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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

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.
9.3
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.
9.2
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.
9.2
Reader's Score
$3299
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
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.
9.1
Reader's Score
Shanling M6 Ultra Review
Shanling has taken a top-down approach in refreshing their M-series DAPS, making it more appealing than ever before with features inherited from the bigger brothers. The M6 Ultra has put together a well-characterized, engaging tuning reminiscent of the original M6 and the M6 PRO 21.
9
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.
9
Reader's Score
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 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
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
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
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.
8.9
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.
8.9
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.
8.9
Reader's Score
$1888
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
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
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
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.
8.8
Reader's Score
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
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
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
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
FiiO M11S Review
Within the sub $500 bracket the FiiO M11S has completely superseded the original M11 by reinterpreting the design, components, and sound tuning.
8.8
Reader's Score
$499.99
TempoTec V6 Review
The TempoTec V6 is a very good DAP for this competitive price with decent battery life and modern design quality. It will not break the bank at its current price point but will offer a very enticing upgrade path for those on older non-Android DAPs struggling to find something new under $400. 
8.7
Reader's Score
Hidizs AP80 Pro-X Red Copper Edition Review
The Hidizs AP80 Pro-X Red Copper Edition treble is stunning. The build quality is absurdly great, the output power is getting close to negating the need for portable amplifiers, and the UI is ungodly fast and potent compared to the past models that feel much more sluggish and slower.
8.7
Reader's Score
$249
FiiO M11 Plus ESS Review
Overall, the highly responsive and feature-rich UI plus the hardware features come together as an enjoyable product experience, marking the M11 Plus ESS as one of the most versatile players in sound with a modern and appealing design to go along with it.
8.7
Reader's Score
$699.99
iBasso DX240 Review
The iBasso DX240 is much more than some sort of peace offering to the loyal amp card owners who didn't wish to upgrade to the new DX3XX card variants. It combines the speed of the DX300 with a more compact form factor and adds some new cards that really do the new flagship ES9038PRO chipset some serious justice.
8.7
Reader's Score
$949
FiiO M11 Pro
The M11 Pro is shortlisted into my 2019 favorites. The comprehensive experience combining great connectivity, fast UI, great build quality, and refreshing "Hifi tuning'' marks a milestone for Android-based DAPs. This the most attractive and enjoyable package at this price point I have experienced thus far.
8.6
Reader's Score
$799
Astell&Kern A&ultima SP3000 Review
The Astell&Kern A&ultima SP3000 is a luxuriously designed DAP with an impressive sound performance that is neutral, crisp, and detailed. If having superior vocal performance is your thing, then the Astell&Kern A&ultima SP3000 will satisfy your groove.
8.6
Reader's Score
Cayin E02
The E02 is easily the most dynamic sounding and Cayin's most powerful motherboard to date for the N6ii. Those looking for a balanced LO or PO solution and trying to work some good quality headphones into their daily listening habits should get plenty of reward from the E02/N6ii pairing.
8.6
Reader's Score

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