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AV News Forum Topics:'s Best of 1999 List Print E-mail
Wednesday, 01 December 1999
The Audio Revolution is dedicated to bringing you the absolute best in high performance music and film playback equipment along with the most emotionally charged home video and music software. Our Best Of 1998 awards are reserved for the absolute best performers and consider both performance, value and asthetic. Congratulations to the winners. Here are the categories:
Audio Product of the Year: Wilson WATT Puppy version 5.1

Like a Porsche 911, the Wilson WATT Puppy has evolved into the most refined example of a haute design category. Despite its high retail price of $18,300 (as tested) the WATT Puppy 5.1 was nearly a unanimous choice among writers and editors. The Martin-Logan SL3’s mid-range purity was impressive to all who had the chance to spend some time with the product. Sonic Frontier’s Line 3 made us all wish we had another tube preamp – except for Bryan Southard, who bought his review unit.

Runners Up:
Sonic Frontiers Line 3
Audio Research VT 100
Martin-Logan SL3

Home Theater Product of the Year: Proceed AVP

Home Theater Product of the Year was a tough one to choose in 1999, in that the Philips Pronto brings a simply unbelievable, palm top control system to the masses at $500, while the Proceed AVP at $5,000 provides practically everything you need for a high performance theater system in one package. At $2,995, the Sunfire Theater Grand gave the Proceed and Pronto a good run for the money in our most competitive Best Of category.

Runners Up:
Sunfire Theater Grand
Philips Pronto
Philips TiVo
Pioneer Plasma

Loudspeaker of the Year (under $3000): Martin-Logan Scenario

The Martin Logan Scenario was a unanimous winner in this category. The consensus was: anyone who invests in Martin-Logan Scenarios at $2,000 will be hooked on high performance music and theater playback for years to come. A super-wide-open mid-range and a greatly improved physical design make the Scenario a killer for music and the theater sound.

Runner Up:
Dyn Audio Audience
Evett and Shaw Elan

Loudspeaker of the Year (over $3000): Wilson WATT Puppy 5.1

Based on the winner of Audio Product of the Year, you could have guessed that the Wilson WATT Puppy 5.1 won this category. The Martin-Logan SL3 at $3,500 was a strong contender, with tremendous mid-range resolution. The Meridian DSP 5000, with its completely integrated and advanced 24 bit-96 kHz package, also received many votes.

Runner Up:
Martin-Logan SL3
Meridian DSP 5000

Power Amp of the Year: Audio Research VT 100

Bryan Southard raved so much about the $5,000 Audio Research that it became a runaway winner. The Krell KAV 300I at $2,500 is a terrific value, with great bass response and an often overlooked but very important option: an FM tuner.

Runner Up:
Krell KAV 300I

Five-Channel Amp of the Year: Sunfire Cinema Grand Signature

Rated at over 400 watts times five and with a super smooth, tubelike sound, Bob Carver’s Sunfire Cinema Grand could be the best five-channel power amp, period. The Outlaw Audio Model 750 is a killer for the price and its on-loan-only distribution method has the stodgy AV manufacturers whining like a bunch of babies. The Proceed amps sound more and more like Mark Levinson amps with each new product, which is a VERY good thing.

Runners up:
Proceed AMP 5
Proceed HPA2 and HPA3
Outlaw Audio Model 750

Preamp of the Year: Sonic Frontiers Line 3

Sonic takes the pride in ownership factor over the top. White gloves for installing the tubes and an out-of-the-box remote design just adds to the excellent sound. The BAT VK40 has a lot of the same goodies and spiffy industrial design in a solid state package for a little less money.

Runners up:
Audio Research LS 15

AV Preamp of the Year: Proceed AVP

The Proceed AVP is the best of a strong field of AV preamps that reviewed in 1999. The EAD Theater Master received a lot of praise for its set-up, while the Sunfire was praised for its performance-vs.-dollar ratio. Kim Wilson made sure to note that, from an audio standpoint, the ADA Cinema Reference competes with the Theta Casablanca for the absolute best-sounding AV Preamp – cost no object. At $2,995, the Sunfire Theater Grand has won many a fan with its characteristic warm sound and host of features you’d expect from a much more expensive AV preamp.

Runners up:
Sunfire Theater Grand
ADA Cinema Reference
EAD Theater Master

Receiver of the Year: Onkyo TX-DS575

For $529, the Onkyo TX-DS 575 is really hard to beat. DTS, AC3 and great sounding 70-watt times five amplifiers make this receiver a tremendous value. Imagine this system: Onkyo TX-DS575, a good $400 DVD player, a Replay TV, DSS, a Pronto and a $2,000 Paradigm 5.1 speaker system. Rocking – on a budget. The Yamaha for more money gives you more power and more flexibility.

Runners up:
Yamaha RX-V2095

Digital Audio Source of the Year: Wadia 860

The Wadia 860 sounds so good for 16-bit CDs it is shocking. With digital ins and outs, you can link up a digital EQ to correct your room acoustics while at the same time redither your digital word to a higher bit rate. Add in, arguably, the most transparent preamp on the market and you’ve got a real killer even with its hefty price. The Escient Tunebase 2000I, while not really a digital source, received a lot of comment in that it revolutionizes the way you manage and enjoy hosting CDs with your changers. Imagine having your CD cover art and song titles in color on your touchscreen remote. It is here, with the PowerPlay for DVD coming soon.

