The Sound Advocate Product of the Year for 2022 is here as December pounces before us. Once again we are ready to award our “best products” designations for equipment reviewed this year in The Sound Advocate.
For 2022, as has been customary, we have been inundated with some quite overtly stimulating and musical audiophile components for evaluation and as always, you may retrieve past winners and the years’ reviews through our full archives.
Here in 2022, two products again have won our prestigious “best products” awards, and so with no further ado, let us open the envelopes…please! (Thank God the academy awards are virtually gone!). Notwithstanding this, I will proceed with the winners of 2022.
The HARBETH COMPACT 7es 3/XD LOUDSPEAKER
This BBC pedigree designed, 2 way, stand-mount loudspeaker system is just simply awesome in sound quality, with a refined and delectable overall accuracy, while its great price point just adds more cream to the coffee.
Kudos must go to its designer, Alan Shaw of Harbeth. He has virtually taken all of the best aspects of the Harbeth models and molded them into one, pure unadulterated loudspeaker. For a mid-size speaker, there is no need to look any further than with the Compact 7es 3/XD. It is everything that a great loudspeaker should be, and although its size may give way to a tiny bit of bass impact, this is easily forgiven when you experience its midrange and treble response.
To quote parts of the review:
“This speaker reveals, not unexpectedly, excellent depth, lateral width, and an airy openness that imbues a delectable concert hall ambiance and is well out of the speaker cabinets themselves. On some fundamentally refined classical recordings, you cannot detect that the speaker enclosures are in front of you. This is one of the indications of a truly great design!
As for the midrange, here is where most if not all the music evolves, and this Harbeth midrange is one to marvel at. Transparent, see-through sound permeates your hearing with all the natural tonality of each instrument planted before you. Singing voices are truly exceptional in tonality naturalness depth and detail. I must admit that the C7ES-3 XD should, and does equal or outshine in many ways the magical midrange of my 45-year-old Spendor BC1 loudspeakers. This is a miraculous feat under any circumstances.
You also hear the “electrostatic” sounding mid of the legendary Quad 63 on much program material and that will make you take intense notice when listening to some of your favorite program material. The detail is abundant and the speaker has that “liquid” quality in its midrange response while blending exquisitely into the tweeter’s upper mid to high frequencies.
Congratulations to Alan Shaw and Harbeth for a truly exceptional product.
PRICE HARBETH Compact 7 ES-3 XD loudspeaker: $4,890.00 (depending on finish).
Harbeth UK ~ 3 Enterprise Park
USA distributor: Fidelis distribution
460 Amherst St, Nashua, NH 03063
MOJO AUDIO “MYSTIQUE X” DAC
Can different design approaches cause many first-rate DACs to give listeners a small but eminent key into the fine nuances of the best audiophile recordings exponentially? Many of the best “ears” can hear these small differences, undoubtedly, and designer Benjamin Zwickel of Mojo Audio has proved this point with the latest release of his “Mystique X” Digital to Analog Converter.
The Mystique X uses a specialized form of the R-2R DAC technology and his claim to fame is his DAC designs use the best of 100-year-old (LC choke-input power supplies), 40-year-old (vintage R-2R DAC chips), and modern technology (XMOS USB receivers, SiC Shottkey diodes, amorphous core chokes, etc.) to achieve their natural and neutral sonic character. To say he has met this goal with the Mystique X would be a supreme understatement…!
Here are a few quotes from my original review:
“Incontrovertibly, the Mystique X is a stunning piece of equipment in just about every way conceivably possible. It possesses certain qualities that the other 3 DACs described above indeed possess, but not always… in the quantity of this particular unit.
Immediately, one can perceive that Mystique X is a true leader in sound transparency. To delve into this area even deeper, one hears so deep into the layers of the program sources to a point that is unique among the high-end DACs currently available to the audiophile at this point. NO- I have not heard some of, or for that matter every DAC out there, including some more expensive units on the market, but I honestly doubt that most of them can equal no less prominently overturn the Mystique X within their relevant proportions and price points”.
“The sound stage perception and perceived depth unquestionably and distinctively penetrate the musical landscape with so many layers of heretofore never heard instrumental “detail” that one wonders what they were missing on that favorite piece of recorded music they have known quite intimately. Fresh new intricacies emerge at your ears, and you immediately take notice of this subtle and delicately distinguished instrumental and musical proclivity. It must recognized, however—though these intricacies are quite subtle, by any standards, it is noticeable to the most discriminating ears”.
And so we award the Mojo Audio “Mystique X” D/A converter our 2nd. Product of the Year Award, and with little hesitation at that!
PRICING (as auditioned with S/PDIF upgrade option): $8,499
MOJO AUDIO INC, 12941 Marva Place SE
Albuquerque, New Mexico 87123
United States of America
CONTACT INFORMATION: info@benjamin 949.Get.Mojo (949.438.6656
The Sound Advocate wishes all our subscribers, distributors, and manufacturers a happy upcoming holiday and a HEALTHY new year!
WHERE the MUSIC BEAT meets the AUDIOPHILE ELITE !
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