EISA Hi-Fi Awards 2021-2022 – Darko.Audio

The Expert Imaging and Sound Association (EISA) has once again run a thread through 60 tech publishers from 29 countries to award the best products (coming to market in the preceding twelve months) in the categories of hi-fi, home theatre, photo and video, in-car and mobile electronics.

Darko.Audio has been a member of EISA since 2019 where it joined some of the world’s most respected hi-fi print magazines and websites as part of the hi-fi group’s voting panel:

  • Audio (Poland)
  • Audio & Cinema em Casa (Portugal)
  • Audio Accessory (Japan)
  • AUDIOreview (Italy)
  • Audiotechnique (Hong Kong)
  • Australian Hi-Fi (Australia)
  • Borzenkov (Russia)
  • FWD Magazine (Belgium)
  • Hi-Fi News (UK)
  • Hi-Files (Serbia)
  • HiFi & Musik (Sweden)
  • Hifimaailma (Finland)
  • HVT (Netherlands)
  • Sound Vision Hxos (Greece)
  • Soundstage! HiFi (Canada)
  • Stereo (Germany)
  • Stereo & Video (Czech)
  • Stereo+ (Norway)
  • Stereophile (USA)
  • Sztereó Sound & Vision (Hungary)

Due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic – and for the second year running – representatives from the aforelisted publications swapped in-person conferences for group Zoom calls in order to enjoy presentations from a wide range of hi-fi manufacturers before compiling a shortlist of award candidates and voting on award winners. The EISA hi-fi group’s consensus for 2021-22 is as follows:

EISA FLOORSTANDING LOUDSPEAKERS 2021-2022
Monitor Audio Silver 500 7G

The seventh generation of Monitor Audio’s Silver Series incorporates a wide range of acoustic innovations, all on show in the magnificent floorstanding flagship of the range, the Silver 500 7G. The C-CAM metal/ceramic tweeter has a new motor and housing, for cleaner, sweeter treble, while the RST II midrange and bass drivers are fashioned from an improved ceramic-coated alloy for greater stiffness. Add in a refined crossover and a beautifully-finished enclosure, into which the drivers are fixed with bolt-through mountings, and you have a speaker as adept with the finest detail as it is developing a massive, powerful view of the music.

EISA STANDMOUNT LOUDSPEAKERS 2021-2022
KEF LS50 Meta

The original, EISA Award-winning LS50 loudspeaker was widely acclaimed, but KEF’s engineers have taken it to a new level with numerous detail revisions including the use of Metamaterial Absorption Technology to further control unwanted driver resonances. That may seem like a small internal upgrade, but the result is a magnificent compact speaker capable of a huge soundstage, generous bass and terrific imaging. It’s an already impressive speaker now transformed into something truly special and, at the price, is the very best of its genre. If space is tight – or even if it isn’t – these remarkable speakers are the ones to have, and the strikingly attractive looks further enhance their user-appeal.

EISA WIRELESS FLOORSTANDING LOUDSPEAKERS 2021-2022
System Audio Legend 40.2 Silverback

System Audio’s elegant active speaker is not only slender, but it’s packed with technology to allow the user to achieve the optimum sound and then tweak it to their own taste. Use it with the optional wireless Stereo Hub and you get a choice of automated and manual equalisation to adapt the speaker to your room. System Audio offers a generous pick ’n’ mix approach to DSP, including downloadable ‘RAM Tweaks’ to further reconfigure the sonic balance. However, most impressive of all is this wireless speaker’s compelling sound, which majors on resolution, bass power and a fine grasp of rhythm.

EISA WIRELESS STANDMOUNT LOUDSPEAKERS 2021-2022
KEF LS50 Wireless II

Developed from the original LS50W design, using the same Metamaterial Absorption Technology found in the LS50 Meta model, this is much more than just a pair of speakers. In fact, it’s a complete wireless hi-fi system, able to play music from portable devices, local network storage and streaming services, all under the control of a cleverly-designed app. Set-up and configuration is simple, meaning you’ll have music playing in minutes, while the combination of KEF’s Uni-Q driver and plenty of internal amplifier power delivers a focused, involving sound way beyond expectations for speakers so small. They can handle hi-res music or just Bluetooth from your phone, look fabulous whether on shelves or their dedicated stands – and of course have that ‘hi-fi without all the boxes’ appeal.

