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We review a lot of components. Of those that we review there are only so many that we will spend our own money on. We don’t recommend things that we haven’t used and tested ourselves and certain product categories may have nothing recommended be left empty. If we don’t like anything enough to recommend it, we would rather you find someone who has reviewed more components in that category and see what they recommend.

Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 UltraHD Blu-ray

Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 is the first Disney release on UHD Blu-ray and it is one of the best looking titles to date. With the phenomenal use of HDR and WCG, and an Atmos soundtrack that is reference class, we hope all their future releases live up to the quality of this disc.

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Sony A1E OLED

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Arcam AVR850

The AVR850 is a truly high-end AVR option for those concerned with best-in-class performance sonic performance: Arcam’s Class G amplification paired with Dirac Live room correction software, means a user can achieve very high performance, without resorting to the complexity of AV separates. The unit lacks some common features and can be quirky in performance, but both of these can be managed through the proper installation with your AV professional.

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Sony VPL-HW45ES

The Sony VPL-HW45ES offers superb 1080p image quality for a dedicated home theater room. The contrast ratios are the best you can get for this price, and the image is very accurate before and after calibration. Sony knows exactly where to cut features that most people don't need from their higher-end units while still providing you almost the same image quality for only $2,000.

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Planet Earth II UltraHD Blu-ray

Planet Earth II is a wonderful combination of fantastic content and fantastic image that everyone in the family can enjoy. Some of the images are incredible and you can't believe how good it looks, and the wildlife you see is just amazing.

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SVS PB16-Ultra Subwoofer

The SVS PB16-Ultra is a large subwoofer but one with massive impact and low-end extension. The beautiful build quality and impressive performance make it a reference sub for any home theater.

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LG OLED

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Anthem MRX 1120

The Anthem MRX 1120 is a high-end receiver that delivers high-end sound. It is one of the few receivers that can power 11 channels at once and it does so well. Anthem Room Correction remains some of the best you can get, and the flexibility of the MRX 1120 makes it easy to integrate and control even the largest home theater. A reference quality component.

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SVS SB16-Ultra

SVS has done a fantastic job with their first 16" sealed subwoofer. The SB16-Ultra is a powerhouse with loads of power but remaining completely in control. It integrates flawlessly with the speakers in my room and provides phenomenal bass for movies and music.

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KEF Ci THX Speaker System

The KEF Ci THX system provides reference quality sound in a package that becomes totally invisible once installed. It is expensive and if you have 2x4 walls you might need to get a bit more creative on the install of the Ci200RR-THX, but once in place they disappear and just deliver the movies and music perfectly.

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Epson 5040UB

The Epson 5040UB is the best projector we've used at this price range. The fully powered lens makes it easy to setup and use in a large variety of situations. Support for UHD with HDR and WCG make you well prepared for the future and provides an improvement to the image. Blu-ray movies and UHD content both look fantastic on the Epson 5040UB, but you will be best served by having a calibration performed on it.

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Roku Premiere+

The Roku Premiere+ is the best UltraHD Streamer on the market right now. It has the widest selection of UltraHD streaming content along with an easy to use interface and fast, responsive performance.

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HDHomeRun Connect

If you need to get a TV signal to a projector or a TV without a tuner, you should look into the HDHomeRun. It can also stream that content to your computers, smartphones, and tablets as well as working as a DVR with the appropriate media server. It offers far more than a normal TV tuner ever can.

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VIzio P65-C1

The Vizio P65-C1 is the best looking LCD TV we've reviewed this year, and the best TV at its price this year as well. Unless you're willing to spend 1.5-2x as much for an OLED in the same size, you won't find a better image for the price today.

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DarbeeVision DVP-5000S

Still one of the easiest improvements one can make to a video set-up - the Darbee technology is fantastic, and the Darbee DVP-5000S addresses the chief complaint from the previous generation of mediocre build quality.

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KEF Reference 1

The KEF Reference series is an exceptionally nice speaker, from one of the most respected brands in speaker manufacturing. In the Reference 1 and 2C, KEF has constructed a speaker that spares no expense from both a technology and construction perspective. The result is a wonderful sounding speaker. If you are looking to own among the best in attainable speakers, the KEF is a serious contender.

