Best Sound: Hands down, the Vandersteen 7/ARC system. Other honorable mentions include systems from: Nola /ARC, Avalon/VTL, Nordic Tone/Electrocompaniet, Eficion/Exemplar/Berning, Von Schweikert/Moscode, and Wilson-Benesch/deHavilland.
Greatest Bargain (s): A two-way tie: Salk’s Songtower QWT (quarter-wave transmission line) speaker ($1695-$2495/pair) and Focal’s 30th Anniversary 826W loudspeaker ($3494/pair): both play waaay above their pay grades.
Most Significant Product Introduction: Showing the way of the future, the Legend Tikandi loudspeaker features an all-digital DEQX crossover/DSP box providing preamp, crossover, driver correction, and room/speaker EQ/voicing control functions.
Greatest Technological Breakthrough: Naim’s radical BMR driver from the S-600 Ovator loudspeaker leverages NXT technology (?!?), offering speed, coherency and balanced dispersion from the lower midrange on up.
Best Demo Music: Based on listener interest in my copy of this disc—and on sheer “wow” factors, the award goes to Jen Chapin’s reVisions [Chesky, multichannel SACD].
Most Important Trend: Computer/server-based audio and the concomitant explosion of interest in outboard DACs. Almost everybody is getting in on this game and having a ball doing so.
For added entertainment value, be sure to check out the image gallery that accompanies this blog.