EISA HIGH-END LOUDSPEAKERS 2021-2022
Wilson Audio SabrinaX

Wilson Audio’s Sabrina was long-established as a remarkable compact high-end speaker, but for this X model the company has made some major changes to further enhance performance. These start with those beautiful cabinets, now made from the inert X-material from which the speaker takes its name, finished in a choice of WilsonGloss paint colours. The tweeter is derived from the company’s flagship models, for better detail and ‘air’, and while the midrange is retained from the original Sabrina, a new woofer delivers tighter, faster bass. The result? An expanded soundstage and extended bass, delivering massive scale with free-breathing atmosphere and ambience – whatever you play.

EISA HI-FI SUBWOOFER 2021-2022
KEF KC62

On rare occasions it’s hard to associate the equipment before you with the sound you’re hearing. Take as an example the amazing KEF KC62 subwoofer – it’s tiny at just 25cm per side, with a pair of drivers just 16.5cm in diameter, and yet this seemingly miraculous speaker delivers massive, fast and tautly controlled bass down to subterranean depths. So the KC62 is so small you can hide it away almost anywhere, but the performance is all down to clever design – the opposed drivers use Uni-Core force cancelling, each powered by a 500W amplifier, all under the control of digital signal processing. Want even more fun? Try using two of them!

EISA STREAMING AMPLIFIER 2021-2022
Cambridge Audio EVO 150

Compact, clever and capable of driving even demanding speakers to deliver a room-filling sound – whether from your phone, your computer or streaming services – the EVO 150 is all the system many users will ever want or need. It has style on its side, and amazing flexibility including balanced inputs and a phono stage, but the most outstanding feature here is how simple it makes set-up and operation for breathtaking performance. The Cambridge Audio engineers have considered everything, from the way the EVO 150 leads you through installation to the superb StreamMagic app control, making this a system all the family can enjoy, with class-leading sound.

EISA INTEGRATED AMPLIFIER 2021-2022
Rotel Michi X3

This may be the more affordable of two integrated amplifiers in Rotel’s revived Michi lineup, but it’s undoubtedly the sweet spot of the range, combining ‘drive anything’ confidence with speed, warmth and the ability to switch from pile-driver to a gossamer touch when required. There’s no shortage of power here, but the Michi X3 carries its massive output lightly, being fast, detailed and beautifully controlled, and is all the more rewarding as a result. Add in its flexibility, build quality and sheer style, and you have an amp able to take on all the super-integrated amplifiers now available and show most of them a clean pair of heels.

EISA POWER AMPLIFIER 2021-2022
NAD C 298

NAD started its story making amplifiers, and has been researching and developing the technology for almost half a century. All that shows in the unassuming-looking C 298 power amplifier, designed for use in everything from conventional hi-fi and home cinema systems to hideaway custom installations. It has single-ended and balanced inputs for flexibility, and switchable signal-sensing for remote operation, while its energy-efficient Purifi Eigentakt amplification technology gives it the ability to drive just about any speaker with impunity. The sound is spectacular, and upgradable too – switch it into bridge mode, and you have a 600W+ monoblock!

EISA PHONO STAGE 2021-2022
Hegel V10

Hegel has taken its time adding a dedicated phono stage to its acclaimed series of amplifiers, but it’s been worth the wait. The V10 is designed to service a wide range of moving-coil and moving-magnet cartridges, aided by its highly flexible gain, loading and subsonic filter settings that are selected via a matrix of DIP switches underneath the black case. Indeed, the elegant but functional Norwegian styling belies the scope of this vinyl-loving preamp. So it’s worth taking the time to dial-up the optimum settings and realise a sound that’s both smooth and gloriously insightful, and clearly ‘voiced’ to partner Hegel’s other electronics.

EISA DIGITAL MUSIC PLAYER 2021-2022
Bluesound NODE

Bluesound’s multiroom wireless system was revolutionary when it first appeared, its BluOS platform having been designed to play music all the way up to hi-res, with a process of refinement and development ever since. This latest version of its NODE music player is a simple way to bring multiroom to your system, with Wi-Fi, Ethernet, Apple AirPlay 2, aptX HD Bluetooth and USB-A to access audio content from streaming services, Internet radio and your own music library. And the new NODE now also has HDMI ARC, for audio from TVs and gaming systems – all controlled using the intuitive BluOS Controller app or via the popular voice assistants.

