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Audiophile-Heaven Awards – Best Products of 2023

With 2023 drawing to an end, I think it is time to be grateful for all the excellent music we heard this year, for all the awesome moments we had together, and to be looking forward to an even better year in 2024! Today we’re publishing our best products of 2023 awards, and the list includes IEMs, Headphones, DACs, AMPs, and basically everything that’s been the best. This list is not sponsored or promoted by any brand in any way, and highlights my feelings. I want to highlight what’s the best stuff my ears had had the honor of hearing during this year, and it is intended to cheerish and remind us of how far we are. 



First of all, I want to thank you all for being here with me, for supporting me, and for reading audiophile-heaven. We opened the HOF or Hall Of Fame a while ago, and started adding many products to it, so I feel that at the end of the year I should share with you my absolute favorite products from the entire year. As we did last year, I want to remind you what that we managed to do quite a bit of work this year, and we’re now at over 650 published written reviews in total, and 500 video reviews, along with having excellent viewer numbers for the written website, and for the Youtube channel we are now at 7879 subscribers and growing. 

The most important aspect of this hobby is to have fun, so please, when reading audiophile-heaven, or any other publication, have fun, listen to music, spend time with your loved ones, and live with no regrets. Don’t forget that music is all about love, art and expressing your emotions. This list doesn’t have to be seen as a buying guide, and instead I just want to award the best products I heard and to share that there have been some outstanding products out there, things that really surprised me with their performance and with the overall design, and even price to performance ratio. 


Best Flagship Headphones – HIFIMAN HE1000SE

There are many headphones that not only qualify, but also are excellent contenders and almost make it to being the Best Sounding Headphone of 2023, but HE1000SE is just the only that can win this title. It is the headphone I am listening to while editing this article, the headphone I had the pleasure to enjoy the most since getting it, and the headphone with the best dynamic range, best clarity, and most pleasing tonality, plus the widest soundstage, and the best part is that it doesn’t even cost that much, being now affordable for most music lovers who want to enjoy a high-end sound. You can grab them here – https://amzn.to/3TDin07

From my original Review – “At the end of the day, I think the image is clear, if you want the best HE1000 headphone, HE1000SE from HIFIMAN it is, and this is the best you’ll get unless you’re ready to spend over 4000 USD, where HIFIMAN has other flagships playing, which we’ll hopefully review in the near future too. Until then, if your budget is capped at 2000 USD, you’ll get an experience better than speakers get you at 20.000 USD, and it is worth noting, He1000SE is currently selling for 1999 USD on the HIFIMAN Website, so it gets a full thumbs up for every aspect.” – https://www.audiophile-heaven.com/2023/12/hifiman-he1000se-the-original-stealth-nano-music-wonder.html


Best DAP / Digital Audio Portable Player – iBasso DX320 MAX TI

It is hard to call a player the best DAP of the year, the choice is always hard to make, but DX320 MAX TI is the winner in 2023, iBasso dominates the best DAP of the year for two years in a row, and I am happy to report that they are still kings, and DX320 MAX TI is indeed the DAP I can call the best out there. The sound is simply put, perfect. So is the battery life, build quality, support, and the design, and iBasso is truly a company you have to hear in person to believe they can sound so good. There is EQ support, streaming support, and altough it is heavy, you can carry it everywhere with you, your own high-end flagship portable sonic bliss experience. You can grab it here – https://amzn.to/3NCSslD

From my original Review – “At the end of the day, if it is still available, if you want to hear the best sounding DAP that has ever been created, with the boldest bass, yet the most natural midrange and overall sound, the most dynamic and detailed presentation, all whilst keeping everything controlled, punchy and with superb resolution, iBasso DX320 MAX TI is simply the Top Of The Line Music Player that I heard and tested in 2023, and so far in general, and a fully recommended ultimate DAP solution you can grab.” – https://www.audiophile-heaven.com/2023/07/ibasso-dx320-max-ti-dap-music-player-ultimate-portable-flagship-dream.html


Best Dynamic Flagship Headphones – Meze 109 PRO

When looking for headphones, most of the options available today are planar magnetic designs, so it is good to know that some companies can make high-end flagship dynamic heaphones, and my choice today comes from Romania. Meze 109 PRO is the kind of headphone I keep returning to, it has that perfect midrange tonality, comfort of a flagship, and exceptional construction quality. It is a headphone I am sure anyone hearing will be happy with, and can recommend easily if you find planar bass to be too shallow for you, or if you want higher dynamics, as dynamic drivers generally have an advantage in dynamics. Volume handling and control is also better than with most planar designs. You can grab them here – https://amzn.to/4axiRe6

