The Hi-Fi+ Top 100: 1More to Dan Clark Audio

The Hi-Fi+ Top 100: 1More to Dan Clark Audio

Over the last 20 years, Hi-Fi+ has amassed a significant number of product reviews. More than 2,800 in fact, which at a rough guess works out at almost three million words of reviews about some of the best products in audio. Looking through that archive gives one a unique perspective on audio in the dying embers of the 20th Century and the first years of the 21st. Fascinatingly, although some brands have changed hands (sometimes more than once), surprisingly few companies have entirely disappeared; of the 22 different brands featured in that first issue, 19 of them are still going strong.

Perhaps even more remarkably, you don’t need to look much further to find products that remain in production; the Digital Stylus Force gauge made by The Cartridge Man is still made to this day, and a metal version of Clearaudio’s acrylic cartridge alignment tool is also available. The VPI HW16.5 record cleaning machine is also in production but is no longer sold in the UK. To find the first product in the signal chain that is in production to this day, you need to fast forward to issue three (Oct/Nov 1999) and the Shahinian Starter loudspeaker, followed closely by that evergreen amplifier, the Naim NAP 250 in issue four (Dec 1999/Jan 2000). That last amplifier may have been boosted by DR (Discrete Regulator) upgrades in recent years, but at the time we reviewed it, the NAP 250 was already approaching 25 years old, and shows no signs of slowing down as it reaches its 45th birthday. There are few other branches of consumer electronics that can lay claim to such product life cycles. 

What follows is a round-up of some of the best products from some of the best brands we have seen in the last 20 years. We have set a couple of criteria: that the company should still be in business and – whenever possible – we select products that are still in production, or at least a variant of the product is still in production. Each brand stands on the shoulders of dozens of other companies that could just as easily make the cut, and out of the 300 or so initially selected, we thinned the pack out by selecting brands that featured regularly enough to suggest success was not a one-off. In addition, almost every product from these 100 names was picked from a number of very positive reviews for that brand in Hi-Fi+. In that case, we have gone for what we feel is the most significant product in the line-up. That’s not to say products or brands not in our top 100 are inferior; in fact, we had something like an embarrassment of riches. 

In this line-up, we have highlighted where possible review and/or the relevant issue in which that review is published. Of course, with an archive that runs right back to the last days of the 20th Century, not all our original reviews are available online, and some of our issues are now completely sold out. But just as we were surprised by how many products from our early years are still in production, you might be surprised by just how many back issues we still have!

First published in issue 170

1MORE Quad Driver 

Reviewed in Issue 147

Of the brands in Hi-Fi+, few have combined high performance with value for money as successfully as 1MORE. The company’s excellent Quad Driver in-ear universal-fit earphone is a perfect example.

Reviewed by Chris Martens

Abyss AB-1266 Phi CC 

Reviewed in Issue 166

The distinctive looking Abyss design is a continual search for the best headphone sound and the AB‑1266 Phi CC planar magnetic is our resident personal audio guru’s reference standard model. 

Reviewed by Chris Martens

AKG N5005 

Reviewed in Issue 164

AKG’s current in-ear flagship is an ambitious design for both wired and wireless listening. Spend some time getting the right ear tips and the result is a wonderfully balanced sound.

Reviewed by Alan Sircom

Astell & Kern AK380

Reviewed in Issue 126

The company that revitalised the portable Digital Audio Player, and the product that best typifies what A&K does best – a no-compromise powerhouse performer for the home and on the move.

Reviewed by Chris Martens

Audeze iSINE 20 

Reviewed in Issue 152

Audeze squeezed a planar magnetic quart into a universal-fit earphone pint pot, all with a TIE fighter aesthetic. Designed to be driven by smartphones on the go, these sound amazing!

Reviewed by Chris Martens

Audio Research REF 160M 

Reviewed in Issue 163

Audio Research is on a roll at the moment, but that didn’t prepare us for what might just be the best hybrid power amplifier ever made from this high-end titan.

Reviewed by Alan Sircom

AudioQuest Niagara 7000 

Reviewed in Issue 168

AudioQuest makes everything from small DACs to giant power cords, but it’s the super-heavy Niagara 7000 flagship of its conditioner range that really caught our eye. Perfect power properly produced!

Reviewed by Roy Gregory


Reviewed in Issue 156

AURALiC makes some of the best streaming systems we’ve ever heard. The VEGA G2 is the core platform for its highest range to date. It’s a great sounding digital multitool!

Reviewed by Chris Martens

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