Some of the most euphoric musical experiences come from the private world of headphone listening, whether you're safe at home with the joys of open-backed home headphones, or braving the streets with the wonders of True Wireless earbuds.
These are the models that have most impressed us for the sheer value of hteir ear-pleasing performance during the last year of testing in Sound+Image, Australian Hi-Fi, Best Buys Audio & AV, and Audio Esoterica magazines. You can read the Judges' Comments below: for the full details on each and every winner, check out the Special Awards Issue of Sound+Image magazine, on sale in December in print and digital editions. Print subscriptions here; digital issues here (opens in new tab)!
Now let's meet the winners!
HOME HEADPHONES OF THE YEAR UNDER AU$1000
Sennheiser HD 560S
Judges’ Comment: The open-backed cabled HD 560S headphones deliver what Sennheiser does best — neutral, natural and high-value shining sound.
HOME HEADPHONES OF THE YEAR OVER AU$1000
Stax SR-009S/SRM-700S earspeaker system
Judges’ Comment: This classic Stax earspeaker+driver combination brings ear-beguiling and scintillating electrostatic performance. Click to read our full review.
WIRELESS HEADPHONES OF THE YEAR
Judges’ Comment: DALI nails the wireless noise-cancelling headphone with its first attempt — built like a speaker, the iO-6 delivers thrillingly rich and musical sound.
IN-EAR HEADPHONES OF THE YEAR
Judges’ Comment: Your personal sound profile is the first step to sonic success in these innovative compact, rugged, portable, and affordable noise-cancelling in-ears.
TRUE WIRELESS HEADPHONES OF THE YEAR
Judges’ Comment: These are easily the market-leading True Wireless designs for sound quality, facilities and value... at least until Sony releases an XM4... Click to read What Hi-Fi?'s review.
DAC / HEADPHONE AMP OF THE YEAR
Questyle CMA Twelve
Judges’ Comment: The CMA Twelve proved a versatile and very high-quality DAC, while it handled all our headphones, delivering beautiful, powerful music. The longer we played, the more we fell in love with it.