From my original Review – “At the end of the day, if you’re looking for a pair of high-end open-back headphones with superb design, and a natural sound that can reproduce both voices and pianos perfectly, but deliver a deep punch with electronic music, and will be pleasing to listen to with all music styles out there, Meze 109 PRO is a fully recommended purchase and a new favorite of mine that I will surely be enjoying for years to come.” – https://www.audiophile-heaven.com/2023/07/meze-109-pro-dynamic-headphones-romanian-sound-art.html


Best Desktop DAC / AMP – FiiO K9 PRO ESS

Usually, a desktop DAC AMP is best if transparent and colorless, so the K9 PRO ESS is the only natural choice today, this is a DAC/AMP that has zero coloration, it is crsip, clean and dead neutral, so it will allow you to hear the other components of your system clear as day. The fact it has excellent driving power, no background noise, and a neat volume wheel, plus XLR balanced line outs, RCA SE line outs, and more inputs you can wish for make it the most versatile and the best DAC / AMP we had this year. You can grab it here – https://amzn.to/3tsU9eo

From my original Review – “At the end of the day, if you’re looking for one of the most efficient, best sounding DAC/AMPs out there, with excellent design, a multitude of inputs, bountiful selection of outputs, and with a really neutral, clean, very detailed and technically capable sound that works for all headphones and IEMS out there, and which has the lowest noise I have heard for its price class, if used as a DAC, FiiO K9 PRO ESS is the champ to go for today. ” – https://www.audiophile-heaven.com/2023/10/fiio-k9-pro-ess-dac-amp-sound-versatility-unbound.html


Best Speakers – SVS Prime Wireless PRO

While I have not reviewed many speakers in 2023, my collection is growing and so is my experience, so it has been a pleasing suprise when I heard the Prime Wireless PRO, they have a really punchy sound, clean tonality, and exceptionally likeable midrange, considering the price point and build. They are now my main listening speakers, they are convenient, and the only thing that could be not so fun is the piano black finish which is hard to maintain, but sonically, they are truly special. You can grab them here – https://amzn.to/41v1EOA

From my original review – “At the end of the day, I am having an incredible time listening to the SVS Prime Wireless PRO, this is a speaker I can love, I can enjoy and never leave, this is a pair of speakers made to be perfect, mids, treble, and even mid + upper bass. If you add a subwoofer from SVS, you’ll have a setup that everyone will envy for both its looks, sonic performance, design, versatility and most of all, tuning and presentation.” – https://www.audiophile-heaven.com/2023/11/svs-prime-wireless-pro-powered-speakers-hifi-magic-all-inclusive.html


2023 IEMs Of The Year – Sennheiser Ie900 Single Dynamic Driver IEMs

If you’ve been reading Audiophile-Heaven for long enough, you likely know I enjoy a dynamic, punchy and U-Shaped sound, so it is no suprise that we can call IE900 the IEMs of the year when they deliver everything I want to hear, to the max, handle volume well, and are comfortable too. Those are the best IEMs I heard this year, overall, and if I had to pick just one to stick with, it would be it, at least from the options offered in 2023 – https://amzn.to/3NBlEJw

From my original Review – “At the end of the day, if you’re looking for an especially detailed, clean, sharp and precise IEM that can sound sublime with both rock, metal, but also orchestra, EDM, pop, and basically everything in between, Sennehsier has you covered with their IE900, the best flagships they made to date, and the most versatile overall flagship I tested to date.” – https://www.audiophile-heaven.com/2023/11/sennheiser-ie900-flagship-in-ear-monitors-orchestral-majesty.html


Best Streamer of 2023 Award – Matrix Mini-i PRO 4

It is unfair to sum up Matrix Mini-i PRO 4 as just a streamer, there’s so much more it can do, but it is, at its core, the best streamer we had the honor and joy of reviewing this year. In 2023 this is the most stable, most reliable and best built streamer, with the best ergonomics, nicest design, and the one I would recommend if you were intending to make a purchase right now. You can grab it here – https://www.matrix-digi.com/

