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The end of the year is the time for summaries. In "High Fidelity", we have been doing this by awarding the most interesting products, in our opinion, the Awards of the Year. We would like this list to be a guide for you and to suggest the direction for the development of your systems. Let’s get to it!



Graphic design: Bartosz Łuczak/Piksel Studio

No 200

January 1, 2021

ELCOME TO ANOTHER SUMMARY of the passing year - this time we are also saying goodbye to the second decade of the 21st century. Looking at the products we selected for our awards, it is not difficult to notice that among them, next to each other there are three most important audio sources for audiophiles - a turntable, a Super Audio CD player and an audio file player. It's amazing, because the first two should have become only a part of some museum exhibition already a long time ago - but they haven’t.

Why VINYL? - This one it is easy to understand when looking at how the LP became part of the collective imaginary world and entered popular culture as a determinant of "coolness". On our part, it received support as one of the best and yet constantly improved music carriers. The career of audio file players is also understandable, after all, it is about something modern, something that all market participants can make profit on. It is still not an equal partner for vinyl, but - as the case of Ideon Audio products shows, the difference is getting really small.

And finally, there is a SACD player (implicitly also a CD player). This digital system is nowadays understood as a transition one between analog carriers and audio files. As a result, it has the worst ratings and it is the most difficult to explain why we still need it. And we do need it, because - I can see it in every REVIEW - the physical digital medium is still one of the best, and often - the best source of sound; I am speaking on my behalf of course (WP), you may have a different opinion.

The other awards do not evoke such emotions anymore, but even here one can see the dominance of one category, the integrated amplifiers. Although we still have separates systems at the top level of audio, the integrated amps - as they are popularly referred to - are getting better and better. I am glad that there are also Polish products among them.

FOR YOUR CONVENIENCE, WE HAVE DIVIDED the list of awarded products into four groups. First you will find our SPECIAL AWARD, that we awarded this year to the MIYAJIMA AUDIO LAB DESTINY cartridge. This is an award both for the cartridge itself and for its designer, as well as for a certain philosophy that he follows. The next category is STATEMENT AWARD - these are prizes awarded to "best of the best" products. Usually, we award only a handful of these, but this year it's six products.

The largest group was awarded the BEST SOUND. In 2020, we REVIEWed and presented to you almost 140 products: electronics, speakers, cables and accessories, we chose a group that is, as it seems to us, representative to this group. We divided it according to the type of product and listed them in alphabetical order in each subgroup. And finally we have a category for recordings, which we awarded with BEST RECORDING.

Congratulations to all awarded companies, we are proud that we were able to host your products in our homes! And we would like to invite our readers to read, or re-read the REVIEWs, make comparisons and draw your own conclusions. Thank you for your trust - without it, no REVIEW, no description and no reward makes sense. Once again - THANK YOU !!!

| Cartridge MC

Miyajima Audio Lab ⸜ DESTINY

With DESTINY, the most expensive cartridge by this Japanese manufacturer, we get a kind of "direct presentation", as if we were permanently connected to the instruments with some wire that comes into our head, without any "agents" on the way. Its resolution in this range is so perfect that it seems that we get even more information. The things that the designer of the Destiny cartridge particularly focused on, such as density, fullness, scale, saturation are above average here and we can hear them as if we had never heard them before.

REVIEW: № 193 | June 2020, see HERE
REFERENCE SYSTEM: Cartridge Miyajima Audio Lab DESTINY is a part of the „High Fidelity” REFERENCE SYSTEM

| Loudspeakers

Dynaudio ⸜ CONFIDENCE 50

The imaging of these speakers is exceptional - the width, depth and height are excellent, and the differentiation of layers through colors, not by "cutting" them out from the background - is amazing. These are loudspeakers with incredible dynamics and an excellent opening of both ends of the band. Dynaudio stick to what is in the recording, not exceeding the border of a good taste, also playing nicely those of bit lesser quality. These are ones of the best loudspeakers I have ever listened to at home and one of the best I have ever heard. The triumph of true, conscious engineering, combined with musical sensitivity.

