2020 Golden Ear Awards: Anthony H. Cordesman

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Floorstanding,
Solid-state power amplifiers,
Solid-state preamplifiers,
Digital-to-analog converters
2020 Golden Ear Awards: Anthony H. Cordesman

Avantgarde Acoustic Loudspeakers
I have not been a fan of horn loudspeakers over the years, although I recognize they could have exceptional life and dynamics. Too many colorations and too many problems integrating the horn with the woofer and subwoofers. I also have never had an Avantgarde speaker in for review and have to make this recommendation on the basis of listening at shows and dealers. I do, however, think that Avantgarde has made major progress in blending horns into fully integrated speaker systems that are truly competitive in their price range. If you. too. have not been impressed with horn systems in the past, you should make a real effort to listen—particularly at the top of the line.

Meitner-EMM Labs Preamplifiers and Power Amplifiers
$25,000/$130,000
Another case where I’m using the flexibility of the Golden Ear Awards to praise products I have listened to more under show conditions than review conditions, but I’ve been impressed by both the EMM Labs preamps and power amplifiers. Exceptionally clean and neutral, and monoblocks with the power to handle just about any speaker.

Legacy Wavelet DSP Processor
$4950
I’ve been using for several years the Legacy Wavelet as a DAC, a preamp, and a DSP system that provides both room compensation and a wide range of adjustments to a speaker’s sound quality. It is now a “universal” unit that can be used with most speakers other than Legacy’s, and if like most audiophiles you don’t have the perfect listening room or speaker, it can treat a remarkably wide range of problems, as well as improve the soundstage and imaging in virtually any stereo system. It also offers one of the best ways I’ve found to integrate a subwoofer into a system. There is still a good competitive case for audio purism, and the simplest and cleanest approach, but for most audiophiles with real-world budgets and listening rooms, and any audiophile interested in what modern DSP system can do, I feel this is an exceptional way of fine-tuning and improving the sound quality of your system.