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Headfonics 2020

Top Reader Voted Earphones

The following Top Reader Voted IEM & Earphone scores are assigned by the readers, (Score) and apply only to all reviews before this calendar year and where a slider voting system exists. This list includes the top 30 universal type monitors only.

Please note the list will change dynamically as readers continue to vote. Higher-scoring IEMs will automatically replace lower-scoring IEMs. 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 Award Scores which are the top gear as reviewed and scored by our review team in the calendar year. Those scores will form the basis of our Awards at the end of the year. Once the year is completed the Award scores will be deleted and the ‘annual awards race’ will start over again.

Top 30 universal IEMs as voted on by our readers

Vision Ears EXT
I can still see vocal lovers cling dearly to their Elysium but for those who wanted bombastic lows and a much bigger soundstage whilst still retaining the magic of a dynamic driver timbre for the mids then the EXT should answer that and then some. 
9.1
Reader's Score
Empire Ears Odin
The Odin is a technical beast bar none with masterful levels of control from the dual subwoofer configuration right up to that nuanced treble tuning. Nothing is overdone, even those forward upper mids are beautifully tempered by a coherent treble tuning.
9.1
Reader's Score
64 Audio U18s
The U18s is one of the most balanced offerings I have heard to date from 64 Audio. Nothing feels out of whack with a tuning that is effortlessly smooth, non-fatiguing yet every bit as resolving as the original A18t. 
9
Reader's Score
Unique Melody Mentor V3+
The Mentor V3+ is an excellent V-shaped sounding monitor. Though not reference class it is well above the regular V-shaped stuff out there with impressive midrange imaging and a nice vocal presence to go along with that punchy low-end and finely balanced treble.
9
Reader's Score
Jomo Audio Trinity
I have heard three or four of these hybrids to date and by far the Trinity Brass is the most musical sounding of the flagship hybrid 'stats' IEMs. This is the one I think the vast majority will find the smoothest and most forgiving for a very wide range of genres.
9
Reader's Score
Empire Ears Legend EVO
The Empire Ears Legend EVO is a bass monster, but a monster with refined taste and also one that brings some sort of A-game to the mids and treble table in terms of resolution and timbral balance. 
8.9
Reader's Score
Noble Audio Khan
For those who want something more neutral to natural with a nice sub-bass weighting, good vocal presence and a very coherent and articulate treble performance then the Khan does a fantastic job.
8.9
Reader's Score
Audeze LCDi4
Despite the fact this will be filed under earphones/IEMs the LCDi4 is anything but that. Its unique design, presentation, and in-depth DSP pulls it above into some sort of super-tiny headphone category but with a sound quality that is anything but super tiny.
8.9
Reader's Score
$2495
Noble Audio Sultan
I honestly cannot pick any holes in the Sultan's performance, at least from a personal perspective. It is a vivid and exciting blend of different driver timbres that tease out some excellent power, clarity, and above-average headroom. If you are sitting on the Savant II wondering where to go to next then this is it.
8.9
Reader's Score
Campfire Audio Solaris SE
The sound is smoother, more coherent with a better mids presence. The timbre is more natural to my ear and sweeter sounding for vocals and instrumental notes. This is a clever tuning with less of an apparent traditional hybrid driver separation from the lows to the highs.
8.8
Reader's Score
Empire Ears Valkyrie MKII
Should you upgrade from old to new? Depends on your preferences but do not go looking for a new reference monitor here as with before. The core sound has not changed but the MKII is technically a better performer for me and just the perfect 'fun' monitor for my synthwave collection.
8.8
Reader's Score
64 Audio Nio
The 64 Audio Nio a very enjoyable listening experience with some excellent technical capability and a high degree of flexibility when it comes to synergy with the inclusion of the apex modules. 
8.8
Reader's Score
Lime Ears Pneuma
I think Lime Ears have a bit of a hit on their hands with the beautifully styled universal flagship Pneuma. This is a monitor with a very nice technical capability, particularly with staging, and fused with some very enjoyable bloom free, PRaT heavy coloration.
8.8
Reader's Score
€1800
Campfire Audio Solaris
The Solaris is Campfire Audio's most mature and refined sounding universal monitor to date. The hybrid tuning is very coherent sounding and definitely a qualitative upgrade on the now discontinued Dorado.
8.8
