Stereophile’s Products of 1998

For the seventh consecutive year, Stereophile has named a select few audio components the “Products of the Year.” In doing so, we recognize those components that have proved capable of giving musical pleasure beyond the formal review period.

There are five individual categories: Loudspeakers (including subwoofers), Amplification Components (preamplifiers, power amplifiers, etc.), Digital Sources (CD players, transports, processors), Analog Sources (phono cartridges, turntables, tonearms, FM tuners, etc.), and Accessories (everything else).

The two most important categories, however, are the “Product of the Year” itself—the Best of the Best—and the “Budget Component of the Year”—the best sound for the buck. There’s also an “Editor’s Choice” award, which John Atkinson reserves to himself to single out the superb-sounding product that impressed him the most. In the early years of this feature, to be eligible for “Editor’s Choice,” a component had to have been continuously available for at least a decade. However, we broke with that tradition in 1995 and ’96, when the Wilson X-1/Grand SLAMM and the Nagra-D qualified with the sheer elegance of their cost-no-object engineering. Then, in 1997, Wes Phillips nominated B&W’s DM302 loudspeaker for offering astonishing sound quality for just $250/pair.

The formal voting procedure consists of two steps: First, Stereophile‘s hardware reviewers were asked to nominate up to six components in each of the eight categories. To be a contender, a product had to have been reported on in Stereophile between the November 1997 and October 1998 issues, either in a full Equipment Report, in a Follow-Up review, or in Sam Tellig’s or Michael Fremer’s regular columns. Most important, only those components could be nominated for which a writer had put his opinion in print for public scrutiny. We then put together a ballot form that included all components that had been nominated by three or more writers and/or editors. This process ensured that most of the nominees in most of the categories would have been auditioned by most of the reviewers. The prices listed are those that were current at the end of August 1998.

Eighteen of the magazine’s editors and reviewers gave three votes for their first choice in each category, two votes for their second choice, and one vote for their third choice (if they had a third choice). JA tallied the votes; address your compliments and complaints to him.

And the winners are:

NEXT: Joint Loudspeakers of 1998 »


Page 1
Joint Loudspeakers of 1998
Joint Amplification Components of 1998
Joint Digital Sources of 1998
Analog Source of 1998
Accessory of 1998
Budget Component of 1998
1998 Product of the Year
Editor’s Choice

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