Stereophile's Products of 2014 Joint Loudspeakers of the Year

Joint Loudspeakers of the Year

Vivid Audio Giya G3 ($39,990/pair; reviewed by John Atkinson, April 2014, Vol.37 No.4 Review)

Wilson Audio Specialties Alexia ($48,500/pair; reviewed by John Atkinson, December 2013, Vol.36 No.12 Review)

This year's Loudspeaker of the Year finalists span a wide range of sizes, prices, and design technologies. Yet in 2014, as in 2013, the top honor is shared by two rather large, rather expensive, and decidedly high-tech entries: Vivid Audio's distinctive Giya G3, and the no less eye-catching Alexia from Wilson Audio Specialties.

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The Giya G3 is two steps down from Vivid's flagship Giya G1, and shares much of its big sister's secrets, including proprietary metal-diaphragm drivers and a molded, glass-fiber-plus-balsa enclosure, the shape of the latter calculated to eliminate diffractions and internal standing waves, and to load its higher-frequency drivers with a true transmission line. Apart from its performance in the low bass, where he found that "the Giya G3's signature was just too good to be true," JA admired the Vivid speaker's clarity, and an "easy-on-the-ear yet revealing balance that proved addictive."

Remarking on last year's joint winners, one of which was the Wilson Audio Specialties Alexandria XLF, Stephen Mejias wrote, "With any luck, the technologies employed in [these] flagship designs will soon find their ways into more affordable models." Prescience is a virtue: By removing from the Alexandria one tweeter, one midrange driver, a bit of woofer real estate, and 399 lbs—and, from its name, the letters andr—David Wilson came up with this year's joint award winner. (Well, perhaps it wasn't that simple.) JA, who is scheduled to next review a Wilson loudspeaker in 2024, noted his very positive take on Wilson's $200,000 flagship, yet observed, "I am actually more impressed by the Alexia, which, at one-fourth the [Alexandria] XLF's price, gets remarkably close to its bigger sibling in terms of musical satisfaction."

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Notes on the vote: This year as last, no subwoofers appear among the Loudspeakers of the Year—not even in the corners. Also this year, the proportion of US-made loudspeakers among the finalists—the DeVore Fidelity Orangutan O/93, the Joseph Audio Perspective, and the Wilson Alexia—holds steady at three out of nine.

Finalists (in alphabetical order)

DeVore Fidelity Orangutan O/93 ($8400/pair; reviewed by Sam Tellig, January 2014, Vol.37 No.1)
Dynaudio Excite X14 ($1500/pair; reviewed by Robert J. Reina, October 2014, Vol.37 No.10 Review)
GoldenEar Technology Aon 2 ($799.98/pair; reviewed by Robert J. Reina, November 2013, Vol.36 No.11 Review)
Joseph Audio Perspective ($12,999/pair; reviewed by John Atkinson, July 2014, Vol.37 No.7 Review)
Revel Performa3 F208 ($5000/pair; reviewed by Erick Lichte, July 2014, Vol.37 No.7 Review)
Revel Performa3 M106 ($2000/pair; reviewed by Robert J. Reina, September 2014, Vol.37 No.9 Review)
Sonus Faber Venere 2.5 ($2498/pair; reviewed by Kalman Rubinson, November 2013, Vol.36 No.11 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.

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