BEST ELECTRONICS (AUDIOPHILE) - 2005
Seems to us that those in the highest tax bracket--the ones easily able to afford the A/V gadgets from the most rarified local dealers of hi-fi perfection--have been getting all the goods the past four years. So while we do understand that audiophilia doesn't and shouldn't come cheap, we wanted this year to honor a shop that at least gave us working stiffs a fighting chance to bring home a new toy or two. What we found at this longtime Uptown showroom (whose younger sister store is in Eden Prairie off Highway 212) was a refreshing lack of pressure and pretension, and a healthy but hardly overwhelming abundance of hardware in the upper-middle class of high fidelity. They particularly like the Rotel brand of receiver here, and no wonder: The heavy, spare, black-on-gray design suggests an amp that even Donald Fagen would be happy to own, and the sound from one of them is deep, punchy, clear, and fully enveloping. And at about $1,200 for the intro-level Rotel kit (plus a C-note or so for a pair of Monster-mashing cables from Audioquest), the prices, relatively speaking, are music to our ears. They even keep a mighty fine Technics turntable on the shelf for two bills.