The best Hifi products of 2021

The best Hifi products of 2021

#hifi #audiophile #stereo #audioreviews #highfidelity
Patreon account: https://www.patreon.com/ThomasAndStereo

Non affiliated link for SMSL A1: https://hifi-express.com/products/smsl-vmv-a1-high-resolution-class-a-power-amplifier

To find where to listen and buy the Aperture Swing speakers, you can reach out to Richard if you can’t find one at your local store (Non-Affiliated) Email: info@asonaltd.com

Gear mentioned in this review :
Mcintosh MC275 tube amplifier
Apertura Swing speakers
Meitner audio MA-1 DAC: https://youtu.be/ysrO-Oh4bUg
Decware Zen UFO2: https://youtu.be/aMUn8lR4rVo
SMSL VMV A1 poweramp: https://youtu.be/Ql6wna4FLgc

49 Comments

  1. bintandream on December 28, 2021 at 12:43 pm

    Thomas,
    I am in agreement with you about Apertura. I had a chance to hear the Edena and Enigma Mk2 and those were easily my personal "Product(s) of The Year for 2021". If you get a chance, listen to the Evolution series Apertura’s, I think you’ll be even more impressed. Most importantly for me, they are not that hard to drive and that’s really hard to come by these days. Merry Christmas and happy holidays.

  2. Rodrigo Otávio on December 28, 2021 at 12:45 pm

    Nice shirt Thomas !!
    👏👏👏🇧🇷🇧🇷

  3. Kev on December 28, 2021 at 12:45 pm

    What music do you listen to when testing high end audio equipment?

  4. bike power on December 28, 2021 at 12:45 pm

    dont understand the suport of china hi fi

  5. Yuri Walter on December 28, 2021 at 12:46 pm

    Talking about winners, that’s a nice shirt! 😉 Happy holidays and greetings from Brazil!

  6. TEST on December 28, 2021 at 12:47 pm

    Hello Thomas, this year I purchased the Dynaudio Heritage Special. Usually Dynaudio is more or less boring for me, but these speakers are very good for my taste. Enjoy your vacation.

  7. ahleksi on December 28, 2021 at 12:49 pm

    Thomas once again a very insightful review into Class D amp especially the Purifi ETA400 module. Based on your experience with this latest tube buffer, I assume it will be top of your list. But I were on slight budget, would you recommend the Purifi with Neurochrome that you have reviewed previously vs EVAL1 Eigentakt which I understood one cannot upgrade the buffer stage.

  8. themastroiannis on December 28, 2021 at 12:50 pm

    brasil!! joia!

  9. P P on December 28, 2021 at 12:51 pm

    Thank you!

  10. Good Sound on December 28, 2021 at 12:51 pm

    Selecting a good speaker is a difficult task, while some people love Focal, I do not like them for being too harsh and dissecting the music with a scalpel instead of portraing the soul of the music. Last time I was impressed with a speaker, it was with German Gauder Akustik model Arcona mk II, either No. „40“ for the smaller shelf speaker or „100“ for the big floorstander.

  11. sandmanoseven on December 28, 2021 at 12:51 pm

    Thomas it would be great if you could do a review of the outlaw audio 2200 mono block. The cost is only about $300/amp. The cost to preform ratio is great, but I cannot seem to find any YouTuber that will review the product. Thanks for what you do.

  12. Jin Kim on December 28, 2021 at 12:54 pm

    Great content Have you ever lived in Edmonton Alberta ?

  13. Raz Kaku on December 28, 2021 at 12:55 pm

    Happy Holiday Thomas~ Lucky me, make some good relationships with local dealers during these two years, and have plenty of chances to try fancy fancy gears.

