Audioholics 2021 Product of Year Award Winners!

gene

gene

Audioholics Master Chief
Administrator
We've made it to the closing weeks of 2021. That means it's time to reflect on the highlights of this year's very best in consumer audio-video! It was only a year ago in the 2020 Audioholics Product of the Year Award that Gene confirmed 2020 was the “...year of suck”. Little did we know that baby New Year 2021 was about to say: “Hold my beer!”. The challenges of 2020 manifested even in the world of A/V, with chip-shortages, supply chain problems and for many, even more lockdowns that may have impacted product releases and retail sales. So, like 2020, we weren’t able to review quite as many new products as we had in previous years, but through it all, 2021 saw some great new releases worthy of our highest praise.

Lest you think we're entirely negative about past year, let's not forget that 2021 presented some bright lights for the A/V industry. As movie theaters reopened, long-delayed films finally began screening in 2021, many of which are available to stream at home. This year brought us historic film-industry renegotiations with theater chains that permit home screenings of ever-newer films. Meanwhile, two of the biggest music streaming services, Spotify and Apple Music, raised the bar on sound quality with upgraded lossless streams, Apple even offers its lossless and Spatial Audio by Dolby Atmos free of additional fees.

To help you get the best out of music and film media in 2022 and beyond, here are our product review highlights from 2021!

2021-POY.jpg


Read: Audioholics 2021 Product of the Year Award Winners!
 
Replicant 7

Replicant 7

Audioholic Samurai
No "Best" AVR of 2021? Curiouser and curiouser. Wonder why.
 
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gene

gene

Audioholics Master Chief
Administrator
We didn't review many due to supply chain issue and Yamaha isn't a contender due to my measurement results.
 
Replicant 7

Replicant 7

Audioholic Samurai
We didn't review many due to supply chain issue and Yamaha isn't a contender due to my measurement results.
You still up Gene? When do you sleep? ;) Anyways doesn't surprise me, no (Best) AVR winner this year. On your Yamaha thread it's very interesting to say the least, from some of the AH members. @gene, I gotta ask though, do I need to worry any if my RX-A4A may blow up?;) As honest as I can be I have absolutely no issues with my A4A. As always, Big Thank You Gene, for your dedication in bringing us great editorials and articles on your website.
 
OldAndSlowDev

OldAndSlowDev

Full Audioholic
I would be curious what is you point of view about investing in the RX-A8A to keep it for years. Should I return it and wait for a more mature product ? I am purchasing an avr every... 20 years so is it a mistake to get this model and should I go for something that isn't plagued with (from your previous posts) a major issue regarding measurements ?
 
H

Hetfield

Audioholic Samurai
I like the idea and it's what I do, an AVR with the latest everything in technology that has pre-outs and an external amp. That's what I do and it works quite well. Denon X3400H with a Parasound HCA-1205A 5 channel amp. All the tech, Audyssey XT32 and plenty of power from the Parasound amp.

Sent from my Pixel 4 XL using Tapatalk
 
OldAndSlowDev

OldAndSlowDev

Full Audioholic
Yes I start to feel I need to forget about integrated amps... maybe a good pre amp and a good power amp and then change the decoder when needed, and keep the amplification separated...
 
Replicant 7

Replicant 7

Audioholic Samurai
Yes I start to feel I need to forget about integrated amps... maybe a good pre amp and a good power amp and then change the decoder when needed, and keep the amplification separated...
If I owned my home like some of you guys do, with the way AVR's are with issues, run hot gotta add a fan to help keep them from overheating. and I mean All of them, I'd go the Pre-Pro route with a nice seven channel amp or monoblocks for my L/R mains and multichannel amp and be done with it.
 
