It's a sometimes strange existence being a What Hi-Fi? Sound and Vision Product of the Year. Sure, there's the kudos and the acclaim, but there's also the knowledge that you're basically there to be shot at.
Take this Roksan Kandy K2 amplifier, for example: every time we take delivery of a £700-ish stereo amp, the 2008 incumbent is racked up once again to see if it's finally met its match.
No doubt the day will come when the K2 is deposed, but we wouldn't bet on it happening any time soon.
Looks-wise, you make your own mind up – the K2 is mildly divisive in these parts, chiefly because a) it's mirrored; b) the volume control clings to the fascia like a bottle-top to a bottle; and c) everything happens down at one end of the box.
In spec terms, though, it's on surer ground: the remote control is excellent, a (moving magnet) phono stage is always welcome, and the power output looks extremely promising.
More after the break
The provision for just a single pair of speakers is the only (very) minor gripe.
No issues with performanceThere's no hint of any issues where performance is concerned, though. Play a complex tester like Keisuke Suzuki's Water Samba and the sheer poise and fluency of the K2 is profoundly impressive.
The combination of ample dynamic shove and crisply attentive timing allows the music full expression across the frequency range, and the Roksan's deft manoeuverability makes each individual thread of a recording easy to follow.
Details both great and small are delivered unfussily, and midrange articulacy is particularly stirring.
Switching to The Blue Aeroplanes' Huh! shows the K2 off to even greater effect.
For an amplifier that gives every impression of being quite relaxed and easy to listen to, the Roksan can be ferociously fast and attacking when required.
Click here to watch our video review of the Roksan Kandy K2.