For over two decades, we’ve presented our annual awards for Products of the Year at around this time of year. The 2023 award recipients have been culled from the product reviews written over the past year on SoundStage! Hi-Fi, SoundStage! Access, SoundStage! Ultra, SoundStage! Simplifi, and SoundStage Solo. (SoundStage! Australia announced its own awards for Products of the Year on December 6.) Our product awards are divided into three main categories: Distinction (formerly called Individual Awards), Outstanding Performance, and Exceptional Value.

2023 Products of the Year

This year, the Distinction awards are further subdivided into three subcategories: Hall of Fame, to recognize a product that’s either been on the market for a very long time or is the current generation of a storied product; Aesthetics and Sound, which recognizes a product that both sounds and looks outstanding; and Innovation in Design, to recognize a novel technology or design approach taken to create a product that has sterling sound. In previous years, we’ve also presented an award for Pioneering Design Achievement, but this year, no product fit that particular bill. Since we take these awards seriously and don’t simply slot in a product to fill a spot, no award for that subcategory was given.

Outstanding Performance awards are presented to products that exhibit outstanding sound quality, irrespective of cost. Exceptional Value awards are presented to products with excellent sound quality and tremendous value, meaning the cost of a product is a consideration. As a result, products in the Outstanding Performance category are typically more expensive than those recognized for Exceptional Value.

The Outstanding Performance and Exceptional Value categories are each subdivided by product type (e.g., floorstanding speakers, standmount speakers, digital-to-analog converters). Not every product type is represented within each category this year, because, as with the Distinction category, no award is given in a subcategory if we don’t think there’s a product that warrants it.

2023 Products of the Year

Coinciding with our awards for Products of the Year are our Outstanding Achievement awards, which began in 2022. As explained in the 2022 awards write-up, this category was “created to recognize individuals who have made significant contributions to the hi-fi industry.” Just like in the inaugural year for this award, three people have been recognized in 2023.

Old and new

We’ve always announced our Products of the Year in an online article like this in previous years. So, as usual, you’ll find short writeups on our Outstanding Achievement winners here, and you’ll also find a complete list of the product winners by category. For the product winners, there’s a link to our review, the reviewer’s name and publication month, a short excerpt from the review, and the price of each product in US dollars at the time of review.

New this year is a special video we created with Canadian singer Dominique Fils-Aimé, an immensely talented artist who cares deeply about the sound quality of her recorded music. In it, she announces all the award winners, including the winners for SoundStage! Australia. The video was shot at the beautiful Les Studios Opus in L’Assomption, Québec, Canada. You can view the video on our YouTube channel.

We would like to take this opportunity to congratulate the winners of the Outstanding Achievement awards, but we also want to recognize all the people who worked to create the products that we’ve chosen as being the best of 2023.

Outstanding Achievement awards

Peter Lyngdorf

Danish hi-fi entrepreneur Peter Lyngdorf began his career in the 1970s as a hi-fi distributor. In 1980, he created the HiFi Klubben retail chain, which now includes more than 100 stores in five European countries. In 1983, he founded Danish Audiophile Loudspeaker Industries, better known as DALI, to build “house brand” speakers for HiFi Klubben, but the company has since grown to be one of the largest loudspeaker makers in the world, selling in about 60 countries. His namesake hi-fi company, Lyngdorf Audio, was founded in 2005.

Peter Lyngdorf

He also cofounded other brands, such as Tact Audio in 1998 and, more recently, Purifi Audio in 2015. The latter was founded with designers Bruno Putzeys and Lars Risbo. But all these companies tell only part of Lyngdorf’s entrepreneurship story—over his career, he’s owned Snell Acoustics, NAD, Gryphon Audio Designs, and other brands. Without question, Lyngdorf is one of the world’s more prolific hi-fi entrepreneurs—if not the most prolific—and his positive impact on the hi-fi industry can be felt around the world.

Ian Colquhoun

Ian Colquhoun started Axiom Audio in Canada in 1980. The company has since expanded into electronics and accessories, but it was founded purely to make loudspeakers. Colquhoun was and still is its chief speaker designer. In 1981, he became involved in the groundbreaking loudspeaker research that Dr. Floyd Toole was conducting at Canada’s National Research Council (NRC), which has its main campus in Ottawa, Ontario. As Colquhoun explained when I interviewed him earlier this year, Toole’s work completely changed his approach to speaker design—for the better.

