Stereophile's Products of 2014 Editors' Choices of 2014

Editors' Choices of 2014

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ATC Loudspeaker Technology SCM19 loudspeaker ($4299/pair)
"In addition to the musical and technical virtues of a competently executed sealed-box design, ATC's SCM19 two-way monitor (reviewed in June 2014, Vol.37 No.6) is big enough to make a major sonic impact in most listening rooms of reasonable size, and small enough not to trip over its own feet. Low distortion, zero fatigue, great looks, fair price. WNTL?"—John Marks

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Audeze LCD-X headphones ($1699), VPI Industries Classic Direct turntable ($30,000), DeVore Fidelity Orangutan O/93 loudspeaker ($8400/pair)
"The three products I nominated for Overall Product of 2014 I would also nominate for Product of the Decade. The Audeze LCD-X headphones, the VPI Classic Direct turntable, and my beloved DeVore Fidelity Orangutan O/93 loudspeakers all perform at a level of excellence beyond what I ever dreamed possible."—Herb Reichert

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dCS Vivaldi digital playback system ($108,496)
"No doubt about it: the four-chassis Vivaldi—SACD/CD transport, master clock, upsampler, D/A converter—is the ultimate expression of digital audio technology, never failing to produce music from every possible medium and file format."—John Atkinson

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Dirac Live Room Correction Suite ($495.23–$827.51)
"Dirac Live (reviewed in May 2014, Vol.37 No.5), used with my Baetis XR2 and Mac mini servers, is essential to my enjoyment of music. Audyssey is as easy to use, but less effective at correcting for room acoustic problems and less accommodating. DEQX and Trinnov are more powerful and expensive, but very demanding to set up. Download Dirac Live for a free trial and experience the Dirac Attack for yourself. Prices range from $495.23 for the two-channel version to $827.51 for the fully loaded version."—Kalman Rubinson

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Dynaudio Excite X14 loudspeaker ($1500/pair)
"In the nearly two decades I've been writing for Stereophile, I've auditioned several dozen affordable bookshelf speakers. There are always tradeoffs, and no single bookshelf speaker has ever emerged a clear favorite—until now. The Dynaudio Excite X14 is such a significant improvement over its predecessor, the X12, that it's become my favorite bookshelf model for under $2000/pair."—Robert J. Reina

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MartinLogan BalancedForce 212 subwoofer ($3995 each)
"Both the MSB Technology Analog and the Antelope Audio Zodiac Platinum DACs were standouts in my system this year, but these MartinLogan subs, reviewed in October 2014, Vol.37 No.10) brought bucket loads more fun to the house. That's Fun with a pulsing, brightly colored, 3D capital F with whirling lights on top. They made everything sound better, too."—Jon Iverson

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PS Audio DirectStream D/A processor ($5995)
"This DAC's main claim to fame is its ability to process a wide range of high-resolution formats. However, what I find really exciting about it is what it does with CDs. As processed by the DirectStream, CDs sound better than I'd imagined was possible from this format. The ability to update firmware via the Web is another major point in its favor."—Robert Deutsch

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Revel Performa F208 loudspeaker ($5000/pair)
"For $5000, a pair of Performa F208 loudspeakers offer full-range extension, neutral tonal balance, crazy-good dynamic performance, low distortion, minimal enclosure colorations, and rhythmic and spectral coherence—all wrapped up in a beautifully finished and attractively styled cabinet. I know of no other loudspeaker that offers this much performance at this price."—Erick Lichte

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Shindo Laboratory D'Yquem power amplifier ($25,000/pair)
"Among the late Ken Shindo's last designs—including the Partager and Vosne-Romanée L preamps and Montille CV391 amplifier—the most significant may be the D'Yquem mono amplifier (reviewed in February 2014, Vol.37 No.2). The D'Yquem excels at everything I most value—musical drive, melodic flow, color, texture, scale, impact—and stands as the finest amplifier I've had in my home."—Art Dudley

