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Awards of the year is a unique opportunity to further appreciate the best, in our opinion, products that have been reviewed by “High Fidelity”. Below you will find 19 Best Product 2013 High Fidelity awards and four special awards. Enjoy reading!

n 2013, we reviewed over 120 products in the "regular" tests. These do not include product auditions at the Krakow Sonic Society meetings, or those presented in columns and reportages. Whole audio systems were treated as one unit. It's really a lot. All products have been selected either directly by us or after our consultation with manufacturers and distributors. However, we never accept products that the latter WANT us to review. We only review products that are interesting to us, those that pique our curiosity and seem to be promising. If they meet our initial expectations, we conduct and then publish their reviews. We do not review things that we don’t really care about (we are indifferent towards), those that are not promising or are simply promoted by the manufacturer. We’d rather spend our time on something else.

Of the entire group of reviewed speakers, electronics, cables and accessories we try to select those that are, in our opinion, most interesting and most worthy of attention and our recommendation. The choice is far from simple and my hand trembles each time I cross another product off the list of “nominees”. The selection procedure, in my case, is to write out a preliminary list of products that have been lodged in my memory because of their special characteristics. This year there were more than 40 items on the list! Even though I went through earlier self-censorship. It was only from that preselected group that I crossed out, one by one, those components that could do without such an award. Six (and a half) awards have gone to Polish manufacturers, which is particularly satisfying for me. Without being given any extra handicap and treated on equal footing with foreign competitors, they turn out to be products that have nothing to be ashamed of and usually come out better.
At the same time, I did not have a predetermined number of awards to give out, although I tried to narrow it down as much as possible so that the High Fidelity Best Product 2013 had real value and was not given “routinely”. My heart hurt as the group was being further diminished, but I did my best not to give in to my feelings. By the way, I wonder whether Marek who has chosen only two components, went through similar problems. “His” awards are marked by the ‘MD’ initials at the end.

In addition to Best Product, we have also given two High Fidelity Statement Awards to single out the products that are absolutely unique and timeless, changing our thinking about top audio systems. This year, two companies are the recipients of the High Fidelity Statement Award: Siltech, for the Royal Signature Series cable system, and Reimyo, for the upgraded DAP-999EX Limited DAC. The Innovation Award went to Avantgarde Acoustic for the Zero1 Pro active digital speakers. And finally, we gave a special award to Asus, for its unprecedented entry into the area previously forbidden for “computer” manufacturers.

We hope that this list will be your guide and reference point. It is also worth keeping in mind that these are not the “best existing products” but rather those that are most moving, interesting and inspiring for us personally. Do not buy them on spec but listen to them first, preferably in your own audio system at home. We would like to take this opportunity to thank you, our dear readers, for reading our reviews, for all your kindness to us, for clicking on the ad banners and for shopping at our friends, CD Japan. And we wish you and expect ourselves another, equally good year 2014, when “High Fidelity” will celebrate its 10th anniversary.

Our congratulations to all awarded manufacturers and distributors – well done! And lots of respect from us. WP

REVIEW: “Enjoy The” January 2013, see HERE

Siltech Cables are the best interconnects I have heard so far. That fact alone should be enough to give them the BEST PRODUCT 2013 award. Their uniqueness does not end in being the best, however. The influence of the Siltech on the sound can only be compared to upgrading a good component, such as the source or speakers, with one that is outstanding. The cables change our approach to reproduced music, introducing into our dictionary such concepts as "soft resolution", "depth of detail" and "inaudible dynamics". After hearing them nothing is like it was before. Hence our STATEMENT AWARD. WP

