Soundphile Review’s best: headphones, DACs, amplifiers and DAPs

Best of Soundphile Review

Finding your way around all the gear that’s available on the market can be quite challenging: there are lots of different products that offer seemingly similar performance in the same price range, so understanding what’s the best option can be quite difficult. That’s true even when one has many reviews available, as having an eagle-eye view of the different ratings is not easy. Here you will find a quick guide to the gear I review indexed by type and with a brief summary of the main features. With this guide I would like to help you find the best headphones, best IEM, best DAC, best amp and best DAP among those I reviewed.

Please note that these are the best options among those that I reviewed, so better options may exist out there – I just won’t comment on things I haven’t tried or I could not compare directly to the gear I own or tried in the past. This collection will keep on growing and changing based on the gear I try, so keep that in mind!

Last updated: December 2021

Best In-ear Headphones (IEM)

Best IEM in-ear headphones

In-ear headphones, or In-Ear Monitors (hence IEM), are headphones that fit inside the ear canal. Among earphones, they are the ones that offer the best isolation, but they also require eartips to fit correctly into the ears and choosing the right tips is fundamental to have a good listening experience. Most of the time they are closed-back, although open-back IEMs exist. You can find all the reviews here: in-ear headphones reviews.

On top of reporting the rating, you will find information on the drivers the headphones use: dynamic drivers (DD), balanced armatures (BA), a mix of the two (H) or a planar driver (P).

Best earphones under $50:

  • Tin HiFi T2 Plus (DD, 9.6): an update to the famed T2, the T2 Plus feature better comfort and a better balanced tuning that keeps the signature Tin HiFi tuning intact while offering something that more people will like.
  • Tin Audio T2 (DD, 9.5): Tin Audio’s claim to fame is one of the best in-ear headphones under $100, and my personal favourite among those. It gets the second top spot not only because its value is stellar, but because it would be a great product even at three times its price. Its neutral-bright tuning and wonderful technical ability make it a great choice for everyone.
  • BLON BL-03 (DD, 8.8): some headphones are more heavily hyped than others. The BLON BL-03 are among them, having been called “giant killers” and “as good as top headphones”. That’s simply not true. But at the launching price of $39, they completely redefine what to expect from budget earphones and set a very high bar for others to clear. Quoting the review, “they are probably the go-to earphones under $50 right now”. And they will probably be for a while, considerations on tuning preferences aside. So don’t expect them to blow your mind, but keep in mind they’re quite good: they have a relatively neutral signature, with some added bass, and good technical ability.
  • CCA C10 (H, 8.5): the CCA C10 take the ZS10 Pro and improve on their technical ability adding more bass extension on top. The result is a relatively V-shaped IEM which is quite engaging and easy to enjoy, with enough technicalities to be quite interesting for the price range.

Best earphones under $100:

  • Tin Audio T3 (H, 9.6): the Tin Audio T3 are probably the best in-ear headphones you can buy right now under $100. They offer a neutral signature with a touch of brightness, complemented by great technical ability. They have more bass than the T2, so they are great from any perspective and for whatever genre you may want to listen to.
  • Moondrop Aria (DD, 9.5): the Aria are basically the KXXS with a different paint job and a lower price. The differences are so small, they’re negligible. This makes the Aria super-recommended, as they offer a Harman-like curve with good technical ability – a combination many will find great.
  • Shozy Form 1.1 (H, 8.8): with just two drivers and a low price point, the Shozy Form 1.1 are a good alternative to the Tin HiFi T3. With more sub-bass and less emphasis on upper midrange and lower treble. They’re not as detailed, but they’re still plenty good!
  • 1More Triple Driver (H, 8.8): 1More’s most famous IEMs deserve the attention they got, as they offer relatively neutral tuning (with some added fun) coupled with good technical ability. This, together with the good build quality and the slew of accessories they come with, makes them especially likeable.
  • Shanling ME80 (DD, 8.5): the ME80 are basically a scaled-down verin of the ME500 and, as such, offer an almost-neutral signature with a good level of detail and very good technicalities. They’re also extrmely comfortable!
  • EarStudio HE100 (DD, 8.5): Radsone’s first earphones use a single dynamic driver and create a highly enjoyable and well-balanced V-shaped sound signature with it. They’re also very comfortable and have good technical ability.

