While we were puttering about and testing things out for a few months beforehand, The Headphone List officially launched last September, initially intended to be no more than a better-organized extension of our efforts on Head-Fi. The feedback from the community surpassed our wildest expectations and it’s been quite a year for both myself (ljokerl) and average_joe.
I wanted to make this post to sincerely thank all of our readers and supporters, as well as to take a look back at our first year in the great internet expanse and share some thoughts, statistics, and takeaways.
The best way we could think of to sum up the first year of a review site was to put together a short list of our favorite new headphones and earphones in the past 12 months. So here it is – a by-no-means-exhaustive list of the products that most stood out to us over the course of the year.
Dunu DN-2000 (full impressions) – Dunu’s second-generation hybrid is an excellent all-rounder and one of my favorite hybrid designs so far, alongside AKG’s ridiculously pricey K3003. The DN-2000 boasts a balanced sound signature with a lift in the sub-bass and upper treble regions, as well as Dunu’s usual solid construction and extensive accessory kit.
SteelSeries Flux In-Ear (full review) – This $50 in-ear headset from a manufacturer of gaming peripherals took me entirely by surprise with audio quality that easily puts it among the very best earphones in its class.
Xiaomi Piston 2 (full review) – A full-featured Android headset from China’s #1 smartphone vendor, the Piston 2 is a bargain at $25 and a must-have for any Android user. I liked it so much, I reviewed it at Innerfidelity as well.
TDK BA200 (full review) – Sound reminiscent of flagship earphones from the likes of HiFiMan and Shure, an ergonomic form factor, and good noise isolation all make the TDK BA200 a fantastic all-rounder for not much money. The untimely discontinuation of this earphone is a shame, but units are still floating around online vendors.
Sony SBH80 (full review) – Sony’s ergonomically-challenged MH1C headset was among my favorite earphones last year. The wireless SBH80 model does away with the troublesome cables and delivers a warm, clear, and smooth sound – the best I’ve heard from a wireless IEM – in a “wearable” form factor and with all of the latest Bluetooth tech.
HiFiMan HE-560 (full review) – Not having tried any of HiFiMan’s previous full-size cans, the HE-560 impressed me more than I had anticipated, going so far as to replace the Sennheiser HD600 as my full-size reference headphone thanks to the outstanding bass performance and clarity.
OPPO HA-1 – While I have not yet had a chance to post a full review, OPPO’s full-size DAC and headphone amp has received more ear time this year than any other piece of audio gear own, acting as a hub for my headphones and powered monitors. Boasting more connectivity options than I know what to do with, the HA-1 is an extremely versatile device that I now can’t do without.
EarSonics S-EM6 (full review) – This is the best sounding universal IEM I have heard to date. Not only does it perform at a very high technical level, but I appreciate the sound signature, which I think has a wide appeal for audiophiles and non-audiophiles alike.
Custom Art Music One (full review) – On the lower cost end of the spectrum, I was pleasantly surprised by the technical capability of the Music One considering it uses only a single balanced armature driver. It is a winning proposition – a low cost silicone CIEM that is musical, yet capable. I am looking forward to trying the new Custom Art Harmony 8.
Perfect Seal Fusion 11 (full impressions) – Mike from Perfect Seal is back in the CIEM game after about 10 years of focusing on the hearing-aid market. His product lineup has impressed me in the price/performance category and includes the SportBud Silver canal size workout CIEM and the Fusion 11, the first ever hybrid CIEM in silicone, which sounds great for the price.
ADL X1 (full review) – Sure, the amp isn’t quite perfect due to hiss with some high-sensitivity headphones, but the relatively low level of hiss gets forgotten due to the musicality of the amp section, and there is a pretty good integrated DAC. The X1 took some of my CIEMs to levels I haven’t heard them perform at before.
Still going strong
Some gear continues to impress regardless of its age, and I wanted to recognize some of my stalwarts including the iBasso DX100 DAP, Portaphile 627 amp, Lear FSM-02 V2 amp, Spiral Ear SE 5-way Reference, Hidition NT-6 Pro, Hidition NT-6 with Whiplash Hybrid V3 cable, and M-Fidelity SA-43.
By the numbers
Our growth has been tremendously encouraging, and we love that you like reading what we write. Here’s some statistics for the past year that I found interesting.
Pageviews for the past year
Alexa traffic rank, then and now
According to analytics, you – our readers – logged on from an incredible 199 different countries in the past year. 1134 comments have been posted on the site. Another 798 were replies from average_joe and myself, and we received an incredible 24615 spam comments.
Our main earphone buyer’s guide has been meticulously maintained, with 9 IEMs removed and 7 new ones added in the last 12 months. Despite two of the most expensive sets being added this year, the average price point of an earphone featured in the buyer’s guide has dropped from $86 to $78 – not a big surprise considering the trend for great entry-level and mid-range earphones.
Aside from the tables and buyer’s guides, which receive the lion’s share of pageviews, our most popular posts are IEM reviews. The top ten most popular reviews are:
By the way, running the numbers for all of my own reviews, about 54% of headphones and earphones received a strong overall recommendation.
What the future holds for The Headphone List
The future of THL is looking bright – the past year has acted as a proof of concept, showing us that there is interest in our style of content, and in the year ahead we will be investing even more time and resources into improving the site.
You may have noticed that we have been expanding our affiliate network and developing other ways of supporting the site. Some of you have even helped out by using our affiliate links or pledging donations, which we greatly appreciate. At this point our operating costs are covered most months, though The Headphone List is still a long way from being our day job.
Our long-term vision is for a more dynamic and interactive website with a cleaner interface – one that is better able to answer common questions and actively provides product recommendations and comparisons. The implementation of new features and site makeover will start to take place in the near future. If everything goes as planned, the end result will be worth the effort!
Thank you for visiting The Headphone List and for reading, liking, commenting, and sharing us with your friends.
We are extremely grateful for all of the support and encouragement we have received from the global headphone community in the past year and will continue making it our mission to help our readers make informed buying decisions when it comes to personal audio. We will strive try to provide more of the content you want, namely buyer’s guides and roundups, and of course more reviews. We will also be keeping an eye out for the best headphone deals going into the holiday season.
So again, from the bottom of our hearts, thank you, and keep an eye out for more website functionality (and, of course, more reviews) in the future!
P.S. While writing this post, I have listened to four full albums. I wish I had the statistics for how many hours of music we consumed while writing reviews and creating other content over the past year – I’m sure it’s a very large number. On that note here’s some of my favorite albums released in the past year:
Got any thoughts on our first year in existence? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.