Stereophile's Products of 2009
Annually since 1992, then, Stereophile has named a few choice components as its "Products of the Year." We believe these are special products capable of providing musical pleasure far beyond our formal review period. To keep the awards procedure straightforward, we have just five primary categories: Loudspeakers (including subwoofers), Amplification Components (preamplifiers, power amplifiers, etc.), Digital Source Components (transports, processors, music servers, disc players), Analog Source Components (phono cartridges, turntables, tonearms, FM tuners, etc.), and Accessories (all those little extras that keep us busy and satisfied). In a more recent tradition, each of our writers and editors also gets to declare his favorite product. Finally, the two most important categories are self-explanatory: Our overall "Product of the Year" is the best of the best; and my favorite category, Budget Product of the Year, leaves us with the most cash to spend on new records.
The voting went like this: Each of Stereophile's 16 hardware reviewers and editors was asked to nominate up to six components for each category. To be a contender, a product had to have been reviewed in one of the 12 issues of Stereophile from November 2008 through October 2009, in a full Equipment Report, a Follow-Up review, or in one of the regular columns by Art Dudley, Michael Fremer, John Marks, Kalman Rubinson, and Sam Tellig. That way, only those components could be nominated for which a writer had put his opinion in print for public scrutiny. We then compiled a ballot form listing all components nominated by three or more writers and/or editors. This process ensured that most nominees in most categories will have been auditioned by the most reviewers. Each editor or reviewer gave three votes for his first choice in each category, two votes for his second choice, and one vote for his third choice (if any). An unambiguous picture emerged as the votes came in, and the winners became clear. John Atkinson tallied the votesaddress your love letters and hate mail to him at firstname.lastname@example.org. (See JA's comments on how the voting process works.)
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And the winners are . . .