Amazing ''Overachieving'' products...your pick?

I have owned both expensive gear (and I do mean expensive) and ''budget'' gear. Many components are mind-boggling on a price-paid versus performance ratio. Three of my favorites are:

1. The Bedini clarifier. This gizmo just plain works. You may like - or not - the difference it makes on your cd's. In my case, it clears up a lot of fog. The cheapest upgrade to ALL my cd's.

2. The Cayin TA-30 integrated amplifier . So much performance and flexibility for so little money. Put it up against anything up to 3 times the price, musically and from a build-quality perspective. Just plain amazing.

3. The Apple i-Pod Mini. Yes, even from in an audiophile application, playing cd's (not downloaded MP3's). You can snob it but you cannot ignore it.

What are YOUR picks ?
Linn Ikemi
conrad-johnson 17LS Series 2
Cardas Golden Cross, Ocos cables
Magneplanar MG 12/QR
Spendor S3/5

I now what you are thinking, "these are budget gear".
Compared to what's available today $100, 000 speakers, $25,000 line stages, $30,000 amps, $20,000 cd players and $10,000 cables they are amazing value!
Wright Sound Mono 3.5 (2A3) SET amps--
Still $1400 for a pair, and after listening to
numerous alternatives costing multiples more,
these remain the most inviting, honest amps I've
heard yet.

Jolida Products--
They can certainly be outperformed, but to be so engaging and musical at this price point is impressive. One could stop here and enjoy the music forever.

Vintage Klipsch speakers--
Unforgiving of bad synergy, heavenly when good.
Just $1300 or so for a pair of La Scala's, and I'm still
looking for better midrange.
My "honor roll" of "overachieving" products would include the following; 1}MG 1.6s Great speakers at a reasonable price that compete with much more expensive speakers and sound better than alot of them.2}Placette passive line stage Sounds great and competes with much more expensive pre-amps.3}Bel Canto DAC2 Very reasonably priced and performs at a very high level even without a great transport. Add a power amp, transport,and wires you got a great system without breaking the bank.
Perp Tech P3-A DAC w/ full WrightMod - Used. I bought a Bel Canto DAC2 thinking it would be better, it wasn't. The PT sounded strikingly similar except for a more open and airy top end.

Placette Passive - I replaced it with Joule Electra LA150 which beats it and should for 5 times the cost.

Spendor 3/5 - I bought a new pair in rosewood for a second system and until I could find a good deal on Harbeths. However, now that the speaker has broken in it just keeps drawing me in and I'll probably wait awhile on those Harbeths (you'll need a good sub with the 3/5s, though).

Used Dynaco 70 - Never have had one but a trusted friend did and said it, heavily modded, was as good as a c-j amp at which cost 3 times as much and more musical than an Audio Research model at 4 times the price.
Revox B-225 CD player - analog only from 1983 and it would compare well with any redbook CD playback system.
It's lacking on tracking (single beam) but excells otherwise. The market seems to have identified these recently, as their prices jumped to $400+.

Kenwood model 700C "control amplifier", aka preamp...
This was Kenwood's one-of-a-kind assault on the high-end in the early 70's. Unfortunately, the matching amps are not that great and gave the system a bad name.
The 700C has a great line-stage but a mediocre phono section. If you listen and it doesn't sound great, leave it running for a few weeks. That's typical for units that were stached in a garage for 20 years...
Again, the market seems to realize the potential as the last one on ebay went for $475 - well worth the price, and then more...

Infinity Monitor-II and WTLC speakers with Walsh tweeters.
Hard to find in decent shape and those tweeters are not available anymore. Both units are truly full-range, with the Monitor-II extending down to the mid 20 Hz range in an effortless fashion.
The Walsh tweeters are good substitutes to ribbon super-tweeters and perform about the same.
My friend that owns the Sonus Faber Amati Homage came for a listen. I played a few tracks and he had a big smile on his face. I said "They sound almost like your speakers..." and he replied "What d'you mean? Better!"

There you have it... All the "secrets" are in the open.
Just pick any of the single-ended tube amps around. The Monitor-II's are playing in a smallish living room on 3 watts and not leaving you wanting much. I'd go a bit safer with a 300B, 6V6 or EL-84 single-ended amps.
These amps won't really give you the full bass response but they have a lively way of sounding musical and dynamic.
For more power, you should pick a Harman Kardon A-250 Epic with Tungsol 5881's or a pair of Dynaco Mk-III with a modified front-end (I published a simple zero-feedback front end for those that would be a one weekend project).