REVIEW: № 199 | December 2020, see HERE |PL|



The sound of the Esoteric K-01XD player is exceptionally refined. It offers everything that we expect from a top sound source, whether analog or digital one. It is both warm and precise, and such a combination is extremely rare. It’s performance is very high end turntable-like. This is literally one of the best, that is: the best sounding and best-built digital players I have heard in my life.

REVIEW: № 200 | January 2021

| Streamer & USB signal regenerator & DAC


Audio file players are still trying to catch up with turntables and CD and SACD players. The Greek system seems to be closest to this ideal. It draws you into its world, both through the dense colors and saturation of the presentation with information, as well as through something that is difficult to define, which makes us let go and listen to music, enchanted and delighted. It is a top high-end product, and the Greek player is an equivalent of a top turntable.

REVIEW: № 199 | December 2020, see HERE
Award: GOLD Fingerprint

| Phonostage


The EUR 32,000 THE BIG PHONO phono preamplifier from RCM AUDIO is probably the most expensive device of this type manufactured in Poland. But also the best I know. Its design is fantastic, and the performance makes you think about the world's top competitors. Its sound is refined - it is full range sound. The bass extends very low and is greatly articulated. So it is perfect for both direct-to-disc records and records produced from start to finish in the studio, using many tracks, digital recording, etc.

REVIEW: № 197 | November 2020, see HERE

| Anti-vibration platform

Thunder Melody ⸜ MONUMENT

This is one of the two best anti-vibration platforms I know, but also the most expensive one. The Monument's appearance does not say how well it benefits the sound, because although solidly constructed, it is just another piece of “wood”. Once again, it turns out that the knowledge and sensitivity of the designers "play a great role" and we pay for them. It is a platform for the top, most expensive audio systems in the world. Additionally, its sound can be shaped by connecting it to various types of grounding, which is a nice addition.

REVIEW: № 198 | November 2020, see HERE |PL|

| Preamplifier & power amplifiers (monaural)

WestminsterLab ⸜ QUEST & REI

An example of how a small company is able to prepare a product that can compete with the best devices in the world, also with those from big, wealthy companies. Its minimalistic, but precisely made chassis hide a fairly simple, but also complex circuits, which the owner of the company took many years to refine. This is one of the most interesting separate amplifiers on the market, regardless of price and design.

REVIEW: № 200 | January 2021


| Turntable & tonearm

CS Port ⸜ TAT2 & AFU1-2

The TAT2 turntable with the AFU1-2 tonearm sounds incredibly nice, but also leaves plenty of space for information about the recording. It is a reflection of how the TAT2 creator, Mr. Toshimichi Machino, sees the music. In the case of the REVIEWed turntable, it is a precise, but also full of emotions, energetic, but never tiring world. Simply the high-end world at its best.

REVIEW: № 196 | September 2020, see HERE
Award: RED Fingerprint

| Phonostage

Fezz Audio ⸜ GRATIA

The Gratia by Fezz Audio is a well-thought-out, mature device. Its sound is mature, saturated and full. It gives you a sense of communing with a high-end product. Sonically it resembles tubes, although of course it is not synonymous with it. But without tubes, we get a lot of what they offer. Especially when we use the Burson Audio V6 Classic opamp. In this version it is a preamplifier with which we can listen to really expensive turntables and cartridges without feeling that we are losing something and not fully benefiting from their class. As usually with Fezz Audio - well done!

REVIEW: № 192 | May 2020, see HERE
Award: RED Fingerprint


| SACD Player

Métronome ⸜ AQWO

It's a beautiful player. One of those that I could have at home. There is a mystery in its sound and it reveals many secrets. There is depth, but there is also an energetic "here and now". Finally, there is the incredible ability to combine what is in the space between us into one beautiful "picture" that is truly fascinating.

REVIEW: № 196 | September 2020, see HERE |PL|

| Digital-to-analogue converter/headphone amplifier

S.M.S.L ⸜ M500

The M500 from S.M.S.L is a surprisingly good, surprisingly inexpensive product. It is a D/A converter that sounds great, combining nice colors with well-distributed space. The device sounds incredibly smooth and coherent, so it's perfect for listening to a variety of music genres, also in long sessions. And it sounds very nice through headphones too, largely repeating what we hear through the loudspeakers. Great device!

