More highlights from US-based hi-fi magazine The Absolute Sound’s prestigious Editors’ Choice Awards for 2017, this time focusing on electronics.
From phonostages to power amps and DACs to disc players, Editor-in-Chief Robert Harley and his team of expert reviewers offer their top product recommendations from across the world of hi-fi.
California-based Aesthetix emerges triumphant, to the point that you’d need to look hard to find an Aesthetix product that doesn’t scoop an award! The Calypso and Calypso Signature linestages, Rhea and Rhea Signature phonostages, Janus & Janus Signature preamps, Atlas power amp and Romulus DAC/disc player are all featured.
The Rhea is hailed as “the Swiss Army Knife of phonostages,” while the Calypso “competes with the megabuck preamps”. The Atlas, “Aesthetix’s first foray into power amps is an unqualified success,” while the Romulus romps in with “another home run for Aesthetix.”
Fellow Californian brand Musical Surroundings does similarly well, with awards for its Phonomena II+, Nova II and Super-Nova 2 phonostages, as well as for the MyDac II.
At just $750, “For balance and value the Phonomena II is a stunner”. “The SuperNova 2 offers unprecedented cartridge-loading options that allow users to precisely dial in the optimum settings for a particular pickup,” and is also “an indispensible reviewing tool and my longstanding reference,” noted the reviewer. The MyDac II, meanwhile, “offers a unique solution to the problem of accurate digital sound reproduction by augmenting its performance through mid- and upper-frequency equalization. The result is a DAC that sounds ‘less digital’.”
Moving from American to European hi-fi brands, Danish Gamut’s D200i stereo power amp bags its third Absolute Sound Editors’ Choice Award in a row, having already been similarly honoured in 2016 and 2015. Offering the best of both worlds, “This 200W solid-state amplifier has much of the liquidity, three-dimensionality, and image density of tubes as well as the expected virtues of solid-state: tonal consistency, frequency extension, and bass control.”
Meanwhile, British brand Exposure’s multi-award winning 3010S2D integrated amplifier adds yet another ‘trophy’ to its shelf. “Don’t let the simple façade of the Exposure 3010S2D integrated amp fool you… sonically it’s a real standout,” notes the review. “Featuring a superb combination of poise, densely textured midband timbre, and dynamically authoritative overall energy, the 3010S2D offers a compelling musical foundation; plus, its low noise floor reveals the ambient riches that live between musical passages.”
Last but by no means least, German Clearaudio’s Basic Plus phonostage “is everything a modestly priced phonostage should be. It’s compact yet elegantly finished. It’s switchable between mm and mc cartridges. A robust outboard power supply is included, and yields superb isolation from hum and RFI. Most significantly, the unit delivers a spacious and delightfully resolved soundstage with heart-stopping bass resolution.”
For full details of The Absolute Sound’s 2017 Editors’ Choice Awards, grab a copy of the March issue.
To audition any of the award-winning products above, find your nearest dealer at:
Sound Fowndations for Gamut, Musical Surroundings and Clearaudio