Another year is drawing to a close on audiophiles everywhere. As we look back on this year there are many things that stood out as category leaders as well as just fun products to own all around. Below is a list of some of our favorite things from 2015.
The new flagship from Audeze breaks new boundaries (including price). Liquid mids, extended highs and oh so supple, tight bass make this headphone one of our best listens of the year. Its been a big year for the company overall, as they recently became one of the very few headphone companies to be sold in Apple retail stores, nicely done gentleman. [Full Review Here]
Andrew Jone’s has made a successful career designing speakers for many of the top loudspeaker companies across this great hobby. This year he unveiled a set of loudspeakers that fall neatly into everyone’s favorite category of high performance budget products. The [6.5″ Debut B6 bookshelves] run $279 a pair, while the [F5 floor standers] above run $279 each. The sample I heard at this year’s RMAF was impressive, great to see more action in the >$1k loudspeaker crowd.
The Beyerdynamic T1 has always been one of the classic flagship headphones over the years. 2015 saw a remixing of this classic that makes it even more practical for day-to-day listening. Partnering with Astell and Kern for a special edition called the T1p ($1,200) the impedance has been reduced from 600 ohms to the more everyday 32 ohms, providing significantly more volume from the same source. Along with the included 2.5mm balanced cable these headphones pair very well with Astell & Kern’s AK240 (and higher) player for a very simple, yet very high-end portable listening experience.
Those looking for a step up speaker system for your computer should take a look at these artistic active speakers. Ready to rock in style, the upscale build and impressive imagining from these 3″ drivers make them an easy choice for those looking for a lot more detail over default speakers. The interesting design also doubles as a stand so extra books to prop up the speakers aren’t necessary for desktop listening. [$395 US Retail]
This genius little device makes any pair of IEMs Bluetooth compatible with its own built in amplification and wireless connectivity. High end custom pieces become more practical with the BTS by incorporating a microphone to take calls on your phone along with advanced smartphone commands. Light weight, the latest wireless codecs and an output impedance of less than 1 ohm makes the $99 BTS a nice stocking stuffer for the IEM-lover on your christmas list.
Zu Omen Dirty Weekend
The Zu Omen is a great point of entry for any budding audiophile. The simple ascetics and full range driver design make these speakers a solid complement to any lazy Sunday listening session or late night Saturday soiree. The $1k dirty weekend sale comes and goes throughout the year, but you can find them now on sale [here] for as long as it lasts.
Hifi lover’s dreams were answered when the losses music streaming service Tidal finally hit the US shores. Packed with plenty of audiophile-friendly titles and music videos to boot, the service has been an amazing addition to the audiophile gearbox for both on-the-go listening and all-you-can-eat music consumption at home. With rumors swirling of high resolution MQA streaming coming as soon as next year, this service is one to keep an eye on. The HiFi version currently runs $20 a month, but you can also snag the Tidal Premium service for the usual $10 a month.
For those who choose to collect their music is a (somewhat) more physical state, the size of memory cards is slowly rising to even greater highs, as these things tend to do. High resolution PCM and DSD files are not small (they average about 1 gig an album) so any extra space is most welcome. Micro SD cards [like this one here] work perfectly with many of the popular DAPs on the market and with multiple slots starting to appear on a single device, big expansions are finally becoming a reality. It looks as though 200 gig options are settling in at around $100 this holiday season with smaller sizes costing much less than that.
Blanton’s is a product of the Kentucky distillery Buffalo Trace which has produced many fine bourbons including the elusive Pappy Van Winkle sprits. Much more moderately priced, Blanton’s can usually be found for anywhere between $45-$65, depending on your state (although I have seen it priced as high as $85 in remote locations). Distinctly smooth with a hint of spice on the tail end, this bourbon outperforms bottles twice the price. Unfortunately, it appears that Blanton’s is going the way of Pappy Van Winkle with demand far outpacing supply. If you happen upon a bottle in your local grocer, I highly recommend snagging up a bottle (or two).