Before I get too far into what rocked my socks off in 2016, let me remind you of what didn’t. The Essence HDACC left a bitter taste in my mouth. Then there was LEAR’s Natrosound NS-U1, which sounded great, but fit in the ear like a rake up the bum. Venturecraft’s Valoq, as good as it sounded, rode on the back of a sadistic hardware and graphic user interfaces.
But it is 2016, which is reason enough to virtue signal about the right side of history, audiophile or otherwise.
- Oriveti Primacy: Review: Oriveti Primacy – primate. Before we even get to sound, in Primacy’s favour are finish, fit, comfort, and branding. That it sounds good and goes for just 299$ seals the deal. Great earphone, but not quite this year’s pick.
- Nuforce HEM2. Great fit, amazing price, and sound worth it at almost any price. Nuforce’s HEM2 is killer from any angle you look. Its twisted cable, however, isn’t.
- Winner: Campfire Audio Andromeda: Review: Campfire Audio Andromeda – Topping The Maker Game. I’ve not heard an earphone with smoother transitions between mids and highs that also balances on such tight bass foundations. Its wide, detailed sound stage are almost unparalleled. The only issue I have with it is fit.
- Winner: Astell&Kern AKT8iE mkii: Review: Astell&Kern AKT8iE mkii – Age of Consent. No, it doesn’t sound as good as Andromeda. But it is damn close. And thanks to a single driver, so much smaller. Perfect fit, great isolation, and brilliant sound make this my earphone pick of the year.
Headphones on the next page: