LG OLED65C8PUA OLED UHD TV ($2,995) (Read our review)
One nice thing about having the market cornered on OLED manufacturing is that even when Sony puts a better processor and a cool tactile transducers behind the screen, you can still offer an even better, thinner TV for less money. And that's what we have in LG's flagship OLED. Perhaps the best UHD TV ever made. There, we said it.
Nakymatone Echt Invisible In-wall Speakers ($3,000 per pair) (Read our review)
Invisible speakers are one of the hottest categories in specialty AV and are turning the custom installation world upside down. Literally, these in-wall or in-ceiling speakers can disappear behind drywall skim coat or any number of other surfaces and set a new high bar for spousal acceptace factor. Sonically, Nakymatone takes the cake in this exciting new space.
Samsung Q9FN 65-Inch QLED 4K TV ($3,495) (Read our review)
Samsung's QLED technology is fighting it out with LG's OLED designs for dibs on who makes the highest-performance TV in the world right now. OLED's strengths are in better-than-plasma blacks, where QLED offers light output that was simply unthinkable a few years ago, making it arguably better for HDR (high dynamic range) content, which is the driving force of many high-end video buffs when making an investment in top-level TVs today.
Denon AVR-X8500H 13.2 AV Receiver ($3,999) (Read our review)
Receivers didn't used to be able to do all of this. Literally, this one-box AV powerhouse can do it all, from managing oodles of state-of-the-art HDMI inputs to driving 13.2 channels of object-based surround sound. If you want it all and in one chassis, Denon has the answer right here. (Buy it now at Amazon)
Sonus faber Sonetto III Floorstanding Speakers ($3,999 per pair) (Read our review)
Italy's best speakers just got a little better and a little more affordable. With tweeter technology borrowed from much higher-end speakers and a sleek form factor enhanced by a killer matte white finish, these speakers are wooing AV enthusiasts all over the world.
Anthem STR Stereo Preamplifier ($3,999) (Read our review)
This preamp has it all. Delicious audiophile performance. The coolest on-screen control ever. Anthem's inimitable room correction. You can certainly spend more money on a stereo preamp, but why? This one aims to win on all fronts.
Kaleidescape Strato 4K Movie Server ($4,495) (Read our review)
Kaleidescape's movie servers are legendary in the world of home theater, but now they come packing 4K downloads, full studio support, and a $4,500 price tag--a good $15,000 to $20,000 less than you'd pay for an old Kaleidescape system without 4K. The system's user interface remains the absolute best in the business. Hands down.
Marantz AV8805 AV Preamp ($4,499) (Read our review)
If you have big-time money, you buy the Trinnov Altitude 16. If you can't play ball with the one-tenth-of-one-percenters, though, look to the Marantz 8805. This beast of an AV preamp provides every feature known to man, tons of inputs, rock-solid stability, and more. While it's not cheap, per se, it's got everything one needs for the heart of an amazing object-based home theater system.
Pass Labs XA-25 Class A Power Amp ($4,900) (Read our review)
Nelson Pass is one of the world's most famous amplifier designers, known for his high current, Class A designs, and this somewhat stripped down (no big meter on the front) offering brings a level of insane audiophile performance to a more attainable level. This is a power amp worthy of lusting after.
Bowers & Wilkins 702 S2 Floorstanding Speakers ($4,500 per pair) (Read our review)
Bowers & Wilkins comes strong to the party with much more affordable speakers that have many design elements derived from the highly lauded 800 Diamond V3 speakers. Close your eyes and take an auditory trip to Abbey Road Studios with these sex-tastic overachievers from the U.K.
Anthem STR Power Amp ($5,995) (Review coming soon)
Sleek industrial design. Power and current to spare. And a pairing with one of the coolest stereo preamps to hit the market in a long, long time. The Anthem STR is a 400 Watt/channel, dual-mono sex machine that can drive virtually any speaker on the market regardless of price or impedance.
Parasound JC 5 Stereo Power Amplifier ($6,000) (Read our review)
If you can name any amp designer other than Nelson Pass, chances are good that John Curl's name is the one rolling off your lips. His new JC 5 brings all of the performance of his legendary JC 1 monoblock into the stereo world at a price of just $6,000. You can spend a lot more and not get as much as this Parasound amp has to offer.
Micromega M-150 Integrated Amplifier ($7,499) (Read our review)
Raw performance, a sleek design, and nearly infinite custom finish options set this French integrated amp apart from the pack. It's got it all: a high-end internal DAC, a phono input, current to spare, and the ability to drive nearly every high-end speaker on the market today with ease.
Krell Theater 7 Multi Channel Power Amplifier ($7,500) (Read our review)
Krell is back as an AV industry player after a few tough years, and this amp is a brilliant return to form. Designed to be the heart and soul of any audiophile-grade home theater surround sound system, the Theater 7 features Krell's innovative iBias topology, which delivers pure Class A power up to unbelievable levels, giving you purity of tone you have to hear to believe.
Focal Kanta No. 2 Floorstanding Speakers ($9,999 per pair) (Read our review)
We've been raving about Focal speakers in the Sopra line for a few years now, but the company's Kanta line brings much of the Sopra performance and equally good looks to a lower price point. Killer finishes and the best drivers money can buy only open the conversation.
Bricasti Design M1SE Dual Mono DAC ($10,000) (Read our review)
To give a $10,000 DAC a best-of-the-year award may seem a bit in that the fast-moving world of high-end digital audio can leave you, the audiophile, holding the bag with yesterday's technology in short order. This one deserves it, though. Designed by ex-Harman/Lexicon engineers, the MS1E competes favorably with DACs costing double and close to triple the money today.
Mark Levinson No. 585 Integrated Amplifier ($12,000) (Read our review)
This beefy integrated amp has all of the Mark Levinson power that we have come to love, mated with a high performance DAC, making it an all-in-one high end audio solution that can drive damn-near any speakers known to man with ease and precision.
Trinnov Altitude 16 AV Preamp ($16,000) (Read our review)
If you're obsessed with chasing down the last nth degree of audio performance, price be damned, this is the object-based surround sound solution you've been looking for. With the best room correction known to man or Wookiee, nearly infinite customization tools, and pure sound quality that would curl your eyelashes even without all of the other goodies tacked on, this beast absolutely broke Dennis Burger's heart when he had to box it up and ship it back.
Mark Levinson No. 526 Preamp-DAC ($20,000) (Read our review)
$20,000 is getting into end-game audiophile territory these days, but this DAC-PRE earns its price tag with best in class performance, incredible build quality, and ergonomics that elevate it above the pack.
Focal Sopra No. 3 Loudspeakers ($20,000 per pair) (Read our review)
HomeTheaterReview.com readers have taken notice that publisher Jerry Del Colliano, Ben Shyman, and now Dr. Taraszka have made the change to Focal's sexy, easy-to-drive flagships as their reference speakers. Yes, they are expensive, but compared to the likes of Wilson Audio, Magico, YG, and others in the very high end, these Focals are world beaters. Their performance, aesthetics, and construction simply blow their similarly priced competition out of the water.