Well, it’s that time of year again – when we sit back with a glass of something mulled and mull over the year’s highs and lows. To say that it’s been an ‘interesting’ year would be something of an understatement and so perhaps it’s best to focus our attention firmly on the world of hi-fi, where most news tends to be good news and hence where 2016 can go down as a year of positive change and innovation.
The December issue of Hi-Fi Plus magazine does just that, highlighting the best products of 2016 and rewarding those that stand out among them in the magazine’s annual ‘Product of the Year’ Awards.
Cartridge of the Year: DS Audio DS-W1
Worthy winner of ‘Cartridge of the Year’ is DS Audio’s DS-W1, described as “undoubtedly the most exciting development in phono cartridge design since the invention of the moving coil”. The Japanese brand’s unique creation comprises an optical cartridge and matching equalizer. The former still features a traditional stylus and cantilever, but uses optical technology to read the record’s groove instead of coils and magnets. Reviewer Roy Gregory was bowled over. “Never have I heard a cartridge that can capture instrumental textures or vocal nuance, the skin of a drum and the air inside it, or the rasp of bow on strings as naturally and effortlessly as this.”
Power Cable of the Year: IsoTek EVO3 Initium
Meanwhile, IsoTek’s EVO3 Initium fended off a raft of competition to bag the award for ‘Power Cable of the Year’. It can be all too easy to get swamped by the cost of audiophile-grade cables in a hi-fi system, which is one of the reasons that this “lean, green, power machine” offers “such a refreshing change”. Technically impressive and ridiculously good value for money, it doesn’t disappoint on performance. “Steering clear of either dulling dynamics or accentuating the top end at the expense of low end frequency articulation, editor Alan Sircom felt Initium, ‘plays a longer game, with an absence of sonic signature and a good sense of dynamic freedom.” And if you’re one of those die-hard ‘cable doubters’, it also “shows up just how inconsistent give-away power cords can be.”
For details of UK stockists of both DS Audio and IsoTek, contact distributor Sound Fowndations.
And don’t forget to check out the full list of 2016 award-winners in the December issue of Hi-Fi Plus.