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LG E6

The LG E6 OLED is the best TV we have ever used. With support for high dynamic range, wide color gamut, infinite contrast ratios, and wide viewing angles, it will work for almost any situation as well. Highly recommended.

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Marantz AV7702mkII

The Marantz AV7702mkII offers everything most people need in a preamp at a fantastic price. For far less than most competitors you get every feature you need today, and are ready for tomorrow with HDMI 2.0 and HDCP 2.2 support.

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JVC X550R

The JVC X550R is the best projector we've seen close to this price range. Class leading contrast ratios, accurate colors, lots of light output, and support for HDR make it the pack leader. Unless you're a gamer that needs lower input lag, it would be our first choice if you're willing to spend $4,000 or more.

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Roku Streaming Stick

The Roku Streaming Stick is now the best media streamer for most people. It offers a fast interface, quick boot times, a new RF remote, and a new private listening mode in the app that makes it a great update. All of the previous Roku features that are so great, from a large library of services to the best search, are still present.

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Control4 EA-5

The Control4 EA-5 is the flagship model of their home control systems. It offers a great user experience that ties your home theater and smart devices together. It makes using any system, from the simple bedroom one to a 15 seat home cinema, simple and intuitive, and works flawlessly.

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Denon AVR-X2200W

In the $800 range, the Denon AVR-X2200W is a worthy entry; best in class set-up coupled with a nice feature set means that the 2200W is a truly worthy competitor in this product group.

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JL Audio f112v2

Best of the best, no-holds-barred reference quality bass, idiot-proof room calibration.

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BenQ HT2050

If you are after a projector under $1,000 you should start your search with the BenQ HT2050. It offers up a bright, sharp, accurate image for $800 that no one else can touch. Unless you need a feature that it doesn't offer, it should be where your search starts and is likely where it will end.

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Denon AVR-S710W

The Denon AVR-S710W is the receiver to get in the $500 price range. It has all the features you need to be ready for the future, and is easy to get installed and setup. It offers far more value in a $500 receiver than anything we have seen before.

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SVS SoundPath

With solid construction, good looks and quality performance at the right price, the SVS SoundPath cables are a superb choice for the value conscious buyer.

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ELAC B6

The ELAC B6 bookshelf speaker out-performs anything we've heard in this price range to date. With a full lineup available, supporting up to a 7.1.4 channel Dolby Atmos and DTS:X system, it's a speaker lineup that will grow with you.

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BenQ HT3050

The BenQ HT3050 is the best projector at the $1,000 level that we've seen to date. It offers a significant improvement over the prior HT1075. Accurate colors, a very sharp lens, and lots of light output make it a great projector for your home theater.

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Yamaha CX-A5100

The Yamaha CX-A5100 is a processor that is as ready for the future as you can be today. It offers excellent audio quality, virtually every feature you need in a processor today, and comes in at a price point that makes it extremely competitive.

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KEF R300

The KEF R-Series offers fantastic sound quality all through the range. From a 2-channel system up to a 7.2.4 channel Dolby Atmos system, you can design one that offers sound better than almost anything in the price range. A variety of finishes and models makes it easy to integrate into your home no matter what you are looking for.

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Sonos PLAY:5

The updated Sonos PLAY:5 offers superb whole home audio either as a single speaker or a stereo pair. Many people will find $500 to be a bit expensive, but the sound rivals or exceeds passive bookshelves with an amp for the same price.

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Logitech Harmony Elite

If you want a great universal remote and the $350 price tag is OK, the Harmony Elite is for you. Easy to use, well designed, and able to control even a complex system it does a fantastic job. Simpler systems and smaller wallets should consider the Harmony Companion which works almost as well.

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LG 55EG9100

The LG 55EG9100 isn't perfect but its as close as you can get for the price today. Perfect blacks, incredible contrast ratios, and accurate colors combine to give you one of the best images we've ever seen on a TV.

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Paradigm Prestige 1000SW

With a selection of beautiful finishes, reference quality low end output, and a small footprint, the Paradigm Prestige 1000SW is highly recommended to those looking for the best.