REVIEW: “High Fidelity” 2013, No.116, see HERE

The Compact Disc is passé and there's nothing we can do about it. Not only is it abandoned by the so-called mainstream, but even in the perfectionist audio that occupies us the format is being ousted by a side branch, which is computer audio. It seems that the CD will share the fate of Homo neanderthalensis (Homo sapiens neanderthalensis) and the newcomer will finish it soon. However, contrary to popular belief, the Neanderthal was a highly intelligent creature, much more developed and better organized than his contemporary Homo sapiens. Based on recent new discoveries and research, the latter comes out as a primitive killer. Fortunately, much of our genes come from our wiser cousin and we were lucky to have cross-bred with him once.
It is a similar story with the Reimyo, which is a D/A converter that only supports the CD signal. It does it fantastically, however; almost certainly thanks to the new version of the K2 digital filter with signal upsampling. Only the Ancient Audio Lektor Grand SE player is capable of showing the sound equally well, although differently. Depth, smoothness, fullness and absolute calm – these are some of the terms I have no doubts about in this context. I am very glad that there are still people thinking about the CD, in my opinion one of the best audio formats that have been created so far. WP

REVIEW: „High Fidelity” 2013, No.115, see HERE

INNOVATION AWARD for horn speakers, given to the company that boasts about using a technology invented at the dawn of hi-fi, may seem out of place. Avantgarde Acoustic is, however, an unconventional company that goes in its own direction, ignoring cliques and fan clubs. It recommends driving its horn speakers with high-power solid state amplifiers, and its latest offering is the Zero1 Pro fully active speaker system with DSP controlled digital driver correction. They look delicious. There are also outstanding when it comes to their capabilities: hook them up to any digital source and forget any worries. Finally something for small, designer rooms, yet offering the kind of sound that belongs to the high-end. I thought that no one can do that any longer these days. WP

Our STATEMENT AWARD has gone this year to a D/A converter that only accepts the CD signal. At the same time, we give our SPECIAL AWARD to a computer company for its line of D/A converters that accept almost any type of audio files. This type of schizophrenia will accompany us for a few years to come, by the time the CD goes underground to give the battlefield over to the all-powerful audio file.
Asus joins the revolution in a unique way, entering the area reserved for specialized, small manufacturers. Its DACs, both those inexpensive models and the flagship Essence III are unique, as they seem to be fulfilling audiophiles’ wishes. Their functionality is amazing, as is their sound. Bravo for the courage and the consistent pursuit of the goal of high fidelity sound! WP

REVIEW: „High Fidelity” 2013, No.105, see HERE

Each new product from Katowice-based RCM Audio, and there have been only a couple so far, is a special event. They have never happened to be good components (I talking about an amplifier and phono preamps). They have either been very good or outstanding. Just as TheRIAA phono preamplifier, which is a more expensive version of the Sensor Prelude IC, the one I have been using for several years. And not only me; several other audio journalists from all over the world have it in their systems, too.
TheRIAA, although designed by a different designer, retains all the strengths of the Sensor, but does it much better. The signal-to-noise ratio seems to be increased, the dynamics higher and the tonality better saturated. Its high price does not diminish my enthusiasm for this unit. WP

REVIEW: „High Fidelity” 2013, No.109, see HERE

The Japanese are the masters of small form. Like phono cartridges, for example. Mr. Noriyuki Miyajima developed his own method of their design, different from anything else on the market. As a result, his cartridges sound different than the rest. They require heavy tonearms, in return offering an outstanding sound – warm and dense, reminiscent of classic Ortofon SPU cartridges but with better resolution. The Zero is the flagship mono cartridge from Miyajima Laboratory. Simply outstanding. The presence of musical events is straight out shocking, and mono records show what the stereo versions failed to maintain and make us wonder if such "progress" is a real progress. In this comparison it comes out as a mere juggler’s trick. WP

REVIEW: „High Fidelity” 2013, No.114, see HERE

One of several Polish representatives in this year’s group of awarded manufacturers. That’s right, Polish. Registering the company in the USA and working from there was the result of Mr. Michał Jurewicz’s, the company’s head, life choices and was aimed at injecting the brand directly into the audio bloodstream, which at best only has capillary veins in Poland. Major veins and arteries are to be found elsewhere. And it’s just as well, since Mytek is now a "hot" name that brings fame to Polish technical thought throughout the world. The Stereo192-DSD DAC is not a perfect converter, but its price is several orders of magnitude lower than that of the units capable of showing something more. Multi-functional, with a very good headphone amplifier and decent preamp, and a phenomenal playback of DSD files including DSD128, it shows its teeth to the contenders. And it can bite if need be. WP

