Stereophile's Products of 1998 1998 Product of the Year

1998 Product of the Year

Conrad-Johnson ART preamplifier

Finalists (in alphabetical order):
Audio Artistry Beethoven loudspeaker
Cary Audio Design CAD-805C monoblock power amplifier
JMlab Utopia loudspeaker
Krell FPB 250M monoblock power amplifier
Mark Levinson No.33H monoblock power amplifier
Meridian 508.24 CD player
Revel Ultima Gem loudspeaker
Sonic Frontiers Processor 3/Transport 3
Thiel CS6 loudspeaker
VTL MB-1250 monoblock power amplifier
Z-Systems RDP-1 digital preamplifier/equalizer

Conrad-Johnson's ART preamplifier just may prove to be an enduring classic. In a year that saw many benchmark products, the ART stood out from the pack, impressing our crew with its ambition and its meltingly sweet, natural sound. It couples extraordinary retrieval of low-level information with an ability to capture the big musical picture. Fifty years after the introduction of the transistor, C-J has shown that there are still novel approaches to tube design, while making a most compelling argument for continuing the tube legacy into the next century. We congratulate them on delivering our Product of the Year—possibly even one for the ages.

Anton's picture

He was the audio-review pioneer of commentary via paragraph title.

Some classics....

"Wire we talking about this?"

"Beating against the bars of the cage of form"

"Mr. Polk, are you trying to seduce me?"

A killer title for a conclusion paragraph..."A panegyric untainted by poppy"

Dang, I miss Wes.

John Atkinson's picture
John Atkinson wrote:
Z-System's RDP-1 is my 1998 Editor's Choice. With its transparent control of tone, it points to a future in which audiophiles can eat their cake and have it too.

I bought the review sample of the RDP-1 and subsequently had it updated to handle data sampled at 88.2kHz and 96kHz. It's still in the rack but with my playback of digital audio now happening over the network with Roon and my PS Audio DirectStream DAC, it only very occasionally sees action.

John Atkinson
Technical Editor, Stereophile

Kal Rubinson's picture

The RDP-1 is the product that convinced me of the value and efficacy of DSP.

Robin Landseadel's picture

"Designing great-sounding gear is no simple matter no matter how much you spend, but it's doubly impressive when the product is available at a bargain price."

Guess that one went out the window.