Runners up:
Audio Research CD 2
Escient Tunebase 2000I

Digital Video Source of the Year: Sony DVP-S7700

The cost of a killer front end has come down tremendously in the world of home theater. The Sony DVP-7700 is the best example. The Theta DaViD offers truly high-end performance, but at $1,400, the Sony takes the award based on sheer value. The Theta comes with a host of video options (like 4:2:2 digital video outputs) you can’t get at $1,400, but unless you are running a cutting-edge video playback system, you won’t need them yet. Emphasis on "yet."

Runners up:
Philips TiVo
Cal Audio CL20
Theta DaViD

Video product of the Year: Pioneer Plasma

The Pioneer Plasma is so big and so thin. It really rocks. Plasma technology isn’t all the way ready yet. However, if you have to have a plasma today, the Pioneer is the one to choose.

Runners up:
Sony Plasma

Accessory of the Year: Philips Pronto

The Philips pronto may be the best remote control ever. With a PC and a simple download, you can make the Pronto jump through hoops and then some. Unlike bigger touchscreen remotes, the Pronto fits in one hand for easy channel surfing. It can’t do all of the macros and automation that a Phast or Crestron can, but for $500, you just can’t beat it! The Evett and Shaw Elan – Flatte 50 desktop music system could win an award for pure audio lust. Complete with a velvet-lined Zero Centurion Elite briefcase as packing, this setup is for the serious music lover’s work environment.

Runners up:
Evett and Shaw Elan and Flatte 50 desktop system

Best New AV technology: MP3

It may not be the best-sounding new format, but man, is it going to change the way we buy and/or learn about new music. You have to know the MP3 is the real deal when for the first time in the history of the Internet, "MP3" replaced "Sex" as the top search word on the top search engines. Power to the people with a cable modem – MP3 is the real deal.

Personal TV is still working out its bugs, but when it is 100% happening, Personal TV (ReplayTV and TiVo) will likely replace your VCR. Watching TV while skipping commercials is killer. Analog is dead for video. Meridian’s MLP compression is a big deal for future DVD audio formats. Its advanced compression makes it possible to squeeze even more resolution and/or goodies onto a DVD disc. Look for MLP as the best technology for 2000!

Runners up:
Meridian's MLP
Personal TV (TiVo or ReplayTV

Breakthrough Products
Philips TiVo
Escient Tunebase 200oi
Philips Pronto

Jerry Del Colliano's Top 5 DVD releases of 1999
1. The Matrix (Warner Brothers)
2. Dangerous Beauty (Warner Brothers)
3. The Player (New Line)
4. Fletch (Universal)
5. Goodfellas (Warner Brothers)

Jerry Del Colliano's Top 5 CDs of 1999

1. Red Hot and Rhapsody, Gershwin Groove (Verve)
2. Lyle Lovett - Live in Texas (MCA)
3. Buckcherry – self-titled (Dreamworks)
4. Godsmack – self-titled (Republic/MCA)
5. Van Halen – Van Halen 1 (DCC Reissue)

Kim Wilson’s top 5 DVD releases of 1999
1. The Matrix (Warner Brothers)
2. Titanic (Paramount)
3. The Mummy (Universal)
4. Strange Days (Twentieth Century Fox)
5. Saving Private Ryan (Steven Spielberg)

Kim Wilson’s top 5 CD releases of 1999
1. Afro Celt Sound System - Volume 2: Release (Real World)
2. Santana- Supernatural (Arista)
3. Sophie B. Hawkins - Timbre (Columbia)
4. Lenny Kravitz –5 (Virgin)
5. Melissa Etheridge – Breakdown (Island)

Bryan Southard’s top 5 CD releases of 1999
1. Counting Crows – Live on a Wire (Geffen)
2. Dave Matthews & Tim Reynolds - Live at Luther College (RCA)
3. Shawn Mullins – Soul’s Core (Sony)
4. Lyle Lovett – Live in Texas (MCA)
5. Government Mule – self-titled (Capri)

Bryan Kahn’s top 5 CD releases of 1999
1. Janice Robinson – Color Within Me (Warner Brothers)
2. Various Artists – Go Soundtrack (Sony)
3. Duke Ellington – Live at Newport 1956 (Sony Legacy)
4. The Eagles - Hell Freezes Over 5.1 (DTS Entertainment)
5. Boney James – Body Language (Warner Brothers)

Bryan Kahn’s top 5 DVD releases of 1999
1. Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery – New Line/Warner Bros.
2. Full Metal Jacket – Warner Brothers
3. Desperado – Columbia/Tri-Star
4. The Fifth Element - Columbia/Tri-Star
5. The Wedding Singer – New Line

Tony Kaklamanos’ top 5 DVD releases of 1999

1. The Shawshank Redemption (Castle Rock)
2. Rocky (MGM-UA)
3. L.A. Confidential (Warner Brothers)
4. Pulp Fiction (Buena Vista)
5. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (Warner Brothers)

Bill Warren’s top 5 DVD releases of 1999
1. Gods and Monsters (Universal)
2. Ghostbusters (Columbia Tri-Star)
3. The Mummy (1932 special edition)
4. A Bug’s Life (Disney)
5. Out of Sight (Universal – DTS)

Abbie Bernstein’s top 5 DVD releases of 1999
1. My Fair Lady (Warner Brothers)
2. Strange Days (Twentieth Century Fox)
3. The Matrix (Warner Brothers)
4. The Exorcist (Warner Brothers)
5. A Clockwork Orange (Warner Brothers)

Abbie Bernstein’s top 5 Feature Films of 1999
1. American Beauty
2. The Matrix
3. Three Kings
4. Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels
5. An Ideal Husband

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