Welcome to the mighty hall, where only the best of the best reside!!
As Audiophile-Heaven reached 100 published reviews, I decided that it is time I create a hall of fame, where the best of the best can sit, both budget products that offer outstanding price-to-performance ratio, but also products that offer a truly high-end experience.
New products will be added here, when something is golden in every way, or so amazing in some way, that it deserves a place here. Here you’ll find a few words about each product, why it was added here, and a link to the full review.
All products presented here are hand picked by the creator of Audiophile-Heaven, George, and this is a personal ranking based on their actual abilities, each of them having a good reason to be here.
Entry-Level ( < 150 USD)
The Entry-level area is usually dominated by products from China, or as most name them Chi-Fi. Of course, there are good products made in every part of the world, but lately, the market there exploded with a wide palette of high-quality products, and happily for us, they’re getting more and more amazing by the day.
FiiO M3K Player (70 USD)
Ehe main reason M3K made its way to the Hall Of Fame is its price, this is a 70 USD DAP at launch, and sonically, it beats the Clip+ and other DAPs that were the height of their time. I noticed a lot of new DAPs coming through with great performance, but ergonomics and ease of navigation are also extremely important, and happily, M3K fits the bill all-around, has a good readable display, has good ergonomics, easy navigation, good battery life, and it is pretty hassle-free. Also a neutral tuning so you get all your treble sparkle, as well as a neutral sound, leaving the coloration to your headphones / IEMs.
FiiO BTR3 Bluetooth Receiver (70 USD)
Of course, the entry-level is dominated by FiiO to some degree, but that’s not because I like them more than the competition, but because they really do offer an excellent price-to-performance ratio, and they offer amazing products for a low price, and not just amazing products, but products that really work. BTR3 is quite amazing, priced at 70 USD, it is the Bluetooth receiver to get at the moment it entered this list, good price, good Bluetooth support, good battery life, and most important, excellent sound. It really sounds considerably better than FiiO’s other Bluetooth modules, and it is a fully commercial success, currently serving the needs of thousands of music lovers from all over the world.
Link To Review: https://www.audiophile-heaven.com/2020/12/calculators-music-feelings-fiio-m3pro-entry-level-dap-review.html M3 PRO has been ambitious! It even has calculator on it, but that’s not why it is in this magical list. The main thing that impressed me about it was the sound, which for under 100 USD is total killer. Really flat and detailed, analytical and good enough to use even with some high-end IEMs, M3 PRO is a great way to power your IEMs, On-Ears and even some Over-The-Ears.
FiiO K3 DAC/AMP (110 USD)
Now it may be getting quite annoying to see so much FiiO, but really, if you’re in the entry-level price range, FiiO is really easy to recommend, and so is K3, the new Desktop DAC/AMP, with both a Single Ended and a Balanced Headphone Output, Optical and Coaxial Output, Line Out, and a cool-looking volume wheel that has back ligting, K3 is pretty much the DAC/AMP to get for 110 USD, and except for the fact that it doesn’t go well with portables, it is hard to fault, being transparent, clean, clear, and powerful, pretty much the wet dream of someone with this budget, and looking for a good DAC/AMP.
Simphonio XCITED/2 IEMs (150 USD)
It is hard to say that it is a perfect IEM, but Xcited/2 is really good in terms of sound, and offers better price to performance ratio sonically than most V-shaped IEMs do in this price range (beating most KZ models). If there’s one downside to it, that’s the comfort, which is hit and miss, and the design surely won’t be for everybody, but the sound alone gives it entry to the Hall Of Fame on Audiophile-Heaven.
Triangle AIO Connect Streamer (150 USD)
For 150 USD, or so, you get a pretty good entry-level Streaming device, which can take input signal from your Wifi Router, without distortion, and then convert it to an optical signal. The main reason AIO Connect made it to the Hall Of Fame is because it is a very capable device, in terms of connectivity. You can connect it with MAC, iOS, Android and Windows, Airplay, ROON, Tidal and even its Triangle app being good options for playing with it. Overall, I feel extremely satisfied using it, and know that if you have your computer in a different location from your hifi system, or if holding a party, Triangle AIO Connect will serve you quite well.
Shozy CP IEMs (150 USD)
The magic about Shozy CP is that they don’t need that much of an explanation to be here, they are simply so well bult that in this price range, nothing comes even close to that. Thick cable, full IEM shells, as in, full inside. Add to that detachable cables, a sweet midrange-forward sound that compliments all music, provided you like this kind of signature, and worldwide support from both Shozy, and Linsoul if you decide to purchase from them, and you’re set for fun.
