2021 Gear in Review Part 2

Here's a dozen of ListenUp's favorite product releases from 2021.

Missed 'Gear in Review Part 1?' Read it here.

Bowers & Wilkins 800 Series D4

The new 800 Series Diamond range has improvements in many of the breakthrough features Bowers & Wilkins is known for, including signature Diamond dome tweeters, Continuum cones, and Matrix cabinets. However, the biggest news is the revolutionary new Biomimetic Suspension in the mid-range cone. This advancement dramatically reduces the unwanted air pressure and coloration conventional cones can generate. The result? Midrange transparency that was previously not thought possible. Other improvements consist of  a new elongated solid body tweeter to improve high-frequency performance. And reverse wrap cabinets, for sound dispersion, are now available on more models. The 800 Series Diamond features seven models; four floorstanding speakers, including the flagship 801, one stand-mount speaker, and two center channels.

Watch our unboxing video and review of the new Bowers & Wilkins 802 D4 here:

Pro-Ject Debut Carbon EVO

The Debut Carbon EVO is Pro-Ject’s upgrade to its popular entry-level turntable, and it features an improved motor suspension, height-adjustable damped-metal feet, dampening material in the interior of the platter, and speed-changing at the flip of a switch. Handmade in the EU, the Debut Carbon EVO focuses on the core aspects that make a turntable sound great. Built to last you a lifetime, it offers technically advanced design and expert craftsmanship. A ListenUp customer favorite, the EVO is available in five satin, three high gloss and one real wood veneer finishes.

Also from Pro-Ject this year was the Debut PRO, a massive upgrade from their first Pro-Ject Debut Carbon, but is unfortunately on backorder until March 2022. The Debut PRO is an audiophile-grade turntable boasting new feet, a nickel-plated alumnium bearing block, a hybrid tonearm, and a precision aluminum platter with TPE damping for resonance control.

McIntosh MB20

Earlier this year McIntosh Labs introduced their new MB20 Bluetooth Transceiver. The MB20 is an easy and simple solution to add Bluetooth streaming capabilities to virtually any McIntosh (or non-McIntosh) home audio system of any era. It can quickly turn a vintage McIntosh system into a modern home music system capable of playing the digital music stored on your phone, in your cloud accounts, or from your preferred streaming services. As a transmitter/receiver, the MB20 provides a superior Bluetooth connection to audio equipment that lacks Bluetooth connectivity.

Sonos Roam

In April Sonos dropped Roam, a portable smart speaker that lets you take your favorite playlists anywhere. Solidly constructed and rated IP67, Roam is drop-resistant, waterproof up to three feet for 30 minutes, impervious to dust, and ready for any adventure. Using automatic Trueplay tuning, Roam smartly adapts to your surroundings and whatever you're listening to for sound that's astonishingly detailed and perfectly balanced. Other features include 10 hours of play time, hands-free help from Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, and effortless wireless charging with any Qi-certified charger or the included cable.

Klipsch 75th Anniversary Klipschorn

Audio pioneer and company founder Paul W. Klipsch started building the first Klipschorn in 1946, and it revolutionized the way the world listens to recorded music. Over the years it has been tweaked as new technologies became available, but it remains the only fully horn-loaded loudspeaker available to consumers. This year, to commemorate Klipsch’s 75th anniversary, a limited run of 75 pairs of the legendary Klipschorn were created and ListenUp was able to score five pairs. The Klipschorn’s midrange utilizes 1½-inch compression drivers mated to a high efficiency exponential horn that maximizes the system’s power and performance. As a result, less distortion is produced by the amplifier and by the loudspeaker. Watch our unboxing video and review of the 75th Anniversary Klipschorn to the left.

Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin

The new, reimagined Zeppelin from Bowers & Wilkins has brought wireless speaker sound quality to a whole new level. The new Zeppelin is overflowing with B&W’s advanced speaker technology, including a pair of Double-Dome Tweeters, borrowed from the acclaimed 600 Anniversary Series, and dual mid-range drivers with Fixed Suspension Transducer technology, used in the flagship 800 series. Rounded out with a 150mm subwoofer and 240 watts of amplification, the Zeppelin’s sound is impressive, capable of filling even large rooms with hair-raising highs, toe-tapping mids, and thundering lows.