From my original Review – “…if you want something that does it all and which does it really well, a dac, a headphone amplifier, a streamer, a USB decoder, an exceptional sound, and a design that will give a modern and sleek edge to your room, Matrix Mini-i PRO 4 is a recommended purchase and a DAC / Streamer / AMP I have come to enjoy a lot and which I consider a really good product.” – https://www.audiophile-heaven.com/2023/09/matrix-mini-i-pro-4-music-streamer-dac-amp-does-it-all-does-it-well.html


Best Headphone Amplifier of 2023 – Aune S17 PRO

This list is supposed to be a collection of the best sounding / best pacakge for each product, and for a headphone amplifier, S17 PRO from Aune has literally everything. No background noise, three headphone outputs in each style available, PRE function, and multiple current modes, it is perfect. I actually wanted to give S9C the DAC/AMP of the year award, but I wanted to avoid having too many products from the same company where possible, and S17 PRO is so awesome it had to win AMP of the year. The one trick is that S9C PRO still made it to the list, just farther down below. You can grab the S17 PRO here – https://amzn.to/3Tx9aq8

From my original Review – “If you’re looking for a headphone amplifier, or preamplifier that sounds rich, lush, deep, but also very detailed, clean, and has outstanding spatiality, Aune S17 PRO will take you by surprise with its excellent performance, outstanding build quality, and great support, being a fully recommended purchase in our review today.” – https://www.audiophile-heaven.com/2023/11/aune-s17-pro-headphone-amplifier-pre-symmetrical-class-a-magic.html


Best Closed Back Headphones of 2023 – HIFIMAN Audivina

Creating a closed-back headphone that sounds as wide as an open back is hard, but HIFIMAN managed to create a closed-back headphone that sounds wider than most open-back headphones, all while having outstanding dynamics, precision and clarity, so there’s good reason to call those the best closed-back headphones of 2023. We have exceptional looks, comfort that matches the best flagships, and Audivina is the winner of the best closed-back headphone in 2023. You can grab them here – https://amzn.to/3vj8fiQ

From my original Review – “…if you’re looking for a headphone that can play and place an instrument not just out of your head, but in a really specific spot, being the cure for the itch in every possible audiophile way, and providing the kind of performance that you only dreamed about in the past, HIFIMAN Audivina has a divine sound, with a soundstage that can only be described as perfection, a deep and powerful bass to match, and the refinement / detail that can make you forget other headphones exist, and make you focus on it and it only.” – https://www.audiophile-heaven.com/2023/10/hifiman-audivina-closed-back-headphones-audio-pleasure-maxima.html


Most Innovative IEMs of 2023 – Letshuoer Cadenza 12

If you want unmatched clarity and precision, Cadenza 12 is really impressive, and they have the highest degree of technological advancemen today, especially considering the exceptional comfort, build quality, cable they have included from the factory, and just how impressive they sound. They may not have made it to be the IEM of the year, as they have a more neutral sound than my personal preference, but they are the most innovative IEMs of 2023. You can grab them here – https://amzn.to/486XDlW

From my original Review – “…if you want to hear every single detail in your songs, if you’re looking for an IEM that has an emotional sound, which has superb comfort, outstanding resolution, and a wide, holographic soundstage, but which keeps everything together and allows music to shine through and sound as natural as possible, Letshuoer Cadenza 12 may be your flagship, and while most other flagships that are as comfy go for a warmer, smoother sound, we finally have a resolution master, detail centric flagship with the package to match the price, and support to give you an outstanding experience regardless of your expectations.” – https://www.audiophile-heaven.com/2023/11/letshuoer-cadenza-12-wise-but-delicate-flagship.html


Desktop Music Player Of the Year 2023 – Astell&Kern ACRO CA1000T

Time really flies when you’re having fun and listening to music, so it is truly worth mentioning this excellent desktop DAP, and CA1000T is beyond what I would transport most days for outdoors music listening, but it is within what I would use at home. It is actually the kind of unit that can do everything, stream, play local files, it has both Solid State and Tube modes, and it is the best Desktop music player available today, truly a unique piece that you don’t know yet you need in your home. You can grab it from here – https://amzn.to/3RRJiE1

