Welcome to our BEST VALUE Products 2011
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We recently published our BEST PRODUCTS of the year in which overall performance was the top criteria
while price was still a strong consideration. Price is always a consideration at Stereomojo.
However, our BEST VALUE awards give price more weight. In high-end stereo, the rule of diminishing returns
plays a big part. For example, in general one can get a big performance increase by upgrading from a $500/pr speaker
to a $1,000 per pair model. The cost is only $500. But, if you own a $10,000 pair of speakers, you would probably
have to spend an additional $5,000 to $10,000 to get a significant performance increase. The further you go up the
scale, the less performance is achieved per buck.
Like life in general, there are always overachievers. Each year, products appear whose performance belies their cost.
Those, dear reader, are the products we seek out the most.
We have divided these awards into two categories:
Products $1,000 and more
Products $999 and less. These we affectionately call our...
Do we need to say more? Let's get on with it!
BEST VALUE $1,000 AND OVER
LAMPIZATOR LEVEL 2 TUBE DAC
$1,476 EUROS OR ABOUT $2,000 FROM POLAND
Yes, this tube DAC is lovingly hand made in Poland by Lukasz Fikus. It's not frilly or a piece of industrial art. All the production money goes into the sound. His Lampizator Level 4 DAC is our 2012 DAC of the Year which has
completely transformed the experience of listening to digital music for our publisher as stated in his review earlier this year. .
The Level 2 DAC does not possess the utter magic of the $5,000 Level 4,
but it does take digital listening to a level higher than other DACs anywhere near its price.
Tube output stage based on Siemens Pcc88 triodes in Anode Follower Single Ended Triode config.
Solid state power supply.
-Choke filter in anode circuit
-Separate EI transformer for digital circuit
-Soviet Paper In Oil capacitors at the output
-35 VA total of transformer power
-All Japanese Rubycon and German Roe electrolytes
-Full Level 2 Gen 3 status
-24/192 receiver and DAC
-220/230/240/110/115/120 V power
-1 x S/Pdif input
-Stereo RCA outputs
INTEGRATED TUBE AMP
EKCO EV555SE $2,495
Made In England, the new Ekco brand (this is their first product and we did the world's first review of it)
offers a choice between 28Watts RMS per channel in Triode mode and 55Watts RMS per channel in Ultra-linear mode. It comes with Five (5) RCA Inputs and A/B option selective loudspeaker outputs into 8 Ohms, controlled via an included remote control. Its chassis is made of protective grilles finished with high-temp black paint protect the tubes (4 x KT88; 1 x 12AX7; 4 x 12AU7) while the sides of the chassis are fitted with matched pairs of handcrafted solid wood panels (deep Louro Preto) in piano gloss finish adding to the classy and elegant feel of the amplifier.
In addition to its ability to play in either triode or ultralinear, there is also a toggle switch to adjust negative feedback - a unique feature at any price.
You can actually listen in 4 different modes. Unfortunately, the amp must be switched off to change modes. The sound is very bold and excels in dynamics, especially in 55 watt mode.
Bass is very strong. It short, this amp has balls. While it lacks the top level refinement found in costlier amps (that sometimes lack this amp's testicular qualites),
at its price, feature levels and build quality, it is a true gem.
$1,499 with Cartridge (installed)
There are many "plug and play" turntables on the market, but most are very entry level models.
This made-in-Germany model, however, is significantly above entry level but still comes ready to play right out of the box.
Zero setup, which takes the "Oh jeez, is the cartridge alignment right? Overhang? Azimuth? Is the arm set correctly?
No fussing with tiny cartridge wires. No need for extra tools or protractors; all the things a first-time turntable owner does NOT want to mess with!
What often happens is that the first time buyer picks a $500 setup and then discovers what magic he's found in LPs and soon wants something better.
This is a much better starting place. You even get the choice of a moving magnet or moving coil cartridge.
With its no-friction magnetic bearing, there are real high-end intentions here and it looks sleek and cool.
It even plays 78's. Very high bang-for-the-buck and most owners won't be craving something better for a long time.
Match it with the Musical Surroundings Nova Phonomena phono preamp and you have a killer analog front end for $2,500.
WYRED 4 SOUND STP-SE BALANCED PREAMP
A true fully balanced, great sounding preamp for less than $2,000?
And made in the USA? Are you kidding?!
No tubes here, but still bristling with high-end features and much better sound quality than its price implies.
It operates in passive mode until additional gain is needed when it switches automatically. This "Special Edition" model from Wyred
is an outstanding value. Full review coming soon!
Input / Output wiring upgraded to Kimber Tcss wire
2nd stage filtering caps (4-22,000uf caps) are upgraded to the Wyred 4 Sound Low ESR "SUPER CAP" designed for power supplies
Vacuum Fluorescent Display (VFD)
Optical rotary encoder (volume knob)
Fully functional remote control
12V DC Trigger input (to automatically activate HT Bypass mode)
2- 12V DC Trigger outputs
Home Theater bypass (customizable for any input, also DC Trigger input selected)
Absolute phase control (0°/180°)
Efficient (no heat)
Tripple-ripple reduction circuit contains 164,560uF of capacitance
Extremely low noise floor
Fully balanced input to output
Buffered passive/active design
Automatically switched in Line Stage (when more volume is needed)
Discrete volume control using dale RN55d resistors
Unbalanced to Balanced conversion (when RCA input selected and XLR outputs are being used)
3 sets of gold plated unbalanced (RCA) inputs
2 sets of gold plated unbalanced (RCA) outputs
2 sets of Neutrik Balanced (XLR) inputs
2 sets of Neutrik Balanced (XLR) outputs
Factory Selectable mains 115/230VAC
Compact size (17”W x 4”H x 13”D)
Covered by a 3 YEAR WARRANTY
A made-in-the-USA tube preamp, 2 monoblock 110 watt solid-state amps,
a pair of full-range floorstanding speakers
AND a set of high quality German cables for $5,500?
You can even choose your own colors!
This, we believe, is the king of best values.
One of the hardest things to do in all of high-end audio is to assemble
a system that is completely impedance matched has the additional
quality of sonic synchronicity. This system has it all. The same cable that is used internally
in the amps is supplied to run to the speakers and inbetween the amps.
A tube preamp and solid state power amps gives you the tube magic as well as high power, and these amps are stable enough
to drive a 2 Ohm load all day long. All you need is a source component and you're set.
Hand made right outside Indianapolis. Killer, killer, and oh yeah, killer!
ALL IN ONE
AVM C8 $4,100
This new model from Germany gives you everything you need to make beautiful music,
either digital or analog, all in one box. The CD player and DAC (USB and SPDIF) are included, so are FM and a MM/MC phono section.
How about a bangin' 150 watts per channel? Just add speakers and a turntable.
High Power output stages 150W/channel, power supply with minimized leak-field and ultra low stand-by
PureCD drive with slot-in, suspended mounting
4 Line inputs
1 phono input (MM & MC)
1 processor In/Out
3 digital inputs (SPDIF, optical, USB-Input operates without driver installation)
Signal processing in all digital inputs applying 192 kHz / 24 Bit upsampling
2 digital outputs (SPDIF, optical)
Tone control and parametric loudness with bypass-mode
Remote controllable, solid aluminum easy-to-use remote control included
External control via RS 232, IR input via external optional receiver
Numerous setup functions (i.e. adjustable input sensitivity,
individual input naming etc.)
Available finishes: Aluminum silver or black
Streaming function as optional module
AVM C8 Review
BEST VALUE $999 and LESS
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