REVIEW: „High Fidelity” 2013, No.109, see HERE

To nominate for the AWARDS OF THE YEAR only two components out of all reviewed by me this year is always a difficult moment and considerable challenge. Surely, I wouldn’t have nominated all the reviewed components, but there would definitely be more than two, if I only had the chance. But here I am and have to choose only two… One of the choices has been absolutely obvious this year, however, and I did not have to think for a second: the Kondo Souga. Never before and never after (so far, that is) have I had at home a component that would allow me to have such a close, intimate contact with music and its performers, and to experience such deep emotions. The Japanese amplifier is the essence of SET, translating into a beautiful, breathtaking sound from which there is no getting away. Listening to music on it, in the comfort of your own room, is the kind of experience that can only be "beaten" by participating in an – importantly – exceptional, not just any, concert. With the necessary sum available, I would not hesitate a moment and would also put it into my last will to be buried with the Souga, so that I could use it in the world to come, too :) MD

REVIEW: „High Fidelity” 2013, No.110, see HERE

Judging by their looks, the components from the Swiss manufacturer may be associated with a neutral, impersonal sound. In reality, they offer a creamy deep presentation with incredibly balanced frequency response. The 530 may look a bit eccentric, as it resembles a small fridge and is equally big. What turns out to be truly eccentric is its price. The thing is that listening to this amp is enough to become seduced, and then most of two-piece amplifiers for similar money will seem crude, coarse and not particularly refined. This is really the best integrated amplifier I've ever heard. It holds the rest at bay. WP

REVIEW: „High Fidelity” 2013, No.113, see HERE

While choosing the first component, the Kondo Souga, was simple, I had a much bigger problem with the second nomination. Gradually eliminating others, what eventually remained on the battlefield was, for some reason, two tube amplifiers – the Linear Audio Research IA-30T mk2 and the Amare Musica Entropy. Both Polish designs deserve recognition/award, despite coming from two different price points. The former offers absolutely outstanding value for money in terms of sound quality and features an excellent headphone amplifier. The latter is in turn an insanely finished and fantastically sounding amplifier that can compete with many high-end designs.

The LAR could compete in the global market with Leben amps, for example, and wouldn’t be fighting a losing battle, while the Amare could take on tube amps from Audio Note, Ayon or Audio Research, and many a time come out victorious. You understand my dilemma, don’t you? Being forced to choose one of these devices, in the end I picked up the Entropy, purely and simply because in absolute terms it is superior to the LAR (which costs three times less). However, I say emphatically that both Polish designs deserve enormous recognition. I am proud that such products are made in our country, and highly recommend both of them to the lovers of beautiful sound! MD

REVIEW: „High Fidelity” 2013, No.108, see HERE

The Ayre captivates us with the simplicity of its concept and elegant complexity of design, in which each element has its place and is needed. Its warm, big and resolving sound qualifies it to being "the last amplifier in life." Even if its imperfections are known. Its strength lies in its sonic coherence, which is one of the things we look for in life, and not only in audio components. Hence, when we come across such a treasure, we’d better hold on to it and not let it fly away. Let us not be deceived by its 'integrated amplifier' status, either, as it sounds as a mature two-piece amplifier system. And yet we’re only left with one box, which means saving on cables. The AX-5 sounds best when placed on a good anti-vibration platform, on which it also looks great. Just buy it and enjoy it, all of you. WP

REVIEW: „High Fidelity” 2013, No.111, see HERE

When it comes to turntables, vibration control is something obvious that does not evoke great emotion. It just has to be like that and that’s it. It is similar in the case of tube-based components, and even CD players. However, when it comes to solid state equipment and even power supplies, more than one eyebrow is raised. And experience teaches us that everything vibrates, which is reflected in signal transmission. Vibration is death to audio signal. That's why you need to beat it wherever possible.
The German company finite elemente does it better than most other manufacturers in the world. And its products are simply beautiful furniture. The platform that receives our award has a dual function: technical and aesthetical. It performs both these tasks extremely well. Suffice it to say that after my review I finally ordered for my reference system a three-level Pagode Edition rack. I enjoy every second spent with it. Just like my wife does. WP

