Recommended Reference Component: Monitor Audio Silver 300 7G Loudspeakers

Recommended Reference ComponentIn March 2022, we presented the Monitor Audio Silver 500 7G loudspeaker with a Recommended Reference Component award. Philip Beaudette had reviewed the speaker on this site the month before, when it received a Reviewers’ Choice award. Dennis Burger reviewed Monitor Audio’s Silver 300 7G, the 500 7G’s little brother, on SoundStage! Access in March 2022, where it too earned a Reviewers’ Choice award. Now, like its sibling, we’re presenting the Silver 300 7G with a Recommended Reference Component award as well, because it performs to an equally high standard.

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Recommended Reference Component: Saturn Audio 401 Phono Preamplifier

Recommended Reference ComponentCanadian manufacturer Saturn Audio was founded in Cambridge, Ontario, in 2017, so it’s a relative newcomer to the hi-fi scene. The 401, which Jason Thorpe reviewed last month, is the only phono preamplifier the company makes. Despite its mere half-decade existence, the company boasts “100 years of professional experience.” This includes the circuit-designing talents of Gilbert Yeung, who founded Blue Circle Audio in the 1990s, and the manufacturing experience of Saturn Audio’s president, René Evans.

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Recommended Reference Component: Monitor Audio Silver 500 7G Loudspeakers

Recommended Reference ComponentLast month, we published Philip Beaudette’s review of a pair of Monitor Audio Silver 500 7G loudspeakers on this site. In that article, he declared: “Monitor Audio has been on a roll lately, if the number of its product launches offers any evidence to support such a cliché.” The company’s roster of new products includes the seventh generation of loudspeakers in its Silver Series, with the 500 7G as the flagship model.

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Recommended Reference Component: Meze Audio Elite Headphones

Recommended Reference ComponentIn Brent Butterworth’s April 2019 review of the Meze Audio Empyrean headphones on SoundStage! Solo, he declared that they “clearly rank among the very best headphones you can buy.” The Empyreans were—and still are—$2999 (all prices in USD), and because of Brent’s praise, they earned Reviewers’ Choice, Recommended Reference Component, and Product of the Year (2019) awards.

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Recommended Reference Component: Focal Celestee Headphones

Recommended Reference ComponentIn Brent Butterworth’s SoundStage! Solo review of the Focal Celestee headphones ($999, all prices in USD), which was published in September 2021, he wrote that the French brand’s headphones are “the opposite of AC/DC albums.” He then explained his reasoning: “AC/DC albums look different but sound the same. Focal headphones look the same but sound different.” Brent knows the Focal line well, because he’s also reviewed the company’s Clear, Elegia, Stellia, and Utopia headphones for Solo.

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Recommended Reference Component: PSB Synchrony B600 Loudspeakers

Recommended Reference ComponentPaul Barton, founder and chief designer of PSB Speakers, has been designing speakers of all shapes and sizes since 1972. That wealth of experience shows in the company’s latest offerings: the Synchrony T600, a floorstander priced at $7999/pair (all prices in USD), and the Synchrony B600, a standmounted design priced at $2499/pair. Optional stands for the B600 are available for $599/pair. Diego Estan reviewed a pair of B600s on this site last month and advised that readers shopping for standmounted speakers “absolutely must audition a pair of PSB Synchrony B600s,” because when they do, they’ll likely “see no reason to keep searching.”

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Recommended Reference Component: Arcam SA30 Integrated Amplifier-DAC

Recommended Reference ComponentPriced at $3300 (in USD) and armed with a host of features, including an internal moving-magnet/moving-coil phono stage, a built-in high-resolution DAC, seven selectable digital filters, wired and wireless digital connectivity options, Dirac Live room correction, streaming functionality, and a headphone amp, the Arcam SA30 is one of the most versatile integrated amplifiers on the market. It’s also one of the best sounding in its price range, or even beyond. According to Roger Kanno in his October 2021 review of the SA30 on this site: “There isn’t another product I know of at this price point that does as much, or sounds as good while doing it.”

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Recommended Reference Component: Accuphase C-2850 Preamplifier

Recommended Reference ComponentIn his July 2020 review of the Accuphase C-2850 preamplifier, Doug Schneider pointed out the “huge price discrepancy” between what the Japanese company’s component sells for in the United States, in US dollars, versus what it sells for in Canada in Canadian dollars—$35,500 in the US compared to $24,999 in Canada (at the time the review was written, the Canadian price converted to $20,568 in US currency). But Doug also stated in his review that while “the C-2850 is something of a steal among high-end preamps” for what it sells for in Canada, he couldn’t call the C-2850 “overpriced” in the United States, “because it is a great preamplifier.”

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Recommended Reference Component: Paradigm Founder Series 100F Loudspeakers

Recommended Reference ComponentParadigm’s 100F floorstanding loudspeaker, which Doug Schneider reviewed on this site in July, is part of the company’s new Founder Series line. As Doug detailed in the review, the Founder models—there are two more floorstanders, a stand-mounted design, a center-channel, and an LCR (left/center/right) model—are the first to be released “since Scott Bagby, one of the company’s two cofounders, and his son John, bought back full ownership of Paradigm from Shoreview Industries, which had come in as a partner in 2005, when cofounder Jerry VanderMarel left.” Scott Bagby was instrumental in leading the design of the line, and even delayed its release for about a year until he was satisfied with the results. It seems that he made the right call—in his review, Doug declared the 100F to be a “bona-fide hit” and “a high-water mark for Paradigm.”

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Recommended Reference Component: Magico A5 Loudspeakers

Recommended Reference ComponentMagico’s cost-no-object approach to loudspeaker building means that the company’s products are not inexpensive—for example, Magico’s current top-of-the-line loudspeaker, the M9, costs a whopping $750,000 per pair (all prices in USD). But with its “entry-level” A-series models, Magico has been able to bring costs down to appeal to a broader audience, yet still offer outstanding sound quality. The Bay Area loudspeaker manufacturer has achieved this by using a conventional flat-sided cabinet design, less expensive parts, and trickle-down technology from the costlier M and S lines.

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