The 2018 EISA Hi-Fi Citations

In 2017, Stereophile was accepted into the Expert Imaging and Sound Association (EISA—the E back then stood for European), as the exclusive US member of the EISA's Hi-Fi Expert Group. (At the same time, our sister magazine Sound & Vision was inducted as the exclusive US member of the HT Video Expert Group.)

EISA is the biggest and, at nearly 40 years, the oldest general consumer-electronics awards association in the world; its members include 50 special-interest magazines in over 23 European countries and, now, the US, Canada, India, and Australia. Through its annual Awards program, EISA has been celebrating the very best consumer-electronics products for over 30 years. Each spring, the editors of the member magazines in the Hi-Fi Expert Group vote on products that have been nominated in up to 15 categories: turntable, floorstanding loudspeaker, amplifier, etc. (See Michael Fremer's video report from the 2018 EISA Convention.) The winners are announced at the EISA Awards Gala at the Internationale Funkausstellung (IFA), which takes place each September in Berlin, Germany.

Here are the 2018–2019 winners.

Pro-Ject Juke Box S2

With the record revival in full swing, more and more people want a simple, one-box vinyl solution. The Pro-Ject Juke Box S2 is precisely this, being an "active turntable" with a phono stage, amplifier and Bluetooth built in. You can also buy the matching Speaker Box 5S2 speakers, or source your own. Ease of use is important for a product such as this, so a Pro-Ject cartridge comes pre-fitted and the arm is pre-aligned. Just remove the stylus guard, attach the drive belt and you're ready to go. The sound is big and addictive, giving LPs old and new a fresh lease of life.

Denon CEOL N10

The latest iteration of Denon's CEOL compact music system is the first with HEOS multiroom streaming built-in, making this cute little unit more versatile than ever. Despite a footprint less than the size of an A4 page, the CEOL N10 neatly bundles a radio tuner, CD player and a wealth of streaming options. Via the user-friendly HEOS app you can listen to music via popular music services, or stream your hi-res music over a network or from a USB stick. Alternatively, you can play your favorite tunes wirelessly via Bluetooth or AirPlay 2. Whatever the source, the class-D amplifier amazes with its powerful sound—something totally unexpected from such a small system.

Naim Audio Uniti Atom

Don't be fooled by the gorgeous metal casework, for the Uniti Atom is more than just a pretty face. Its large top-mounted volume control is intuitive to use while the crisp looking, informative display makes accessing the Atom's myriad functions easier. A streamer, DAC and preamp are all built-in together with the same gutsy power amplifier design seen in the company's grown-up NAIT integrated amps. It's extremely flexible with Google Chromecast, Tidal, Spotify Connect and Internet radio on board, plus AirPlay 2 and Bluetooth aptX HD. The accompanying Naim app is well thought out and easy to use, and allows for multiroom use. Smooth, detailed and dynamic, this is a super sounding small system.

DALI Callisto 6C & Sound Hub

One of the major downsides of having a decent hi-fi system in your home is the mess of cables that inevitably results. DALI has overcome this by producing the active Callisto loudspeakers that work with the company's Sound Hub. Stable transmission at a high 96kHz/24-bit resolution gives great stereo sound without wires. The Callisto/Sound Hub system works seamlessly, playing from external sources such as a CD player, or streaming via Bluetooth aptX HD. Add the NMP-1 expansion card for total compatibility with the BluOS multiroom platform. Surprisingly easy to set up, you'll soon be enjoying a thoroughbred musical performance thanks to the best driver technology that DALI offers.

Marantz ND8006/PM8006

Offering great performance at the price, the ND8006/PM8006 streamer/integrated amplifier combination plays pretty much any music format from any source. The ND8006 spins CDs and streams via AirPlay 2, Bluetooth, Spotify Connect, Tidal, Deezer and more. Meanwhile, HEOS compatibility allows it to play in a multiroom set-up with matching products. It sports multiple digital inputs with 192kHz/32-bit conversion via an ESS DAC, and the unit is sprinkled with hi-fi goodies including Marantz's selectable digital filters. The partnering PM8006 amp boasts 70W per channel, sports proprietary HDAM op-amps and a double-shielded toroidal transformer. A special mention goes to its exceptional phono stage. It's a classic combination.