Reader's Score
64 Audio U6t
I hesitate to say it when the 64 Audio U6t costs a bit over $1k but this is a great everyday carry and plays very well with just about any vocal-centric genre you throw at it. The fact it can be easily driven by most DAPs makes it all the more appealing. Very little to fault here.
8.8
Reader's Score
Clear Tune Monitors Da Vinci X
The Da Vinci is a tremendously versatile reference type universal monitor and one of the better 10-drivers IEM's I have heard at this price point. The tuning is a clever mix of natural and analytical with a strong emphasis on clarity and air.
8.8
Reader's Score
JH Audio Contour XO
The JH Audio Contour XO has a physical, articulate, and high-energy tuning that, whilst top class for detail retrieval, also never really loses a sense of joie de vivre when it comes to pure listening enjoyment.
8.8
Reader's Score
Clear Tune Monitors Da Vinci IX
The IX is the perfect complement to the clean detailed delivery of the X. This is a tastefully tuned smoother, more full-bodied sound. There is more emphasis on bass weight, a richer and closer sounding vocal delivery, and a relaxed more forgiving top-end.
8.8
Reader's Score
qdc Dmagic 3D
For those wondering if it will match yours, the Dmagic 3D is coherent sounding, natural to slightly euphonic, and very suitable for a wide range of genres, particularly rock standards, and vocal performances. It is not super sensitive so not a hiss detector and will blend very nicely indeed with plenty of resolving sources.
8.8
Reader's Score
64 Audio tia Trio
This is not an analytical tone but it is a detailed one. There is just enough flair and warmth in the tia Trio™ delivery to make most genres outside of gut-wrenching low-mids guitar work sound engaging and immersive. There is very little that it trips up on and next to no DAP or source that it fails to mesh well with.
8.8
Reader's Score
Empire Ears Bravado MKII
The Bravado MKII is like an initial welcome to the Empire Ears 'power game' and is probably one of the hardest hitting monitors sub-$1k I have heard lately.
8.7
Reader's Score
Audeze LCD-i3
This is my new favorite IEM, there is no doubt about it. It is immensely difficult for me to go back to anything else at the moment, due to the epic airiness factor of the imaging experience of the LCD-i3. If I am able to, I tend to adjust DSP on each album that pops in my playlist, which adds to the musical experience for me as a listener. I am able to customize.
8.7
Reader's Score
$899
StereoPravda SB-7
The SB-7 is the most reference and technically the most accurate sounding IEM I have reviewed for 2017. StereoPravda has done some fine-tuning on the SB-7 to keep this 7-driver single axis so transparent, so detailed, and yet so immersive.
8.7
Reader's Score
Vision Ears EVE20
The EVE20 is a faithful and beautiful interpretation of the classic Vision Ears house sound. This time they have gone for a clever mix of low-end body and a more ethereal treble with excellent headroom to combine for a sweet-sounding midrange with just the right balance between instrumental and vocal positioning.
8.7
Reader's Score
Noble Audio Zephyr
The Zephyr sounds incredibly balanced and engaging, with just the right amount of low-end weight and a good vocal presence to give itself plenty of flexibility for a wide range of genres.
8.7
Reader's Score
From $1450
InEar StageDiver 5
The tonality is extremely engaging and balanced at the same time and I can see some less experienced users thinking they are neutral. I have become a big fan of the midrange and I am surprised how easily my mind adapts to the signature.
8.7
Reader's Score
€949
InEar ProMission X
The InEar ProMission X is lightly colored with some nice quality bass for a BA, a slightly forward midrange, and almost the perfect treble for my tastes. It also looks bloody nice out of the box with that two-one hybrid wood and aggressive contouring design.
8.7
Reader's Score
€2089
Campfire Audio Dorado 2020
The Dorado 2020 has an 'in your face' V-shaped tuning combined with a powerful but nicely defined low-end, sparkling highs, and a clean but clear sounding midrange. It is tailor-made for that sparse mixing style so prevalent in modern music today. 
8.7
Reader's Score
Oriolus Traillii
The Oriolus Traillii is a flagship hybrid 12 driver universal IEM featuring 4 electrostatic drivers and 8 balanced armature drivers. It is priced at $5999.
8.7
Reader's Score
obravo Ra C-Cu
If you are into something less fussy, more laid back, and easier to drive from DAPs there are plenty of excellent options that cost less than the Ra. I won't sugarcoat that part of the decision-making process because most people do see an IEM as a pick-and-go kind of headgear. The Ra is not that sort of IEM.
8.7
Reader's Score
$9999 / £8999

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