“Now, more than ever, is a time to celebrate all that brings us joy,” says Hi-Fi News editor Paul Miller in his introduction to the magazine’s annual Yearbook. This may have been the global annus horribilis of them all, but still, there has been “hardware to inspire our senses and music to sustain our souls”.
Hi-Fi News honours the year’s jewels of high-end audio in its bumper-sized 188-page Yearbook 2020. Writes Miller, “I can promise this year’s annual is a festival of the most awe-inspiring vinyl-playing hardware, amplifiers, loudspeakers and increasingly versatile digital gear launched across the globe. It’s also an occasion to pause and reflect on the technologies and innovations that continue to drive the evolution of our shared passion.” Some highlights include –
Audio Analogue Bellini & Donizetti pre/power amplifiers
“The first thing that’s likely to strike you is the remarkable midband lucidity, and the expansiveness of the soundstage.” “The sheer level of clarity and purity in the treble region is first-class too, enabling you to hear the tinkle of a pin drop in even the busiest of mixes.” Meanwhile Underworld’s ‘Jumbo’ showed these amps “at their bass-pumping best… the four-to-the-floor beat kicked in and pummelled our listening sofa.”
Dan Clark Audio Aeon 2 headphone
“Among the plethora of headphones with round, rectangular or elliptical capsules, the Aeon 2s are rare in having capsules that are ear-shaped. Well done Dan Clark for seeing the obvious… this is a very comfortable headphone to wear. Finish is to a high standard and the Aeon 2’s spacious and insightful sound brings rewards.”
Exposure Electronics XM CD & XM5 integrated amplifier
“This CD player/amp duo has a charming sound that’s both articulate and engaging. And despite the pairing’s diminutive dimensions there’s no sense of this combination ever playing second fiddle to any full-sized separates system at a similar price.”
Scansonic MB5 B loudspeaker
“Slide these slimline floorstanders into just the right spot and their profile diminishes entirely, leaving a wonderfully unfettered and captivating musical performance… you’ll be hooked listening for hours.”
Read the full reviews and discover the complete listing of 2020’s “jewels of high-end audio” in the Hi-Fi News Yearbook 2020, out now.