Best earphones under $300:

  • Moondrop KXXS (DD, 9.2): Moondrop’s Kanas series is well-known for offering an almost-neutral signature that closely follows Harman’s target curve. The KXXS are no exception, and in fact they are highly enjoyable IEMs with good technical ability and great comfort.
  • Tin HiFi T4 (H, 9): the Tin HiFi T4 take the T3 and improve them in almost every possible way. They have a bit more bass presence and better technical ability which make them pretty great, even though they cost two times as much.
  • Tin HiFi P1 (P, 9): if we were to judge earphones by tuning alone, the P1 would be solidly on top. Alas the way they present soundstage and imaging has a few quirks that makes music appear odd, so they make the P1 quite polarising. They’re still among the best earphones you can buy right now and probably the best bet if you care for tuning first and foremost.
  • ThieAudio Legacy 4 (H, 8.8)
  • Shanling ME500 Platinum Edition (H, 8.7): Shanling’s ME500 offer a similar tuning to that of Tin HiFi’s earphones, but add better technical ability on top of it. This makes them especially alluring, as they then add a superb build quality and good comfort on top of that.
  • Shozy x Neo CP (BA, 8.5): if you look for a neutral(ish) sound signature and superb passive noise isolation, look no further. The Shozy x Neo CP are as good as earplugs, but they also offer great sound that’s detailed and accurate. Their weird shape requires some adjusting to, but the reward is worth it.
  • Shozy Form 1.4 (H, 8.5): Shozy’s second IEMs in the Form line-up deliver a well-balanced signature, with a slight U shape that makes it more lively and engaging, complemented by a high level of detail and superb comfort.
  • ThieAudio Legacy 3 (H, 8.5): beyond the gaudy looks of these earphones is an expertly-crafted signature that will probably make you fall in love with it. Although the technical side is not the best you can find, the tuning is done so well you forget about the rest.

Best earphones under $500:

  • Fearless Audio S8 Pro (BA, 9): the Fearless Audio S8 Pro earn their “Pro” moniker thanks to an incredibly balanced and almost neutral signature, accompanied by a highly competent technical ability. Large soundstage, good imaging and superb instrument separation are among the strong points of the S8 Pro, together with their good comfort and the excellent isolation.
  • Toneking T88K (BA, 9): the Toneking T88K are more mid-forward than most other earphones in this list. Their peculiar tuning works well for a variety of genres and is never fatiguing or boring. Their technical ability is remarkable indeed. They may not be incredibly comfortable, but this is a minor flaw.
  • Fearless Audio S6 RUI (BA, 8.6): the S6 RUI are a scaled-down version of the S8 Pro which keeps most of the good things, such as very good technical ability, but adds a bit of fun in the tuning in the form of bass and a touch of brightness.

Best earphones under $1,000:

  • Fearless Audio S10 Genie (BA, 9.7): among the most technically accomplished earphones on the market right now, the Fearless Audio S10 Genie are great earphones from any perspective. They have a bright signature with elevated treble which is never fatiguing and only showcases the extreme amount of detail better. Comfortable, well-made and with superb sound, the S10 Genie are a keeper.
  • Moondrop A8 (BA, 9.5): these earphones are not only transparent because they use transparent resin for the shells, but also because their tuning follows the Harman curve and is well made. They’re really balanced and likeable, with a very good amount of detail and good technical ability.

Best earphones over $1,000:

  • Campfire Audio Vega 2020 (DD, 8): the Vega 2020 are quite a fun earphone, with a coloured tuning that comes paired with very good technical ability and great detail retrieval. I also find them quite comfortable and very well built.
  • Campfire Audio Dorado 2020 (H, 8): the Dorado 2020 are basically a Vega 2020 with an additional balanced armature which adds more colouration in the midrange and treble areas, making them even more “fun-orientated” than the sibling model. Everything else, accessories included, is identical!

