Products of the Year

Sort By: Post DateTitle Publish Date
Jim Austin  |  Nov 18, 2022  |  24 comments
What does it mean to be Stereophile's Product of the Year? It's an honor, certainly, and probably helps the winner sell more products, but is there anything more we can say about it?

The PotY competition is the culmination of a whole year of the magazine's work, starting with the choice of products to review. Only products we review or consider carefully in a column qualify for the competition, and every product we review is eligible for the competition: We only review products we think will have a decent shot at being among the best.

Jim Austin  |  Nov 19, 2021  |  52 comments
Here's another Stereophile milestone, our second one this year. In August, we celebrated the magazine's 500th issue. This month, we celebrate a number that's smaller but almost as round: our 30th Annual Product of the Year Awards.
Jim Austin  |  Nov 20, 2020  |  21 comments
This is Stereophile's 29th Product of the Year issue; the first appeared in 1992. That was the year I finished grad school. It seems like a long time ago.

That year, the Loudspeaker of the Year was the $14,000/pair Sonus Faber Extrema. The winning digital source was the legendary Mark Levinson No.30 DAC—also approximately $14,000. JA later bought one, upgraded to 30.5, then to 30.6 status. He still has it.

Art Dudley  |  Nov 15, 2019  |  39 comments
The first vote I ever cast was in 1964, when I was 10 years old. Our fifth-grade teacher, a psychotic harpy who fined students 25 cents if they dropped a pencil, directed us to elect a Class President and a Class Treasurer: positions of indeterminate powers, although it was generally understood that they did not include the ability to wage war or annex adjoining classrooms.

And the winners are . . .

Art Dudley  |  Nov 21, 2018  |  47 comments
Since fake news is on everyone's minds these days—I would say it's been in the news a lot, but that kind of reasoning is too circular even for me—it's worth keeping in mind that there's also such a thing as fake praise. You see it every day, whether it's a fake Google review—an alarming number of businesses seem unaware that real people don't actually say things like "the team at New Hartford Chevrolet really listened to all of my needs"—or fake trophies handed out to all 20 co-captains of your child's soccer team.

Then there are fake awards.

Art Dudley  |  Nov 16, 2017  |  9 comments
The mice in the walls call summer to close while nets come down and leaves turn dead red, but by the time you see this there'll be holiday music in the air . . . and some generous soul might, just might, sneak a few looks through this issue of Stereophile to see what gifts to buy before the tree goes up and presents are opened—and all will be nice!

And what better way to serve those possible givers of audio gifts—and, at the same time, honor our hobby's most deserving designers and manufacturers—than with our annual Product of the Year awards?

Art Dudley  |  Nov 23, 2016  |  16 comments
Was there ever a more stressful election season?

I wished for more choices: choices with less money behind them, choices I wasn't merely expected to make, alternative choices that stood a chance of winning.

I wished for a better sense of the world around me: Why hadn't I strayed outside my comfort zone a little more often? Why hadn't I tried harder to listen as others do?

Most of all, and simplest of all, I wished for more time: Damn it all, I'm too busy! Why can't I have another month to make up my mind?

But no. John Atkinson was insistent: "Please don't abstain," he wrote in an e-mail under the subject heading "2016 Product of the Year Final Ballot." "The fairness of the . . . system depends on everyone voting." I rolled up my sleeves and got busy.

Art Dudley  |  Nov 19, 2015  |  37 comments
Timing distortions are the lifeblood of magazine publishing—a field of endeavor where cheers cheered in September can sound wistful by raw November, when readers read them. Then again, by the time you see this, an asteroid strike or an itchy finger on a nuclear trigger may have blown us all back to the age of bronze—oxygen-free, one hopes—in which case this edition of Stereophile's Products of the Year celebration will seem all the more nostalgic.

But this is no mere nostalgia: Only once every 12 months do we set aside our complaints, our contentions, our niggling criticisms, and simply declare: Here are seven products that kicked righteous wads of ass and made it worthwhile to be an audiophile this year. And precisely half of our top-place winners are priced within reach of the average consumer.

