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Best of the Best 2007: Audio

Brent Butterworth

The Ferrari Art.Engine music system (435.649.3458, www.dwvartengine.com) might represent the most radical rethinking of the high-end audio system. It incorporates 16 carbon-fiber woofers, 200-watt digital amplifiers, and a wireless interface that allows you to play your favorite music or Internet radio station from any WiFi-equipped computer running iTunes. With all of its speaker drivers mounted in a single unit, the Art.Engine cannot produce enveloping stereo, but its tone is remarkably natural—thanks in part to its rigid, nonresonant, 107-pound enclosure, which is machined from solid aluminum billet. Only 1,000 of the $20,000 Art.Engines will be made. The Ferrari system is available in black, silver, dark gray, and, of course, red.

Ayre Acoustics MX-R power amplifier (303.442.7300, www.ayre.com) maintains a sleek, compact appearance because its entire machined-aluminum chassis serves as a heat sink. Other similarly powerful amps look huge because they cool themselves using space-consuming rows of aluminum fins. Despite the amp’s prodigious 300 watts of power, its chassis barely becomes warm. The MX-R ($16,500 per pair) uses state-of-the-art transistors and many internal parts manufactured specifically for this amplifier. Few, if any, amplifiers sound smoother, more powerful, or more detailed.

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