Stereophile's Products of 2014 Accessory of the Year

Accessory of the Year

Audeze LCD-X headphones ($1699; reviewed by John Atkinson, March 2014, Vol.37 No.3 Review)

Once we've dispensed with source components, amplification components, and loudspeakers, virtually anything else that gets put into—or under, or onto—our music systems can qualify as an accessory. Thus, one supposes that a few readers will be let down that the voting for our 2014 Accessory of the Year reflected a conservative turn of mind, with nary a quantum-field generator, plastic demagnetizer, or capacitor ointment in sight. Indeed, fully three of our seven finalists are headphones—and one of these models, the Audeze LCD-X, has earned top honors. Small wonder: The Audeze 'phones, with their planar-magnetic drivers, patented Fazor sound-guide elements, luxurious lambskin earpads, and—best of all—their abundantly detailed yet nonfatiguing sound, did nothing less than seduce (his word!) JA away from his previous favorite at-home headphones.

1214poty.audeze.jpg

Notes on the vote: Of all contests in all categories, this was the least close: The Audeze headphones received almost three times as many votes as the second-place product. Then again, it's pretty significant that that second-place winner is an update of a product that has been in production for 45 years: the Keith Monks DiscOvery One record-cleaning machine.

Finalists: (in alphabetical order)

Audience Au24 SE interconnect ($1190/1m pair; reviewed by Brian Damkroger, December 2013, Vol.36 No.12 Review)
Cardas Audio Clear Balanced Interconnect ($2140/1m pair; reviewed by John Marks, December 2013, Vol.36 No.12 Review)
Keith Monks DiscOvery One record-cleaning machine ($2495; reviewed by Art Dudley, April 2014, Vol.37 No.4 Review)
PSB Speakers M4U 2 headphones ($399; reviewed by Stephen Mejias, December 2013, Vol.36 No.12 Review)
Sennheiser Momentum over-ear headphones ($349.99; reviewed by Stephen Mejias, December 2013, Vol.36 No.12 Review)
Shunyata Research Venom AC Power System ($195–$695; reviewed by John Marks, December 2013, Vol.36 No.12 Review)

COMMENTS
AllanMarcus's picture

What's a Yearp?

John Atkinson's picture
AllanMarcus wrote:
What's a Yearp?

A typo, now fixed. :-)

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

corrective_unconscious's picture

It was one of Oxford's new words for 2012, if you recall.

tvandewalle's picture

And what about The Brinkmann Bardo that you also reviewed?
Maybe you should do a follow up with the 12" tonearm and the EMT Ti element?

lo fi's picture

What about the 2014 Editor's Choice? Has John Atkinson actually heard this speaker? I know that he hasn't measured it. I understand that the editor's choice category has been expanded to give every Stereophile contributor the opportunity to nominate an audio component that particularly impressed, but that seems to defeat the purpose of having an editor's choice. I hasten to add that I have heard the SCM19 and regard it highly. However, it is not an efficient stand-mounted speaker and requires a powerful amplifier for optimum performance - a drawback of the sealed enclosure design presumably (Ben Lilly of ATC recommended an amplifier rated at 150W plus). That notable caveat is missing from the "Editors' Choice" blurb.

John Atkinson's picture
lo fi wrote:
What about the 2014 Editor's Choice? Has John Atkinson actually heard this speaker? I know that he hasn't measured it.

No, I haven't heard this ATC.

lo fi wrote:
I understand that the editor's choice category has been expanded to give every Stereophile contributor the opportunity to nominate an audio component that particularly impressed, but that seems to defeat the purpose of having an editor's choice.

I thought it appropriate to expand the category, to give each the reviewer the opportunity to nominate their personal favorite of the past year. I don't think that was unclear.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

lo fi's picture

I find it odd how a component that has not been auditioned by the editor of Stereophile can qualify as an editor's (or editors') choice.

I didn't find the explanation for expanding the category unclear, but I think that the title has become misleading as a consequence. Changing the title to reviewers or contributors favourites would more accurately reflect just who is making the choices don't you think?

John Atkinson's picture
lo fi wrote:
I find it odd how a component that has not been auditioned by the editor of Stereophile can qualify as an editor's (or editors') choice.

It is usual in publishing in the US to refer to regular contributors to a magazine as "editors," with the person who edits the magazine (me in the case of Stereophile) called the "editor-in-chief." Hence each product listed in this year's "Editor's Choice" is indeed the choice of an editor.

If you wish, you can think of this feature as being called "Editors' Choices." But I am okay with the existing title.

John Atkinson
Editor (In Chief), Stereophile

lo fi's picture

That's interesting. An editor and a contributor are distinctly different roles in publishing - hence the titles. I'm familiar with the structure of an editor-in-chief, editorial staff and writing staff.

So you are saying that at Stereophile there is effectively no practical distinction between an editor and a contributor and this is common practice in US publishing. Then why make the distinction at all and why formalise it by naming a category after it?

Given that Stereophile's Editors' Choices of 2014 are actually those of the contributors, I think a change of title to reflect this actuality would be appropriate and more meaningful.

X