Headfonia Awards 2023

Headfonia Awards 2023

This year too, the best Head-Fi products were chosen by Headfonics and Headfonia.We are particularly proud that we carry all of the following award-winning products in our shop! 😊😍

Headfonia 

https://www.headfonia.com/headfonia-2023-awards-part-1/

 

Best DAC/Amp Dongle

Cayin RU7

Buy Cayin RU7 from Audio Essence

"The Cayin RU7 has a tuning which is more to the neutral side, but with its full body and powerful, controlled bass impact, it is a very musical and engaging DAC/AMP dongle.You get the lovely precision and clarity from the 1-Bit Resistor Ladder DAC, combined with an excellent technical level and great dynamics. The Cayin RU7 delivers a precise and immersive sound, with a wonderful timbre and lovely harmonies.

Cayin has managed to deliver a small, well-designed and top-performing DAC/AMP dongle, using the excellent 1-Bit DAC tech. As this technology and the advantages it has, is super popular for the moment, I am sure we will see many more 1-Bit and R2R dongles in the near future. The question will be if they can reach the RU7’s performance and quality, as Cayin has certainly set the bar very high."

Full review:

Best Digital Audio Player (DAP)

Astell&Kern SP3000

Buy SP3000 at Audio Essence

"What a great DAP the Astell&Kern SP3000 is! It’s a true flagship and engineering marvel. Every time when you think it’ can’t get any better, AK comes in and strikes again. On a technical and user experience level, the SP3000 is a step up from the previous SP2000 flagship, although we still like that one very much as well.The SP3000 is an expensive portable player, and it doesn’t always offer the same tuning options as its competitors, but it’s very good in what it does. With the SP3000 you get a very high-end portable player with a unique design, perfect build quality and excellent performance. The new UI is much better than before, but it of course isn’t a full Android experience you get.Looking purely at sound quality, the keywords to remember are: dynamics, extension, precision, musicality, engagement and effortlessness."

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Best Headphone Amplifier – Solid State

SAEQ PDA-1b

Buy SAEQ PDA-1b from Audio Essence

"When I agreed to review this amplifier from SAEQ, I didn’t know what to expect. I only quickly auditioned the Hyperion GE at High-End Munich last May, and never got to listen to the PDA-1b. I took a chance but it turned out to be a really good one.Right from the start SAEQ Audio PDA-1b shows you what it is capable of and once you get used to it’s typical presentation, it’s an amplifier you don’t ever want to miss again. The PDA-1b mixes technical excellence with a high musical level and the immersive feeling of a live concert. It's unique.

On top of that the PDA-1b delivers all the power you will ever need and it lets you connect 4 headphones at the same time without lack of power or diminishing sound quality. It’s an ideal amp for reviewers and headphone enthusiasts who own multiple high-end headphones and want one amp to control them all.Even though the price tag is slightly on the higher side, this amplifier for me is an easy recommendation"

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Best Custom In-Ear Monitor (IEM)

Unique Melody Multiverse Mentor

Buy UM Multiverse Mentor at Audio Essence

"The Unique Melody Multiverse Mentor is one of the very best custom high-end monitors in my collection. The overall technical excellence is jaw dropping, and especially the sound stage, positioning, resolution, layering and extension are exemplary.While the Multiverse Mentor will sound good with anything, I do recommend to match is with a clear, fast, energetic and highly precise source. Only then will you get the full potential of this extraordinary IEM. At the same time I don’t recommend to use bass heavy sources as the bass presentation might become a bit overpowering. Especially if you’re not a fan of an always heavier bass tuning.

The Multiverse Mentor is expensive, but you in return get a complete package, excellent build quality and one of the best monitors ever designed. If you're looking for a very high-end and top-performing monitor, the MM has to be the first one on your list."

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Best Digital Audio Player (DAP) - Editors Choice

Hiby RS8

Buy Hiby RS8 at Audio Essence

"The new Hiby RS8, with its R2R ”Darwin” architecture, is one of the most successful portable players in the market, without hesitation. You get everything in a well-rounded package, with endless features and usability. I have re-discovered my music with the RS8 and I feel it performs excellently as a TOTL player should in this range.

Not only is the HiBy RS8 an extremely versatile DAP, but it also sounds fantastic. I feel the HiBy RS8 also is among the best-performing players in this segment together with the N8II and SP3000.

If you’re looking into a top-end portable player that can do it all, then the RS8 probably is the DAP to put on your shortlist. It’s very easy for me to recommend the HiBy RS8, and as such, it surely is a recommended buy."

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Best Digital Audio Player (DAP) - Price/Performance

Hiby R6 Pro II

Buy Hiby R6 Pro II at Audio Essence

"HIBY's DAPs keep getting better and better. With this aggressive price policy, they’ll continue to grow in terms of being a formidable player in the portable audio market. This new addition to the R6 line-up is certainly influencing.

With this new design -which helps to create a unique brand image-, a fantastic new screen, and a sound performance to back it all up, the R6 Pro II is a good choice for any audiophile. You get snappy navigation with full Android, a premium experience, and a musical, layered and detailed sound."