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Vizio M43-C1

The Vizio M-Series, including the M43-C1, offer fantastic contrast ratios, UltraHD resolution, good streaming content, and plenty of HDMI inputs for anyone. A better TV value won't be found in 2015 most likely.

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Epson LS10000

The Epson LS10000 projector offers great contrast ratios, accurate colors, and a 20,000+ hour lifespan through its use of lasers. Virtually silent and able to power up in around 20 seconds, it produces images that look fantastic today and will for years to come.

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Harmony Home Control

A fantastic remote control for almost any home system. Controls everything, works even inside of a cabinet, and is simple to make changes to. Only a backlight and a small OLED screen could really improve upon this remote for the price.

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Samsung U65JS9000

The Samsung UN65JS9000 offers a brilliant image with great contrast ratios, accurate grayscale and colors, and HDR/Expanded Gamut capability. The integrated SmartTV features stream 4K content and four HDMI 2.0 ports with HDCP 2.2 are ready for future UHD sources. Expensive but one of the few TVs today that won't be outdated with UltraHD Blu-ray comes out this year.

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SVS Ultra Bookshelf Speaker

The SVS Ultra Bookshelf speaker is a very nice speaker for $1,000. With a full-bodied sound, large soundstage, and very good clarity you need to spend hundreds more to find an overall better speaker. Well built, and large for a bookshelf, but able to fill a room.

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SVS PC-2000 Subwoofer

The SVS PC-2000 is the cylindrical design version of the PB-2000. It may be taller, but the PC-2000 has a smaller footprint and is lighter and easier to move around than the PB-2000. During stressful testing the PC-2000 never misses a beat, filling my home theater up with gobs of low frequency effects along with quick, clean and musical bass. This subwoofer will perform wonderfully in all but the largest of rooms and even with the odd case that it doesn’t, the generous 45 day in-home trial offered by SVS has you taken care of.

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Sharp LC-32LE653U

For a value 32" HDTV you can't really beat this Sharp. It's $280, 1080p, includes Netflix, and has an image out of the box that is very accurate. You can't use it as a monitor because of overscan, but for everything else it works great.

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Pioneer SC-85 Receiver

$1,600 is a lot for a receiver, but you can't spend less than the Pioneer SC-85 and get what it offers. High-end DACs from ESS, room correction with subwoofer support, Dolby Atmos, and 9 channels of Class D amplification make for a complete package. You can't spend less and get these features, and you can spend a lot more without really adding much to the package. The SC-85 sits right at a sweet-spot for those that want the high-end receiver features without spending a fortune.

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Oppo PM-3

The Oppo PM-3’s are perfect for listening in an office or in public thanks to their closed back design. With its planar magnetic drivers and high sensitivity, this is one of the very best sounding, easiest to drive headphones on the market. Full, extended bass, lush midrange and silky highs combine for the PM-3’s warm sound and transparent presentation. Highly recommended as our top headphone under $500.

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Oppo HA-2

Top of the line portable performance at a reasonable price. Well constructed and stylish to boot. The Oppo HA-2 is a clear winner.

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Pioneer Elite Atmos Speakers

The Pioneer Elite Atmos speaker system is a fantastic sounding system for both movies and music. Even if these speakers didn't do Atmos, they would still be recommended at their price. Unless you need a speaker than can do 20Hz without a subwoofer, you should hear what the Pioneer speakers are capable of.

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Epson Home Cinema 3500

For your living room home theater, the Epson Home Cinema 3500 is a great projector. The lens shift makes it easy to install, integrated speakers let you bring it with you, and 2500 lumens makes it bright enough for any situation. If you have a dedicated home theater you should consider other options, but for non-dedicated rooms it makes a great choice.

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Samsung UN55H8000

The Samsung UN55H8000 offers an image that is incredibly accurate, has very deep blacks, and looks fantastic. The curve doesn't really add or distract from the overall image quality. As their top 1080p display for 2014, Samsung has an image that competes with the best LCDs out there.