Yamaha R-N803D

Products like this show just how far affordable hi-fi separates have improved of late. Yamaha's R-N803D is a sophisticated stereo receiver, with careful attention paid to the shortness of signal paths to keep the purists happy. Yet it's packed with features, including an ESS Sabre DAC for great sound and YPAO—Yamaha's Parametric room Acoustic Optimiser—to assist in tailoring speakers to your listening room. With substantial power under the hood the R-N803D can drive most loudspeakers with ease, and has a detailed and precise sound that belies its price tag. Factor in Bluetooth connectivity, and Yamaha's MusicCast streaming platform for Tidal, Spotify, Deezer and Qobuz, and it's a veritable Swiss Army knife of amplifiers.

Primare I15 Prisma

Primare's industrial design speaks volumes in this stylish, slimline amplifier. Despite being just three-quarters the size of conventional separates, it punches way above its weight in sound and features. Alongside conventional analogue inputs, there's a hi-rez PCM/DSD DAC plus Prisma connectivity and control technology that includes Bluetooth, AirPlay, Spotify Connect and Chromecast functionality. It sounds surprisingly good for its size—super-smooth and creamy with detail aplenty and satisfying stage depth. The proven class-D power amplifier is meaty enough to drive most loudspeakers, while the fascia's crisp OLED display keeps track of source and volume settings. Factor in the svelte alloy casework and the I15 Prisma makes great sense for those seeking something out of the ordinary.

Pioneer A-40AE

To celebrate its 80th anniversary, Pioneer has unveiled this affordable integrated amplifier that exceeds expectations, thanks to an enticing combination of flexibility and smooth sound. With five line inputs, a moving-magnet phono stage and built-in DAC, the A-40AE will form the heart of a great budget system. With generous power on tap Pioneer's "Direct Energy" amplifier design comfortably drives most loudspeakers, and does so really sweetly. Sonically, its polished yet beguiling sound makes for a satisfying listen, setting up a wide soundstage that is given life by great dynamics. It's an excellent first step on the hi-fi ladder.


One of the few true digital class-D amplifiers on sale, the sophisticated M32 integrated model uses NAD's "DirectDigital" technology to deliver a claimed 180W per channel. Combining pre- and power amplifier functions into a single amplifying stage, it's both technically innovative and highly versatile. Furthermore, an optional BluOS module opens the doors to streaming and networked music playback, making it highly future-proof. Confident and assured, this amplifier sounds open, detailed and expansive—giving a panoramic feel to every piece of music it plays. With its touchscreen display and app control, it's a breeze to use too, and the robust aluminum casework is as substantial as its sound. (Stereophile review)

Pro-Ject Stream Box S2 Ultra

Does the world really need another streamer? Perhaps not, but the Stream Box S2 Ultra offers so much more. Think of it as a powerful network bridge that routes your music from a multiplicity of sources. Just plug in a DAC and the Stream Box S2 Ultra plays music from a hard disk via its USB-A inputs, Bluetooth aptX and online streaming services such as Tidal, Spotify and Shoutcast, plus DLNA- or Wi-Fi-connected NAS drives. It's Roon Ready and there's also an HDMI video output. There's also a handy control app for iOS and Android, a nd savvy users can even customize the system to their needs. Working at up to 352.8kHz/32-bit PCM and DSD256, it's future-proofed, too.

EISA DAC 2018–2019
Chord Electronics Hugo 2

Chord's original battery-powered DAC/headphone amplifier was a hard act to follow, but the new Hugo 2 is a giant leap forward. Inside its ultra-modern aluminum case is a custom-coded digital converter and filter that sounds like nothing else around. Comfortably able to see off any conventional DAC at its price, it's astounding for a compact music machine, with a vibrant and rhythmic sound. Whether with standard CD or hi-rez PCM or DSD, music comes packed with energy and emotion. The Hugo 2 runs for 14 hours from its rechargeable battery, plays practically every format around, includes switchable f ilters and a uniquely colorful control interface that makes using it fun.

