Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Dear Readers,

It is that time of year again: we’re all on holiday enjoying Christmas and New Year with our families and friends and we hope you’re doing just the same.

As you probably noticed we’ve been really busy this last year: we posted around 70 articles! I found that very impressive knowing is still a hobby for all of us. We hope you enjoyed reading all, or at least some, of them. Looking at the comment sections I do think that is the case and in the end that’s what it is all about, helping you guys out and getting some appreciation back in the process.

We haven’t had that many guest reviews this year (if any at all), something I will surely try to get back going again in 2014. If you feel like you’re up to the task, you can always contact us by using the form.

Like every year I asked our readers about their fav products of the year and the most nominated products were: Paradox, Hifiman HM700, iBasso DX50, The Abyss, Audez’e, KRK8400, Mad Dog, Vsonic GR07 MKII and Fiio’s X3. But surprise surprise, those aren’t in any of our lists.

I asked our main Headfonians (yes, I just invented that name) to share their top 2013 products with you as well, and this is the result:


* La Figaro 336 Classic

I loved this amp.  Although it is actually a few years old, it was new to me.  Dark, warm, and when paired with my HD650, a fantastic amp for classical, which makes up 90% of my musical diet.  The great build quality and excellent price add greatly to the value.  This amp never seems to have gotten the love it deserves, and sadly, seems to have been discontinued.  I can only hope that its replacement is able to improve even further on what the LF 336c did, because that would be an amazing amp.  I also hope they let me review it.

*ALO’s the Island

It’s a spacious, dynamic, slightly dark dac/amp that is also pretty easy on the wallet.  The bass impact on the Island is quite addictive, and its build quality is first rate.   Pair it with a nice, balanced set of cans, and you will have yourself a great little setup for at home or on the go.  The only thing I love more than great sounding gear is inexpensive, great sounding gear.  The Island is just that.

* Mr. Speakers upgrade policy

Being a headphone enthusiast can get expensive.  For those people without a lot of money, it can be a challenge, with new gear and upgrades coming out, besting your last purchase.  That’s why I love with all my heart the upgrade policy they have over at Mr. Speakers.  For those that don’t have the money for their flagship Alpha Dogs, they can simply buy their very nice Mad Dog phones, and then, when they have the money and feel like upgrading, they can get the Mad Dogs upgraded for simply the price difference between the two headphones.  This lets us upgrade our headphone collection without losing any money on our prior purchase.  This is a truly classy move that I hope they never stop doing.



* Philips Fidelio L2

There are a lot of great headphones released this year. LCD-X, XC, Alpha Dog, Sennheiser HD25-1 ALU, Aedle VK-1 and others I can’t list them all. But the most mind blowing to me has got to be the Fidelio L2. Not even the slightest amount of doubt despite all the other ones being extremely great headphones.


* Cypherlabs Theorem 720 DAC
People love the Astell & Kerns and I think they’re great stuff. However the one sound that keeps on ringing on my head is the CypherLabs Theorem DAC. That’s all that matters to me. The sound keeps on playing on my head.


* ALO Studio Six
The Studio Six. Read my review and my enthusiasm is plastered all over the article.

* RSA Intruder

Despite me not writing a review on it, the RSA Intruder. Ray asked me to do a review on it. I don’t think the review ever happened. But I have some at the store and every time I listened to the Intruder being paired with different headphones and IEMs, the sound captured me. It’s a very easy one to review: thick full sound, full mids and bass, clean background. It’s my sort of a sound, personalized. It manages to top the ALO International which was my favorite prior and also the legendary RSA SR-71A which I also loved. The RSA Intruder. Yeah.



* Schiit Vali
Total game changer. 130 USD. 1000 USD sound. An antagonist, or rather THE antagonist to the crazy headphone market which is evolving to 5000 USD headphones and gold coated amplifiers for 7000€ with 300€ components inside.


* Pirates
Not a product, but a way of mind leading to results. And I want results. The work that purrin/Marvin, Analixus/Mike and LFF/Luis do with Fostex T50RP, HiFiMAN HE-5, Sennheiser HD800 etc. Foam, microphones and subjective objectivism. I like.


* WiMP HiFi
Finally streamed lossless Music. No more buying/downloading FLAC’s. Sorting. Transferring. Etc. A new album you want to hear? BAM. There you have it. And it works with all sorts of platforms. From an iPod Touch to your dedicated laptop hooked to exotic DACs. And the library is constantly growing.


