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HolidayBuyer's Guide

Devialet 120 digital amplifier

Woo Audio WA7 headphone amplifier

Aedle VK-1 Legacy headphones

Avantgarde Acoustic Zero 1 speakers

Abyss AB-1266 headphones

Sonus Faber Extrema speakers

Dan D'Agostino Momentum preamplifier

Tri-Planar U12 turntable tonearm

Lavardin Technologies Model IT-15 amplifier

Viola Labs Crescendo stereo preamplifier

It wasn't that long ago that the best sounding audio gear wasn't much to look at. The designers focused almost exclusively on the sound, but in the early 2000s the engineers started to lavish attention on the way these things look. That makes sense: we live with the gear, so purposeful style and build quality can only add to the products' allure. Take for example the Devialet 120 digital amplifier.

It does it all: it has turntable and analog line inputs, USB, Ethernet, and digital coaxial, plus the new Devialet AIR Universal Streamer. Oh, and it also sounds phenomenal!

Caption by / Photo by Devialet

The Woo Audio WA7 ($999) is a high-performance vacuum tube headphone amplifier-digital converter. It's a pure tube design, utilizing 6C45 tubes, and I think it's one of the most exquisite designs that still comes in at an affordable price.

Caption by / Photo by Woo Audio

The VK-1 Legacy sounds sweet and weighs 7.5 ounces, a little lighter than average for this type of headphone. The US price is $500, which I don't consider expensive for a hand-crafted product.

Caption by / Photo by Aedle

The Avantgarde Acoustic Zero 1 wireless speakers come with built-in digital converters and power amplifiers. And since they're horn speakers, they deliver extreme dynamic range and razor-sharp stereo imaging.

Caption by / Photo by Avantgarde Acoustic

The Abyss AB-1266 is arguably the most extreme headphone in the world. The Audiophiliac thinks it is, by a large margin, the best-sounding headphone you can buy.

Caption by / Photo by Abyss

The Extrema is a special limited-edition speaker from Sonus Faber. It's hand crafted in Italy, and like all of the company's designs, the Extrema advances the state of the art.

Caption by / Photo by Sonus Faber

Dan D'Agostino is a legendary American electronics designer that made his name as a founder of Krell Industries in the early 1980s. Now, with his new company he's topping his best earlier works.

Caption by / Photo by Dan D'Agostino

This picture of the Tri-Planar U12 shows the back end of this meticulously designed, machined, and crafted tonearm. It's a popular 'arm for the audiophile cognoscenti.

Caption by / Photo by Wes Bender

This French-made, 55-watt x 2 solid-state amplifier has the look, feel, and sound of a luxury product.

Caption by / Photo by Lavardin Technologies

The Viola Crescendo preamplifier's chassis is milled from a solid billet of aircraft-grade aluminum. It sounds as good as it looks.

Caption by / Photo by Wes Bender
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