The Absolute Sound’s Product
of the Year Awards are the US-based magazine’s the most exclusive and prestigious honours, paying tribute to the very best components of the previous year. The award-winners are an elite bunch, since only one or two products are selected each year in just a handful of product categories.
Overall Product of the Year: the “nearly peerlessly realistic” Magnepan 30.7
Starting at the very top, the award for Overall Product of the Year honours the product that stands above all others as the most impressive achievement of the past 12 months. In 2017, two loudspeakers shared the honour jointly. One is Minnesota-based Magnepan’s new flagship 30.7. The 30.7 is the first multi-panel ‘Maggie’ (two panels per side – one housing the quasi-ribbon midrange and ribbon tweeter, the other the quasi-ribbon upper bass and lower bass drivers) since the company’s iconic Tympani models, first heard back in the1970s. “You will be stunned and amazed by what this big Magnepan is capable of,” writes executive editor Jonathan Valin. “This is, quite simply, the most top-to-bottom coherent, highest-resolution, most astonishingly lifelike planar loudspeaker I’ve ever heard (from Maggie or anyone else). On acoustic music of any kind, it is very nearly peerlessly realistic (especially through the midband), making almost everything else I’m familiar with – and I think I’ve heard most of the contenders – sound a little less jaw-droppingly ‘there’.”
Technology Breakthrough of the Year: DS Audio DS 002
Japan-based DS Audio launched the world’s only optical phono cartridge in 2013 and has since continued to develop and refine this revolutionary technology. The DS 002 is widely considered to be the company’s greatest stroke of genius thus far, since it draws on the flagship Master 1 model yet has been crafted as an entry-level design, offering a more affordable way in to optical cartridge technology.
“The DS 002 is a genuine breakthrough – far and away the best optical transducer I’ve ever heard,” write reviewers. “By using a feather-weight mirror and photosensitive cell (instead of relatively massive coils or magnets leveraged at the end of a fulcrum) to generate an electrical signal, the DS 002 achieves a visceral directness of presentation that offers a more complete and realistic view of the music and the musicians than you’ve heard from any previous optical cartridge or player.”
Phono Cartridge of the Year: van den Hul Crimson XGW Stradivarius
Two phono cartridges share the 2017 award, one of which is by renowned Dutch cartridge and cable designer A.J. van den Hul. His Crimson Stradivarius MC model features a body handmade of Hawaiian koa wood, triple-coated with a special Stradivarius-type lacquer, along with 24-karat gold coils, solid boron cantilever and a VDH Type 1s (2 x 85-micron) stylus.
Reviewer Andre Jennings found the Crimson XGW Stradivarius to deliver extraordinary bang for its buck. “While not carrying a five-figure price tag, the Crimson isn’t embarrassed in the company of competition at two (or three) times its asking price in soundstaging, energy, dynamic pacing and drive – making it a relative bargain in the ultra-high-end cartridge sweepstakes, and one of TAS’ most distinguished 2017 Product of the Year Award winners.”
Discover full details of The Absolute Sound’s Product of the Year Awards and read the complete reviews in the magazine’s January 2018 issue or online at www.theabsolutesound.com