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Awards 2011

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Ed Selley  |  Jan 10, 2012  |  0 comments
Best Accessory Shure M97XE Vinyl replay need not be an expensive business. The reasonably priced Shure took on three other cost-effective cartridges and won the day. It’s an impressive performer with exceptional detail, fine bass and a fantastically communicative midrange. The M97xE is also one of the highest-compliance cartridges we know of, and has an exceptional ability to track even well-worn records quietly and without causing further wear.
Ed Selley  |  Jan 10, 2012  |  0 comments
Best Amplifier over £1,000 Onkyo P-3000R/M5000R Onkyo might be more famous for its multichannel products, but this pairing is a potent reminder of what it’s capable of with stereo. The P-3000R/M5000R combines an impressive feature set, including digital inputs with superb build and fantastic aesthetics – the VU meters are particularly eye-catching. Best of all, it’s a truly fantastic amplifier, able to drive the most demanding speakers to any volume level; it combines a powerful and explicit sound with excellent tonality and naturalness. Details PRICE: £1,700/£2,500 TYPE: Pre/power TELEPHONE: 01628 473350 WEBSITE: eu.
Ed Selley  |  Jan 10, 2012  |  0 comments
Best Amplifier up to £1,000 Audiolab 8200A The origins of the 8200A lie in the classic 8000A from the ’80s and ‘90s. We loved the original and its successor proves equally enthralling. The 8200A combines neutrality and accuracy, with enough of a unique character to entertain. The midrange lucidity impressed us, while detail retrieval is simply superb.
Ed Selley  |  Jan 10, 2012  |  0 comments
Best CD Player over £1,000 Shanling CD-T2000 Compared to some of the CD players we’ve tested, the CD-T2000 is very straight-forward. It doesn’t play SACD or have digital inputs, but what it does do is perform at the very highest levels of the format. It has a smooth, natural sound that allows you to hear material as the artist intended without embellishment or harshness. Add the battleship build and the stunning aesthetics, and you have a player that is a treat for the eyes and the ears.
Ed Selley  |  Jan 10, 2012  |  0 comments
Best CD Player up to £1,000 Audiolab 8200CD Audiolab has swept the boards in the sub-£1,000 category this year. While the 8200 amplifier harks back to the Audiolab of old, the 8200CD represents state-of-the-art thinking in almost every area. Combining a high-performance DAC with clever adjustable filters, gives the Audiolab a sound that is both accurate and highly involving. Add digital inputs, including hi-res USB and you have a worthy winner.
Ed Selley  |  Jan 10, 2012  |  0 comments
Best Digital to analogue convertor Rega DAC Rega has never made a DAC until now, but you’d be hard-pressed to notice, given how accomplished its first offering is. The Rega combines a useful set of inputs with fine build and a handsome appearance. It also sounds fantastic and won us over with excellent timing and an accurate and engaging tonality. The result is a product that has all the detail retrieval and slam and impact you could ask for, but it’s presented in a fabulously calm and inviting way.
Ed Selley  |  Jan 10, 2012  |  0 comments
Best Headphones Q701 Quincy Jones Signature Edition Any person with a track record like Quincy Jones was never going to put his name to any old product and the Q701 doesn’t disappoint. The AKG is a perfect package of clever technology, excellent build and funky appearance. Sonically, the Q701 is a star and recordings are faithfully captured with incredible detail retrieval and a real sense of ambience. Quincy does it again! Details PRICE: £500 TYPE: Dynamic headphone TELEPHONE: 01707 278100 WEBSITE: akg.
Ed Selley  |  Jan 10, 2012  |  0 comments
Best of the High End KEF Blade A great high-end product should combine breath-taking performance with technical innovation and ground-breaking design. Out of all the loudspeakers we have tested over the last year, the KEF Blade best embodies these attributes. Based around the earlier Concept Blade, the production model shares the striking lines and incredibly clever ‘Single Apparent Source’ technology that creates an astoundingly cohesive soundstage from the multiple drivers. Details PRICE: £20,000 TYPE: Loudspeaker TELEPHONE: 01622 672261 WEBSITE: kef.
Ed Selley  |  Jan 10, 2012  |  0 comments
Innovation Award 2011 Classé CP-800 The pace of technological change in the hi-fi industry at the moment is positively relentless, but even taking this into account the CP-800 is revolutionary. Here we have a fully equipped preamplifier with extensive analogue and digital connectivity. The reason why the CP-800 wins our innovation award, however, is the USB input. This circuitry manages the seemingly impossible feat of making a ripped copy of a CD (played via USB) sound better than the original.
Ed Selley  |  Jan 10, 2012  |  0 comments
Best Interconnect Peerless Sigma Peerless is one of the smaller brands in the UK market, but if the Sigma is anything to go by, that’s set to change. The cable is a no-nonsense design that combines good-quality materials and sound design practice. The result is a cable that produces finely detailed images with an even tonal balance. It also includes an open and clear treble and good control of the lower octaves.
Ed Selley  |  Jan 10, 2012  |  0 comments
Best Loudspeaker over £1,000 Rega RS7 Winning a Blind-Listening Group Test (HFC 347) is always a considerable achievement. Winning against five dedicated speaker manufacturers (when your own product is part of a wider range of electronics) is remarkable, but this is what Rega has achieved with the RS7. Making use of a clever transmission-loaded side-firing bass driver, the RS7 demonstrates outstanding coherence and openness. As we noted at the time, it never fails to make listening fun and that’s surely the whole point.
Ed Selley  |  Jan 10, 2012  |  0 comments
Best Loudspeaker up to £1,000 Epos Epic 5 The Epic 5 manages to get an awful lot right even before you connect it up. For starters, it’s a very handsome and well-built speaker for the asking price and we love the clever interchangeable baffles. Once connected, the news just gets better. The Epic 5 combines excellent detail retrieval, accurate and appealing tonality, and a fast and tuneful low end.
Ed Selley  |  Jan 10, 2012  |  0 comments
Best Network Streamer Naim ND5 XS Naim gave us a clear demonstration of its streaming talent with the formidable NDX. What we didn’t expect is that it would take almost everything that makes the NDX great and squeeze it into a product that costs £1,000 less. The ND5 XS has a superlative performance with streamed media and is also a superb internet radio platform. And if that wasn’t enough, the digital inputs and iPod functionality make it a true digital hub.
Ed Selley  |  Jan 10, 2012  |  0 comments
Product of the Year- Runners up Audiolab 8200A The Audiolab is a classic example of a product that delivers so much at the price point, it can be hard to make a convincing case to spend more money. For £730 the 8200A offers plentiful inputs and excellent build. More importantly, it offers a truly sparkling performance. The 8200A never fails to make listening enjoyable, with a fabulous, well-lit midband that gives superb insight into recordings.
Ed Selley  |  Jan 10, 2012  |  0 comments
Product of the Year Winner Classé CP-800 When Classé delivered the CP-800 to HFC’s offices, hopes were high. Classé boss Dave Nauber had already stated the unit was better with a mobile phone than any CD player and so the challenge was born. Two of our most experienced reviewers confirmed, independently of one another, that they preferred listening to music via the USB input over a variety of expensive, high-end CD players. This ground-breaking preamp will leave its mark in hi-fi history, of that we’re certain.

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