It’s not enough to have headphones or speakers. They need power - and before that, they need something to convert the digital ones and zeros of your music into audible sound. Even if you’re using a turntable, a dedicated amp is essential - and DACs and DAPs are handy, too. So welcome to our in-depth amp, DAC and DAP reviews. Hope you like what we did with the place.

Review: Bluewave GET

On a recent trip to Toronto for the TAVES audio show, we got chatting to two guys from Montreal, Pierre and Stéphane, who owned a company called Bluewave. What they were showing was a single product: a tiny little portable headphone amp called the GET.

Review: Bryston B60R

Sometimes, you just need noise. Good, old-fashioned, wonderful noise. No Bluetooth, no cute input lights, no digital displays. Just a big, grunting monster of an amplifier that you can use to mess things up.

Review: Burson Audio PLAY

Headphone amps, for the most part, break down into two categories: ones that you plug in and forget about, and ones that invite you to tinker - messing with the settings, switching out various bits, and generally getting your hands dirty.

Double Review: Cambridge Audio CXN (V2) & CXA80

This is going to be an unusual review. For the first, time, we're reviewing two products at once. Cambridge Audio's CXN (V2) streamer and CXA80 amplifier may retail as separate products, but we've never seen another pair that work so well together.

Review: Feliks Elise MkII

Feliks Audio is a Polish boutique headphone amplifier manufacturer that specializes in tube circuit designs. Their Elise MkII model has been making waves on tube amp forums and trade shows

Review: FiiO A5

Portable amps are tricky little things. While they unquestionably make your sound better, they don’t have the luxuries that desktop models do. They can’t be heavy, or feature cool-looking tubes, or have loads of connections.

Review: FiiO Q5

Convincing people to carry around a portable amplifier in addition to a phone is a bit like asking Usain Bolt to strap rockets to his feet. Yes, it will technically make him faster, but it’s also cumbersome and annoying, and will probably explode.

Review: Goldmund Telos 2

We’ll be honest: we never expected to review a product from Goldmund on this site. They’re not just a high-end audio brand; they’re floating somewhere above the very concept of high end. And yet: here we are.

Review: H2 Designs MIYO

We flatter ourselves that we know most, if not all, of the audio industry players, and what they do. But we hadn’t heard of H2 Designs. They recently got in touch to ask if we’d like to try out their new MIYO audio interface.

Review: Hafler HA75

There’s no denying that high-end headphones and headphone amps can be amazingly nerdy. Wade into even the shallow end, and you’ll find yourself swamped by a discussion of whether a 12AX7 tube is better than a 6S7L, or an endless debates about...

Review: iFi Audio micro iCAN SE

It can often be a challenge to go for an audio company that prizes rigorous engineering over marketing flair. Judging by their website and their staid, sober presence on social media, you might be forgiven for bypassing iFi Audio. Don't.

Review: JDS Labs The Element

One of the biggest debates in the audio world is whether an amplifier should change the quality of the music, or simply present it as objectively as possible. The JDS Labs The Element can help with that.

Review: JDS Labs Objective2

Quick question. How much color do you like in your music? Do you like your bass to be fat, your mids to be warm, your soundstage to be wide of the hills? Or do you prefer no color at all, with an aggressively analytical sound?

Review: Linear Tube Audio MZ2-S

The MZ2-S is that something. It’s expensive, and specialised, and not for everyone. But if you’re willing to give yourself over to it, you’ll be in for one of the greatest musical experiences a human being can have. 

Review: Marantz M-CR611

Introducing the Marantz M-CR611, a ‘network CD receiver’ that wants to be the centre of your home music system – but in a world of wireless speakers and Spotify, can it compete?

Review: Mayflower ARC

It’s actually quite rare to find dedicated amplifiers for gaming headphones. If a gamer does spend money on amp – as opposed to splurging on screen, mouse, and headset – it’s not likely to be a specialised one.

Review: NAD D3020 V2

Stereo amps can be boring as hell. The companies that make them are more often than not concerned with treating the internals, and ignoring what things look like on the outside. The NAD D3020 V2 is different.

Review: Peachtree Audio nova300

You want to know the reason Apple was so successful? The reason they, above all others, dominated the first fifteen years of this century and became a global juggernaut? They kept it simple. So does Peachtree Audio.

Review: Rotel RA-1572

Rotel don’t often get the love they deserve. Perhaps it’s the name, which, if you’re not familiar with the brand, sounds like a copy machine manufacturer. We think they deserve to be a household name.

Review: Schiit Fulla 2

Let’s get one thing out of the way first. We solemnly swear that in this review, and in all future reviews, we will not make any jokes, puns, bon mots or witty jibes at Schiit Audio’s name.

Review: Schiit Lyr 3

Rule number one when writing a Schiit review: don’t make jokes about the name. They’ve not only heard them all before, they probably wrote most of them. Rule number two: don’t expect a newer version of a product to even be close to what the old one was.

