaker
HeadRoom Desktop D/A headphone amplifier ($1895; reviewed by Wes Phillips, Vol.29 Nos.4 & 11, April & November 2006 review)
K&K Electronics MC step-up transformer ($275; reviewed by Art Dudley, Vol.30 Nos.9 & 10, September & October 2007 review)
NHT Classic Three loudspeaker
Oppo DV-970HD universal player ($149; reviewed by Wes Phillips & John Marks, Vol.30 Nos.5 & 6, May & June 2007 review)
Prima Luna ProLogue Seven power amplifier ($3149; reviewed by Robert Deutsch, Vol.29 No.12, December 2006 review)
Rega Apollo CD player
Deep down inside, the "Budget Product of the Year" category strikes a special chord with us all—perhaps because it reminds us of our hi-fi beginnings, perhaps because it has a way of rekindling our enthusiasm. For newcomers to the hi-fi hobby, our category of "Budget Product of the Year" is reserved for components that are absolutely, honest to god, without a doubt, affordable. Meanwhile, for more experienced audiophiles, it's refreshing and exciting to rediscover how much musical pleasure can be achieved for so very little money.
Again, we had a large class of impressive candidates, with seven earning first-place votes—but it was the wonderful little PSB Alpha B1 that won our hearts. The B1 comes from a long line of overachieving loudspeakers; the original Alpha was a runner-up in our very first "Products of the Year" gala, in 1992. Back then it sold for a modest $199/pair. Fifteen years later, the B1's price has risen by a mere $80, making it actually less expensive in real terms than the original Alpha. Now, that's just crazy. More important, it's proof positive that true hi-fi sound can afforded by nearly any home.
Though the Alpha B1 makes compromises in loudness capability and low-frequency extension, its glorious midrange and solid stereo imaging bring a wide range of musical performances—even large-scale orchestral works—into rich, vibrant focus. JA was very pleased, noting "superb measured performance" and marveling at the PSB's ability to stand proud in a system costing more than 200 times its price. He advised audiophiles to buy pairs for friends and family. I took his advice, sort of—I bought a pair for myself.
The PSB Alpha B1 is exactly the kind of product this hobby needs—one that brings the High End down to earth, makes hi-fi attainable for just about everyone, and, beyond all, reminds us how much fun this hobby should be. The Alpha B1 has become my immediate recommendation for anyone seeking hi-fi advice. I'm proud to have a pair in my home. A simply sensational audio bargain. Thank you, Paul Barton.