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2005 Audioholics Product of the Year Awards

by December 31, 2005
2005 Product of the Year Awards

2005 Product of the Year Awards

2005 proved to be another invigorating year for the world of home theater as evident by the bleeding edge and innovative technological masterpieces put forth by many of the industry leaders.  With home theater electronics progressing as rapidly as the computer industry (if not more so), it's hard to keep track and stay ahead of the game.  Choosing class-leading products proves to be challenging since there are so many good solutions out there, all suited to specific market demands and client needs.  With that in mind, we selected gear in each category that really stood out based on our personal experiences via reviews or demo's as well as the market trends it set based on performance, features, and value.

Award: Flagship A/V Receiver

Denon AVR-5805 Multi Function A/V Receiver
The scorecard from the A/V Receiver Checklist proved to be a chartbuster in terms of its Critical Features rating as well as its overall score for a receiver/processor regardless of price.  Even more impressive was the unprecedented power reserves of this receiver and its ability to drive low efficiency 4-ohm speakers with relative ease.  Most importantly, the Denon AVR-5805 sounded pristine in all modes of operation. Its auto setup and room correction via Audyssey MultiEQ was the most comprehensive and accurate system we have tested to date, though the experienced user/installer may still opt for old fashion manual set-up and is encouraged to validate the calibration results.  It also incorporated THX Ultra2, independent processing with amplification for 2 source surround sound, 4 powered zones, up to 22 channels of distributed audio, 10 amp power assignability, useful digital video processing and scaling to enhance standard picture sources, video upconversion to HDMI, active IEEE1394 and Denon Dlink ver 3, and as all Denon flagship predecessors, features superb bass management and speaker setup flexibility.  Separates solutions at this price could only dream of the performance attributes and setup flexibility of this masterful behemoth receiver.
MSRP:  $6000


Award: A/V Receiver

yamaha-RX-V2600.jpgYamaha RX-V2600 A/V Receiver
We could not get away from the advances made this year in A/V receivers, and Yamaha didn't hold back as it upgraded its line and introduced its newest mid-fi receiver late into the model year. The RX-V2600 has all of the advancements of the more expensive RX-V4600 (minus IEEE1394) but with the most advanced HDMI feature set on the market including video processing and scaling of all video sources to HDMI with full OSD support (a feature even the AVR-5805 is waiting on).   We currently have this unit under review and can tell you it is by far the hottest receiver in its price class.  It's so hot that once it was announced the 2005 CEDIA Show, other leading receiver manufacturers were forced to revamp their competing receiver product lines in attempts to match its feature set.  When paired with a solid 7CH amplifier such as the Emotiva MPS-1, it is capable of gunning down more costly dedicated separates solutions.
MSRP:  $1400


Award: Multi-channel Power Amplifier

emotiva-mps-1.jpgEmotiva MPS-1 7CH Modular Multi Channel Power Amplifier
Emotiva caught us off guard with their new modular cage card 7CH power amplifier - the MPS-1.  Its use of high quality parts (such as 105 degree C rated capacitors), and high build quality is a rarity at this price point.  Though it didn't quite hit rated power, it proved to have excellent power reserves, channel separation, bandwidth uniformity and commendably low output impedance which are many of the prime metrics in defining great amplification.   See our measurements and analysis and you will quickly understand why we are fans of this amp.  Pair this amplifier with the Yamaha RX-V2600 receiver and you have a separates killer at a fraction of the price one would ordinarily have to spend to get this level of performance and features.  Its fit and finish are top notch making pride of ownership off the chart for those who require high performance and looks to go hand in hand.
MSRP:  $2000


Award: Universal DVD Player

Denon DVD-5910
Last year Denon dazzled us with their DVD-3910 Universal DVD player so much so that it single handedly won our 2004 Product of the Year award. This year Denon took it up a notch and added Silicon Optix Realta HQV chipset found in $60k Teranex 3RU Xantus system combined with 10-bit video processing from DVDO, Denon's own image enhancement system, and top notch audio DAC's, power supplies and circuit topology make for unprecedented picture and sound quality.  The DVD-5910 set the standard in our new DVD Player Benchmark and is, according to our sources, Denon's last high-end conventional DVD player until high definition DVD arrives.
MSRP:  $3500 | Locate a Dealer Online