EISA HIGH-END MUSIC PLAYER 2021-2022
HiFi Rose RS150

It’s hard not to form initial impressions of the RS150 based on the way it looks, from its build quality to that graphic-filled full-width touchscreen display, but it soon becomes clear there’s more to it than meets the eye. This is an accomplished – and extremely flexible – player/DAC that will play everything from Bluetooth streams to hi-res content, and you can even install SSD storage to make it a complete library and player in one unit. The sound is striking, too, majoring on richness and detail that contributes to a very mature presentation. This is a decidedly impressive debut for the Korean brand.

EISA DAC 2021-2022
Cambridge Audio DacMagic 200M

Cambridge Audio has been making DACs since 1994, and it all shows in the latest addition to its DacMagic line, the 200M. It lives up to the precedent of its illustrious forebears with an attractive combination of solid build, ease of use and performance, plus wide-ranging file-format compatibility, all the way up to 768kHz/24-bit and DSD512 (at least via its USB input). Easy to use, it’s not only an excellent ‘desktop audio’ device that’ll drive headphones to good effect, but it will also serve up a storm in a main audio system with its crisp, rewarding and expressively-detailed sound.

EISA BEST VALUE TURNTABLE 2021-2022
Pro-Ject Debut PRO

Launched to celebrate the company’s 30th anniversary, this very refined version of Pro-Ject’s entry-level turntable comes with a raft of improvements, not least of which is a new one-piece alloy/carbon fibre tonearm. The platter is now more heavily damped and non-magnetic, the suspension of both arm and motor have been enhanced, and a new Pick it Pro cartridge comes pre-fitted for near instant set-up and use. Described as ‘the ultimate expression of the Debut concept’, it sounds assured and involving – it’s an absolute knock-out, and a new champion for the entry level.

EISA HIGH-END TURNTABLE 2021-2022
Thorens TD 124 DD

It may have ceased production more than half a century ago, but the Thorens TD 124 turntable retains legendary status, and is still much sought after. While the latest version may look much like the original, the ‘DD’ on the model number shows this is now a direct-drive design, complete with a new and very adjustable tonearm to complete the retro looks, especially when fitted with the SPU 124 pick-up. There’s even a pop-up adapter for ‘jukebox’ singles, but whatever you play on the TD 124 DD it delights with its speed, slam and sheer weight. It may look vintage, but the sound is compellingly up to date.

EISA PHONO CARTRIDGE 2021-2022
Ortofon 2M Black LVB 250

The latest variation on Ortofon’s long-running 2M moving-magnet cartridge design pays tribute to Beethoven 250 years after his birth, complete with a picture of the composer on the side of its body. It fits the bill with a silky, sophisticated presentation especially well-suited to classical, jazz and acoustic music. Refined and composed, it uses a version of the stylus and cantilever found in the company’s Cadenza Black moving-coil cartridge. This, along with a new suspension, all contributes to a sound that boasts rock-solid imaging, great stereo focus and depth along with a smooth, lush view of strings and other acoustic instruments.

EISA STEREO SYSTEM 2021-2022
Marantz Model 30/SACD 30n

Marantz’s 30 series has a new style influenced by the design of classic models from the company’s past, combined with up-to-date capability within. The Model 30 amplifier and its matching SACD 30n player are a triumph: the amplifier plays it simple, concentrating on the purest possible sound from its all-analogue design, while the SACD/CD/network player brings a whole world of musical opportunity to the party, from discs to streaming and more. ‘Modern Musical Luxury’ is how Marantz describes this combination, and with its blend of rich, powerful sound, features and gorgeous build quality, this stereo system delivers on that promise.

EISA HEADPHONE SOLUTION 2021-2022
Naim Uniti Atom Headphone Edition

With an eye to the seemingly unstoppable rise of headphone listening, Naim created this version of its entry-level Uniti Atom, dedicated to headphone use. With amplifier technology trickled down from the company’s flagship Statement product, the Uniti Atom Headphone Edition combines wide-ranging network and streaming audio capability with both balanced and single-ended headphone outputs, and it can also be used as a streaming preamp into a power amplifier or active speakers. Whichever you choose, it plays music with authority and immense impact, and will really make the most of partnering equipment.

EISA HEADPHONES 2021-2022
Focal Clear Mg

Focal’s Clear headphones were already a superb performer, but with the arrival of the Mg version the company has raised the bar even further. Changes include a new, pure magnesium driver (hence the name), improvements to resonance control within the open-back housings, and in the alignment of those drivers relative to the user’s ear. The result is a headphone sound that retains all the openness of the original, but now offers better speed, clarity and precision. It reveals even more detail in the music and creates a palpably realistic sense of an acoustic spread before you, not enclosed within your head.

