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Headfonics 2020

Top Reader Voted DAPs

The following Top Reader Voted DAP scores are assigned by the readers, (Score) and apply only to all reviews where a slider voting system exists. This list includes all types of DAPs new and historical.

Please note the list will change dynamically as readers continue to vote. Higher scoring DAPs will automatically replace lower-scoring DAPs. They will also continue to change as we progressively work our way through historical reviews and add a voting system.

These lists are not to be confused with our forthcoming Editorial scoring lists which are the top gear as reviewed and scored by our review team. Those lists will form the basis of our Awards at the end of the year. Once the year is completed the Editorial scores will be deleted and the ‘annual top lists’ will start over again.

Top 30 DAPs as voted on by our readers

Shanling M9
The Shanling M9 takes everything good from previous DAP experience thus far and ups the game massively with a product that ticks just about every portable audiophile wish list out there today.
9.2
Reader's Score
iBasso DX320 MAX Ti Review featured image
The iBasso DX320 MAX is a stunning-sounding portable audio player with both IEM and headphones alike. There are very few competitors out there that can match its expansive staging capability or its almost perfect harmonic balance.
9.2
Reader's Score
$3499
Shanling M9 Plus Review featured image
The Shanling M9 Plus is a beast of a DAP which delivers similar if not better technical performance to some of the competition costing significantly more, all within an impressively portable package.
9.2
Reader's Score
iBasso DX300 MAX
The iBasso DX300 MAX is an utterly brilliant-sounding DAP and handily knocks the DX220 MAX off its award-winning 2020 perch. It is faster, more powerful, cleaner, and more resolving than the older version.
9.1
Reader's Score
FiiO M17
The FiiO M17 is a huge DAP but with a huge sound. It is also probably one of the most complete portable audio devices I have reviewed to date. Both headphone and IEM users will find the M17 has both the deftness and the sheer grunt to satisfy both. DC Mode is a pure joy to use for demanding planar headphones in particular.
9.1
Reader's Score
$1799
iBasso DX320 Review
The iBasso DX320 a deeply engaging DAP with a very competent internal ROHM DAC design, updated OS, and an excellent stock AMP card. It takes a dash of the original smooth tuning and mixes it in with the typical detail-orientated iBasso house sound. The package might look familiar but the sound is fresh and interesting and will work just fine with a wide range of gear.
9
Reader's Score
$1599
Cayin N7 Review
The Cayin N7 is the kind of DAP that invigorates your listening experience with headgear that perhaps over time you have gotten a bit blasé about. It may not be the final word in exacting detail like its flagship sibling, the N8ii but I personally find its ability to image and scale a soundstage on a regular IEM to be incredibly refreshing.
9
Reader's Score
Cayin N8ii Review
Though no longer unique for tubes, the Cayin N8ii DAP still retains its flagship status and remains a class act offering an incredible array of highly resolving and enjoyable sound signatures.
9
Reader's Score
Cayin R01
The Cayin R01 is easily the most likable and natural-sounding motherboard Cayin has produced to date. It is not just a timbre 'love-in' either, technically it is competitive with an excellent low noise floor performance making it perfectly suited to a wide range of monitors out there today.
8.9
Reader's Score
Cayin N8
The N8 rightfully takes its chair at the TOTL digital media player table. Not because it is one of the best sounding players out there but simply because they dared to do something different and something that has not been done before in a DAP.
8.9
Reader's Score
iBasso DX300
The DX300 has a natural tone, a tube-like quality yet still with a very black background. It is easy on the ear with beautiful texture in both instruments and vocals as well as excellent staging to flesh it out properly.
8.9
Reader's Score
$1199
Lotoo Paw Gold Touch
The combination of tech and sound tweaking is dangerously addictive. More importantly than that it's almost perfect for sensitive monitors with its transparent, hyper-detailed reference sound signature.
8.9
Reader's Score
HiBy RS8 Review
The HiBy RS8 is one of the most complete DAPs launched to date. It has the most advanced operating system, a unique architecture evolved from the RS6, and quite obviously packs in my DAC of choice, R-2R. Not just R-2R for the sake of it but desktop decoding levels of R-2R and a level of audible quality that competes with the gold standard, the P6 Pro from Luxury and Precision.
8.9
Reader's Score
$3299
HiBy R8
The R8 is possibly the most complete DAP on the market at the time of writing. That will mean different things to different people, it just depends on what you want your DAP to do.
