It’s a great time to be an audiophile.
There was a fallow period in the post-Napster era when music had suddenly become starkly commodified. CDs were on their way out, vinyl was dead, and 128kbps MP3s ruled computers and iPods everywhere.
There was great freedom in this transition to MP3s (and now, streaming). For the first time in forever, you could listen to any track you wanted to, anytime, and often, at any price (or rather, free).
Along the way, however, we lost something: audio quality and the tangibility of music.
I remember when I had to save up money to buy a new album. Every purchase was a careful decision. Do I get Nirvana’s “In Utero”, or do I get GnR’s “Use Your Illusion”? You had limited music dollars; you spent them wisely. And when you did get your hands on a new tape, you would play it over and over again until you’d memorized each song.
There was also a physical aspect to music. You had to get up, place the tape in the cassette player, hit ‘play’ to listen to music. It wasn’t immediate and it wasn’t easy. It required a tiny bit of effort that made you appreciate music all the more.
It gladdens my heart to say that this “physical” era of “paid” music is coming back in a big way. Vinyl sales have never been higher, and CDs are outselling digital downloads. There are new devices for audiophiles and new services offering high-quality audio downloads and streaming.
Hence my original assertion: it’s a great time to be an audiophile.
But to be an audiophile, you also need the right gear. Nothing kills the sound of a great vinyl pressing than listening to it on a cheap $50 headphone.
To help you out, I’ve compiled reviews and lists of the best audiophile gear on the market. From high-end headphones to top-shelf turntables, you’ll find everything you need to be an audiophile on this page.
Top Digital-to-Analog Converters (DACs)
A DAC can greatly improve audio quality and give your music that much-needed punch. Here are our picks for the best DACs you can buy right now across different categories:e
Thanks to the revival of vinyl, turntable sales have made a huge comeback in the last decade. Here's our look at the best turntables for audiophiles on the market:
From preamps to headphones to cables, here's a closer look at some of the top essential audiophile gear:
Check out our reviews of individual audiophile gear below:
We keep updating this page with new reviews and lists. Check back soon to see our latest listings.