Home Theater Review's Best of 2016 Awards

By |

Home Theater Review's Best of 2016 Awards

Page 1 Page 2


Definitive Technology BP9060 Floorstanding Speaker, $2,198/pair
Long-time Definitive Technology fans will be glad to hear that the company has introduced an updated, Atmos-friendly line of bipolar speakers. Brent Butterworth reviewed the BP9060 floorstanding speaker, which combines front and rear driver arrays with an active 10-inch woofer and is designed to pair perfectly with the company's A90 Atmos module ($499/pair). Brent loved this speaker, calling it "a great-sounding, affordable, versatile speaker that sounds great with everything."


Spatial M3 Turbo S Floorstanding Speaker, $2,595/pair
The unique M3 Turbo S from Spatial Audio is a two-way, highly efficient floorstanding speaker that combines a coaxial compression driver with twin 15-inch mid-woofers in an open baffle design. Steven Stone loved its performance, stating that it "offers all the advantages of a horn-based design without the problems of placement or excessive sonic personality" and is especially well suited for rooms that present bass challenges.


LG 65EF9500 4K OLED TV, $3,000
We debated whether or not to include this TV on our list. It was Adrienne Maxwell's favorite TV performer of the year. However, we reviewed this 2015 model early in the year, and it has since been replaced by LG's 2016 OLED lineup. You can still get the 65EF9500 on Amazon for $3,000 while supplies last. We will add that LG's 2016 OLED UHD TVs have also earned rave reviews, are brighter, and add support for Dolby Vision; the comparable, non-curved 2016 model would be the OLED65B6P for $3,000.


Samsung UN65KS9800 4K LED/LCD TV, $3,000
The KS9800 Series is Samsung's flagship SUHD model for 2016. This curved 65-inch TV has a full-array LED backlight with local dimming, a 120Hz refresh rate, Quantum Dot technology for a wider color gamut, and HDR10 support. Overall, the 65-inch UN65KS9800 is a fantastic performer. It doesn't quite match the LG 65EF9500 OLED in its black-level performance, but it can get a whole lot brighter, offering over 1,000 nits to create eye-catching HDR content. Which model is right for you? That depends on your viewing habits. Adrienne Maxwell says, "You really can't go wrong either way."


GoldenEar Triton Two+ Floorstanding Speaker, $3,498/pair
GoldenEar has taken all of the research and development that went in to the flagship Triton One speaker and updated the smaller Triton Two to deliver even better performance. What did Dennis Burger think of the new version: "I simply can't hide my enthusiasm when a speaker does pretty much exactly what I want it to do ... The Triton Two+ delivers incredible depth, palpable detail, exceptional neutrality (especially in the midrange frequencies), and rich, ample, tactile bass that's as musical as it is muscular. What more could you want?"


Anthem MRX 1120 AV Receiver, $3,499
Looking for an 11-channel AV receiver to make the most of Dolby Atmos and DTS:X soundtracks? Anthem's new flagship MRX 1120 is "in a class of its own right now." Its performance is stellar (with both stereo and multichannel audio), and it boasts a lot more features than previous MRX offerings, including support for 4K/HDR video pass-through, DTS Play-Fi, and Spotify Connect. Of course, you also get the excellent Anthem Room Correction tool. If your amplification needs are already covered, consider the $2,999 AVM 60 AV preamp instead: Our full review is coming in a few weeks, but suffice to say, its performance is just as good.


Aurum Cantus V7F Floorstanding Speaker, $3,500/pair
Aurum Cantus is a highly respected OEM of ribbon, AMT, and cone drivers for speaker manufacturers like Lawrence Audio, but the company also makes its own speakers. Now that Aurum Cantus has a U.S. distributor (Audiophile Direct), Terry London decided to check out the three-way V7F floorstanding speaker and was absolutely blown away by its performance. As an added perk, he calls the V7F "one of the most beautiful speakers he has reviewed in a long time."


