Garbage in, garbage out, they say – so let’s make sure your system starts with a source that will ensure a solid sound from the very top of the chain. These are the products that have wowed us over the last 12 months of our magazines Sound+Image, Australian Hi-Fi, Best Buys Audio & AV, and Audio Esoterica, and which represent our recommendations of the very best hi-fi sources available in Australia today.
You can read the Judges' Comments below: for the full details on each and every winner, check out the Special Awards Issue of Sound+Image magazine, on sale in December in print and digital editions. Print subscriptions here; digital issues here!
Now let's meet the winners!
TURNTABLE OF THE YEAR UNDER AU$1000
Judges’ Comment: This direct-drive turntable is a thrilling combo of classic and modern, an evolution of the Technics SL-1200 design which adds a built-in phono stage and an output for USB recording, together with sound quality above its price bracket.
TURNTABLE OF THE YEAR AU$1000-AU$5000
Mo-Fi Electronics StudioDeck+
Judges’ Comment: The StudioDeck+ charmed us utterly, from its looks to its build and especially its sonic performance, a testament to Mobile Fidelity in pursuing the highest quality for its hardware, as well as its legendary vinyl disc releases.
TURNTABLE OF THE YEAR OVER AU$5000
Judges’ Comment: It may impart quite the physical presence to your music rack, it may be a marvel of engineering, but once the music is playing the GT-5000 simply gets out of the way and delivers the highest joys of vinyl.
PHONO STAGE OF THE YEAR
Parasound Zphono XRM
Judges’ Comment: The Zphono XRM drew additional clarity, detail and solidity from every cartridge we connected, allowing new insights into the artists’ performance. Which is, of course, what hi-fi is all about. Read our full review here.
CD PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Metronome AQWO SACD/CD/DAC
Judges’ Comment: It’s an investment, sure, but this ‘forever’ CD/ SACD player doubles down as a thrilling DAC for other sources, and consistently performs to its price with accuracy and timing that brings the best from all genres. Read our full review here.
PERSONAL MUSIC PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Judges’ Comment: The case for owning a PMP is well made by Fiio’s M11, a player capable of use at home and away, with great sound, features, DAC abilities and networking.
BLUETOOTH STREAMER OF THE YEAR
iFi Zen Blue
Judges’ Comment: The iFi Zen Blue brings Bluetooth streaming to a system which doesn’t otherwise support it, using high-quality codecs, good conversion, and versatile outputs.
NETWORK MUSIC PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Lumin U1 Mini
Judges’ Comment: This digital renderer of streaming music is about a third of the price of the non-‘Mini’ version, yet the performance is still magical.
DAC / HEADPHONE AMP OF THE YEAR
Questyle CMA Twelve
Judges’ Comment: The CMA Twelve proved a versatile and very high-quality DAC, while it handled all our headphones, delivering beautiful, powerful music. The longer we played, the more we fell in love with it.