EISA HIGH-END HEADPHONES 2021-2022
T+A Solitaire P-SE

T+A made an ambitious entry into the headphone arena, aiming straight for the top with its Solitaire P model and a matching HA200 headphone amplifier. The P-SE is a little more affordable than the original design, thanks to some simplification of the planar magnetic drivers and their motor system, but this is still an unapologetically high-end design, able to deliver a wide-open view of the music while still presenting it with weight, richness and impact. Above all, they impress with the way everything hangs together, from the weight of a double bass to the finest detail in the high treble, making for an entirely thrilling listen.

EISA BEST VALUE HEADPHONES 2021-2022
Sennheiser HD 560 S

Sennheiser has long had an enviable position in the audio market, from its excellent headphones to its role as a supplier of microphones for everything from recording to live performances. And in the HD 560 S Sennheiser brings together all that knowledge in a design able to deliver a wide-open sound with exceptional detail and fast clean bass, plus a realistic impression of soundstage. The new drivers use a polymer blend for linear response and an airy treble, while the angled drivers combine with the open-backed design to create a real sense of presence.

EISA HI-FI ACCESSORY 2021-2022
Ferrum Hypsos

Power is everything – that’s the thinking behind the Hypsos, a hugely flexible DC power supply from Polish brand Ferrum, designed to replace all those plug-top supplies with which so many hi-fi components are now provided. It can deliver clean DC power over a range of 5V to 30V, and comes complete with pre-loaded settings for over 100 popular products. Or you can set up your own output parameters, complete with fine adjustment to find the power setting ‘sweet spot’. It represents a potent upgrade for a wide range of devices, not least USB DAC/headphone amplifiers, typically encouraging a sound with greater ease and smoothness – and yes, power!

Combined Award with Home Theatre Audio Expert Group
EISA COMPACT SUBWOOFER 2021-2022
SVS 3000 Micro

Combined Award with Mobile Devices Expert Group
EISA WIRELESS HEADPHONES 2021-2022
Philips Fidelio L3

EISA IN-EAR HEADPHONES 2021-2022
LG TONE Free FP8 (DFP8, UFP8, DFP8W, FP8W, UFP8W, FP8E, TFP8E)


Home Theatre Audio Expert Group

EISA SMART SOUNDBAR 2021-2022
Denon Home Sound Bar 550

EISA SOUNDBAR INNOVATION 2021-2022
LG Eclair QP5 (DQP5, DQP5W, QP5W)

EISA COMPACT SOUNDBAR 2021-2022
JBL Bar 5.0 Multibeam

EISA BEST BUY SOUNDBAR 2021-2022
TCL TS8132

EISA HOME THEATRE SOUNDBAR 2021-2022
Philips Fidelio B97

EISA BEST BUY HOME THEATRE SUBWOOFER 2021-2022
SVS SB-1000 Pro

EISA COMPACT SUBWOOFER 2021-2022
SVS 3000 Micro

EISA HOME THEATRE SPEAKER SYSTEM 2021-2022
Polk Audio Reserve

EISA HOME THEATRE RECEIVER 2021-2022
Yamaha RX-V6A

Combined Award with Home Theatre Video Expert Group

EISA UHD PLAYER 2021-2022
Reavon UBR-X200


Home Theatre Video & Display Expert Group
EISA 8K TV 2021-2022
LG 75QNED99

EISA BEST PREMIUM OLED TV 2021-2022
LG OLED65G1

EISA BEST GAMING TV 2021-2022
LG OLED48C1

EISA FAMILY TV 2021-2022
Hisense 65U8GQ

EISA BEST BUY LCD TV 2021-2022
TCL 55C728 (55C727 & 55C729)

EISA PREMIUM LCD TV 2021-2022
TCL 65C825 (65C821 & 65C822)

