2003 Sound & Vision Reviewer's Choice Awards Page 7

Photos by Tony Cordoza Bang & Olufsen BeoLab 5 Speaker System (original review, September) No recent speaker I know of is more striking on first acquaintance than Bang & Olufsen's BeoLab 5. First there's the sticker shock - $8,000 apiece! Then there's its appearance - like something from a Danish-designed Jetsons. And then there's its sound quality - superb. It can play loud and clean, it can reach way down into the deep bass, and - thanks to the specially shaped reflecting surfaces around the higher-frequency drivers - it can deliver this superb sound quality to an unusually large prime seating area. You can sit almost directly in front of one of these speakers and still hear a stereo "spread" all the way to the other. But the BeoLab 5's most significant contribution to audio technology is its extraordinarily clever Adaptive Bass Control automatic bass-equalization system. This optimizes the speaker's low-frequency output depending on its location in the room, literally at a touch. If you think eight grand apiece is a bit much, just remember that the speakers are self-powered - with 2,500 watts of built-in amplification per speaker - and accept digital input signals directly. Bang & Olufsen www.bang-olufsen.com, 847-590-4900

- David Ranada

Pioneer DV-563A Universal DVD/SACD Player Pioneer DV-563A (original review, November) I love both Super Audio CD and DVD-Audio, our two high-rez multichannel audio formats. And they'd be even better if the millions of DVD players already out there could play them. But how many folks are going to buy another component just for these dueling formats? Not very many - but with Pioneer's DV-563A costing just $249 (and probably less "on the street"), a lot more might take the plunge. The DV-563A is an omni-player that handles both DVD-Audio discs and SACDs in their multichannel and stereo guises as well as regular DVDs and CDs, MP3 and photo CDs, and various write-once and rewritable CDs and DVDs. The DV-563A sounded fine in all its modes, especially given its price, and DVD movies looked nearly as good as they do on my much more expensive reference player. Pioneer's clean, no-nonsense ergonomics don't hurt, either. If you're going to buy a $250 DVD player, why not one that lets you sample multichannel DVD-A and SACD as well? Pioneer www.pioneerelectronics.com, 800-421-1404

- Daniel Kumin

Sony KV-34XBR910 34-inch HDTV Monitor sony KV-34XBR910 (original review, October) There are plenty of new TV technologies vying for your HDTV dollar, but for the ultimate in picture quality, I'll still stake my money on a traditional cathode-ray tube (CRT). Sony's 34-inch KV-34XBR910 not only delivers great video performance at a very reasonable price ($2,500), but its new Super Fine Pitch CRT features an aperture grille said to have 65% more slits than previous tubes, and that translates to higher-resolution images. Finally, a high-definition TV worthy of the name! The widescreen set has a copy-protected DVI input that's compatible with the latest DVD players and HDTV tuners, and its Memory Stick slot lets you view still pictures shot with a Sony or Konica digital camera. There's no denying that this Sony TV takes more living-room space than a flat-panel plasma TV, but as a swan song for CRT technology, it sure looks sweet. Sony www.sonystyle.com, 800-222-7669

- Al Griffin