Determined by 61 specialist magazines from no less than 29 countries, the 2019-2020 EISA (Expert Imaging and Sound Association) Awards were recently bestowed on a range of audio products, with each recipient taking home the industry's most prestigious prize. Among the big hits:
MoFi Electronics' UltraDeck+M turntable with MasterTracker phono cartridge continues its award-winning dominance in the analog arena. Having also garnered an Editors' Choice win from the folks at The Absolute Sound, UltraDeck+M serves as a constant reminder that great things can come in affordable packages. As the EISA committee notes, UltraDeck+M "is superbly engineered throughout for precision and quality, drawing on the expertise of some leading names in vinyl replay. That means it delivers rock-solid pitch stability, while that metal-bodied cartridge really gets 'under the skin' of the music you choose to play, emphasising the value and engineering on offer here."
ELAC's Navis ARB-51 powered bookshelf speakers netted an EISA Award for Active Stereo Loudspeaker, with the committee citing its "remarkable precision and clarity." In Navis ARB-51, three powerful BASH amplifiers combine for a total of 300 watts, guiding each custom driver and an all-analog crossover for a sound that is simply wicked. EISA also states: "By dedicating one amplifier to each driver – the tweeter and midrange are mounted concentrically for enhanced focus – ELAC ensures each is driven to the best of its capabilities."
IsoAcoustics' GAIA speaker isolators, winners in the Hi-Fi Upgrade category, were selected for making immediate an sound improvement, a fact we proved in sale after sale of the amazing accessories online and in our catalog – as well as in our pop-up stores during the 2018 and 2019 AXPONA shows. Customer reaction remains atwitter, so we can see why EISA selected the easy-to-install tweaks. As the committee observes, "[They] have the effect of lowering the noise floor, improving soundstage focus and tightening up the bass. With a machined stainless-steel housing finished in dark chrome, and [the ability] to support up to 100kg, the GAIAs look superb – and what they'll do to your music is magical."
Mytek's Brooklyn Bridge DAC/streamer/preamplifier landed the prize for Best Streaming DAC, continuing the brilliant engineering legacy of Mytek's Michal Jurewicz. Brooklyn Bridge is everything you'd want in a streaming DAC, and one geared for the audiophile who craves a blend of a natural sound and striking accuracy. Add some nice touches like digital and line level inputs, an onboard MM phono preamp, and a great headphone amp, and you have what the committee calls a "remarkably flexible – and superb-sounding – network streaming player."
Chord Electronics' Qutest DAC, like Brooklyn Bridge, earned EISA's clustered stars and stripes for impressive sound that belies the device's demure footprint. "If you want a big, dramatic sound from a compact DAC," the committee says, "this is the one." A worthy successor to Chord Electronics' 2Qute, and devoid of a built-in headphone amp, Qutest delivers rich performance courtesy of the company's much-heralded FPGA DAC architecture. And like the Brooklyn, music gets doled out in handfuls, leaving listeners craving more and more.
FOCAL's Elegia headphones caught the EISA committee's attention as well, winning the best of the best in the Headphones category, and earning praise for "powerful yet precise sound." Like IsoAcoustics' GAIA isolators, Elegia drew eyes and ears at AXPONA's Ear Gear Expo area. The resulting appreciation for these striking 'phones seemed evident on every listen. A first for Focal, Elegia's circumaural closed-back design offers some of the highest sound quality possible in a comfortable and handsome-looking package. Among the other reasons for the Elegia's wow factor: An M-profile driver, bespoke copper voice coils, and expertly engineered surrounds for a listening experience that equals that of Focal's respected loudspeaker models.
Pro-Ject Audio Systems' X1 turntable joined EISA's Class of 2019-20 with a Best Buy Award. "Since 1991 the company has arguably been leading the vinyl revival," the committee wrote, "and the X1 is its latest reinvention of the classic Pro-Ject 1 deck that started it all." Heinz Lichtenegger's vision to offer audiophile-grade products for the masses hasn't let up, and X1 blazes new trails in entry-level analog gear. From its furniture-worthy appearance to a game changing carbon-fiber tonearm, X1 transforms vinyl fanatics' desires into groove-tastic experiences.
NAD's T 758 V3 and SVS's SB-3000 fought their way into the EISA committee's hearts, too, earning titles of Premium Home Theater Receiver and Home Theater Subwoofer, respectively. T 758 won for its "premium features without the premium price," while SB-3000 landed honors for its ability to excel "when it comes to depth, speed, control and slam." NAD's M 10 also earned an award as EISA's best Smart Amplifier in part because of its all-in-one audiophile perfection.
See the complete list of EISA winners at its website here.
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