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Oppo PM-2 Planar Magnetic Headphone

The Oppo PM-2 is one of the finest headphones you can currently buy and at $699, practically a bargain. It is more sensitive than most planar magnetic designs, allowing them to play with some punch on portable devices. Rich yet neutral tone and excellent soundstaging make these some of the best headphones on the market. Power them with the HA-1 headphone amplifier and enjoy top of the line digital to analog conversion via its ESS ES9018 DAC along with high fidelity recordings via USB input. A match made in heaven!

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Yamaha YSP-2500

The Yamaha YSP-2500 is their cheapest sound bar that uses their beam forming surround technology with IntelliBeam room calibration. It gives you a true surround experience with a single sound bar and no extra speakers. If you want surround sound in a room but do not want to run extra speakers, the Yamaha YSP-2500 can do what no other sound bar can do.

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Samsung UN32H5500

If you want 1080p resolution and good streaming support in your 32" TV then the Samsung UN32H5500 is the right pick for you. It offers very good overall picture quality, a fast quad-core processor with good streaming support, and enough inputs to support your other devices. It offers almost all the performance of Samsung's higher-end 32" display but without many of features you do not need for a much better value.

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BenQ HT1075

For less than a grand, experience movies and games on a real big screen. Paired with a 120" Silver Ticket screen, the Benq HT1075 delivers eye-popping, bright and sharp HD images. This small, compact projector even comes with a built-in speaker for on-the-go movies and gaming. Other projectors in the same price range don't offer the bright, accurate images that the BenQ HT1075 does.

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Yamaha RX-A1040

The Yamaha RX-A1040 offers a powerful package for $1,100. The pure audio performance is very good and the included WiFi and streaming features make it easy to listen to all of your content. YPAO does a very good job of improving the performance in my testing while Spotify Connect becomes almost essential after using it. It lacks HDCP 2.2 so your future 4K devices will need dual HDMI outputs, but otherwise there isn't much to fault on the RX-A1040.

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Vizio S5451W-C2

If you have a big screen TV and want big sound to go with it, the Vizio S5451W-C2 is your easiest choice to get there affordably. The sound bar puts out a large enough soundstage to feel at home with a 100" screen, while the wireless surround speakers are easy to integrate into a room without running too many wires. It doesn't offer the performance of a receiver and six separate speakers, but it blows away the audio from any TV and includes Bluetooth streaming for your smartphone and tablet. A very impressive sound bar.

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Paradigm Soundscape

The Paradigm Soundscape is an expensive sound bar but one with almost no equal when it comes to sound quality. It delivers clear audio, including dialogue with a dedicated center channel, and very deep bass for a product of its size. With multiple inputs, including Bluetooth, it can integrate into any AV system. The included wireless subwoofer adapter lets you add truly deep bass if you want to later and doesn't limit you to a specific brand. As of now, it is the best overall sound bar on the market.

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SVS PB-2000

The SVS PB-2000 moves enough air to make your pants flap in the wind. Output isn't everything and the PB-2000 is as comfortable reproducing the double bass from a jazz album as it is with a thunderous explosion in a film. It's big, and not incredibly attractive, but it sounds fantastic for a very reasonable price.

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Emotiva XSP-1

The Emotiva XSP-1 is as good as a two channel preamp can be without spending thousands of dollars more. With high quality components, home theater bypass including subwoofer channels, and analog bass management, it does everything you want in a pure analog setup. The RCA and XLR inputs are both very good, unlike other products that use a cheap RCA to XLR converter, so you can use both without worry. The only thing I didn't see that I really wanted was a 12V trigger to automate the home theater bypass mode, but I can live without that. For anyone that wants excellent performance in their two channel system, or wants to integrate one into a home theater, without raiding the kids college fund should start with the Emotiva XSP-1.

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Vizio S4221W-C4

The Vizio S4221W-C4 sound bar produces the best sound quality in any affordable sound bar. Dedicated tweeters provide extra clarity compared to other sound bars on both movies and music. Plenty of inputs allow it to work with virtually any setup while integrated Bluetooth makes it easy to stream audio from your smartphone or computer.

