The December/January 2020 issue of WiFi HiFi Magazine included our top 100 tech picks for 2019. And to devise this list, each member of the team submitted their favourite gear of the year. Here are David Susilo's top product picks of 2019.
Sonos Move Portable Bluetooth Speaker
After years of waiting for portability and Bluetooth functionality, Sonos finally released the Move with the aforementioned features along with better-than-usual Sonos sound quality, and auto re-calibration that makes it the best indoor and outdoor speaker available on the market. I got this unit on its first day of introduction and it's the best decision I've made this year for a portable product. It comes housed in a tough, durable exterior that can withstand falls, bumps, rain and moisture, dust and dirt, UB, and extreme temperatures. It can run for up to 10 hours on the built-in battery, then recharge on the included charging base inside. Control playback using your voice via Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa, or use the Sonos app or AirPlay 2. $499
Pioneer Elite SC-LX704 AV Receiver
It took Pioneer three years to upgrade its SC-LX701 AV receiver. The result? A successor worthy of your dollar. IMAX Enhanced, much improved soundstage thanks to the new DACs, and enhanced MCACC Pro auto calibration wows me. The new upgraded remote is now very easy to use, a huge leap over its predecessor. This receiver just recently joined my dedicated home theatre for its reference-quality performance. $2,000
Panasonic DP-UB9000 THX Certified Ultra HD Player
A true home theatre requires the best audio and video feed. After having tested pretty much every UHD player that's available at retail in Canada, my choice is this one. It was released in late 2018 and I included it on my top 10 holiday wish list last year as well. But a year later, it's still my top choice. It yields the best colour reproduction and the sharpest picture without any exaggeration. The highly customizable HDR Optimizer is a must-have for any 4K projector owner, and highly recommended for TV owners, too. $1,300
Panasonic GZ2000 THX Certified OLED TV
Measured to be the brightest OLED panel by more than 27% compared to any other OLED in the world, the Panasonic GZ2000 is the best OLED panel for movie viewing. The professional-grade panel customized in-house by Panasonic means 900 nits of brightness is achievable while image retention and burn-in is near non-existent. This TV is currently in my arsenal and will be used as my reference display for a very long time. Starts at $4,000 for the 55" model.
Sonarworks Sound Calibration Technology
Many eons ago, in the recording world, there was Roland V-Amp that essentially turned the audio signature of a given amp into a much higher end, studio-quality amp. Then comes mic modelling that does the same, but with a microphone. This year, Sonarworks is doing something similar, but with headphones. The result? Highly believable high-end studio-class headphone from virtually any pair. I've been using it with my Sony WH1000XM3 with an extreme level of satisfaction since January (see review) and I won't go back. It is highly recommended for anyone who is serious about sound accuracy without the deep pocket to support it by buying uber-high-end and expensive headphones. Keep in mind that it isn't going to turn a crummy pair of $25 headphones into a pair of $2,000 studio-class ‘phones. But it works well with mid-priced headphones. A full app license for desktop and mobile is about $115.
Meze Audio Neo 99 Headphones
A new offering from Romanian headphone company Meze, while many companies claim their headphones to be audiophile quality, this company never tries to fool you into thinking that it is an audiophile product. What it gives me is a pair of headphones that can be used with any player without the need for a headphone amplifier, along with a great fit and sound that is warm and typically European. I put in an order for a pair after reviewing them. $350
JVC LX-NZ3 4K Laser Projector
Any projector owner dreads having to change the bulb every couple of years. This is no longer an issue with JVC's 4K laser DLP projector. Add 3,000 lumens and the frame-by-frame HDR tone mapping capability that is exclusive to JVC projectors, and this projector is the best-performing $5,000 4K projector on the market, bar none.
Sony Z9F Master Series LCD TV
I consider this to be the absolute best LCD TV of the year. It features mind boggling 4K upscaling from HD sources (and amazing upscaling from other resolutions) and FALD (Full Array Local Dimming) with a head spinning number of zones. If you don't want an OLED, or you need a display that can reproduce the retina-searing 4,000 nits, this display is for you. As a smart TV, you'll also get the Android interface and access to all of your favourite streaming services, including the ability to play HDR content. Starts at $4,000 for the 65" model.
Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless Headphones
The problem with many ANC headphones is that they tend to have near-impossible-to-see switches, and noise cancelling levels that are either too much or too little. The Sennheiser Momentum 3 Wireless headphones solve both of these problems. Simply open and unfold them to power them on - you don't have to waste time fumbling to find the power switch. And by using the free-app, you can choose the desired ANC level to suit your personal preference, or how much (or little) you need based on the ambient noise wherever you are. $530
Samsung HW-MS650 Soundbar
TVs today almost always have far less than acceptable sound quality, making listening to dialogue or anything below 140Hz virtually impossible. With Samsung's 650 soundbar with no subwoofer, listeners can easily hear near full-spectrum audio in a small and affordable package. It has a 4K-capable HDMI pass-through system, optical and auxiliary audio inputs, and output for adding an optional subwoofer, and support for both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi wireless streaming. Check out my review for more details. $600
Kanto TUK Powered Speakers
Buying actual studio gear may not be feasible for some people due to either the cosmetics and/or price. Canadian company Kanto solved the problem with its TUK speakers that sound very much as neutral as many high-priced studio monitors, minus the ugliness. Add a good phono pre-amp and decent DACs and these TUKs are the answer to my (studio roots) prayers. Read my full review. Black or white, $999.
Monitor Audio Mass 5.1 Surround Sound System
Living in a small apartment? Need a surround system for your bedroom? Need something micro-sized without too much sacrifice in sound quality? The Mass 5.1 system from Monitor Audio is the perfect companion. Adhering to Dolby standards in frequency response, these micro cubes performs heads and shoulders better than any similar systems in its class. I found them in my review adept at conveying fine details and offering engaging and immersive sound. $1,399
Pioneer DEQ-S1000A Car Calibration Module
I hated the factory audio system in my 2018 Volkswagen Golf R with a vengeance. Thanks to installing the Pioneer's DEQ-S1000A car DSP with built-in power amplifier, I can now listen to my favourite music while enjoying the drive. If you remotely dislike your car stereo, this miracle unit will solve your car audio problems. I set it up with the Z series speaker system; you can read about my set-up experience in my hands-on review. $270