EISA BEST HOME THEATRE TV 2021-2022
Philips 65OLED936

EISA BEST BUY OLED TV 2021-2022
Philips 55OLED806

EISA PREMIUM UST PROJECTOR 2021-2022
Samsung The Premiere LSP9T

EISA HOME THEATRE PROJECTOR 2021-2022
Sony VPL-VW590ES

EISA BEST BUY PROJECTOR 2021-2022
XGIMI Horizon Pro

EISA LASER TV PROJECTION SYSTEM 2021-2022
BenQ V7000i/V7050i & ALRS01


Photography Expert Group

EISA CAMERA OF THE YEAR 2021-2022
Sony α1

EISA BEST BUY CAMERA (APS-C) 2021-2022
Fuji X-S10

EISA BEST BUY CAMERA (FULL-FRAME) 2021-2022
Nikon Z 5

EISA ADVANCED CAMERA 2021-2022
Nikon Z 6II

EISA PREMIUM CAMERA 2021-2022
Canon EOS R5

EISA PROFESSIONAL CAMERA 2021-2022
Fujifilm GFX 100S

EISA PHOTO/VIDEO CAMERA 2021-2022
Sony α7S III

EISA LENS OF THE YEAR 2021-2022
Tamron 17-70mm F/2.8 Di III-A VC RXD

EISA WIDEANGLE LENS 2021-2022
Sony FE 14mm F1.8 GM

EISA WIDEANGLE ZOOM LENS (APS-C) 2021-2022
Tamron 11-20mm F/2.8 Di III-A RXD

EISA WIDEANGLE ZOOM LENS (FULL-FRAME) 2021-2022
Sony FE 12-24mm F2.8 GM

EISA STANDARD LENS 2021-2022
Sony FE 50mm F1.2 GM

EISA TELEPHOTO ZOOM LENS 2021-2022
Tamron 150-500mm F/5-6.7 Di III VC VXD

EISA PROFESSIONAL TELEPHOTO ZOOM LENS 2021-2022
Nikon NIKKOR Z 70-200mm f/2.8 VR S

EISA PORTRAIT LENS 2021-2022
Sigma 85mm F1.4 DG DN Art

EISA MANUAL LENS 2021-2022
Laowa Argus 33mm f/0.95 CF APO

EISA MACRO LENS 2021-2022
Nikon NIKKOR Z MC 50mm f/2.8

EISA SPECIAL PURPOSE LENS 2021-2022
Laowa 15mm f/4.5 Zero-D Shift

EISA LENS INNOVATION 2021-2022
Canon RF 100mm F 2.8L Macro IS USM

EISA PHOTO SOFTWARE 2021-2022
Zoner Photo Studio X

EISA ADVANCED PHOTO SOFTWARE 2021-2022
DxO PureRAW

EISA PHOTO SERVICE 2021-2022
CEWE Photoworld

EISA PHOTO PRINTER 2021-2022
Epson SureColor SC-P700

Combined Award with Mobile Devices Expert Group
EISA MULTIMEDIA SMARTPHONE 2021-2022
Sony Xperia 1 III

EISA ADVANCED SMARTPHONE 2021-2022
OPPO Find X3 Pro


Mobile Devices Expert Group

EISA MULTIMEDIA SMARTPHONE 2021-2022
Sony Xperia 1 III

EISA ADVANCED SMARTPHONE 2021-2022
OPPO Find X3 Pro

EISA BEST SMARTPHONE 2021-2022
Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max

EISA FOLDABLE SMARTPHONE 2021-2022
Huawei Mate X2

EISA BEST BUY SMARTPHONE 2021-2022
TCL 20 Pro 5G

EISA WIRELESS HEADPHONES 2021-2022
Philips Fidelio L3

EISA IN-EAR HEADPHONES 2021-2022
LG TONE Free FP8 (DFP8, UFP8, DFP8W, FP8W, UFP8W, FP8E, TFP8E)

EISA MOBILE SPEAKER 2021-2022
Loewe We. HEAR 2

EISA SMARTWATCH 2021-2022
Huawei Watch 3 Pro


In-Car Electronics Expert Group

EISA IN-CAR HEAD UNIT 2021-2022
Kenwood DMX8020DABS

EISA IN-CAR INNOVATION 2021-2022
Audiotec Fischer Conductor

EISA IN-CAR SPEAKER SERIES 2021-2022
Ground Zero Uranium SQ series

EISA IN-CAR SOUND PROCESSOR 2021-2022
ESX D68SP

EISA IN-CAR SPEAKER SYSTEM 2021-2022
Eton ONYX 16, ONYX 80, ONYX 28

EISA IN-CAR DSP AMPLIFIER 2021-2022
Match UP 10DSP

EISA IN-CAR CAMPER VAN COMPONENT 2021-2022
Alpine Adventure Audio

EISA IN-CAR COMPACT SUBWOOFER 2021-2022
Pioneer TS-WX010A

EISA IN-CAR INTEGRATION 2021-2022
Zenec Z-E2055

EISA IN-CAR OEM PREMIUM AUDIO SYSTEM 2021-2022
Maserati MC20 with Sonus faber

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