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The Hi-Fi+ Top 100: 1More to Dan Clark Audio

The Hi-Fi+ Top 100: 1More to Dan Clark Audio

Over the last 20 years, Hi-Fi+ has amassed a significant number of product reviews. More than 2,800 in fact, which at a rough guess works out at almost three million words of reviews about some of the best products in audio. Looking through that archive gives one a unique perspective on audio in the dying embers of the 20th Century and the first years of the 21st. Fascinatingly, although some brands have changed hands (sometimes more than once), surprisingly few companies have entirely disappeared; of the 22 different brands featured in that first issue, 19 of them are still going strong.

Perhaps even more remarkably, you don’t need to look much further to find products that remain in production; the Digital Stylus Force gauge made by The Cartridge Man is still made to this day, and a metal version of Clearaudio’s acrylic cartridge alignment tool is also available. The VPI HW16.5 record cleaning machine is also in production but is no longer sold in the UK. To find the first product in the signal chain that is in production to this day, you need to fast forward to issue three (Oct/Nov 1999) and the Shahinian Starter loudspeaker, followed closely by that evergreen amplifier, the Naim NAP 250 in issue four (Dec 1999/Jan 2000). That last amplifier may have been boosted by DR (Discrete Regulator) upgrades in recent years, but at the time we reviewed it, the NAP 250 was already approaching 25 years old, and shows no signs of slowing down as it reaches its 45th birthday. There are few other branches of consumer electronics that can lay claim to such product life cycles. 

What follows is a round-up of some of the best products from some of the best brands we have seen in the last 20 years. We have set a couple of criteria: that the company should still be in business and – whenever possible – we select products that are still in production, or at least a variant of the product is still in production. Each brand stands on the shoulders of dozens of other companies that could just as easily make the cut, and out of the 300 or so initially selected, we thinned the pack out by selecting brands that featured regularly enough to suggest success was not a one-off. In addition, almost every product from these 100 names was picked from a number of very positive reviews for that brand in Hi-Fi+. In that case, we have gone for what we feel is the most significant product in the line-up. That’s not to say products or brands not in our top 100 are inferior; in fact, we had something like an embarrassment of riches. 

In this line-up, we have highlighted where possible review and/or the relevant issue in which that review is published. Of course, with an archive that runs right back to the last days of the 20th Century, not all our original reviews are available online, and some of our issues are now completely sold out. But just as we were surprised by how many products from our early years are still in production, you might be surprised by just how many back issues we still have!

First published in issue 170


1MORE Quad Driver 

Reviewed in Issue 147 


Of the brands in Hi-Fi+, few have combined high performance with value for money as successfully as 1MORE. The company’s excellent Quad Driver in-ear universal-fit earphone is a perfect example.

Reviewed by Chris Martens

Abyss AB-1266 Phi CC 

Reviewed in Issue 166


The distinctive looking Abyss design is a continual search for the best headphone sound and the AB‑1266 Phi CC planar magnetic is our resident personal audio guru’s reference standard model. 

Reviewed by Chris Martens

AKG N5005 

Reviewed in Issue 164


AKG’s current in-ear flagship is an ambitious design for both wired and wireless listening. Spend some time getting the right ear tips and the result is a wonderfully balanced sound.

Reviewed by Alan Sircom

Astell & Kern AK380

Reviewed in Issue 126


The company that revitalised the portable Digital Audio Player, and the product that best typifies what A&K does best – a no-compromise powerhouse performer for the home and on the move.

Reviewed by Chris Martens

Audeze iSINE 20 

Reviewed in Issue 152


Audeze squeezed a planar magnetic quart into a universal-fit earphone pint pot, all with a TIE fighter aesthetic. Designed to be driven by smartphones on the go, these sound amazing!

Reviewed by Chris Martens

Audio Research REF 160M 

Reviewed in Issue 163


Audio Research is on a roll at the moment, but that didn’t prepare us for what might just be the best hybrid power amplifier ever made from this high-end titan.

Reviewed by Alan Sircom

AudioQuest Niagara 7000 

Reviewed in Issue 168


AudioQuest makes everything from small DACs to giant power cords, but it’s the super-heavy Niagara 7000 flagship of its conditioner range that really caught our eye. Perfect power properly produced!

Reviewed by Roy Gregory


Reviewed in Issue 156


AURALiC makes some of the best streaming systems we’ve ever heard. The VEGA G2 is the core platform for its highest range to date. It’s a great sounding digital multitool!

Reviewed by Chris Martens


Avalon Isis

Reviewed in Issue 46

We struggled to choose between the Eidelon Diamond and the Isis, but the flagship Avalon’s refinement so impressed Roy Gregory at the time it’s almost impossible to beat. Even today. 

