2015 Year Overview – Part 2

Throughout 2014 I watched my HFN teeth grow in: was I writing to ohm-image readers? Was I writing to HFN readers? Would the crossover go well? Looking back, I think it did, and I have every one of you to thank for making the transition welcoming and fun.

2015 was different. I realised that I drank too much, and have stopped drinking whilst reviewing. That, my friends, is the sign of a good year. And, it was a year with loads of good stuff. Interestingly, the stuff that really moved my viscera: Mojo, Oriolus, Finder X1, Jupiter, The Element, m9XX, Continental CDM, GR8e, PM-3 – rolled through my office near the end of the year, meaning that I didn’t have to dig too far into the past to author this article. God bless you, dear Providence.

Anyway, here’s how my 2015 Best Of list rolls:

Full size – High end


Because I tackled only two full-size headphones produced in 2015 (Myst IzoPhones-60; Beyerdynamic T1.2), choosing one over the other is cloyingly lazy. Instead, I’ll say this: the IzoPhones-60 is the only good-sounding high-end headphone I’ve ever reviewed that I’m sure I could throw through a triple-pane window. And the T1.2 is a great evolutionary side-grade to a headphone I consider a modern classic.

Universal Inear Monitor

EchoBox Titanium (12 of 15)

I really wracked my brains over this one. But in the end, I had to set aside one of the most-impressively tooled, branded, and best-sounding earphones out there (Campfire Audio’s Jupiter), as well as a modern classic (Ocharaku Flat-4 Kaede Type II) in favour of Echobox’s X1 Finder

The X1 is put together like a T34, and sounds great. As far as I’m concerned, it is  revolutionary, and an incomparable value at 200$. Well done.


Custom IEM

I didn’t review a single CIEM this year, and to be honest, I’m fine with that. The longer I stay in this hobby, the more I realise that universals are my thing. Check out the first part of this article for Lieven’s words on current CIEMs.


Linnenberg-Vivace-volume pot

LinnenberG Maestro. No matter how much I complained about the position of its volume pot, Maestro nails everything from perfect L/R balance to low line noise and high dynamic range. It’s a full-sized amp that is as lithe and performance-minded as almost anything out there. ~1500-1800$.


Runner up: ALO Audio Continental CDM, which is the best of both worlds: valve and solid state. It has no real competition among battery-powered crossover amps. And it is super stable under load. Well done. 1495$.


 It continues after the click below or HERE

3.7/5 - (19 votes)

Back before he became the main photographer for bunches of audio magazines and stuff, Nathan was fiddling with pretty cool audio gear all day long at TouchMyApps. He loves Depeche Mode, trance, colonial hip-hop, and raisins. Sometimes, he gets to listening. Sometimes, he gets to shooting. Usually he's got a smile on his face. Always, he's got a whisky in his prehensile grip.


  • Reply December 30, 2015


    Did you just write “for only 3000$”? Oh boy…:-)

    However, thanks for the hard work and the manymanymany reviews Lieven and Nathan. Keep up the good work! Happy new year.

    • Reply December 30, 2015


      the joke was obvious I think 😉
      Thank you, and you too: Happy NY!

      • Reply December 30, 2015


        The “$10000 amplifiers”, being plural, is scary enough.

  • Reply December 31, 2015

    Barun C

    Nice summary. Your love for iPod Nano, knows no bounds, as always (Even with the hiss).

    During the early days of DAP, I used to prefer the sound of the Zen Vision M, compared to the iPod Classic, but convenience of space and longer battery life always brought me back to the iPod Classic. Recently I got the Questyle QP1R and now it has permanently replaced the iPod and even my smartphones for good.

    Hope you review more high end full sized headphones and desktop amps like IEMs in 2016.

    HaPPy nEW yEaR

    • Reply January 1, 2016

      ohm image

      The iPod nano 7g (not pictured here for some reason) hisses as much as the AK380, so barely at all. I need to get Lieven to change the photo. If the Questyle was as small as the iPod nano, it would be great.

      Happy new year to you as well.

  • Reply January 1, 2016


    Didn’t you review the Alclair beginning of this year? Would that make it the default winner?

    • Reply January 3, 2016

      ohm image

      Yes I did. Time to update. That said, as I did with the full-size headphones, I’m not going to wrangle a default into the mix. That’s not cool. Alclair RMS _is_ awesome, but still.

  • Reply January 30, 2016


    can you imagine had apple stayed in the audio game and come out with an audiophile grade ipod touch or something? the competitors would be really have to ramp up their game. even today so many of them are trying to mimic it’s host of user friendly features and interface.

    there are a number of people out there who have the chord mojo paired to an ipod, and feel
    it out performs many of the more popular daps…i can’t say as i haven’t heard any of them.

    • Reply January 30, 2016


      The new 128 gb iPod Touch that I bought definitely qualifies as audiophile grade. It’s much better than previous generations. It sounds better with a DAC attached, but not so much that I would call it lo-fi without the DAC. Experienced audiophiles would tell the difference right away, but less experienced users would not immediately know which is better. And if an experienced audiophile were stuck somewhere with this iPod only, they would get along with it just fine. All the frequencies are present, with low distortion, solid bass, treble sparkle and detail, proper soundstage, etc.

    • Reply February 7, 2016

      ohm image

      I’d go a bit farther than Dale and say that the iPod touch is as good, or better, than many audiophile DAPs. You may dislike certain things about it, but it performs (against industry standards) as well as many ‘audiophile’ DAPs.

      And, Apple devices are the only ones I’ve used that do gapless even on MP3s. It doesn’t get much more audiophile than that.

      • Reply February 7, 2016


        I’d still use an external amp for indoors listening – not much use outdoors though. The good news is that any enhancements you use in iPod music players will be applied to the digital data before it hits the DAC. The bad news is the same as the good news (heh), so use those enhancements very sparingly.

  • Reply February 26, 2016


    Hi! Wondering why the Sony zx2 “sucked across the board”? I have my own reservations but I want to get your side as well.

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