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Audiophiliac readers' favorite headphones, speakers, and receivers

The readers' selection lists for the best-of-the-best gear were full of surprises, with winners and losers in each category.

Audiophiliac readers have strong opinions about the gear I cover in this blog, so last month I asked for Readers' Choice nominations in a variety of categories, including headphones, speakers, receivers, etc.. I've sorted through all the comments, and here's what I found: there's a wide range of gear you love, but it was in the headphone category where the clearest winners stood out.

Steve Guttenberg

The Klipsch Image S4 in-ear headphones were the single most popular product in the survey, you people really love 'em! Grado SR60, SR80, and SR225 full-size headphones also drew raves, and Koss' PortaPro on-ear headphones were shown a lot of love. Audio Technica, Bowers & Wilkins, Hifiman, Shure, Sennheiser and Beyerdynamic headphones all had respectable showings, but I was surprised by how little support there was for Sony, Skullcandy, Panasonic, Bose, and Beats headphones. There were definite winners and losers in this contest.

Support for speaker brands was more spread out, and I was happy to see that one of my all-time favorites, Magnepan, did very well. There was a smattering of positive remarks about Audioengine, Bowers & Wilkins, Emotiva, Polk, and Zu Audio speakers. Again, some major brands were noticeably absent; where were the Definitive Technology, Klipsch, Boston Acoustics, and Aperion Audio speakers?

Receivers were another category that garnered strong showings for just a handful of brands, namely Denon and Marantz, and some for Pioneer, but Onkyo, Sony and Yamaha receivers were left in the dust. The $39 Hifiman HM-101 USB digital-to-analog converter was cited as the best budget product by a number of readers.

A few fans of Oppo Blu-ray players voiced their support, and VPI, Rega and Pro-Ject turntables were championed by a few readers. No one nominated Technics' iconic DJ turntable; that was a shocker! Of course, if you feel some deserving brands were overlooked, add your two cents in the Comments section.