The Best Audiophile Gear: Headphones, Speakers, Amps, DACs

As far as bookshelf audio system go, my favourite pair is the KEF LS50 Wireless II ($2,800 per pair). They have the largest, most detailed sound I’ve ever heard from a pair of audio system their measurement. The cheaper KEF LSX ($1,250 per pair) mannequin are additionally nice, as are the wired KEF LS50 Meta ($1,600 per pair).

The KEF and iLoud fashions I simply talked about are powered. They have amplification built-in, and so they draw their energy from a wall socket, to allow them to be used with no devoted amplifier. If you have already got an amp (or in case you plan to purchase one), a pair of passive audio system is the easiest way to go. Those hook up with common speaker cables, and you will not want to fret about plugging them into the wall.

Some passive bookshelf fashions I like are the ELAC Debut 2.0 ($280 per pair) and JBL 4309 ($2,000 per pair). The ELACs are an amazing entry-level speaker that may simply take you into audiophile territory with the proper amp, the place the 4309 roughly sound superb with something powering them. I’m a fan of enjoyable, energetic sound when I’m listening on audio system, and each of those fashions ship that, however with sufficient element that you simply will not really feel you are sacrificing something.

Moving away from bookshelves and onto passive floorstanding audio system, I’ll spotlight two very totally different fashions. The Paradigm Monitor SE 6000F ($1,000 per pair) are an amazing pair of audio system for many who like issues a bit extra scientific and exact—they’re superb for classical music, jazz, and people, because of their unimaginable element. Some audiophiles favor the kind of tight precision you get from audio system just like the Paradigms. The Klipsch Forte IV ($4,998 per pair) are extra full of life. In truth, they’re completely tuned, mid-century–impressed masterpieces. They include hand-made picket cupboards and beautiful horn tweeters, and the 15-inch passive bass radiators on the again of the sealed audio system make them punch deeper and with extra authority than an expert boxer. If you are searching for essentially the most enjoyable you have ever had listening to Hendrix at excessive quantity, audio system like these are the way in which to go.

Your style could differ from mine! The greatest approach to discover your favourite high-end audio system is to make use of your ears. Find a neighborhood vendor and go take heed to a number of fashions before you purchase. For reference, different manufacturers that make wonderful audio system lately embody Yamaha, Bowers & Wilkins, Focal, Bang & Olufsen, and Polk Audio, amongst many different extra boutique manufacturers. 

You’ll by no means know the way a pair of audio system actually sounds in your room till you get them there, so attempt to take a look at them at dwelling. Most high-end sellers permit some type of this, however big-box retailers could not, so verify the return coverage on something you purchase.

Digital-to-Analog Converters

The Chord Mojo ($500) is a DAC with a headphone amp built-in.

Photograph: Chord Electronics

Digital-to-analog converters (DACs) take the digital audio sign out of your audio recordsdata and convert them to analog audio sign you could ship (through an amplifier) to headphones and audio system. Every piece of digital expertise you personal that comes with a headphone jack already has a DAC chip inside it, nevertheless it’s normally a fairly low-cost one. If you route your sign by means of a devoted DAC—one with higher elements and a better construct high quality than no matter’s in your cellphone or laptop—you then’ll get larger constancy out of your digital recordsdata.

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