Ian Colquhoun

Besides being good at designing speakers, Colquhoun has excellent business acumen. In the 1990s, he made Axiom Audio into an original equipment manufacturer for several mass-market brands. In 2000, Axiom Audio became one of the first hi-fi companies to recognize the power of the internet, and began selling direct from the factory. About 20 years later, he acquired Bryston, which is best known for its amplifiers and other electronics, but also markets speakers, which Colquhoun and the team at Axiom Audio had already been designing and building for the brand. More recently, he acquired Magnum Dynalab, which is renowned for its FM tuners, but started out in 1965 making integrated amplifiers. Both Bryston and Magnum Dynalab are Canadian brands. Colquhoun moved the manufacturing of both brands to the Axiom Audio location in Dwight, Ontario, to create what he calls a “superfactory,” which, as I’m writing this article, is undergoing a significant expansion to accommodate all that’s now being built there. Colquhoun deserves this award for the past successes he’s had with Axiom Audio—and the success he’s now having with his three premium brands, all under one roof.

Dr. Peter Schuck

If you’ve ever consulted our speaker measurements, you’ll have seen some of Dr. Peter Schuck’s work. During his stint as a researcher at the NRC from 1986 to 1993, he wrote the speaker-measurement software, including the chart section, that’s still in use today. I was also told by PSB Speakers founder Paul Barton that during Dr. Schuck’s university thesis work—he’s earned bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees in mathematics—he created crossover-design software that Barton has used for more than 30 years. Dr. Schuck also took part in a collaborative project called Athena, which involved NRC and the Canadian Audio Research Consortium. According to the Canadian Acoustical Association, the Athena project ran from the late 1980s to early 1990s, “to investigate the interaction of loudspeakers and rooms and to develop a means to lessen the deleterious effects on subjective assessments.” Dr. Schuck was instrumental in applying advanced digital signal processing (DSP) to improve the performance of loudspeakers in rooms.

Peter Schuck

In 1993, Dr. Schuck and another NRC researcher, Marc Bonneville, were hired by speaker-maker Paradigm to create the Paradigm Advanced Research Center (PARC) in Ottawa. Building on Dr. Schuck’s work on DSP during the Athena project, PARC developed Anthem Room Correction software. Debuting in 2008, ARC is one of the most advanced room-correction systems on the market today. The Anthem name came from Paradigm’s acquisition of audio company Sonic Frontiers in 1998—Anthem was a sub-brand of the company. Today, ARC is used in products from sister-brands Paradigm and MartinLogan as well as in the current Anthem line. But this summary only scratches the surface of Dr. Schuck’s achievements. He’s an immense talent with enormous accomplishments, many of which have benefited audiophiles the world over by providing them with better sound from their hi-fi and home-theater systems.

Distinction awards

Hall of Fame

Mission 770 loudspeaker, Doug Schneider (SoundStage! Hi-Fi, May 2023): “From its deep bass to its extended highs, the 770 proved commendably neutral, which is quite an achievement if it was truly designed more by ear than by measurements. But perhaps the ear-tuning is what instilled the performance aspects I liked most—the rich, powerful bass combined with a midrange that blossomed with realism with all the music I played, yet still provided detail akin to the best speakers I’ve heard.”

Mission 770

Price: $5000 per pair.

Aesthetics and Sound

Estelon Aura loudspeaker, Doug Schneider (SoundStage! Hi-Fi, November 2023): “The Auras have given me that starting point: sonic substance in seductive style.”

Estelon Aura

Price: $19,900 per pair.

Innovation in Design

T+A Elektroakustik Solitaire S 530 loudspeaker, Hans Wetzel (SoundStage! Ultra, May 2023): “T+A’s Solitaire S 530 is different than any other loudspeaker I’ve heard in more than a decade of reviewing high-end gear. . . . But the results are profoundly, stupefyingly good.”

T+A S 530

Price: $44,900 per pair.

Outstanding Performance awards

Vivid Audio Giya G3 Series 2 floorstanding loudspeaker, Hans Wetzel (SoundStage! Ultra, October 2023): “This loudspeaker does everything well, from macrodynamics to microdynamics, transparency to the source, you name it. It’s also impossibly fast and has exceptionally holographic stereo imaging. Combine that with a superbly well-controlled, punchy bottom end, and it leads me to the inexorable conclusion that Vivid Audio’s Giya G3 Series 2 is more than just a superlative loudspeaker.”

Vivid G3

Price: $43,000 per pair.

TAD Compact Evolution One TX standmount loudspeaker, Hans Wetzel (SoundStage! Ultra, December 2023): “This loudspeaker’s signature CST point-source array is a gem, with fabulous on- and off-axis response and terrific coherence from the upper bass right up through the treble. It also boasts high source transparency, uncolored bass extension, and neutral frequency response.”