Award: High Performance Loudspeaker System

RBH Sound CinemaSITE

When we first saw the RBH Sound CinemaSITE at the 2004 CEDIA show we were instantly captivated by the sheer genius of the product. For years it was only possible to get the elegant look of a custom home theater by either a) having a one-off custom wood-worked cabinet designed and, or b) utilizing an existing furniture solution that allowed integration of baffled speakers on shelves. The problem with either of these solutions can be summed up by a factor of cost, inconvenience and potentially compromised sound quality. The RBH Sound CinemaSITE on the other hand has been completely designed from the ground up to serve as a custom install solution for housing their Signature Series line of in-wall loudspeakers. In addition to being sonically designed to hold the RBH Sound in-walls, the entire system is laid out in a way that makes installation a breeze. Try that with a custom product!
MSRP:  Starting at
$17,900 | Schedule an Audition


Award:  Moderate Priced High Performance Loudspeaker System

axiom-audio-epic-80.jpgAxiom Audio Epic 80-600 Loudspeaker System
We were interested in assembling a loudspeaker system that would provoke the "WOW" factor but not break the bank. Getting more bang-for-the-buck seems to be the backbone Axiom Audio was founded on.  Throwing in the bone crushing Epic 600 subwoofer brought this package to new depths.  Adding two EP600s only furthered this by providing more uniform bass response in all listening positions.
MSRP: $3,681 for 5.1 System
MSRP: $4,156 for 7.1 System | Buy Now from Axiom Audio


Award:  Moderate Priced Front Projector

panasonic-pt-ae900u.jpgPanasonic PT-AE900U 3LCD Projector
We quickly realized that the Panasonic PT-AE900U just might be one of the best price-for-performance projectors we've seen in a long time. By far, the best attribute of this product is the Smooth Screen technology that puts the nail in the coffin for screen door effect (SDE). Add to those decent blacks, exceptional color reproduction and a slew of features like lens shift and user-calibration of RGB brightness/contrast/gamma levels and you've got a winner for its $2200 street price. We heartily recommend this projector to anyone in the <$2500 budget range looking for an excellent front projection system.
MSRP:  $3,199 | Get the Best Price Online


Award:  Budget DLP Front Projector

optoma-H31.jpgOptoma H31 DLP Projector
The Optoma H31 is a budget projector that, while not having the resolution of its bigger brothers, provides enough oomph to present a truly compelling reason to save some money and be satisfied with a 480p projection solution. I would never have thought that 480p could look so good, but then again resolution is not as big of a deal when the viewing distance is correctly matched to compensate. You'll want to calibrate this unit out of the box (and for each input I might add). Once you have done so you will be impressed with its features, its form, its color accuracy and detail. While it scored middle-of-the-road on our HQV bench tests, its real world performance was impressive and showed that bench tests should certainly not be the sole deciding factor when choosing a display. If you're looking for a budget display to get you into the big screen home theater experience, look no further than the Optoma H31.
MSRP:  $1,299 | Get the Best Price Online

Award:  Projector Mount

Chief-RPA-U-mount.jpgChief RPA-U Universal Projector Mount
The Chief RPA-U mount is truly universal, fitting just about any projector on the market today. The mount has many key features and adjustments that many other projector mount manufacturers lack in their products. Build quality is top notch and the products are competitively priced. Chief is also well known for great customer support which catapulted them to the top of our list for the product of the year award.
MSRP:  $199

Award: Projector Screen Technology

da-lite-acoustical-imager.jpgDa-Lite Acoustical Imager Projector Screen
with High Contrast Cinema Vision screen & JBL 5.1 speaker package
The overall excellent engineering and forward thinking by Da-Lite make this screen an easy choice for those wanting an all inclusive video screen and speaker package. The unobtrusive design of the screen with the incorporation of the JBL speakers Left/Center/Right in the frame now make it possible for many to install a nice front projection system in their home. Top notched video performance, very good audio performance and high bang for the buck puts this product on the award list.
MSRP:  $1,925 | Find the Best Price Online

2005 Audioholics Product of the Year Awards P2

Award: Compact Surround Loudspeaker System

yamaha-YSP-1.jpgYamaha YSP-1 Digital Sound Projector System
We found the ease with which the YSP-1 could engulf the listener in a three-dimensional, immersive environment, was only equaled by its sleek appearance, and ease of installation, with no wires or fuss. That the YSP-1 easily and handily out-performs the popular cube systems in the same price ballpark isn't the point. Rather, Yamaha's Digital Sound Projector marks the first, almost perfectly executed volley in a new consumer electronics category - Digital Sound Projectors. Pair it with a very budget friendly, yet potent subwoofer such as the Rocket ULW-10Yamaha DVD C-750 DVD Changer (msrp:$329) and you are in for a complete surround experience at the fraction of cost, size and complexity of a full fledged 5.1 speaker system solution.
MSRP: $1500 | Locate a Dealer Online

