2020 Stereophile Product of the Year...and...

2020 Stereophile Product of the Year

With COVID-19 tearing through the world this year, it was no surprise that virtually all Audio Shows worldwide, save the Florida Audio Expo that was held early in February were cancelled due to an abundance of caution. They did the right thing IMO by shutting them all down but it still was a bummer that my favorite and somewhat local show RMAF was never to be in 2020. The amount of joy that attending RMAF brings to me when seeing and listening to new gear at RMAF in the years that I do make it (can't always make it there, but I try every year to work it into my schedule) is long lasting and always memorable. I always leave there surprised by new gear that I've never heard before, both good and bad surprises. Last year in 2019 when RMAF moved to the Gaylord Rockies venue, I was likewise happily surprised not only with the gear that was shown by vendors and manufacturers, but also with the venue itself. It was a beautiful setting and I sure hope RMAF can have the show again there in 2021!

That all said, without RMAF taking place in 2020 (along with other audio shows too), there was a void. I'm sure I'm not alone feeling like I was missing a good friend that I'd not talked with in a while. Short of actually attending a show to see and hear new gear, and the fact that making appointments at local B&M stores during a pandemic to actually go listen to new gear is a big pain in the rear, the next best thing is reading about that gear. Yeah...sure, reading about audio gear and someone's opinion on that gear is akin to the infamous quote attributed to Martin Mull, or was it Steve Martin, or somebody else?..."Writing about music is like dancing about architecture." Yet still, in 2020 its about all we have had.  

Over the years I always look forward to reading all of the various trade magazine's yearly articles on "Product of the Year", "Golden Ear Awards", "Editors Choice", etc. I don't look forward to them because I'm actually on the hunt for (or could even possibly afford) the newest high price gear, but rather its always approached with a, "maybe some day I could afford to get one of those XYZ's, but its fun to browse and drool right now anyway" attitude. Reading these articles in a magazine tends to set a bookmark in my brain to check out XYZ's gear at next year's RMAF if possible. I don't think I'm alone with that sequence of events.

At any rate, here is one such Product of the Year article that I'm posting here in case you haven't seen it, Stereophile 2020 Product of the Year. In particular, I like that not every product making the list is an $80,000 item. Sure, there are some, but there are also a few bits of kit written about that seem to be more approachable for the average joe-audiophile. One of those affordable items is a little loudspeaker that I really enjoyed hearing at RMAF last year, the Elac Carina BS243.4. When I walked by the room and heard Yello, La Habanera belting out of a room I had to stop in and see what big speakers were playing. I was shocked that all of that wonderful sound was coming out of such a petite cabinet. I left shaking my head in disbelief with a smile.

Hoping this article will help satisfy your audio-toy appetite in the absence of our beloved audio shows this year, even if only like a granola bar might do for you after a two day fast.