REVIEW: „High Fidelity” 2013, No.113, see HERE

Suddenly, out of nowhere, Forza AudioWorks jumped straight into the mainstream of the Polish headphone scene. Worth much more than you need to pay for it, the headphone cable from this manufacturer is built in a way that other producers from the "world" have not yet mastered. Every detail is carefully perfected, including the packaging box. You can sense an aesthete with a good taste behind it. The cable takes the headphones a few levels up. It's worth a try; you are in for a surprise. WP

REVIEW: „High Fidelity” 2013, No.114, see HERE

Sitting in audiophile paradise and basking in the glitter of the Siltech, Tara Labs and Acrolink it’s easy to forget that not everyone wants / can afford / have faith in such expensive cables. And although one gradually grows up to it, one also needs to start from something. There’re plenty of affordable, even cheap cables on the market. Almost all of them are made in Taiwan or China and they work really very well in the sense of conducting electric current. But when it comes to audio signal transmission, they buckle, indicating that they haven’t got much clue about it. Including those branded by large, well-known companies from Western Europe and USA.
Melodika thus appears in a very good moment. The Polish brand under which the cables are manufactured and sold, gives the middle finger to almost entire competition. Not only does it look good, but also sounds great and is inexpensive. It is hard to imagine a reason why anyone who has any audio system at home, even a mini stacking hi-fi, should not change the stock cables for the Polish product. A very well put together tonality, proper handling of all sonic aspects and professional calm. It is enough to be lured.WP

REVIEW: „High Fidelity” 2013, No.114, see HERE

For the last few years, products of the "vintage" type have experienced their second youth. Promoted primarily by "", "Stereophile" and "Hi-Fi News & Record Review," they enter more and more boldly into high-quality audio systems. It has to be said, however, that they never left many of them. Many of their strengths and benefits could not be repeated in modern products and seemed to have been lost forever. Audio "custodians", not giving in to the latest trends, have preserved this knowledge for us. It describes both users and journalists as well as companies. Tannoy never renounced its roots and nothing has changed in this regard, even after being bought by TC Group. You could say that the understanding of its past actually improved. Currently available 'vintage' line of product makes use of new developments, but only to the extent that they do not destroy what the predecessors achieved. The Kensington GR speakers are a beautiful piece of furniture; they superbly show what is lacking in new speaker designs and sound simply great. Momentum, dynamics and saturation – these are some of their “christen” names. WP

REVIEW: „High Fidelity” 2013, No.116, see HERE Another representative, next to Tannoy, of the 'extinct' species. But only on paper. In reality, horn speakers are alive and well. Better and better, even. The Project Everest, developed in the mid-1980s, which was an extremely expensive speaker primarily intended for the Japanese market, became the revolution trigger which resulted in JBL, one of the most distinguished audio industry companies, unveiling the next Everest speakers, then the K2 series, then a new Everest series, and finally the S3900, which inherits many design solutions from expensive models. All of that in a wholly affordable price for this type of speaker. Keywords are: dynamics, density, bass and resolution. Combined with the sense of communing with a stunning example of a species doomed to extinction, which, however, shows the stuff that new products cannot handle. WP

REVIEW: „High Fidelity” 2013, No.115, see HERE

Specialists have easier life - all their efforts can be focused on a narrow area. As a result, they often succeed, because you cannot be good at everything. Monitor Audio from the UK, celebrating its 40th anniversary last year, is such a specialist that extends the experience of music lovers concerning the speakers. For years it has been offering affordable products that sport latest technology.
From time to time we come across a special series, however, in which everything "fits" perfectly and creates something more than the sum of its parts. Such is the new Silver line and the Silver 10 model that was reviewed. Warm, smooth, delicate sound with a good momentum. Good cooperation with a wide range of electronics. WP