Best Bluetooth Earphones

1More Dual Driver BT ANC Pro review

Bluetooth has taken the audio world by storm in the past few years, going from a sub-bar way of listening to music to one that’s actually good (and convenient). Here’s a selection of the best Bluetooth earphones I’ve reviewed so far:

  • 1More Dual Driver ANC Pro (H, 8): a definite improvement over their predecessors, the Dual Driver ANC Pro delivers stunning detail and technicalities for a Bluetooth headset while pairing them with a well-working ANC feature and a signature that most people will like.
  • 1More Triple Driver BT (H, 7.8): these are actually the Triple Driver with a Bluetooth neckband attached to them. Enough said!
  • 1More Stylish Dual-Driver Bluetooth (H, 7.5): yes, it’s the third 1More product here, but it’s notable because it delivers very good sound quality while keeping the price low. It’s a good compromise for those who want Bluetooth and good sound without breaking the bank.

Best True Wireless Earphones

Lypertek SoundFree S20 review

“True wireless” is a concept that is gaining more and more traction since Apple introduced the AirPods. It’s a concept that needs perfecting for audiophile applications, but which is steadily improving. Here are the best “true wireless” earphones I reviewed so far:

  • Lypertek Tevi (DD, 8.5): from a purely acoustic standpoint, the Lypertek Tevi are amazing. They are almost neutral and they are also enjoyably technically capable. On top of that they have good battery life and good connection quality. Probably among the best TWS earphones on the market right now!
  • Lypertek PurePlay Z3 2.0 (DD, 8.5): the PurePlay Z3 2.0 are the second-generation Tevi and take the tuning in a new direction, more akin to the Harman target than to the diffuse field one used on the first-gen earphones. All the other basics are almost identical, so they’re definitely worth checking out!
  • Sony WF-1000XM3 (DD, 8.5): Sony’s second-generation (despite the “3” in the name) true wireless earphones are a hit that delivers grat quality on all fronts. Sony’ signature bassy tuning is complemented by great technical ability and useful features, including possibly the best ANC implementation out there and great battery life.
  • Shanling MTW300 (DD, 8.3): the MTW300 take the great neutral-like tuning that’s a hallmark of Shanling and make it easily accessible in a wireless format, adding IPX7 certification and the aptX codec on top. Their 10-hour battery life seals the deal!
  • Moondrop Sparks (DD, 8.2): the Sparks are as close as you can get to a wireless version of the Aria and they deliver great sound quality with interesting functionality and good battery life, all with a design that really sets itself apart from the mass.
  • Lypertek SoundFree S20 (DD, 8): Lypertek is back again with another model that delivers a warmer, more U-shaped signature than the Tevi while adding wireless charging and making the whole package more affordable. A great TWS if you like a more vivacious tuning!

A special mention goes to the Elevoc Clear and the SoundLiberty P10 Pro, for having respectively the best microphone and possibly the best ANC in the sub-$100 range.

Best Earbuds

Best earbuds

Earbuds are, in a sense, the opposite of in-ear headphones: while they are earphones and have similar pros and cons due to this, they do not go directly in the ear canal and do not offer any seal. This makes them more open-sounding, but also has the drawback of providing no isolation nor prevention of sound leaking to the outside.

  • Venture Electronics Zen 2.0 (9.5): VE’s top product is one that achieved a great reputation among earbud lovers due to its technical ability and pleasantly warm frequency response. It is a testament to VE’s commitment to earbuds and one of my favourite headphones in general – it ticks all the right boxes, all while keeping price in the affordable range.
  • Venture Electronics Asura 2.0s (9.1): the Asura 2.0s are a better version of the Asura 2.0 with more low-end punch and consequent better balance. They’re still bright earbuds that count on technical ability to stand out from the crowd. Their most noticeable feature is their speed and impact: transients are physical and really satisfying. Their balance, despite some brightness, makes them great all-rounders.
  • Venture Electronics Monk Plus (8.8): the Monk Plus are one of the few products that got to reach cult status among audio aficionados. They got to win this remarkable achievement with a deceptively simple tactic: by providing great sound quality at just $5. The Monk Plus are actually quite good even when compared to $40 or even $50 earbuds, so they don’t fit in here just because they are cheap. They are a great introduction to better-quality headphones or a great addition to any established collection. One thing’s for sure: the quality/price ratio is the highest among all of the products listed here!

