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Check Out the Best Budget HiFi Guide for Products in the $200-$1200 Price Range

Bowers & Wilkins Zeppelin ~ $600

iPod Speakers

Not only is this the best looking iPod speaker/dock on the market, it sounds like B&W speakers as well.  The classic sound, rich, clear, clean mids and wonderful highs come through on this must have iPod Dock.  It is perfect for the office, bed room or study.  Easy to use, simple and user friendly remote, and as long as you don’t run it into a tower it promises not to let you down, in flames.



  • Drive units 1x 125mm (5 in) bass – 2x 90mm (3.5 in) midrange – 2x 25mm (1 in) metal dome tweeter
  • Frequency range -6dB at 47Hz and 22kHz
  • Amplifier power output 1x 50W (bass) – 2x 25W (midrange/tweeter)
  • Inputs 30-pin iPod connector – 3.5mm mini jack analogue / optical digital – USB 2.0
  • Outputs S-video (mini DIN) – Composite video (RCA Phono)

Bose Sounddock 10 ~ $539

iPod Speakers

The Souddock 10 is the biggest and best sounding dock Bose has yet to offer.  In contrast to the B&W Zeppelin, its angles straight and authoritarian.  The sound is tweaked to please make the standard MP3 sound much better than it really should.  Pleasing to most peoples ears the Sounddock has won many fans.  Smooth highs, rich bass, and clear mids offer a pleasing sound to fill your office, study or bedroom.



Sound Magic PL30 ~ $30



Sound Magic PL30 are hard to beat, especially at this price point. They come with a huge variety of fitting options and each ear has a bass setting adjustment switch. After a few hours of burn in the frequencies are very well balanced and clear. They isolate fairly well and are small and there isn’t much cord feedback.


  • 9mm Neodymium Magnet Drivers
  • Impedance: 12 ohm
  • Sensitivity: 100+/-3dB/mW at 1kHz
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz to 22kHz
  • Connector: 3.5mm stereo plug
Other Recommend Headphones – Sony MDR-V6, Koss PortaPro, Grado SR60, Sennheiser PX 100, Sony MDR 7506, Sennheiser HD650, AKG K701
Also see our Editor’s Choice Best Headphones Guide

Wadia Digital 171i ~ $600


The Wadia Digital docks are all over the place at the audiophile shows.  This bit perfect certified “Works with iPhone” can be seen sourcing $100,000.00 systems.  It is essentially the iPod/iPhone transport to have to turn yours into a media server.  Skip those $10,000.00 touch screen messes from other companies, for $600 and the cost of an iPod/iPhone you’ve got the best in the industry in your hand.  Pair it with the Wadia 151 50W integrated amplifier that perfectly sits right under the 171i, and you are half way to a truly hifi system.  If the $600 for the 171i is a bit steep, give the 170i a look. The 170i works only with the iPod, but it is just as amazing.  Really, if you plan to build your music system around your iPod, you need this.


  • Digital Output: 1 S/PDIF Coax (RCA) 1 TOSLINK
  • Analog Outputs: None
  • Video Outputs: 1 set of Component Outputs
  • Weight: 4.6 lbs., 2.42 kg
  • Dimensions (HWD): 2.7 x 8 x 8 inches – 6.85 x 20.32 x 20.32 cm
  • Finish Options: Black Anodized Aluminum

HiFi Man HM-801 ~ $800

Portable 24bit iPod Alternative

Ok, yes, it is the size of an old Sony Walkman, it doesn’t play movies or show photos of your kids and the dog everyone is sick of.  What it does, it KILLS the iPod in terms of sound quality.  Clean, detailed, balanced and a sonic splendor.  Do a Google search, every hifi media outlet that has their hands on one says flat out it is far and above the quality of the iPod.  How can it not be, it will play 24bit lossless FLAC files, uses a Burr-Brown PMC 1704 DAC chip (an audiophile fave) an exchangeable amplifier bay (the GanQi Bay) for using a different amp to tweak the sound, and Coaxial and USB DAC out.  Who cares if it isn’t as user special as an iPod, it is about REAL HIFI AUDIO!


  • Modular Design: Modular Amplifier Bay (Named GanQi Bay) and 14.8 volt Lithium Polymer Battery Bay
  • Memory: SDHC Card
  • Volume control: ALPS Analog Attenuator
  • DAC function: Coaxial (16bit 44.1kHz to 24bit 96kHz) , USB DAC (16bit 48kHz)
  • DAC Chip: Burr-Brown PCM1704;
  • Op-Amp: OPA627 Exchangeable Module Battery
  • Charger and External Power supply: External Power supply also acts as a bettery charger and can deliver Hi-Fi grade sound quality even while charging.
  • Battery Life: 7 to 8 hours (Depending upon which Modular Amplifier board is mounted)
  • Music Format Support: – APE Fast、Normal、High Mode – AAC 16K-320Kbps – FLAC lossless VBR 16bit and 24bit – WMA 8-355kbps – OGG Quality 0-Quality 10 – WAV PCM,MS-ADPCM,IMA-ADPCM – MP3(VBR) 8-320Kbps
Headphone to pair Editor’s Choice Best Headphones Guide

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  • derek says:

    Monitor Audio speakers have always been a favorite choice for me. Smooth roll-off the highs, very tight sounding bass response without being overpowering, and mids that make your favorite vocalist sound even sweeter.

    Nice job of picking components that won’t break the bank.

  • adam says:

    Derek -

    Really – you found Monitor Audio speakers rolled off at the high end – not what I normally hear about them. What amplifier or rest of the system, source for instance, did you pair them with, or heard them paired with? Not saying they are harsh, but the RS6 I’ve heard had a slightly thin airy high end. Good if you were looking to hear the room in a recording, but definitely didn’t help with a black whole for a stage.

  • DBoy says:

    There is lot of PMP that sound better than iPod
    for less than 800

  • Jack says:

    For those of you who have trouble justifying big speakers to your significant other (like me), try the Silverline Minuets. They are small enough that they can sit on a desk and they absolutely rock. They go low enough that they don’t demand a sub but I recommend one.

  • Rubén says:

    Hi all,
    Iam newbie in this forum.
    Is the new Magnepan similar in soun dto the olds models?

    Best Regards

  • Rubén says:

    I currenlty have Apogee and for my they are not surpassed even today in the planar range.

  • Rubén says:

    I miss said that full planars like Apogee is very demanding on room space and position

  • Rubén says:

    But when they are paired with a good power amp is IMHO one of the more realistics speakers

  • Rubén says:

    A few years ago change the olds ribbons with new ones (manufactured in Australia) and sound even betters than the originals.
    More extended, transparency, air

  • Rubén says:

    For full potential the Divas must be actively biamped

  • Lorenqo says:

    planar speakers all sound wimpy and apogees require a amp you could use for arc welding to drive them properly. maybe there ar PMP that sound better than Ipod but they’re not tha good either. the Hifiman is a real audio product and with it’s versatility is a bargain reelly

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