Final Audio E4000 IEMs (150 USD)
Final E4000 is one of my favorite IEMs from Final, and although you’d have guessed that E5000 would take a sit in the Hall Of Fame, it is actually E4000 that does, because it has both a really good price, excellent price-to-performance Ratio, and E4000 has a more balanced, more natural sound compared to its bigger brother. Where E5000 is a really thick, warm and lush IEM, E4000 is more natural and organic, yet it still is a very full and lush IEM with a good amount of detail, and an excellent comfort.
Midrange (150 – 500 USD)
The Midrange is actually where I started my audio more than ten years ago, when I bought a pair of Sennheiser IE8. Back then, I had no idea how much fun this hobby would be. Products in this price range usually have both an excellent sound, and a great price-performance ratio, and are what you’re most likely to be using after a few years in this hobby and when looking for a significant upgrade.
NextDrive SpectraX DAC/AMP (190 USD)
This one really impressed me, costing about 190USD, it is at the low end of the Midrange pricing, but man, does it sound like a high-quality DAC/AMP. In fact, it sounds and even measures shockingly good, very dynamic, clear and transparent, detailed and engaging. In fact, for HD600, for example, it sounds pretty much as good as a FiiO Q5, another DAC/AMP that made its way to the Hall Of Fame.
Periodic Audio Be IEMs (300 USD)
I was actually having a few second thoughts about Periodic Audio Be, since the cables aren‘t detachable, and its built quality is similar to its much less expensive brothers, but I deicded it has a place in the Hall Of Fame, because it has a very sleek aesthetic, and if you want to go undercover, and if you need an IEM that doesn’t betray its price, Periodic Audio Be will be happy to be there for you. The sound is one of a kind, a smooth, musical, clean tone, that works really well with romantic music, but which still keeps enough top end bite for acoustic guitars and classical music.
HIFIMAN RE800 Silver (Currently 300 USD, 600 USD at launch)
Link To Review: https://www.audiophile-heaven.com/2019/03/true-slayer-hifiman-re800-silver-iems-review.html
I feel like RE800 Silver from HIFIMAN is quite magic, because it manages to bring the full might of the Topology Driver, which is basically the same driver as the one used in their 2000 USD RE2000 Gold, but in a really small and ergonomic shell, and for a price that’s currently 300 USD. This makes it a really great deal if you like a dynamic, punchy, V-Shaped sound with an uplifted bass, sub-bass and treble. The midrange also has a really natural tonality, making it a real deal for the price.
iBasso DX120 Player (320 USD)
DX120 is the entry-level DAP from iBasso, but in this rank, it sits in the Midrange given its price tag. Now, the quality of it is absolutely impressive, full metalic body, with a glass back, a very ergonomic design, and a beautiful display. It comes with a screen protector, has two microSD slots, and it is what I’d call a true upgrade from FiiO’s well known X5-2, but with a better, more versatile sound, more versatile body, and also two microSD slots. DX120 is a true success in every way, and it is easy to recommend to anyone looking for a Player that can play music and be done with it. Be warned though, it doesn’t have Wifi, or streaming abilities.
Yamaha YAS-207 Soundbar + Subwoofer System (350 USD)
Verum Audio 1 (One) Planar Magnetic Headphones (350USD)
Best art about Verum One is that they are so darn affordable it would be hard to not include them in this list, for the kind of sound they have, like a child of LCD-2C from Audeze, but which scales even more with sources, is even easier to drive from weak sources, and has a very musical, lush, slightly dark, yet very naturally tuned sound. You should totally check this one out if you liked LCD-2C and were wondiering if you could have that kind of sweet sound for less, but please take into account the aesthetic if you’ll ever plan on taking them outside.
iFi xDSD DAC/AMP (400 USD)
xDSD is one of my favorite products from iFi, a truly shining device, with both an excellent sound, the ability to drive anything, from Beyerydnamic Xelento, Dita Fidelity, all the way to Sennheiser HD660S and Audeze LCD-MX4, and with two features, a Bass Boost, and a 3D Sound, that I keep turned on more often than not. The build quality and aesthetics are pretty awesome, the battery life is fairly good, and overall, it makes a great purchase, even having a Bluetooth receiver inside, in case you wanted to connect it that way to your smartphone / Player.
