Home Theater Review's 2010 Best of Home Theater Awards
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For the second year in a row, Home Theater Review's editors have chosen the absolute best of the best from the world of home theater, audiophile components, HDTV and beyond. The winners are picked subjectively by our editorial staff and are based on reviews that posted during the year. For the best in home theater - this list covers both the highest performance cost-no-object products as well as value oriented home theater equipment.
Be sure to check in with our Home Theater Review 2009 Award winners as many of those products are still current and are still clearly award winning.
Best AV Preamp Winner: Krell Evolution 707
Put this AV preamp in the cost-no-object category, but with its audiophile preamp performance paired with all of today's best surround codecs, HDMI switching and smooth control - it's worth the steep asking price of $30,000 for those with the budgets to consider the best of the best in terms of performance.
Runner-up: Arcam FMJ AV888
Best AV Receiver: Onkyo TX-NR708
HDMI 1.4, 3D performance and all of the bells and whistles you could ever dream of, makes the Onkyo TX-NR708 this year's best receiver. Considering the amount of features you get for the money - your value is through the roof.
Runner-up: Sherwood R904
Best High Performance Blu-ray Player: Cambridge Audio Azur 650 BD
Oppo Digital made waves with affordable DVD-Audio/SACD-capable Blu-ray players and that's how they won last year's award. This year, this non-Oppo-based player from Cambridge is setting both the audiophile and home theater world on fire. Dollar for dollar - the Cambridge Audio Azur 650 BD is about as good as it gets in the Best Blu-ray Player category.
Runner-up: Oppo Digital BDP-83SE
Best Video Projector: SIM2 Mico 50 LED
In the world of front video HDTV projectors - LED is all the rage with SIM2 leading the way in high-end video performance. The race between Runco, SIM2 and Digital Projection was close. SIM2's stunning customer service and easy to calibrate image ultimately won out for best video projector of 2010. Runco and Digital Projection get kudos for their refreshingly honest video numbers in a world where more mainstream video companies boast otherworldly, unrealistic numbers.
Runner-up: Digital Projection M-Vision LED Front Projector
Best LED/LCD HDTV: LG 47LE8500
The 47-inch 47LE8500 serves up one of the best-looking pictures we've seen in the LCD category to date. LG's new Full LED Slim technology combines the best of both LED worlds: You get a full-array, local-dimming LED backlight system that produces excellent blacks and contrast in a very slim, attractively styled cabinet. In addition to great performance, this year's best LED/LCD TV has a comprehensive features list, including THX picture modes, WiFi-readiness, the option to add a wireless HDMI kit, and access to the NetCast entertainment platform, with VUDU, Netflix, Skype, and more.
Runner-up: Sony KDL-NX800
Best Plasma HDTV: Panasonic TC-P54VT25
Panasonic's 3D-capable TC-P54VT25 pretty much has it all. This 54-inch plasma has earned high marks for both its 2D and 3D performance. Our pick for the best plasma HDTV sports a THX picture mode, WiFi-readiness, RS-232, media playback through USB and SD Card, 600Hz Sub-field Drive to improve motion resolution, and the Infinite Black Panel Pro to reduce light reflections and improve black-level performance. The VIERA CAST Web platform offers access to Amazon VOD, Netflix, Pandora, YouTube, Skype, and more. Plus, Panasonic kindly includes one pair of the active-shutter glasses required for 3D viewing.
Runner-up: Samsung PN58C8000
Best Video Screens: dnp Supernova
This optical screen is king of the hill in light rejecting video screens. Recent demonstrations at the CEDIA tradeshow under brutal lighting showed a dark, theater-worthy video screen that is truly as good as it gets in its class of video screens.
Runner-up: Elite Osprey 16x9 - 2/35:1 roll-down video screen
Find more awards on Page 2.
Best Bookshelf Speakers: Focal le Dome
How cool do these speakers look? And they sound great too? How could anyone fault us for giving the Focal le Dome speaker system the HomeTheaterReview.com Top Bookshelf or small speaker award for 2010. Look into the designer colors as well as the advanced configurations for all sorts of home theater systems and home theater speaker systems.
Runner-up: Paradigm Studio 20 v5
Best Affordable Floor-standing Speakers: Aperion Audio Intimus 6T
Great sound, great form factor, great value and customer service done the way it should be is how the Aperion Audio Intimus 6T speakers won the award from HomeTheaterReview.com for Best Affordable Floorstanding Speakers.
