Welcome, Weary Traveller!
Welcome to the Hall Of Fame, the location where only the best of the best reside!!
As Audiophile-Heaven reached 100 published reviews, I decided that it is time to 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.
iBasso DC-01 Balanced 2.5mm Type-C USB DAC (50 USD)
There’s nothing quite like DC01 when it comes to having a really affordable solution for listening to your favorite music, from your smartphone, as long as you have a balanced headphone that ends in a 2.5mm jack. For example, if you’re running a shouer tape, iBasso IT-01S, or a FiiO F9PRO, you’ll be able to enjoy your phone, without needing a DAP.
iBasso IT00 (70 USD)
IT00 is the perfect mix of detail, clarity, comfort and price. At 70 USD, there’s very little stuff I can recommend more, and IT00 is a favoritue of mine, and it should be yours too, especially if you fancy some extra bass, and a delightful low end. The design and aesthetics are good too, and the package is perfect for the price.
FiiO M3 PRO Music Player (70 USD)
Purchase Link: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B086Z65V49
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 BTA30 Bluetooth LDAC / aptX Receiver / Transmitter (90 USD)
BTA30 feels like the best thing since sliced bread, but for audio. Like the first guy to discover that you can record on magnetic tape, discovering so many usage scenarios at a very entry-level price point made me smile, and BTA30 with its receiver / transmitter abilities, along with a great quality on the digital output, and even a decent DAC inside is a fully recommended Bluetooth Receiver / Tansmitter / DAC.
FiiO BTR5 Bluetooth Receiver – DAC/AMP (110 USD)
FiiO BTR5 may not feel like news, when you’ve already heard about the other modules, but after receiving and reviewing quite a few of those, including BTR3K, I came to the conclussion that BTR5 is simply the best. It has the most driving power, the best overall detail and dynamics, and is practical, even having EQ, a balanced output, and support for all the crazy codecs out there.
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)
Link To Purchase: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=aio+triangle
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)
Link To Purchase: https://www.amazon.com/SHOZY-NEO-CP-Customized-Detachable/dp/B07H4JXXDV
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.
FiiO K5 PRO Desktop DAC/AMP (150 USD)
Just like I added K3 a while ago to this list, I am adding K5 PRO too, it really deserves its place among the best, it has enough power for most reasonable headphones, including Ananda, Arya, and even HE6SE, or sundara, it has a nice design with a glowing volume button, and it has a background that’s quiet enough for IEMs that are less sensitive. Add the 150 USD price point, and a ton of dynamics, and you have the ingredients for a high-quality dekstop DAC/AMP that will bring fun for years!
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 IE80. 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.
Lotoo Paw S1 (170 USD)
Link To Purchase: https://www.amazon.com/Lotoo-PAW-S1-Portable-DAC-Amp/dp/B088W3FQ4V
Paw S1 is the ideal USB DAC/AMP in 2020, when I reviewed it. It has a lot of driving power, EQ options, it has a nice design, and even has balanced output in the form of a 4.4mm output. Not to mention that it has both local sellers, and Lotoo offers excellent overall warranty coverage, Paw S1 is pretty much the perfect choice for those who want to drive something on-the-go and don’t mind a wired DAC/AMP.
NextDrive SpectraX DAC/AMP (190 USD)
Link To Purchase: https://www.amazon.com/NextDrive-Spectra-Portable-USB-DAC/dp/B07HRMC4NQ
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.
IBASSO IT01S IEMS (200 USD)
Coming with two cables, or rather with one cable that can support both a Balanced 2.5mm connection, and a Single Ended one, via the adapter, having a very balanced overall signature, and also scaling with the source, being one of my personal favorite IEMs from the 200 USD price range. They come with a nice carrying case, have zero driver flex, and they are easy to drive, making them an ideal travel IEM.
xDuoo XD-05 Plus DAC/AMP (250 USD)
Regardless whether you’re looking for a really strong pocket-amp, or if you just want to tone down brighter and vague-sounding IEMs, XD-05Plus surely will do a good job for you. I consider it to be the best price/performance ratio you can get from a strong porable DAC/AMP at the moment it was added to the Hall Of Fame. It basically replaced Earmen TR-AMp in the Hall Of Fame, which was a great DAC/AMP, but which was never supported properly by the company who took a turn for the worse in terms of public relations, absuing reviewers and considering them pure marketing instead of what we are – reviewers who are supposed to stay true and honest.