REVIEW: № 195 | August 2020, see HERE |PL|


Engström ⸜ ARNE

MD From my point of view, and most likely from the point of view of the vast majority of 300B triode lovers, the price of this amplifier is way beyond reach. But that's the reality of our hobby - the top products are crazy expensive. The Arne, based on four 300B tubes in a push-pull configuration eliminates one of the basic problems of 300B SET amplifiers, i.e. the requirement of pairing them with loudspeakers that are easy to drive, and at the same time perform well enough for user to fully benefit from the 300B magic.

The ARNE will be able to drive many, if not most, speakers, and the better partners you pair it with, the more of its huge potential will be revealed. It is an extremely clean, energetic sounding integrated integrated. Its sound is highly resolving, refined and engaging. You can listen to it for hours without worrying about the selection of specific music genres, because the Swedish amplifier is fully capable of playing almost anything. It will do it with the full commitment, in an effortless, natural and fluid way that that make it one of the best amplifiers on the market today.

REVIEW: № 198 | November 2020, see HERE |PL|

Circle Labs ⸜ A200

The Circle Labs A200 offers truly high-end sound that is as close to tube amplifiers, including SETs, as to the best solid state devices. There is an openness for details and smoothness that allows the sounds to "flow". The dynamics is excellent, and the bass handling - exemplary at this price. It's one of the best integrated amplifiers for money and one of the best-built and best-looking audio devices at any price.

REVIEW: № 197 | October 2020, see HERE
Award: RED Fingerprint


The SPEC RSA-V10 amplifier sounds spectacular. Of course, for those who know what they want and are not fans of punctual, precise bass and high tones as fast as light. It shows fantastic vocals, because they are big, with a beautiful timbre. For lovers of jazz and classical music it will be a dream come true as long as they are aware of its limitations. Rock will also be treated royally, but it will lack punk revolt and madness. A beautiful amplifier from people with a beautiful soul.

REVIEW: № 193 | June 2020, see HERE

Accuphase ⸜ E-800

In both cases, with the loudspeakers and headphones, the inner calmness of this amplifier is striking, like some sort of certainty. This is an amplifier for aficionados who do not care for having the widest soundstage, the lowest bass, the highest dynamics, etc. They will get it all with it, but won’t be what really matters. With this amplifier we dive directly into the music - and this is what counts most, has the greaREVIEW value. The E-800 will be the central, most important, admired part of the systems for people who like to sit in a chair and listen to an album they know by heart, and then a completely new one that they don't know anything about yet. A beautiful example of engineering with a soul.

REVIEW: № 191 | April 2020, see HERE |PL|
Award: RED Fingerprint

SoulNote ⸜ A-2 SE

The A-2 SE SoulNote is an amplifier that has all the features we love about good audio products. It is warm, dense and saturated. It delivers a large space, although without pinpointing phantom images. The bass is strong and dense. It is a beautiful, "golden" sound that never wears listener off, on the contrary - it encourages you to buy more albums. The more so, that the device is highly resolving and differentiating, which will allow us to enjoy higher quality releases and good productions.

REVIEW: № 189 | February 2020, see HERE
Award: RED Fingerprint

Haiku-Audio ⸜ SEnsei 211

The SEnsei 211 is simply a beautiful amplifier. It is resolving and coherent and smooth and precise and clear and sweet. It offers a powerful, big bass with authority and no audible compression. It does not dazzle with details and subtleties, although there are no details or subtleties lacking from the recordings. It throws large images in front of us, a vast sound panorama with very well marked layers. It is a well-thought-out, coherent concept with a big heart. So audio at its best.

REVIEW: № 195 | August 2020, see HERE

PrimaLuna ⸜ EVO 200

The PrimaLuna EVO 200 is an extremely versatile device, even though it is "only" an integrated amplifier. We can shape its sound by selecting the operating mode or choosing the output tubes. The choice includes: L6G, 6L6GC, 7581A, EL34, EL37, 6550, KT66, KT77, KT88, KT90, KT120 and KT150. The EVO 200 is also a great tube amplifier that will drive any headphones and deliver great performance. It is a tube amplifier that offers all the attributes that devices of this type are loved for. But it is not a "retro" amplifier, but a modern usage of this technology.

