The Absolute Sound 2021 Buyer's Guide

The Absolute Sound is the world’s preeminent source of expert reviews, features, and commentary on high-performance audio and music.

United States
Nextscreen LLC
11 期號


7 分鐘

Bose Bravery Thanks to Jonathan Valin for admitting to owning a pair of Bose 901 speakers [ “Loudspeakers I’ve Owned or Coveted over the List Half-Century,” Issue 307] (insert hate comments here). After college, when I moved into my first apartment, my very large Altecs were a non-starter. I read Julian Hirsh’s (more hate?) review of the Bose Acoustimass Series II, auditioned them at my local hi-fi store in the mall (again, more hate?), and bought them. For their forgiving size yet full sound (approaching the giant Altecs), they were perfect for the time. I had grown up with live music, and they “did no harm.” Pure bass depth and finesse, and other small compromises, were more than made up for by the ability to listen to high-quality music in my…

3 分鐘
from the editor

“I experienced a similar moment of enlightenment about 25 years ago while listening to…a boom box.” Lessons Learned This year’s annual Buyer’s Guide issue is chock full of capsule reviews of the products that we’ve written about, currently recommend, and are available for sale today. As I read through the entire document before it was laid out—700+ components, 85,000+ words—it struck me what an extraordinary body of work this issue represents. Our recommendations embody nothing less than the collective judgment of our reviewing staff on the best in high-end audio. This issue could only have been created by a talented and experienced team working together over many decades. Every product in this issue has been set up, auditioned at length, judged, and reviewed by expert listeners. When you consider the sheer number…

10 分鐘
meet the writers

Just who are the editors and freelance writers who contribute to The Absolute Sound? What are their backgrounds, musical interests, and sonic priorities? What kind of systems and listening rooms do they have? To answer these questions, we’d like to introduce you to the people who create TAS. In a new feature that debuts this issue, we’ll look at seven TAS freelance writers—Dick Olsher, Andre Jennings, Steven Stone, Stephen Scharf, Paul Seydor, Drew Kalbach, and Andrew Quint. Future issues will include biographies of other contributors. Dick Olsher Although educated as a nuclear engineer at the University of Florida, I spent most of my career, 30 years to be exact, employed as a radiation physicist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, from which I retired in 2008. My work in the area of radiation…

22 分鐘
a survey of amplifier types

Excerpted and adapted from The Complete Guide to High-End Audio, fifth edition. Copyright © 1994-2020 by Robert Harley. To order call (800) 841-4741. MOST OF YOU ARE FAMILIAR WITH THE TRADITIONAL power-amplifier technology that has dominated mainstream and high-end audio for decades—the solid-state push-pull Class A/B amplifier. In fact, when discussing power amplifiers, it’s assumed that the amplifier is a Class A/B design unless otherwise specified. But a number of variations on this basic design are significant forces in the amplifier marketplace. These include the single-ended-triode amplifier, the single-ended solid-state amplifier, the switching (Class D) power amplifier, and the digital amplifier. Let’s look at each of these in turn. Single-Ended-Triode Amplifiers One of the most interesting trends in high-end audio over the past 30 years has been the return of the…

1 分鐘
desktop loudspeakers

Magnepan Mini Maggie System $1490 The Mini-Maggie system is a three-piece, ribbon-tweeter-equipped, planar-magnetic, dipole speaker system intended primarily for desktop use. Featuring small tweeter/midrange panels that sit atop the desk and a stereo mid/bass panel that sits in the footwell below, it is arguably the finest desktop speaker ever made. In fact, in detail, resolution, purity, freedom from grain, soundstage width and depth, and, above all, coherence, the Mini-Maggie rig sounds for all the world like a pair of Magnepan’s exceptional 3.7i’s on a slightly smaller scale. (223) Wilson Audio TuneTot $9800-$10,500, depending on color For those who love the Wilson sound but must place their loudspeakers close to a room boundary, the diminutive but hefty (29-pound) two-way TuneTot is intended for use on a bookshelf or a piece of furniture positioned next to a…

2 分鐘
tabletop systems

KEF Muo $179 each This wonderfully portable wireless loudspeaker system delivers the sonic goods well beyond expectations, especially given its petite dimensions. Intended for those who want quality listening on the go, it’s a tiny two-way that pumps out big, full, and expansive sound with respectable resolution—and even reproduces some sense of soundstaging on many recordings. The Muo boasts a miniature version of KEF’s Uni-Q “point-source” driver array—a decoupled central tweeter dome and a mid/bass, plus a long-throw radiator in the middle for better bass extension. How KEF packed this remarkably clean- and clear-sounding configuration into a sleek enclosure is a wonder—and a testament to clever design. (265) Technics Ottava SC-C50/C70 $799/$999 These two table- or stand-placed, all-in-one systems impressed MK with their value-for-money. The nearly-complete systems incorporate digital and analog inputs, Bluetooth, wireless and…