May 2018 New Gear

SōLIS S0-8000 Tube Audio System
If you crave the warm glow (and sound) of tubes but are short on cash, SōLIS has a tube-based music system you might be interested in. The centerpiece of the SO-8000 system is an integrated amplifier with a preamp driven by two vacuum tubes. Not just any tube, mind you, but the iconic 12AX7, which has been in production since RCA introduced it in 1947. The third tube you see in the photo is actually a VU meter SōLIS calls the “Magic Eye.” Retro with a Twist: Don’t be fooled by the vintage look. The system supports Bluetooth streaming with aptX coding alongside its two RCA inputs. Power output is 17 watts/channel and each speaker pairs a 5-inch woofer and 1.25-inch soft-dome tweeter in a foot-tall cabinet. SōLIS even throws in speaker and RCA cables. Price: $530

SōLIS • 773-202-8408 •


Denon AVR-X8500H AV Receiver
Mother of all receivers? Could be. The AVR-X8500 is Denon’s first 13.2-channel receiver and it appears to cover all the bases—from 13 x 150 watts of onboard power, to the latest HDMI specs and wireless platforms (including its own Heos multiroom system), to Audyssey room correction and IP control, to state-of-the-art audio processing with 32-bit D/A conversion and 192/24 hi-res decoding on tap. It’s also a connectivity rock star with 8 HDMI inputs, not to mention those 15 speaker terminals. Full Immersion: Those awesome features plus the dozens we didn’t mention are essential in a flagship receiver, but the X8500’s raison d’être is sonic immersion. The processing and abundance of channels set the stage for the ultimate show, whether you set up a Dolby Atmos or DTS:X object-based surround system or one based on Auro 3D’s spectacular processing (DTS:X and Auro 3D require an upgrade). Price: $3,999

Denon • 201-762-6665 •

Pioneer Elite VA-FW40 Smart Speaker
Classic audio brands are finally starting to pay attention to smart speakers. Pioneer’s VA-FW40 is built around Amazon’s Alexa voice service, which lets you stream music from Amazon Music, Pandora, and SiriusXM and control thermostats, lights, and other network-connected smart-home devices using voice commands. The speaker also supports DTS Play-Fi through the Pioneer Music Control app so you can stream music to Wi-Fi-connected speakers throughout the house. Elite Touch: Pioneer has affixed its Elite badge to the VWF4 with the promise of “outstanding” audio quality from dual 2.5-inch full-range drivers, powered by separate amplifiers, and augmented by a pair of 2.5-inch passive bass radiators. Thoughtful touches include four preset buttons for quick access to favorite streaming services, an auxiliary input, and a variable line output, which might be a first for smart speakers. Price: $199

Pioneer • 888-885-0464 •


JBL BAR 5.1 Soundbar System
The audio-meisters at JBL have equipped the Bar 5.1 with something brilliant and unexpected: wireless speaker modules that can be detached and moved to the back of the room for more expansive surround sound. Wireless For Real: The rub with most “wireless” speakers is that they’re not really wireless—you still have to plug ’em into an electrical outlet for power. Not so with these puppies: Rechargeable batteries set them free for up to 10 hours at a clip. When it’s time for recharging, simply reattach the speakers to the mothership where they continue to function while the batteries charge. The system boasts 510 watts of power with onboard DTS and Dolby Digital processing and supports Bluetooth streaming and 4K connectivity via three HDCP 2.2-capable inputs. A standalone wireless subwoofer is included. Price: $700

JBL • 800-336-4525 •


BeyerDynamic Aventho Wireless Headphones
We have no idea what Aventho means but we can tell you that Germany’s BeyerDynamic, a family-owned company that has played a pioneering role in the design and manufacture of headphones and microphones since the 1930s, is in full pioneer mode with its latest headphones. These handcrafted wireless ’phones, which boast a rated battery life of 30 hours, use the company’s proven Tesla drivers and support aptX HD-enabled Bluetooth and AAC. Personalized Sound: The real story behind Aventho is the accompanying MIY (Make It Yours) app that tailors the sound to your hearing. With the headphones connected to a smartphone, the app performs a sophisticated hearing test and creates a listening profile that adapts the headphone’s response to your hearing. The process takes about 6 minutes and the profile is stored in the headphones so it can be applied to any sound source. Talk about cutting-edge. Price: $449

BeyerDynamic • 631-293-3200 •