REVIEW: „High Fidelity” 2013, No.110, see HERE

Small stand mount speakers have their limitations, and there is no doubt about it. However, they have their advantages, for which many love them with crazy love. When, as in the D-1, some of these restrictions are successfully reduced, we can talk about a deeper infatuation. These are speakers that sound much bigger than they look, without any coloration known from designs that boost their bass-reflex. Warm, but extremely resolving sound and powerful bass. Something like that is extremely rare experienced in audio. A very expensive design, but one that features technologies that you don’t meet every day. And it costs. WP

REVIEW: „High Fidelity” 2013, No.113, see HERE

It required courage to send to an audiophile magazine speakers designed in the first place as close- and medium-field active monitors to be used in sound control rooms. The pro and consumer audio worlds do not like each other and do not get in each other’s way. As a result, people from THIS side of studio glass can see how the topic of speakers should be approached, and what reliable knowledge combined with experience is. The D'Appo speakers make for an extremely pleasant listening, at the same time being analytical. They "enter" into the recording and into our mind as well. They do not require external amplifiers; only a sound source and preamplifier. Another extremely successful Polish product. WP

REVIEW: „High Fidelity” 2013, No.113, see HERE

The speakers that reproduce space in such a sophisticated way should be monitors, because they are "suspect" of such diabolical capabilities. Another common feature is their reproduction of vocals. The new Proxima simply loves to play them. Not because the rest of the frequency band is rolled off and the focus is on a particular range, but due to the fact that band extremes properly complement that which is happening between them. Their unique design and high finish quality are equally important, as they result in a real PRODUCT, without any misunderstandings. They do not need any excuses, any buts and ifs; they simply play the music. WP

REVIEW: „High Fidelity” 2013, No.113, see HERE

Poland has for decades been a place of manufacturing of speaker cabinets and transducers for almost the whole of Europe. Audio Witowa, the owner of Sounddeco brand, also began from that. However, it came as a surprise that it would jump straight from a “furniture” manufacturer to a completely different level, and to immediately join the forefront of companies offering speakers from the basic and middle price range. So perfect speakers at that.
The Omega is tiny and has been conceived as a complement to designer furniture. However, as the people behind it can hear very well, its sound has not been sacrificed on the altar of external design. The sound is focused, saturated and has a large scale. It has obvious limitations, stemming from the use of such small drivers; that’s natural. But it’s so nice at the same time, and just so good! WP

REVIEW : „High Fidelity” 2013, No.114, see HERE

It's not an expensive speaker, even though it has substantial size and features several drivers, looks good and comes from a company located by the Seine river. Each of these elements could equally well be an excuse to add a few euros to the final price. And many companies do just that: despite reducing their costs by moving production to the Far East, they expect to be paid for their products as much as if they were made by a watchmaker in Switzerland.
Advance Acoustic does not do that, instead trying to be maximally honest in their approach to customers. The most important, however, is that the company has prepared universal speakers that fit in every audio system. While they do not excel in anything, neither do they have many of the problems of other speakers in that price range. A very smooth, balanced sound. WP

REVIEW: „High Fidelity” 2013, No.115, see HERE

Triangle likes to do things its own way. The end result does not always meet our expectations and our taste. In the case of Delta from the Signature series everything adds up perfectly, however. Outstanding treble and soundstage, focus on the detail and the whole, and meatiness are all rare features in high sensitivity speakers. These are speakers one can live forever with. Pair them with a refined, powerful amplifier, and we will not want to go to sleep or to work: even sex will seem overrated. On top of that, the Triangle look beautiful and their build quality is a dream.Previous year’s awards WP

Previous year’s awards

Awards of the Year 2012, see HERE
Awards of the Year 2011, see HERE
Awards of the Year 2010, see HERE
Awards of the Year 2009, see HERE
Awards of the Year 2008, see HERE
Awards of the Year 2007, see HERE
Awards of the Year 2006, see HERE
Awards of the Year 2005, see HERE
Awards of the Year 2004, see HERE