From my original review – “…if you’re looking for a really strong DAP, and not just any DAP, but a music player that you will always use when you’re at your desk, which has 4 headphone outputs, a selection to serve any needs, DAC output, and with both a Solid State and a Tube mode, and a Hybrid mode where you can literally pick how much character from each goes into your sound, Astell&Kern Acro CA1000T is literally the best to purchase at this moment. ” – https://www.audiophile-heaven.com/2023/02/astellkern-acro-ca1000t-transportable-tube-dap-the-mightiest-music-player.html


Best OTL Headphone Amplifier of 2023 – Drop + xDuoo TA-84

Who would have thought that a Drop product would make it to the Awards of the year list, but here we are. This one is OTL, so mainly for hard to drive headphones like HD 660 S2, but it has a really neat sounding preamplifier, is particularly musical and dynamic, without being too smooth or having the detail cut out. I think it is one of the rarer units when it comes to how well it is made, and how well it is priced for the package. You can grab it from here – https://amzn.to/4ayIIm0

From my original Review – “…if you’re looking for such an AMP, or if you need a DAC or a PRE that will sprinkle some of the tube magic we all yearn for, xDuoo TA-84 is a fully recommended product and one of the most affordable DAC/AMPs I can recommend that sports actually high-quality EL-84 and ECC-82 Tubes and tube sockets for you to tune your sound.” – https://www.audiophile-heaven.com/2023/12/drop-xduoo-ta-84-otl-tube-amplifier-dac-clarity-control-master.html


2023 Innovation and Upgrade Award – Aperion Audio RST MKII Ribbon Super Tweeter Speakers

You may be expecting to see a cable here, but I try to keep true to my promise of staying honest, cables can improve a system, but adding a Super Tweeter can turn a somewhat bland and boring system into a truly amazing experience, and Aperion Audio RST MKII is the best way to power up your system, as for a modest cost, those can improve the resolution, clarity and overall punch, plus the soundstage width of basically any system. You can grab them here – https://amzn.to/47dDMjA

From my original Review – “At the end of the day, if you’re looking for ways to improve your listening experience, if you’re ready to bring the precision, soundstage, resolution, clarity and richness of your speakers to the next level, and if you want to get the best for the buck, HIFI Pilot and Aperion Audio are ready to give all of this to you, for just 649 USD / 649 EURO, for a pair of their RST MKII Super Tweeters, an accessory that will easily pair with literally any system you’ll have, any pair of speakers, and which should make your listening experience so much happier for all time to come.” – https://www.audiophile-heaven.com/2023/11/aperion-audio-rst-mkii-3-inch-aluminum-ribbon-super-tweeter-precision-master.html


Best TWS True Wireless IEM of 2023 – HIFIMAN Svanar Wireless

Sometimes we have to take something with us. To the gym, or for a brisk walk, and Svanar Wireless happens to be my Gym TWS IEM, something I came to appreciate more and more, and the only TWS I can say I use on a daily basis. It survives my usage, it doesn’t show any signs of ageing, and it sounds really nice, despite being wet almost daily, it is exceptionally dynamic, clean and crisp, all while having a good battery life, enough to get me through a week or two of heavy gym. You can grab them here – https://amzn.to/3RRT74U

From my original Review – “…if you’re looking for a True Wireless Bluetooth IEM / Earphone, with exceptional comfort, a stable connection, good battery life, outstanding build quality, and exceptional sonics, with a full bass, transparent midrange and transparent treble, a punchy sound and high maximum volume, HIFIMAN Svanar Wireless is a fully recommended purchase, and a TWS IEM you will see me using at the gym or when I won’t be able to take something more full sized like the Wired Svanar with me.” – https://www.audiophile-heaven.com/2023/07/hifiman-svanar-wireless-the-swan-takes-flight.html


Best dongle DAC AMP of 2023 – iFi Go Bar

I reviwed so many dongle DACs this year that it is hard to say any single one is the best, but iFi go bar really is easy to recommend, as it has one of the highest driving power levels, it is dynamic in sound, controlled, has low distortion, and is nicely sized. It is the priciest dongle DAC I reviewed this year, but so far, it is the one I would recommend if you have no budget limit and don’t want to upgrade the dongle DAC any time soon. You can grab it here – https://amzn.to/47bsMDB

From my original Review – “…if you’re looking for an exceptional dongle DAC AMP, with a wide presentation, surprisingly high driving power, fine tuning filtering and fine tuning EQ settings, and with a good build quality, all provided with love by iFi Audio, one of the best in the audiophile world, ifi go Bar is not just a snack, but a full-course meal with seasoning and a nice glass of champagne at the end to make your audio adventure as juicy and delightful as possible.” – https://www.audiophile-heaven.com/2023/09/ifi-audio-go-bar-dongle-dac-mini-amplifier-maxi-powered.html


