2013 Recommended Components Signal Processors

Signal Processors

Class A

BSG qøl Signal Completion Stage: $3995
The qøl Signal Completion Stage is a remote-controlled, solid-state signal processor with four pairs each of RCA and XLR analog inputs and two pairs each of RCA and XLR outputs. With the qøl activated, JA invariably noted a larger overall sound, with a greater impression of the ambience surrounding performers, increased image depth, and better layering within that depth. From JA's measurements, it appeared the qøl process is basically a variant of the well-known Blumlein Shuffler technique. "You must audition the effects of qøl yourself," he cautioned. Sold direct with a 30-day, money-back guarantee. (Vol.36 No.2 Read Review Online)
DSPeaker Anti-Mode 2.0 Dual Core digital room equalizer: $1199
DSPeaker's Anti-Mode 2.0 Dual Core is a highly versatile, remote-controllable, two-channel room/system equalizer for full-range loudspeakers. It has two VS8053 IceDragon processor chips, a small color display, XLR and RCA analog inputs and outputs, a datalink connector for linking multiple Anti-Mode 2.0 units, and a USB connector for USB audio mode, firmware updates, and data downloads. By default, the Anti-Mode 2.0 measures and automatically corrects from 16 to 150Hz, but can be configured to work from 16Hz to an upper limit ranging from 80 to 500Hz. In addition, it provides a large array of filter and configuration options, and can store up to four different sound profiles. "The DSPeaker Anti-Mode 2.0 may be a small and unprepossessing black box, but its performance and power are huge," summed up KR. (Vol.35 No.11 Read Review Online)
Paradigm PBK: $99 ✩
An adaption of the formidable Anthem Room Correction system used in Anthem's Statement D2 processor, the PBK includes USB cables and a microphone, and will work with up to four Paradigm subwoofers. While easier to use and considerably less expensive than either the SVSound or Audyssey devices, the PBK's subjective results were "no better or worse," said Kal. The PBK provided "a huge improvement" in the bass performance of the Paradigm Reference SUB 15, however. "The PBK, the SUB 15's obvious mate, is a bargain," KR concluded. (Vol.33 No.1 Read Review Online)
Rives Audio sub-PARC: $5000 ✩
The sub-PARC adds a 1200W power amplifier to an analog three-band parametric EQ, making it "eminently suitable for use with a passive subwoofer," said Kal. It includes RCA and XLR inputs for the left, right, and LFE channels; RCA and XLR output jacks for left, right, and subwoofer; and a pair of speaker terminals. Partnered with the XTZ Room Analyzer, the sub-PARC helped KR achieve a sound that was "clean and tight and powerful." (Vol.31 No.11 Read Review Online)
Rives Audio PARC analog parametric equalizer: $4000 ✩
Of this two-channel, three-band parametric equalizer with Parametric Adaptive Room Compensation (PARC), KR said, "the PARC was completely transparent in both the critical midrange and the revealing treble range," while in the lower midrange and bass, "the PARC was changing the sound, as intended." Deep male voices were "always firmer, better defined harmonically and spatially, and easier to distinguish musically." Large and complex passages of music were also improved: "I realized that, although there was no sapping of energy, there was a greatly enhanced facility to hear more of what was going on within the orchestra. PRaT (Pace, Rhythm, and Timing) fans will appreciate what PARC does to delineate the pulse and meter of the music." One of Stereophile's 2003 "Joint Accessories." (Vol.26 No.7 Read Review Online)

Class B

DSPeaker Anti-Mode 8033C bass equalizer: $395 $$$ ✩
The Anti-Mode 8033C is a plug-and-play, DSP-based, single-channel bass equalizer with up to 24 Infinite Impulse Response digital filters. Its tiny chassis is powered by a 9V wall wart and has an RCA input jack and two RCA outputs. Kal noted tighter, cleaner low-end performance. "The DSPeaker Anti-Mode 8033 is a dandy little device for taking care of the major influences of room modes." Price includes shipping. The S version operates on stereo signals. (Vol.32 No.1 Read Review Online)

Class C

Atlantic Technology WA-5030: $399
The WA-5030 wireless audio system comprises the WA-50-t, a transmitter module with USB and two-channel analog inputs; the WA-5030-r, a 30Wpc receiver with two-channel speaker terminals; a remote control; and miscellaneous connectors and power supplies. The only control on the transmitter permits the selection of one of three zones, allowing multiple WA-5030-r receivers to send signals to speaker pairs in different rooms. The WA-5030's success varied with the sensitivity of the speakers used, but produced a clean, balanced sound with decent bass extension when driving KR's small Paradigm Studio/20 surround speakers. Additional WA-5030-r receivers: $199 each. (Vol.35 No.11 Read Review Online)
Behringer DEQ2496: $699.99 $$$
Behringer's professional, rack-mount DEQ2496 offers a suite of signal-processing functions, including dynamic EQ, reverb, and digital room correction. It has AES/EBU and TosLink inputs but lacks a USB input. The sound was clear, fast, and lean, with good bass and dynamics, said JM. "If the idea of digital EQ doesn’t make you run screaming from the room, the DEQ2496 is an amazing bargain, and might very well be the cheapest way to solve some problems in system matching or room acoustics," he decided. (Vol.35 No.4 Read Review Online)

Class K

MiniDSP modules.

guitarist9273's picture

The Beats Solo HD is now a Stereophile reccomended component... That sounds like a (funny) joke. They're certainly attractive looking & very stylish, but they sound very...well, bad. They're Class D...but I'm genuinely curious as to why they'd be included at all.

