Our Golden Ear Awards are traditionally given to products that our review staff has lived with over an extended period of time-a recognition of the tried and true. And while this year's awards encompass many such components, it also contains exciting new gear that we've reviewed over the course of the past year, including in the pages of this very issue. Although one may question the relative importance of high-end audio in times of international unrest and a sluggish economy, the reason that the high end exists in the first place-a love of music is arguably more important now than ever. It's also worth noting that, despite the state of the world, audio's state-of-the-art marches on. There is a remarkable level of high-quality components out there, and the passion that our writers bring to their subjects-be it a $200 factory-produced phono cartridge or a $25,000 hand-built record player-reflects the enthusiasm we share for the worthy manufacturers included in this year's Golden Ear Awards.
Robert E. Greene
. Ocellia Tilia Loudspeakers
To call the Ocellia Tilia Loudspeakers unconventional is to understate the case. I would have subtitled a full review "Floyd Toole's Nightmare." They have only one driver apiece, in effect: The crossover to the tweeter is so high (11kHz) that the tweeter really adds only air and texture, and the music itself comes from a true point source. Naturally the speaker beams like mad above the midrange. The cabinet is thin-walled and resonant by design. The Tilia is also not particularly flat, even on its preferred axis. And yet, from this seemingly unlikely situation, arises something that will redefine your ideas of how realistic reproduced music can sound, not in terms of tonal truth but in terms of stereo imaging. Pointsource stereo sounds real here in a way that makes almost all other speakers seem like, well, speakers. Only the late, much-lamented Soundwave PS 3.0s and the Gradient Revolutions are, in my experience, in the same league for imaging realism. There are theoretical reasons for this, but hearing is believing. The Tilias are very sensitive and sounded lively with my Jack Spear' 3W pc single-ended-triode amp; if you are a SET person, have a listen. The Tilias even have bass. Even if you are not, listen anyway and find out what real stereo can sound like.