Art Dudley  |  Dec 16, 2014  |  6 comments
No one spells it out anymore: Ours is a culture of BTW, TIA, AFAIK, and other letter-lumps, some of which have taken on meanings beyond their original intent. (Only recently did I discover that LOL stands for "I'm certain you find my attempts at humor as riotously funny as I do.") I am scarcely young enough to adapt.

Our interoffice communications are no different. Once a year I am jarred to find in my inbox a message from John Atkinson with the curious subject line "POTY." I am scarcely old enough to be perturbed: Every 12 months, I have to be re-reminded that POTY stands for Product of the Year.

Stephen Mejias  |  Dec 03, 2013  |  6 comments
It's time to celebrate another memorable year in high-end audio. Each December since 1992, Stereophile has named a few special components its Products of the Year. These are components that not only define the present audio landscape, but that we hope will someday be seen as classics—things you'll want to pass on to future generations of audiophiles and music lovers.

And the winners are . . .

Stephen Mejias  |  Nov 27, 2012  |  51 comments
It's been a long year. Now it's time to party.

Each December since 1992, Stereophile has named a few special components its "Products of the Year." These are products that not only define the present audio landscape, but that we hope will someday be seen as classics—products you'll want to pass on to future generations of audiophiles and music lovers.

Stephen Mejias  |  Dec 01, 2011  |  3 comments
What makes one particular hi-fi component stand apart from all others in its class? In this issue's "The Entry Level," I state that an outstanding hi-fi component will fuel the listener's desire to explore new music. If a component does not achieve that fundamental goal, it has failed altogether and should be passionately heaved from the nearest listening-room window to hit the unforgiving asphalt with a definitive, satisfying boom (or traded on one of the online auction sites). But that rule is most pertinent when the discovery of new music is the listener's only goal. Most of us want our hi-fi components to also be attractive, well-built, versatile, and user-friendly; we want them to represent good value for our hard-earned money; and we would appreciate it if they stuck around for a while, rather than have to be too soon replaced by something new and "better."
Stephen Mejias  |  Dec 06, 2010  |  0 comments
Since 1992, Stereophile has named a few choice components as its "Products of the Year." In doing so, we happily recognize those products that are capable of providing musical pleasure far beyond our formal review period. If one of our reviewers raved in Stereophile about a component, that component is mentioned here. These are products that not only define the current audio landscape, but that we hope will someday be seen as classics—products to be handed down to future generations of audiophiles and music lovers.
Stephen Mejias  |  Nov 30, 2009  |  First Published: Dec 06, 2009  |  0 comments
I was sitting in the main listening room of In Living Stereo, a small Manhattan hi-fi shop nestled between Greenwich Village and the East Village, when my conversation with store owner Steve Mishoe turned to the economy's current dismal state. In the face of slow sales, Mishoe had noted an encouraging trend: Because we have less money to spend, we want to make sure that what money we do spend goes for products that not only deliver the thrill of something new, but also promise enduring quality. If this is true, then we have reason to celebrate. By shifting our focus from the so-called "latest and greatest" to that which will provide lasting enjoyment, we set ourselves up for some real happiness and fun. Editor John Atkinson had this in mind 17 years ago, when he began our "Products of the Year" ritual. He felt it important to distinguish the truly good products from all the flashy pretenders that too often win the affections of our capricious hearts.
Stephen Mejias  |  Dec 09, 2008  |  0 comments
Times are hard. Our current economic landscape bears more than a passing resemblance to that darkest of American nightmares, the Great Depression. As I write this, the House of Representatives is set to vote on a $700 billion bailout plan to buy distressed mortgages and thereby offer a crutch to our ailing financial system. Times are hard, yet we persevere. Though we may lack some discretionary income, we find ways to maintain the essentials: food, clothing, shelter, and, for audiophiles, music. So for a short while at least, let's put aside our struggles and lighten up. After all, this great hobby of ours is meant to be fun, and is supposed to cure any depression. Let's celebrate music, and those wonderful audio components that bring us closest to it.