The 2003 Products of the Year

Since 1992, Stereophile has recognized components that have proved capable of giving musical pleasure beyond the formal review period by naming its "Products of the Year." These are the components that can be recommended without any ifs or buts, that will grace any system in which they used.

There are five individual categories: Loudspeakers (including subwoofers), Amplification Components (preamplifiers, power amplifiers, etc.), Digital Sources (CD players, transports, processors), Analog Sources (phono cartridges, turntables, tonearms, FM tuners, etc.), and Accessories (everything else).

The two most important categories, however, are the "Product of the Year" itself—the best of the best—and the "Budget Component of the Year"—the best sound for the buck. There's also an "Editor's Choice" award, for which John Atkinson usually singles out the product that has most impressed him in the preceding 12 months.

The formal voting procedure consists of two steps: First, each of Stereophile's hardware reviewers is asked to nominate up to six components in each of the seven categories. To be a contender, a product had to have been reviewed in Stereophile between the November 2002 and October 2003 issues, in a full Equipment Report, a Follow-Up review, or in one of the regular columns by Sam Tellig, Art Dudley, John Marks, or Michael Fremer. That way, only those components could be nominated for which a writer had put his opinion in print for public scrutiny. We then put together a ballot form that lists all components nominated by three or more writers and/or editors. This process ensures that most of the nominees in most of the categories will have been auditioned by most of the reviewers.

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Each of the magazine's editors and reviewers gave three votes for his first choice in each category, two votes for his second choice, and one vote for his third choice (if any). JA tallied the votes; address complaints and compliments to him.

And the winners are...