REVIEW: № 199 | December 2020, see HERE |PL|


The PS Audio Stellar Strata integrated amplifier is a small, well-equipped device. It is an 'integrated' amplifier in a contemporary style, that is with a D/A converter and a files player on board, plus there's also a nice headphone amp. All these elements work beautifully together, realizing a clear idea of the engineers. The Strata is an amplifier designed for people who do not want to poke hole in it, but rather for those who want to sit back and enjoy a newly bought album, browse Tidal for some new interesting recordings, who just want to have fun listening to the music.

REVIEW: № 200 | January 2021


hORNS ⸜ 5degrees No110

Nothing in the presentation of these loudspeakers attacks, bothers or tires listener. They offer proper momentum, large volume of sound and wide frequency response. The bass is slightly emphasized. So we get a good extension when it is needed. However, when the album requires something else, the loudspeakers do not force low sounds. They get them out of the mix without overemphasizing them. These are surprisingly universal, pleasantly sounding loudspeakers with internally complex sound. They require a powerful amplifier, but on the other hand, they will play well even in small rooms. Very, very good design.

REVIEW: № 197 | November 2020, see HERE

Monitor Audio ⸜ MONITOR 300 (G4)

Monitor 300 G4 are versatile loudspeakers with nicely extended bass and a proper momentum of the presentation. The British manufacturer prepared loudspeakers that one easily adjusts to, which do not get boring even during longer listening sessions. They are a bit warm, the foreground is quite close to us, and the treble is slightly withdrawn. But it is all done without exaggeration and for a purpose. And this goal is our satisfaction with the music we listen to. This is a great example of how to turn a compromise into an advantage and a confirmation of the skills of Monitor Audio engineers.

REVIEW: № 198 | November 2020, see HERE |PL|
Award: RED Fingerprint

Pylon Audio ⸜ PEARL 20

The most surprising thing about these speakers is how perfectly they react to the music, to the material we feed them with, differentiating it in a unique way. Although expensive loudspeakers are much more resolving, much more detailed, much more dynamic and offer much more three-dimensional bodies, rarely any high-end design will give you as much pleasure from listening to music as the Pearl 20. Therefore, if you have 1000 to 5000 PLN for speakers, you simply have to listen to this model. Chapeau bas!

REVIEW: № 190 | March 2020, see HERE |PL|
Award: RED Fingerprint

Avatar Audio ⸜ NUMER DWA Mk2

The Avatar Audio Number Two Mk2 speakers showed things that cannot be found elsewhere, or that one has to pay for way, way more. These are: resolution, coherence and "immediacy" of the sound, as if there was no air between us and them that needed to vibrate. Another quality is also excellent phasing, which allows you to see details normally hidden because of mechanical problems of other speakers. These speakers are primarily relaxing. They don't force the listener to focus intensely on the sound.

REVIEW: № 197 | November 2020, see HERE |PL|


| Headphone amplifier


MD This year I would be happy to award even six products, because I was lucky enough, to review lot of excellent components. However, I only had to choose two, which turned out to be a great challenge. Unable to make up my mind, I finally went for the two devices featuring my favorit vacuum tubes. One of them is the excellent Polish (!) headphone amplifier, Feliks-Audio Euforia 20th Anniversary Edition. Although it was developed to celebrate the brand’s 20th anniversary, the warm response and high praises from customers and reviewers, including yours truly, convinced manufacturer to make it a permanent items in the portfolio.

Next year Felix Audio is planning to introduce a new flagship model, but even then the Euforia 20th Anniversary Edition will still be one of the best headphone amplifiers that I have reviewed to day and it simply deserves the award. It offers a slightly warm, dense, saturated, incredibly smooth sound, but at the same time it delights listener with purity and dynamics of the performance. It delivers a unique space, but combined with precision. It is able to deliver a fast, powerful performance, but also fully engaging listener while enjoying a sophisticated recording of small ensembles, jazz band or vocals. It’s a truly high-end design! And yet it can also be used, and do an equally great job at it, as a line preamplifier. It’s good ... No!, it’s GREAT, because it's made in Poland!

