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10 Best Gear 2009

January 5, 2009 By HE Staff

Our 10 Best Gear Awards

The best gear of the year.

Sony XEL-1Sony XEL-1

A Taste of the Future
At first glance, the $2,500, 11-inch, Sony XEL-1 would lead you to believe that the folks at Sony had lost their minds.

Quite the opposite, this is the world’s first OLED TV, or Organic Light Emitting Diode, and it’s the future of flat-panel TVs.

This statement piece also happens to look amazing, with a contrast ratio, black level, and colors unrivaled by any modern TV.

Read the full review here.

SE2 Labs ITC One

SE2 Labs ITCOne

Not a Box of Boxes
SE2 Labs’ ITC One houses a video processor by Runco, a surround sound processor from Bryston, a five-channel digital amp from ICEPower, an HD DVR, an iPod dock, an Xbox 360 (Wii optional), an AMX Netlinx Control System.

You can even add an AppleTV, Blu-ray, and even a Wadia 170iTransport (a 10Best winner itself).

All this in one box. But what makes it 10Best-worthy is how easily and perfectly it all works together.

Read the full review here.

Newport Audio Gold SeriesNewport Audio Gold Series

Heavy Metal
The Newport Audio Gold Series in-wall speakers eschew plastic in favor of 5-mm thick aluminum faceplates.

This gives the Poly-Mica drivers real substance to brace against as they pump out the tunes. And pump out they do, rivaling not only just about every other in-wall on the market, but
giving floorstanders a run for their money as well.

Read the full review here.



Stewart CinecurveStewart Filmscreen CineCurve

Go Wide
The Stewart CineCurve screen has ushered in a new era in home cinema viewing.

Instead of being stuck with the inherently compromised 16x9 (1.78:1), the CineCurve lets you adjust the screen’s aspect ratio to fi t the movie you’re watching.

When paired with a projector with an anamorphic lens, you can have Cinemascope movies at their native aspect ratio, with no bars, in your own theater.

Read the full review here.

Denon AH-D5000Denon AH-D5000

Best Seat in the House
The real mahogany enclosures and magnesium frame of the Denon AH-D5000 headphones are a visual representation of the quality found within.

Neodymium magnets move Microfibre drivers to supply a visceral and personal sound.

Copious amounts of deep bass don’t overwhelm a neutral midrange nor an airy treble.

A perfect audio trifecta: tremendous design, stunning looks, and mind blowing sound.

Read the full review here.



Sonance Z8Sonance Architechtural Series Z8

Cutting the Edge
The Sonance Architectural Series Z8 takes a new turn in the design of in-wall speakers.

Bored with the traditional metal grill look of most in-walls, Sonance instead created a speaker that lies fl ush with the wall, seemingly a part of it. In fact, the bezel-less Z8F is designed to mount without a grill at all.

And of course, thanks to beryllium tweeters and drivers, they sound amazingly as good as they look.

Read the full review here.



Wadia 170iTransportWadia 170iTransport

All Digital
Despite the plethora of iPod docks on the market, the Wadia 170iTransport is the first ever to allow a completely digital signal to pass from your iPod’s hard drive all the way to your processor/receiver.

This allows for the use of the signifi cantly better digital-to-analog converters found in high-end audio gear.

The difference is eye-opening, and turns the iPod into a legitimate audiophile device.

Read the full review here.

Pioneer PRO-151FDPioneer Elite KURO PRO-151FD

Still the King
One look at the Pioneer Elite KURO PRO-151FD, and it becomes easy to see why Pioneer’s plasmas are so lauded. Deep inky blacks combine with bright whites to create a stunning, near 3Di image. Some of the best processing in the industry is the icing on the cake. There are several new displays on the market giving the KUROs a run for their money, but for now the Pioneer is still king.

Read the full review here.

Samsung SP-A800BSamsung SP-A800B

The Samsung SP-A800B projector is what you get when the world’s most respected video guru designs your projector. Replete with near-perfect uniformity, color accuracy, grayscale tracking, and more, this is a projector for the most demanding of viewers.

This is perhaps why they are installed in so many Hollywood post-production facilities.

Read the full review here.

Acoustic Energy AE1 Mk III SEAcoustic Energy AE1 MkIII SE

Big from Small
A quick look at the Acoustic Energy AE1 MkIII SE speakers is enough to mark them down as attractive, if somewhat unassumingly small speakers.

But you can’t judge a book by its cover—no expense was spared in the manufacturing of these incredible speakers.

With hand-picked components, ranging from a spectacular ring-radiating tweeter to the silver-strand internal wiring, these are some of the best small speakers you’ll ever hear.

Grab them fast, only matched 100 pairs are going to be made.

Read the full review here.

Also check out our:

10 Best Software winners
10 Best Design winners. 


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