Best Desktop Stereo HIFI Amplifier of 2023 – Aoshida SMSL AO300

Sometimes the best doesn’t have to be something pricy, and this year AO300 is the best sounding stereo amplifier from what I tested. It was either this one or the AO200 MK2, but in the end for most users AO300 wins, and for me too, it is the better solution in the long run. This isn’t to say I am not already working on products from a different price class entirely, like the Keces S300, but as far as reviewes that I finished go, AO300 is the top of 2023. You can grab it here – https://amzn.to/4awHdER

From my original Review – “…if you’re looking for a really powerful amplifier for your speakers, a central unit for your system, or a good DAC / headphone AMP / Integrated Stereo AMP for a secondary system, SMSL AO300 is one of the best I tested to date, and it should be plenty fun.” – https://www.audiophile-heaven.com/2023/11/smsl-ao300-dac-headamp-integrated-stereo-amplifier-class-d-back-in-game.html


Thickest, Warmest, Smoothest Sounding IEMs of 2023 – Dita Perpetua

As I often get the question of what is the deepest sounding, smoothest and most lush sonding IEM, I deicded to add a spearate award for this, and Dita Perpetua is by far the winner here. This is the most lush sounding, deepest sounding, smoothest sounding IEM with the best comfort, out of all the ones I reviewed in 2023. Truly a fantastic product, and an IEM I can recommend to everyone looking for the ultimate warm and smooth sound flagship. You can grab it here – https://amzn.to/3RG5pwe

From my original Review – “…if you really honestly have the budget for such a flagship, and I mean it, there are other options even from Dita Audio, but if you do have the budget for it, and if you want to get the best luxury high-end in-ear monitor with a natural, smooth, clean and detailed sound, with the best cable that you can get, along with superb comfort and outstanding support, Dita Perpetua is a fully recommended earphone, and one that I think anyone who tries would enjoy.” – https://www.audiophile-heaven.com/2023/03/dita-audio-perpetua-forever-musical-and-beautiful.html


Unexpected Performer and Exceptional Sound of 2023 – Rubyoung R830 Wireless Speaker

This product took the entire world by suprise in many ways. I am not a big fan of the weird art it has on the grille, but that is something you can take off, and this photo was taken at my own wedding, this is a speaker that was part of the sound setup, together with other speakers in a setup I made myself, as I found it impossible to find good event sound in Romania, and when building a system for my own wedding, this acted as the center piece for providing punchiness, center speaker sound and lead voicing for the dance stage. Truly, if I would be willing to use it for my own wedding, you can assume it sounds fantastic, and can get loud. The only downside that I can see to using it is that it needs constant AC power and I don’t have two to have a truly stereo setup for it. You can grab it here – https://amzn.to/41w5iHM

From my original Review – “…if you’re looking for the bluetooth speaker that has the most detailed, cleanest, richest, deepest, and most pleasing sound I’ve heard to this date, Rubyoung R830 is without exception the answer I can point you to. While it is far from perfect, it needs constant power to work, and it has the bass limitation given by the speaker size, the sound is so incredibly good that I can’t help but recommend it as the best sounding Bluetooth speaker / single speaker multiroom setup I heard to date.” – https://www.audiophile-heaven.com/2023/03/rubyoung-master-r830-stereo-hi-fi-speaker-art-in-many-ways.html


Best Cable of 2023 – Ricable Invictus Speaker Reference Cable

I always get back into a grey zone when it comes to cables, and this Invictus Reference cable is not cheap by any means, but it finally took me out of that grey zone, it has an effect that is evident enough I can finally say it is most definitely audible. The trick is that since this is made for speakers, I used one of those, and a different cheaper, but good copper cable on left vs right channel speakers, and the differences were high enough to say for sure this can improve the sound of your setup. You can grab it here – https://amzn.to/3RwLy2g

From my original Review – “…if you have a high-end audio system and if you want to pump up the detail, resolution, clarity and if you want a reliable connector between the speakers and the amplifier, Ricable Invictus Speaker Reference is one of the best copper wires you can grab, and it has unparalleled clarity, precision and a really dynamic sound which doesn’t kill the treble nor dampen the textures in any way, being a truly impressive upgrade that my ears are joyful to have found.” – https://www.audiophile-heaven.com/2023/08/ricable-invictus-speaker-reference-cable-purified-copper-music-flow.html


