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Winners at a Glance

Hall Of Fame

Analogue Front End
Digital Front End
Power Conditioning





TACT AUDIO RCS 2.2X Room Correction

 System/Preamplifier ($6,990.00):
The RCS 2.2X has been designed in every respect to be a no-compromise audiophile product. From the moment I sat down to listen the walls disappeared. I was transported to the concert hall, and it brought me as close as I’ve ever been to the sound of live music. I can’t live without the RCS 2.2X. It’s just not possible. Room correction should be a mandatory for every audiophile. (Kim)

XINDAK XA3200S LINESTAGE PREAMP ($1,495): Another in a great line of products from China. This sweet-sounding tube unit is just silly-good for the money. It has a full-function remote control, is very well built, and is loaded with premium quality parts. Its sound is comparable to units costing two to three times the money. Well worth seeking out. (Thomas)

($9,000): With the advancements made in digital technology in recent years (and my own love affair with my EMM Labs DAC-6 and EMM Labs modified Philips SACD-1000 Transport), the Aesthetix Io Signature bolsters the analog lover’s arsenal of ammunition to ward off the “perfect sound forever” advocates in the digital camp. Its overbuilt Spartan design, including its separate and herculean 45 pound tube regulated power supply, produces astonishing dynamics, frequency extension to die for, the naturalness that you’ve come to expect from analog, and the harmonic beauty and truth of the best tube designs. Although I have not heard the highly acclaimed Boulder 2008, I have heard many of the better phono stages around, and the Io Signature sits comfortably atop that heap. If you have an analog based system or a large LP collection with a turntable and arm capable of extracting the most from those grooves, you owe it to yourself to hear what the Io Signature can do to your favorite LPs. (Peraino)

SONIC EUPHORIA PLC LINESTAGE ($1,195 single-ended, $1,795 fully balanced): As a reviewer, it is essential to have a control unit that allows me to hear so deeply into what everything else in my system is doing that equipment changes are easily identifiable. The PLC (Passive Line Controller) has taken my system to a level of neutrality that I have not encountered before. For the first time I have been able to really enjoy listening to music through a passive linestage. Review coming. (Wright)

BEL CANTO PRE6 GEN II LINESTAGE ($3,990): [Bill Wells left, presents Bel Canto's chief designer, John Stronczer with St Award] A highly musical solid state linestage with multi-channel capability, loaded with features designed to allow the user a high degree of flexibility in using this unit as a central switching device. Designed to provide audio- and videophiles the ability to reproduce high quality six-channel surround sound. Now in its Generation II level, the Pre6 provides a quality of sound that is neither yin nor yang. For solid state, it is a surprisingly musical device with a midrange that is fully fleshed out and has great extension at both frequency extremes. The upper frequencies are open and revealing, and the lower exhibit power, control and superb definition. Even longtime tube linestage aficionados may well fall in love with the sound of this unit once it is fully broken in. Purity of reproduction is this linestage’s calling card. (Wells)

FIRST SOUND PRESENCE DELUXE LINE STAGE MKII PREAMPLIFIER ($4200): First Sound’s creator and owner, Emmanuel Go [shown here accepting award from CP], epitomizes of what the audio industry should be about: integrity, inventiveness and dedication to seeking perfection. The First Sound Deluxe preamp is a meticulously engineered creation, employing an active linestage using Class A biased triodes, thus reflecting the design philosophy of simple is better. The main chassis is a true dual-mono configuration. The Presence Deluxe achieves its sonic goals by regarding the preamp as the heart of an audio system, responsible for its emotional soul and character. In addition to an absolutely silent background, musicians are placed in stellar definition on my soundstage, where emotion is not only heard, but profoundly felt. One not only sees the string bass, but feels the emotive swirl of hand to string, fundamental to chord, and finally, the decay and emotive response. The Presence Deluxe is worth every quickened heartbeat and I will be reviewing Mr. Go’s upgrade path to this exceptional preamp in the near future. (Brill)