The 2019 SoundStage! Network Products of the Year -- One-Sentence Summaries

If 2019 were like previous years, you wouldn’t see this list of SoundStage! Network Products of the Year until January 1, 2020. In the past, we waited till the first of the year, so that the announcement of our awards would more or less coincide with our presentation of trophies at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), held each year in Las Vegas the second week of January. Times have changed.

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The Best of Warsaw’s Audio Video Show 2019

Politics isn’t the only polarizing topic at audio shows these days. At the last few hi-fi shows I’ve attended, I’ve talked with fellow audio writers about how much value there is in seriously listening to the systems set up at these events. To say that their opinions vary is an understatement.

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A Great Unknown Dane -- Discovering DALI

How does an audio manufacturer whose loudspeakers are distributed in more than 70 countries, and that has hundreds of employees, a 220,000-square-foot factory, and a history that dates back to 1983, go more or less relatively unnoticed by North America’s audio press? That was something that I and other audio writers from the US and Canada were wondering about when, early last May, we visited Danish Audiophile Loudspeaker Industries (DALI), in Nørager, Denmark. Actually, the fact that DALI isn’t as well known on this side of the Atlantic as some think it should be was the main reason we were there -- DALI’s US distributor, Canada’s Lenbrook Industries, had invited us all to Nørager to get to know the brand better.

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Paradigm Shift -- The Bagbys Are Back!

On May 13, 2019, Paradigm issued a press release that stated, in part:

Scott Bagby and John Bagby are pleased to announce the successful purchase of Paradigm Electronics, Anthem Electronics, and MartinLogan Loudspeakers, effective May 10, 2019.

Scott Bagby, one of the original founders of Paradigm Electronics, continues as Chairman and assumes the role of CEO. John Bagby, who has been active in many areas in the business over the last several years, takes on the role of Managing Director.

When I read this, I breathed a sigh of relief. I’ve long admired Paradigm, but for many years have had some concerns about the company.

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EAT3: European Audio Team, Exceptional Audio Tubes, Expensive Audio Tubes

This summer I conducted an experiment that I hoped would answer a question that’s been on my mind ever since I heard that European Audio Team (EAT)’s KT88 Diamond vacuum tube would be made widely available in North America through their distributor, Vana Ltd., at the hefty price of $1795 USD for a factory-matched box of four (the KT88 Diamond is not available singly). Would it make sense to replace the eight output tubes in my pair of JE Audio VM60 monoblock amplifiers ($6400/pair when I reviewed them in 2013), whose stock tubes are already of decent quality, with an octet of third-party tubes costing $3590?

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Heaven 11: Here Today -- But Here to Stay?

Debut

Almost every hi-fi show presents a surprising number of startup companies showing a new product, or even a whole suite of new models. But by the time next year’s show rolls around, most of these companies have gone out of business.

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Blown Away: Three Demos at the 2019 EISA Global Press Convention

The trade organization EISA is best known for its annual product awards, which span six product categories divided into Expert Groups: Hi-Fi, Home Theater Audio, Home Theater Display and Video, In-Car Electronics, Mobile Devices, and Photography. Originally called the European Imaging and Sound Association, the organization renamed itself, in September 2018, the Expert Imaging and Sound Association, to reflect its growth from an association of European online and print publications to one that welcomes journals from around the globe. SoundStage! Hi-Fi became a member in June 2018.

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The Best of High End 2019

High End 2019, held May 9-12 at the Munich Order Center (MOC), in Germany, was busier for me than previous High Ends. The show has grown -- a few days after it closed, the event’s organizer, the High End Society, released statistics that indicated that HE2019 had topped their previous biggest show, HE2018, with 551 exhibitors (up 3.8%), 8208 trade visitors (up 8.6%), and a grand total of 21,180 attendees (up 6.5%). The sheer size of High End has always made exhaustive coverage of it a challenge, and this year the challenge was even greater.

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Seven Shades of AC/DC's "Back in Black" -- Finding the Best Version to Test Your System With

Every so often, I post to my Facebook page my opinions on audio- and music-related subjects, to see what others think. For example, on March 27, 2019, I uploaded an image of the cover of AC/DC’s album Back in Black (1980) and wrote: “Is it only me who thinks that this is one of the best-recorded rock albums of all time?”

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The Best of Montréal Audio Fest 2019

Early in the morning of Monday, March 25, I typed this into my personal Facebook feed: “[Montréal Audio Fest] gets a 10 out of 10 this year. Big congratulations to Michel Plante and Sarah Tremblay for bringing this event back to life. The enthusiasm and crowd sizes on all days were the best [they’ve] been in 10 years. See our coverage at www.SoundStageGlobal.com.”

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