The Ear Best hi-fi of 2023

The Ear picks the best hi-fi of 2023 2023 has been a tough year for the hi-fi industry but that has done nothing to stem the flow of first class products coming to market. In fact there are even more extraordinary audio components to choose from than there were last year, with advances made in […]

Holoaudio bliss headphone amp review

Holoaudio Bliss Level 1 headphone amp/preamp With the Holoaudio Bliss Jeff Zhu’s approach to design is narrowing what once appeared to be an unbridgeable chasm between objectivists and subjectivists in the audio world. The brain behind Holoaudio is demonstrating that traditional, fully-discrete topologies not only have a place in subjectivists’ high-end systems but that they […]

The Ear BEST OF 2022 820 547

The best of the best that we have reviewed on the Ear over the last 12 months

M2Tech Marley MKII 547

Named after the reggae legend, the Marley MkII headphone amplifier is a paid-up member of the latest Rockstar series from M2Tech and designed by innovative Italian duo Marco Manunta and Fabio Elia. Rockstar compartmentalises the functions of a hi-fi system into a number of smaller boxes to provide a higher level of performance and more […]


Benchmark’s HPA4 is the first item of audio kit I have encountered that peels apart the ying and the yang of audio to expose the fault line between those of us for whom measurements are all that matters… and those of us that approach audio from a more emotional, less scientific direction. But in another […]


2021 may not have been the year that many of us had hoped for, there was only one hi-fi show in the UK and not many more elsewhere, but that hasn’t stopped manufacturers both large and small who have produced some absolutely outstanding audio components in that time. Our best of the year round up […]


Colorado-based Sparkos Labs quietly built a reputation designing high quality, discrete op-amps, voltage regulators and power supplies for other headphone amp manufacturers and DIY upgraders. This is why I was surprised when their recently appointed UK distributor asked if I’d be interested in reviewing the Aries headphone amplifier, which is not only Sparkos’ first retail […]


New York-based Woo Audio was founded in 2004 and specialises in tube powered headphone and loudspeaker amplifiers. Taking three years to develop the WA8 Eclipse reflects the company’s desire to bring the undiluted performance of their big amps to a smaller product for audiophiles who want an authentic tube headphone listening experience without being confined […]


Two and a half years after releasing Poly for its award-winning Mojo, Chord Electronics has treated its flagship portable DAC/headphone amp, Hugo 2, to an add-on streamer/server of its own. Having reviewed Hugo 2’s larger table-top sibling, Hugo TT 2, last autumn, now seemed like the perfect time to see how the portable model measures up […]

Constellation integrated 1

I have always been a sucker for Constellation Audio, before I even heard one I was smitten. There are many ultra fi electronics brands in the high end omniverse but none makes products that look as good as a Constellation. The Integrated 1.0 is the most affordable complete amplifier in the range yet it still […]


Recently I seem to have had a lot of contact with Italian audio components and the latest to grace my equipment rack is the Norma HS-IPA1. Packed into its diminutive case work there is a solid state amplifier, a phono stage, a headphone amplifier and a DAC, which is really quite remarkable. Norma is based […]

Audio-Technica AT-HA5050 main

When I reviewed Audio-Technica’s flagship open-back headphone in June last year, the ATH-ADX5000, I was mightily impressed by the Japanese audio giant’s achievement in raising the bar and creating a reference quality earspeaker that surpassed all of its previous feats. I was therefore delighted to be given the opportunity to spend considerable time with A-T’s statement […]