Recommended Reference Component: Dutch & Dutch 8c Active Loudspeakers

Recommended Reference ComponentIn a passive multiway loudspeaker -- that is, a passive speaker with more than a single drive-unit, and thus requiring a crossover to distribute the audio signal among its various drivers -- the electronic components of the analog crossover appear in the circuit after the signal has been received from the power amplifier, and before the signal is sent to the speakers’ drivers. In an active multiway loudspeaker, the audio signal is sent to the crossover first, before being sent on to the multiple amplifiers that directly power the drive-units.

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Recommended Reference Component: SVS SB-3000 Subwoofer

Recommended Reference ComponentThis month, we add to our list of Recommended Reference Components SVS’s sealed-box SB-3000, which Diego Estan reviewed for SoundStage! Access on June 1.

Priced at $999.99 USD in a finish of Premium Black Ash (add $100 for Piano Gloss Black), the SB-3000 is one of two models in SVS’s 3000 series. (The other is the larger, ported PB-3000, a review sample of which Diego has just received: $1399.99, Premium Black Ash only.) The SB-3000 weighs 54.5 pounds and measures 15.6”H x 15.2”W x 17.8”D with its grille in place. Its front-firing, 13” aluminum-cone woofer is driven by an internal Sledge STA-800DS amplifier with a specified power output of 800W RMS and 2500W peak. An Analog Devices digital signal processor (DSP) helps control the SB-3000’s output, and is used to adjust the volume level, equalization, crossover, etc.

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Recommended Reference Component: GoldenEar Technology Triton Reference Loudspeakers

Recommended Reference ComponentIn Doug Schneider’s May 2019 review of the GoldenEar Technology Triton One.R loudspeaker ($5999.98/pair, all prices USD), he repeatedly referred to its bigger, more expensive sibling, the Triton Reference ($8499.98/pair at time of review, now $8999.98/pair), which he’d reviewed in November 2017. GoldenEar’s flagship Reference model is the source of most of their latest technology that has trickled down into the One.R.

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Recommended Reference Component: Meze Audio Empyrean Headphones

Recommended Reference ComponentBrent Butterworth began his review of the Meze Audio Empyrean headphones, published April 1, 2019, on SoundStage! Solo, with this declaration: “The Empyreans represent the gutsiest move the headphone biz has seen in a long time. At $2999 USD, they’re almost ten times the price of Meze Audio’s next-priciest over-ear headphones, the 99 Classics ($309). They use a new driver technology I’ve never seen before. And they’re designed and manufactured in the medieval country town of Baia Mare, Romania, which isn’t exactly a tech nexus.”

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Recommended Reference Component: Luxman L-509X Integrated Amplifier

Recommended Reference ComponentLuxman’s L-509X integrated amplifier ($9450 USD) has a phono stage, and a faceplate that showcases its retro styling and old-school features: output meters, tone controls, even a loudness control. It may lack a built-in DAC, but its sound quality doesn’t bow to current-day competitors, nor does it cede first place to separates. In his SoundStage! Ultra review of March 1, 2019, Jeff Fritz said that he couldn’t “think of a commensurately priced combo of separate preamp and power amp that I’d prefer.”

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Recommended Reference Component: Focal Stellia Headphones

Recommended Reference ComponentFocal’s Stellia headphones carry a hefty price of $3000 USD, and are Focal’s second-from-the-top headphone model, just below the Utopias ($3999), introduced in 2016. Nonetheless, Brent Butterworth’s review of the Stellias, published on SoundStage! Solo on February 20, 2019, was briefer than most he’s written. “With every review of headphones or earphones I write, I always find something to complain about,” he wrote. “Not this time.”

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Recommended Reference Component: VPI Prime Signature Turntable

Recommended Reference ComponentUntil now, the Rega Research RP8 has been the only turntable listed in our Recommended Reference Components. But that was destined to change after the publication on December 15, 2018, on SoundStage! Ultra, of Jason Thorpe’s review of the VPI Prime Signature turntable.

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Recommended Reference Component: Campfire Audio Solaris Earphones

Recommended Reference ComponentDoes it set a bad precedent to give a product a perfect score? Some might think so -- what if something better comes along? But that didn’t stop Brent Butterworth from rewarding Campfire Audio’s Solaris earphones with a perfect 10 for Sound in his December 10 review on SoundStage! Solo. So far, they’re the best-sounding earphones he’s heard -- though they’re also, as he confessed, “complex, bulky, and expensive ($1499 USD).”

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Recommended Reference Component: Fostex TH909 Headphones

Recommended Reference ComponentIn his review of the Fostex TH909 headphones last month on SoundStage! Solo, Brent Butterworth remarked that “Fostex has one of the most unusual product lines in the headphone biz. They mostly split between pro ’phones priced under $200, and high-end consumer models priced at $599 or more.” Brent, who’s “been a Fostex fan since 1997,” wrote that “I had yet to hear a set of Fostex headphones I didn’t like” -- including the TH909s ($1799.99 USD).

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Recommended Reference Component: Hegel Music Systems H590 Integrated Amplifier-DAC

Recommended Reference ComponentHegel Music Systems’ new H590 is, by far, their most costly integrated amplifier-DAC to date, at $11,000 USD. Their next-most-expensive model is their previous flagship integrated-DAC, the H360, at little more than half that price: $6000. But at 17”W x 6.8”H x 17.6”D and almost 50 pounds, and specified to deliver at least 301Wpc into 8 ohms, the H590 is larger, heavier, better built, more powerful, and has more features. And according to Hans Wetzel’s review of the H590 on this site last month, it sounds better. Hans attributed much of that improvement to the H590’s “magnificent D/A converter,” and he should know -- he owned an H360 at the time of review, and before that he’d owned the H360’s predecessor, the H300.

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