Enjoy the Music.com

The Absolute Sound

From The Editor...
October/November 2002
By Robert Harley

  In this issue we present our first-ever Recommended Products feature — the extensive, collective experience of TAS editors and writers distilled into 17 pages of component recommendations at all price levels, in every product category.

Making any list—the best films, wine, cities—is bound to generate controversy, particularly in the case of something like music-reproduction components. High-performance audio offers a vast spectrum of approaches to connecting a listener with the music he or she loves. From three-watt single-ended triode amplifiers coupled to horn loudspeakers to 750-watt solid-state monoblocks driving electrostatic panels, the high end’s singular goal finds manifold valid expressions.

Those of us who contributed to Recommended Products brought our own biases, musical priorities, and personal favorites to the endeavor. That’s part of what makes our list so interesting. Just as our writers disagreed over which products to include and in what class they ranked, you are sure to find products and rankings with which you take issue. For example, some would argue that a slight tonal imbalance disqualifies a loudspeaker from Class I status, but not a restriction of music’s dynamic range. But what makes one form of distortion — departure from flat frequency response — tolerable, and another — a reduction in music’s dynamic expression — not? Or vice versa?

Some would argue that an audio component’s quality can be “proved” through the application of scientific method. But such objective” analysis is doomed to failure because it rejects, astonishingly, the human brain’s contribution to the miracle of musical communication. After all, it’s the mind that converts mere fluctuations in air pressure into the sweeping grandeur of Mahler’s Sixth Symphony or the emotional stab of a Joni Mitchell lyric. No measurement device or theoretical model can put a value on the musical impact of the technical achievements and tradeoffs inherent in every high-end audio component. That’s why audio-equipment evaluation is performed by human beings listening to music rather than by machines measuring test tones. And that’s why our Recommended Products list will be controversial (particularly to manufacturers unhappy with the result). The list represents our diverse listening tastes, our musical sensibilities, and ultimately, our humanity. It contains many close calls about which class to rank a product in—remember that component quality generally falls along a continuum; we had to decide where to put the class markers. Creating a list isn’t an exact science, but it’s our best effort at compiling in one place the formidable listening experience of our staff.

Consequently, it is imperative that you consider the components in Recommended Products as a starting point for your own auditioning, not as some revealed truth. There are many paths to musical enjoyment; it is more satisfying to discover your own way than to simply follow in another's footsteps. We can illuminate the paths we’ve taken, tell you what we’ve experienced on our own journeys, and point you in the right directions. But ultimately, you’re the one who will spend night after night with your system. Learn from our experience, but trust your own ears.


  Robert Harley



Quick Links

Audiophile Review Magazine
High-End Audio Equipment Reviews


Equipment Review Archives
Turntables, Cartridges, Etc
Digital Source
Do It Yourself (DIY)
Cables, Wires, Etc
Loudspeakers/ Monitors
Headphones, IEMs, Tweaks, Etc
Ultra High-End Audio Reviews


Enjoy the Music.TV


Editorials By Tom Lyle
Viewpoint By Roger Skoff
Viewpoint By Steven R. Rochlin
Various Think Pieces
Manufacturer Articles

Show Reports
The HiFi Summit Q2 2021
T.H.E. Show 2021 Report
The HiFi Summit Q4 2020
The HiFi Summit Q2 2020
Bristol Hi-Fi Show Report 2020
Florida Audio Expo 2020 Show Report
New York Audio Show 2019 Report
Capital Audiofest 2019 Show Report
Rocky Mountain Audio Fest (RMAF) 2019
High End Munich 2019 Show Report
AXPONA 2019 Show Report
Zagreb AV Show Report 2019
CanJam Singapore 2019 Show Report
Salon Audio Montreal Audio Fest 2019
Click here for previous shows.


Audiophile Contests
Cool Free Stuff For You
Tweaks For Your System
Vinyl Logos For LP Lovers
Lust Pages Visual Beauty


Resources & Information
Music Definitions
Hi-Fi Definitions


Daily Industry News

High-End Audio News & Information


Partner Print Magazines
Australian Hi-Fi Magazine
hi-fi+ Magazine
HiFi Media
Hi-Fi World
Sound Practices
VALVE Magazine


For The Press & Industry
About Us
Press Releases
Official Site Graphics


Contests & Our Mailing List

Our free newsletter for monthly updates & enter our contests!




Home   |   Industry News   |   Equipment Reviews   |   Press Releases   |   About Us   |   Contact Us


All contents copyright©  1995 - 2021  HighEndAudio.com and Enjoy the Music.com®
May not be copied or reproduced without permission.  All rights reserved.