Dekoni Blue Planar Magnetic Headphones (250 USD)
Link To Purchase: https://amzn.to/3hA1Gj4
The price of the Dekoni Blue is really good if you want a basshead headphone with excellent impact, great overall resolution, and if you don’t mind it being really hard to drive. In fact, it is so hard to drive that you mainly need a high-end AMP or something with a crazy high power to control it, but once you get it in line, the Dekoni Blue should be your best friend for a long period of time, and it is a headphone that won’t break the bank.
Master&Dynamic MH40 Wireless Headphones (250 USD)
MH40 has an even better sonic tuning than MW65, thanks to their more energetic nature. MH40 works really well for rock, post-hardcore, metal and uplifting music in general. Surely, you shouldn’t get them if your main music taste revolves around Jazz, Classical or Downtempo, but even for someone into Rap and who loves artists like Stromae, MH40 Wireless will be the perfect companion on the go.
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 Deva + Bluemini Headphones (300 USD)
HIFIMAN Deva is an absolute blast, they have a natural sound, a large stage, and also a great comfort. In fact, for 300 USD they come with a balanced DAC/AMP, and with pretty much everything a headphone in this price range should have, they are what I cosnider a perfect fit. They are a good upgrade even from Sundara in comfort and build, although sonically HIFIMAN went with a natural, smoother, more musical signature this time around. They also have a deeper bass.
FiiO FD5 Single Dynamic Driver IEMs (300 USD)
Link to Purchase: https://amzn.to/341RF6d
They are a typical V-Shaped IEM, but with an unnaturally good bass, treble sparkle, and what could be considered the best overall price / performance ratio you can get around 300 USD. FD5 can be a bit strong in the highs, so won’t be for those looking for easygoing IEMs, but if you appreciate an engaging sound, it will be simply perfect for you.
HIFIMAN RE800 Silver (Currently 300 USD, 600 USD at launch)
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.
HarmonicDyne Zeus Headphones (350 USD)
Link To Purchase: https://amzn.to/3otCkVD
One of the headphones I fancied the most, despite not being the most neutral out there. A bit hard to drive and to get right, but once you do get it right, it plays right into your head and heart. Excellent overall soundstage, clarity and detail for the price paid, and it is one of the headphones that is really comfortable. At 350 USD, it is a bargain.
FiiO Q5s Modular DAC/AMP (350 USD)
Q5s is a true upgrade from the original Q5, replacing what was already great and making it even better. There’s better driving power, less background noise, better Bluetooth support, and a sleeker design that works better, making Q5s one of the best DAC/AMPs you could purchase at this moment.
Yamaha YAS-207 Soundbar + Subwoofer System (350 USD)
Coming with the magical DTS: Virtual X, YAS-207 is a system that looks like a single mini speaker, but sounds like a home theathre. It has a deep bass, excellent natural midrange, and a large soundstage, although the treble is a bit sparkly and has a bit too much power at times. This being said, for 350 USD, it beats most stereo systems, and finding something better wasn’t possible at the moment I wrote the full review.
Verum Audio 1 (One) Planar Magnetic Headphones (350USD)
Link To Purchase: https://www.verum-audio.com/
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.
OLLO S4X Monitoring / Mixing / Listening Headphones (400 USD)
S4X is the kind of headphone you just want to keep using, regardless whether you’re listening, mixing or mastering. Their smoother, yet detailed sound makes it really easy to spend hundreds of hours with your music, without ever feeling tired. They also have enough textures, detail and dynamics to keep that music going and interesting, plus the good comfort will make you forget you’re wearing them.
iBasso DX160 DAP – Digital Audio Player (400 USD)
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.
Sivga P-II / P2 Planar Magnetic Headphones (400 USD)
Sivga P2 is sweet, musical and organic. A rich sound with a very expressive Premier or drum sound, it is perfect for Rock, Metal, and even EDM. They have a beautiful aesthetic with wooden cups, and the comfort is also perfect. I generally didn’t expect them do be much, given their price point, but Sivga is one of the most forward-thinking companies, including actual Balanced 4.4mm cables with their headphones.
