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The Hi-Fi+ Top 100: Lyra to Roon

The Hi-Fi+ Top 100: Lyra to Roon

The third 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!

Lyra Lydian Beta

Reviewed in Issue 1

Lyra’s original moving coil cartridges were musical milestones, but it’s the second-generation nude Lydian Beta – first tested in issue 1 – that showed Lyra the way for its 21st Century successes. 

Reviewed by Roy Gregory

Magico M-Project

Reviewed in Issue 123

http://www.hifiplus.com/articles/magico-m-project-loudspeakers/

A limited-run ‘thank you’ to Magico’s strongest supporters, this high-end floorstanding speaker was the launch-pad for Magico’s most recent innovations. The Rosetta Stone of Magico is a stellar performer, too.

Reviewed by Alan Sircom

Magnepan 30.7

Reviewed in Issue 163

http://www.hifiplus.com/articles/magnepan-307-fourpanel-dipolar-planar-loudspeaker-system/

This four-panel planar magnetic floorstanding loudspeaker has had a long gestation period, but the results speak for themselves. The Magnepan 30.7 is the affordable flat-panel face of super high‑end audio.

Reviewed by Chris Martens

Mark Levinson No 39

Reviewed in Issue 1

Mark Levinson’s digital arm made its name from huge separates players with enormous price tags. The No 39 showed how close you could get with an attainably-priced one-box CD player.

Reviewed by Chris Thomas

Marten Coltrane

Reviewed in Issue 35

Packing a lot of loudspeaker into a comparatively small and beautifully-finished (if expensive) floorstanding cabinet, the refined Marten Coltrane is one of the most effortlessly musical sounding loudspeakers we’ve heard.

Reviewed by Roy Gregory

MartinLogan CLX

Reviewed in Issue 61

Although concentrating on hybrid designs, the all-electrostatic CLX showed MartinLogan at its best, and the curved electrostatic full-range panel threw down the gauntlet to its rivals in outright performance terms.

Reviewed by Roy Gregory

Merging NADAC 

Reviewed in Issue 129

http://www.hifiplus.com/articles/merging-nadac-digital-converter/

Merging is a Swiss digital pro-audio brand, and the robust NADAC has a belt-and-braces approach to music making. It also delivers one of the most accurate and enticing sounds around.

Reviewed by Alan Sircom

Merrill Element 118

Reviewed in Issue 169

http://www.hifiplus.com/articles/merrill-audio-element-118-mono-power-amplifiers/

People associate Class D amplifier operation with small, relatively low-powered, and affordable amplifiers, none of which apply to the uncompromisingly excellent balanced only Merrill Audio Element 118 mono power amplifiers. 

Reviewed by Alan Sircom

Moon 390

Reviewed in Issue 165

http://www.hifiplus.com/articles/moon-390-network-playerpreamplifier/

Moon’s latest version of its MiND network architecture will cope with practically everything you can throw at this multi-faceted source-meets-controller, and best of all it sounds insightful and extremely musical.

Reviewed by Rafael Todes

 

Music First Audio Baby Reference V2

Reviewed in Issue 124

http://www.hifiplus.com/articles/music-first-audio-baby-reference-v2/

The passive preamplifier took on a new lease of life with Music First Audio, and the Baby Reference V2 is the brand’s top model. No active preamp sounds this transparent.

Reviewed by Jason Kennedy

Nagra HD DAC

Reviewed in Issue 122

http://www.hifiplus.com/articles/nagra-hd-dac/

This two-box DAC from the well-loved Swiss brand is one of the most important digital audio components of recent years, because it’s one of the least ‘digital’ sounding of all.

Reviewed by Alan Sircom

Naim Statement

Reviewed in Issue 130

http://www.hifiplus.com/articles/naim-audio-statement-amplifiers/

This three-chassis amplifier showed the high-end what Naim Audio could do when unfettered by price constraints. The price was a shock, but so was the extraordinary ‘PRaT done right’ sound!

Reviewed by Alan Sircom

Neat Ultimatum XL6

Reviewed in Issue 165

http://www.hifiplus.com/articles/neat-acoustics-ultimatum-xl6-loudspeaker/

Neat’s top stand-mount loudspeaker features forward and up-firing tweeters and an internal isobaric bass chamber, all of which makes a huge and rhythmic-sounding speaker larger than its size would suggest.