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Best In-Ear Monitor (IEM)

Noble Audio Viking Ragnar

Buy Noble Audio Viking Ragnar at Audio Essence

"A truly special IEM, the Noble Audio Viking Ragnar represents today’s pinnacle technical performance in the IEM market. If you want a highly technical, a bit analytical, and immensely resolving sound, the Viking Ragnar is hard to beat.

And when you look at the whole package, you get a great package and case, fantastic build quality and design, premium cable, and top-end technical sound. The price might become a bit easier to swallow in that case. Sure, the price point is very very high just for one IEM, but the market niche has become incredibly expensive. Some IEMs today cost around $6000 or even more, which to me is quite insane.I recommend the Viking Ragnar to audiophiles who have deep pockets and want to experience the top-level technicalities in an IEM."

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Best accessories

Effect Audio Cable

Buy Effect Audio Cable at Audio Essence

"Effect Audio has been on the move and they keep solidifying themselves in the industry with excellent cables. Their portfolio is now more complicated than ever with many different cables appealing to different budgets and scenarios.

All the cables that I’ve touched upon in this impressions article are very good. But if I have to choose just one, it has to be the Cadmus Founder’s Edition. The fantastic presentation that cable gives simply makes you want to listen to music more. That is special indeed. Big congrats to Suyang for this Limited Edition cable and I feel lucky to have one.

Once again, I recommend checking out Effect Audio if you’re on the lookout for some good cables for your IEMs. Make sure to get good match-ups, and you’ll enjoy the music more."

Full review:

Best source device

EverSolo DMP-A6

Buy EverSolo at Audio Essence

"Eversolo came in with quite a bang. When they introduced their product to me, I was interested but skeptical. If something sounds too good to be true, it most of the times is. But with the DMP-A6 Eversolo has proven me absolutely wrong.

For $859 USD I think the DMP-A6 ticks all the boxes, and then some. It's feature rich, well thought out and sounds just wonderful. It offers heaps of details, gives you a front-row seat, is easy to use and is Roon Ready. What more could you possibly want?"

Full review:

Best In-Ear Monitor (IEM) - Editors Choice

FiR Audio Radon 6

Buy FiR Audio Radon 6 from Audio Essence

"FIR Audio has created one of the best sounding IEMs I have laid my ears upon. With its W-shaped signature, flexibility with the supplied Atom modules and immersive sound it is giving me a hard time to ever put it out of my ears.It’s hard not to recommend an IEM that hits my personal tuning preference so perfectly. The entire package you get gives you not just one monitor, but four different flavors of it. Which is just the ability to finetune it to your liking that some need. My favorite modules are the Red – for when I want a more dynamic bass and an airier midrange – and the Black, for when I want that extra mid-bass bump and added weight to the lower mids.The Radon 6 is taking the lead as IEM of the year for me and therefore it receives my full recommendation."

Full review:


Best in-ear monitor (IEM) - price/performance

64 Audio U4s

Buy 64 Audio U4s at Audio Essence

"I have to admit, whenever I hear about a new release from 64 Audio they have my full attention. The A18s and Fourté Noir are still among my absolute favorite IEMs. I am always glad to see 64 Audio push their technology into more affordable products. Although $1,099 is still a lot of money, the U4s is their cheapest universal IEM to date.Over the course of the last months I have played around with the U4s a lot. I have found myself reaching for it many times even when I had other higher end IEMs within my reach. The U4s’ energetic sound can absolutely grab you and keep you attracted.The U4s have become one of my daily drivers, especially when I’m at the office. It has also become my prime work-out and sports IEM. The bass of it keeps me on my toes and motivated to my fingertips.

The fact that the U4s basically comes with four different signatures is an extremely big plus in my books. You want a more open sound with wider image? Go for the MX or M12. Need more bass? The M15 or M20 should be your choice. I love the versatility of 64 Audio's universals and the options they give their customers with the Apex modules. To me it is an easy recommendation!"

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Best cable

Eletech Sonnet of Adam

Buy Eletech Sonnet of Adam from Audio Essence

"The Sonnet of Adam is impressive when it comes to resolution, imaging sharpness, background darkness and vocal immersion. Its unique portrayal of a rich sound coupled with the grand scene and picture is probably the best I have heard in a cable to date. Sonnet of Adam gave all my IEMs a definite step up in sheer quality and control, that it’s impossible for me not to include it in our Best Accessories list.With the Sonnet of Adam Eletech has proven once again that they are in this game to give their competition a serious run for the best cables on the market."

Full review:

Best cable - price/performance

Eletech Raphael

Buy Eletech Raphael at Audio Essence

"Raphael is quite a cable. I started listening to it a good bit before I even knew the pricing. And once Eric told me, it was clear he wanted to create a new benchmark, which he absolutely did in my opinion. The Raphael boasts a wonderfully organic and – for the lack of a better word – romantic tuning.

It infuses a smoother sound, an emotional mid-range and superb detailing around the entire spectrum. It gives space to the instruments and paints a pitch-black background. I honestly can't think of a better cable at that price. Eletech’s new Raphael cable punches well above its weight and fully deserves to be in our Recommended Accessories list! It is just such a damn well executed Gold-Copper cable."

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