Burson PlayMate sure is a strange one with a totally different tuning from the original Burson Play, but it bears the same detail and amazing price / performance ratio, being able to drive really hard to handle headphones.
iBasso DX160 DAP – Digital Audio Player (400 USD)
Link to Review: https://www.audiophile-heaven.com/2020/05/majestic-express-ibasso-dx160-dap-review.html
DX160 is clearly the most interesting competitor to FiiO’s M11, and it is what I would consider a truly well made DAP. It has everything, from a beautiful, ergonomic design, to a solid OS, and to support for Wifi and Bluetooth. It has a good battery life as well, and there’s pretty much nothing missing from this one, so if you need the ultimate DAP at this price range, please read the comparisons with M11 so you can pick which suits you better.
You know a good portable when you see it, and FiiO’s M11 is one of those really amazing DAPs that has a good amount of detail, a wide stage, but also good clarity and driving power. With FiiO’s support and solid software, which gets constant updates, M11 makes it to Audiophile-Heaven’s Hall Of Fame easily, and makes one of the easiest to recommend DAPs for 420 USD.
FiiO FH7 IEMs (450 USD)
FH7 is one of those IEMs that can deliver a really worthwhile upgrade, especially if you had FH5, and if you wanted a much larger soundstage, great refinement, detail, and clarity. For the 450 USD they cost, they can take on the Fibae Black, and even throw punches with DK-4001 which is twice the price.
Dunu DK-3001 PRO Hybrid IEMs (470 USD)
DK-3001 PRO is one of those IEMs that costs just the right amount for the sonic quality, but provides you with one of the best sonic experiences you can find, if you like a V-Shaped IEM. It has a deep, quick bass, but also a sparkly treble, has a wide soundstage, great comfort, it is basically a dream IEM for most people. It can compete fairly well with FH7, if you want something warmer, more colorful and a bit more fun tuned.
Hiby R6 Player (500 USD)
Hiby R6 is one of the most stable and useful DAPs on the market, and it has a really quick CPU that offers a really pleasing Streaming Experience, making Tidal a real hassle-free thing. Furthermore, it has an excellent sound, and although it is a few steps lower than X7mkii or DX200 in terms of pure sonic performance, it is one of the best sounding DAPs that has both the excellent sonic quality, and the quick and reliable Software parts nailed down. I like Hiby’s own music app and actually use it on my smartphone when driving a DAC/AMP as well, Hiby being the company behind the software of many of yesterday’s and even today’s Players.
Fa9 have impressed me with their thick, lush & rich sound, but also with their excellent ergonomics and comfort. They are priced at 500 USD, which is quite steep, so I compared them with other flagships, and they survived, so they made it here, to the hall of heroes! They are a great value at 500 USD, and they totally are worth their asking price, considering the package, build quality, comfort and extended support from FiiO
Ultrasone Signature DXP Closed-Back Headphones (500 USD)
Ultrasone Signature DXP, or Sig DXP, as I often call them, are some of the best closed back headphones I heard in my entire life. Of course, there are many open-backs that can do a wider soundstage, and be impressive in many ways, but for a closed-back headphone at 500 USD, DXP has a really good soundstage, amazing instrument separation, really deep and punchy bass, and a clear, detailed overall sound. The treble is slightly on the smooth side, so you will be able to listen for hours in a row, and the midrange is not very recessed, and pretty natural, and they are backed by Ultrasone’s 5-Year warranty, so you know they’re made really well, and built to last.
IMR R2 Aten Customisable IEMs (500 USD)
Feliks Echo Tube Amplifier (500 USD)
Feliks Echo is one of the best OTL Tube AMPs out there, and it was designed to be used with high-impedance cans, providing one of the most dynamic, engaging and clean sounds I ever heard. Furthermore, it has a really oragnic and sweet midrange, based on the tubes inside, and it can totally drive anything, from Beyerdynamic’s lovely Amiron, to HD660S from Sennehseier, and even HD800S and other mighty headphones.
Link To Review: https://www.audiophile-heaven.com/2020/04/master-dynamic-mw07-tws-and-mw65-anc-headphones.html
Sennheiser HD660S Open-Back Headphones (500 USD)
Sennheiser HD660S is like a combination between HD600, HD650 and even some from HD700, being a headphone that fits right in between those, with a better texture than HD600, and with better detail, with a more energetic, more forward, and a more clear sound than HD650, and with a more organic and natural overall tuning than HD700. I think it makes a great cross between Senneheiser’s leading headphones in this price range, and it makes a good entry in the Hall Of Fame as one of Sennheiser’s most versatile and balanced headphones.