There are a lot of decent choices when it comes to headphones in the portable/sealed-on-ear-headphones-under-$300 category, now, that it's hard to see the B&W P3 and the Beats Solo HD making it onto the list. (Anyone interested in heaphones should check out Stereophile' sister online publication on personal-audio/headphones---InnerFidelity.)

Thanks for this awesome compilation, by the way! I sincerely enjoyed reading through such a wide sampling of great loudspeakers, amps & such. The balanced objectivity is always refreshing, considering other publication's purely subjective approach.

RobertSlavin's picture

Being able to see the photos of the components next to their descriptions, as found in this online version of recommended components, is nice.

However, Stereophile used to charge for this section online. Why is it giving it away for free now?

There's not a tremendous amount of money in magazine publishing. I'd prefer that the magazine make a reasonable amount of money from this section.

John Atkinson's picture

RobertSlavin wrote:
Stereophile used to charge for this section online. Why is it giving it away for free now?

Unless I am having a senior moment, we never used to charge for on-line access to Recommended Components. In fact, we have only been making it available in its entirety on-line since 2012, which is when we launched our free iPad app.

And regarding charging for it, my bottom-line policy is that the magazine's content should be available free on-line.

John Atkinson

Editor, Stereophile

Poor Audiophile's picture

Thanks for that JA!

EU-USA Stereophile Fan's picture

Maybe some other EU makers could have been included such as Phonar (Germany) or PMC (UK)

John Atkinson's picture

Maybe some other EU makers could have been included such as Phonar (Germany) or PMC (UK)

"Recommended Components" exclusively concerns products that have been reviewed in the magazine. In turn, to be reviewed in Stereophile, a product needs to be available in the US; see  www.stereophile.com/asweseeit/307awsi/index.html.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

Glotz's picture

WOW, I love it!  

I think I have memorized the entire RC over the years, and seeing each component again (some for the first time) is wonderful!  

I wonder who went through the trouble of procuring all of those photos for RC online.  

I won't even pretend there will be photos (for the next RC) in the magazine.  I imagine it would be 500 pages long... 

Ariel Bitran's picture

photos were gathered by myself and reformatted by Jon Iverson.

Downforce's picture

Has the excellent Emotiva ERC-2 been discontinued?  And for JA, the link you posted isn't working.  Thanks for the lists.

John Atkinson's picture

Downforce wrote:
Has the excellent Emotiva ERC-2 been discontinued?

Not according to Emotiva. It's there in Class C of Disc Players.

Downforce wrote:
And for JA, the link you posted isn't working.

Fixed. Thanks.

John Atkinson

Editor, Stereophile

stereomag's picture

Wow! Here they (Stereophile) go again. Still no review of any Accuphase preamps. Why is that, Stereophile?

weitn's picture

M30.1 got impressive reviews from Stereophile and Absolute Sound and recommended by both. I have auditioned it and ordered a pair the other day. Out of curiosity, what happened to the M40.1? It was listed in the 2012 recommended list.

destroysall76's picture

Great recommendations, but I'm curious in the LS50 from KEF. Is it really that much better of a speaker to be a part of the Class A (Restricted LF) over the Harbeth P3ESR and the Proac Tablette?

Also, is the Rega RP1 the better table buy this year over the Project Debut Carbon?

mkrzych's picture

I've read here that Dali Zensor 1 are in class C (Exteme Restricted LF), so according to your judge those are considered not entry level speakers, am I right?
If so, do you have any suggestions for the speaker cable matching or positioning for these little babies to sound the best? Currently I have Marantz CD5004/PM6004 connected to them over the QED Strand 79 speaker cable. They are on Soundstage Z22 stands.
Is it anything I can do to improve this gear in your opinion?

Thanks for any suggestions.

MykhailoM's picture

Good audio cables are surely essential part to any serous audiophile as they deliver a very sensitive signal between your audio gear as it has been said in this page. I have listened to quite a few well known brands such as Russ Andrews cables QED Signature etc. and more often than not the price reflects its qualities. As anything else in audio gear, cables need auditioning on your system. If possible grub 4 or 5 pares from your local dealer in a price range £300 to £600 from different brands and at your own comfort have them checked, I'm pretty sure you will get different results and the better components you have the more evident it will be. In my auditioning experience I prefer small exotic brands, to me they deliver a very good sonic result. I can change components etc. but cable will stay as they are so revealing. Keep your options open and DO audition on your system or at your local Hi-Fi dealer.

MykhailoM's picture

Everything must be auditioned either interconnects cables or audio components, your ears will be your best judge.