Plenty of "amazing" stuff for you nickel and dime...
Hmm ...I Will take a crack at it

1. Blue Circle CS integrated - damn good for the money !

2 Bryston 2b sst - I heard one powered with pmc OB1 - Simply marvellous

3 Audioprism Mantissa pre amp - A real steal .. I have decided to build my entire system around this baby

That's it for now ...
Great post keep em coming ....
Audio Mirror D1 DAC. I compared this side by side with my Bel Canto DAC2 and to my surprice the Audio Mirror sounds better in everyway for less than half the price of the Bel Canto.

My second pick is Reference Line Preeminence 1B passive line stage. I've tried so many passive preamp and this is by far the best. If this only have a Home Theater bypass, I'll sell my Sonic Frontiers Line2.
Magnepan MMGs
Rega P3 with Exact cartridge
Speltz Anti-Cables
Creek 5350SE
Placette RVC truly transparent
Plinius CD player absolutely astounding at its price
Spica Angeles real soundstage unreal for the price
XLO type 5 speaker cable and signature interconnects
VTL 2.5 preamp
For Power cords it has to be VH Audio flavor 4 . Has to be one of the best over acheivers around.....
I will throw my offerings

Rogers Ls3/5a a classic I know but what agreat pair of little speakers.

agree with above on the VTL 2.5

The original Black Koetsu...scary how good that thing sounded.

also agree with a properly restored Dynaca st 70...3-4k worth of sound for under a grand.

Mcintosh 205 cd changer....people might say Huh ??
don't, it holds its own against some mighty expensive players, and you can play more than one.
Steve Hoffman mastered LPs and CDs. Genius has no price.
Purist Audio Design Venustas cables -- the performance far exceeds the cost, and though they are expensive, they are still just this side of outrageous! If you can only affortd one, buy the phono cable :~)
I have to agree on the Cayin TA-30. An exceptional product. Sounds and looks way beyond it's asking price. It has finesse, detail, and surprising control for a 30 watt tube unit. I have had a number of integrated's in my system and this modest little guy bests all but a couple of them (one of them at over 8x the cost). Definetly the best find in all my years of listening.
Here are a few of mine:

* Denon DL 103 cartridge

* Toshiba 3950/3960 DVD/CD Players (used as transports)

* Ack! dAck" filterless, non-oversamping dac (especially the 2.0 version)

* Music Boy/Petra interconnects

* Home Depot 14g outdoor extension cord ("HD-14") used as speaker cables and power cords

* Moscode "SuperIt" phonostage

* Gallo Reference 3 speakers
Paul Speltz's Anti-Cables
Signal Cable's Silver IC's
Paul Frumkin's Audio Intelligent Vinyl Solutions
My vote goes to the ff.

1.) Magnepan 1.6QR - I sold my Martin Logan Ascents (from Aerius, then Aeon, to the Ascents) for this! I was right about my decision and happier!

2.) Dynaco ST-70 - in modded form, it is so hard to believe that the design of this is "mass market" oriented. The original transformer is the key! I can power my 1.6QR with this and listen at low to moderate level and can forget about what amp is driving them. Unless you crank it up, then it will remind you that it is a 35 wpc amp driving an 86dB load.

3.) Teres TT - no explanation necessary.

4.) Jolida JD100 - at it's price range, you have to be bitten hard by the bug to upgrade from this. Soooo musical!

5.) Mr. Clean Magic Eraser and Zero Dust Stylus Cleaner - I cannot imagine myself without this outstanding cleaning tools.

And lastly...

6.) OL Silver - with Tom's (TWL) and Doug Deacons Hi-Fi and VTF on the fly mods. Not so expensive tonearm but with "gigantic" performance ratio IMO.

Caveat: I own all the stuff I listed. So I amp weighing from my personal preference.
VMPS's entire speaker line. I just became a dealer for them after using them for years. The reviews from professionals and users alike speak for themselves.