Best Full-size Headphones

Best headphones

There are many ways one could divide the general full-size headphones category: closed or open back, on or over ear, dynamic or planar or electrostatic, wired or wireless… I will divide the headphones in two main categories, wired and wireless, and the former will be further divided in open back and closed back. The type of driver will also be reported similarly to IEMs (DD: dynamic driver; P: planar driver).

Best closed-back headphones

  • Meze 99 Classics (DD, 9.5): Meze’s 99 Classics are true to their name, with a design that’s a mix of classic and new and that’s sure to impress. Their warm, enveloping tuning is perfectly matched to the looks and it comes with great technical ability.
  • Creative Aurvana SE (DD, 8.5): these little marvels are deceivingly small, as their sound is much bigger than their size would imply. Their tuning is fun, yet still accurate, and their technical ability is better than the average at their price point. If you can put up with their spartan looks, they sound exceptional for the price.
  • 1More Triple Driver Over Ear (DD, 8): 1More’s over-ear model takes almost everything good from the in-ear units and brings it to the larger form factor, though it also adds something to have a more V-shaped tuning. Comfort may be a bit of an issue for some, but soundwise they’re great!

Best open-back headphones:

  • HiFiMAN Arya (P, 9): the Arya are many people’s go-to headphones due to their great tuning and technical ability. They are the quintessential HiFiMAN headphones: slightly bright, but overall well balanced to deliver a reproduction that’s enjoyable for both critical and fun listening sessions. That they are also incredibly comfortable is an added plus.
  • HiFiMAN HE-560 (P, 9): often overlooked, the HE-560 are among the best headphones ever made by HiFiMAN in terms of both tuning and comfort – in fact, they are a favourite of mine in both those departments. A slightly bright, yet fully loaded with sub-bass signature meets good technical ability and amazing comfort.
  • HiFiMAN Ananda (P, 9): they’re not everyone’s cup of tea, but the Ananda offer a bright signature with great detail and technical ability and top it all up with great comfort. They are a reference in the sub-$1000 range.
  • Hyland Headphones Saturn One (DD, 8.8): the Saturn One are really special: every unit is unique, as they are handmade in England. They offer great technical ability which really stands out in their price range, plus an enjoyable tuning which delivers deep lows and emphasised highs.
  • HarmonicDyne Helios (DD, 8.5): as massive in size and weight as they are in sound, the Helios offer a signature that’s involving and fun. Their V-shaped tuning is done well enough to attract both experienced audiophiles and newcomers alike.
  • HarmonicDyne Zeus (DD, 8.5): the Zeus are basically Helios with a warmer, more relaxed character that actually changes the listening experience quite a bit and is a bit more refined.
  • HiFiMAN Sundara (P, 8.3): the Sundara are a great entry point in the planar world with a highly likeable tuning coupled with great technical ability and extremely good comfort. They’re among the best you can find below $400 if you are looking for a neutral, slightly bright presentation.
  • BLON B20 (P, 8.1): people always look for the next “giant killer”, but some headphones are just in the right place. The BLON B20 are very good headphones for their asking price of ~$450: they have some tuning issues which are however easily forgotten thanks to their very good technical ability.
  • HiFiMAN HE6se v2 (P, 8): you might be surprised to find these headphones so far down the list, but that’s because of their MSRP of $1,800, which is frankly too high for these headphones. At $700, a price which you can regularly find these headphones on sale for, they are much better value and deserve to be on top of this list. That’s because they have an admirably almost-neutral tuning paired with fantastic technical ability, despite being fairly hard to drive. At sale price they’re almost a steal.

Here are what I consider the best Bluetooth headphones:

  • HiFiMAN Deva Pro (P, 9): the Deva Pro are an evolution of the Deva that offer a more classic colour scheme, plus a new Bluemini with an R2R DAC and compatibility with split stereo cables. It’s also got the new “stealth” magnets and a warmer, more engaging sound signature.
  • HiFiMAN Deva (P, 9): the Deva are actually hybrid headphones, as they are wired but can be made wireless using the Bluemini module. They’re open back, which is a rarity among Bluetooth headphones, but they aim to be the reference for audiophiles that want a set to go about the house without the burden of cables. Their great battery life and comfort make them especially enjoyable.
  • Cleer Flow II (D, 8.8): at less than $200, the Flow II are among the best Bluetooth headphones with noise cancelling in their price range. That’s not only because their ANC feature works damn well, but also because their sound signature is almost neutral and will certainly please those who like Diffuse Field-like tunings. They also have a very long battery life and they’re extremely comfortable. My girlfriend also likes them, so I think there’s nothing more to say!

