Stereophile's Products of 2007

Well, ladies and gents, it's been a long year. As I write this, on an unusually humid and hazy October morning, I'm still feeling the lingering effects of my beloved Mets' sudden and tragic collapse from the top of the National League East. I sat there, at Flushing Meadows' Shea Stadium, covered in peanut shells and with tears in my hazel eyes as the scoreboard went cruelly blank and Coldplay's "The Scientist" wept over the stadium loudspeakers. It was brutal.

Here in the office, it hasn't been much better. Debunkers of all shapes, sizes, and levels of amazingness are, at this very moment, scaling the walls of 261 Madison Avenue, trying to get a piece of John Atkinson, while music editor Robert Baird is sweating like mad, struggling to decide how much to pay for Radiohead's new album. I'm not kidding. But what's gotten us through these and countless other nags and nuisances, remaining constant and comforting through all the haze and heat, is—as I'm sure you all know—our love for music.

Music: timeless and tireless and spirit-rousing. As JA likes to say, "It's good stuff, that music." Indeed, it is good stuff. We are here, then, to celebrate music and the audio components that bring that music home to us, to our hearts and souls, relieving us of our trivial worries and helping us through the truly tough times.

Since 1992—those glory days of Nirvana, John Gotti, and Madonna's Erotica (which forever changed my life)— Stereophile has annually named a few choice components as its "Products of the Year." In doing so, we happily recognize those wonderful products that are clearly capable of providing musical pleasure without boundary, far beyond our formal review period. We break down "Products of the Year" eight categories: "Loudspeakers" (including subwoofers), "Amplification Components" (preamplifiers, power amplifiers, etc.), "Digital Sources" (transports, processors, anything that plays a shiny silver disc), "Analog Sources" (phono cartridges, turntables, tonearms, FM tuners, etc.), "Multichannel Music Components" (ask Kal Rubinson), and "Accessories" (wires. wood blocks, magic rocks, demagnetizing briefcases, and anything else that might rouse the Randis of this world). Finally, the two most important categories are self-explanatory: Our overall "Product of the Year" is the best of the bunch, and our "Budget Product of the Year" leaves us with the most cash to spend on new records. To top it all off, JA gives us his own "Editor's Choice."

The voting is simple: Each of Stereophile's hardware reviewers is asked to nominate up to six components in each of the eight categories. To be a contender, a product must have been reviewed in Stereophile in one of the issues from November 2006 through October 2007, in a full Equipment Report, a Follow-Up review, or in one of the regular columns by Art Dudley, Michael Fremer, John Marks, Kalman Rubinson, and Sam Tellig. 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 listing 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. The magazine's 15 editors and reviewers (or contributing editors) 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). A consensus emerged and the winners became clear. JA tallied the votes; address your love letters and hate mail to him.

The prices listed were current as of the end of September 2007. To order back issues mentioned in this article, call (888) 237-0955, or visit (MasterCard and Visa only).

And, now, the winners: