Stereophile's Products of 2017 Accessory of the Year

Accessory of the Year

Roon 1.3 music app ($119, one-year subscription; $499, lifetime); reviewed by Kalman Rubinson, July & September 2017, Vol.40 Nos. 7 & 9 review)

Although some of this year's wins surprised me a little, and at least one shocked me all the way into the next county, I don't mind telling you: I totally saw this coming. The cloud-based Roon music app, created by some of the folks who were behind Sooloos, has few peers when it comes to organizing the user's digital-music collection, and it enriches the listening experience by streaming metadata—liner notes, bios, lyrics, photos, and more—that's continuously updated. Best of all, it sounds great—and, with the advent of Roon 1.3, it supports MQA.

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Notes on the Vote: Roon 1.3 received more first-place votes than were received by any other nominee in any category in this year's Product of the Year contest—nothing else came close. That said, the second-place winner—the recently introduced Pro version of the Audiodesksysteme Gläss Vinyl Cleaner—is notable for being a true niche product, albeit a popular one. Third-place honors go to AudioQuest's Niagara 1000 AC power conditioner, or Low-Z Power/Noise-Dissipation System as AudioQuest prefers to call it, which received votes from no fewer than six Stereophile editors.

Finalists (in alphabetical order)

Audiodesksysteme Gläss Pro Vinyl Cleaner ($4199; reviewed by Art Dudley, April 2017, Vol.40 No.4 review)
AudioQuest Niagara 1000 AC power conditioner ($995.95; reviewed by Herb Reichert & Kalman Rubinson, April & September 2017, Vol.40 Nos. 4 & 9 review)
AudioQuest Niagara 5000 AC power conditioner ($3995.95; reviewed by Kalman Rubinson, September 2017, Vol.40 No.9 review)
JRiver Media Center ($69.98; reviewed by Kalman Rubinson, May 2017, Vol.40 No.5 review)
Shunyata Research Hydra Denali D2000/T & D6000T power conditioners ($3495 & $4995; reviewed by Michael Fremer, June 2017, Vol.40 No.6)
Torus Power TOT AVR power conditioner ($2299; reviewed by Larry Greenhill, March 2017, Vol.40 No.3 review)

COMMENTS
stereoGoodness's picture

I'm not sure I understand the following:

"One can parse this in any number of ways, but to me, all those second-place votes speak of voters who may have lacked full confidence in the Kii's ability to take top honors, but who nevertheless said to themselves, while pulling the lever, 'Maybe this one isn't as crazy as we think?' Can't think what that reminds me of . . ."

Can someone less obtuse than I please enlighten me?

dalethorn's picture

The price isn't out of line for PotY, but given the relatively low price plus the fact that it's self-amplified *and* it's DSP-controlled is extremely unusual. After all, you're accepting not only its amplifiers and preamps, but whatever the DSP codec does to the sound.

Kal Rubinson's picture

They are, of course, inseparable and that should make one's assessment less complex, not more.

Glotz's picture

Would the unit be considered as an extension of the original DAC1 and its variants?

The Kii system does seem very next gen, and I agree, it reduces a set of system variables by the integration of its technologies. If I had the dosh...

John Atkinson's picture
Eligible products for the 2017 Awards had to be reviewed between November 2016 and October 2017. The Benchmark DAC3 is reviewed in the November 2017 issue so will be a contender for the 2018 awards.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

Shangri-La's picture

Did the GoldenEar Reference speakers not make the cut to compete in this year's competition, or it was included but just not good enough to win/be nominated for anything?

John Atkinson's picture
Shangri-La wrote:
Did the GoldenEar Reference speakers not make the cut to compete in this year's competition?

As it says in the introduction, eligible products had to be reviewed between November 2016 and October 2017. The GoldenEar Triton Reference speaker is reviewed in the January 2018 issue.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

Bodhisattva's picture

How the Magico S5 Mk2 speakers are sitting in a lonely group of finalists which include Wharfedale, Monitor Audio and that abomination from Bang and Olufsen is completely beyond me. Sure, the $12k 0/96's sound musical, but better than the S5 Mk2's? Maybe if you're an SET guy and aren't particularly fussed about things like speed, accuracy or transparency.

scottsol's picture

The Ayre does not have “an abundance of analog and digital inputs”. Only digital inputs are available. The unit is now also available at a lower price by excluding the USB and/or Ethernet inputs.

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