2016 Top Picks Of the Year Headphones & Headphone Amps

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Headphones & Headphone Amps

Focal Elear Headphones
(January 2017 print) This over-the-ear design from respected French speaker-maker Focal competes favorably with best state-of-the-art ’phones, some at twice or three times its price. $999, focal.com/headphones

HiFiMan Edition X Headphones
(July/August print) HiFiMan’s open-back magnetic planar ’phones “tell an emotionally fulfilling and balanced version of the truth about your music files,” said audio editor Mark Fleischmann. $1,799, hifiman.com

Etymotic Research ER4SR Studio Reference Earphones
(December print, watch for the full review) Etymotic, the inventor of the in-ear monitor, upped its game with this revision of its classic, improving build quality and adding extra clarity to what was already highly transparent sound. $349, etymotic.com

KEF M400 Headphones
(May print) Smooth, highly detailed sound and svelte good looks at a highly affordable price make these KEFs a great choice among over-ear, closed-back ’phones. $250, kefdirect.com

Moon by Simaudio Neo230HAD Headphone Amp/DAC
(May print) It doubles as a sweet and versatile stereo preamp to drive an amp and speakers, but the best reason to hunker down with the Neo230HAD is the transformative effect it’ll have on your hi-res audio files delivered via its USB input and headphone output. $1,500, simaudio.com

AudioQuest DragonFly Red & Black Headphone Amp/DACs
(See “Value”)

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Where is GoldenEar among your Top Picks for speakers? This omission casts doubt on your choices in general.

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Looking back two years, my intro for the 2014 Top Picks of the Year feature highlighted the advancement of LCD TVs and the arthritis in hands growth of OLED technology. Additionally, new competitors were emerging in the wireless multiroom audio market, challenging the dominance of Sonos. These trends shaped the landscape of consumer electronics at the time.

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