THE BEST OF STEREONET APPLAUSE AWARDS 2018

Marc Rushton's avatar

by Marc Rushton

7th January, 2019

THE BEST OF STEREONET APPLAUSE AWARDS 2018

StereoNET Applause Awards 20182018 was a big year for StereoNET, expanding its reach with new independent publications in United Kingdom, New Zealand, Asia, and the United States. The StereoNET-backed Melbourne International Hi-Fi Show in its third year was the most well attended and supported to date, with big plans already afoot for this year once again. We also had the pleasure of writing about literally hundreds of new products and individually reviewing 44 products in detail. Only 11 of these received StereoNET's revered Applause Award.

Congratulations to the recipients of the 2018 awards.

We want to take this opportunity to thank all our supporting manufacturers, distributors, retailers, and of course, our ever-growing readership. That support has enabled us to review some incredible products, including a few exclusives. Even though we have been truly overwhelmed by all the support, not to mention speakers, amps, headphones, DACs, turntables, etc. that we have been sent to review, we do not merely hand out awards as a way of promotion. We only present the Applause Award to those items that genuinely blow us away.

To that end, here is a recap of the chosen few that the StereoNET AU team felt were exceptional, outstanding and generally remarkable in no particular order.

APPLAUSE AWARD 2018 CD/SACD PLAYER

Pioneer PD-70AE Super Audio CD Player ($3,499)

The Pioneer’s bass performance is about the best I’ve heard from any player including my beloved Audio Research Reference 7MKII CD player. Though it pains me to say it, the PD-70AE‘s bass I heard from the Allan Taylor track 'The Beat Hotel', was scary in its intensity and clarity.

Priced at $3,499 RRP Pioneer's PD-70AE Super Audio CD Player is a towering achievement for the new Pioneer/Onkyo partnership, and it’s a player more than good enough to place on StereoNET’s 'Best of 2018' shortlist. 

Read the full review here.

For more information visit Pioneer.

APPLAUSE AWARD 2018 NOISE CANCELLING HEADPHONES

Bowers & Wilkins PX Noise Cancelling Bluetooth Headphones ($549)

Bowers & Wilkins' PX headphones present a smooth, detailed and mildly dark sound signature, and excellent build quality. With noise-cancelling ability equal to the long-standing Bose benchmark, along with competitive pricing, I now have the answer to the original question.

When friends and family ask me which noise-cancelling headphones are the best buy, at just $549 RRP I can now quite easily recommend the B&W PX headphones.

Read the full review here.

For more information visit Bowers & Wilkins.

APPLAUSE AWARD 2018 STAND MOUNT LOUDSPEAKERS

Krix Esoterix Altum Bookshelf Speakers ($6,495)

Krix stands out from the crowd as much by its longevity as by its design and manufacturing brilliance. Qualities that give Krix an unrivalled global footprint. The $6,495 Esoterix Altum is a 2-way bookshelf with some innovative tech.

As much as I admire Scott Krix and his team’s accomplished waveguide, there is much, much more to the Esoterix Altum. 

The Altums join the select handful of compact speakers that in our opinion qualify as candidates for the elite grade of their genre. Build quality is as good if not better than some similarly priced rivals, the innovative value is inestimable and the sound satisfying on all kinds of music.

Read the full review here.

For more information visit Krix.

APPLAUSE AWARD 2018 AV RECEIVER

Denon AVC-X8500H 13.2 Channel AV Amplifier ($5,999)

Denon cooked up a storm with its latest AV Amplifier. The AVC-X8500H ($5,999 RRP) exhibited excellent channel steering, a big soundstage and a real sense of control with my two subs. While these are all characteristics I’ve come to expect from Denon AVR’s, the X8500 also sounded a lot more nuanced than I expected.

It’s been a while since I've been able to describe an AVR as cinematic and with this in mind, I have no hesitation stamping the AVC-X8500H with a StereoNET Applause Award, and also putting it forward as a contender for a Best in Class award for 2018.

Read the full review here.

For more information visit Denon.

APPLAUSE AWARD 2018 FLOORSTANDING LOUDSPEAKERS

Bowers & Wilkins 603 Floorstanding Loudspeakers ($2,699)

Bowers & Wilkins’ 603 is absolutely the floorstander of choice for under $3000. I seriously doubt that you will find a floor standing speaker with the same brand heritage, beautiful midrange tone, detail, soundstage and versatility, for less than five grand.

It seems Bowers & Wilkins has another winner on their hands with the 2018 version of its 600 Series loudspeakers.

Read the full review here.

For more information visit Bowers & Wilkins.

