“Let our rigorous testing and reviews be your guidelines to A/V equipment – not marketing slogans”
Facebook Youtube Twitter instagram pinterest

2018 Audioholics Product of Year Award Winners

by December 14, 2018
2018 Audioholics Product of Year Awards

2018 Audioholics Product of Year Awards

2018 was a great year to be an audiophile whether you were on a budget or the sky's the limit. We primarily focused our review efforts on speakers and subwoofers but also dabbled in some very innovative two-channel products as well. Imagine being able to playback your precious vinyl collection and all digital sources in high resolution with enhanced room correction and bass management all in the same product. Anthem showed us the way with their STR separates. Dayton Audio proved to us that for less than the price of an exotic interconnect, you could get a pair of bookshelf speakers that can pipe good sound quality into a college dorm or small office environment. RBH Sound threw down the gauntlet with their Goliath sized speakers that produced limitless dynamics and gut wrenching bass to satisfy even the hungriest bassaholics appetite. Denon stepped up the ante with the worlds first 13.2CH does-everything AV receiver ready to play all of the latest in HD video and immersive surround sound. Our choices this year were based on direct review or demo experience of the following products we felt really stood out among their peers for each category chosen.


YouTube Video Discussion:  2018 Audioholics Top Products and Year in Review

Award: 13.2CH AV Receiver

8500HDenon AVR-X8500H | Review

The world's first 13.2CH Immersive Surround Receiver is what Denon is calling their new AVR-X8500H. This 51lbs monster was the king of all AV receivers at CES 2018 as we don't know of any other product that supports ALL 3 immersive surround formats (Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, Auro 3D), 3 pairs of height channels, 2 independently configurable subwoofer outputs, with a HDMI 2.1 upgradability path. While it's asking price may seem a bit spendy, it's really not when you consider its arsenal of processing power and how flexible it will be for even the most upscale home theater installations. The 8500H has many of the flagship hallmarks of Denon products from yesteryear including being built at the same factory in Japan as the legendary AVR-5805 10CH 100lbs beast.  A preamp mode allows you to disable the internal amplifiers of the AVR-X8500H so you can power up, though we doubt most users will want to bypass the meaty amp section this flagship model like this offers.

MSRP: $4,000 (free shipping)  | Buy Now

Award: Two-Channel Separates

Anthem STRAnthem STR Preamp & Power Amp | Review

Anthem's STR series preamp and power amplifier emphasize fidelity first  armed with the latest in 32 bit DSP processing, ARC room correction and a serious analog circuit path that will surely satisfy even the most critical audiophile. The HT bypass mode makes for a seamless integration into your theater system.  Our comprehensive bench tests prove this dynamic duo packs plenty of power to drive even the most power hungry speakers. Sound quality was superb in every mode of operation and Anthem ARC room correction added icing to this already tasty cake.

MSRP: $3,999 Preamp / $5,999 Power Amp  | Buy Now

Award: Powered Speakers

S2000 ProEdifier S2000 Pro | Review

The Edifier S2000 Pro wireless two-way bookshelf speakers are a beautifully crafted fully active design with state of the art Class D amplification and DAC’s from Texas Instruments, a rigid 5.5” black anodized aluminum cone woofer and a planar magnetic tweeter in a horn loaded waveguide. They feature Bluetooth 4.0 with aptX for near CD quality streaming as well as balanced inputs. You can connect these speakers directly to your HDTV display and put ANY soundbar to shame in it's price category. Edifier wants to give everyone the opportunity to be an “audiophile” with these speakers and based on our time listening and reviewing them, we'd say "mission accomplished"!

MSRP: $400/pr (free shipping) | Buy Now

Award: Budget Bookshelf Speaker

MK402Dayton MK442 | Review

Earlier this year we did a series of reviews for very inexpensive speakers, ranging from $50 to $100 a pair. One speaker from that set that left us quite impressed was the Dayton Audio MK442 which is an LCR speaker that can be used as easily as a center channel speaker as front left/right channel speakers. The MK442 has a nicely balanced tonality, very good bass extension for the size and price, good power handling, with a benign electrical load. A front stage set of these would be a great solution as a part of a low budget sound system. The Dayton Audio MK442s prove that the entry fee into good sound doesn't have to cost a small fortune.

MSRP: $100/pair | Buy Now

Award: Upscale Bookshelf Speaker

LCRv2Outlaw Audio LCRv2 | Review

Our choice for an upscale bookshelf speaker also happens to be another LCR design that sandwiches a tweeter between two midwoofers: the Outlaw Audio LCRv2.  In our review of the LCRv2, we found it to be a superbly accurate speaker and also very powerful with extraordinary power-handling. A front stage of LCRv2s would be just as much at home in a dedicated home theater system as they would in a high-quality two-channel system. The excellent sound quality is no surprise considering the design team was the same people behind the legendary Snell brand speakers. Extraordinarily high-fidelity was an inevitable result from the ingredients used to create the LCRv2. It's not the cheapest bookshelf LCR speaker around, but it is one of the best that we have reviewed thus far.