Epson Pro Cinema 6040UB LCD Projector, $3,999
Epson has thrown down the gauntlet with the new Pro Cinema 6040UB LCD projector and its lower priced sibling, the Home Cinema 5040UB. Technically these are 1080p projectors, but they use Epson's pixel-shifting technology to simulate a 4K image. As Adrienne Maxwell puts it, "To combine such a high level of performance (excellent detail, high brightness, a deep black level, and rich color) with such a comprehensive list of features (4K signal input, HDR and DCI-P3 color support, lens memory, a manual lens iris, and motorized zoom/focus) at these price points makes the new models awfully tough to beat."


Focal Utopia Over-the-Ear Headphones, $3,999
Yes, Focal's Utopia headphones cost more than many of the freestanding speakers on our list, but Scott Schumer says the investment is worth it. The use of pure Beryllium drivers and other proprietary technological advancements provides sonic improvements that are easy to hear, and the Utopia headphones are very comfortable and well constructed. Quite simply, Scott calls them "the best headphones I have ever heard."


Lyngdorf TDAI 2170 Integrated Amplifier, $3,999-$4,999
Lyngdorf's 170-watt-per-channel TDAI 2170 integrated amp boasts several interesting technologies that distinguish its performance from the pack. It possesses sophisticated digital amplifier technology that eliminates many of the conversions that an analog integrated amp would perform. It also features Lyngdorf's Room Perfect technology, an effective signal correction system that can minimize the need for acoustic treatments and adjust for against-the-wall speaker placement. The TDAI 2170 has a modular design, so it can be configured in a variety of ways, with the base package starting at $3,999. Greg Handy calls it "a wonderful modern solution for a world-class two-channel audio system."


Paradigm Prestige 2000SW Subwoofer, $3,999
If you want a subwoofer that looks as good as it sounds, consider Paradigm's Prestige 2000SW. This 121-pound sub sports a 15-inch woofer and 2,000-watt Class D amplifier in a gorgeous cabinet that's available in a furniture-grade finish of piano black, gloss cherry, satin walnut, or satin black walnut. One of Brent Butterworth's favorite parts of this package is the included Perfect Bass Kit, which he considers to be one of the best subwoofer auto EQ systems available.


Classe Sigma SSP AV Preamp, $5,000
With the 7.1-channel Sigma SSP AV preamp, "Classe has both raised the bar and lowered the cost of entry for high-end audiophile performance from your system's AV preamp," says Jerry Del Colliano. It may not offer all the features you'll find in lower-priced AV preamps, but it delivers exceptional performance, rivaling or besting that of preamps that cost much more.


Pass Labs XA30.8 Stereo Amplifier, $6,800
The 30-watt, solid-state XA30.8 is currently the only pure Class A stereo amplifier that Pass Labs makes. According to Ben Shyman, the XA30.8 "presents music with a tube-like fluidity and tonality that is uncommon with solid-state circuitry," yet it also provides a remarkable degree of control over his speakers and is "dead-quiet." Of course, the XA30.8 also offers the beautiful aesthetic and exceptional build quality that we expect from Pass Labs. If you're one to embrace Class A amps, then you should wholeheartedly embrace the XA30.8.


JVC DLA-X750R D-ILA Projector, $6,999.95
Like the Epson 6040UB listed above, the DLA-X750R is technically a 1080p projector that use pixel-shifting technology to simulate a 4K image, and it supports HDR and DCI-P3 color. Unlike the Epson, the JVC can deliver HDR video and P3 color at the same time, which should justify the step up in price for the videophile who wants all the best goodies that Ultra HD Blu-ray has to offer. Plus, JVC projectors still deliver the best black level in the business, and this THX-certified projector offers a very clean, accurate, beautiful picture.


