Gear We Love 2010 
Home Theater Feature Articles Best Of & Top 100 Lists
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Wednesday, 29 December 2010


gear we love pic

We dug through all the equipment that we covered in 2010 to bring you our top picks for gear that we got our hands on this year.  Check out the Gear We Loved in 2010!

Andre Marc's Picks

McIntosh MA6600 Integrated Amplifier

mac ma6600

 "While not cheap at $6000, MA6600 easily competed with much more expensive units, and even higher priced separates. A solid pre and power combination from a multitude of well know high end manufacturers will cost you as much or more, and will be have very few or any of the features of the MA6600. When McIntosh says they did not compromise on the design of their integrated amps, I believe them and the proof was in the pudding; highly recommended for those searching for a top notch integrated amp in the $5000-$7000 range."

audience speakersAudience ClaireAudient 2 + 2 Monitors

"I found my time with the 2 + 2's immensely rewarding musically. I never found my self growing fatigued, bored, or unengaged. I really believe those shopping for a top class monitor should really find a way to hear these. Besides their sonic beauty, they are also beautiful too look at, and will integrate into any decor.  The 2 + 2's are extremely well made and are hand crafted at Audience's factory in Southern California.  The 2 + 2 is the result of a long period of development and pursuit of a vision. Highly recommended."

Marantz AV7005 and 7055

Marantz AV7005

"The 7005 and 7055 were very impressive across the board, and across all the functions packed into these two boxes that would have taken up an entire room years ago at a cost unaffordable to all but the most fortunate. I believe Marantz has hit it out of the park on their new line of AV products. They are future proof, offer endless flexibility and connectivity even to older components, and make use of technology from Marantz’s high end Reference Series, all in a highly attractive, distinguished looking package. Beware, for if you decide to jump in, you may find yourself upgrading your speakers, cables, and accessories to make them commensurate with the performance of the 7005 and 7055. These are keepers."

paradigm studio 9Paradigm Monitor 9 V.6

"Paradigm has for many years been at the leading edge of sanely priced, excellent sounding loudspeakers, and the Monitor series may be the sweet spot for budget home theater and hifi enthusiasts. I really could not find many flaws with these speakers considering the price. They are very nicely put together, sound great across the frequency spectrum, and are very versatile. They work equally as well for fronts in a home theater set up, or for main speakers in a two channel set up. "

Lamm LL2.1 Deluxe Preamplifier

lamm 21

"If you are auditioning preamplifiers in the $5000-$6000 range, and you can live without a remote control, the LL2.1 should absolutely be on your list. It sounded wonderful with my Audio Research amp, and there is nothing in the design or any weird specifications that would preclude it performing with any number of other manufacturers gear. I loved the retro look, and the purist approach.  Lastly, the build quality is superb, as befits a component of this caliber. Highly recommended, without reservation."


Mike Flacy's Picks


JVC XV-BP1 Blu-ray Player

JVC blu-ray

 "JVC’s XV-BP1 receives enthusiastic approval for its aural and visual quality and relative versatility, sure, but more for its capacity to sprint beyond its competitors in regards to loading / boot-up times.  Though there are players that perform ever-so-slightly better in terms of cinematic prowess, its speed, ease of accessing multimedia files, and overall capacity to handle standard-definition material as well – including zoom for non-16x9 DVDs, an NTSC-PAL decoder, and quality 1080p upscaling – are what set it apart from others within its price-point hemisphere."

Apple iPod Touch

ipod touch

 "Apple has created a device that works as Wi-Fi video phone, online mobile gaming machine, and portable camera in addition to remaining the best portable audio player on the market.  If you have a recent smart phone already, like a Droid or the iPhone 4, you are probably used to those features.  But if you currently have a previous generation of the iPod Touch, the speed, quality and new features of the new player is well worth the upgrade."

Western Digital TV Live Hub

WD live hub

"The Western Digital Live Hub is one of the most fully featured media players I've tested  in a while, something that may not bode well for the upcoming release of the Boxee Box later this month.  While they really need to find a better partner for their downloadable DRM filled media, the player is a powerhouse when it comes to storing, cataloguing and playing an enormous variety of file formats.  Also, this is the most user friendly revision of the user interface to date.  If you are looking for a more robust platform to consumer digital media on within your home or even just your home theater, don't hesitate to consider the Western Digital Live Hub as your primary media player."

Apple TV

Apple TV
"The Apple TV is a fantastic piece of hardware. The player is no larger than a hockey puck and is easily the smallest media player on the market (even compared to the Roku player or the Western Digital HD player).  The streamlined interface, speedy responsiveness, excellent Netflix design, superior streaming A/V quality and relatively low price compared to other Apple products are more than enough to consider a purchase."

Toshiba Qosmio X505-Q896 Laptop

Toshiba laptop

"The Toshiba Qosmio 505-Q896 is, by far, the fastest laptop that I’ve ever used and makes for an incredibly user friendly HTPC experience with Media Controller and Windows Media Center.  If you want to expand the reach of the media located in your main home theater to other sections of the house and are looking for a new desktop computer, consider combining those goals and take a look at the Qosmio X505.  Alternatively to the home theater space, this laptop is also perfect for graphic designers seeking heavy Photoshop & Illustrator use, directors & musicians looking to edit / produce media though tools like Premiere Pro and gaming fanatics that crave the latest tech to play 2010’s releases at 1080p resolution."

Todd Whitesel Picks


Pathos Logos Integrated Amplifier

pathos logos

"Across dozens of discs, LPs and different cabling the Logos provided a very pleasurable listening experience. I had the good fortune to audition the amp for 3 months – about twice as long as most components I review – and came away ready to recommend this gorgeous machine to nearly anyone. Some solid state enthusiasts may want for more power – and if you have very difficult-to-drive speakers, a very large listening space, or demand the final word in solid state detail, the Logos might not be your huckleberry. But if you're looking for the best of both sonic worlds – tube and transistor, with superb construction - it's hard to imagine getting more amp for the money. Art meets audio with the Logos."

AudioControl AVR-1 Receiver


"The AVR-1 does it all, but it's in the sound department that it steps away from the competition. In the audiophile world, A/V receivers are often viewed with suspicion, not because they can't do nearly every trick in the book, but because they can do nearly every trick. The purest signal path is the grail, so incorporating exotic processing modes can only interfere with the signal chain and, ultimately, the final sound suffers. That AudioControl has produced a feature-laden unit to satisfy the tech-iest home theater buff while maintaining high-end sound is the AVR-1's greatest triumph. "

PenaudioPENAUDIO Rebel 3 speakers

"The Rebel 3s impressed me with their fluid yet detailed delivery of whatever I threw at them. My typical day often includes 8 to 10 hours of listening to music. The last thing I want is fatigue or a headache from too much high-end, shrill or otherwise. That I could sit with the Rebels for days and listen, never wanting to change or turn them off speaks loudly for a little speaker that does about everything right in the context of its design. For small to medium-sized listening rooms and backed by  modest amplification, the Rebel 3s will put the performance right in front of you – where it belongs."

Rogue Audio Ares Phono Preamplifier

Rogue Audio

"Compared to my budget-priced Zphono, the Ares brought out more of everything in the music – more air, more detail, more presence, more weight, yet it never sounded “boomy.” The Ares is not for the casual analog kid – its $1,995 price tag ensures that – but if you're looking for a phono preamplifier that can bring out the best in your current system with the flexibility to grow and change with your needs, the Ares is easy to recommend. It's built to last in many more ways than one."


What's your favorite Gear of 2010?

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