Best Mini DAP of 2023 – Aoshida & Shanling M1S

This seems to always be a hot topic of discussion, and people always want a really good mini DAP, so Shanling M1S should satisfy everyone’s needs. Altough it has an odd shape and design, it is the most stable, best sounding mini-sized DAP and it has exceptional build quality, a large enough screen to be practical, and sonics to match the title of the best Mini Entry-Level DAP of 2023. You can grab it here – https://amzn.to/3RzImmn

From my original Review – “…if you’re looking for an exceptional DAP or music player with a mini design, ultra portable weight and size, but with great build quality, hi-res support, full MQA support, Balanced output with a strong power, and with the support and quick shipping times that Aoshida provides, Shanling M1s is one of the best DAPs you can purchase, and a fully recommended one.” – https://www.audiophile-heaven.com/2023/04/shanling-m1s-dap-music-player-the-upside-down-song.html


Best Deal for a Headphone in 2023 – HIFIMAN Ananda Nano

Most headphones from HIFIMAN are good deals since they are a company who likes to have pocket-friendly pricing for their products, relative to the market, but Ananda Nano is the first Entry-Level or at least cost efficient headphone I can recommend in years, it brings me joy every time I take it for a listen, it is not as comfy as HIFIMAN Arya Organic, and originally I wanted to give the Arya Organic this award, but Ananda Nano is simply better from a price / performance ratio perspective, and it is the best deal in 2023. You can grab it here – https://amzn.to/3v9Nfv7

From my original Review – “…if you’re looking for what is the most detailed affordable headphone made by HIFIMAN with superb performance to date, for a headphone that is exceptionally resolute, textured, clean, crisp and detailed, has a huge and I mean humongous soundstage, excellent instrument separation, and is drivable from your traditional entry-level source, HIFIMAN Ananda Nano is how you beat the heat of the summer with a thousand reasons to stay indoors and enjoy your favorite tracks forever.” – https://www.audiophile-heaven.com/2023/08/hifiman-ananda-nano-headphones-refinement-of-the-planar-art.html


Best Deal for a DAP in 2023 – Hiby R6 III Music Player

In 2023 we’ve seen many DAPs that are exceptional at being a DAP, but Hiby is the company that goes home with the award today, as R6 III or 3rd generation is simply exceptional in software support, operation speed, Wifi Speed and reliability, as well as sonics. This is a DAP I picked for all my trips, I wanted to take the big DX320 MAX TI or Astell Acro CA1000T, but I didn’t want to risk having to explain what those are to the customs people when leaving each country, so for travel, I think we can mark R6 III as the best deal for a Midrange DAP you can get in 2023, it has both Class A and Class AB modes, it can drive IEMs, has a low noise floor, and a forward, punchy sound that I find enjoyable regardless what I’m vibing to. If you want the best price / performance ratio, you can grab it here – https://amzn.to/3NBQpOE

From my original Review – “…if you’re looking for a DAP with which you can easily switch between Class A and Class AB, which can power basically any portable and even most desktop headphones, which has a Balanced 4.4mm Line Out, 3.5mm Line Out, Balanced 4.4mm Headphone output, and a Single Ended 3.5mm Headphone Output, which has MQA support up to 16X unfolding, and strong battery life, strong Wifi, and good display quality, Hiby R6 III looks like an excellent package, and an outstanding option for those searching for a reliable DAP or digital audio player.” – https://www.audiophile-heaven.com/2023/03/hiby-r6-iii-gen-3-hi-res-player-dual-class-dap.html


Best Value For Midrange IEMs in 2023 – iBasso IT05

There are many IEMs that I liked this year, and honestly I reviewed far too many, from all price ranges. This being said, if you want the best price / performance ratio for IEMs, and if you enjoy some deep and punchy bass, IT05 is the one that impressed me the most. I almost gave this title to HIDIZS MS5, but IT05 is simply a bit better package, two cables, better transport case, and even a better comfort, being my choice for the best deal for an IEM for the whole year. If you want the best price / performance ratio, you can grab it here – https://amzn.to/3tCrxiK