    The best gear I try and bought this year (Not in order):
    Amplifier – Mola Mola Kaluga
    DAC – Aries Cerat kassandra II, Tambaqui, Aune S8 (Main Dac for ATC19 w/ Trinity Golden Reference Pre)
    Pre – Hegel P30 (Pair with Primaluna HP w/KT120)
    Streamer – Aurelic Aries G2.1 (Pair with Aune), Limetree Bridge (Funny one)
    Clock – Cronus (Bought)
    Speaker: Gershman Avant Garde (Pair with P30 & Primaluna HP)

  14. Thomas Tsiopoulos on December 28, 2021 at 12:58 pm

    Hi Thomas, nice year end review. Your review of the Decware amp was interesting and generally share your enthusiasm for their products as I own the se34I.4 amp. I have it paired with Tekton Enzo speakers and Sokris r2r dac – I generally stream via Tidal or from an Inuous zen server. My question for you is that I recently purchased the SMSL VMV A1 amp and I am looking to pair it with a reasonably priced pre amp. I was thinking about the Schiit Freys + but was wondering if you have any other possible options. Thanks TT

  15. Dominic Boucher on December 28, 2021 at 12:59 pm

    Hi Thomas, very interesting video (as always)! I need your advice… I own Focal Chorus 726 floor speakers (fed by Naim Uniti Atom) which is sounding great, but I’m looking for a tube amplifier to get a more holographic soundstage, more richness, emotions and presence in the midrange (I’m listening a lot of jazz, vocal and acoustic music), maybe a bit more dynamics in the lows, but without scarifying too much treble range. Some folks who have a lot more knowledge than me told to not add an integrated amp to the Atom to get best results, so looking for a tube power amp. So, considering your experience and considering the sound signature of my Focal speakers and using the Atom as a preamp, what tube amp could give me the kind of sound that I’m after (under or around the 2 K $CAD range if possible)? I saw your previous video comparing the Willsenton R8, Doge 10 and Cayin CS-55A, quite interesting (but all integrated amps)… Thanks a lot in advance!

  16. Ramarao Sonty on December 28, 2021 at 1:00 pm

    Endlessly Waiting for Enlightenment Under The Audiophile Tree. Your Videos are A Great Help.

  17. N on December 28, 2021 at 1:00 pm

    Hey man, you lost some weight
    All good?
    You spend all your money on hifi, buy some food sometimes 🙂

  18. P P on December 28, 2021 at 1:01 pm

    Thomas, at one time you had a smaller DAC that I think was white in colour. If you can recall which unit that was could you possibly share? Thank you and merry Christmas!

  19. Zanoff77 on December 28, 2021 at 1:02 pm

    Tohm Watts…

  20. lokerola on December 28, 2021 at 1:05 pm

    Three new devices blew me away in 2021: Rogue Audio ST100 amp, Schiit Freya+ tube amp, and Revel Concerta2 M16 speakers. Holy audio heaven!

  21. Audio Systems Specialist on December 28, 2021 at 1:06 pm

    Great video .. Thank you! Happy Holidays!!

  22. Philip Ciantar on December 28, 2021 at 1:06 pm

    I am learning a lot with you Thomas. Thanks.

  23. Davinder Panesar on December 28, 2021 at 1:08 pm

    Hey Thomas have you heard about the TIDAL Intra Power Amplifier?

  24. Soo Wat on December 28, 2021 at 1:09 pm

    The McIntosh 275 is a milestone of the industry, it would be a great honor to own one of this. Thanks again for an entertaining video. Happy holidays to you and your family Thomas.

  25. Esten Ray on December 28, 2021 at 1:12 pm

    Thomas first thanks for this years worth of excellent, informative and entertaining videos! You always make them fun! A technique many UTUBEr’s could learn from your excellent example! My best wishes to you and your family for a happy and joyous holiday season and may your New year be bigger and brighter than the last!

  26. jptok on December 28, 2021 at 1:17 pm

    I have been using the A1 for more than 6 months now and I really like it. When I changed my speakers to KLH Model 5, I got curious if a high-powered amp will be more suited so I got a Schiit Vidar only to come back to A1 as it still sounds a lot better to my ears especially at a moderate listening volume which is the volume that I set during my listening sessions.

  27. Tom Watt on December 28, 2021 at 1:17 pm

    After your reviews, I purchased the Willsenton R-800i-B300-845 and the SMSL M400 DAC. I chose the 845 version over the 805 version specifically for its advertised strength in the Midrange and Vocals to which were also the design goals for my custom speakers using the Scan-Speak Illuminator Series, 4 ohm, Solen crossovers for 91dB efficiency. My Yaqin MC-13 tube amp exudes that classic tube sound, but I found it lacking in headroom and clarity. I concur, the Willsenton R-800i is a true “beast”– a fire breathing dragon from China. This 845 version is 23W (RMS) which oddly blows away both the Yaqin MC-13 with 35W (RMS) and my vintage Yamaha Solid State Amp with 40W (RMS). I agree with you – tube amps seem to punch way above their weight in watts per channel compared to Solid State Amps. Why? I don’t get it. Notwithstanding, Chris Solen recommends a 50 to 300 watt Amp for my speakers. Sourcing the perfect match reference Amp/Pre-Amp continues. Perhaps McIntosh will produce a wider and deeper sound stage.