High-End (500 – 1500 USD)
The High-End Area is for those who are already deep in this hobby and who love music and are looking for an exciting update hard enough to drop quite a hefty amount for this hobby. Once you’re here, the price-performance ratio becomes less important, and you’re lookint at the latest, cutting-edge developments, and products that really refine the experience further away. Since the price-performance ratio starts to drop, most products in this price range must perform really well to exist.
Adam Audio Studio Pro SP-5 Headphones (550USD)
Link To Review: https://www.audiophile-heaven.com/2019/04/bleeding-edge-precision-adam-audio-pro-sp5-headphones.html
Adam Audio Pro SP-5 Headphones are a redesign of Ultrasone’s Signature Studio Headphones, with some of Adam Audio’s magic, and although the two are very similar, Adam Audio managed to fine tune the original Studio from Ultrasone do be even more revealing and work even better as a mastering and mixing headphone. For the music lovers, this is one of the best analytical headphones you can get for 550USD, truly a master of revealing even the smallest details.
Aune S6 PRO DAC / Balanced Headphone Amplifier (550USD)
Link To Review: https://www.audiophile-heaven.com/2020/04/aune-s6-pro-dac-balanced-headphone-amp.html
When looking for a high-quality DAC/AMP for your headphones, especially if you’re into gaming, and if you love a modern and aesthetic design, Aune’s S6 PRO is a really good desktop piece to won. It comes with a Single Ended, and an XLR Balanced output as well, and it allows for both high-resolution, DSD, and PCM signals, making the most out of your music collection and games. It works with xbox, playstation, and other gaming consoles as well.
When it comes to IEMs with a tuning mechanism, IMR R1 was always a favorite, but it was always slightly behind competition in terms of refinement of the outer shell. Happily, IMR Acoustics from UK now has refined the production process and the R1 Zenith not only looks outstanding, but has some of that ceramic driver magic that you can only find with high-end speakers, where, you almost always see a ceramic driver implemented. The sound of R1 Zenith is quite smooth and liquid, with one of the deepest and most impressive bass out there, and although 630 USD is quite a steep price, they come packaged with two cables, and a ton of accessories to be an interesting offer at that price point.
Beyerdynamic Amiron Open-Back Headphones (700 USD)
Amiron is one of my favorite Open-Back Headphones for relaxing, especially for those times when I want a more smooth and gentle sound that is musical and lightweight, with a more relaxed and laid-back approach, excellent clarity, and a wide soundstage, all to compliment their comfort and good design. They don’t leak very much, and they’re high impedance, so they’ll sound best with OTL and sources that can provide good clean voltage to them.
Vifa Copenhagen 2.0 is one of those products that’s a really good crossover between a desktop, and a portable, between a boombox and a speaker, it has bluetooth and a fairly good battery life, but you could leave it in your room as a stylish piece of furniture that also plays music. The reason it is here is the sonic quality, it manages to beat even some good 2.0 speakers, and even some full floorstanding speakers, so it is worth looking into as one of the best bluetooth speakers ever made.
QLS QA361 is a magical one, because it is the answer to the question and request of many music lovers. Many wanted a DAP that has the sound of a true flagship, but which doesn’t rely on many features to work. QA 361 put all the money on the sound, and left all of the extra freatures out, as it is able to play music from its microSD card, and has physical buttons for its navigation. The sound is soft, musical, neutral and has a wide soundstage, and an amazing amount of details, making you wonder, where has it been for all your life.
Audio-GD Master 19 Headphone Amplifier (880 USD)
Link To Review: https://www.audiophile-heaven.com/2020/05/unexpected-winner-audio-gd-master-19.html
Master 19 is probably the most interesting amplifier you can look at, in this price range, because it has the power to drive basically everything, be it planar, dynamic, high or low impedance, and be it closed or open back. Not only that, but if you need a high-end preamplifier for your desktop, Master 19 should serve you really well!
HIFIMAN Ananda Bluetooth Headphones (LDAC, HWA, aptX HD/LL) (1000 USD)
Link To Review: https://www.audiophile-heaven.com/2019/06/snappy-edge-precision-dita-fidelity.html
Campfire Atlas (1300 USD)
Now, 1300 USD is quite a bit for an IEM, but Atlas surely works hard and it pays off, having a large, even grand sound, a good amount of detail, and a build quality that is sure to impress anyone who seens them in person. With a warranty made in the USA, and pretty good all-around comfort, and a silver cable included in the package, iy makes a good entry in the high-end luxry IEM world.