OldAndSlowDev

OldAndSlowDev

Full Audioholic
If I owned my home like some of you guys do, with the way AVR's are with issues, run hot gotta add a fan to help keep them from overheating. and I mean All of them, I'd go the Pre-Pro route with a nice seven channel amp or monoblocks for my L/R mains and multichannel amp and be done with it.
Yes I can't decide if I am sticking with a very good integrated with all the confort of a single unit doing everything, or if I slowly join the dark side of audiophilia : no compromise on sound :p
 
Replicant 7

Replicant 7

Audioholic Samurai
Yes I can't decide if I am sticking with a very good integrated with all the confort of a single unit doing everything, or if I slowly join the dark side of audiophilia : no compromise on sound :p
Your RX-A8A is doing well right? Any issues with audio of video dropouts? You like the performance and sound quality? Than I wouldn't change a thing. I live in a small apartment so a bunch of gear isn't practical. Plus I got a really great Deal on my RX-A4A, way less than the 1399.00 retail sticker price. It helps to have a trusted Dealer that can save you hundreds and he saved me hundreds on that AVR.
 
ryanosaur

ryanosaur

Audioholic Overlord
I would be curious what is you point of view about investing in the RX-A8A to keep it for years. Should I return it and wait for a more mature product ? I am purchasing an avr every... 20 years so is it a mistake to get this model and should I go for something that isn't plagued with (from your previous posts) a major issue regarding measurements ?
I feel like we’ve discussed this before… only you can decide the value for yourself, in terms of whether the Yammie is worth keeping against the risk of continued bungling from Yamaha.
The kicker is that there really isn’t much on the market I would recommend right now (including AVPs), unless you get something like the Denon 3700 as a placeholder.
But for the cost of the new Yamahas, they seem to sound ok… but all accounts (pending publication of @gene ’s findings) also tell of problems… which are why I continue to stand by by position that none of these companies should be supported until they get their tech working properly.
(The Denon’s do work… with the dongle. And they measure exceptionally well).
*shrugs

Again… only you can decide where your values lie. ;)
 
S

snakeeyes

Audioholic Ninja
I think that Denon 3500 etc were popular when they could be had for $549 on close out. And a number of people stated that they needed external amps for all channels to run them in eco mode to help with cooling concerns. Now that a Denon 3700 costs over $1600, not sure this will be as popular as it once was. Also many people are waiting for the 3rd generation of HDMI 2.1 chips.

The timing may not be great for buying a new AVR for another year or so.
 
S

snakeeyes

Audioholic Ninja
Also like @PENG said, the DACs are no longer coming from the same company for Denon 3700. Amir would need to redo the review to see if the newer DAC in 3700 measures as well.
 
OldAndSlowDev

OldAndSlowDev

Full Audioholic
I feel like we’ve discussed this before… only you can decide the value for yourself, in terms of whether the Yammie is worth keeping against the risk of continued bungling from Yamaha.
The kicker is that there really isn’t much on the market I would recommend right now (including AVPs), unless you get something like the Denon 3700 as a placeholder.
But for the cost of the new Yamahas, they seem to sound ok… but all accounts (pending publication of @gene ’s findings) also tell of problems… which are why I continue to stand by by position that none of these companies should be supported until they get their tech working properly.
(The Denon’s do work… with the dongle. And they measure exceptionally well).
*shrugs

Again… only you can decide where your values lie. ;)
Yes I am 100% happy (until now) with my RX-A8A... I feel stupid to worry about things I am not able to hear or experience by myself.
 
Replicant 7

Replicant 7

Audioholic Samurai
Yes I am 100% happy (until now) with my RX-A8A... I feel stupid to worry about things I am not able to hear or experience by myself.
Well, that's all that matters brother, unless I use 2.1 and happen to get a PS5 and a new tv that has 2.1 which I won't anytime soon. I've said this before and I mean no disrespect to gamers, I have no need for 4k 120, 2.1 HDMI or VRR, or legacy what ever that is. My RX-A4A isn't going anywhere.
 