Review: Schiit Magni 3

It’s almost a right of passage for anybody looking to get into the world of audio. For many, the first stop in upgrading their headphones sound is a little outfit out of Valencia, California: Schiit Audio, pronounced exactly like you think it is.

Review: Solis SO-8000

Did you know that you can still buy actual hi-fi systems? As in, two speakers and a dedicated CD/tape-deck/AM-FM tower - the kind of thing you used to see in dorm rooms in the 1990s. On that note: meet the SO8000.

Review: Sony TA-ZH1ES

Dear Sony marketing department: can we talk? Can we be real for a sec? Thank you. We’re just trying to understand, you see. We want to figure out how your minds work. How do you name something the TA-ZH1ES with a straight face?

Review: Marantz SR7011

Sometimes, you just need to go big. Sometimes, you need to cash in the retirement savings, throw your neighbours’ concerns to the wind, and invest in a sound system that is going to blow your windows off. Step forward, then, the Marantz SR7011...

Review: Sony STR-DN1060

Sony’s A/V receivers have always been good, but they haven’t always managed to stand out against competition from the likes of Marantz, Onkyo, and Denon. With the STR-DN1060, and its subsequent iterations, they intended to change that.

Review: AudioQuest Beetle

It’s often easy to forget in the seemingly endless mission for better and better sound, but the role of a Digital-to-Analog Converter (DAC) isn’t just to improve the audio quality. It’s also there to make it easy to send the audio where you need it.

Review: Benchmark DAC3 HGC

If you like to tinker, if you like to go deep into your equipment, and if you like to have your efforts rewarded, then you are going to want to hear this. It’s spectacular.

Review: Chord Mojo

Chord Electronics, the purveyors of handmade British hi-fi have been - since the eighties, no less - making waves with their innovative DACs and headphone amplifiers. The Mojo is one of them.

Review: Chord Hugo 2

Chord Electronics are mad. Other companies will make a high-end DAC, and call it done. Chord made one, then gave it Bluetooth, then put in a package small enough to slip into a pocket, then made it look like something you'd see in a music video from 1988.

Review: iFi Audio micro iDAC2

No piece of audio equipment is more contentious than the humble DAC. It can cause some pretty major arguments. iFi Audio’s Micro iDAC2 isn’t going to help either side work out their differences with the other – but in our opinion, it’s solid.

Review: iFi Audio nano iOne

iFi Audio are nothing if not consistent. That’s the kind of first review sentence that normally has most readers rolling their eyes - don’t lie, we saw you do it - but we use it deliberately. But in the Nano iOne, there is a surprising spark of life

Review: iFi Audio xDSD

iFi Audio badly needed a rebrand. The company has a reputation for delivering superb and focused audio gear, but in the past, they’ve done so with all the panache and pizzazz of a statistics symposium.

Review: JDS Labs OL DAC

The debate about whether DACs (Digital-to-Analog Converters) actually make a difference to your sound is still one that has yet to be resolved. As good as it is, the OL DAC from JDS Labs isn’t going to convince the doubters.

Review: Meridian Audio Explorer2

That shelf at Meridian Audio’s HQs displaying their hifi innovation awards must be a substantial one - they’ve come up with plenty of firsts since their formation back in 1977. With the Explorer2, they're hoping to do it again.

Review: Optoma NuForce uDAC5

It’s not often that you can call a piece of audio equipment cute. You can with the Optoma uDAC5. When we took it out the box, our first thought was that someone was pranking us. This thing costs $200?

Review: Astell & Kern AK380

In the month or so we spent with Astell & Kern’s AK380 player, the most common question from those who saw it – after a few minutes spent marvelling at its stunning good looks – was the price point.

Review: Dodocool DA106

You might not think it while reading about the four- and occasional five-figure monsters on the site, but we absolutely love cheap here. If a piece of audio kit mixes low cost with decent components, we start getting very interested.

Review: FiiO M7

The survival of digital audio players is actually quite extraordinary. Despite the fact that we carry around phones that can do everything, standalone digital audio players continue to sell.

Review: FiiO X1

Here’s a question for you. How much are you willing to put up with for great sound? When you’re buying audio gear, do you go for stuff that is easy to use, that you will never have to think about, and which will become second nature to operate?

Review: Naim Uniti Atom

Audiophiles don't like listening to music wirelessly. Wires, they say, are the only way to guarantee pristine audio quality. They just haven't heard the Naim Uniti Atom yet.

Double Review: Cambridge Audio CXN (V2) & CXA80

This is going to be an unusual review. For the first, time, we're reviewing two products at once. Cambridge Audio's CXN (V2) streamer and CXA80 amplifier may retail as separate products, but we've never seen another pair that work so well together.