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End-of-2017 Stuff

I submitted some requested year-end material to Part-Time Audiophile and, while a portion of my contribution was used, here’s the full version.

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— One best new component and three runner’s-up.

Not sure if it qualifies as a component… but I sure like the new MacBook Pro 15”. The illuminated touch-bar thingie is more than just ooh-ahh eye candy; its context-sensitive and user-configurable features are a big help in certain apps. The machine is fast and responsive under OS 10.13.2 and the screen is amazing.

iTunes is more bloated and dopey than ever (and still no FLAC support — what’s up with that?), and I’m not too excited about having to shell out another $129 for a compatible version of Microsoft Office… but hey, I’m never happy unless I can whine about something.

Runners up:

1) OWC Thunderbolt 3 dock (essential with the above, at least for me)
2) Zu Audio Druid Mk VI speakers
3) Zesto Allasso step up transformer

–One best affordable component and three runner’s-up.

1) Not going to single any one unit out, but I like the trend of good, (relatively) inexpensive headphone amps (especially of the tube variety) that double as preamps. Too many to choose from.

Runners up:

1) Schiit Gungnir Multibit DAC
2) Marantz’s line of multichannel AV preamp-processors
3) Not so much a component, but I enjoy those free DirectStream firmware upgrades (Bridge II and DAC) from PS Audio.

–One most coveted product (the one YOU personally want the most).

Zesto Andros Tessera phono preamp. I like dials. And switches. On the front panel. Yes, my girlfriend will ask me if it makes toast and complain about stubbing her toe on the massive outboard power supply. I will ignore her and flip switches and turn dials.

–One product of the year.

Roon and Tidal MQA make pretty sweet music together — when Tidal isn’t stuttering from bandwidth issues, that is. I’ve gotten so used to Roon that, when I open an older version of JRiver, I wonder why I endured the latter’s Mac-unfriendly interface and weird, redundant configuration screens for as long as I did.