    I found China-HiFi friendly and sensed they are serious experts on vacuum tube products. I am happy to report that it was a smooth transaction. The amp as well packaged with surprisingly fast shipping. Unboxed, the R800i is clean and flawless, with gloss black paint, solid construction, substantial knobs carry a quality feel. The fit & finish of the “Export Version” is definitely a cut above that of the lower priced tube amps. Though a balanced Amp, sadly there are no tone controls. The remote does need an upgrade i.e. on & off.

    The weight was as you promised. No joke, a struggle ensued, it was not an elegant unboxing. But, once in place, fired up, suddenly – there it is! It was far more than I was expecting in power, speed, clarity with body, and imaging – smiling face! Aretha, Frank, Whitney now have some real presence. The R800i is great performer with unassailable value at $3,521 CAD – delivered to my door.

    The balanced R-800i is connected to the SMSL M400 DAC with XLR cables. So effortless and immediate Bluetooth to access my music, in particular Apple Lossless is a hero in the chain. I am very curious about the Denafrips Pontus 2, however, I think any DAC today needs a screen for ease of play and absence of any difficulty. My Phono and CD player are still not hooked up, I wonder what that says about streaming?

    Your Best of 2021 choices exemplifies the dichotomy of an Old World Tube Technology Amp and the 21st. Century State of the Art processors and chips found in today’s DAC. This is where we are today – Hot & Heavy vs. Cool & Light. The best of both worlds?

    Thanks for detailed analysis and; the lugging and; for another excellent year of audio reviews. Joy to the world.

  28. JLo on December 28, 2021 at 1:17 pm

    Good stuff 👍 Personally I mostly prefer older (semi-vintage) gear that was top of the line back in the day.

  29. Dhanesh Singapore on December 28, 2021 at 1:19 pm

    Any plan to review the Buchardt S400 Mark2? Eagerly awaiting review for Apertura speakers as well.

  30. Mark McCoskey on December 28, 2021 at 1:20 pm

    I certainly won’t say anything about "best," but after moving cross country, with what could only fit in the car (which means NO stereo (Forte III’s)), I recently settled on the KLH Model 5’s with the XTZ Edge A2-300. Right after arriving here, I went with a very simple iFi Zen DAC V2 with a pair of Sennheiser HD 560S headphones, therefore the iFi Zen DAC V2 became the default DAC/Pre (volume control) for the XTZ/KLH pairing. It works, it’s cost effective, and is bringing me musical enjoyment, and that’s what ultimately counts overall. Thanks, Thomas!! And Merry Christmas – Happy New Year!!

  31. StefanUrkel on December 28, 2021 at 1:21 pm

    Hadouken!

  32. Lathe Of Heaven on December 28, 2021 at 1:24 pm

    Man… Mr. Suspense is right! 🙄 😁

  33. MK on December 28, 2021 at 1:28 pm

    My pers. Gear of the Year. I dont listen to many Stuff but what i tested / owned was 99% very 👌

    I OWN(ED) (i was very happy with all of them)
    – Neumann KH120
    – Unity Audio Super Rock (Current Setup)
    – CraneSong Solaris DAC (Current Setup)
    – Beyerdynamic DT1990 PRO (Current Headphones)
    – Abacus cbox 4 (sold)
    – Mytek Brooklyn DAC (sold)
    – SOtM sdp-1000EX DAC (sold)
    – Meze 12 Classics V2 (Current Headphones)

    I HEARD
    – CraneSong Solaris DAC
    – ATC SCM100
    – ATC SCM40A
    – ATC SCM25
    – Adam S3V

    DISAPPOINTMENT
    – Neumann KH750 / Room Correction
    (lacking technically, not easy to setup in my case)

  34. boostedmaniac on December 28, 2021 at 1:28 pm

    You talking about the latest mc275 makes think if I should upgrade my older mc275.

