Hans said: The A1 headphone amplifier-DAC is pretty much faultless in terms of sound quality; add in its flexibility and DSD capabilities, and I could happily live with one for a long while.
The gist: Stylish, full-featured, great-sounding headphone amp.
Hans said: On the whole, the EH008s sounded nearly full-range, with a wealth of resolution easily audible down to all but the very lowest registers, and with low-frequency information doled out in responsibly ample portions.
The gist: Competitive with the better earphones out there.
Vince said: Although other portable USB DAC-headphone amps work well with Apple devices, the ADL by Furutech X1 is a unique device that adds 24/192 capability via USB. It sounded splendid at all resolutions, and with every device that I connected it to. At $479, the X1 is pricey -- but you get a versatile, classy-looking device with exceptional sound quality to match its good looks.
The gist: Competition for Astell&Kern.
Rad said: The Astell&Kern AK240 makes it possible to listen to high-resolution music practically anywhere. It’s pricey, but look at what it can do and what components it can replace, and see if that doesn’t lessen the sticker shock. After using it for a month, I concluded that it was probably worth close to its asking price of $2499.
The gist: Lotta money, but if you want portable hi-rez . . .
Garrett said: The Audeze LCD-3s created the best head-fi listening experience I have yet had. They’re serious contenders for a reference-level set of headphones and a must-hear for anyone looking at the top-tier of head-fi.
The gist: The anti-Beats set of headphones.
S. Andrea said: The LCD-Xes imbue every recording with a little extra glow, but their enhanced high-frequency performance, and the fact that they’re more easily driven, will likely broaden their appeal beyond Audeze’s current fan base. Last, the LCD-Xes’ materials, build quality, and accessories embrace both luxury and utility. For anyone truly serious about headphones, the Audeze LCD-Xes are a must audition.
The gist: Newish company stands apart in a crowded headphone market.
Rad said: Audio-Technica’s ATH-AX5iS headphones are in no way outstanding, but they have competently good sound, and they’re lightweight and easy to wear for just about any activity.
The gist: Not bad, but doesn’t stand out in a crowd.
Brent said: I think probably just about anyone would like the Audiofly AF140s. Who would love them? Listeners who want a neutral, natural, spacious sound in the mids and treble, combined with some extra bass power.
The gist: Audiofly’s upscale earphone series contains this good middle-of-the-road performer.