The StereoTimes Most Wanted Components - 2001
Stu McCreary
1 July 2001

Front End: Sony 777ES $1700 (now discontinued)

Reviewed 5/21/01. This is a no brainer. The 777ES can be purchased at deep discount and it plays Redbook CD amazingly well. If you prefer another DAC for Redbook, it has digital out and makes one of the best transports on the market. The SACD performance is pure gravy, and oh, what a fine gravy it is.

Publisherís Choice 2001 Award!

The Ortho Spectrum AR-2000 $1500.

Reviewed 9/19/00. This "filter" device takes the Sony SACD players over the top. It removes some glare without any apparent adverse effects and enhances the soundstaging so much and so naturally that I no longer could use the TDS in my system.

Preamp: Thor TA-1000 $7900; Bel Canto Pre-1 $2495

If youíre into tubes, the Thor TA-1000 is the preamp of choice. Amazingly musical with a very light and quick touch for a tube preamp. If youíre into transparency and speed and donít want to break the bank, then the Bel Canto Pre-1 is the ticket. If you own the Evo amplifiers, itís almost a must. This preamp was made to complement (read, not screw up) the amazing transparency and speed of the Evo amplifier. Hey, they didnít want to make a whole new preamp in their line (they already had two tube ones), but the Bel Canto boys found that it was a necessity. You could hear the darn tubes in their other preamps. I agree, I prefer it over the Thor when using the Evo monoblocks.

Publisherís Choice 2001 Award!

Amplifier: Bel Canto Evo $2395

Unquestionably the best value/performance in a high-end amplifier. Oh heck, forget about the value, in monoblock mode it is one of, if not the best there is.

Publisherís Choice 2001 Award!

Loudspeakers: Talon Khorus $14000; Auvia Candor $6000

Reviewed 10/4/00 and 2/5/01. If cost is not object, my choice is the Talon Khorus. Read my review on it. Itís not like any other dynamic-driver-based loudspeaker Iíve heard. A natural, holistic sound renders the harmonic texture of acoustic instruments with amazing fidelity. State-of-the-art bass and the ability to play incredibly loud with no strain or congestion, cap it off. If youíre on a budget, for less than half the price of the Khorus, you can get the Auvia Candor. Review to follow, but for now lets just say that Frank Derrigo, former Von Schweikert designer, has created what I think is a masterpiece at its price point.

Publisherís Choice 2001 Award!

Interconnects: Acoustic Zen Silver Reference $898 per meter

Reviewed 9/18/00. Extremely wide bandwidth with depth and delicacy aplenty. Everything Iíve tried so far sounds bleached out and constrained in comparison.