Welcome to the Best Hi-Fi Accessories section of the Part-Time Audiophile Buyers Guide for Summer 2022.
The Guide is more than “We heartily endorse this [fill in the blank].” This collection represents our enthusiasm. Every product listed in this guide is beloved by at least one team member. These products have elicited responses such as “I was gobsmacked every minute I spent with this” or “The shipping box was wet with the tears of my lost innocence” or, too often, just “Take my money!” In other words, this isn’t about high-end audio products that we merely like. These are the products we love — and we think you will, too.
No list like this can ever be complete since we’re bound to forget something that has duly impressed the heck out of us. We’ve attempted to capture a moment in time — one year — and collect together, in one place, all of those products that we want to have and hold and use in our own systems right now.
If you’re looking for our list of “the best stuff to check out right now” — the best loudspeakers, CD players, amplifiers, turntables, cartridges, preamplifiers, DACs, and more — this is it.
The Best Hi-Fi Accessories
The best hi-fi accessories portion of our buyers guide is broken down into subcategories, such as Vinyl Accessories, Equipment Racks and Stands, Isolation Devices and Cable Lifters, and Subwoofers. Each section is organized by price in a somewhat ascending order. Enjoy!
The Best Hi-Fi Accessories: Vinyl
This software package from our own Richard H. Mak is all you need for accurate analog set-up for every parameter—speed, azimuth, VTA, stylus raking angle, anti-skating, phono stage loading, phono stage gain setting, vertical tracking force, determining resonance frequencies, AES wow and flutter and measuring vibrations. Two test LPs are included—one for 33rpm and one for 45rpm. Simply the most accurate way to achieve proper alignment in this modern age of analog. Now in a Mk. 2 edition for even truer results.
AnalogMagik Torque Wrench Kit ($200 USD)
Have you ever wondered how much torque you should apply on the headshell screws? AnalogMagik’s Torque Wrench has been tested to provide for the proper level which is tight enough to secure the cartridge, but not to the point where the tightness will start affecting the resonance frequency of the body material. Included in the kit is 4 PTFE Teflon washers and two hard-to-find drive bits for headshell screws.
This enzymatic stylus cleaning formula “will effectively remove protein-based and other debris from the stylus without causing any harm to the stylus or cantilever, and without leaving any sort of film behind.” Comes with application brush.
Audio Intelligent Record Cleaning Fluids (prices vary)
The various cleaners in this line-up address specific record cleaning needs, from deep enzyme cleaners to one-step fluids to ultra-pure water–including the new No. 27 that is designed specifically for RCMs that automatically apply the fluid without foaming. AI fluids are the middle ground between oily solutions that could leave a residue and cleaners with surfactants that never seem to get deep down into the grooves.
AudioQuest Super Conductive Anti-Static Record Brush ($29.95 USD)
A great dry record brush that boasts 1,248,000 super-conductive carbon fibers and does an excellent job with clearing off the fluff and fuzz while you’re listening to LPs. One of the best hi-fi accessories available for under $30.
Chisto Audio Cosmetics ($79 USD)
The most complete set of record cleaning solutions, ranging from “swipe and play” all the way to extreme pre-wash solutions for the dirtiest of your thrift store findings. Also one of the best audio accessories you can get for under $100.
DS Audio ST-50 Stylus Cleaner ($80 USD)
Finally, a safe way to clean your stylus. The DS Audio ST-50’s cleaning pad sits at about the height of a 200-gram LP allowing you to place it on your platter and lower your tonearm–no risk of excessive force or accidentally bending your cantilever. When not in use, the ST-50 adds some bling to your turntable shelf. Our go-to stylus cleaner.
Feickert Universal Protractor ($249 USD)
Our favorite alignment tool for setting up cartridges, one of the best hi-fi accessories for the person who actually likes to mount and align cartridges, this protractor has been recently redesigned for Baerwald, Lofgren and now Stevenson equations. It also manages to be easy-to-use and precise—so much so that once you use one, you’ll throw your other lesser protractors away.
Fern and Roby Brass Record Weight ($65 USD)
Simple, effective, beautifully machined, not offered at a crazy audiophile price. Fantastic with the Technics SL-1200G.
Kirmuss Audio Ultra Sonic Cleaner ($970 USD)
When ultrasound record cleaning machines first hit the market a few years ago, audiophiles had to pay around $3,500 for an AudioDesk or KL machine. Thankfully, Kirmuss Audio has come up with a much more affordable solution for a mere $875. The Kirmuss does pretty much the same job as those other two machines, except that it does not have the self-drying feature. You’ll have to dry each LP with a cloth or hang them on a rack, but you’ll save a lot of money!
Musical Surroundings Stasis Brush ($29.95 USD)
We all own half a dozen record brushes, but they all do the same thing, moving dirt from one side of the record to another. The Stasis brush is soft, yet firm enough to quickly help you remove junk from the surface your LPs in just a few rotations. One of the best hi-fi accessories that still actually fit into a stocking.
