With this guide, we are striving to accomplish something a little more personal. Our list isn’t just a random collection of high-end audio components and accessories that have “passed muster” in one way or another. We asked our writers to recommend components that have improved their lives and have made this extraordinary hobby—listening to music—even more rewarding, and in a very tangible way. This is the result. Call it our “Editors’ Choice”, yes, but it’s more than “We heartily endorse this [fill in the blank ].” This collection is about enthusiasm. Every product listed in this guide is beloved of at least one member of the staff. 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—the end of 2018, in fact—when these are the products we want to have and hold and use in our own systems right now.

This Buyers’ Guide also marks sort of a rebirth of The Occasional, an “Occasional 2.0” if you will. The first issues were delivered with love and care from Rafe Arnott, who had an incredible vision for audio journalism and absurdly high standards, something I hope to preserve. I want also to mention our dear John Stancavage, who was set to take over from Rafe; John’s tragic and untimely passing was a shock to us all.

It is my goal that while I’m following in those rather large footsteps, I won’t trip over my feet too much. Enjoy!

Marc Phillips, Managing Editor, The Occasional Magazine

Download The Buyer’s Guide Here