BLOG: Because it’s 2016 – Nathan’s Selection


  • MyST 1704: Picture Sunday: MyST 1704 and PortAMP II. There’s a strange sort of madness that connects modern DAC interfaces like HDMI to NOS DAC chips. But the 1704 is a brilliant DAC, and made to last the years.
  • Pro-Ject Pre Box RS Digital: Review: Pro-Ject Pre Box RS Digital – Chameleon. While its headphone amp is just okay, its switchable DAC sections, outputs out the wazzoo, and a great pre-amp make this one-box solution one to watch.ak-xb10-15-of-20
  • Winner: Astell & Kern AK XB10: Review: Astell & Kern AK XB10 – You are the original. Sure, its battery life isn’t great, and sure, it’s got lots of hiss. But it works, measures well, and adds balanced output to everything with a solid Bluetooth connection. Strange, it only works well with players and phones with good antennas, viz., nothing from Astell & Kern.

DAPs on the next page:

4.3/5 - (21 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 January 1, 2017

    Barun C

    Yeah, the hits and misses are pretty much in line with what you wrote through out year Nathan. But I am surprised in once instance, you didn’t include PHATLAB AUDIO PHANTASY in the best of the year list.

    Anyway, happy new year to you, your family and all the people at HeadFonia. Watch the skies, look at the trees, stay away from any screen or digital devices and see how good it feels.

    • Reply January 2, 2017

      ohm image

      Barun, check page 5. Because damn, I would not forget PHAntasy. No way.

      • Reply January 3, 2017

        Barun C

        Oh. I missed that one. I thought to my self, after so much high praise you didn’t include that product. How can that be. Anyway, one thing, which I felt was a big change in 2016 is inclusion of two AK products in the best list, that was quiet a surprise.

        • Reply January 3, 2017

          ohm image

          It’s a hard tale: PHAntansy is the most beautiful amp I’ve ever used. It also makes a wonderful sound. But it is only really suited to high-Ω headphones. This is both audible and measurable.

          If it were stably able to drive headphones of less than 80Ω, I would have considered it for first spot. But the provisos attached to it are a bit heavy. Again, it is the most perfectly haptically engineered amp I’ve used, and when paired with the right headphone, superb.

          And yes, the AK thing is a bit surprise for me, too. I think their ducks are finally in a row.

  • Reply January 2, 2017


    I was wondering if anyone had a recommendation for a desktop amplifier that cost less or up to 250 USD that beats my current FiiO E12a in terms of detail and soundstage. It would be driving the beyerdynamic Dt990 (250 Ohm).
    Cheers and thanks in advance for any replies !

    • Reply January 3, 2017

      ohm image

      I’m afraid that I’ve got not experience with that FiiO.

    • Reply January 10, 2017


      I see Audio-GD NFB 11 for the same price and very popular on head-fi.

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