Summit-Fi (1500+ USD)
The Summit-Fi is the end, products here dropped most sense of price-performance ratio, and are all about reaching the cutting edge of what is humanly possible at the moment of their release. Things can get pricy, but the experience with a product must be sublime for it to exist in a hall of fame once you hit this kind of price. A product must be pretty flawless to exist here.
Opus #2 Player (1600 USD)
Opus #2 went on sale many times, and it often goes on sale on MassDrop, if you want the true summit-fi experience, but on a much better budget. This being said, even at its price, it was quite magical, one of the most organic, most natural Players I have ever heard, with a good battery life, and a beautiful aesthetic, something I simply couldn’t miss from the Hall Of Fame
CrossZone CZ-1 Headphones (2000 USD)
CZ-1 isn’t open nor closed back, but semi-open, having ventilation, but not having a fully open cup. They are one of the best headphones there is, being in fair and straight competition with some of the most expensive hifhi speaker setups, when it comes to playing classical music. They sound huge, but fair, natural, and they are one of the most comfortable headphones in the world, relying on a very unique mechanism for being this comfortable, and they easily enter the Hall Of Fame for their interesting build, aesthetics and impressive sound that’s gentle and easy to listen to.
Mytek Brooklyn DAC+ is simply put, one of the best DAC/ Headphone Amplifiers ever created, it has the power, control and depth of a proper desktop flagship. Furthermore, it doesn’t take a lot of space on your desk, it doesn’t get very hot during usage, and it has all the inputs and outputs you could dream about. There’s literally nothing it can’t do, and it easily makes one of the easiest to recommend, best equiped, best made DAC/AMPs designed at the moment of its review.
There are a lot of amplifiers that are amazing as flagships, but Euforia is one of the very few that is neutral in tuning, being a clear window, and relying on transparency, rather than a colored sound to impress. The driving power is now just right for most headphones, regardless whether you have an IEM, a large headphone, Planars, or high-impedance cans, it should do just fine with anything. Like with any Tube AMPs, you can roll some tubes, until you find your favorite setup and make Euforia truly yours in sound and characteristics.
Wells Milo is a unique Amplifier, with a very nice build quality, an amazing sound that is rich, organic, clean, soft in the treble, and which presents music for the music, and not for the analytical or the technical edge, and which comes with a good warranty, provided by the Wells Audio, making it one of the most interesting Amplifiers I had a chance to review to date.
CTM Clear Tune Monitors Da Vinci X is simply put, one of the most clear, most revealing, most detailed IEMs I have heard to date. It has a very neutral, and an even slightly bright overall tuning, but it totally is worth its money, and will satisfy detail-addicts quite nicely, not to mention that it will surely make you see music in a new way, and this works even for songs that are quite simple, as it is able to reveal details you never knew were there.
Rosson RAD-0 Planar Magnetic Headphones (2600 USD)
With Rosson RAD-0, you get a headphone that is solid, well built, but also has an absolutely grain-free sound, with each sound flowing into each other, with a natural soundstage, clear presentation, and with one of the best sounds ever to exist to present guitars, rock, metal and electronic / pop.
Audeze LCD-MX4 (3000 USD)
LCD-MX4 is the true power of a high-end Planar, a Headphone good for both listening to music, but also mastering, mixing, and general work with music production. They are a bit heavy, but they are one of the most precise, most detailed, most clear headphones that ever existed. With a smoother treble, so you can work on for hours, and an easy-to-drive nature, so they can pair with virtually any AMP or Workstation, LCD-MX4 is truly an amazing headphone that has a bright future ahead, not just in music lover’s homes, but also in the work space of many music producers, looking for a really precise tool to better their work.
Full Playlist used for reviews
While we listened to considerably more songs than those named in this playlist, those are excellent for identifying certain aspects of the sound, like PRaT, Texturization, Detail, Resolution, Dynamics, Impact, and overall tonality. We recommend trying most of the songs from this playlist, especially if you’re searching for new most, most of them being rather catchy.
If you have a dime to spare (donate), it would make my day much brighter, as it would help me improve things around the website and increase the frequency of my posts.
I hope my review is helpful to you!