CES & THE Show 2011 • TAB's 2010 Awards

by Marc Mickelson | January 7, 2011

Paul Bolin and I launched The Audio Beat near the end of 2009, which gave us precious little time to consider a number of issues before the end of the year. This worked to our advantage in one respect: it allowed us to postpone a decision about how we would handle TAB's year-end awards. If you've been following what the print magazines and other online websites do, you've noticed that there is a profusion of awards -- so many that it seems easier to be named a winner than not. If everything is special, nothing is.

With this in mind, Paul and I decided to take a novel approach: present one award to recognize the year's best audio product and another to call attention to the year's best music -- two awards in total and that's it. The idea is that with only two awards, and those being mutually exclusive, they will actually honor the best of high-end audio.

Thus, as the picture above indicates, the winner of TAB's first Product of the Year award is Wilson Audio for its Sasha W/P speaker. Paul Bolin (left) finished his review a year ago, and since that time it has been the most-read product review on the site. More important, the Sashas are, as Paul's review stated it, "A legend reinvented and reinvigorated."

TAB's other area of emphasis -- for obvious reasons -- is music, but our process for picking a winner here is not like that used at publications that only cover music. While the newest CD from some hot band may be deserving of a Recording of the Year award, we chose instead the music that we've been listening to and treasuring, and it happens to be a half-century old.

Music Matters has reissued nearly 60 historic Blue Note titles on a pair of 45rpm LPs. Each has been exemplary -- and many have been essential. With the care it takes both in terms of the LPs themselves and the sleeves -- which are gorgeously rendered and include unpublished session photos -- the label has set a very high standard by which recordings reissued on LP will be measured.

For these reasons, the Music Matters Blue Note series is our choice for Recordings of the Year 2010. And with more Music Matters releases still to come, this is one musical well that will continue to produce black gold.

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