Unique Melody 3DT IEMs (400 USD)
Link to Purchase: https://amzn.to/3wj5XMc
If you enjoy a wide stage, you will enjoy the magic of the 3D Terminator. They are indeed one of the best IEMs there are in terms of staging, refinement, detail, and clarity. There was nothing that I could critique them for, at this price point, except for a very energetic top end that may sound fatiguing to those that are more sensitive to treble. Even that part, tends to settle down and aid the stage, once you get used to the signature.
Ares Audio Sakeishi Cable (450 USD)
Link To Purchase: https://aresaudiosg.com/collections/iem-cables/products/sakeishi
When you want to upgrade your cables, there are good and there are great options. Sakeishi is one of those great options, especially if you already have a high-end IEM. I would never recommend it for entry-levels, but it was never designed to. It is best at giving some life and dynamics to IEMs that come with very basic cables, like Lime Ears Aether R.
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.
FiiO FA9 IEMs (500 USD)
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
Dan Clark Aeon Flow RT Headphones (500 USD)
Luxury build quality, comfort and an amazingly detailed sound are all reasons to go for Aeon Flow RT. Mr. Speakers and Dan Clark (pretty much the same company) managed to design something really good with their Aeon series. The biggest surprise was how capable the driver itself can be, when removing all of the filters inside. It can get to detailed, it could easily sit in the ~1000 USD price range, but happily Dan Clark was very safe with the pricing, so that those with a more limited budget can totally enjoy the Aeon Flow RT.
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)
Link to Purchase: https://imracoustics.com/
When Mr Bob from IMR decided that he wanted to give you the option to customise his IEMs, he went ahead and made it so that you can get about 30 total signatures from them, so you can never get bored of the IMR R2 Aten. They also have a unique driver tech that gives them a sparkly treble, and a strong, heavy, deep-hitting bass. Paired with the good ergonomics and the open design, to give them a large stage, they are a really fair performance in the 500-USD price range.
Feliks Echo Tube Amplifier (500 USD)
Link to Purchase: http://feliksaudio.pl/
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.
Master & Dynamic MW65 Headphones (500 USD)
Who would have thought we’d live long enough to see the day Master & Dynamic right next to Sennheiser HD660S, in the same Hall Of Fame, was right. Because at this moment, MD made such a great sonic performance that it is easy to recommend them to literally anyone, they have one of the sexiest designs, along with high-quality bluetooth connections. In all fairness, they can take on Ultrasone’s Signature series as well, and regardless what was true about Master & Dynamic years ago, now they are one of the best sounding, and best-looking headphones in their price class, and can easily be recommended to anyone looking for a nice pair of cans.
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.
iBasso SR-2 Open-Back Dynamic Tesla Headphones (500 USD)
SR-2 is made for those looking for a really comfortable headphone, and one with a beautiful musical, rich and antural sound. It is not a detail extractor, and it prefers to stay musical, fun and light. The best part is the natural soundstage, and beautiful vocal performance, making SR-2 one of the best experiences one could ever exprience.
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)
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 Purchase: https://www.amazon.com/S6-Pro-Headphone-Amplifier-Black/dp/B08GY27ZDH
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.
IMR Acoustics R1 Zenith Customisable IEMs (630 USD / 500 GBP)
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.
FiiO M11 PRO Music Player (DAP) (650 USD)
Link To Purchase: https://www.amazon.com/FiiO-M11-Android-Lossless-Bluetooth/dp/B07XPTM5YS
M11 PRO is the perfect upgrade for you as a DAP, and if you don’t have enough money for either DX220 or DX300, it will be a perfect option. In fact, if you enjoy a more lively, slightly more edgy sound, M11 PRO will be perfect. It also has the hardwarew and software support to be great, with a good battery life, fluid OS, and a vivid, energetic sound, tons of driving power, and even with balanced outputs.
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 Portable / Desktop Bluetooth Speaker (700 USD)
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.
Soundaware A1X PRO DAC/AMP/Streamer (700 USD)
Link To Purchase: https://amzn.to/3hCD0X9
Just by looking at what else you can find in this same price range, and which made it to the Hall Of Fame, you know that A1X PRO is a hard rocking Streamer, that is best described as a really versatile DAC/AMP with a really good headphone driving stage. Certainly not perfect, it is more than enough for all enthusiasts, and will power pretty much anything from IEMs to Planars. Only downside to it is that you need to press the remote for every single increment of volume.
