It’s time for the 2nd part of the 2020 Awards now. After Lieven, Berkhan and Yagiz, now Linus, Matty and Nano reveal their selections!
Linus – Senior Writer
2020 – what a year, huh?
Who‘d have thought that we will spend most of it indoors and isolated. Good thing us audiophiles can just kick back and listen to our music with excellent gear, right?
This year has brought us a lot of new gear, and it seems that even the pandemic couldn‘t stop the productive minds of all audio brands. My biggest thanks goes out to all of them who have helped squeeze a smile into the many faces of high fidelity audio consumers.
In this year, I have gotten the chance to listen to a lot of great products. But at a certain point it‘s time to name the best of the best. And now it‘s my turn to present you my selection.
So without further ado – please welcome the award winners of 2020 in their respective categories.
Best Universal IEM
Empire Ears – Odin
There aren‘t many universal IEMs that I‘d take before my customs. But the Empire Ears Odin is certainly one universal that I bring with me on many occasions. The Odin combines many traits that are important to me. Spectacular bass, great midrange and stellar technical performance. Some people might be put off by the upper-midrange forward signature, but to me it complements many other of my monitors very well and takes a spot as one of my personal favorites.
The Odin is definitely one of the very best monitors money can buy right now. And it clearly was the best universal IEM that made its way to me this year. There‘s no doubt it deserves to be crowned Best Universal IEM of 2020.
Best Custom IEM
64 Audio – A18s
The A18s has been released as 64 Audio‘s co-flagship CIEM next to the already excellent A18t, which also won the Best CIEM award in 2017. The A18s builds up on the same 18-driver configuration of the A18t but goes for a smoother and slightly warmer sound. The A18s combines technical finesse with a full bodied and natural sound. A combination that is rarely found in todays market, but the A18s does it like no other. It‘s a sound that can be powerful, engaging and soothing in the same monitor.
Flux Lab Acoustics – FA-10
The FA-10 is one amplifier like hardly any other. It comes with full 16 Watts, yes you‘ve read that right, output power. A very clean, yet well bodied sound and on top is still affordable. The FA-10 has quickly become one of my personal favorites as an amplifier as it simply doesn‘t do anything wrong.
It manages any headphone I throw at it, and seems to push each and everyone of them to its limits. If you are a fan of the HiFiMAN Susvara, you should definitely check it out with the FA-10. Sublime is all I‘m saying.
Best Desktop Source
Chord Electronics – Hugo TT2
If there has been one product that has transformed my listening habits this year, it‘s definitely the Hugo TT2 by Chord Electronics. Once I installed it in my two channel system it has made me question my headphone listening setup. Not that they sound bad, far from it, but the Hugo TT2 just creates something magical with my speakers that is so much more enjoyable when sitting on the couch and listening to my favorite records. It creates space, body and emotion and on top it couples it with sheer resolution and excellent layering and positioning. The Hugo TT2 is bringing home yet another award to Chord Electronics and their team of designers. Simply fantastic.
Best Portable Source
Lotoo – PAW S1
I have been a big fan of Lotoo‘s products, but nothing has gotten me as curious as the PAW S1. It‘s a miniature DAC/amp that connects to your phone or Laptop. Heck, it can even be used with gaming consoles. The PAW S1 features a 3.5 and 4.4mm output and comes with Lotoo‘s extremely well designed parametric EQ filters. As we know from Lotoo‘s DAPs the PAW S1 comes with an immensely low noise floor that keeps even the most sensitive IEMs quiet.
The PAW S1 is the perfect choice for anyone who wants top notch sound quality, but doesn‘t want to miss the comfort of his phone.
Eletech – Iliad
Eletech is a fresh company from Singapore with a lot of ambition. The team has a lot of knowledge about the personal audio scene from previous engagements and that shows in their products. The Iliad is meticulously crafted with the utmost attention to detail. Highest grade components, built to best specifications and on top it sounds bloody wonderful.
The Iliad brings out a massive sense of space, incredible detailing and a background darker than Covid itself. Combine it with a monitor like the A18t and you‘ll be left in awe. It makes up for a ridiculously great pairing that I am sure many people will love. I sure do, as it hasn‘t left my A18t at all.
Alright, that‘s it. My selection of the best 2020 had to offer.
Now I want to take a brief moment and give a shout out to everyone of the readers here on Headfonia. I know this year has been tough, and the sad truth is, that it isn‘t over yet. We will still have to keep up with this pesky virus for at least another couple of months. It‘s vital to not lose sight of the important things in life though. Enjoy the little things and enjoy it with a good portion of high class audio and music.
Then there is one more thing. As some, probably nobody, have noticed I did take a step back from publishing new content here on Headfonia since October. I needed to take a step back and focus on other curveballs life threw at me. I had to shift my time around to the things that needed it more. And I will still have to do this in the months to come. So, I really want to thank each and everyone of you here reading this. The past years since I joined the Headfonia review squad have been a pleasure and it was incredible to review and write so much. I don‘t know if or when I will be back to bring more audio related lines to the world wide web, but for now it‘s farewell. Thank you for an amazing four years.
Seriously though. Hopefully everyone here is staying safe and healthy. It will all get better. Promise.
And now on to the personal 2020 Awards of Matty on the next page! CLICK HERE