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Sonos PLAY:1

If you've never lived with a Sonos system, you don't know what you are missing out on. The PLAY:1 is the most affordable way to get started and it sounds as good as a passive speaker at this price. The ability to fill any room with audio at the touch of a button, from your personal library or almost any streaming service, is something you never want to give up. A pair of the PLAY:1s in any room will give you the gift of music all the time for a price that wasn't possible before.

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  • Vanessa Pavlat

    Have a question for you. We received the Sony BDP-S5100 for Christmas and want to set it up. However, the audio compression is not compatible with our current sound bar so we need to upgrade. Is this Visio sound bar (here in the recommended gear) compatible with the S5100?

    • Yes. It can decode both DTS and Dolby Digital, and Blu-ray titles have to provide one of those formats at a minimum. You will need to use the optical output on the BDP-S5100 and the optical input on the Vizio for that to work. If your TV has an optical output, you can also hook that up to the Vizio and just run everything through your TV. Most TVs only output stereo signals and not 5.1, though.

  • Chuck

    If I were going to buy 2 subs and pair of quality bookshelf speakers for say $5000 total, would it make more sense just to get tower speakers like the Definitive ST-L or GoldenEar Triton 1’s with built in subs instead? What are the pros and cons? Thanks!

    • To me that depends on a simple question: Are you going to listen to two channel analog music, like from a turntable? If so, then having a full range speaker like the Triton One (which is really, really good) will let you hear everything without any digital processing.

      However, if you aren’t going to do that then bookshelves and subs offer advantages. The biggest is that the ideal location for your speakers to get good soundstage and imaging is almost certainly not the best place in your room for bass response. By putting the subs in their ideal location and the speakers in their ideal location, you can get better overall sound quality without needing as much room correction.

      It also can make upgrades much cheaper down the road. If you want to get better bass, you can just upgrade the subs. If you want to upgrade your speakers, going to a higher-end bookshelf is much more affordable that a higher-end full range speaker.

      Since I listen to vinyl, I’m more likely to get something like the Revel f208 that can go full-range, but if I didn’t I’d probably get a bookshelf like the KEF Reference 1 and subs instead.

      • Chuck

        Thanks Chris. I don’t have any hi-end dealers around me so it’s harder to keep up than it used to be. I heard the Revel Salon 2 a couple years ago (when I was out of town) and was in heaven, but they were a little out of my league. Maybe it’s worth traveling to hear the f208’s. I am currently still listening to my Dunlavy SC-IV’s.

        I am a two-channel guy first and a home theater guy second. I had a hard time getting used to CD sound when it first came out, but now I haven’t listened to a turntable in quite a while and it is one of the things I want to do again.

        I’m missing something from my music and think it may be the old analog sound I grew up on. What good turntables have you heard and recommend that will get me back to enjoying vinyl without breaking the bank.

        Something that possibly includes a cartridge and is easy to set up, unless that meant giving up sound quality. Also, is it better to get one with USB or reg stereo jacks? Does the USB mean it has it’s own built-in pre-amp and it just connects thru USB? Thanks again for your help.

        • For turntables, I have a piece up at The Wirecutter that focuses on $400 and below. Moving above that, the easiest thing to setup and use is going to be something from Rega using one of their cartridges. They have a custom 3 screw mount instead of the usual 2, so it’s basically impossible to get wrong. Their RP3 and RP6 are very good as well, and both the Elys 2 and Exact 2 cartridges work well for the price.

          Pro-Ject also makes very nice tables for the price, though they aren’t as plug-and-play simple as the Rega ones can be. I lean towards getting a Rega for myself because they work great, and are so easy.

          If it has a USB output, that means it is digitizing the output for a PC and not staying analog. It’s great if you want an easy way to record your albums to PC to take with you, but not for absolute sound quality. For that you need to remain analog, and you’ll need either a phono preamp, or a receiver/preamp with a phono input.

          • Chuck

            Thanks again Chris. I don’t mind putting a turntable together so much as having to make sure I match up a good cartridge with it. I’ll check your Wirecutter ( I just bookmarked it…didn’t know about it before this).

  • NeilParkerTX

    What is the recommended UHD Blu-ray player that will also stream Netflix, Amazon et al in UHD?