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AVR Enthu

AVR Enthu

Full Audioholic
It's telling that no single new AVR deserves the award this year. It has been a chaos out there with half-baked devices, buggy features and lack of availability of some. All hopes in the next gen of AVRs.
 
Pogre

Pogre

Audioholic Slumlord
Yes I can't decide if I am sticking with a very good integrated with all the confort of a single unit doing everything, or if I slowly join the dark side of audiophilia : no compromise on sound :p
I don't think using an avr instead of a dedicated prepro represents a compromise on sound.
If I owned my home like some of you guys do, with the way AVR's are with issues, run hot gotta add a fan to help keep them from overheating. and I mean All of them, I'd go the Pre-Pro route with a nice seven channel amp or monoblocks for my L/R mains and multichannel amp and be done with it.
As far as the heat thing, if you're using a separate amp you can turn on eco mode, not lose anything and your avr runs MUCH cooler. I used to use a fan but when I got the amp I didn't need it anymore. My avr never gets hot anymore. Just warm to the touch.
 
Replicant 7

Replicant 7

Audioholic Samurai
I don't think using an avr instead of a dedicated prepro represents a compromise on sound.

As far as the heat thing, if you're using a separate amp you can turn on eco mode, not lose anything and your avr runs MUCH cooler. I used to use a fan but when I got the amp I didn't need it anymore. My avr never gets hot anymore. Just warm to the touch.
I've owned many Onkyo AVR's and I'm not new to the Hot AVR thing or adding fans, All of my Onkyos had added fans in helping to keep the heat down. Sadly I lost 3 of them do to the chip issues. Back in 2015 I got another Onkyo NR656, kept it for about a year.Gave it to my grandson to use in his room alone with his PS4. That Onkyo is still going strong.
 
Bucknekked

Bucknekked

Audioholic Samurai
I don't think using an avr instead of a dedicated prepro represents a compromise on sound.

As far as the heat thing, if you're using a separate amp you can turn on eco mode, not lose anything and your avr runs MUCH cooler. I used to use a fan but when I got the amp I didn't need it anymore. My avr never gets hot anymore. Just warm to the touch.
@Pogre
You read my mind. Your responses are spot on.
Literally all electronic designs are compromises of one sort or another in the eyes of the designers.
Even as end users (and not designers) much of what we have installed is a compromise of economics, or space, or the WAF factor.

But I would defy most folks who hold that an AVR is an unacceptable compromise (TLS_GUY accepted) that they would fail on a DBT test with their favorite dream system and a well chosen AVR. AH just put out another one of those point of view papers entitled "The evils of the sighted listening test". Most folks would fail a true DBT if faced with an AVR and most separates.

I am firmly in the camp of let people choose what ever they wish for their systems and I'll give you high fives if you enjoy it. Its no skin off my nose if you like separates. Its no problem with me if you like Radio Shack gear. I love my setup and I'm glad the folks on AH helped me pick out every single piece of it. Nobody told me what to get. I got nothing but helpful information and supportive dialogue. I loves my tunes
 
OldAndSlowDev

OldAndSlowDev

Full Audioholic
@Pogre
You read my mind. Your responses are spot on.
Literally all electronic designs are compromises of one sort or another in the eyes of the designers.
Even as end users (and not designers) much of what we have installed is a compromise of economics, or space, or the WAF factor.

But I would defy most folks who hold that an AVR is an unacceptable compromise (TLS_GUY accepted) that they would fail on a DBT test with their favorite dream system and a well chosen AVR. AH just put out another one of those point of view papers entitled "The evils of the sighted listening test". Most folks would fail a true DBT if faced with an AVR and most separates.

I am firmly in the camp of let people choose what ever they wish for their systems and I'll give you high fives if you enjoy it. Its no skin off my nose if you like separates. Its no problem with me if you like Radio Shack gear. I love my setup and I'm glad the folks on AH helped me pick out every single piece of it. Nobody told me what to get. I got nothing but helpful information and supportive dialogue. I loves my tunes
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