Best Portable DAC/Amplifier

Portable DAC with amplifier:

  • iFi hip dac (9.5): slightly smaller than the Topping NX4 DSD, the hip dac is able to deliver an astounding 400 mW of power. It uses the 4.4 mm jack to deliver balanced output and has iFi’s signature XBass technology. It also has long battery life, which is even more impressive.
  • Topping NX4 DSD (9): the NX4 DSD has quickly become one of the most recommended portable DAC/amps and that’s because of a few factors: it’s well-built, it offers lots of power (even more than the Dacamp L1!), has great measurements and is truly affordable. There’s nothing more one could ask from a product, though the NX4 DSD has also a few flaws that prevent it from being on top of this list.
  • iFi xDSD (9): the only thing the xDSD lacks is balanced output. If we take this out, it has everything: lots of power (500 mW), smart effects (3D+ and XBass+), Bluetooth connection, USB connection, great build quality, great design, great sound, good battery life… It’s great both on the move and at the desk!
  • E1DA PowerDAC v2 (9): while it admittedly caters to a niche, the PowerDAC v2 offers astonishing detail and speed which are complemented by great power output and a mobile app that allows one to tailor the listening experience to their preference. A real gem!
  • EarStudio HUD100 (9): this diminutive DAC is meant to be used with notebooks, but nothing stops you from using it with a mobile phone given its size! Despite being so small it’s quite powerful and it’s able to drive even high-impedance headphones with ease.

Mobile DACs offer an incredibly compact form factor that allows them to be used together with mobile phones or DAPs:

  • Creative SXFi AMP (10): with half a Watt of power output and a companion app with lots of options, the Creative SXFi AMP is a little engineering miracle. It’s one of the best mobile DACs on the market even if we don’t take the whole SXFi tech into account (and that really works wonders, too!).
  • Shanling UA2 (9.5): the UA2 is quite a great product, as it’s small, light and it offers a balanced connection. It also has a removable cable, so you can pair it with almost any device out there. Its large output of nearly 200 mW makes it able to drive most headphones effortlessly.
  • Venture Electronics Odyssey HD (9): USB-C audio is surely a mess, but the Venture Electronics Odyssey HD tries to bring order (and quality) there with an insightful form factor that’s convenient both with phones and with notebook PCs.
  • Zorloo Ztella (8.8): this extremely small dongle is MQA-enabled, so those looking for native MQA decoding on their mobile phones or laptops without compromising on the protability should look at the Ztella.

Mobile DACs with Bluetooth give you the flexibility of the wireless experience without renouncing to good audio quality:

  • EarStudio ES100 (10): they are probably not the best of this bunch in absolute terms, but they are in terms of what you get for the price. High power output, Bluetooth, a superb companion app, USB DAC mode and a whole lot of options, plus balanced output. It’s just great!
  • Shanling UP4 (8.8): the UP4 offers quite a large amount of options: you can use it wired or with Bluetooth, and in that second case you can choose between SBC, AAC, aptX, aptX HD, aptX LL, LDAC and LHDC. It also has balanced output and long battery life. Given its size, it’s really a great device.
  • Shanling UP5 (8.5): the Shanling UP5 is a bigger UP4 that offers 4.4 mm output as well as an OLED screen that make it more flexible and easier to use – and it keeps all the good things about the UP4, too! Its only real downside is that it is more expensive.
  • FiiO BTR3K (8.2): the BTR3K offers most of the features of the UP4 in a more compact form factor. Its only limit is the relatively low power output, which is however offset by its great battery life, large array of compatible codecs and minute size.