Reviewed by Alan Sircom

Nordost Odin 2

Reviewed in Issue 128

http://www.hifiplus.com/articles/nordost-odin-2-cables/

Nordost has been a popular choice at Hi-Fi+ since the beginning, but we were unprepared for the sonic game-raiser – in terms of speed and detail resolution – that is Odin 2.

Reviewed by Alan Sircom

Pass Labs XP-25

Reviewed in Issue 94

http://www.hifiplus.com/articles/pass-labs-xp-25-phono-preamp-hi-fi/

This two-box RIAA-only solid-state phono stage allows extreme flexibility in set-up and cartridge loading, which means if you put the effort in, you get an outstanding performance out of the XP-25.

Reviewed by Alan Sircom

PMC fact.12

Reviewed in Issue 107

http://www.hifiplus.com/articles/pmc-fact12-loudspeakers/

These elegant towers were the product of PMC and the National Physical Laboratory in London, creating a loudspeaker with innovative dispersion properties for a narrow baffle. The result sounds fantastic!

Reviewed by Jason Kennedy

Primare I35

Reviewed in Issue 163

http://www.hifiplus.com/articles/primare-i35-integrated-amplifier/

The latest Primare platform is a highly modular amplifier system, but even as just an amplifier the I35 integrated is one of those products that you just love to enjoy!

Reviewed by Alan Sircom

 

ProAc Response D20R

Reviewed in Issue 128

http://www.hifiplus.com/articles/lindemannproac-system/

Taking ProAc’s popular D18 floorstanding loudspeaker and adding a ribbon tweeter would be good enough, but the company also improved the bass loading and made a sweet-sounding speaker with oomph!

Reviewed by Alan Sircom

PS Audio DirectStream

Reviewed in Issue 125

http://www.hifiplus.com/articles/first-listen-ps-audio-directstream-dac-with-pikes-peak-operating-system/

This impressive DAC just keeps getting more impressive with each iteration of its operating system. It’s like getting a new and better-quality DAC for free each time you upgrade.

Reviewed by Chris Martens

PSB M4U 8

Reviewed in Issue 160

http://www.hifiplus.com/articles/psb-m4u-8-wireless-noise-cancelling-headphones/

These clever yet affordable wireless headphones combine very good sound quality in passive mode, even better sound in active mode, and musically sensitive noise cancellation for music on the move. 

Reviewed by Chris Martens

Questyle QP2R

Reviewed in Issue 154

http://www.hifiplus.com/articles/questyle-audio-qp2r-highresolution-portable-digital-audio-player/

Questyle’s second portable Digital Audio Player is a solid, refined, and powerful performer that hooks into the brand’s digital architecture. Its current-mode amplification means the DAP can drive difficult headphones.

Reviewed by Chris Martens

Raidho TD-4.8

Reviewed in Issue 161

http://www.hifiplus.com/articles/raidho-td-48-floorstanding-loudspeakers/

The narrow, wing shaped TD-4.8 is an imposing, if slim, structure, but its 5-layer ceramic-tantalum Diamond drivers give the Raidho tower loudspeaker uncanny speed and precision that sets a new standard.

Reviewed by Alan Sircom

Rega Osiris

Reviewed in Issue 72

http://www.hifiplus.com/articles/rega-isis-osiris-hifi-plus-72/

Rega was best known for making affordable turntables, so the high-end integrated Osiris came as a shock. The detailed, inherently musical, deceptively powerful amp is still the one to beat.

Reviewed by Jason Kennedy

REL 212/SE

Reviewed in Issue 145

http://www.hifiplus.com/articles/rel-acoustics-212se-subwoofer/

Arguably REL’s most musical subwoofer in the range (without spending a fortune), the powerful 212/SE, when correctly installed makes your speakers do less work, and the soundstage blossoms and expands.

Reviewed by Alan Sircom

Roon Nucleus +

Reviewed in Issue 159

http://www.hifiplus.com/articles/roon-nucleus-music-server/

The Nucleus + is a grab-and-go music server capable of storing up to 120,000 tracks and makes them sound good while incorporating all the track-wrangling joys of Roon.

Reviewed by Chris Thomas

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