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The Hi-Fi+ Top 100: dCS to Linn Products

The Hi-Fi+ Top 100: dCS to Linn Products

The second 25 of our round-up of the best products from the finest brands of the last 20 years, covering products made from early 1999 to 2019. Please note, this feature was in celebration of Hi-Fi+ twenty years of high-quality audio reviews and accompanied our 170th printed issue. Audio is a fluid, dynamic market, and reviews published after Hi-Fi+ Issue 170 are also relevant!

dCS Vivaldi 2.0

Reviewed in Issue 141

https://hifiplus.com/articles/dcs-vivaldi-20-digital-playback-system/

dCS is the best of British digital audio and the four-box Vivaldi is the best of that best. Imagine our surprise when it was transformed by its v2.0 firmware upgrades!

Reviewed by Chris Thomas

Devialet D-Premier

Reviewed in Issue 75

https://hifiplus.com/articles/the-devialet-d-premier-integrated-ampdac-hifi-75/

This shiny chrome pizza box-sized amplifier came packed with the highest of high-tech audio electronics, and the hi-fi industry sat up and took notice. The ultimate in disruptive audio technology!

Reviewed by Alan Sircom

Dynaudio Special Forty

Reviewed in Issue 153

https://hifiplus.com/articles/dynaudio-special-forty-standmount-loudspeaker/

The Special Forty sports a treated Esotar tweeter, magnesium-silicate polymer bass driver, first order crossover, and subtly trapezoid thin-ply birch cabinet, which adds up to something sounding a bit special.

Reviewed by Chris Martens

Eclipse TD508MK3/TD725swMk2

Reviewed in Issues 106 and 116

https://hifiplus.com/articles/eclipse-td508mk3-loudspeakers/

https://hifiplus.com/articles/eclipse-td-td725swmk2/

Eclipse’s distinctive full-range, crossoverless TD508MK3 is a phase correct point source favoured by recording engineers and audio enthusiasts alike, and the TD725swMk2 is the only subwoofer that can keep up!

Reviewed by Alan Sircom

ELAC Adante AS-61

Reviewed in Issue 158

https://hifiplus.com/articles/elac-adante-as-61-standmount-loudspeaker/

Visionary loudspeaker designer Andrew Jones developed these excellent three-way loudspeakers as one of his first projects with ELAC, featuring a dual concentric driver and an aluminium cone bass driver. Wow!

Reviewed by Alan Sircom

Ensemble Natura

Reviewed in Issue 89

https://hifiplus.com/articles/ensemble-natura-loudspeakers-hi-fi-89/

Swiss-made Ensemble builds systems, but if you want to typify what the brand stands for, look no further than the Natura floorstanding loudspeaker; its extremely natural sound is ideal for classical music.

Reviewed by Alan Sircom

Final D8000

Reviewed in Issue 157

https://hifiplus.com/articles/final-d8000-planar-magnetic-headphone-with-air-film-damping-system/

A unique planar magnetic headphone system that incorporates Final’s own air film damping system, the D8000 doesn’t just look good; it has the sonic performance and the technology to match.

Reviewed by Chris Martens

 

Focal Diablo Utopia

Reviewed in Issue 63

Now replaced by the similar-looking Diablo Utopia III Evo, the original Diablo Utopia remains one of Chris Thomas reference loudspeakers today, as it delves deep and delivers the detailed goods!

Reviewed by Chris Thomas

German Physiks Borderland Mk IV

Reviewed in Issue 141

https://hifiplus.com/articles/german-physiks-borderland-mk-iv-floorstanding-loudspeaker/

German Physiks builds and develops omnidirectional loudspeaker designs, and the Borderland Mk IV is a perfect example of why that exceedingly rare approach really is a good thing!  

Reviewed by Alan Sircom

GoldenEar Technology Triton Reference

Reviewed in Issue 151

https://hifiplus.com/articles/goldenear-technology-triton-reference-floorstanding-loudspeaker/

GoldenEar combines outstanding AMT ribbon tweeter refinement with oodles of active sub-bass power in a conventional looking and extremely affordable tower loudspeaker. High-end audio and video speakers better watch out!

Reviewed by Chris Martens

Gryphon Diablo 120 and Mojo S

Reviewed in Issue 147

https://hifiplus.com/articles/munich-preview-exclusive-gryphon-diablo-120-amplifier-and-mojo-s-loudspeaker-system/

This is the first rung on the ladder to greatness from the grandmasters of Scandinavian high-end audio systems, Gryphon. Both phenomenally well-made and exceptionally well-matched, this power duo work beautifully. 