Cambridge Audio DacMagic 200M

The DacMagic 200M is Cambridge Audio’s first product to support MQA, an award-winning technology that delivers studio quality sound in a file small enough to stream.  It can fully decode and convert these incredibly accurate files. Once a digital file is onboard DacMagic 200M, its twin DACs convert it to analogue information with all of its dynamics and detail intact. And because the analogue signal it sends to your audio set-up is so astonishingly free of distortion, so precise and so lifelike, your system will sound more convincing and complete than it ever has before.

KLH Model Five

Available in English Walnut and West African Mahogany, the KLH Model Five is labeled one of the most sought-after speakers for Audiophiles. The legendary KLH Model Five was first introduced in 1968 and served as the heart and soul of KLH’s success throughout the late 1960’s and 1970’s. At its core was the acoustic suspension design that dominated the loudspeaker industry for decades and made the Model Five one of the best-selling loudspeakers of its era. In 2021, KLH re-introduced the Model Five; building on the original acoustic suspension design and using the most advanced loudspeaker technology available today.

GoldenEar Invisa HTR 8000

The GoldenEar Invisa HTR (Home Theater Reference) 8000 is a high-performance ceiling-mounted L/C/R speaker, equally appropriate for sophisticated home theaters and audiophile-grade music systems. Exceptionally versatile, the HTR 8000 is the perfect choice for side- or rear-surround speakers in 5.1-channel or 7.1-channel systems, and also makes an ideal height-channel speaker for Dolby Atmos/DTS:X systems. GoldenEar’s FocusField Technology uses drivers mounted at precisely calculated angles to create palpable, well-focused images across an expansive soundstage. The overall result is a large, open presentation with precise three-dimensional imaging that doesn’t just come from the ceiling, but convincingly fills the entire room with realistic sound.

SVS 3000 Micro

The miniature yet mighty 3000 Micro is SVS’s smallest reference subwoofer yet. It seamlessly blends into any room and speaker system, energizing the space with astonishingly rich, effortless, and detailed bass that’s all the more impressive given it’s micro-sized enclosure. Featuring innovations from the reference SVS 16-Ultra subwoofers married to fully active dual opposing 8-inch drivers, and an 800 watt RMS, 2,500 watt Peak Power Sledge STA-800D2 amplifier with discrete MOSFET output, the 3000 Micro delivers performance that obliterates every micro subwoofer that has come before. Available in black and white, the 3000 Micro also features the powerful SVS subwoofer control smartphone app for advanced tuning and DSP.

Sony A90J Series

Sony’s newest A90J models are the brightest OLED TVs they’ve ever created. How was Sony able to do this? With new and improved panels and a new lamination approach that provides additional cooling, allowing the TV to crank a little harder by making maximum use of its red, blue, and green phosphors along with white, simultaneously. The A90J series has XR OLED Contrast Pro which adjusts brightness for higher peaks in glare and deeper blacks in shadow resulting in details that are not overwhelmed by shadow or lost in blown-out highlights.  Object-based XR Super Resolution identifies up to hundreds of on-screen objects and enhances their resolution individually for improved picture accuracy and detail. Available in 55”, 65”, or 83”, the A90J models also include Dolby Vision, IMAX Enhanced, Apple Airplay 2, and a myriad of entertainment options through Google TV.

Bowers & Wilkins PI7

Adaptive Active Noise Cancellation, a true high resolution 24-bit connection, virtual assistant, and a smart charging case, what more could you ask for in a pair of wireless headphones? Bowers & Wilkins PI7 features state-of-the-art active noise cancellation that adapts to your surroundings, monitoring the noise around you and automatically adjusting to ensure that your music is all you will hear. PI7 also offers a genuinely unique feature that will make longer journeys easier to cope with: its Smart charging case can connect to an external audio source—such as an in-flight entertainment system—by 3.5mm or USB cable and then wirelessly retransmit audio from that source to the earbuds, all in outstanding quality.