The Best High-End Audio Gear

Essential components for enjoying music as it was meant to be heard.


Air Tight ATM-2 Amplifier

When it comes to the purest performance in audio, there’s a special place reserved for tube amplifiers, whose dynamic sound and buttery smooth, expressive midrange are unparalleled. The Air Tight ATM-2 is one of the finest of these and is based upon the venerable 6550 tube, which has been in production consistently for over 60 years. The handmade aluminum, steel and solid copper chassis is understated in appearance, but finished to jewel-like standards. The open top proudly displays the 6550 tubes in all their glowing beauty. Hand-wound power transformers provide perfectly clean power resulting in astonishingly low noise (all the better to hear Miles Davis’ expressive horn). The result is a effortless and tactile presentation of music with unrivaled fidelity.



Accuphase E-360 Amplifier

Founded in 1972 by Kenwood employees who wished to create cost-no-object audio products, Accuphase quickly grew to become Japan’s top high-end audio brand which it remains today. The E-360 is a prime example of the Accuphase pedigree: impeccable build quality, feature rich, with classic styling and powerfully accurate sound. Capable of delivering over 400 watts of instantaneous power—this amplifier can be paired with even the biggest speakers—the music signal is displayed prominently via the retro VU meters. As with the finest watches or cameras, Accuphase offers extended product support and keeps stock of spare parts to ensure the E-360 will be serviceable for a lifetime. In an era of disposable electronics, it’s this level of service which elevates a great performing product to the status of legend.


Grado PS-1000e headphones

For over 20 years, the Grado company has been hand-building headphones in its Brooklyn, NY factory and the shiny PS-1000e is their statement headphone. The PS-1000e features a mahogany ear cup covered in chrome-plated aluminum to eliminate resonance, while the 50mm driver produces exceptionally accurate frequency response. Earpads sit comfortably around the ear for long term listening comfort and an out-of-your-head listening experience. While they benefit from a good headphone amplifier, one of the unique advantages of the PS-1000e is its ease of drive—it can transform the sound of your mobile phone into a concert hall on-the-go.


Living Voice Vox Olympian Speaker

Unveiled at the Monaco Yacht show, the Vox Olympian shares more than a passing resemblance to the world’s most luxurious seacraft. Each pair of Olympians requires over 2000 hours to produce. The American walnut and lacewood finish is sculpted to produce the perfect horn shape for each of the 4 drivers. These include a 15” bass driver, horn midrange, tweeter and super tweeter—each placed at the optimum height and distance to the listener. The resulting sound appears as if from a single source, with a presence and dynamic energy that is enveloping and tactile. Best matched with tube amplifiers, the Olympian is a speaker which transcends technical adjectives and simply brings music to life.

$345,000 per pair

Stax Omega Headphones

The granddaddy of headphones, Stax pioneered the the high-end headphone market nearly 40 years ago. Unlike traditional headphones which use dynamic drivers, Stax employs electrostatic panels which have less resistance and more accurate frequency response. The matching electrostatic headphone amplifier provides power to the headphones through the use of 4 vacuum tubes. The sound is free and open with extremely detailed separation, powerful bass, natural mids and extended treble. More like a live performance in a room than a set of headphones, maybe this is why Stax assuredly calls them “Earspeakers.”


KEF Blade Speakers

The Blade is the result of 50 years evolution in KEF speaker design. The world’s first single apparent source loudspeaker, it features a midrange driver in which the tweeter is centred. This concentric placement means the critical midrange and treble frequencies emanate from from the same location at the same time just like with a real voice or horn. To handle the bass, four 9” drivers flank each side. The positioning of drivers on two sides allows for not only extremely powerful output, but also more balanced bass in smaller rooms. Available in 6 finishes the Blade is a state of the art speaker whose sculptural beauty can accentuate any modern living space.

$32,000 per pair


Transrotor ZET-1 Turntable

Transrotor is one of Germany’s premiere audio companies, manufacturing turntables since 1973. The ZET-1’s design is acutely focused on eliminating any vibration or noise—the enemies of clear sound—and features an acrylic skeletal design which allows for precise tuning of any resonance in the chassis. The heavyweight aluminum platter sits atop the plinth for further isolation and the outboard motor keeps any noise at a distance. A supremely low friction bearing allows for resistance-free rotation and precise speed stability. To top the system off, an aluminum clamp keeps the record perfectly flat and eliminates any micro-movements in the record so that the TR 800-S tonearm can precisely track the groove with virtually zero outside vibration. The result is an engineering tour de force which sounds clean, pure and powerful.


Rega RP10 Turntable

The Rega RP10 is an evolution of the first Rega Planet turntable, produced in 1973. Featuring their trademark lightweight base to ensure dynamic sound, the RP10 goes to the next level with a contoured channel to separate the vibrations of the inner and outer parts of the base. This is further strengthened at key points with magnesium and phenolic for the lowest resonance. The custom ceramic platter ensures precise rotation and the new RB2000 tonearm is handmade and of such accurate specification that no adhesives are needed in its construction. The RP10 is a minimalist turntable system with easy setup and no maintenance that offers extremely high quality playback.


Gunnar van Vliet is the owner of Planet of Sound in Toronto and Ottawa.