Stereophile's Products of 2010

Since 1992, Stereophile has named a few choice components as its "Products of the Year." In doing so, we happily recognize those products that are capable of providing musical pleasure far beyond our formal review period. If one of our reviewers raved in Stereophile about a component, that component is mentioned here. These are products that not only define the current audio landscape, but that we hope will someday be seen as classics—products to be handed down to future generations of audiophiles and music lovers.

Traditionally, we have awarded components in five primary categories: "Loudspeakers" (including subwoofers), "Amplification Components" (preamplifiers, power amplifiers, and integrateds), "Digital Sources" (transports, processors, music servers, disc players), "Analog Sources" (phono cartridges, turntables, tonearms, FM tuners, etc.), and "Accessories" (all those little extras that keep us busy and satisfied). This year, we add two new categories: "Computer Audio Components" and "Headphone Components." The vast worlds of computer audio and headphone listening are proving so exciting and alive that we felt they deserved the attention. Finally, the two most important categories are self-explanatory: Our overall "Product of the Year" is the one that made the biggest splash of all, and our "Budget Component of the Year" leaves us with the most cash to spend on new records.

The voting is simple: Each of Stereophile's hardware reviewers is asked to nominate up to six components in each of the nine categories. To be a contender, a product had to have been reviewed in one of the 12 issues of Stereophile from November 2009 through October 2010, in a full Equipment Report, in 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 put together a ballot form listing all components nominated by three or more writers and/or editors. This process ensures that most of the nominees in most of the categories will have been auditioned by most of the reviewers. Fourteen of the magazine's editors and reviewers 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). As the votes came in, an unambiguous picture emerged and the winners became clear. JA tallied the votes; address your love letters and hate mail to him. (You can find JA's comments on how the voting process works here.)

The prices listed were current as of the end of September 2010. To order back issues cited in this article, call (888) 237-0955, or visit (MasterCard and Visa only).

And the winners are . . .