Home Theater Review's Best of 2014 Awards
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RBH CTx Series Sub/Sat Speaker System, $1,576
RBH has redesigned its popular CT Series sub/sat line, and Dennis Burger found a lot to like about the new MM4x satellites, C-4x center, and S-8 subwoofer. Mate them with the right amplifier, and enjoy a "deft mix of ferocity and musicality, with a truly beautiful soundstage and nigh-seamless blend between subwoofer and satellites."
Wyred4Sound mAMP Mono-Block Amplifier, $1,798/pair
If you're looking for a lot of amp power in a little footprint, consider the mAMP. This mono-block amplifier, based on the B&O digital ICE amp module, weighs just eight pounds and measures eight inches square by 3.5 inches high, but it's rated at 255 watts into eight ohms and 430 watts into four ohms. Steven Stone describes it as "superbly neutral."
Peachtree Audio nova220SE Integrated Amplifier, $1,999
Peachtree Audio has packed a lot of goodness into one small, stylish, and well-built box. The nova220SE includes a 24-bit/192-kHz upsampling DAC, two discrete Class A preamp stages, multiple digital audio inputs, dual-mono Class D amplifiers rated at 220 watts into eight ohms and 350 watts into four ohms, a triode tube buffer, and an excellent headphone amp.
Bowers & Wilkins CM6 S2 Bookshelf Speaker, $2,000/pair
The upgraded version of B&W's CM6 bookshelf speaker includes several technologies that have trickled down from much more expensive B&W designs (including the Decoupled Double Dome tweeter and tweeter-on-top configuration), and those traits are clearly evident in its performance. For those who prefer tower speakers, the CM10 shares those same traits and also earned our praise earlier this year.
RSL CG4 5.1 Home Theater Speaker System, $2,075
Rogersound Labs has been selling this 5.1-channel speaker system for a few years now, but we recently had a chance to put the system through its paces and felt it deserved recognition. The combination of the CG4 satellite, CG24 center, and Speedwoofer 10 sub is a super-practical, affordable compact system with solid engineering, a neutral tonal balance, and great dynamics for its size. It's small enough that you can use it as a bedroom system, but it really does deliver world-class home theater sound. Our full review is coming soon.
Epson Home Cinema 5030UBe LCD Projector, $2,899
Another versatile performer from Epson, the THX-certified Home Cinema 5030UBe combines excellent light output with a good black level to create a projector that is equally well suited to HDTV, sports, and movies in a variety of lighting conditions. Features include 3D capability, integrated Wireless HD, and helpful setup tools like generous lens shifting and 2.1x zoom.
Screen Innovations Zero Edge Pure White 1.3 Screen, Price Depends on Screen Size
This screen combines Screen Innovations' Zero Edge fixed frame with its Pure White 1.3-gain material, for use in a more traditional light-controlled theater environment. The screen material's selling point is its ultra-fine granularity, ideal for higher-resolution sources. The Zero Edge minimal-bezel frame has a flat-panel-like aesthetic; add in the optional LED ambient lighting kit to make a real statement.
ATI 6002 Stereo Amplifier, $3,995
Dollar-per-watt, you might not be able to find a better amplifier than the ATI 6002 stereo amp. It may be bare bones in its aesthetic design, but this fully balanced 300-watt Class AB amp is, according to Jerry Del Colliano, one of the most powerful, resolute, quiet, and musical amps that you can lay your ears on. You'll have to spend a lot more to find better. (This review has not yet posted, but it will go live soon.)
Bryston Middle T Floorstanding Speaker, $4,500/pair
As a company known for high-end audio electronics, Bryston took a risk this year by moving into the crowded speaker market. That risk has certainly paid off with the Middle T, which received a five-star performance rating from Brent Butterworth. Its appearance is as straightforward as they come, but its performance will definitely seduce you.
GoldenEar Triton One Floorstanding Speaker, $4,998/pair
We reviewed both the Triton Seven and the flagship Triton One this year. While the Triton Seven is an outstanding speaker in its own right, if you have the means, Dennis Burger recommends that you step up to the fantastic Triton One, calling it as close to perfect as any speaker he has heard in a long time. What more can we say?
JVC DLA-X500R D-ILA Projector, $4,999.95
The DLA-X500R serves up those rich, inky blacks we've come to love from JVC while upping the light output to give this D-ILA projector a bit more versatility. The e-shift 4K upsampling doesn't help much, but it doesn't hurt either. All in all, the DLA-X500R is an outstanding movie projector with a nice complement of features for the price.
PS Audio DirectStream DAC and Network Audio Player, $5,995 plus $795 for the Network Bridge
With the DirectStream, PS Audio has completely re-envisioned the DAC concept with the goal of simplifying the signal path. This DAC uses no off-the-shelf DAC chip and converts all incoming signals to DSD before going analog. The result is one of the finest-sounding DACs reviewer Brian Kahn has ever heard.
Aerial 6T Floorstanding Speaker, $6,795/pair
This year, Aerial Acoustics introduced a follow-up to the acclaimed 7T floorstanding speaker. The smaller 6T is both an exceptionally beautiful-looking speaker and an exceptionally good performer. Terry London describes it as a true music lover's speaker--transparent and neutral, with excellent soundstaging abilities and a lifelike presence.
Samsung KN55S9C OLED HDTV, $9,999.99
For the videophile who is willing to spend more to get more, Samsung's 55-inch KN55S9C OLED TV served up the best picture quality of any TV that Adrienne Maxwell reviewed in 2014. This 1080p TV highlights the strengths of OLED, combining plasma-like blacks with LCD-like brightness for amazing contrast. We don't love the curved design, but the image is so pretty, we're willing to overlook it.
Pass Labs XA60.8 Mono-Block Amplifier, $12,800/pair
It has been seven years since Pass Labs upgraded its amplifier lineup, and the new XA.8 Series doesn't disappoint. The XA60.8 mono block is rated at 60 watts of pure Class A power, only moving into Class AB above 122 watts peak. After carefully comparing the XA60.8 with the previous XA60.5, Terry London called it the finest solid-state amp he has ever heard in his system.
• Check out our Best of 2013 selections at HomeTheaterReview.com.
• Explore more in our Bookshelf Speaker and Floorstanding Speaker sections.
• Read more video reviews in our HDTV, Video Projector, and Projector Screen categories.