Stereophile's Products of 2011 DIGITAL COMPONENT OF THE YEAR

2011 DIGITAL COMPONENT OF THE YEAR

dCS Debussy D/A processor ($11,499; reviewed by Michael Fremer, Vol.34 No.1 Review)

2011 RUNNERS-UP (in alphabetical order)
Ayre Acoustics DX-5 Blu-ray player ($9950; reviewed by Michael Fremer & Kal Rubinson, Vol.33 No.12 & Vol.34 No.1 Review)
Bricasti M1 D/A processor ($7995; reviewed by John Marks, Vol.34 No.8 Review)
Bryston BDP-1 digital audio player ($2150; reviewed by Larry Greenhill, Vol.34 No.6 Review)
Halide Design USB-S/PDIF Bridge ($395; reviewed by John Atkinson, Vol.33 No.12 Review)
HRT Music Streamer II & II+ USB D/A processors ($149.95 & $349.95; reviewed by Art Dudley, Vol.33 No.12 Review)
Musical Fidelity M1DAC ($699; reviewed by Sam Tellig & John Atkinson, Vol.34 Nos. 3, 5 & 6 Review)
Oppo BDP-95 Blu-ray player ($999; reviewed by Kal Rubinson, Vol.34 No.9 Review)
Peachtree iDAC D/A processor ($999; reviewed by Jon Iverson, Vol.34 No.10 Review)

Last year, dCS's Puccini SACD player dazzled the competition, garnering more first-place votes than any other product in any of our component categories. You'd think the revered British company might give someone else a shot at the crown. But dCS remains committed to advancing the state of the digital art, and it comes as no surprise that their Debussy D/A processor, which graced the cover of our January 2011 issue, should take this year's prize. Like the Puccini before it, the dCS Debussy distinguished itself from a strong group of contenders to win our Digital Product of the Year award.

Slim, sleek, and easy to use, the Debussy has a digital volume control, offers a full range of digital inputs including a true asynchronous USB port, and employs the latest version of dCS's Ring DAC. While its USB, AES, and two S/PDIF inputs accept resolutions up to 24-bit/96kHz, the Debussy's dual-AES input can handle 24-bit data at 176.4 and 192kHz sample rates, so you can enjoy the latest high-resolution releases from your favorite audiophile labels. (An update to the USB input to handle 192kHz data will be available by the time this issue is published.)

Playing tracks from Soundkeeper Recordings, Reference Recordings, and HDtracks, vinyl lover Mikey Fremer was quickly transported from "Analog Corner" to digital heaven. The Debussy produced a delicate, sophisticated, and involving sound marked by deep, well-textured bass, fast attacks, and dramatically solid, three-dimensional images.

Surrounded by music yet freed from physical media, Mikey happily acknowledged that "I don't see how even the most committed analog diehard would not enjoy the sound of high-resolution digital files decoded by the Debussy." John Atkinson was similarly charmed: "It was a pleasure to test such a superbly engineered product." Indeed, with its great looks, ease of use, complete complement of digital inputs, exceptional sound, and excellent measured performance, the Debussy is an easy recommendation and an obvious winner.

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Comments
soulful.terrain's picture
Surprised..well, sort of.

Never would have guessed the Voxativ Ampeggio would have garnered this awarding from Stereophile. Especially since this speaker is a single driver unit. Who'd a thunk it?

I too, was fortunate enough to hear them at Axpona in Atlanta this year. I remember saying to a buddy of mine that attended with me, "I can't believe the level of musicality I'm hearing from this somewhat minimalist speaker"?

If you take a look at all the German engineered speaker systems, the question begs to be asked: Are there any German made products that fall short of the sublime? If so, I haven't encountered any.

FranklinFQ's picture
Headphones

Interesting choices in your headphone category. Among users on HeadFi as well as other headphone enthusiast circles the UE18 is seen as somewhat of an Also-Ran product, released as a response to the JH Audio JH13 and the "driver wars". Very few people who have experience with the category would choose the UE18 as their top choice. 

There have been lots of significant advances in the headphone world of late. Audeze LCD-2 and now the new LCD-3. HiFiMAN HE-6 and HE-500. Westone ES5. Unique Melody Miracle and Merlin. Even UE's own Reference Monitor is more highly regarded than the UE18. I really can't see why you chose it. 

Regarding your comment about the "True Blood" headphones. Those are the V-MODA V-80 headphones, and are actually very highly regarded. You might check with your own headphone expert Tyll Herstens - he recently gave them a rave review, as have many other HeadFi members. I agree that the marketing seems goofy but you might want to look into things a bit before commenting. And speaking of Tyll - why wasn't he involved in this? You have one of the world's foremost experts in the field of headphones on your staff, and you don't bother to consult him?

Stephen Mejias's picture
something to consider

 Regarding your comment about the "True Blood" headphones. Those are the V-MODA V-80 headphones, and are actually very highly regarded.

I know what they are and I've read Tyll's review. I was just making a joke. I do, however, think it's funny to market a headphone around an HBO show about sex-starved vampires and mind-reading fairies. (Yes, I watch every Sunday night with the girls.) The press releases for the headphones do include the bit about "supernatural sound" and "immortal durability," so, they're clearly having fun with it, too.

And if audiophiles start wearing True Blood headphones, I will laugh. A lot.

And speaking of Tyll - why wasn't he involved in this? You have one of the world's foremost experts in the field of headphones on your staff, and you don't bother to consult him?

Something to consider for next year. 

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