Technics SL-1200GR

When Technics relaunched its iconic SL-1200 turntable three years ago, its brilliant build and superlative sound caused a sensation. This latest SL-1200GR version is designed to offer value-conscious vinylistas most of this in a far more affordable package. The updated version of the company's legendary quartz-locked direct-drive system keeps better speed than a Swiss watch, and the deck's aluminum base soaks up vibration like a sponge. The S-shaped tonearm is robust, a joy to cue and deserves a good pick-up cartridge. The result is a gutsy sound that's solid as a rock, with bold images and plenty of detail. It's a great way to spin your precious vinyl.

ELAC Adante AS-61

This Adante AS-61 may look understated, yet is actually anything but. Meticulous application of clever technology has given this attractive standmount speaker a surprisingly dynamic and powerful sound for its size. Designer Andrew Jones has achieved great performance from a novel cone/dome coincident driver array, with coupled-cavity bass loading via an auxiliary bass radiator. The result is a wonderfully panoramic soundstage, impressive depth perspective and a smooth tone from top to bottom. The Adante AS-61 is surely one of today's boldest and most technically advanced new loudspeakers.

Q Acoustics 3050i

This innovative brand has been a powerful player in affordable speakers for a decade now, but the 3050i is arguably Q Acoustics' best value product yet. More than just another box, this neat two-way, reflex design sports bespoke new drive units, with careful decoupling of the tweeter by a rubber suspension system. The sizeable cabinet has been extensively braced to reduce resonances, and there's a clever internal ducting system to deliver a more linear bass. The result is a commanding sound with real scale and power—and it is delicate and detailed too. With a range of four attractive modern finishes, this is by far the best all round floorstander at the price.

Harman Kardon Citation 500

Enjoying music at home has rarely been as stylish or as smart. Harman Kardon revives the legendary Citation name for this luxurious wireless speaker, adorned with a unique textile wrap from Danish design icons Kvadrat. It's a pleasure to look at, but sounds pretty special too. The two-way speaker system with passive radiator creates the detailed, room-filling sound expected from Harman Kardon. The standout feature is the excellent integration of Google Assistant, allowing the Citation 500 to be controlled by voice commands. It also forms the heart of a smart home, employing the voice feature to control products compatible with Google Assistant or Chromecast.

Sennheiser HD 660 S

Seventy-three years young, Sennheiser has long dominated the hi-fi headphone market—and the new HD 660 S shows just why. This modern rework of a classic open-back design is fashioned with great care, using hand-selected transducers and sturdy detachable cables. The earpads and headband feature thick padding and the HD 660 S is very comfortable to wear for extended periods. Moreover, it is hard not to like its warm, laid-back and friendly sound which bests the performance of many 'phones at twice the price. It's a fine choice for home hi-fi enthusiasts, especially when treated to a high quality source.

Focal Clear

Clear by name, clear by nature. This headphone delivers a wonderfully open and translucent sound thanks to clever design and excellent build quality. It may appear relatively expensive, but Focal has gone all out for greatness and succeeded. Like the company's more affordable Elear and pricier Utopia models, the Clear's dynamic drive units have a specially shaped diaphragm with a roll surround, optimizing response while controlling any break-up modes. This makes for a crisp and insightful sound that's fatigue-free yet boasts a particularly firm and animated bass. Factor in the sumptuous leather-covered earpads and headband, and this new design delivers hours of musical fun in consummate comfort. (Stereophile review)

Micromega M-One M-150

The M-150 from Micromega's M-One series is surely this year's most intriguing new integrated amplifier. The slimline case comes in a wide range of colours, and is packed with handy features. Under the lid, a powerful DSP chip running custom code forms its beating heart while its "Micromega Acoustic Room System" provides correction/equalization for those who require it in less-than-ideal listening environments. Also inside is a robust 150W power amplifier cooled by a fan-assisted heat pipe system and aspirated by the company's novel resonant power supply (RPS). The M-150 also offers a wide range of digital and analogue inputs, streaming, a binaural headphone amp and an MM/MC phono stage. But whatever your source, this amp sounds clean, punchy and fun.