Best Portable Amplifier

The following portable amplifiers do not integrate a DAC and therefore need a source (be it a DAP, a smartphone or a portable DAC):

  • Head ‘n’ HiFi Objective2 (10): a true legend among audiophiles, Nwavguy’s design set the new standard for amplifiers. Not only is it powerful and neutral, but it is portable too thanks to the presence of two (replaceable!) 9 V batteries inside. Truly a must-have and a paragon for any current and future amplifier.
  • Venture Electronics RunAbout 2.0bl (10): one of the few amplifiers on the market that feature 2.5 mm balanced input and output. The RunAbout 2.0bl gets everything right and its only fault is the large size; everything else from build quality to sound quality is stellar. It’s transparent (or neutral, if you wish) and provides lots of power, so you can drive practically every headphone without feeling the need for more.
  • iFi xCAN (9): this portable marvel has it all: Bluetooth, balanced input and output, large power (1 W!) and good battery life. It works as a stand-alone device, but only through Bluetooth; the only thing it does not have is in fact the ability to be used through USB (and that’s why it is first and foremost an amplifier).
  • Topping NX1s (8): the NX1s sits at the bottom of Topping’s offering, but it has some pretty good qualities that make it a good choice if you are looking for a small, compact amplifier for strictly portable use.

Best Desktop DAC

Best desktop DAC

Desktop DACs are meant to be used on a desk or in any other place where they have access to mains power – they are meant to be used in homes, offices or other indoors and they are not portable. Some of them also have an amplification stage, so you’ll find an “amp” beside the rating if that’s the case. Here’s a selection of desktop DACs:

  • Topping DX7 (with amp, 9): the DX7 and its successor the DX7s are versatile all-in-one devices with just one flaw: the high output impedance of both the single-ended and the balanced outputs. Yes, they feature single-ended and balanced outputs both for headphones and for other devices (line out), and can act as a preamp. It’s really well-thought and well put together. It’s not by chance that I keep using it daily!
  • iFi iDSD Diablo (with amp, 9): part of the iDSD family, the Diablo surely lives up to its name with a fiery red colour and almost 5 W of output. It’s so powerful that many amplifiers connected directly to the mains are no match for it! The only limitation is in terms of connections: you only have USB and optical. On the other hand, though, it’s transportable.
  • iFi ZEN DAC (with amp, 9): small yet powerful, the ZEN DAC’s original design sets it apart. Its sub-$150 price makes it especially palatable given that it offers great performance. It also includes balanced output, which is quite rare in its market segment.
  • xDuoo XD-05 Bal (with amp, 9): the XD-05 Bal is smaller than the previous generation and the competition, but it still packs quite a punch with 1 W of output from both single-ended and balanced outputs, together with a mssive array of connections that includes Bluetooth.
  • Topping D30 (8.8): this entry-level DAC is an all-time favourite of a lot of audiophiles due to its great value. It is dead neutral, it supports a lot of formats and it’s affordable. That says it all, I think?

Best Desktop Headphone Amplifier

Best desktop amplifier

Headphone amplifiers take the analogue signal produced by DACs or DAPs and amplify it, as the name says, so that they can drive headphones. We have – once again – two large families: solid state amplifiers and tube (or valve) amplifiers. There are then a few situations where the two categories mix up, by they are mostly made of products which use tubes for preamplification.

Here are the solid state amplifiers:

  • iFi micro iCAN SE (9): the micro iCAN SE offers a good amount of power in a small package. That’s enough for most people, but this amplifier takes it to the next level by also offering analogue equalization to boost either bass or soundstage width.
  • Topping A30 (8.5): the Topping A30 is among the best amplifiers in the affordable section as it offers enough power and a dead neutral response with little money. The “Topping stack”, made of the A30 and D30, is a great introductory choice for beginners and people who want great performance at an affordable price.

These are the tube amplifiers:

  • Little Dot MKIII SE (9.5): a true powerhouse, the Little Dot MKIII SE is a hybrid amplifier which uses tubes for the preamplification stage and then uses discrete solid-state components for amplification. It’s capable of outputting 2 W and offers balanced input and output, which make it really flexible and capable of driving even the most demanding headphones.
  • APPJ PA1502A (8.5): this little device is famous for being affordable yet offering large value, as it has a balanced stock tuning accompanied by 1 W power output. The APPJ PA1502A is a pure tube amplifier, so it doesn’t work well with planars but does a wonderful job with high-impedance dynamic drivers.

