|These are certainly my best of 2011 babes!!!|
As Odiosleuth put it, before we move on in to the 2012 stuff, let's recap some gears that impressed us, and we are pretty hard to please!
I have to clarify that we are not only impressed when a super duper expensive gear sounds good. It's when a budget or average priced gear punches above it's class, we especially get excited. Our list of Best Of 2011 equipment will testify to this.
2011 must've been the year Japanese high end hifi manufacturers re-focused their audiophile efforts. Perhaps by witnessing how wrong things can go when the ultra competitive mass market consumer electronics implodes, like for instance Sony was losing $$$ for every Bravia LCD screen TV it sold. Pioneer made an earlier move to shut down it's famous Koru plasma TV division, and then poured resources in to TAD, a low key pro audio outfit they had started some 35 years ago! It seems like Sony is also re-entering the high end audio market with an AR-1, an all Scanspeak driver equipped speaker design. By the way, I think Marantz should really re-evaluate their decision to abandon their Reference series products.
In the US and Japan markets, super high end Japanese brands like BAlabo and Technical Brian have made in roads in to the high end sphere of audiophile dom. The old guards of Japanese high end like Kondo, Luxman and Accuphase soldiers on in the mean time. It would be interesting to see more of these pride of eastern designs in our local market, and how it fares against the established American, British, Italian and German high end marques.
I think in some ways, TAD products took our breath away, with their sonic performance, that is way, way, ahead of the established bench marks. In the last few years of our reviewing experience, no other high end equipment took such a giant leap in performance against well established leading models. This is especially true, in my honest opinion, when it comes to the TAD D-600 CD player and C-2000 pre amp.
Perhaps, we it's time celebrate the Japanese high end audio revival with joy!
Next we start with the Best Of Analogue Gear 2011.