2003 Editor's Choice Awards Page 1

As you read this, winter has set in and indoor diversions, including home theater, have taken center stage. Is it really that time of year again? The time Stereophile Guide to Home Theater announces its annual Editors' Choice awards from among the dozens of products we've reviewed in the past year? The time we agonize over our choices? The time the editor makes his first-cut nominations and discusses them with the other writers, carefully factoring in their opinions?

Sure is. And it's never an easy process. Many of the awards could have easily gone to other worthy contenders. Speaker preferences, for example, tend to be highly personal. We weigh not only the reviewer's opinion, but the measured results as well. To win an award, a speaker must produce at least a reasonable set of measurements, no matter how much praise the reviewer heaps on it. "Reasonable," of course, is also somewhat subjective, since no set of measurements can completely characterize a speaker's performance in the real world.

Not all of our reviewers have heard or seen all of the candidates, a limitation that must be taken into account. To be eligible, a product must have been reviewed in the 10 issues of SGHT published between February 2002 and January 2003. Unlike some awards given elsewhere, other encounters with the products—a fleeting mention, a "First Look" squib, or a product whose review is still in progress—don't count toward eligibility. We're inflexible on this: The product must have been reviewed in SGHT, where the reviewer's opinion has been fully formed. That way, we can refer you to the full report so that you can find out more about the product—research that we always recommend (along with your own audition) before you make any final buying decision.

Most Editors' Choice categories include two awards. The Platinum Award is for price-no-object performance. The Gold Award weighs both performance and cost. Balancing the two will always be, once again, subjective, and you won't always find that the Gold Award winner comes with a low price tag. But you can be sure that it provides great bang for the buck. In a few cases, the field of candidates was slim enough that we've given only a single award. And in several categories—Accessory, Budget Product, and Product of the Year—there is never more than one winner (though this year our Product of the Year is actually a synergistic combination of two products).

Enough talk. The winners are . . .