8.9
Reader's Score
Shanling M8
The Shanling M8 tuning is the kind of sound that is deep and calming for night-time listens. With distinct resolution, excellent headroom, a strong dense mid-bass character that does not compromise dynamics, the M8 is the most expressive DAP based I have heard so far.
8.8
Reader's Score
FiiO M15
The FiiO M15 has a neutral to natural sound with a whisper of treble brilliance, an exposition on detail where articulation is key. This is a reference sound that, to date,  is about as mature as it gets for FiiO.
8.8
Reader's Score
$1299
FiiO M15S Review
The FiiO M15S is an excellent mid-tier DAP that covers both the IEM and headphone bases very nicely with very good output power and a much improved tonal balance from the original M15.
8.8
Reader's Score
HiBy RS6
Kudos to HiBy for bringing out an R2R DAP on the Android platform. The RS6 presents a nice alternative to the Cayin R01/N6ii and a different sound signature also which can only benefit the potential buyer in the end. Definitely, a worthy introduction for those analog lovers whose wallets simply will not go as deep for the excellent LP P6 Pro.
8.8
Reader's Score
$1399
iBasso DX220 MAX
No question the DX220 MAX is the most accomplished media player iBasso has ever made and puts the already impressive DX220 (AMP1 MKII) firmly in the shade in terms of sound quality.
8.8
Reader's Score
$1888
Luxury & Precision P6 Pro
As a pure music player or for quality audio in a compact portable form factor, nothing can come close to the performance of the P6 Pro. It takes everything magical and wonderful about the R2R sound of the P6 and injects greater urgency, a slightly more accurate harmonic balance, and a big upgrade in dynamics.
8.8
Reader's Score
iBasso DX220
At the time of writing, the DX220/AMP1 MKII combo is the best sounding DAP for under $1000. No question iBasso has doubled-down on the already excellent value DX200 from 2017 and produced a stellar sound signature update for a minimal increase in price in 2019.
8.8
Reader's Score
$899
Luxury & Precision P6 Pro
The Luxury & Precision P6 DAP is a truly world-class sounding media player. On sound alone, it's sumptuous, rich-sounding, beautifully detailed, and with an impressive black background for sensitive gear. It does wonders with note texture producing a natural sound that makes it so easy to pair with and listen to without fatigue. Probably the best sounding DAP I have heard in 2020.
8.8
Reader's Score
iBasso AMP12
In a way, the iBasso AMP12 is a bit of a return to iBasso's house sound before AMP11 MK1 with a strong emphasis on staging prowess, a neutral to natural tonal clarity, and excellent dynamic range.
8.8
Reader's Score
Cayin N6ii
The N6ii is very much a long-game digital media player. As of right now, the A01 motherboard taps into Cayin's house sound or preference for something slightly richer, sweeter, and an all-round performance that will appeal to a very wide audience indeed.
8.7
Reader's Score
Shanling M7 Review
The Shanling M7 delivers an excellent balance between portability, tonality, and power. It could easily pair with any IEMs and is able to power portable cans to sound very dynamic and loud.
8.6
Reader's Score
Colorfly U8
ColorFly's U8 is a slick, powerhouse of a DAP with excellent sonic capabilities, a fantastic EQ system, and a great set of features that range from Wi-Fi all the way to a touch volume sensor. 
8.6
Reader's Score
HiBy R6 III Review
Overall, the R6 III is an extremely smooth and enjoyable multi-media player with the most up-to-date OS, useful user tuning features, and a rather neutral base tuning. It is an affordable and engaging choice for those who are seeking a fast multi-media player or for more advanced users who have external amplifiers to pair with the device.
8.6
Reader's Score
HiBy RS2 Review
Out of the many R2R products that emerges lately, the HiBy RS2 makes a brave attempt to cut down OS and wireless features for a cleaner circuitry, achieving the most compact form factor for an R2R DAP and packs in its state-of-the-art DSP tuning tweaks.
8.6
Reader's Score
$479
HiBy R6 Pro
I still think the HiBy R6 Pro is a 'bang for buck' king for DAPs under 1k. The new tonal tuning gives it a more powerful sound and more pleasing timbre than the original R6. That lowered output impedance makes it much easier for sensitive IEM matchups.
8.6
Reader's Score
Lotoo PAW 6000
I am really impressed by how much of the flagship Lotoo was able to retain inside the more affordable PAW 6000. This is nothing like the older PAW Gold/PAW 5000 product pairing. The gap between the Touch and the PAW 6000 is much closer than those two and you can expect an excellent level of audio quality out of the box for those who like neutral or reference tuning.
8.6
Reader's Score

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