Denafrips Ares II R2R DAC (800 USD)
Link To Purchase: https://www.amazon.com/Denafrips-ARES-II-R2R-Resistance/dp/B07TNJ548L
Ares II is soft, but not warm, musical but not smooth, gentle but not boring. It is a uniuqe sound, which is specific to R2R tech. It has a good number of inputs, and also a good selection of outputs, both balanced and single ended. With the only feature lacking being a remote, Ares II is one of the most complete DACs ever created by mankind, and it doesn’t have a eye-tearing price tag, so when you see it in stock, you can jump on it quicker than you’d jump on an RTX 3080 GPU from Nvidia during 2021.
IMR Opus Mia Electrostatic IEM (600 GPB / ~800USD)
Link To Purchase: https://imracoustics.com/products/imr-opus-mia
Opus Mia became my guilty pleasure. The bass is simply too delicious for it not to be here, and if you’re a basshead, or if you’re even remotely into bass, or if you want to figure out if you are into bass, I totally recommend trying it out, you may discover some kinks in your audio listening taste too.
QLS QA361 Digital Audio Player (DAP) (800 USD)
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.
HIFIMAN RE2000 Silver IEMs (800 USD)
RE2000 Silver is the new version of RE2000, which was quite the flagship when it was released, but unfortunately, it’s 2000 USD price tag made it a bit hard to own for most people, so HIFIMAN released the Silver version, which sports the same Driver as the original, but which is priced at a much more pocket-friendly point of 800 USD. You can expect the best HIFIMAN has to offer in a IEM, a quick bass, textured midrange, and a sparkly treble, all within a pretty comfy IEM made to last a lifetime.
Audio-GD Master 19 Headphone Amplifier (880 USD)
Link To Purchase: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=audio-gd
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!
Lime Ears Model X Universal / Custom IEM (900 USD)
Link To Purchase: https://drop.com/buy/lime-ears-model-x-universal-fit-iem-drop-exclusive
Model X is quite a unique entry in this list, because it is another pretty pricey IEM, but there’s a good reason it is here, namely the fact that they have two configurable possible tunings, they have an excellent overall build quality, and if you go for the Custom version, you can get 3 refits from Lime Ears, so you won’t have to worry about the IEMs not being good for you anymore. Furthermore, you get a selection of both a bright and analytical sound, and a fun and V-shaped one, making Model X a pretty versatile IEM.
iBasso DX220 Digital Audio Player / DAP (900 USD)
iBasso DX220 is the latest in the flagship line from iBasso, a true jewel packed with 4 GB of RAM, interchangeable AMP modules, a Dual ESS 9028 PRO Desktop DAC solution, and MQA decoding, making it pretty much one of the most complete and competent DAP that has been released in the past year (2019). What’s more, iBasso designed their DX220 to work with a good selection of Modules, one of which is AMP9, a novelty portable AMP that’s based on microTube or NanoTube Tech, and which has the sound of a good quality tube amplifier, but within a portable DAP.
iBasso IT07 IEMs (900 USD)
One of the few IEMs that really made me smile during the Corona Lockdown was the IT07. I heard it at the beginning of 2021, but it kept me smiling even months after, with that natural, slightly warm, full and rich sound. There’s something magical about the way it can deliver a very detailed experience, but never fails to stay natural and smooth, natural and also comfortable. It may be a bit pricey compared to iBasso’s previous IEMs, but it is perfect for the music lover looking to experience a proper flagship, yet less pricey than today’s most flagships.
Campfire Dorado2020 Hybrid IEMs (1100 USD)
Link to Purchase: https://amzn.to/3uX4JWu
Dorado2020 is the kind of IEM that I do recommend on a daily basis, and if you watch my Youtube video review about it, you’ll know by the public comments that everyone who got it is really satisfied. The biggest thing is that it is comfortable, detailed, but also fun, with an impactful rumbly bass, full sound, and a large stage. Great overall deal, for a falgship IEM. I am sure I will still be using this one in 2024.
iBasso DX300 Music Player (DAP) (1200 USD)
Simply put, DX300 is the best DAP in an overall sense, that I tested to the moment of introducing it in the Hall Of Fame. I’m talking about both the overall sonic performance, but also about the software, ease of usage, features. It simply is in that sweet spot where I can safely recommend it to absolutely everyone, as long as it is not out of your budget.