Reviewed by Roy Gregory

Hegel H590

Reviewed in Issue 163

https://hifiplus.com/articles/hegel-music-systems-h590-integrated-amplifier/

Hegel makes giant killer amplifiers, so making its own giant in the H590 could have gone wrong. Instead, it shows what can be done when the price constraints are removed. 

Reviewed by Alan Sircom

HiFiMAN Shangri-La Jr

Reviewed in Issue 168

https://hifiplus.com/articles/hifiman-shangri-la-junior-electrostatic-headphone-and-valve-driven-amplifier/

HiFiMAN shocked the personal audio world with its very high-end Shangri-La system, but in the Shangri-La Jr it produces similar levels of performance for a fraction of the original price.

Reviewed by Jim Hannon

iFi Pro iDSD

Reviewed in Issue 164

https://hifiplus.com/articles/ifi-audio-pro-idsd-dacheadphone-amppreampstreamer/

We review a lot of iFi Audio, but the Pro iDSD Streamer/DAC/headphone-amp/preamp is the best yet, thanks to it covering a lot of ground and sounding great in the process.

Reviewed by Chris Martens

Innuos Statement

Reviewed in Issue 168

https://hifiplus.com/articles/innuos-statement-music-server/

Taking the already excellent ZENith SE platform to its conclusion, the two-box music server from Innuos is proving to be a tough act to beat in today’s music server world. 

Reviewed by Jason Kennedy

IsoTek EVO3 Mosaic Genesis

Reviewed in Issue 123

https://hifiplus.com/articles/isotek-evo3-mosaic-genesis/

IsoTek’s skills in making power conditioners and power cables extend to making power regenerators. With indicators for voltage and distortion, the benefits of clean power are both visible and audible. 

Reviewed by Nicholas Ripley

Jeff Rowland Continuum S2

Reviewed in Issue 120

https://hifiplus.com/articles/jeff-rowland-design-group-continuum-s2-integrated-amplifier/

Jeff Rowland Design Group products always look great, but this 400W Class D integrated amplifier with optional DAC or phono modules sounds holographically transparent and detailed too. Best used balanced.

Reviewed by Alan Sircom

 

KEF Blade

Reviewed in Issue 91

https://hifiplus.com/articles/kef-blade-loudspeaker-hi-fi/

The distinctive Blade is a high-tech tour-de-force. Using KEF’s UniQ driver set in among four equidistant side-firing bass units in a blade-shaped cabinet, the Blade is a detail-retrieving high-end superstar.

Reviewed by Roy Gregory

Kii Audio Three

Reviewed in Issue 162

https://hifiplus.com/articles/kii-three-active-loudspeaker-system/

One of the few active loudspeakers that even the most curmudgeonly audiophiles approve of, the Kii Three is a complete Class D, DSP-driven, great-sounding streaming system inside a speaker cabinet!

Reviewed by Jason Kennedy

Kimber Kable Axios

Reviewed in Issue 149

https://hifiplus.com/articles/kimber-axios-headphone-cable/

Years of making great cable for conventional two-channel audio does not automatically transfer to good personal audio sounds, but Kimber Kable’a Axios is different, and is a true in-ear revelation!

Reviewed by Chris Martens

Koetsu Blue Onyx

Reviewed in Issue 116

https://hifiplus.com/articles/koetsu-blue-onyx/

Everything about this remarkable moving coil cartridge is the stuff of legend, from the hand-fashioned blue Onyx body shell to the platinum sheathed copper wires used in the coil windings. 

Reviewed by Jimmy Hughes

Kronos Sparta and Helena

Reviewed in Issue 131

https://hifiplus.com/articles/kronos-sparta-turntable-and-helena-tonearm/

The Sparta is the more attainable turntable from Kronos. This can start as a single platter deck, with a counter-rotating underplatter upgrade. And the Helena arm is a magical counterpart.

Reviewed by Alan Sircom

Kuzma Stabi R

Reviewed in Issue 164

https://hifiplus.com/articles/kuzma-stabi-r-turntable/

The latest turntable from Kuzma is solid aluminium with a built-in power supply. It can support up to four tonearms and can be finished in a range of wooden frames.

Reviewed by Alan Sircom

Linn Selekt DSM

Reviewed in Issue 164

https://hifiplus.com/articles/linn-selekt-dsm-digital-streaming-platform/

Linn has long trod its own path, but things are changing. The new Selekt DSM streamer/amplifier is designed specifically to play nice with other people’s speakers, and it does so brilliantly!

Reviewed by Alan Sircom

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