TAD Compact Evolution One TX

Price: $32,500 per pair.

Hegel Music Systems H30A stereo/mono amplifier, Jason Thorpe (SoundStage! Hi-Fi, April 2023): “I can’t really find anything about this amplifier that’s even remotely unsatisfactory. This doesn’t happen very often.”

Hegel H30A

Price: $19,000.

Simaudio Moon 791 streaming preamplifier, Doug Schneider (SoundStage! Hi-Fi, December 2023): “Whether an analog playback or digital, the 791 asserted no sound, coloration, or character of its own. It simply got out of the way and passed the music signal through, which is exactly what a top-drawer preamplifier is supposed to do.”

Simaudio Moon 791

Price: $16,000.

Rotel Michi X5 Series 2 integrated amplifier-DAC, Philip Beaudette (SoundStage! Hi-Fi, November 2023): “If you’re in the market for a high-powered integrated amplifier with a top-notch DAC and phono stage that rival standalone separates, the Michi X5 S2 is peerless.”

Rotel Michi X5 Series 2

Price: $7999.

Luxman PD-151 MARK II turntable, Garrett Hongo (SoundStage! Ultra, June 2023): “In terms of value for dollar, superior sound, looks that bring a sparkle to your eyes, and sheer ease and assured repeatability of operation, I can’t think of a better analog rig than the Luxman ’table and tonearm.”

Luxman PD-151 MARK II

Price: $6490.

Focal Utopia 2022 headphones, Brent Butterworth (SoundStage! Solo, January 2023): “The Utopia 2022s certainly rank among the world’s most expensive headphones, and I’d have to say they’re among the world’s best.”

Focal Utopia

Price: $4999.

Exceptional Value awards

PSB Alpha iQ active loudspeaker system, Gordon Brockhouse (SoundStage! Simplifi, March 2023): “PSB’s diminutive Alpha iQ streaming active loudspeaker system delivers sound that’s far weightier than your eyes would lead you to expect. The sound isn’t just big; it’s also refined. Throughout my listening, I was impressed by the Alpha iQ’s timbral neutrality, soundstaging, and portrayal of fine detail.”

PSB Alpha iQ

Price: $1499.

NAD Masters M23 stereo/mono amplifier, Roger Kanno (SoundStage! Hi-Fi, March 2023): “I’ve had the privilege of hearing a lot of truly excellent amplifiers in my system over the past few years, and the NAD Masters M23 is one of the very best. . . . It is a screaming bargain, and a great-looking one at that.”

NAD Masters M23

Price: $3749.

Rotel Diamond Series DT-6000 CD player-DAC, Roger Kanno (SoundStage! Hi-Fi, April 2023): “Rotel has packed a ton of performance into the DT-6000 and is offering it at a price that makes it an incredible bargain.”

Rotel Diamond Series DT-6000

Price: $2299.

Pro-Ject Audio Systems Phono Box S3 B phono preamplifier, Philip Beaudette (SoundStage! Hi-Fi, June 2023): “It’s unlikely that a company without Pro-Ject’s manufacturing expertise and scale could build something similar for the same price. Its exceptional functionality establishes a new bar for what a customer can expect in a $500 phono stage.”

Pro-Ject Phono Box S3 B

Price: $499.

RME ADI-2 DAC FS digital-to-analog converter, Matt Bonaccio (SoundStage! Hi-Fi, January 2023): “While it’s not for everyone (and some folks may be put off based on looks alone), the ADI-2 DAC FS is an astoundingly versatile DAC, one that represents a great value in its price class and beyond.”


Price: $1299.

NAD C 3050 LE integrated amplifier-DAC, Dennis Burger (SoundStage! Access, March 2023): “Combine its saucy stylings with reliance on legitimately meaningful modern technology under the hood—both in terms of amplification and room correction—and NAD has something special on its hands here.”

NAD C 3050 LE

Price: $1972.

U-Turn Audio Orbit Theory turntable with Ortofon 2M Blue cartridge, Thom Moon (SoundStage! Access, March 2023): “It’s easy to set up and easy to use. It also has an outstanding inboard phono preamp and the requisite exceptional speed control and wow-and-flutter results. It simply sounds terrific.”

U-Turn Orbit Theory

Prices: $999 ($1069 with built-in Pluto 2 phono stage).

That concludes our awards for 2023. But rest assured, we’re already thinking about who might be earning an Outstanding Achievement award next year, and reviewing products that could be honored when we announce the 2024 awards, in a year’s time.

. . . Doug Schneider

To see the video featuring Dominique Fils-Aimé presenting our awards, click here.