Award: Budget Subwoofer

rocket-ULW-10.jpgRocket ULW-10 Subwoofer with Auto PEQ
Rocket dazzled us with their high performance UFW-10 (msrp: $599) earlier in the year which our reviewer felt it to be without peer in its category based on performance, fit and finish and feature set. While we were still dazed and confused, Rocket released a similar performing subwoofer but with an automated single band Parametric Equalizer (PEQ) and for $100 less! The PEQ was part of a joint venture with Speaker City which sells the Subwoofer Optimizer System (SOS) technology as a stand alone unit for $269. This sub is an ideal solution for small to medium sized rooms and works even better in pairs.
MSRP: $499 | Buy it Now from AV123

Award: Universal Remote Control

Osiris-MX-350-remote.jpgUniversal Remote Osiris MX-350 IR/RF
It was hard to overlook this budget priced remote's learning power and configurability. Its IR and RF function, easy programming, sleek modern design and battery life put it over the top on our budget universal remote list. Universal Remote makes some pretty incredible products at the higher levels, but with the Osiris MX-350 coming in at under $150, this is the remote to get if you're looking to really grab a hold of a system by the reigns and tame it.
MSRP: $149 | Find the Best Price Online

Award: Modular A/V Cable Technology

impact-acoustics-rapid-run.jpgImpact Acoustics Rapid Run Modular Cables
With all of the bogus marketing and snake oil surrounding cables, it's often hard to differentiate reality from fantasy. We consistently find Impact Acoustics cables to be among the best value and best kept secret in the industry satisfying all of our Cable Budget Guidelines and avoiding all of our Top 10 Snake Oil Gimmicks. Impact Acoustics gets our cable innovation of the year award (if we had one, that is) for their ingenious and much needed modular cable system which is a godsend for custom and residential installers alike. It comes in two "flavors" for both data and audio/video and terminates into a variety of pigtails or wall plates with more ease and simplicity than we would have thought possible.
MSRP: $14.99 - $149.99 | Buy it Now from Impact Acoustics

Award: HDMI/DVI Cables

dvi-gear-shr-hdmi.gifDVIGear SHR DVI/HDMI Cables
Up until DVIGear released their new Super High Resolution (SHR) copper HDMI and DVI cables, the maximum reliable length for sending 1080p was around 15 feet. With this new technology from DVIGear, 1080p over copper HDMI and DVI cables can have a range of 33 feet (with 720p/1080i possible at lengths up to 50 feet.) Later this year, DVIGear is planning on releasing active correction circuitry which promises to extend the range of copper cables even further - up to 200+ feet!
MSRP: $49.95 - $299.95 | Buy it Now from DVIGear

Award: Calibration Tools & Equipment

datacolor-spydertv.jpgDatacolor SpyderTV Television Calibration System
Many television units ship from the manufacture calibrated for one purpose: impress people walking around under florescent lighting and grab their attention. Enter Datacolor who, until July of 2004, dealt primarily with professional computer display calibration tools and software. SpyderTV is the first consumer-targeted television calibration tool to hit the market that we are aware of. Considering the average price of an HDTV set falls between $1500 and $2500, I think the price is on-target for consumers looking to get improved performance (and life) out of their displays.
MSRP: $269 | Find the Lowest Price Online

Award: Power Conditioner Device

APC-S15-batt.jpgAPC S15 Power Conditioner & SBATT Battery Back Up
Just like with cables, most exotic power conditioner products are laced with snake oil and bogus marketing claims about how they will magically transform your home theater system into a state of nirvana. APC makes no such claims. Instead, they promise uninterruptible, clean and stable power delivery to your home theater system. And, unlike most competitor companies, APC actually backs it up with UL, CSA and FCC Part15 certifications. Take a look at the back panels of most competitor products and you won't find any of these markings for two very good reasons (1. Most products wont pass these stringent certifications ; 2. It's a very costly test procedure). What further sweetens the deal is the S15 provides voltage regulation, and battery backup. You can even add on more battery back up via their SBATT module should you require it. It's easy to see the amount of thought that went into the design of these products via our APC FAQ Interview and why we chose them to be our official sponsor for all of our primary staff reference systems.
MSRP: $1500 S15
MSRP: $500 SBATT |
Locate a Dealer

Award: LFE Accessory

buttkicker-LFE-kit.jpgButt-Kicker LFE Kit
There are times when we find products that are just plain fun. The Butt-Kicker LFE kit is one such product. This kit is complete with everything you need to add extra Wow effect to your system. The kits easy installation, high build quality, and low price make it an easy pick for product of the year. Have a seat layout that makes it hard to run a sub cable to the chairs? Get the optional $99 ButtKicker-Link RF-Kit and run the system wirelessly. This is one neat product.
MSRP: $699


About the author:
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Clint Deboer was terminated from Audioholics for misconduct on April 4th, 2014. He no longer represents Audioholics in any fashion.

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