CES & THE Show 2011 • Best of Show

CES is overflowing with elaborate systems -- racks stuffed with electronics and colossal multi-cabinet speakers -- but sometimes simplicity wins out. Audio Physic used an Esoteric RZ-1 ($6000) with its Virgo 25 speakers ($12,500/pair), and the results were a uncomplicated system that sounded wideband, tonally right and very spacious. Speaker cables -- all the cables that were needed -- were Nordost Valhalla. Demo cuts displayed surprising low-end authority, but what was most remarkable was that the Virgo 25s absolutely disappeared, leaving music in their place.

Called an "integrated music system," the Esoteric RZ-1 does just about everything an audiophile could want. In addition to being a 100Wpc remote-controlled integrated amp, it includes CD/SACD playback, 32-bit digital-to-analog conversion via USB and a phono stage.

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