REVIEW: № 197 | November 2020, see HERE


| Interconnect & speaker cable & power cable

Synergistic Research ⸜ FOUNDATION IC & SC & AC

The Synergistic Research cabling system from the Foundation series is an antidote for the ubiquitous hi-fi. In the sense that it proves nothing and imposes nothing. Its sound is absolutely smooth and incredibly pleasant. The treble is smoothed out, and in the interconnect and the power cable even slightly withdrawn. But the whole presentation benefits from it, because it makes the low bass more present, better articulated and the vividness of the recordings benefits from it too.

The American cables do not rule out any recordings. Admittedly, the better produced and released ones will sound better, but those of lesser quality, as long as they present some good music, will not be kicked to the curb. This is due to the rounding of the attack and a slight warming up of the midrange, mainly by deepening its lower range. It also adds depth to the recordings - and in terms of the depth the speaker cable is the best of the three. These are cables for long listening sessions, for pleasure, for fun.

REVIEW: № 196 | September 2020, see HERE
Award: RED Fingerprint


| Anti-vibration feet

Pro Audio Bono ⸜ PAB CERAMIC 60 SN

The sound we get with the PAB Ceramic 60 SN anti-vibration feet is resolving, extremely dynamic and has beautiful, saturated colors. The presentation gains in density and fleshiness, while maintaining a perfect differentiation of colors and layers. It seems that the midrange becomes more important, but not by withdrawing its extremes, but by restoring the proper balance. Next to them, you can put other excellent feet intended for decoupling loudspeakers and large amplifiers, and it will be up to you which one you choose. In my system, however, I would choose PAB Ceramic 60 SN for the loudspeakers.

| REVIEW: № 198 | November 2020, see HERE
| PAB CERAMIC 60 SN feet are a part of the „High Fidelity” REFERENCE SYSTEM



Acoustic Revive products bring out the best from recordings and allow them to speak with their own "voice", thus improving system’s differentiation. One could say, quite generally, that they improve the vividness and depth of the image, perhaps due to the darker "background". They will work primarily in high-end systems, but with top systems they may turn out to be the best and cheapest (!) way to improve the sound. And it is for them that they are intended.

| REVIEW: № 189 | February 2020, see HERE | Acoustic Revive „REALITY ENHANCER” plugs are a part of the „High Fidelity” REFERENCE SYSTEM


REL ⸜ S/510 (x 2)

Two S / 510 subwoofers, one per channel, transformed the sound of an ultra-expensive system like no other single component. I have no place for them, but if I had, I would have bought them already. And if the space wouldn't be a problem at all, I would think about two sets, three subwoofers each. Start with one and you'll have a clear development path ahead.

REVIEW: № 192 | May 2020, see HERE |PL|




The Just Coolin’ album is very even and coherent. It's contains great music, and if it came out in 1959 it would be a strong Blue Note’s classic today. Let’s add to the music a brilliant, dynamic, open and carrying sound, despite the fact that the double bass is not clearly focused and the piano is tonally limited - but this is exactly what Rudy Van Gelder recorded. It's important that the whole thing sounds excellent! In which - I'm sure - careful and advanced mastering helped.

| Reviewed: November 2020 | see HERE |PL|


⸜ DOMINIK WANIA Lonely Shadows

Record label: ECM RECORDS ECM 2686

The sound of the Lonely Shadows is dark and very dynamic. It has a very well nuanced forte and piano sound, and therefore is not flashy. The whole thing is based on the lower midrange and upper bass. The image of the instrument is large, full-bodied and strong - it is a real, true concert instrument placed in a large space. Close-up microphones show a strong foreground and that's what we get, but such a good reverberation is usually obtained by using additional microphones in good acoustic conditions. This is great music captured in a very good way - a classic ECM release, but in a new version.

| Reviewed: September 2020 | see HERE |PL|
| Award: BIG REDButton



Record label: 2xHD 2HDFT-C1143/1167

The tracks on the two new 2xHD samplers were recorded by René Laflamme mainly, but not only exclusively, using analog Nagra tape recorders, models IV-S and T - the latter also at 76 cm/s speed, and simple microphone setups, often comprised of just two microphones. Mastering was done in the 2xHD studio, using tube devices.

