It used to be that, when I sat down to write the introduction to Stereophile's ever-popular annual "Records To Die For" feature, it quickly became an exercise in racking my meager brain for jokes about "dying for" records. But being funny, in print or otherwise, is tremendously difficult. I'm sure Groucho had a much more apropos, not to mention funny, quip about the trials of being humorous—but, as with the aforementioned jokes, I can't seem to think of it right now.
For the 13th consecutive year, Stereophile has recognized the components that have proved capable of giving maximal musical pleasure with its "Products of the Year." Based on a vote by the magazine's reviewers and editors, the 2004 winners were announced in the December 2004 issue and the awards were presented by Stereophile editor John Atkinson at last week's 2005 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.
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The surging popularity of portable music players has been a boon to makers of accessories for them, especially earphones. Many music fans travel for business, requiring long hours in noisy airplanes and other forms of mass transit, and earphones that offer the added benefit of blocking or reducing noise are always desirable.
From the October 2004 issue, Larry Greenhill reviews the REL Studio III subwoofer, explaining, "Determined to experience sub-bass in my listening room, I arranged with REL's US importer, Sumiko Audio, to audition their largest subwoofer, the Studio III."
From the October 2004 issue, Michael Fremer reviews the mbl 101E Radialstrahler loudspeaker, enthusing, "In one night's listening orgy, I tore through albums by the Weavers, Harry Belafonte, Sweet Honey in the Rock, Tony Bennett, etc—all recorded live in Carnegie Hall. The results were nothing short of astonishing."
From the October 2004 issue, John Atkinson reviews the Halcro dm38 power amplifier, noting, "When Halcro's affable US distributor, Philip O'Hanlon, asked me if I would be interested in reviewing the company's first two-channel design, the $18,790 dm38, I didn't need much persuading."