Runner-up: MartinLogan Motion
Ultimate Audiophile Loudspeakers: B&W 800 Diamond Speakers
The form factor of the Bowers and Wilkins 800 Diamond loudspeakers isn't something new for audiophiles but the subtle changes made to the speakers for the latest "diamond" edition is what puts them in the running with the likes of Wilson's Sasha WP and Revel's Ultima Salon2s. When all was said and done - the B&W 800 Diamond speakers are so refined that they take the 2010 award for best audiophile speakers.
Runner-up: Revel Ultima Studio2
Headphones: Bowers and Wilkins P5
B&W is about as famous as an audiophile brand as there is in the market today, but in the growing world of iPod/iPhone/iPad users, Bowers and Wilkins' P5 speakers are bridging the gap between Apple sound and audiophile sound. Comfort level is high and the sound is controlled and smooth. Rap stars and pop divas have nothing on these headphones.
Runner-up: Sennheiser HD 205-II
In-wall Speakers: Noble Fidelity L82
If I was buying a new home and was concerned about audiophile performance from in-wall speakers, green packaging and responsible manufacturing - I would consider the Noble Fidelity L82 above all else in the affordable in-wall loudspeaker category. There are too many in-wall speaker brands that spend too much time and money wooing dealers and not enough on performance. Noble Fidelity is all about personal attention for consumers, selling through top dealers and making a sound that sounds as good (and sometimes better) than traditional box speakers for well under $1,000 per pair.
Runner-up: PSB CW800e
Best On-wall Speakers: Orb Audio Mod 1
Round speakers are all the rage in home theater speakers, especially when matching to modern form factors of today's LED HDTVs. This truly affordable system sounds over-the-top good for the money and the direct-to-the-consumer model offers today's value conscious clients the highest level of service and value; thus the 2010 Home Theater Review Best on-wall Speaker Award.
Runner-up: Definitive Technology Mythos XTR50
Top Media Servers: The New Apple TV
While we were worried about the analog output and the lack of an internal hard drive - the new $99 AppleTV is about as good as it gets for media servers or streaming systems. The interface is well, pure Apple and it makes your TV better than any "app" out there to date.
Runner-up: Kaleidescape Mini Server
Top Performing Multi-channel Amp: Mark Levinson No 533H
At this point - more people know about Mark Levinson through their premium audio packages for Lexus but with all new design - the Mark Levinson No 533H is about as good a multi-channel amp as you will find in the world of audiophilia or home theater. Solid, controlled sound and lots of power for your left, right and center speakers.
Runner-up: Cary Audio Model 7.125
Best Source Components: WADIA 151PowerDAC mini
The WADIA Power DAC is one of the sexiest, audiophile-grade ways to get your Apple iPod sound into your speakers. Power, control and an innovative look at the always-relevant iPod source for your system makes the WADIA Power DAC the top audiophile source component for 2010.
Runner-up: NAD C565BEE CD player
Top Audiophile Power Amp: Krell 402e
In today's value-driven market - we actually got angry emails asking how we could have called an $18,000 amp a value? That's because it's as good as many $50,000 amps. The Krell 402e has about the best bass you've heard from an audiophile amp yet at the same time it conserves power when it isn't using everything your wall can pipe into it. The highs sound warmer and the mids are fantastic. There are no flaws in this expensive amp.
Runner-up: Classe CT600 monoblocks
Best Audiophile Stereo Preamp: Audio Research Ref 5
The Audio Research REF 5 is the object of many (if not all) audiophile dreams. With a warm, tube sound with the kind of control that you'd expect to hear from the best solid-state stereo preamps - you must be talking about the Audio Research REF. It's just hard to find anyone who will argue that the Ref 5 isn't the best stereo preamp on the market today
Runner-up: Decware CSP2
Best Soundbar: Aperion Audio Slimstage 30 By Soundmatters
With about the longest name in the world of audiophile grade soundbars, the Aperion Audio Slimstage 30 by Soundmatters is one hell of a value for those looking to add quality sound from a slick form factor without breaking the bank. When you are looking for the best Soundbar - look to Aperion's Slimstage 30.
Runner-up: Bowers and Wilkins Panorama
Top Performing Home Theater Subwoofer: Klipsch RW-10D
Considering the price and the home theater bass performance, the Klipsch RW-10D brings weight to the conversation of the best home theater subwoofer. The form factor of this sub paired with its ease of installation makes it a top pick.
Runner-up: Polk PSW125