Samplers are available on CDs, LPs and on analog tapes. I used CDs during this REVIEW, tapes have to wait for another occasion. But on the silver discs the sound is stunning. It is remarkably resolving and spacious, although it is a space with a longer perspective than what is captured with microphones placed close to the instruments. These have a dense, saturated sound and large volume. These releases may not be for listening, that's what whole albums are for, but for REVIEWing - definitely!

| Reviewed: October 2020 | see HERE |PL|



Record label: SEA/CORE PORT RPOZ-10053

Recording music outdoors is not a new idea, but treating non-musical elements as equivalent ones to music itself is interesting; in some ways they are part of it too. As a result, an extremely intimate, but at the same time "open" album with great music was created, and in addition fantastically produced. The piano's sound is warm, dense and very dynamic, plus high-sounding ambient sounds - really great! It is strange that Jaskułke has not yet been invited to the Polish Jazz series, he deserves it like very few other artists.

| Reviewed: October 2020 | see HERE |PL|


Mare Balticum Vol. 3 – 13./14. Jahrhundert • Wizlav von Rügen

| Record label: TACET S 261

This is, in my opinion, the best recorded album from the Mare Balticum series. Its sound is dark and has a tonal balance set very low. It is the darkness of a large room, where the reverberation lasts long enough to give a sense of participation in something special, but only for a short enough time not to overshadow individual sounds or blur them. Therefore, the way of building large-volume 3D objects in a large space is delightful.

It is a real pleasure to listen to this album, without any pressure or high expectations. And the sound is unique in its naturalness. Also the performance is at the highest level - that's how people who not only are technically skilled but also really like what they do sing and play.

| Reviewed: September 2020 | see HERE |PL|
| Award: BIG REDButton



| Record label: ORIGIN RECORDS 82806

It is a very nice, "dense", pleasantly recorded and produced album. It is very good musically and with a nice sound, extremely energetic, despite the slow pace, an album with an instrument in the lead role, which does not happen in the jazz idiom. The most important thing on this album is the midrange, which is why you can hear most beautifully Steve Cardenas' electric guitar and the leader's piano, as in the The Things. The drums are more interesting in the next track, Two Pieces With Beatrice. This is thanks to a strong and dynamic kick drum, which has not been compressed too much, but has been left with lots of energy. Also the double bass sounds really good in this track.

| Reviewed: September 2020 | see HERE |PL|



| Record label: CHESKY RECORDS JD446

The sound of Chesky Records albums cannot be confused with any other. It is a kind of "documentation" of the event. There is less creation, typical for studio recordings, and more of a live "event". Of course, this is only an approximation, there is no such thing as "objective recording" of sound, but Chesky is excellent at what he does.

The thing is in the skillful presentation of incredible space. It is extremely large on the reviewed album. A window opens between the speakers to another world, to the "unimaginable". And that wonderful voice of Priya Darshini! It is clean, almost crystalline, and thanks to recording it at a distance, its natural timbre has been preserved, it has not been mixed into a flat sheet of paper. Similarly to other instruments that are incredibly rich in harmonics, and therefore natural sounding.

| Reviewed: August 2020 | see HERE |PL|
| Award: BIG REDButton



| Record label: AC RECORDS ACR 016

This is a unique album - released under the patronage of "High Fidelity". It includes only two tracks, but pressed on a 180 g 45 rpm record, one per side. Both tracks, and therefore both albums they come from, are perfectly recorded. So it's not like we take a medium quality sound and compare it with what can be done with it under the best conditions. But a moment with the 45 rpm version is enough to understand what we are losing and what we can gain.

Both recordings are musically great and very well recorded - it's a real "tour de force". But you haven't truly heard them, if you don't know them from the master tape or the 45 rpm vinyl record. In these two cases, they transform into something much more subtle, but at the same time more real, tangible. Although we „see” them from a more distant perspective, we have an impression that everything can be seen better and more accurately. This is a true reference album that you just have to have in order not to lose the direction which we should be moving towards.

| Reviewed: June 2020 | see HERE |PL|
| Award: BIG REDButton