Stereophile's 2005 Product of the Year Awards
Winner of the Amplification Component Award for 2005 and one of the two Joint Overall Winners, the DarTZeel NHB-108 Model One power amplifier impressed both Wes Phillips and many of the magazine's team of reviewers. Seen here holding both awards in disbelief are designer Hervé Delétraz (left) and president Serge Roch.
Our other Joint Component of 2005 was the Ayre C-5xe universal disc player, which also scooped up a Joint Digital Source Component Award. The Ayre player is unusual for a universal player in that it only offers two-channel playback. Didn't seem to matter to the voters, as they went for the C-5xe big-time. "What are we going to do for an encore?" laugh Ayre's heads of engineering and marketing, respectively, Charles Hansen (left) and Steve Silberman.
The other Joint Digital Source Award for 2005 went to the Verdi La Scala & Delius SACD transport & D/A processor from English company dCS. Accepting the award was the company's new owner, David Steven (left), who is obviously not too unhappy about having to do so, while Tony Gregory, of American distributor Audiophile Systems, looks on.
The Award for 2005's Analog Source Component went to another English product, the Rega Planar 5 turntable, which combines excellent performance with a relatively affordable price tag. Accepting the Award on behalf of US distributor The Sound Organisation was Andrew Sypien of Fort Worth TV station KTVT.
Despite strong competition, for the second year in a row, the 2005 Multichannel Music Component award went to a product from Scottish manufacturer Linn Products, the Unidisk SC universal disc player. Assistant editor Stephen Mejias hands the award to Linn's Martin McCue, who took the place of Linn marketing maven Brian Morris, who was weighed down by no fewer than four awards last year.
Even though the voting system we use for the Product of the Year Awards is designed to produce clear winners, there was an unusual four-way tie when it came to choosing our 2005 Loudspeaker of the Year. Seen here accepting the award for Michael Fremer's new reference, the humongous Wilson Audio Specialties MAXX Series 2, is Sheryl Lee Wilson.
We started with Wilson in deference to Sheryl Lee, so continuing the speaker awards in inverse alphabetical order, the second joint winner was another speaker that impressed Michael Fremer last year, the Sonus Faber Stradivari Homage. The Strad was the climax of designer Franco Serblin's career at Sonus Faber. The award was accepted by Cesare Bevilacqua (second left), who has been with Sonus Faber since its inception and now runs the Italian company.
Continuing the European theme, from Denmark came the Peak Consult Empress, which impressed the heck out of Wes Phillips when he reviewed it last October 2005. PC's Per Kristoffersen (right) was almost speechless with emotion when he accepted the award at CES with his US distributor Chris Sommovigo (left).
The final winning loudspeaker was the Innersound Kaya, which combines an electrostatic panel with a dynamic woofer. The award was accepted on behalf of Innersound's Gary Leeds by photographer Wes Bender, long associated with the Colorado-based company.
The first of our joint winners for the 2005 Accessory of the Year award was the AKG K-1000 headphones. The award was presented to Harman International's Mike Torlone, who, sad to relate, informed us that the award came at the end of the K-1000's life cycle, as once the existing stock of this distinctive pair of cans is sold, no more will be manufactured.
The second Accessories award went to the American Power Conversion S15. Not only is the S15 an AC conditioner, it is also a battery backup system, supplying components with a clean AC sinewave feed. The award was accepted by APC's Patrick Donovan.
Last but not least, the runaway winner for Stereophile's 2005 Budget Product of the Year was the floorstanding B&W DM603 S3 loudspeaker. Stereophile editor John Atkinson was particularly impressed by how much high-quality audio engineering was packed into this English design, which retails for a modest $1000/pair. The award was accepted by B&W's Peter Wellikoff (right), seen here with John Atkinson.