Stereophile's Products of 1994

No magazine can help but concentrate on the present, and tend to downplay what happened in the irretrievable past as being less important than the new and the exciting. I instituted Stereophile's annual "Products of the Year" feature in 1992, therefore, to give recognition to those components that had proved capable of giving pleasure beyond the formal review period.

This is the third year we have given awards. There are six individual categories: "Loudspeakers" (including subwoofers); "Amplification Components" (preamplifiers, power amplifiers, etc.); "Digital Sources" (CD players, transports, D/A processors); "Analog Sources" (phono cartridges, turntables, tonearms, FM tuners, etc.); "Home Theater Components" (other than video, which we don't cover); and "Accessories" (everything else).

The two most important categories are self-explanatory: the "Component of the Year"—the Best of the Best—and the "Budget Component of the Year"—the Best Sound for the Buck.

There is also an "Editor's Choice" award, which I reserve to myself to single out those superb-sounding products that have proved themselves. "New! Improved! Latest/greatest/bigger/better/faster/more powerful..." writes Jack English elsewhere in this issue about the industry's emphasis on what is happening now. Yet when I'm asked to recommend products, I tend to fall back on mature products that offer proven long-term satisfaction. To be eligible for "Editor's Choice," therefore, a component must have been continuously available for at least a decade.

The formal voting procedure consisted of two steps: First, I asked each of Stereophile's hardware reviewers to nominate up to five components in each of the categories. To be a contender, a product had to have been reported on in Stereophile between the November 1993 and October 1994 issues, either in a full review or in a Follow-Up. Most important, only those components for which a writer had put his opinion on the line for public scrutiny could be nominated. I then put together a ballot form which included all the components that had been nominated by three or more writers and/or editors. In this manner, most of the nominees in most of the categories would have been auditioned by most of the reviewers.

Seventeen of the magazine's reviewing staff gave three votes for their first choice in each category, two votes for their second choice, and one vote for their third choice (if they had a third choice). I tallied the votes and smythed the words you are now reading. (I've included the retail price as of December 1993 and the date of the original review(s) so you can read the full text of what we had to say about each product.)—John Atkinson

COMMENTS
Bogolu Haranath's picture

Hip hip hooray ....... The links are working :-) .........

JRT's picture

Nicely done.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Looks like we finally have a new technical editor who knows what he is doing ....... May be he is a new member of the Stereophile staff? :-) .........

JRT's picture

I think he should have chosen the Sennheiser HD580 headphones.

https://www.stereophile.com/headphones/1294senn/index.html

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Look at the measurements of Sennheiser HD-580 on Inner/Fidelity website ........ Not that great in bass frequency below 100 Hz :-) .........

JRT's picture

I would not judge them in retrospect against modern alternatives. Headphones have gotten better. A family of headphones that started with the HD580 remains very popular, and seems to have seen a new resurgence in popularity at MassDrop.

There were other headphones available in 1994. Some had better bass, but that came in combination with a different set of shortcomings. With the Sennheiser HD580, to me the errors seemed to be errors of omission, and those errors seemed to be more easily overlooked with the music I prefer. So I bought a pair in mid/late 1990s, very much enjoyed thousands of hours of listening through them, and my opinion is likely biased by that positive experience.

I would suggest that if somebody wants to listen to music heavy with synthetic bass, various genres spanning from 1970's disco music though the various follow-on genres that over-utilized subwoofers, then they should probably look elsewhere. I prefer other music.

For jazz and classical and blues, for most of the music recorded before disco, and for a lot of music that has been recorded since, I think that the original HD580 was a fine choice, and the original HD580 Jubilee Edition and HD600 might be better choices.

John Atkinson's picture
JRT wrote:
I think he should have chosen the Sennheiser HD580 headphones. https://www.stereophile.com/headphones/1294senn/index.html

The Sennheisers weren't reviewed until December 1994 so weren't eligible for the 1994 awards. As it says in the foreword, "To be a contender, a product had to have been reported on in Stereophile between the November 1993 and October 1994 issues."

John Atkinson
Technical Editor, Stereophile

Bogolu Haranath's picture

I would have chosen the Dunlavy SC-IV as the Editor's choice ........ Excellent engineering :-) .........