HIFIMAN Ananda Bluetooth Headphones (LDAC, HWA, aptX HD/LL) (1000 USD)
Ananda Bluetooth isn’t just any headphone, it is the best bluetooth headphone in the entire world, at least in 2020. I’m curious if anyone will archive this page and we’ll see something even better come out in the future, but for now, if you need the complete, best bluetooth headphone you can find out there, open-back and with a planar magnetic driver, this will be the one for you!!
Lotoo PAW 6000 DAP (1200 USD)
Link To Purchase: https://amzn.to/3fxdTSX
I am still using this one, because it makes up for a great tiny, convenient Desktop DAC/AMP that I can take with me as a DAP whenever I need. Excellent battery life, driving factor, and the only real downside to it is that it doesn’t have strong Tidal and other app support. Still, my listening is done 90% from my own discography ripped by me directly from CDs, or purchased online, so PAW6K is and will be for the foreseeable future a nice partner in crime.
Dita Twins IEMs [Fealty+Fidelity] (1300 USD Each)
Link To Review Fealty: https://www.audiophile-heaven.com/2019/10/silver-romance-dita-twins-fealty-iem.html
Link To Review Fidelity: https://www.audiophile-heaven.com/2019/06/snappy-edge-precision-dita-fidelity.html
Priced 1300 Each, the Twins from Dita are a flagship-level IEM duo, designed each for a unique purpose. Dita Fidelity is the precise brother, the one made to impress with its accuracy, speed, and neutral tuning, impressing with a sparkly top end, and a very clear instrument separation, while Fealty is the Romantic brother, an IEM that’s made to sound huge, to impress in the long run, and to make you fall in love more, the more you listen. Together, they are quite an impressive duo, and don’t worry, you don’t need to own both to enjoy them, just get the one that’s best suited for you, and you’re turned on for fun.
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.
Audeze Euclid Planar Magnetic IEMs (1300 USD)
Link To Purchase: https://amzn.to/3u2f6an
Now, 1300 USD is quite a bit for an IEM, again, but it is money well invested if you want to have the only closed-back planar magnetic IEM in the entire world. Euclid has excellent stage, detail and clarity, along a nice comfort.
Underwood HIFI LSA HP-1 Headphones (1400 USD)
Link To Purchase: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=kennerton
The price point of the LSA HP1 may seem high, but it is actually very low, compared to the headphones they are the baby of. It is almost half the price of the Kennerton Odin, and much less than half the price of Thror, which I also reviewed, but the HP-1 deserves to be here, they are natural in the mids, but if driven well, they have the impact, detail, and even comfort to rival most 3000USD flagships. The trick is to always purchase them from Underwood Hifi USA, but don’t worry, they do deliver everywhere, including Romania.
Lime Ears Aether R (1400 USD)
Link To Purchase: https://drop.com/buy/limeears-aether-r-universal-fit-iem
Aether R is one of my all-time favorite IEMs for sure. It really has a unique tuning, and this one is a trickster, really hard to get right. Once you do get it right, it is amazing, one of the best IEMs to ever exist in the entire world. The best part about Aether R is how magically emotional and nuanced it can be, while keeping impact and dynamics top notch. A colorful performance, it won’t be able to satisfy absolutely everyone, but for those that it can satisfy, it shall stay a love for a lifetime.
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.
Plixir BAC 400 Elite (1500 USD)
Link To Purchase: https://www.plixirpower.com/products/elite-bac-400
Plixir is unique, it is an excellent way to improve an already good system. It costs quite a bit, so it is not easy to recommend if you don’t want to spend the money for it, but it makes an excellent final upgrade to an end-game system. With the outstanding support from the company, you’re sure to have one of the best experiences with the BAC400 elite.
M2Tech Young MK III DAC (1600 USD)
M2Tech is a serious company from Italy, actually really popular in Romania and across Europe, known for having produced some long-lasting products. Their Young MK III has a really wide soundstage, and holographic presentation, paired with top detail revealing abilities, and a good number of inputs, making it an outstanding DAC to have in your system.
