With the year coming to a close, It’s time to look back on all the great headphones launched. 2023 saw the release of several new audiophile products from very familiar names. Here is a list of some of the best-sounding and most well-designed headphones that launched this year.
One of the most recently launched and reviewed audiophile headphones that came out this year is the E3 from Dan Clark Audio. These are this year’s biggest closed-back headphones, coming in at the price of $1,999. When I listened to the E3 for the first time, I knew it was going to be worthy of being one of the best closed-back headphones on the market. Its sound is exactly what audiophiles will be looking for in a premium closed-back headphone. The sound is clean and richly detailed throughout the frequency response. You also get a soundstage that isn’t confined by the closed-ear cups. The structure of the headphones is also incredibly compact and comfortable for travel.
The Arya is a long-running line of open-back planar headphones from audiophile favorite, HiFiMAN. There have been a few different versions of the Arya over the years, with stealth magnets being its most significant contribution. The Organic was released this year, and it brought one of the most memorable changes to the Arya yet, upgrading parts of its build as well as sound. With the Arya Organic, you get a soundstage that feels airy but contains more precision than previous versions. There’s better accuracy here as well, providing the closest reference that the Arya has gotten.
A bit earlier than the Arya Organic, HiFiMAN also released the Ananda Nano. This is another new edition of an established product line, this time from their mid-budget Ananda series. Just like the Arya Organic, the Ananda Nano brings a fresh coat of paint and upgraded sound for audiophiles to enjoy. It has a new silver finish and improved sound that I found to be one of the best you can get for under a thousand dollars. Its incredibly spacious and balanced performance does a fantastic job of immersing you in all the detail it has to offer.
The Meze Empyrean is one of the best endgame headphones you can get, so it was never in doubt that its follow-up would be a hit this year. With the Empyrean II, you get one of the best planar headphones made somehow better thanks to an immaculate presentation and top-of-the-line build. With the Empyrean II, Meze once again sets a new standard for planar design, as well as a new endgame for audiophiles.
Another audiophile favorite to receive an upgrade is the Sennheiser HD 660s. The original had been around for quite some time, and a lot of its sound signature has changed. You’ll get a less solidified sound with the same level of reference detail that makes the 660 a good option for critical and casual listeners alike. Nothing has changed about the build though, containing the same comfortable ear pads that secure tightly around your ears.
This is more of an honorable mention, but the Luan wound up impressing me for most of the year. It’s hard to find good open-back headphones that are as relatively inexpensive as the Luan, and that maintain the level of fidelity that it’s capable of. No one has been able to match the craftsmanship of Sivga’s wooden design in this price range, and the Luan has these huge ear pads that sit so cozily on your head that it’s almost like a pillow.