Home Theater Review’s Best of 2012 Awards

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[Note: I hope you like what I got saved up for the last post of 2012. Instead of trying to come up with all my favorite home theater equipment, then cross reference them with industry reviews and customer feedback, I’m just gonna pick my favorite award winning pieces from the list comprised by Hometheaterreview.com.]

This year was a good year for audiophiles and home theater enthusiasts alike -especially if you were on a budget, which, let’s face it, who isn’t these days? We thought we’d mix things up a bit with this year’s Best Of Awards by not breaking the various products we found to be exemplary down by category; instead we thought we’d just give ’em to you straight up. After all a great product is a great product, regardless of its target market or category. So, without further adieu, here are the products we thought were the very best the audiophile and home theater manufacturers had to offer in 2012. Enjoy.

JRiver Media Center Software/Application – $50
Microsoft’s Media Center PC may not be an entirely fresh concept, especially given the proliferation of iTunes, but it’s far from dead. Thanks to a dedicated online community Media Center PC is alive and well, and among the best iterations available to consumers is JRiver. This $50 program does a lot more than just “skin” your music and movie collection; it packs features that both audiophiles and home theater enthusiasts crave, such as audio/video upscaling, parametric EQ and so much more. Plus, it is virtually future proof in terms of AV formats and unlike its Apple counterpart it is truly HD compatible. For those looking to get off the source component rollercoaster or have their very own K-Scape like system on a budget, look no further than JRiver.

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Western Digital WD TV Live Streaming Media Player – $100
If you’d like to add streaming services like Netflix, Hulu Plus, Vudu, and Pandora to your existing HT system, there’s no shortage of inexpensive standalone players from which to choose. In our opinion, Western Digital’s WD TV Live currently offers the best features for the money, combining an excellent assortment of Web-based services with the ability to stream a wide range of media files from your home computer or DLNA server. The box is compatible with TVs old and new, and it even offers a cool SlingPlayer app to stream live TV.

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Bowers & Wilkins P3 Headphones – $199
Bowers & Wilkins first treated us to their flagship P5 headphones, then came the C5 in-ears and now we have the new P3, which may just be their best yet. More affordable than the P5s and just as aurally pleasing, the P3s manage to be both utilitarian and stylish thanks to their collapsible design and high-end looking materials. For the audiophile or headphone enthusiast on the go few do it better right now than Bowers & Wilkins.

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Paradigm Shift A2 Bookshelf Loudspeaker – $559/pair
Paradigm’s new Shift series of components are exactly that; a paradigm shift, in that they’re aimed at a new breed of enthusiast, one who values performance, portability and simplicity. On all three levels the A2 bookshelf speakers succeed. These powered monitors sound as good connected to a laptop or portable music device as they do directly to a preamp in an intimate two channel setup. But the fun doesn’t have to stop there. Thanks to their rather ingenious input and connection options you can even use them in a home theater setup, thus negating the need for bulky, or expensive amplifiers -an AV preamp is all that is required. You can even daisy chain multiple A2s together to cut down on cable clutter. Add in a variety of custom paint schemes and you’ve got the makings for one of this year’s most surprising and well-rounded loudspeakers we tested.

 

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Sanus Component Series Racks – Starting at $599
Sanus‘ newly revamped Component Series AV equipment racks may look like just another industrial, Middle Atlantic knock off, but I assure you there is more to the story. With the addition of Sanus‘ new EcoSystem, a collection of rack accessories aimed at keeping your cables organized and your system cool, the Component Series ventures into territory few others can match -especially for the price. These racks come in a variety of sizes and are nicely appointed with hardware and shelving right out of the box; expect to pay a la carte with competitors.

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See the rest of the awards here:

Home Theater Review’s Best of 2012 Awards & Page 2 | HomeTheaterReview.com

 

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