iFi Audio xDSD

With so many mobile audio products on the market, the pressure was on for iFi's Audio's new xDSD to sparkle—and so it does. This battery/USB-powered DAC/headphone amplifier turns your smartphone, laptop or portable player into a great-sounding music center. The secret of its success lies in its combination of super-light magnesium alloy casework, useful S/PDIF and USB-A inputs, PCM/DSD-compatible DAC and punchy analogue output stage—the latter being far more powerful than before. Switchable digital filtering lets you choose between the smoothest frequency balance and the fastest transients. So while iFi Audio's xDSD isn't cheap, it exudes quality and is perfect for indulging in music on the move.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Waiting for Stereophile to review some of this gear .......... Now that Stereophile has reviewed the HomePod, they could review the Harman Kardon smart speaker ....... Also, Stereophile could review Google HomeMax smart speaker(s) .......... I know Stereophile has reviewed the Focal Clear headphones ...........

hifiluver's picture

Would love to see a review of the Yamaha receiver.

funambulistic's picture

And the Elac Adantes too.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

It is possible Stereophile could do a review of Elacs ........... Stereophile did a review of one of the Elac models, some months back ............

John Atkinson's picture
Bogolu Haranath wrote:
It is possible Stereophile could do a review of Elacs...

Tom Norton's review of the ELAC Adante AF61 floorstander will appear in our November issue, provided the speakers arrive at my place in time for me to measure them. Otherwise the review will be in our December issue.

No plans to review receivers; we leave those products to our sister magazine Sound & Vision.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

Bogolu Haranath's picture

If I ask for a review of any receiver, all the Stereophile reviewers and many readers will do to me, what all those passengers did to Johnny Depp in the latest remake of Orient Express :-) .........

Herb Reichert's picture

I reviewed the $799 Outlaw Audio RR2160 RECEIVER; and it was a pleasure in all its ways. And now, the ifi iDSD is in the the house.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Is it xDSD? .......... xDSD is an EISA award winner ......... If it is, that would be great ........ You could also possibly compare it with Chord Hugo2 which is also an EISA award winner ........... Hugo2 probably puts out more power, so it can drive more different impedance headphones ........ If it is Pro iDSD, that would be great too ..........

audiodoctornj's picture

Wow it was so cool, to see some of the products we have loved since we added them on the floor, selected for such honors.

We have the all three Naim Uniti steamers, and the Micromega, the NAD M32, and the Elac Adantes, with the Dali's on order.

People have asked us why carry three lines of streaming amplifiers? The Eisa team, I think understood that each of these streaming products are all great sounding but, highly individual creations whose differences bring out totally different enjoyment and usage scenarios:

We love the Naim Uniti line for its incredible sound quality, and phenominal feature set: which include access to both Android as well as Apple direct streaming protocalls, AptX Bluetooth,Roon compatiable, built in V-tuner, Spotify, and Tidal. One of the greatest strengths Naim has is the Muso line of streaming speakers which are fantastic audiophile streaming speakers that the two worlds, high end audio and lifestyle friendly streaming/speakers can be unified under one app.

2: The Nad M32 has a criper sound then the Naim, the Naim is warmer and puncher, we have the NAD for those people that love the concept of an entire house unified by NAD's Blue Sound operating system for both music and theater applications.

3: The Micromega for the music lover who craves room correction and a fantastic feature set, including a
phono stage
and does't mind controlling the M32 through Roon or Jriver and loves the Micromega's warm, punchy and very musical delivery.

The Elac Adantes are very high performing speakers which when setup correctly have a dynamic swager and punchiness no $2,500.00 speaker should be able to do.

The Dali Calisto is quite simply one of the most advanced, and highest performing new lifestyle audio product to enter the market.

It is so good to see products which represent great sound, simplicity, and value are all so highly rated by the 2018 Eisa panel.

Congratulations to all of the superb companies whose products were daring enough to stand out from the crowd.

Dave Lalin,

Audio Doctor, NJ

Michael Fremer's picture

I attended this year's event in Antwerp, Belgium and heard many of these products there. The winners were very well-chosen!