From my original Review – “…if you’re looking for a super powerful sounding IEM, with a strong and deep bass, excellent dynamics, and a clean, detailed, resolute sound, and with excellent soundstage and a wide holographic presentation, iBasso IT05 is the best to grab right now, and is one of my favorite IEMs of this year. ” – https://www.audiophile-heaven.com/2023/08/ibasso-it05-iems-best-performance-in-the-class.html


Editor’s Picks

There are a few products both me and my editor wife loved, but we couldn’t really place in any category. Those deserve to be read about as those are products we do use on a daily basis and which are extremely enjoyable. The list includes honorable mentions as well as products we simply couldn’t live without, and products that are exceptional but don’t fit any major category that we already had and designed. It is important for an awards list to make sense, for it to stay relevant, and we didn’t want to crowd the list and invent new awards out of the blue just to populate it, yet here are some of the products we as a couple can agree are quite excellent.  


Austrian Audio Hi-X60 Headphones – This is a good headphone to start the Editor’s Pick segmet with, as it is one of the closed-back headphones I’ve used the most this year. It has exceptional resolution, good comfort, and it isolates you really well from the outside noise. They hold well to usage, so they are fit for both live, studio and home usage, and the support of the Austrian Audio company is downright excellent as well. Explore more about it here – https://www.audiophile-heaven.com/2023/04/austrian-audio-hi-x60-detail-extractor-tuned-masterfully.html


Shanling M3 Ultra – This DAP is actually one of the best midrange DAPs out there, and if you love the Shanling house sound, this is going to have one of the warmest, yet most dynamic and revealing sounds out there. I was trying to think about drawbacks for it, but frankly it doesn’t really have any, it is pretty much the perfect DAP as far as I can tell, but the sound being a bit colored is unique to it, so I think it is better as an Editor’s Pick, since it will be ideal for those who are looking for it, but not as generic as the alternatives. The driving power is also good, but mostly enough for IEMs and easier to drive headphones. Explore more about it here – https://www.audiophile-heaven.com/2023/02/shanling-m3-ultra-music-player-dap-to-the-max.html


JDS Labs Element III MK2 Boosted – This is the final DAC / AMP you will need if you don’t mind it being single ended, and if you can live with only RCA line outs. It does have the best support for EQ, it has onboard EQ, and separate profiles for Line Out RCA and Headphone output, it has a huge dynamic range, and exceptional control with ultra-low distortion, being the center piece for my current stereo system together with Cyrus One Cast, SVS Prime Wireless PRO, and Aperion Audio RST MK2 Super Tweeters. A complicated setup, but it gets the job done better than I could ever ask. Explore more about it here – https://www.audiophile-heaven.com/2023/10/jds-labs-element-iii-mk2-boosted-dac-h-amp-pure-music-raw-power.html


Sennheiser HD 660S2 Dynamic Headphones – Quintessentially, this is the best headphone to start this hobby with. A true classic and a headphone I simply couln’t keep out of this list, I see HD 660 S2 as a must have for all audiophiles and music lovers all across the world, and with the current reduced price, it is the deal you simply can’t miss. I use it for testing almost every piece of equipment that I review, and I see it as an essential part of the whole audiophile experience, something to hear at least once to help you have a reference and best understand our jargon, your own taste and expectations. Explore more about it here – https://www.audiophile-heaven.com/2023/08/sennheiser-hd-660s2-dynamic-headphones-magnificent-musicality.html


Soundz Avant IEMs from Greece – If you’re always looking for something with a specific coloration in the sound, something warm, smooth, but intimate and precise, Avant is the perfect choice to get your on-stage and personal listening setup to the next level. Those have outstanding build quality, exceptional transport case, the only thing that needs an upgrade for audiophiles being the cable, but I think you can find quite a few options in our website if you’ll want to get serious about them. Explore more about it here – https://www.audiophile-heaven.com/2023/12/soundz-avant-iems-greek-high-end-sound.html


Sivga Luan Over-The-Ear Headphones – Those have been my favorite headphones for what I can call the most detailed, yet most affordable headphone overall. They are also the most comofortable headphones out there, period, and the level of resolution, clarity and detail they offer is simply unmatched, and can easily compete with headphones 3 times the price. The only downside is that the super neutral and slightly cold presentation makes them less universal than most of the competiton, but still I love a bright treble, so for my ears they are a music hear, must consider headphone. Explore more about it here – https://www.audiophile-heaven.com/2023/08/sivga-luan-hifi-dynamic-headphones-signal-precision-master.html


