BLOG: 2017 Awards – Lieven’s Selection


2017 Awards – Year overview


The years seem to be getting shorter the longer I am running Headfonia. 2017 for me was one of the busiest years ever but it was a great year in which we saw a whole lot of new interesting gear in all price ranges. In 2017 we also noticed the escape from Head-Fi for what reviews are concerned, with dozens of mini blogs popping up. The review world is changing and companies are getting fed up with requests for review samples. In that regard I think we’ll see a change in 2018 where only the strong will survive. Don’t fear as Headfonia is one of the established values since 2009 already.

2017 also was a year in which we got to interview a whole lot of interesting people and companies. I don’t know for how much longer we’ll keep the interview series running but don’t worry, we already have some great new ideas to replace the series with. Just like last year most of the market in 2017 was about portable gear and I’m pretty confident the focus will be on portability in 2018 as well. At the same time we have some great desktop gear lined up for early 2018 reviews, so who knows, there might be some surprises.

In 2017 the Headfonia family has grown as well and there now next to me is Nathan, Dave, Linus and Berkhan who are writing a lot of reviews as well. In the end we get to cover more gear for the readers and that’s what it’s all about. With this team we also finally started doing video. We created the Headfonia Video Channel and of course we’ll ll be doing much more Watch-it! videos in 2018.

I’m the last of the crew to present you my favorite gear of 2017, but don’t forget to check out the selection of the other guys as well.

Linus and Berkan’ s selection is right here:

And Nathan’s picks right here:

But without further ado, here are my 2017 Awards.

Best Portable Player (Price no objection): Astell&Kern SP1000

The Astell&Kern Ultimate SP1000 is my winner of the year in the DAP (PNO) category. It’s a pleasure to work with, looks sublime and it sounds out of this world. The Sony NW-WM1Z obviously ended on the second spot, but the SP1000 is just magical with Balanced Armatures.

Best Portable Player (Best Value): Cayin N5ii

The best value DAP to no surprise is the full Android Cayin N5ii. The second revision of the N5 DAP is fully customizable, extremely versatile, perfectly built and it sounds incredible for its price. How could it not get an award? The AK70II did make it to our offices before the end of the year but we won’t be able to cover it this year on HFN anymore. Next year it might be the AK70II vs the Cayin N6ii, or who knows what the competition will come up with.

Best AMP/DAC (Price no objection): Chord Electronics Hugo 2

With the 2nd revision of the Hugo, Chord Electronics has blown away the competition. This desktop quality portable DAC/Amp does it all and delivers great sound quality, not only for portable gear but for desktop gear as well.

Best AMP/DAC (Best Value): AudioQuest DragonFly RED

While not new, AudioQuest right from the start made it clear the DragonFly would be upgradable. This year AQ launched the upgrade tool and made the DragonFly MQA compliant. In next week’s video you’ll find out how to upgrade and what the difference in sound really is. And who knows, we might even give away a couple if we’re in a good mood. Anyway, the DragonFLy is still extremely popular and we get so many questions about that, that it was an easy choice.

Best Cable (Price no objection): Effect Audio Horus

Because of a slight technical issue we haven’t gotten round to posting the full review yet, but we did cover the Horus already on our YouTube channel. For me it sonically is one of the very best cables I’ve ever listened to and it deserves the award.

Best Cable (Best Value): PlusSound EXO

One of he cables that surprised me most was the PlusSound EXO cable that came delivered with the PlusSound Prism IEM. The great thing about it not only is the build quality and affordable price, but the fact that it plays well with every single monitor you combine it with. A perfect all-round cable!

More awards on Page 2! Click HERE or use the jump below.

3.9/5 - (27 votes)

Lieven is living in Europe and he's the leader of the gang. He's running Headfonia as a side project next to his full time day job in Digital Marketing & Consultancy. He's a big fan of tube amps and custom inear monitors and has published hundreds of product reviews over the years.


  • Reply December 27, 2017

    George Lai

    To the entire team at Headfonia, thank you for such great reads and Happy New Year from Singapore.

  • Reply December 28, 2017


    Hugo 2?

    • Reply December 28, 2017


      Are you seriously asking if the Hugo 2 got an award?

  • Reply February 6, 2018

    Paolo Zucchetto

    I rewrite everything. I have SHURE SE846, amp Alo audio CDM, Astell & Kern AK300 and Focal Elear. I would change everything with the following devices:
    Are better the SHURE se846 or HIFI RE2000. How are the AKT8iE MKII and the Bayerdynamic Xelento headphones? Are better ALO CDM or Chord Mojo? How does Sony NW-WM1A play? I love music with deep bass, bass with the tail. I like also mids warm and details. Excuse me if I don’t write well.
    Paolo Zucchetto

    • Reply February 7, 2018


      I’m sorry Paulo, but you’re asking for too much
      RE2000 vs AKt8ie vs se846 vs me1 vs xelento: Akt8ie vs Xelento was reviewed and the rest are with different reviewers.
      Mojo vs cdm (was discussed already)
      Vorzuge was reviewed
      WM1A was reviewed

      We like to help, but don’t ask for the impossible before searching and reading up yourself. We’re not personal consultants 😉
      Good luck.

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