HIFIMAN He6SE Planar Magnetic Headphones (1800 USD)
HE6SE is one of those headphones that you either love at first listen, or you feel it has too much detail. At any rate, they are a really hard to drive and hard to master headphone, that will reveal the finest textures, details and tiny wonders in your music, all while being comfy, and costing less than what other flagships do.
iBasso DX220 MAX (1880 USD)
DX220 MAX is the ultimate DAP you will ever need sonically. Sadly, this means that it weights almost a kilogram and it ain’t quite as portable as either DX300 or DX220. It is simply the ultimate DAP you can transpot, or use as a weapon if you travel alone late at night. The sonic performance is spectacular, with a full bass, a natural midrange, and a beautiful musicality. In the end, if you want the ultimate DAP experience, DX220 MAX will be one of the best ways to achieve it.
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.
Spirit Torino SuperLeggera Headphones (2000 USD)
Link To Purchase: https://ouo.io/T1k7NN
When browsing headphoines, you sometimes come across a really unique headphone with a fully unique desgin. The Spirit Torino Supper Leggera is one such headpohone, and if you’re curious how it stands to the test of time, this is still a personal favorite, as musical as it is playful, open, yet focused on the music in front of you.
Mytek Brooklyn DAC+ DAC/Headphone AMP (2000 USD)
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.
Rhapsodio Zombie IEMs (2000 USD)
Link To Purchase: https://ouo.io/CM6ywl
There’s something about RSD Rhapsodio and their unimaginably good bass that makes me return to them even after having experienced much newer and better IEMS. It is their entire coherency, excellent depth, impact, resolution and the way mids are smooth and musical that make for a really awesome experience. Please keep in mind that the overall comfort won’t be as good as it is with IEMs that have fewer drivers, but if you want two dynamic drivers, this is your best bet to reaching audio nirvana.
Feliks Euforia Flagship Tube Amplifier (2000 Euro)
Link To Purchase: http://feliksaudio.pl/
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 Headphone Amplifier (2200 USD)
Link To Purchase: http://www.wellsaudio.com/milo
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.
Clear Tune Monitors CTM Da Vinci X IEMs (2400 USD)
Link To Purchase: https://www.amazon.com/stores/node/2587923011
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)
Link To Store: http://www.rossonaudiodesign.com/
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.
Kennerton Thror Palisander Headphones (3000 USD)
Link To Store: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=kennerton
Kennerton Thror is a unique headphone, with a fully genuine build quality, with real wood in their cups, real leather in their earpads, and with real metal in their frame. This makes them a tad heavy, but the detailed, clear, crisp sound that’s mostly neutral, although a touch musical and sweet makes up for any inconvenience that you may get from their uniquely high quality build style.
Analog Audio AAdac (4000 USD)
Link To Store: https://amzn.to/3ypUL2e
When you want to experience the best dynamics a DAC can have, the AAdac is there waiting for you. The shape unique to Analog Audio, it surely is refreshing to see a new design compared to the old fashioned DACs by other companies. There is one 6.3mm Headphone output, as well as an IR port, but most of the part happens at the back, as I explain in my full in-depth written review above.
Smyth A16 Realiser Headstand DXP / HT / Processor / DAC / AMP (4000 USD)
Link To Store: https://ouo.io/EF46JS
If you wanted to check out something that has waaaay more usability than your average DAC, here comes the winner, like DGD would say. A16 is a Home theather, DXP, Processor, DAC, Headphone AMP, and many other things in one unit. As I noted in my full in-depth written review about it, while checking it out, you can’t miss the features it has, as it can measure, EQ and plan for your headphones, transform them sonically into soundstage and bass monsters, but also be used as a Desktop DAC, used with an external headphone amp, and do so much more.
Sonoma Model One Electrostatic Headphone System (5000 USD)
Sonoma Model One surely didn’t have the sound you’d expect it to, it was magically quick, having an excellent detail revealing ability, and they have a forward presentation. The build quality is actually great, they stand the test of time quite well, and they also have both a DAC, an AMP, and a headphone in the price, being an All-In-One, so for the most part, getting them or getting a 3000 or 4000 USD Headphone will end up costing the same.
— Please remember to stay safe, and always have fun while listening to music!—
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. PRaT, Texturization, Detail, Resolution, Dynamics, Impact, and overall tonality are all revealed by those songs. We recommend trying most of the songs from this playlist, especially if you’re searching for new music!
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