JRT's picture

John Dunlavy extracted some very good performance from the set of inexpensive Vifa drivers that he used in the SC-IV. He upgraded the woofers to ScanSpeak in a later variant. His crossovers were well developed and were far from being over-simplified.

tonykaz's picture

Your Dunlavys might have been good but the little Monitors are still in Production and still outstanding.

What ever happened to Dunlavy ?

Tony in Venice

ps. these guys were reviewing with Krell Amplification, doesn't Krell make everything sound wonderful ?

Bogolu Haranath's picture

AFAIK, Dunlavy designed the Duntech Sovereign loud speakers ....... Duntech still lists them as in production on their website ........ I don't know what happened to Dunlavy :-) .......

John Atkinson's picture
Bogolu Haranath wrote:
I don't know what happened to Dunlavy

John Dunlavy passed away in 2007 at the age of 78. In poor health, he had sold the Dunlavy company at the end of 2001 to pro-lighting company Wybron. I interviewed John in 1996: see www.stereophile.com/interviews/163/index.html.

The new owners of Dunlavy loudspeakers shut it down in November 2002: see www.stereophile.com/news/11492/index.html.

John Atkinson
Technical Editor, Stereophile

Bogolu Haranath's picture

May be Stereophile could review one of the new Duntech speaker models ....... Sovereign may be too big ....... Duntech Marquis seems to be the right size :-) ........

John Atkinson's picture
Bogolu Haranath wrote:
May be Stereophile could review one of the new Duntech speaker models ...

That would be up to Jim Austin, but as far as I am aware, Duntech loudspeakers are not currently distributed in the USA, though some mastering studios use them.

John Atkinson
Technical Editor, Stereophile

Bogolu Haranath's picture

Can we bribe Jim Austin with a bottle of Tennessee Honey? ........ Just kidding :-) ........

tonykaz's picture

Pose or ponder something

then... Poof,

The accurate background informs us !!!

Mr.JA1 is a Wikipedia or Audiopedia or even a Stereophedia to our Canadian friends.

Tony in Venice

ps. I just gotta say that our beloved Steve G the Audiophiliac is interviewing Rachel from Grant Fidelity, a Chinese Lady explaining the complex China Marketplace.

tonykaz's picture

Steve G pointed me at this Headphone back in 2011, long after it's being discontinued. It remains a better transducer than any "ANY" Loudspeaker Transducer system I've ever heard. ( of course, I haven't heard em all but I've certainly owned any dam loudspeaker I wanted. )

Still, did we have Superb Asgard 2 type headphone amplification in 1994 ?

In 1994, I probably would've nominated the LP12 & LS3/5a. Both are enduring greats !!!

Tony in Venice

ps. maybe even a pair of Linn Kans and matching stands , MIT 750 Music Hose & any Koetsu .

Staxguy's picture

It would be interesting to compare the top loudspeaker of this period, or say, the Dunlavy V.I. with the Wilson Chronosonic of today.

Allen Fant's picture

I trip back in time! J.A.

I still have this issue and had celebrated my 1st year as a subscriber (1993 to Present Date).

Robin Landseadel's picture

"The Vendetta is the odd man out, no longer being in production since the Berkeley fire destroyed designer John Curl's stock of parts and boards. (John Curl is offering Type C and D (diode) upgrades to present owners for $500 and $250, respectively.) It was available for nomination because it keeps on popping up its head in reviews as Stereophile's reference phono preamplifier."

I remember when it happened. I was making marble paper in the backyard, looked over my shoulder, saw this huge plume of smoke coming out of the hills.

Ortofan's picture

... how many buyers decided that the $1800 Arcam Delta 100 cassette deck (with its Denon sourced mechanism) was a better choice than the similarly priced Nakamichi CR-7A?
Or, if you simply had to have Dolby S, then either the significantly less expensive TEAC V-8000S or the Sony TC-K909ES.

Bogolu Haranath's picture

May be those buyers played 'Guardians of the Galaxy' mix-tape and decided that Arcam cassette deck sounded the best :-) ........

jimtavegia's picture

I have been playing around with my old Denon deck and it always surprises me when I do. I recorded a Helene Grimaud stream concert last week on both my Tascam DR-2d at 2496 and on the Denon and enjoyed them both as I doubt the stream was a high bit rate, but enjoyed it. I sure enjoy Ms. Grimaud's playing and the Phildelphia Orchestra is great. Miss the days the FM taping.

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