Home Theater Review's Best of 2019 Awards

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Home Theater Review's Best of 2019 Awards

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• Focal Stellia Headphones ($2,995) (Read our review)
You would be hard pressed to find better-sounding, more comfortable headphones than the wired Focal Stellias. These French cans are about as close as you can come to true studio-grade headphones, with all of the bells and whistles that come with super-premium, audiophile-grade models.

Greg Handy said, "For those audiophiles with both the means and an unwillingness to settle for less than the absolute best in a circum-aural closed-back headphone, you need look no further than the Focal Stellia."

• Focal Aria 926 Speakers ($3,299/pair) (Read our review)
Focal makes some of the finest speakers in the world. Wilson Audio used their tweeters for years for the high end of their critically acclaimed speakers. Now, Focal is starting to offer speakers that more and more mainstream AV enthusiasts can afford. The Focal Aria 926 floorstandders are an excellent example of a speaker with gorgeous looks and performance that won't quit at a price that's just a little bit above average for a speaker in its class. Bob Barrett said, "If you are a fan of the Focal sound and your musical tastes run the likes of genres such as pop/rock, alternative, jazz, instrumental, or small ensemble classical, the Focal Aria 926 would be a great choice among speakers in their price range and even a bit higher".

• JBL L100 Classic Loudspeakers ($4,300 with stands) (Read our review)
JBL_L100_Classic_Blue.jpgYou know the classic Maxell cassette tape ad from the 1980s with the dude being literally blown away by sound while sitting in that iconic Le Corbusier chair? The speakers causing all of that ruckus in that ad are the classic JBL L100s from the early 1970s. And now they're back. Well, kinda. These new speakers look just like those old JBLs, but have been fully redesigned for a new, much more demanding era of high performance AV. Andrew Robinson opines in his 5-star review: "A truly high-end loudspeaker with superb style and heritage; one that possesses no real esoteric or buzz-worthy features that yet manages to outright embarrass the competition."

• Tekton Designs Moab Loudspeakers ($4,500/pair) (Full review pending)
moab-double-quarter_orig.jpgShocking! The latest design from Eric Alexander's Tekton Design earns yet another HomeTheaterReview.com Best of Award. Why you ask? At $4,500, these speakers deliver the power, impact, presence and output of speakers costing as much as 10 times the price, and that is truly extreme value. The Moabs are for people with bigger rooms and the need to rock hard in a funky place, and if that's you, they might be your perfect speaker. Made and designed in America. Custom paint finishes. These speakers are simply world beaters. It used to cost you a lot more money to get world class speakers in custom colors from Provo, Utah. Things have changed.

• GoldenEar Triton One.R Speakers ($5,998/pair) (Read our review)
GoldenEar_Triton1R_pair.jpgWhile not the absolute top of the line for GoldenEar, the Triton One.R replicates in many ways the performance and aesthetics of their Triton Reference speakers in a significantly more affordable and significantly more manageable form factor.

Ask those who really know about good speakers and they will tell you that you can tangle with speakers costing double or even triple and still end up picking the GoldenEars. Dennis Burger concluded, "True, the One.R isn't quite the revolution that the original One was. It's more like evolution--small, incremental improvements that, on their own, might not seem that huge, but that when combined result in an entirely new animal."

• JVC DLA-RS2000/DLA-NX7 Projector ($7,999) (Read our review)
D-ILA projectors make us feel all warm and tingly about video. The deep blacks remind us of the glory days plasma TVs, but with an image that can be easily double the width and honestly just better than anything any plasma could ever produce (people who own 15-year-old Pioneer KUROs can leave us hateful comments below). JVC's latest D-ILA video projectors now come with 4K resolution, which has been a needed feature slow to migrate to the realm of video projectors in this price range. After measuring, testingm and ultimately buying a DLA-RS2000 (also sold as the DLA-NX7 for the consumer market), Dylan said, "For those looking for one of the best performing projectors in the under-$10,000 market, you owe it to yourself to check out the RS2000."

• Revel PerformaBe Series F228Be Loudspeakers ($10,000/pair) (Read our review)
Revel_PerformaBe_Series_F228Be.jpgWith a parent company like Harman behind them, Revel benefits in so many ways in terms of advanced speaker designs in the audiophile world. The Revel Performa series has been incredible value options for those that can't pop for their higher-end Ultima Studio2 ($16,000 per pair) or Ultima Salon2 ($24,000 per pair).