 MSRP: $1,200/pair | Buy Now

Award: Tower Speaker

800FParadigm Premier 800F | Review

Although we only finished evaluating the Paradigm Premier speakers recently, we find ourselves enamored enough by the 800F floor-standing speakers to give them our product of the year award. They boast a nicely neutral response, excellent off-axis dispersion, and terrific dynamic range. As we noted in our review, there just isn't much to complain about them; they are intelligently engineered from every angle and doesn't do anything objectionable. They are straight-up good speakers without any caveats or eccentricities. If you just want a plain-old good speaker system without any fuss and without making the decision complicated, just go listen to some Paradigm Premier 800F speakers.

MSRP: $2,000/pr | Buy Now

Award: Upscale Tower Speaker

SVTRRBH Sound SVTR | Review

RBH’s SVTR Tower Reference Speaker combines RBH’s SV-831R reference monitor and SV-1212NR reference subwoofer to produce the ultimate tower speaker with mind-blowing performance.  This is a true reference speaker for the serious audiophile and demanding cinemaphile with anvil-like bass that will crush the performance of many stand-alone subwoofers. This is an awesome speaker that must be experienced to be fully appreciated and an easy choice for our upscale tower speaker award for 2018.

 MSRP: $11,000/pair | Buy Now

Award: Compact  Budget Subwoofer

MartinLogan Dynamo 600X | Review

600XOur decision to choose the MartinLogan Dynamo 600X as our subwoofer product of the year might surprise many since we at Audioholics are known to be a bit nuts about powerful bass; after all, we did formulate the Bassaholics Room Rating Protocol. But the Dynamo 600X is a subwoofer designed to deliver decent bass to the masses, not just those of us with dedicated listening rooms. It is a fundamentally good performer and far more practical than the behemoths that we tend to give so much attention. For most people, the monster subs are just not a viable option. The 600X manages to produce some nicely articulate bass with a dollop of thump, and it comes in a size and design that makes it easy to integrate into nearly any domestic situation. It is also easily controlled via a smartphone app. What's more, it has built-in room correction that is also controlled by a smartphone app that is surprisingly easy to use. In fact, it is one of the least expensive subwoofers to possess those kinds of sophisticated features.

MSRP: $599 (free shipping) | Buy Now

Award: High Output Subwoofer

SVS PB-4000 | Review

PB-4000The SVS PB-4000 is a gleaming black brick of bass reproduction technology. It is as much of a beauty as it is a brute, in that it looks and acts sophisticated but that is just a veneer that hides some truly explosive power. This is not to say that power is uncontrolled though; much of its high technology is utilized to keep tight control over its enormous output capabilities. Indeed, it is a pristinely linear subwoofer with extremely low distortion, and it exemplifies the high fidelity that has always been a hallmark of SVS subwoofers. Combine all of this with SVS's app control that allows the user to fine-tune the PB-4000 to the nth degree, and you have total control of this bruiser right at your fingertips from the comfort of your sofa. Beauty, brains, and brawn; the PB-4000 has it all and earns our upscale subwoofer product of the year.

MSRP: $1,999 (free shipping) | Buy Now

Award: 4K Display Special Mention

PQ65Vizio’s P-Series Quantum | Review

The PQ65-F1 is a veritable light canon capable of pushing out 2000 nits of brightness for the ultimate 4K/UHD HDR experience. HDR10, DolbyVision, and HLG are fully supported so you won’t miss a beat. The PQ65’s color presentation is lush, supporting nearly 100% of the P3 color space. And while it won’t give you the true blacks of an OLED, it will get you around 85% of the way. The Vizio isn’t completely immune to LED technology shortcomings such as off-axis color desaturation and blooming. Vizio’s Android-powered TV with Chromecast offers a robust smart home experience and superb integration with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa.  Best of all, this package is a value-laden powerhouse coming in at price point just over $2,000.

MSRP: $2,099 | Buy Now

That's a Wrap

PicardWe covered some excellent products in 2018, not all of which were fortunate enough to make this list, but still viable nonetheless. Loudspeaker manufacturers seem to keep upping the ante in quality and features at all price points. We like the trend we're seeing from subwoofer companies now offering mobile apps with room EQ to assist in calibrating and fine tuning their products. Room correction is a great tool in an audiophile's bag of tricks to use, not abuse, in efforts to sonically reach the full potential of their home theater system.

For 2019, we plan on continuing our coverage of the best available home theater products on the market while also looking at smart home integration and control systems to put it all together for ease of operation.

Merry Christmas and here's hoping for a great New Year and as Captain Picard says "make it so"!


About the author:
author portrait

Gene manages this organization, establishes relations with manufacturers and keeps Audioholics a well oiled machine. His goal is to educate about home theater and develop more standards in the industry to eliminate consumer confusion clouded by industry snake oil.

View full profile