We are getting towards the end of the year and the festive times etc., and one thing we can be sure of is that there will be plenty of “the best”, “the most” and “the greatest” lists, from no end of reviewers!
Yes, I will be just as guilty, although I haven’t even thought what I will do this year (I try to do something different each year as my reviews are already monotonous enough )
But it got me thinking that it would be fun to see what everybody else’s top 3 are for the year.
It doesn’t have to be something released this year, nor is there a budget or type of gear in mind, in fact, the only rule is that it is audio related.
What are the 3 things that impressed you the most in 2023?
(I have posted this same question on a couple of other forums (English and Spanish) and it will be fun to check back in a few weeks to see what the general masses comment.)
1st. Violectric v550 Pro - powerfull yet very natural in it’s presentation. Details space placement, everything is presented exactly how you expect it. Nothing is pushed in your face, but not missing ether. You are presented with music and it is up to you pay attention if you like.
2nd. Jcat Initio 3 PSU - outstanding linear PSU. Used on Qtest it made micro details more clear and crate more depth in sound stage, with the improvement being very aparent .
3rd. Pi2AES 2.0 - it is shocking how good it is. Paired with a hi quality real glass cable it make the music more fluid and pleasent. It needs a hi quality PSU and needs to be always on. You can turn off the raspberry pi, but you need to keep the board running. If i turn the board off the sound is off somehow, and needs a couple of days to sound nice again. The no BS aproach make this sound on par with the most expensive sources at a very cheap price.
Well, for me this is pretty easy:
Sonus Faber Lumina 2 Bookshelf speakers. Hands down the best audio related purchase made this year.
HiFIMAN HE1000 V2 Stealth. For me, this set redefined what headphones can be.
Monolith Cavalli Liquid Platinum Head Amp. I know there are some critics of this amp, but for me it is a fantastic piece, especially after installing a matched set of Gold Lions. For the price I paid, it simply can’t be matched.
Had to check since some of the stuff I like and actively use is from before 2023:
Icelab Prismatica-It has a nice slightly warm tilt but it relies alot on the source to get its sound. I would say its on par with the TRI starshine for my GOAT iem but its even more unforgiving with reguards to sources. The best part about this iem is the dynamics dispite being a full BA has the impact and texture of a dry sounding DD with very good and smooth extension into the air. I love the pairing with DX300amp14 because it brings out so much detail and dynamics while still being relexed sounding almost like a high end MC cartridge.
Moondrop Lan- This is one sleeper hit and is my general rec for anyone that wants a taste of higher end products for “cheap”. Interestingly dispite being relatively easy to drive the scaling with good quality sources is quite something.
Moondrop Moonriver Ti-Personally I feel this has the best balance of control, body and power of all the dongle dacs Ive tried. Significant more balanced and smooth sounding over the Moonriver 2. The one potential downside is that its mid centric and as such bass is slighty recessed which might not be for everyone. Also it kind of wants unforgiving headphones to showcase its refined yet textured(I cant beleve I have to say this because apperently some refined sounding sources just kill off microdetails/texture to make everything sound artificially clean; Im looking at you hifiman serenade and A&K kann ultra)
There are so much more that a top 3 just isnt enough.
Indeed. I didn’t even realize it until this question came up and I got to thinking about it! Time goes by so fast…
The amazing part is that there was amazing gear at every price point. There are probably more good budget sets than any year I can think of, and the mid-fi stuff was very competitive too.
No particular order here as they are all great:
Kinera Imperial Loki Emerald
Colored yet balanced sound, there’s just something about it that grabs you on certain cues in tracks.
Great for just getting lost in the music and tapping your toes. I feel like the coherency is pretty great for
a quadbrid, too.
Thieaudio Prestige LTD
Wonderful across the whole range, gorgeous design with immaculate fit for my ears. Almost like a
baby Storm with a DD, could easily be one-and-done for anyone that enjoys the tuning IMO.
Plunge Audio Unity
Completely unexpected, this is probably the best monitor I have ever had in my ears (besides the
Storm, but Unity is more neutral without the subbass boost). Fit and weight is all-day comfy and the
passive isolation is fantastic. Easy to drive but likes a little juice, too.