Recommended Components 2024 Edition

Every product listed here has been reviewed in Stereophile. Everything on the list, regardless of rating, is genuinely recommendable.

Within each category, products are listed by class; within each class, they're in alphabetical order, followed by their price, a review synopsis, and a note indicating the issues in which the review, and any subsequent follow-up reports, appeared. "Vol.46 No.7" indicates our July 2023 issue, for example. "WWW" means the review is also posted online.

Stereophile's Recommended Components list is concerned mainly with products available in the US through hi-fi retail outlets. Companies that sell only through dealers must have well-established dealer networks. Products sold online also qualify, but companies that sell only online must demonstrate the capacity for satisfactory customer support, preferably here in the US. A no-risk at-home audition is strongly preferred whether it's provided by an online or bricks'n'mortar dealer. Occasionally, we'll list a product of exceptional value when a restocking fee is required for returns.

We recommend you read our Recommended Components synopses to decide which reviews to read, then read each product's review carefully before seriously contemplating a purchase, as many salient characteristics, peculiarities, and caveats described in reviews cannot be covered in a circa 200-word synopsis.

Almost all reviews of current products are available online at The editors regret that we cannot supply copies of individual reviews.

The Nuts and Bolts
If you've read this far, please keep reading. Most of the questions we receive and see posted online are answered in this short essay. Reading it all the way through shouldn't take more than a couple of minutes.

This listing was compiled after consultation with Stereophile's reviewing staff and editors—including, notably, Technical Editor John Atkinson. Our ratings take into account what we heard during the review period but also our continued experience with the product (if we've had any) since the review was published. Post-review experiences may cause a product to be downgraded or removed—or upgraded.

Class ratings are based on performance, including performance in the listening room and on the test bench. Products are downrated when, and to the extent that, their deficiencies interfere with the full realization of the musical performance and the pleasure of the listener (although obvious limitations, such as limited bass extension in a minimonitor, are understood and so not viewed as defects).

Measurements matter, but we do not expect every component to aspire to the best measurements possible; to do so would incentivize conformity, boredom, and metric-gaming, all of which we oppose. We do not expect our measurements of a traditional tube amplifier, for example, to closely resemble those of a perfectionist solid state design. In any case, the reviewer's experience with real music is the most important factor in assigning ratings.

Class ratings are based on performance, but different reviewers value different aspects of performance, so it's best not to expect thematic or methodological consistency. You'll find high-tech amplifiers with vanishingly low noise and distortion listed alongside old-school tube amps; what they share is a demonstrated ability to provoke musical bliss in their respective reviewers. Recommendations, then, are most useful to those who share, or at least are aware of, reviewers' tastes and proclivities and the reviewing context.

The best use of this list, and of the reviews from which it is derived, is to help you decide what to audition. In today's market, with fewer dealers (especially for high-end gear), you may need to travel to hear a component; that makes a resource like this more valuable than ever.

Never turn down an opportunity to audition a component, especially in your own system, because even the highest-quality component will not work optimally in every system and room. This is especially true of loudspeakers, but it's true of other components, too.

The prices indicated were current when the listing was compiled (January 2024). Some prices may now be higher, others lower.

There is a near-universal consensus that at some point in the upward climb of product prices, diminishing returns set in: Doubling the price may get you only a 10%—or 5%—improvement. Where we have found a product to perform much better than might be expected at its price, we have drawn attention to it with $$$ next to its listing. Otherwise, class ratings do not explicitly take price into account.

We believe that value in hi-fi is precisely that: a value. It's personal. We can't make that decision for you. Still, it's fair to assume that every reviewer implicitly factors value into their opinions about the products they review.

Products discontinued by their manufacturer are removed from the list, as are those that have been revised in ways that could affect sonic performance. Such revisions often lead to a follow-up review, but not always. When a product is removed from the list, we endeavor to report why it was removed. Look for a Deletions listing at the end of each category.

Many products are deleted from the list while they're still in production. That does not mean we've suddenly decided they're unworthy or that they suddenly started sounding worse. Most products remain listed for little more than three years, for two reasons. First, there's only so much space in the magazine. The second, it's impossible to compare a component to others when your memory of it is dim.

Products part of a reviewer's "kit" may be kept on the list because they have been heard recently, but a product may remain on the list simply at the editor's discretion. On this list, I've retained loudspeakers in Class A (Full-Range) simply because, as they lack the usual blurbs, those entries take up little space.

Reviewers are identified by initials: John Atkinson (JA), Jim Austin (JCA), Rogier van Bakel (RvB), Martin Colloms (MC), Brian Damkroger (BD), Jason Davis (JD), Robert Deutsch (RD), Art Dudley (AD), Tom Fine (TF), Michael Fremer (MF), Tom Gibbs (TG), Larry Greenhill (LG), Alex Halberstadt (AH), Jon Iverson (JI), Fred Kaplan (FK), Michael Lavorgna (ML), John Marks (JM), Sasha Matson (SM), Ken Micallef (KM), Julie Mullins (JMu), Thomas J. Norton (TJN), Herb Reichert (HR), Kalman Rubinson (KR), Rob Schryer (RS), Jason Victor Serinus (JVS), and Michael Trei (MT).—Jim Austin

How To Use The Listing

The classes each cover a wide range of performance. Carefully read our descriptions here, the original reviews, and (heaven forbid) reviews in other magazines to put together a short list of components to choose from. Evaluate your room, your source material and front-end(s), your speakers, and your tastes. With luck, you may come up with a selection to audition at your favorite dealer(s). "Recommended Components" will not tell you what to buy any more than Consumer Reports would presume to tell you whom to marry!

Class A Best attainable sound for a component of its kind, almost without practical considerations; the least musical compromise. A Class A system is one for which you don't have to make a leap of faith to believe that you're hearing the real thing. When hi-rez became available, we introduced a new Class, A+, for the best performance in those digital categories. Class A now represents the best that can be obtained from 16/44.1 resolution. We also created Class A+ categories for turntables and phono preamps, originally to recognize the achievements of the Continuum Caliburn and Boulder 2008, respectively. More recently, we created Class A+ for headphones.

Class B The next best thing to the very best sound reproduction; Class B components generally cost less than those in Class A, but most Class B components are still quite expensive.

Class C Somewhat lower-fi sound, but far more musically natural than average home-component high fidelity; products in this class are of high quality but still affordable.

Class D Satisfying musical sound, but these components are either of significantly lower fidelity than the best available, or exhibit major compromises in performance—limited dynamic range, for example. Bear in mind that appearance in Class D still means that we recommend this product—it's possible to put together a musically satisfying system exclusively from Class D components.

Auditor's picture

The links to the various types of products seem to be missing.

Auditor's picture

They're there now!

Dorsia777's picture

Rotel & Michi nabbed some Class A recommendations. Nice!

Rick57's picture

Can you remind me what it means when there is a star next to the name of a recommended component?

John Atkinson's picture
Rick57 wrote:
Can you remind me what it means when there is a star next to the name of a recommended component?

The star signifies that the product has been recommended for more than 3 years, due primarily to continued experience by one of the review team.

John Atkinson
Technical Editor, Stereophile