To my knowledge, in the 24 years of the SoundStage! Network only one product has ever been retroactively granted a Reviewers’ Choice award. That product was the Hegel Music Systems Röst integrated amplifier-DAC, reviewed for Simplifi by Al Griffin in February 2017 -- in fact, the Röst was the first integrated amplifier to be reviewed on this site.
In his coverage of CEDIA Expo 2019 for SoundStage! Global, Brent Butterworth called DALI’s Katch One soundbar ($999, all prices USD) the “product at the CEDIA Expo that I’d most like to have right at this very minute.” I found this surprising -- not because I had any doubts that the Katch One is a fine product, but because there were so many other lustworthy products at this year’s Expo, including several Brent outlined in his four show reports. A few highlights were Revel’s PerformaBe speakers, NAD’s T 778 nine-channel A/V receiver, and MartinLogan’s 40XW in-wall speaker, each of which has 40 driver-units. There were also lustworthy video products, including 4K laser projectors from Epson, JVC, and LG, and Sony’s modular Crystal LED wall display system.
Do you have to be a propeller-head to enjoy Simplifi’d hi-fi? The question might seem nonsensical, but when you think about this site’s mandate -- to cover “convenient, lifestyle-oriented audio” -- it makes a perverse kind of sense, and the product reviewed here illustrates my point.
It’s been just over five years since Canada’s Lenbrook Industries Limited launched the Bluesound brand of streaming multiroom products, and many of the decisions Lenbrook made during Bluesound’s formative stages now seem prescient. These include developing the underlying BluOS technology in-house, rather than sourcing it from a third party, and supporting high-resolution playback right from the start.
Like many music-lovers, I’ve changed my listening habits drastically in the last ten years. A decade ago, all of the music I listened to at home was stored on shiny discs. A decade later, those discs are long gone. My music library is now stored on a LaCie 2Big Thunderbolt RAID system connected to an Apple Mac Mini computer in my second-floor office. The Mac Mini runs Roon Core, and streams music via Wi-Fi to the music system in my main-floor living room.
Based in Coquitlam, British Columbia, on Canada’s left coast, Kanto Audio has made a name for itself with budget-priced powered stereo speaker systems. These include the YU2 ($219.99/pair, all prices USD), a two-way desktop speaker with USB DAC and 3.5mm stereo analog input; and two bookshelf models, the YU4 ($329.99/pair) and YU6 ($399.99/pair), both featuring Bluetooth connectivity, a built-in phono preamp, a TosLink digital input, and a line-level analog input. The YU4 has a 4” Kevlar woofer and a 1” soft-dome tweeter, driven by a 35Wpc RMS class-D amp; the larger YU6 has a 5.25” woofer and a 50Wpc RMS class-D amp. Kanto’s most ambitious design yet is the Tuk powered minimonitor ($799.99/pair). Inside each rear-ported enclosure is a 5.25” aluminum woofer and a 28 x 45mm Air Motion Transformer (AMT) tweeter.
In her song “Big Yellow Taxi,” Joni Mitchell famously observed “That you don’t know what you’ve got / Till it’s gone.” There’s a lot of truth in that. The converse is equally true -- you don’t know what you’ve been missing till you experience it. Both thoughts occurred to me as I reviewed Elac’s Navis ARF-51 active floorstanding speakers.
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