Parasound power amplifiers.
SAS Audio 10a Preamp
Two come to mind for me. The MG 1.6QR and Jolida JD-100. Both perform way above their price points IMO. Besides being "overacheivers" they perform well because they are well designed products.
I'm with you guy's on the Maggie 1.6's and the Purist Vanustas. I will add the Theta Miles CD player (balanced version). I have auditioned many other players in my system some costing almost four times as much when new. While some sounded a bit better, none of them really shamed the Miles.
I picked up a pair os Acoustat X speakers, each with it's own servo charged built-in amp some years ago. Best deal I ever made.
KEF Q90, mid '90's. Paid $800 and haven't heard anything under $3000 today that can touch 'em.
Conrad Johnson Premier 350 , no question about it in my opinion . !~ I have had to rethink my concept of tubes all together .
Radio Shack demagnetizer. Crushes the Bedini, and is faster and cheaper.
Sound Valves VTA70---Sounds like a CJ 11xs at 1/3 the price.
Custom Power Cords Top Gun and Power Block+
I agree with Serus on the Infinity Monitor II's. I bought mine in '76 for $500, and still can't part with them.

I'll also add B&K M200 Sonata monoblocks - available used only for a steal.
Since Thorman mentioned the VH Audio Flavor 4 PCs (which I totally agree), I have to include the VH Audio Pulsar ICs as well. Amazing bang for the buck.
Eastern Electric Integrated amp,all tube with remote and a beautiful sound.
FI X amp
Radio Shack LX Linaeum speakers
Sonic Impact T amp
Hornshoppe speakers.
Rega Planar 2 or 3
Dynaco Stereo 70
Agree with the Custom Power Block thing--4 recpt. for front end/only---In this day of mega buck;like items.
Surprised no one's mentioned the Panasonic digital receivers!

These little guys have forced me to re-evaluate my high $$ expenditures of the past.
Great Northern Sound mods! OK, these aren't exactly cheap, but definitely overachieving. I have GNSC Ref mods on both an ARC SP9 preamp and Wadia 830 CDP and am amazed at the improvements.
Ok, a third on the Cayin TA-30. Amazing value, I paid $599 new.
GMA Europas. Simply superb bang for the buck. Although now just over a grand new, can be had for $600 or so on the used market.
oh forgot the Mirage M3 Si speakers they actually outperform their bigger brother M1 Si's
The dearly departed Apogee Stage loudspeakers.
Bryston power amps.
deHavilland Ios. Simply phenominal!
I will say,Conrad Johnson Sonographe,Arcam,Legacy speakers
even though i am very new to the audio scene, i have to interject that i found my Almarro A318a integrated tube amplifier to be a wonderful performer, especially considering its very attractive price-point... i did audition a Jolida offering at a similar price (under $1500 USD) and found the Almarro produced a much richer and detailed sound.

even being my first venture into the tube world, i can honestly say that i find the Almarro A318a to be worthy of the "overachiever" label..!
Another vote for magwires. I can't think of anything with a better price:performance ratio that I've used in my system.

Klipsch Heritage Speakers.....
In the right system, EVS "Ultimate Attenuators".
Paul Speltz Anti-Cables......
Everything audio enthusiasts buy is an overachiever and will compete with anything 2X or 3X the price. At least thats the impression someone new to audio would get hanging around forums :)
In my years in this hobby I would agree with Maxxc, there is so much truth in what you say. There are many examples of overachievers from the perspective of price + performance = great value. From my own experiences in this hobby I would say that of all the audio products I have owned or listened to the Berning zh270 comes out on top as the most overachieving product I have heard. While it isn't exactly cheap at 5K it offers performance on an absolute level with cost no object products based on comparisons I have done. It conveys the reproduction of music as well as the best which is not to say it would be a first choice in a given application. It also offers hand built craftsmanship, reliability, and other conveniences that most tube products can only dream of.

As far as speaker systems go, I agree with Rgs92. Originally offered at 2K a pair, the Apogee Stages had performance on an absolute level with the very best I've heard. Its only limitation was bass extension. It would be on a very short list of the truly overachieving, a product that approaches the SOTA at a price well below the competition.

Of course we all value different things in the reproduction of music and you can take my choices with a grain of salt. Having said that, I'm so certain that I'm right that it would be unwise to do so ;^)
Long playing records and the technology to play them. "The reports of my death have been greatly exagerated."
Epos M15 (not 15.2) speaker.
Marantz CD players.
Radio Shack magnet wire for speaker wire.
Novus on CD's polished with micro fiber cloth from Wal-Mart eyeglasses section.
Still looking for the bargain amp.