Best Of 2022 Awards: We’ve put together our best picks in affordable audio gear from the past year. Check out these products and see if they’re right for you!
Looking for the best affordable headphones, amps, and portable audio products in 2022? Look no further than Hifitrends! We’re excited to announce our Hifitrends’ Best of 2022 Awards, and we think you’ll love what we’ve got in store.
First up, we have our Best Headphones, the Meze Audio 109 PRO. These are the affordable headphones that we think are the best of the best. They’re beautiful to look at, durable, and, most importantly, they sound amazing.
Next up is our Best Headphone Amp of 2022, the Hifiman EF400. We think it’s just about perfect for anyone who wants high-quality sound, and the price is crazy at $599 (less on sale). In addition, it’s bulletproof, easy to use, and produces plenty of loud, clean, natural sound.
Finally, we have the Best Portable Audio pick, the iFi Audio Go Bar. This is the new king of portable headphone DAC/Amps for when you want to take your music with you wherever you go. It’s a full-featured DAC/Amp that’s lightweight, easy to transport, and produces a lot of power with great sound.
We can’t wait to see what 2023 has in store for us, and we hope that all of our products are well-received. Thanks for reading!
Best Of 2022-Best Headphones: Meze Audio 109 PRO Open-Back Headphones ($799)
It’s difficult to believe that Meze Audio launched their first Dynamic Open-Back headphones in 2022, but here they are! The Meze Audio 109 PRO ($799) look fantastic!
These new headphones are created from a carefully curated combination of walnut wood, zinc, manganese steel, and vegan leather; plus, they have the alluring design language that the company is well-known for.
The 50mm Dual-Composite diaphragm has an outside ring (or torus) made up of a Beryllium-coated semicrystalline polymer combined with a cellulose-carbon fiber composite dome in the center. This novel composition provides a remarkably neutral, organic, and transparent performance. Additionally, it gives just enough life on the bottom end to make things exciting.
Besides that, the velvet-covered earpads and suspension headband make the 111 PRO incredibly comfortable to wear, which makes long listening sessions quite enjoyable.
The 109 PRO is a fantastic choice if you’re in the market for luxury headphones under $1,000, and we can see it being an endgame purchase for many people. That may sound crazy to say about such affordable headphones, but if you take a listen, we think you’ll see what we’re talking about!
Runner Ups: Hifiman Edition XS – You can’t beat these headphones at the sub-$500 price point!
Focal Clear Mg – no other headphone under 2k with its combination of openness, stunning resolution, soundstage focus, and tremendous dynamics.
Best Of 2022-Best Headphone Amps: HIFIMAN EF400 Desktop Balanced Headphone DAC& Amplifier ($599, Currently On Sale For $499)
We’ve been playing with an Hifiman EF400 Desktop Balanced DAC/Amp review sample on our desk for a while, and we’re still impressed. The combination of sturdy construction (inside and out), eye-catching appearance (look at that thick aluminium front panel), power, balanced head amp section, and quiet R2R DAC circuit makes this an extremely enticing desktop device for $599.
All of this equates to a exceptionally smooth and musically engaging DAC/Amp with remarkable separation. Consequently, it complements mid-priced HIFIMAN headphones like the Edition XS or Arya (Stealth Edition) headphones extremely well. If you don’t care about new tech like DSD or MQA, then you need to check out this remarkable desktop combo! We’ll post an in-depth review soon.
Runner Up: iFi Zen Air DAC – This $99 Desktop Amp/DAC can’t be beat for the price!
Best Portable Audio: iFi GO bar Ultraportable DAC/Headphone Amp ($329)
With the iFi Go bar ($329), iFi Audio set out to make the most competent and powerful ultra-portable DAC/Amp combo. After putting it through the paces, we must say iFi has once again come up with something brilliant. This unit is a tad bit bigger than its competitors, but there are no other ultra-portable DAC/Amp combos that have the same power, features, and refined sound quality.
Therefore, this product, which is about the size of a pack of gum, may confidently drive flagship headphones and, consequently, changes the game. While I did find the “standard” digital filter to be a little hard, we think the “Bit-Perfect” and “GTO” filters are more universally pleasing, permitting users to enjoy a wide variety of headphones.
At the end of the day, if you want a pocket-sized DAC/Amp that can hold its own with desktop units in terms of power and refinement, you must check out iFi’s Go bar. At the moment, it’s about as good as it gets.
Runner Up: Hidizs S3 PRO Ultra-Portable DAC/Amp Combo-The Best Portable MQA Dac Under $100!
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I’m an audio writer who started as a young audio salesman/consumer electronics professional back in the late 90s. That’s where I discovered the magic of 2-Channel sound. My hunger for great sound has led me on a delightful music quest that continues today.