The latest top performer in the line comes in at a slightly more affordable $10,000 price tag, but unlike some earlier designs now rocks a Beryllium tweeter that appeals to many a discerning audiophile. Brian Kahn has reviewed a number of top contenders in this price range from the likes of Bowers & Wilkins, MartinLogan, and many others. He said about the F228Be: "The balance of coherent integration of the drivers, dynamic power delivery, and wide dispersion window work together to make for a performance that does a very good job at reproducing a wide variety of music."

• Bricasti M15 power amp ($12,000) (Read our review)
Bricasti_M15_Professional_Series_Amp_back.jpgFor those looking for an ultimate-performance power amp without quite spending ultimate-level money, we introduce to you the Bricasti M15. While $12,000 isn't chicken feed, this amp delivers on much of what the Bricasti $30,000 monoblocks do for a fraction of the price, with a a design team of all-stars, build quality that is second to none, and so much more. Terry London  said in his review: "If you want a solid-state design that offers tube-like timbres, image density, and the effortless overall liquidity of tubes, with deep bass extension, transparency that lets the smallest details be heard, and sufficient power to drive any speaker with ease and control, the M15 Pro Series might be the amplifier you want for your system."

• Magico A3 Speakers ($12,300/pair) (Full review pending)
A3_Duo_52039.jpgIn the audiophile world, one could safely argue that there are no speakers built with more inert and uber-sexy cabinets than Magicos. These Northern California built and designed speakers have wooed audiophiles for years, but things are a little different now as the A3, in fact the A Series as a whole, represents the company's renewed dedication to surround sound, at prices far below the highly lauded (and commensurately expensive) S Series.  The A2 is designed to deliver the absolute best in terms of resolution, dynamics, and imaging from the audiophile world, in a form factor that's perhaps a little more appropriate for your 4K streaming, Ultra HD Blu-ray movies, and video games. Game on.

• Paradigm Persona 5F Floorstanding Loudspeakers ($17,000/pair) (Read our review)
Paradigm_Persona_5F_finishes.jpgParadigm speakers are the darlings of the AV enthusiast world. They rock hard for home theater and have equally well-rated performance for music. But the Persona line of speakers ventures into the lofty world of ultra-high-performance audiophile speakers where esoterica is the name of the game. And you know what? Paradigm is capable of producing fantastically finished, uber-high-end speaker as well as the more established players in the market and in many ways for less money (although quite a pretty penny at $17k per pair).

Myron Ho reviews and owns a number of speakers in this price category, and regarding the Paradigm Persona 5F's he said, "In the case of the Paradigm Persona 5F speakers, you are getting some of the best engineering the loudspeaker world knows with a fit and finish that you might expect from speakers costing twice the price." Kind praise, indeed.

• Vivid Audio Kaya 90 Speakers ($26,000/pair) (Read our review)
Vivid_KAYA_90_side_and_front.jpgFrom the legendary designer of the Bowers & Wilkins Nautilus comes a whole new line of ultra-modern-looking uber-performance speakers designed to both visually and sonically impress. Completely bespoke driver and crossover designs are just a couple of the things that make this radical looking speaker such a sonic overachiever, with imaging and dynamics that can take on the best of the best. Brian Kahn said, "I've been doing high-end audio reviews for the last 20 years, and the Vivid Audio Kaya 90 is one of the most impressive products I have had the pleasure of reviewing. I will be very sad to see this pair go."

• D'agostino Progression Preamplifier ($22,000; $26,500 with the optional internal DAC) (Read our review)
D-Agostino_Progression_Integrated_Amp.jpgFrom audiophile designer extraordinaire Dan D'agostino (founder of Krell), the Progression Preamp is a product designed for the highest-of-high-end consumers who seek no-holds-barred performance and are willing to pay for it. The good news is, the Progression Preamp delivers in spades, making its expense well worth it. It is almost cliché to comment on the steampunk industrial design of D'agostino products, but it's such a distinctive look that it draws in everyone who comes near. Brian Kahn said "It is going to be hard to find a stereo preamp that outperforms this one."

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HTR Product Rating for Home Theater Review's Best of 2019 Awards

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