Linear Tube Audio MicroZOTL2.0 Stereo Preamp ($1,695) and ZOTL40 Stereo Amplifier ($5,800)
Both of these tube-based products from Linear Tube Audio are built around a transformer-less architecture called ZOTL. Terry London loved the performance of the MicroZOTL2.0 stereo preamp when he reviewed it on its own back in May. When he recently reviewed the ZOTL40 MkII amp, he commented, "The synergy of the MicroZOTL preamplifier with the ZOTL40 MK.II brought a beauty to my reference system that I have never heard with any other preamp/amp combo."


Cary Audio DMC-600SE Digital Music Center, $7,995
Cary Audio's DMC-600SE combines a high-end CD transport and DAC. It has a variety of digital connection options (including asynchronous USB, digital audio, AES/EBU, and Bluetooth), it supports PCM formats up to 32/384 and DSD up to 256X via USB, it offers both balanced and unbalanced output, and it allows you to switch between solid-state and tube output stages. Although $7,995 is a high price of entry, Steven Stone concludes, "The Cary DMC-600SE still delivers a whole lot of value and flexibility to go along with its impeccable sonic performance."


B&W 804 D3 Floorstanding Speaker, $9,000/pair
Brent Butterworth approves of the changes that B&W has made to the latest iteration of the flagship Diamond Series speakers--including the decision to move away from the famous Kevlar cone material and embrace a synthetic fabric called Continuum. The 804 D3 shares the same driver array as previous Diamond 804 versions (two 6.5-inch woofers, a five-inch midrange, and a one-inch tweeter) but otherwise shares no parts with its predecessors. As expected, the fit, finish, and build quality are exceptional. When explaining why the 804 D3 belongs on this year's list, Brent simply answered, "I love the sound, and it's gorgeous."


Focal Sopra N°2 Floorstanding Speaker, $13,995/pair
The Sopra N°2 delivers all of the performance we've come to expect from high-end Focal speakers in a truly eye-catching form factor, offered in a variety of vibrant colors. Jerry Del Colliano loved the way these speakers perform and ultimately concluded that "you might not find a better balance between the worlds of performance, design, and value." If you don't have the space and/or budget for the floorstanders, the Sopra N°1 bookshelf model also earned a rave review from Ben Shyman earlier this year.

Additional Resources
• Check out Home Theater Review's Best of 2015 Awards to see which products made last year's list.
• Read more speaker reviews on our Floorstanding Speakers and Bookshelf Speakers category pages.
• Read more AV electronics reviews on our AV Receivers and AV Preamps cateogry pages.

Page 1 Page 2

HTR Product Rating for Home Theater Review's Best of 2016 Awards

Criteria Rating







Disagree with our product rating? Email us and tell us why you think this product should receive a higher rating.

Latest Remotes + System Control Reviews

Jan 21
Harmony Elite Universal Remote, Hub and App Reviewed Over the past few years, I've installed and programmed virtually very DIY remote control solution for my dad and a...
Harmony Elite Universal Remote, Hub and App Reviewed

Apr 16
Russound MCA-88X Multiroom Controller Reviewed Brian Kahn auditions Russound's MCA-88X, an eight-zone/eight-source controller/amplifier that also features the company's XStream music streamer built in.
Russound MCA-88X Multiroom Controller Reviewed

Dec 05
Home Theater Review's Best of 2016 Awards 'Tis the season for Home Theater Review's annual best-of list, where we select the best products we've reviewed in the past 12 months.
Home Theater Review's Best of 2016 Awards

Nov 14
Control4 EA-5 Home Automation System Reviewed Ken Taraszka recently outfitted his new home with a complete home entertainment/automation system, built around the EA-5 system controller from Control4. Get all the details in this week's featured review.
Control4 EA-5 Home Automation System Reviewed

Sep 14
Nyrius WS54 Wireless HDMI Kit Reviewed If you're looking for a way to wirelessly transmit a 1080p video signal around your home, Nyrius has a variety...
Nyrius WS54 Wireless HDMI Kit Reviewed