APPLAUSE AWARD 2018 OVER-EAR HEADPHONES (Under $2000)

Denon AH-D7200 Over-ear Headphones ($1,699)

Denon headphones have been described by many as some of the finest over-ear dynamic headphones on the planet. Denon has now released a new flagship to sit at the top of the high-end range, the AH-D7200 which sell for $1,699 RRP.

Denon has been in the headphone game for 50 years, and it shows. Incredible aesthetics, perfect build, and incredible bass - what’s not to love?

If you’re a fan of the classic Fostex/Denon flagships, and you’re on the hunt for a closed-back flagship, you’re going to love them. If you’re looking for a luxury flagship closed-back headphone, it doesn’t get any better than this.

Read the full review here.

For more information visit Denon.

APPLAUSE AWARD 2018 PROJECTOR

Sony VPL-VW760ES 4K HDR Laser Projector ($22,999)

It would seem that Sony’s decades of commercial cinema experience has been brought to bear creating the VPL-VW760ES. Razor sharp images loaded with extra detail, excellent black levels and accurate colour reproduction come together to create simply stunning images.

In other words, this projector creates some of the best images I have ever seen from a projector, irrespective of price. For this reason, Sony’s VPL-VW760ES effortlessly wins a Best in Class award.

Read the full review here.

For more information visit Sony.

APPLAUSE AWARD 2018 NETWORK STREAMER

Bluesound Node 2i Wireless Hi-Res Music Stream ($999)

The Bluesound Node 2i is a hugely enjoyable and highly capable player in a small attractive package which is likely to remain relevant for many years to come. 

Considering its price versus performance and features, trying to find fault with the Node 2i would be akin to expressing disappointment at your 10-year-old child because they only read at a 14-year-old level. 

This thing is bound to convert many music fans into audiophiles, and they may not even know it until it’s too late.

Read the full review here.

For more information visit Bluesound.

APPLAUSE AWARD 2018 OVER-EAR HEADPHONES (Over $2000)

Sennheiser HD820 Flagship Closed-Back Headphones ($3,499)

If you’re in the market for closed-back flagship headphones, your decision just became a lot more difficult. The asking price for the HD820 is dizzyingly high, but in my opinion, the detail and soundstage are unrivalled by any other closed-back headphone offering.

If you’re coming from the HD800S, fear not. The main reason you would consider upgrading would only be to convert to a closed-back headphone, and if that's your aim, you can do so with confidence.

Sennheiser's first foray into the closed-back high-end headphone market with its HD820 is a complete success and well worthy of StereoNET's Applause Award.

Read the full review here.

For more information visit Sennheiser.

APPLAUSE AWARD 2018 IN-EAR HEADPHONES

Sennheiser Momentum True Wireless In-Ear Monitors ($499.95)

After using Sennheiser's Momentum True Wireless for two weeks, there is no doubt that this is the best product I’ve tested all year. They're a zero compromise In-Ear Monitor, which isn’t held back by the fact that it’s a wireless product. It offers a fantastic feature set, terrific battery life, and stunning looks. They are remarkably intuitive to use, all while delivering powerful, detailed and fast sound, with a programmable EQ to boot. 

I never thought I could feel so strongly about a Bluetooth audio product, but it's finally happened. 

Read the full review here.

For more information visit Sennheiser.

APPLAUSE AWARD 2018 BLUETOOTH SPEAKERS

Tivoli Audio Andiamo Portable Bluetooth Speaker ($329)

At a whole $370 cheaper than Dali's KATCH, it more than delivers and punches well above its weight. There's more than enough grunt to fill an ordinary room, and even more surprisingly, a bottom end that keeps up.

Take it on holiday, outside when entertaining or room to room. You'll soon come to depend on Andiamo for your music-fix while on the Go.

Considering the durability, sound quality and output, battery life and price, we have no choice but to give the Tivoli Audio Andiamo our StereoNET Applause Award. 

Read the full review here.

For more information visit Tivoli Audio.

StereoNET AU 2019

Now that we are in a brand new year we're all excited to see what new equipment is introduced, what new standards of performance are achieved, if any new brands are announced and, perhaps more importantly, what new ways to entice newcomers to hi-fi appear that will get them just as hooked as we all are here.

In the meantime why not head into our Discussion Forums to explore the latest trends, hot topics and get free advice.

Marc Rushton's avatar

Written by:

Marc Rushton

StereoNET’s Founder & Publisher and still buried deep in the review room auditioning everything from docks to soundbars, amplifiers and headphones. Marc is also the founder of the annual International HiFi Show.

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Posted in: Applause Awards Hi-Fi Headphones Home Theatre Visual StereoNET
Tags: pioneer  powermove  bowers wilkins  krix  denon  qualifi  sony  audio active  bluesound  convoy  sennheiser  tivoli audio  sound marketing 

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