These are our top picks of the year. The products that left an impression on us for their sound, of course, as well as for their ease of use and their array of functionalities. Headphones, smart amplifiers, wireless speakers, portable music players: each of these products stands out above the rest in their respective categories.

Astell & Kern A&Norma SR35 Portable Music Player


The A&Norma SR35 is a mid-range portable music player from Astell&Kern, although this doesn’t stop it from maxing out its functions. As far as the sounds goes, the manufacturer made the choice of a quad digital-to-analogue converter paired with typically higher-end components in order to ensure an excellent respect of tone and to recreate a solid sonoric environment. The adjustable power output allows for the best connection possible to wired headphones via one of three available jacks, balanced or unbalanced. Its microSD card reader allows for up to 1To of file storage at the highest of resolutions, including DSD256. The smartphone-like touch screen makes navigation easy and integrates Qobuz seamlessly.

- Pocket-sized Hi-Fi

- Seamless integration of Qobuz

- Multifunctional

Suggested Retail Price: €899

Bang & Olufsen Beosound A5 Speakers


Bang & Olufsen unveil a new smart speaker nearly every year. Each time, the Danish manufacturer innovates in the realm of design by presenting products with an unparalleled look. The same goes for the Beosound A5, with its dual modes for use at home or on-the-go. Its basketweave and wooden handle hint at the speaker’s level of portability. Three finishes are available: raphia, wood, or metal. With Bluetooth, AirPlay 2, and Chromecast, you have a number of routes for sending music to the Beosound A5. In terms of less common functions, the top of the speaker serves as a wireless smartphone charger. The sound quality is excellent, with a wide range of settings in order to find the sound that best suits you, thanks to the presence of five speakers oriented towards the front and back.

- A speaker for home and on-the-go

- Signature customizable sound

- Integrated Qi wireless charger

Suggested Retail Price: €999

DALI IO-12 Headphones


The company DALI, like many other Hi-Fi speaker companies before it, has ventured into the headphone world. They’ve done so brilliantly thanks to the IO-12. Situated on the higher end of Bluetooth headphones, they sport a premium finish with thick and comfortable leather ear cushions. DALI took the gamble of limiting functionalities by eliminating a mobile application entirely. The settings are restricted to two audio modes directly accessible via a button on the headphones themselves. What’s most important is therefore the sound. DALI have made use of the patented technologies of their speakers, which results in a high-level sonic environment of an amplitude that is rarely achieved by Bluetooth headphones. Additionally, these headphones also work as passive wired headphones, that is, without draining the battery life, making them two-in-one: for use both on the move or at home.

- The audiophile’s Bluetooth headphones

- Excellent comfort

- Use wired mode without draining the battery

Suggested Retail Price: €999

Focal Bathys Headphones


It was hard for us to choose between the two best Bluetooth headphones of the year. DALI IO-12 or Focal Bathys, our hearts were torn, so we decided to keep both in our best-of list. The Focal are a bit more affordable and offer several additional functionalities through their dedicated application. For example, there’s the 5-band equalizer, but this turns out to be more limited than that of many other specialized headphones with this feature. Just like DALI, Focal chose to place all bets on the sound. The Bathys wows with their beautiful signature sound, understated, warm, with great presence, like finding oneself in a cocoon. As a bonus, they allow for Hi-Res listening via their USB port, which serves the purpose of charging as well as the role of DAC. This raises the Focal up a notch, making for a positive musical computer listening experience.

- Bluetooth headphones with a warm sound

- Customizable curve

- DAC USB functionality

Suggested Retail Price: €799

Lindemann Musicbook Combo All-In-One Amplifier


Lindemann have combined the different functions offered by the brand in the form of separate devices, in the Musicbook Combo, a streamer, DAC, pre-amplifier, and amplifier, all-in-one. It allows you to bring together all of your analog and digital audio sources, all while enjoying Qobuz, perfectly integrated into the Lindemann app. The Musicbook Combo features a high-end finish and a signature sound that is truly one-of-a-kind. There is no criticism to be made of its musicality. Consequently, Lindemann’s goal for you to replace the separate elements of your Hi-Fi set-up with this one, compact device is a no-brainer. All that’s missing to achieve perfection is an HDMI ARC port.

- A smart built-in that will change your tune

- High-end musicality

- All the functionalities, one device

Suggested Retail Price: €4,890

Mola Mola Tambaqui DAC/Streamer


The brand Mola Mola benefits from an excellent reputation that has yet to be matched. The Tambaqui is a device that has a unique style whose shapes are evocative of marine life. The central disk is a screen that gives an overview of certain information, whereas the four buttons can be linked to different functions that are set via the mobile app. The app does not integrate any music services; Mola Mola instead chose to pair up with Roon for streaming audio, making Qobuz accessible for Hi-Res. The outputs are divided into three groups: five digital outputs with the same number of separate inputs, two headphone jacks, and one balanced analog output. Regarding the resulting sound, this device deserves every superlative possible, with a result that’s far superior to that of more affordable streamers: precision, detail, outstanding tone, and no distortion to be found.

- The gold standard of DAC/streamers

- Refined and realistic playback

- Comprehensive functionalities

Suggested Retail Price: €11,000

Primare SPA25 Amp


Primare made a return to home cinema this year with an integrated nine-channel amplifier compatible with immersive audio formats. It has the special feature of class D amplification circuits whose power adapts to their use. For multi-channel use, they run at 90 watts per output, whereas this goes up to 250 watts through the main channels for stereo use. This makes for an extremely versatile device, easy to use for both film and music, which is rather rare for its category. It can also effectively distribute stereo sources towards all speakers for a virtual immersion without distortion. The functionalities are less comprehensive than those of competing devices from Japanese specialists, but it features everything needed for a simple and efficient user experience, including Dirac automatic audio calibration.

- A Hi-Fi efficient home cinema amp

- Excellent Dolby/DTS upmixing

- Ease of use

Suggested Retail Price: €5,500

PSB Alpha iQ Smart Speakers


PSB is part of the Lenbrook group, which includes Bluesound and NAD. This makes it predictable for the BluOS streaming audio protocol to be found in the brand’s first smart speakers, giving the Alpha iQ access to Qobuz and other wireless music sources via AirPlay or Roon. The Alpha iQ are small speakers equipped with a woofer measuring a mere ten centimeters. Yet they still deliver impressive volume and force, even in the lower registers. The majority of music lovers will be more than happy with them on their own, whereas the more demanding might wish to add a subwoofer. The wired connection allows for up to four external sources to be connected, including RCA record players and television sets, thanks to the HDMI ARC. These speakers flawlessly replace any Hi-Fi system with a sound bar for versatile use including both film and music.

- Compact and comprehensive smart Hi-Fi speakers

- Powerful and dynamic

- BluOS, AirPlay 2, and Roon

Suggested Retail Price: €1,699