Okki Nokki Record Cleaning Machine (starting at $449 USD)
This affordable RCM has many of the same features as more expensive cleaners such as a cool-running motor, a forward and reverse motor for scrubbing and a clever design for ensuring fluid does not get sucked back into the vacuum motor. Comes with fluid and brushes.
Not all RCM cleaning brushes are made equally–the Listener Select has bristles that can prevent microbial growth passing from record to record. Comes in 7″, 10″ and 12″ sizes.
Pangea Record Doctor Clamp ($29.95 USD)
It’s not made from rare and exotic materials, but it does everything a record clamp should do–flatten the LP and couple it to the mat. It’s $30, which means it’s one of the best hi-fi accessories for vinyl newbies looking for the basics.
The Best Hi-Fi Accessories: Equipment Racks and Stands
[Editor’s Note: Prices vary greatly according to size, features, options and finishes.]
Acora Acoustics SRS-G and SRG-M ($5,000 pr USD and $2,500 pr USD, respectively)
The Acora Acoustics SRS-G stands are made from solid granite (just like their granite speakers) and are quite possibly the King of the Mountain when it comes to speaker stands. We’ve even kept a pair aboard to evaluate other two-way loudspeakers. The SRS-M is a similar design, but made partially with metal. Picture above with gold footers, all models now feature black footers as standard.
Christopher Hildebrand and his crew are a mixture of precision machinists and master carpenters, so these custom audio furniture products offer an exceptional degree of fit and finish.
Our go to platform for our components. HRS M3X platforms come in various sizes and allow you to swap the feet based on load applied to the platform. In Mo’s review of the Wilson Audio Pedestals he goes into more detail about why the HRS platforms are the ones for him.
Box makes tasteful wooden equipment racks using high quality materials and mortise and tenon construction. Each model has been subjected to extensive listening tests.
The Best Hi-Fi Accessories: Isolation Devices and Cable Lifters
AudioQuest Fog Lifters ($149.95 USD for set of 8)
These simple and elegant cable elevators reduce RF noise coupling from floors, carpets and anything with substantial mass by minimizing contact to the ground.
AudioQuest Q-Feet ($129.95 for set of 4)
Sorbothane footers are still quite effective at isolating components from external vibrations and air-borne energy. Perfect for lighter yet complex components such as CD players and DACs.
AudioQuest RCA Noise-Stopper ($49.95 USD for set of 10)
Stick these caps over unused RCA jacks, and you can lower the wideband noise that can travel through the open jacks.
Furutech NCF Boosters ($215-$350 USD each)
They look like mere cable elevators, but Furutech’s NCF (Nano Crystal² Formula) contain a proprietary material, carefully tested, that offers two sonic benefits: “First, it generates negative ions that eliminate static,” the literature explains. “Second, it converts thermal energy into far infrared. Furutech combines this remarkable material with nano-sized ceramic particles and carbon powder for their addition ‘piezoelectric effect’ damping properties.” One of the best hi-fi accessories for simply lowering the noise floor of your system.
IsoAcoustics zaZen II isolation platform ($229)
Perfectly sized for components such as CD players, DACs and turntables with small footprints, the zaZen II does an effective job at controlling external vibrations. The fact that is does so at such an affordable price is a gift for audiophiles with limited budgets.
Wilson Audio Pedestals ($775 USD each, set of 3 for $2,225 USD)
Using proprietary materials from their impressive line of speakers, Wilson Audio has developed an isolation device for the ages. The Pedestals come in two versions, one that supports three to eight pounds per footer and the standard version that supports up to 25 pounds per foot. “The results were clear,” our reviewer concluded. “I am never removing the Wilson Pedestals.” An Editor’s Choice award winner.
The Best Hi-Fi Accessories: Subwoofers
Wilson Audio WATCH Dog and Wilson ActivXO ($10,000 ea +$4,500 ActivXO)
“Does a 260-pound full-range Wilson Audio loudspeaker that packs an 8- and 10-inch driver need any reinforcement in the lower octaves? Add in a delicious amplifier that can generate 500 watts at 4 ohms with ease and you are off to the races, right? After seven months of listening, we have no doubt that the addition of two Wilson WATCH Dogs can elevate the performance of two already world class loudspeakers,” said our Mohammed Samji.
REL Acoustics S/812 Line Array ($18,000 USD plus connections)
Doug White of The Voice That Is hosted a few of us journalists recently for an evening of listening, friendship, and great food. During our visit with Mr. White, we were exposed to the fundamental elements of sound at the lowest register. With speakers like the TIDAL Akira in play you don’t expect to find something new anywhere in the audible spectrum. But only when called upon did the six-pack of REL S/812 reminded us of what cataclysmic bass feels like. It’s scary.