Members of the WiFi HiFi editorial team selected our top 10 product picks for 2018 Here are the 10 personal picks from David Susilo, WiFi HiFi contributor in the areas of audio, video, and custom integration and calibration.
Note: the products are listed in no particular order. Pricing may vary considerably based on the retailer, integrator, and/or time of year and special promotions.
Monitor Audio Studio
It's not every day that I find a pair of high-end speakers without the high-end price tag. Monitor Audio Studio speakers are just that. The fact that they come in non-black colour options (satin black, white, or grey) is also somewhat of a breath of fresh air. These $1,799/pr. speakers (add $699 for the matching stand) were reviewed by yours truly a couple of months back. You can read the review at WiFiHiFi.ca to learn more about why I love them.
Panasonic TC-65FZ1000 OLED TV
Although I purchased the 65EZ1000 last year, the improvements with the FZ1000 were so big over the previous model that I felt compelled to upgrade. Now, every show I watch can be converted to offer HDR10 -like performance. The built-in soundbar has also been improved to the point that I'm finally using a simulated surround option for the first time in my life. At $4,199 for the same TV used by Technicolor? It was a no-brainer. I just had to have it.
JVC DLA-X790R 4K Projector
I have to admit that I was not a fan of JVC until they released eShift3. Prior to that, I found that the picture was too soft, and I'd always see the eShift artifacts. With the eShift5 and auto HDR detection found in this projector, I can finally enjoy a 4K-like presentation without sacrificing my arm and leg ($4,999). And, at the same time, I don't see eShift artifacts, and I get the blackest black in projection technology. It's for these reasons that I scooped up one of these projectors at the beginning of the year when it was released.
Panasonic DP-UB9000 4K UHD Player
Since a 4K projector can only do upwards to 300 nits of dynamic range, dynamic range remapping (HDR Optimizer) is required. Not only can this player achieve the remapping in a glorious way, but the level of customization is insane! I no longer see crushed blacks or blown out whites. All the details of HDR are shown near-perfectly by this player. For $1,299 to get the best UHD and streaming player on the market, it's actually a steal. That's why I added this one to my personal collection of tech as well.
Sony Bravia XBR-55X900F 4K LCD TV
This is a mid-level-priced TV with a high level of quality. If you're looking for a high performance 4K LCD TV that can actually produce black blacks instead of grey, this TV is the answer. With its 64-zone full array backlighting, when you watch a movie in scope (black bars at the top and bottom of the screen), the black bars are actually black. Because the 65" version is too big for my bedroom wall, I had to settle for the 55" version. That one will run you about $1,500; or upgrade to the 65" for about $2,300.
Pioneer UDP-LX500 Audiophile Universal Player
If you're an audiophile looking for the absolute best universal player without spending an arm and a leg, this model would be a fantastic choice. Built like a tank, it offers silent transport, and an amazing analog stage. Slot any 5" disc you can think of into it, including VCD (with the exception of CD-Video). SD and HD resolution will be upscaled to 4K in a natural way, and it includes built-in display customization. A price of $1,499 for a high-end universal player is not bad at all.
Sony WH-1000X m3 Wireless Noise-Cancelling Headphones
It's not every day that I come across a product that impresses me as much as this one did. For almost a decade, my reference headphones were the PSB M4U-2 for sound quality and Bose QuietComforts for noise cancelling and comfort. The WH-1000X m3s have combined the best features of both of these headphones, allowing me to replace them with this single, versatile unit. Look for my review of these $450 headphones in these pages some time next year, as they have become my new reference headphones.
Samsung The Frame TV
I always liked the idea of a digital frame for my living room. The problem is that many either lack resolution (the maximum at the time I first began investigating this possibility was 1,080p) and the "frames," well, they tended to look more like TVs that also display digital photos. Thanks to Samsung and its The Frame TV, a digital "frame" now looks like an actual frame, displaying art and photos as if they are really framed pictures, not digital images. Each has a customizable bezel, and offers up 4K resolution. The TV, which of course also functions as a 4K smart TV for watching moving video as well, comes in 43", 55", and 65" sizes, so you can have a frame for any application in your house. Pricing ranges from $1,700 up to $3,800. You can swap the standard black frame for walnut, oak, or white for an additional $250-$350, and sign up for a subscription to a selection of artwork for $8/mo., or buy them for $27 ea., in addition to displaying your own content.
Apple TV 4K
Over time, I have amassed a collection of about 3,000 LaserDiscs, DVDs, Blu-ray discs, and 4K Blu-ray discs. While I still buy any movie that I think is worth watching, sometimes I also like to watch B movies, like The Meg and The Nun. For this purpose, I bought the Apple TV 4K and now "rent" various movies in 4K and Atmos. Although it still doesn't do YouTube 4K (because of Apple's stubbornness in not wanting to pay a VP9 codec to Sony), this is a very capable rental machine. After just a couple of months, my $229 investment (for the 32GB version) has paid for itself.
Kanto YU6 Powered Speakers
A $500 speaker that sounds like a $2,000 pair? Yes, please! After writing the review on this product exactly a year ago, I just had to have them. Currently used as my PC monitor speakers, they don't only sound good, but they also look good. Combined with the bamboo-finish and the capability to be matched with a subwoofer, there is absolutely no reason not to buy these speakers. Plus, they hail from a company based in Coquitlam, BC, and it's always great to find a stellar product from a home-grown brand.
This top 10 list originally appeared in the December/January 2019 issue of WiFi HiFi Magazine.