The Desk

CES 2014 - And The Exponential Growth of Headfi

Click on the pics for some of the most exciting new items in headfi.  (Thanks to Edwood from for the pics as well as  Jerg from



A fellow music lover and experienced sound-o-phile asked me last week to point him in the direction of a new headfi system.  Asking so near CES turned out to be interesting timing, as there are some wonderful new offerings in the air.  Of course, it may also mean there's a slight wait, as many already possess their ticket in the bake-sale line for what's freshest in music reproduction.

With a very recent historical gander, we can see how those in outlying fields have capitalized on the headfi craze-(yes, I think we can call it a craze, and I'm happy about that.)  Speaker manufacturers such as Altec Lansing, B&W, Bang and Olufsen, Focal, JBL, KEF, KingSound, NAD, PSB, Paradigm, and Velodyne to name a few have entered the race.  Also cable and electronics makers such as Cardas, Final Audio, McIntosh and Oppo have brought forth some wonderful headphones as well.


We see the same on the forefront of headphone amps and portable units: Astell and Kern, Calyx, Crayon, Emia, HiFiMAN, Mal Valve, Meridian, Metrum, M2Tech, and many many more, began in some outlying area. Whether they began in hard or software, they all now produce very convincing and well contemplated headphone amps.  These days, I think very few new hifi companies conceive of a lineup that doesn't have a headphone jack somewhere.  The result has been some phenomenally innovative and exquisite solutions to move those tiny diaphragms on our heads. 



The only thing to keep in mind immersed in this land of plenty, is that matching sound properly is at least as important as the components themselves.  That is one reason, we don't bring aboard products for which we haven't a very strong synergistic match...even if we love it.  After all, a component is only as good as the system it's in.  We can make most of our components exceed expectations, and conversely, almost anything can be made to sound like crapola. That excepted, this is a phenomenally exciting time in Head Sport, where the level is the highest to date.  

Astell and Kern AK240 Astell and Kern AKR02 Emia Headphone Amp Headfi HiFiMAN

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