Well, here we go again—time for another round of the best of last year’s best. As you’ll see (and forgive the old cliché), it was a year that was more evolutionary than revolutionary, but we were delighted to see the cost of excellent HDTVs and projectors continue to come down while the quality of some emerging categories, like soundbars, started to come up.
Here’s a happy problem: Following the merge of Sound & Vision and Home Theater last year, selecting our 2013 Top Picks of the Year involved culling through more than 120 products that had been granted HT Top Pick or S&V Certified status—13 issues’ worth, plus dedicated online reviews. While it was still easy to pluck out the stuff that really rose to the top, the end result was more standouts than usual. You’ll find several recommendable entries equally sharing the various category honors this year. Of course, we’ve still identified a single, very special piece of gear as our ultimate Top Pick of 2013. Care to take a guess?
2014 was an interesting year for AV enthusiasts. On the video side, plasma went away, while LCD technology, particularly the edge-lit models, took a leap forward, and OLED grew its presence. In audio, a slew of new competitors went chasing after Sonos in the app-based multiroom audio genre, high-res audio began to emerge from its audiophile obscurity, vinyl continued on its comeback path, Atmos came to the home theater market, and the best soundbars kept on getting better. Read on for our list of the crème de la crème...
2015 was very much a transitional year for both audio and video technology. On the display side, Ultra HDTV continued its march into the marketplace, and we saw the first high dynamic range displays. A/V receivers caught up to the UHD displays with full passthrough of HDMI 2.0 signals bolstered, finally, by HDCP 2.2 copyright compliance—a key feature missing from most 2014 AVRs. We got our first real listen to object-based Atmos surround at home in both the nine-channel variety with four height speakers (a winner!) and the seven-channel variety with two height speakers (not quite so much). Beyond that, we saw more growth in the wireless multiroom audio segment, with several accomplished speaker manufacturers getting in the game. Here, then, is our list of standout products reviewed in the 2015 calendar year. Make sure you check current pricing online; we list MSRPs as originally reviewed, and some products are now heavily discounted.
As we head into a long, lazy July 4th Weekend, we’ve encapsulated a formidable list of recent Top Picks. Half of our Picks are devoted to an eclectic mix of wireless speakers, including one built for use outdoors. The other half includes what may be the world’s best TV, a couple of high-end headphones, a bad-ass budget subwoofer, a crazy cool micro tube amp, and an awesome AVR. Enjoy the holiday…and the gear.
Wondering which HDTV or audio components to buy now? Look no further than Sound & Vision's Top Picks, our reviewers’ exclusive listing of recommended gear. Just determine your budget, scroll through the products, and use the links to read the full reviews. You’ll also find shopping and tech tips for the key categories. Happy hunting!