Yagız – Jr. Writer
I hope you’re having an okay year. It seems to me that wishing a great year won’t just cut it this year so I am going to stick with “okay.” It has been a tough year for all of us. We were challenged by this pandemic both physically and mentally. We learned a lot from it too. We changed our stubborn habits, we adapted. We learned to live restricted, we learned to be much more cautious than usual. If you can look past the mountains of negatives of the pandemic, there are some areas it actually made us grow. 2021 is almost here and I have big hopes that it will be a lot better than 2020. After all, before 2020 we would’ve thought a year like this could only happen in the delirious imagination of a Hollywood scriptwriter. Let’s see how fruitful 2021 will be for us audiophiles together. But first, I will try to select the best gear out of which I reviewed in 2020.
Best DAC & AMP Stack: JDS Labs Atom DAC & AMP
This combo costs around 200 bucks and it can easily compete with much higher price tags. Combined with the excellent customer service of JDS, I had no second thoughts about putting the stack here. If you’re looking for a resolving, tonally correct source, this is your best bet under under 300. Amazing price to performance ratio, small footprint on desk, easy to operate and plenty of power. Just brilliant.
Best Neckband Wireless: 1MORE Dual Driver ANC Pro Wireless In-Ear Headphones
There are many neckband wireless IEMs but this product is one of the rare devices that managed to set itself apart from the rest of them. It has excellent balanced tuning, effective active noise cancelling and a very handsome design. It has actually won a couple of design awards, too! All of that comes at a quite affordable tag of 149 USD.
Best TWS: Hifiman TWS800
Companies research and develop TWS earphones more and more often every passing month and they are quite serious as well! Hifiman is one of them, especially with TWS800. 800 features a balanced & natural presentation and it is technically impressive especially for a wireless IEM. It is not only a good IEM, but also a good all-rounder as well. It is a huge leap from TWS600 in my opinion and deserves to be here.
Best Budget TWS: Lypertek TEVI / PurePlay Z3
As for the best budget TWS, I chose the TEVI / PurePlay Z3. This particular choice was perhaps the hardest because there are some great TWS out there but considering the price, the SQ and the battery life, TEVI is the right choice in my opinion. TEVI has a balanced, Hi-Fi oriented sound signature with an impressive technical capability. It can tackle some earphones that are double the price. It has no ANC capability but it has excellent fit and provides excellent isolation instead. Just the sound quality alone would be enough for it to be here so yes I can say with confidence that TEVI deserves to be in this list 100 percent. Do note that the TEVI name is changing to PurePlay Z3, but these are the same units.
Honorable Mention: Geshelli Labs Archel 2.5 Pro
I actually did an interview with Geshelli Labs and reviewed their Archel 2.5 Pro headphone amplifier. It is quite a capable amp and it sounds very natural to my ears. It does not saturate or color the signature of your DAC, it reflects whatever you plug it into which makes it the perfect companion for most of the sources. Archel 2.5 Pro also punches above its price tag so I thought I could give a shoutout to it here. If you’re looking for an amp that does not mess with the tonality of your rig, you can trust this one.
Best Adapter: Shanling MW200
I had my fair share of adapters this year and many of them were just not practical enough or had incomplete feature set. However, my experience with MW200 was quite pleasant. I use it to liberate my favourite IEMs from cables and I had no problems with it at all, I can always control and update it OTA via my phone and it sounds great to my ears. For some people it can even replace TWS earphones. Additionally, call & mic quality is excellent and I find myself using it more and more during curfews, talking long hours with my friends.
Congratulations to all of our winners! May it motivate the competition to do even better next year 😉
If you have questions or suggestions about how we’re doing things, head over to the comments section and we’ll do our best to make Headfonia.com even better in 2021!
And of course don’t forget part 2 of our 2020 awards, which will be published on Thursday!