Best Gear of October 2019

In the spirit of Halloween, we’re excited to share the scary good lineup of AV gear we reviewed in October. Whether you’re looking to squeeze every last drop of performance out of a hi-res-streaming setup, find wireless headphones that don’t need to be recharged every few hours, or on the hunt for speakers that will make the hair on your neck stand up, we’ve got you covered.

AudioQuest Dragonfly Cobalt Headphone Amplifier/DAC: $299


Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value

Don’t be fooled by the Cobalt’s size. This latest addition to AudioQuest’s DragonFly line of mini headphone amp/DACs is fully capable of delivering sound quality that rivals standard-size components. It’s a refined version of the popular DragonFly Red (one of our 2016 Top Picks) that sounds better and handles MQA-encoded files. As veteran audio reviewer Dan Kumin put it, “I was very impressed with just how ‘high-end’ the best hi-res music sounded via AudioQuest’s pocket wonder.”

AT A GLANCE

Plus

Outstanding sound from compact solution
Ample dynamics for a broad range of headphones

Minus

96 kHz maximum PCM sampling rate
Requires extra-cost adapter for use with Apple Lightning devices

Full Review Here

Cary Audio DMS-550 Network Audio Player: $5,495


Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value

If you were to sum up the DMS-550 in a few words it would be: “Digital audio done right.” Cary calls the 550 a “network audio player” but in truth it’s a player and a feature-packed digital preamp offering topnotch digital conversion, MQA decoding, aptX HD Bluetooth streaming, Roon compatibility, and lots more. It even has a built-in Class A headphone amplifier with independent volume. Reviewer Al Griffin gave overall sound quality a big thumbs up and was particularly impressed with the 550’s ability to convert music files to DSD format. If you’re waiting for the right gear to fully embrace hi-res streaming, this could be your ticket.

AT A GLANCE

Plus

Impressive sound quality
Extensive feature set
Flexible control app

Minus

Limited remote control IR range
Pricey

Full Review Here

Marantz SR6014 9.2-Channel A/V Receiver Review: $1,499


Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value

At about half the price of many flagship AVRs, the SR6014 proves that it’s possible to deliver topnotch music performance at an affordable price without sacrificing key home theater and streaming features. You get eight HDMI inputs and a phono input, instant access to popular music streaming services, wireless multiroom capability via the Heos platform plus the wherewithal to drive a 7.2 surround configuration or a 5.2.4 Dolby Atmos or DTS:X setup with height speakers (7.2.4 with an external two-channel amp). It even provides Imax Enhanced processing. Whether you’re listening to music or watching a blockbuster movie, the SR6014 honors the Marantz legacy.

AT A GLANCE

Plus

Punchy, music-friendly sonics
Flexible speaker configuration options
HEOS wireless streaming

Minus

Limited custom installation features
Non-backlit remote

Full Review Here