  35. Lathe Of Heaven on December 28, 2021 at 1:28 pm

    Also, still really luv’n that SMSL DO200! 👍 Mr. Thomas, you have to review it!

  36. M P P on December 28, 2021 at 1:32 pm

    Thanks for an absolutely great year of insights Thomas. Keep the quality videos coming. Looking forward to 2022.

  37. Szilard Matrai on December 28, 2021 at 1:32 pm

    I understand we have so much money to spend that a BestOf 2021 consists of rather expensive gear, however when it comes to price/performance ratio, the Topping E30 is an absolute killer and we’ve tried it with a good supersilent PSU in 100x more expensive systems and were laughing about the great sound it delivers for this price. A simple little box and if powered well + fed by clean USB output, a real giant killer. Especially with AKM’s DSD bypass path, when used in DAC mode (instead of PRE) and fed with DSD signal (the best for delta-sigma DACs, while PCM is the best for R/2R). Using JRiver, converting everything on-the-fly to DSD, mmmm. Not that it doesn’t deliver in PCM domain, but there are reasons why most people hear DSD better than PCM, a big majority of DACs out there are 1-bit delta-sigma types and each kind of DAC should be fed with what’s natively best for them. Anyway, this video was really short, otherwise great as always. It makes me think who paid you the most to bring a McIntosh into the field because those who buy such gear know already what to buy (and this vid doesn’t necessarily serve them) but okay, we’re different. I could have chosen a bunch of different devices, with much more focus on price/performance rather than absolute performance (where ‘performance’ is meant to listening experience). No offense, just thinking loud. Cheers.

  38. Shaiju Uppungal on December 28, 2021 at 1:32 pm

    Sir, what is the name of the last bookshelf speaker?

  39. Fausto Gomes on December 28, 2021 at 1:34 pm

    Great shirt (I’m Brazilian) but more importantly, tank you for another informative video.

  40. Ajay Singh Grewal on December 28, 2021 at 1:34 pm

    sir your videos seem just anecdotal, it’s a limitation for me, can you maybe re-align my thought process so that one might not see your videos with any apprehension?

  41. Joe Siegfried on December 28, 2021 at 1:35 pm

    Thx dude I got the cannabis covered lol.

  42. SEUL8TR Mea on December 28, 2021 at 1:38 pm

    I have piooner A88 , with Piooner M22 power amplifier, which is 38 years old, serviced 2 years ago.
    Compared it with Yamaha AS2200, and amplifier costing $40K,+ it’s on par.
    Dual mono with twin 600va transformers, with 200.000 microfarads.
    The amount off features and buttons you get on the A88X, you could dream off that you will or no manufacturers know don’t provide.
    Cutting huge costs too make every penny profits.

  43. Rega Man on December 28, 2021 at 1:38 pm

    Best Hi-fi component this year is definately my Black Ice Audio, Fusion F-22 tube integrated amp. It sounds so much better than my Yamaha A-S2100 did. No more upper midrange glare! Only the deepest notes are lacking with the F-22, compared to the Yammy. Connected my SVS PC-2000 to the F-22s sub preout, and voila!, problem solved, plenty of deep bass. Thomas, seriously, you should take a look at this amp. For under $2500 Canadian, I really don’t think you can beat the quality and sound of Black Ice Audio Fusion amps. The circuitry is from none other than the legendary Mr. Jim Fosgate. Super quiet too, for a tube component. Merry Christmas.

  44. Maipon Clemonte on December 28, 2021 at 1:39 pm

    Jbl studio 530 the best above all up there with the best there is

  45. Yannick Acker on December 28, 2021 at 1:39 pm

    Best form of Clickbait!

  46. Marc Moehlig on December 28, 2021 at 1:41 pm

    How do you write the name of the French speaker brand?

  47. sleepyf1 on December 28, 2021 at 1:41 pm

    You compared the Apertura speakers to $10k stand mount Sonus Faber Lumina. AFAIK the Luminas are priced much lower than that. Can you confirm which Sonus Fabers you were referring to?

  48. Big Boss on December 28, 2021 at 1:41 pm

    Something in that room tellz me that his gf in the hayday was Chun-Li… 🧐

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