Aune S9C PRO DAC / Headphone AMP / PRE – This year, this is the DAC / AMP that impressed me the most with how clean it is in the background, how good and versatile it is and how much Aune has improved as a company, being able to offer not one, but two products that made it to the DAC/AMP of the year list. The only reason it is an Editor’s pick and not a DAC/AMP is that I didn’t want it to feel like I am favoring Aune for that list, it is the most dynamic sounding DAC/AMP I heard this year, but this comes at the cost of it being a bit fuller sounding than what is absolutely flat, yet I can vouch that this would bring everlasting enjoyment for anyone wanting a one product that has everything in a sleek package. Explore more about it here – https://www.audiophile-heaven.com/2023/07/aune-s9c-pro-dac-headphone-amp-the-silver-lining-of-flagships.html


OLLO S5X – Those are the best studio and monitoring headphones that I heard this year, and if you’re especially interested in studio work, those should be your top choice. They have a nice comfort, nice package, and exceptional build quality. I know I used this word a lot for today’s article, but this is a list for the best products of 2023, so you should expect all of them to be great or to go home. OLLO S5X is a headphone that never goes on sale, as the company tries to offer it already at the lowest price it can while keeping their quality consistent, and due to that policy it isn’t an immediate deal, but it is the kind of investment that will pay off in no time, regardless whether you’re getting it for fun or for music work. Explore more about it here – https://www.audiophile-heaven.com/2023/02/ollo-s5x-dynamic-studio-headphones-immersive-production.html


Shanling H5 Portable DAC/AMP – While most DAC/AMPs are simple, this one has a lot of potential, is versatile and has good driving power, it is not exactly something I can put my finger on, it is not a DAC, it is not a Bluetooth receiver, nor is it a DAC/AMP in the exact sense of the word, but it is all of the above, and I think placing it in the Editor’s Pick award actually means it is more than most and not less. The sound is deliciously warm, thick, smooth and clean, with a bassy presentation that simply makes you all fuzzy and happy inside. Explore more about it here – https://www.audiophile-heaven.com/2023/09/shanling-h5-portable-dac-amp-multi-tone-of-warmth.html


iBasso SR3 Over-The-Ear Headphones – A big part of the entries in today’s best of list are focused on what sounds the most detailed, what has the most crisp resolution, but here is an example of a headphone that wins by being the most musical, smoothest, yet most acoustically accurate, and being snappy, yet never too harsh or too bright. The big earpads and excellent comfort, combined with the sleek design, and the high-end cable in the package make iBasso SR3 one of the best headphones I have ever tested, and altough they’re a bit of an acquired taste, they are excellent and for some will be the only headphone they will ever need. Explore more about it here – https://www.audiophile-heaven.com/2023/06/ibasso-sr3-dynamic-tesla-headphones-magics-back.html


Unique Melody Maven PRO – Last but not least, we have Unique Melody Maven PRO, and this is the kind of IEM that will always be impressive, always have one of the best instrument separation levels, technical resolution and comfort. I think that altough it is the last item of today’s award list, I would say it is one of the best overall made IEMs in the whole world, comes with one of the best cables, and the company behind is known for their exceptional support and delivering on the quality of their products. Explore more about it here – https://www.audiophile-heaven.com/2023/04/unique-melody-maven-pro-iems-most-beautiful-music-note.html


We wish you Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, and A Happy New Year! 

I hope you’ve been having a blast reading and watching Audiophile-Heaven, and I hope that I’ll see you in the new year as well. Please remember that newer isn’t always better, you don’t need to replace what you currently have, and the most important thing in this hobby is to enjoy what you already have.

If I ever asked you for a favor, please do this for me – have fun, and enjoy life to the fullest. Listen to music, and be happy!

The final and most important award goes to you, for being our reader, for being here with us, and for supporting us in our work~!

--- Please remember to stay safe, and always have fun while listening to music!---

 - If you have a dime to spare, please donate, and help us! It would make the day brighter for me and my wife- 

Full Playlist used for this review

We listened to more songs than those named in this playlist, but those are excellent for identifying a sonic signature.  I recommend trying most of the songs from this playlist, especially if you’re searching for new music! The playlists are different for Spotify, Tidal and Youtube, and based on the songs I enjoy and are available on each!




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