* Cypherlabs Solo -R

To me the best product of 2013 by far is the CypherLabs Solo -R for the simple reason that prior to that I did not use any DAC for portable use.

* Alpha Dog

The only new headphone I bought in 2013 (what else?) and the only one I have listened to since I received it. It’s just that good!

My top products might be a bit weird but I only use an iMac, iPod Classics and iPhones. I don’t believe in standalone DAPs other than my iPod Classics. (See article).



* ALO Studio Six

Simply the best tube amplifier I have listened to. If you do get the chance to listen to, or even own one, you really should. Top quality, sound and looks-wise.

* Alpha Dog

Mr. Speakers did it again. While I’m not a fan of the stock Fostex, I really love his latest creation. The 3D printed Alpha Dog sounds incredibly good, and together with the TH900 it is the best closed headphone on the market for me. We will certainly be reviewing it as soon as it gets here.

* Cypherlabs Theorem 720 DAC

I’ve always been a fan of the Cypherlabs gear but the latest dac/amp unit they released is really the best so far. Incredibly good DAC with a gorgeous amp, all in one unit with excellent battery life. I never leave home without it.

I realize my top 3 aren’t the cheapest of products but to me those 3 were the highlights of 2013. I wasn’t sure about selecting the Cosmic Ears BA4 or the Alpha Dog, but I think the Dog is the most impressive one. I’m sure that CE will be in next year’s top 3 with the BA5 or maybe even BA6. Another non product related highlight of course was the invitation and trip to Philips.

It was an awesome year! Do share with us in the comments what your products of the year were or that you would like to see on Headfonia in 2014. We appreciate the feedback.

I don’t want to spoil too much about our 2014 plans yet but I will share with you right now that I have managed to arrange a new contest with a unique, one of a kind prize with an estimated value over $500. We’re still working out the details so keep checking Headfonia soon for all the details…

Thanks again for the continued support and enjoy the holidays. Merry Christmas & Happy New Year everyone!

Best wishes,

Headfonia Team


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 24, 2013

    Dave Ulrich

    Wow Valentin, you liked the Vali a lot more than I did.

  • Reply December 26, 2013


    I’m surprised no one is wishing us happy holidays :p

    • Reply December 26, 2013

      George Lai

      ‘appy ‘olidays. Burp.

      • Reply December 26, 2013


        Thanks George, all the best to you too!

    • Reply December 26, 2013


      I would hate to wish for you what happened to me – I was at a fun party Sunday night, and didn’t drink any alcohol or take any substances, but they had some chip dip that had a small amount of jalapeno in it, and while I always avoid jalapenos, this one tasted mild enough to be enjoyable. Then the next day I was so sick I couldn’t do anything.
      So, have a happy holiday season and new year, and get full disclosure on those blended treats.

    • Reply December 27, 2013

      Carl A

      Yes, you are right to observe this. I was here the other night, read this along with the recommendations and actually thought ‘yep, should wish ’em happy xmas’ and yet didn’t. I carried on reading the recs, checking up on prices in different places etc, and soon after was elsewhere ….
      Not excusable, bearing in mind how much I love this place, and appreciate the help and advice given so generously. I often think if not highly of myself, then at least that I try to be awake to stuff that matters and this brings home that when it comes down to it, I am not.
      So please accept my apologies, from a regular who should have spent the minute it would have taken, to wish you both well(in fact to all the regulars here as well)
      I hope the rest of this week, and especially the new year, bring you much enjoyment and fulfillment.
      And continued thanks Lieven and Mike for keeping Headfonia as excellent a resource and as enjoyable a place to hang out, as it is. My single favourite place on the net.
      Be well.

      • Reply December 27, 2013


        Thank you Carl! Enjoy the holidays!

  • Reply December 27, 2013


    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, Lieven and Mike.
    Thank you for all y’all’s hardwork and looking forward to more exciting reviews to come.


    • Reply December 27, 2013


      Thanks man. all the same to you!

  • Reply December 27, 2013


    Feliz Navidad y prospero año nuevo from Spain. Best wishes for next year. Keep the great work going.

    • Reply December 27, 2013


      Thank you for your message. Appreciate it.

  • Reply December 30, 2013


    Happy New Year Headfonia~

    • Reply December 30, 2013


      All the same to you! thanks

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