We found stocking stuffers for large stockings for the best of class headphones and earphones, and DAC for 2019. All are wonderful products, and in the case of the Audio-Technica ATH-ADX5000 dynamic headphones, the HIFIMAN Jade II Electrostatic Headphones, and the HELM Audio True Wireless 5 Bluetooth earphones, all are notable for a variety of reasons, but the one thing they have in common is superlative sound. The Mytek Brooklyn DAC+, is without peer.
To keep this short and sweet until our full exhaustive reviews are published, we are delighted to recommend the following products for our elite Stocking Stuffers list for 2019.
Audio-Technica ATH-ADX5000 dynamic headphones
The recently released Audio-Technica ATH-ADX5000 dynamic headphones, are quite simply, the best dynamic headphones we have ever tested. Period. Some products may have more glitz, some might have fancy wood, some even have gold, jewels, and a lifetime subscription to the Robb Report, but go looking for a better set of dynamic headphones, and you might be out of luck. They are that good. What they aren’t, are flashy. No uber expensive Amazon endangered wood case, no helium balloons to float them above your head, not even what you might think of a luxury build quality. Instead, these are sort of no-nonsense, engineering and audio driven, traditional headphones that slay just about every dragon in their way. We let friends use them, and didn’t’ mention the cost, or anything else, and everyone simply said “wow, these are great!” With other high-end phones, guests would ooh and awe over the aesthetics, the attention to design details, the use of luxury components, etc. Not so with the ATH-ADX5000. This isn’t to say they aren’t high quality, they are. But, they don’t bash you about the head with it. No matter the music, source, or genre, they made us fall in love with them. And… they even sounded great on our phones, especially when streaming Qobuz. Seriously good, no need for makeup, these are the real thing.
For more information on the Audio-Technica ATH-ADX5000 dynamic headphones visit: https://www.audio-technica.com/cms/headphones/13caf776f0ed2aa4/index.html
HIFIMAN Jade II Electrostatic Headphones
We have written two-parts of a three-part article on these superb electrostatic headphones. Read those reviews for an understanding of their electronics, design, and support system. The HIFIMAN Jade II Electrostatic Headphones are simply superb. Their open musicality and soundstage, the lightning quick response, and the tightly controlled bass and low-end, wouldn’t mean much if you constantly noticed them, but you don’t, which is entirely the point. Even the massive power supply and amplifier, become invisible once you set them up. True, these aren’t portable, even the Hulk might blanche at that thought, but the headphones themselves are light, comfortable, especially after we added Dekoni Audio Nuggets so they fit our heads better. If you are like us, and only had the opportunity to experience electrostats at audio shows, or in studios, consider making the plunge. True, they are limited to the system you plug the amplifier into, and it’s certainly a physical and financial commitment, but the rewards to the careful listener easily outweigh those concerns. While we missed out on last year’s tax cut to the 1%, the other 99% in us loves these headphones.
For more information the HIFIMAN Jade II Electrostatic Headphones visit: https://www.hifiman.com/products/detail/298
For more information on the Dekoni Audio Nuggets Headphone Headband Pressure Relief Pads visit: https://dekoniaudio.com/product/dekoni-audio-nuggets-headphone-headband-pressure-relief-pads-4-pack/
Mytek Brooklyn DAC+
In the beginning, God made analog, then while he rested, digital audio snuck about, and when God woke up and read “Perfect Sound Forever” in a magazine, and took a listen, God said, “Hmmm, I don’t know about that perfect sound thing, besides, only I know what forever means” and to the rescue came new and improved chips, designs, and promises. Leave it to a brilliant audio engineer with a winning smile, and great manners, from Poland, to design what must be the world’s most flexible DAC, in Brooklyn, but built in Poland, then shipped to Brooklyn. The resulting Mytek Brooklyn DAC+ was the inspired product of that transatlantic progression. More then a DAC, more than a headphone amplifier, more than a superb phono stage (yes, you read that right, an honest to God audiophile level phono stage with MM and MC amplification included with a DAC. How strange is that? I mean, seriously, I can’t even.), and much more. The Brooklyn DAC+ has earned an enviable place in recording and mastering studios around the world, and even the perennially cranky about quality and precision recording, Chesky Records, uses one to mix and master as one example. We can’t do it justice in a short review, except to say, that anyone who listens to digital audio, would count his or her prayers answered to find one of these with gift-wrap. Until we complete our review, take our world for it, this is one amazingly good sounding and flexible product.
To learn more about the Mytek Brooklyn DAC+visit: https://mytekdigital.com/hifi/products/brooklyn/
HELM Audio True Wireless 5 Bluetooth Earphones
Over the past several years, readers of Mac Edition Radio know that we are fans of the high-quality, affordable products from 1More, and when the team that was responsible for the introduction and marketing of their products left the company to form their own company, HELM Audio, our interests were peaked. Their first product, introduced at last year’s CES 2019, was a set of true wireless earphones. They were good, very good, but not quite at the level of what the team had accomplished at 1More, but they soon had an improved, feature packed model at the ready. That model, the HELM Audio True Wireless 5 Bluetooth Earphones, had all the things we expected of any first-rate Bluetooth system. Featuring Bluetooth 5 with TRUE 24-bit aptX audio to provide nearly lossless Bluetooth connectivity, a case that doubles as a charger and additional battery to charge the earphones, and a high level of fit, finish, and noise isolation. HELM advertises a 60-foot range, which we found hard to believe, until we tried it, and found that for us, the range was 75-feet, which we found pretty astounding. Of course they have microphones to make calls with, and the sound signature is open and inviting, with solid bass. During extended use, we had none of the fatigue we have sometimes suffered using the last generation of Bluetooth devices.
To learn more about the HELM Audio True Wireless 5 Bluetooth Earphones visit: https://helmaudio.com
Qobuz Music Streaming Service
While Amazon Music recently introduced high-resolution streaming services, and Tidal started the movement toward high-quality music delivery, the best service we’ve used is Qobuz. As famous for it’s tough to figure out how to pronounce it’s name, Qobuz, as it is for the quality of its selections. When we first were invited to audition Qobuz, we were on it’s original site, based in France, a year later the U.S. division began, run by one of the nicest and professional crews in the industry, it was an immediate hit. Personally, we have been stung by streaming at times, no way to listen unless on the net, running through mobile phone data plans and limits, Qobuz figured out that it would be nice to download the files, cache them for later, and voila, there they are, taking up space on your system, but playable using the Qobuz app. To seal the deal, at the New York Audio Show, they announced that they would have no MP3 files, and also, a set price no matter the resolution. This is the deal of deals. You have a choice of Studio Premiere, or Sublime+ , the main difference being the ability to download files. Go for it! Either way, you're music tastes are covered in high resolution.
For more information on Qobuz visit: https://www.qobuz.com/us-en/discover