Reviewed by Roy Gregory

Ayre KX-R 

Reviewed in Issue 62

Using Ayre’s sophisticated Variable Gain Transconductance volume control, the original KX-R line preamplifier so impressed Chris Thomas that he used it as his reference. Now replaced by the KX-R Twenty.

Reviewed by Chris Thomas

Benchmark HPA4 

Reviewed in Issue 167


Benchmark is perhaps best known for its range of DACs, but the new HPA4 shows just what the brand can do with a take-no-prisoners headphone amplifier design. A real game-changer!

Reviewed by Tom Martin

Benz-Micro SLR Gullwing 

Reviewed in Issue 79


Until a cat took a swipe at the cantilever, the nude SLR Gullwing was the Editor’s reference moving coil thanks to its crisp, rhythmic, detailed yet inviting, and dynamic presentation.

Reviewed by Alan Sircom

Bowers & Wilkins 802 Diamond

Reviewed in Issue 81

The 802 Diamond featured an innovative diamond tweeter with one of the last iterations of B&W’s one-time signature Kevlar midrange. A powerful, yet domestically-acceptable, statement. Replaced by the 802 D3.

Reviewed by Jason Kennedy

Burmester 151 Musiccenter 

Reviewed in Issue 121


Burmester famously keeps products in production for decades, so a media server needs to get things very right. Fortunately, in the 151 Burmester made a truly world-class CD-ripping music server.

Reviewed by Alan Sircom

Computer Audio Design 1543 Mk II 

Reviewed in Issue 121


The austere CAD DAC has just one USB input and uses a ladder array of vintage Philips chips to deliver perhaps the best non-oversampling 16-bit PCM sound you’ll ever hear! Now in Mk III guise.

Reviewed by Jason Kennedy

Cardas Audio Clear 

Reviewed in Issue 66

Starting with the original Clear, Cardas has replaced many of its long-standing cables throughout the range with Clear-related versions. Clear is always neutral yet entertaining, and it can revolutionise systems!

Reviewed by Alan Sircom


Cayin HA-300 

Reviewed in Issue 161

Cayin’s 300B powered headphone amplifier with an external power supply can also act as a single-ended triode or push-pull stereo integrated amp in its own right. A very fine all-rounder.

 Reviewed by Chris Martens

CH Precision L1, P1, X1, M1

Reviewed in Issue 159


A complete line preamp, phono stage, power supply, and mono power amp system from Switzerland. The line and phono stage can each be upgraded to full four-box dual mono, too!

Reviewed by Roy Gregory

Chord Company Sarum Super ARAY

Reviewed in Issue 135

Taking Chord’s Tuned ARAY geometry to the max, Sarum represented the pinnacle of Chord’s performance until its Taylon insulation raised the game. Existing owners can upgrade to the latest Sarum!

Reviewed by Roy Gregory

Chord Electronics DAVE 

Reviewed in Issue 141


Short for ‘Digital to Analogue Veritas in Extremis’, DAVE is the pinnacle of Chord’s sophisticated FPGA-based digital conversion systems delivering a whopping 1000x the processing power of conventional DAC chips.

Reviewed by Alan Sircom

Clearaudio Goldfinger Statement 

Reviewed in Issue 104


At the very top of Clearaudio’s extensive range of moving magnet and moving coil cartridges, the distinctive-looking Goldfinger Statement is one of the most insightful LP components money can buy.

Reviewed by Roy Gregory

conrad-johnson GAT Mk II 

Reviewed in Issue 137


Using just one double-triode per channel, this hybrid line-only design relies on a minimalist circuit to make one of the best preamplifiers we’ve ever heard. Original owners can upgrade too.

Reviewed by Roy Gregory

Constellation Hercules II Stereo

Reviewed in Issue 125


Available in mono or – as we tested, stereo – form, the mighty Hercules II is the mainstay of Constellation’s top Reference series thanks to an incredibly detailed, musical, and dynamic sound.

Reviewed by Alan Sircom

Crystal Cable Absolute Dream

Reviewed in Issues 95 and 96



Absolute Dream was Crystal Cable’s first design to feature a monocrystal silver solid-core conductor wrapped in twin sheaths of Kapton and PEEK and then wrapped in a braid of both silver-plated monocrystal copper and gold-plated monocrystal silver. It’s not cheap, but the best never is!

Reviewed by Alan Sircom

Dan Clark Audio VOCE

Reviewed in Issue 170


Electrostatic headphones are rare, and it’s a sign of Dan Clark Audio’s (née MrSpeakers) commitment to personal audio that it has produced the Voce. It helps that it’s one of the best headphones around.

Reviewed by Chris Martens


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