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Of all things audio we ran into during 2013, the following scored high on our very personal appreciation list. Absolutely the find of 2013 where discovering and buying new music was concerned. The fact that here the musicians handle their own commercial affairs to cut out all middlemen and greedy fingers gives them more freedom to do what they want. Yet even some established record labels have already found their way to offer downloads of their artists’ work on this site. And that's downloads in full resolution like FLAC or AIFF. Going through this website is the 21st century version of the ol’ stroll through record bins to locate the find of the month. Now you can stay home, satisfy all your musical needs and get more music for your budget. Don’t forget, at BandCamp you can listen to complete recordings and not just 30-second snippets.

Albums. Of the many albums or downloads we purchased this year, two keep appearing on top of our daily playlists. One is Doralice's eponymous outing. The mix of dreaminess, tango and flamenco, lyrical sweets and originality is aurally addictive. The other often selected recording is Birds Requiem by Dhafer Youssef which fully lifts you up and carries you away to unknown areas of your mind. That’s the power of music!

Hardware 1. After Srajan’s favorable review of the Zu Submission MK1 subwoofer we were lured into purchasing one for our listening room. Our most used speakers are the Arcadian Audio Pnoe single-driver AER horns. Though more than 2.20m tall and with a big mouth 1m wide, their frequency range is limited in the bass. Down to 42Hz is fine but then it really hits its stop fast. With the Submission sub the bottom octave opens up. With electrical music and electronica the sub addition gets quite present as intended and can shake down the house. Yowsa! Playing less bass-heavy music and especially live recordings, the Submission adds substantial (couldn’t resist) spatial information that otherwise would be lost or inaudible. We're now even thinking of adding a second sub.

Hardware 2. Streaming or network playing is a future that's already here. Our two Devialet D-Premier—and no, we are not going to upgrade or trade them for the new models—can be used for streaming music from a computer. WiFi is the secret link plus a Devialet plugin. This year we learnt of the streaming qualities of the La Rosita Beta streamer. Inside the machine sits a dedicated Apple Airport for communication with your WiFi modem. With us that modem connects via cable to an iMac running iTunes in combination with another plugin, this time the dedicated La Rosita. This combination gives us the best musical results for our network computing. Therefore the La Rosita Beta became our second favorite find of 2013 in the hardware category.

Unknown. In the unknown category of no clue how it works we must mention Akiko Audio and their sticks. Attach a stick to a loudspeaker cable or plug one into an empty RCA socket or vacant power distributor outlet. Presto, the musical quality improves noticeably. Inside their carbon fiber tubes sit some crystals and various undisclosed bits. Their effect is much stronger than a Shakti Stone but of the same flavor. Orgon inside? Who knows. Basically we don’t care as long as we can switch the effect on and off. For now we keep it on.

Outdoors. Though it was hard work, it was so much fun to meet with a lot of fine Polish craftsmen during this year's Warsaw show. Where most other hifi shows at least for us are more of the same routine and the only real new thing might be some new music played, the Warsaw show really is more of an expedition. And here expedition carries over into the longer term too. From contacts made at the show arise review requests. These lead to being up close and personal with gear which already impressed us and the manufacturer gets some extra exposure: a win-win for all. But the best thing about the Warsaw show was how nobody uttered the words ‘crisis’ or ‘poor economy’ even once! Try to avoid those too and you'll feel so much better. Cheers.