Best DAP

Best DAP

There are a few DAPs out there, with a variety of firmware options: we can divide them in two groups, the Android-based DAPs and the custom firmware DAPs.

The following are custom firmware-based DAPs:

  • Shanling M2X (8.5): Shanling’s latest pocketable device does everything well and offers practically anything one could ask for. Its firmware is easy to navigate and to use, with plenty of options, and the sound is transparent and with good enough power output.
  • Aune M1s (8): despite its age, the M1s is still a very compelling device due to its incredibly fast rendering of sound. It’s neutral, but everything sounds different on the M1s due to it delivering a lot of speed (and a good amount of power, too). It’s easy to use and battery life is decently long. That’s about as good as you can get.
  • xDuoo X10T II (8): this one is a bit of an outlier, as it requires the use of an external DAC and amplfier. It is basically just a digital transport, so it can’t work on its own. This lends it a lot of flexibility, so the user can choose what to use for their amplification needs – no need to bypass internal DAC and amp if the player has none, right?
  • xDuoo X3-II (7.5): this entry-level device is nice to use, but it’s not super powerful nor does it offer too many options. It’s good enough for basic use, though!

These are Android-based DAPs:

  • FiiO M9 (8.5): FiiO’s midrange offer is solid both in features and build quality. The M9 offers a closed approach to Android, but complements that with a solid implementation with all the features one would want and a tailored experience.
  • HiBy R5 (7.5): HiBy’s stunning design and the incredibly high power output make the R5 quite an interesting proposition that also offers an open Android implementation with access to the Play Store. The low-quality touchscreen and software issues keep it from being truly great, though: the rewards for those who can put up with these issues are great, but this is not a device for everyone.


  1. Hi, congratulations for your Reviews site! Could please suggest me the best choice for an in-ear headphone suitable to the Classical music and Jazz music listening, by considering that I am actually using a HifiWalker H2 and all my audio files are Flac 44.1 KHz/16bit or upper. Please let me know your indications either in the range less 100 $ and – if possible – more than 100 $ (but not too much!). Many thanks in advance.
    Giuliano G. – Italy

    1. Hi Giuliano,
      I recommend you to buy either the Tin HiFi T3 (if you like brighter tunings) or the Shozy Form 1.1 (if you like warmer ones) under $100, or the Tin HiFi T4 over $100.

      1. Thank you so much Riccardo for your quick reply. Tin Hifi T4 seems to be really the best option, also because I have seen that the price is affordable now on Aliexpress, below 100 $. However, I forgot to tell you that I am a wearer of eyeglasses, so I am afraid that it could be difficult to find a good and comfortable fit for me, as also you underlined in your post regarding T4. Do you believe that it would be better for me to look for a model suitable to be worn hanging down or anyway try to find a comfortable wearing way with T4? Because on other hands, question is if does exist a good alternative, considering the types of music which I listen, that is classical and jazz. I apologize, as I was not so precise in my first question! Kind regards. Giuliano

        1. You can buy another cable or remove the heat shrink plastic so that you can wear them with the cable hanging down! As for an alternative, at that price it’s honestly really hard to find one. I’ve heard the Shuoer Tape are fantastic, but I haven’t tried them myself.

  2. Hi! Great article, thanks a lot. What would be your choice for the best In-ear Headphones while riding a motorcycle since noise isolation is very important? Under 100$ and under 150$?
    Thanks a lot!
    Best regards

    1. Hello Cristiano,
      Thanks! To be honest, I would recommend not to wear any earphones while riding a motorcycle. In Italy it’s not even legal to do so! If you want something with high isolation, though, I would recommend the Shozy x Neo CP, they have absolutely fantastic isolation.

  3. Hi Riccardo,

    Thank you for reviewing the products, its of great use to novice like me. Am a bit confused between the three. Blon BL03, 1 More triple driver and the Sennheiser cx 300 s. I chose these as am looking for an earphone with a MIC to be used with an Iphone.

    Thank you,

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