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Simaudio Moon Evolution 850P preamplifier ($30,000)
"The upside is that, in 30 years of listening, I'd never encountered a component that completely 'vanished'—until the 850P. It's simply not there. The downside is that I've now spent over a year chasing flaws it's exposed elsewhere in my system—and I'm still not done."—Brian Damkroger

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VPI Industries Classic Direct turntable with JMW 3D 12" tonearm ($30,000)
"Many brilliantly engineered, fine-sounding turntables have been in my system over the past few years, some with far greater visual appeal than VPI's Classic Direct, so it's doubly pleasurable to extol the extraordinary sonic performance of this turntable and poke a finger in the eyes of cynics who claim that reviewers prejudge products based on their looks. Were my Continuum Audio Labs Caliburn stolen, this would be its replacement."—Michael Fremer



Footnote: For various reasons Jim Austin, Fred Kaplan, Michael Lavorgna, Thomas J. Norton, and Sam Tellig weren't able to nominate Editors' Choices for 2014.—Ed.

COMMENTS
AllanMarcus's picture

What's a Yearp?

John Atkinson's picture
AllanMarcus wrote:
What's a Yearp?

A typo, now fixed. :-)

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

corrective_unconscious's picture

It was one of Oxford's new words for 2012, if you recall.

tvandewalle's picture

And what about The Brinkmann Bardo that you also reviewed?
Maybe you should do a follow up with the 12" tonearm and the EMT Ti element?

lo fi's picture

What about the 2014 Editor's Choice? Has John Atkinson actually heard this speaker? I know that he hasn't measured it. I understand that the editor's choice category has been expanded to give every Stereophile contributor the opportunity to nominate an audio component that particularly impressed, but that seems to defeat the purpose of having an editor's choice. I hasten to add that I have heard the SCM19 and regard it highly. However, it is not an efficient stand-mounted speaker and requires a powerful amplifier for optimum performance - a drawback of the sealed enclosure design presumably (Ben Lilly of ATC recommended an amplifier rated at 150W plus). That notable caveat is missing from the "Editors' Choice" blurb.

John Atkinson's picture
lo fi wrote:
What about the 2014 Editor's Choice? Has John Atkinson actually heard this speaker? I know that he hasn't measured it.

No, I haven't heard this ATC.

lo fi wrote:
I understand that the editor's choice category has been expanded to give every Stereophile contributor the opportunity to nominate an audio component that particularly impressed, but that seems to defeat the purpose of having an editor's choice.

I thought it appropriate to expand the category, to give each the reviewer the opportunity to nominate their personal favorite of the past year. I don't think that was unclear.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

lo fi's picture

I find it odd how a component that has not been auditioned by the editor of Stereophile can qualify as an editor's (or editors') choice.

I didn't find the explanation for expanding the category unclear, but I think that the title has become misleading as a consequence. Changing the title to reviewers or contributors favourites would more accurately reflect just who is making the choices don't you think?

John Atkinson's picture
lo fi wrote:
I find it odd how a component that has not been auditioned by the editor of Stereophile can qualify as an editor's (or editors') choice.

It is usual in publishing in the US to refer to regular contributors to a magazine as "editors," with the person who edits the magazine (me in the case of Stereophile) called the "editor-in-chief." Hence each product listed in this year's "Editor's Choice" is indeed the choice of an editor.

If you wish, you can think of this feature as being called "Editors' Choices." But I am okay with the existing title.

John Atkinson
Editor (In Chief), Stereophile

lo fi's picture

That's interesting. An editor and a contributor are distinctly different roles in publishing - hence the titles. I'm familiar with the structure of an editor-in-chief, editorial staff and writing staff.

So you are saying that at Stereophile there is effectively no practical distinction between an editor and a contributor and this is common practice in US publishing. Then why make the distinction at all and why formalise it by naming a category after it?

Given that Stereophile's Editors' Choices of 2014 are actually those of the contributors, I think a change of title to reflect this actuality would be appropriate and more meaningful.

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