Best Headphone AMP Under $100 – Which Is The Right One For You?

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I suppose you want to increase the amplitude of electrical signals, well it seems like you have landed in the right place. Amplifiers are the heartbeats of the headphones that I think are necessary for audiophiles.

A tremendous amount of AMPs are available in the market, but the target is to find the best ones at a low cost. Fortunately, the products I have chosen appear to replace the high-end qualities without compromising on the price range. Now, let’s have a look at these amazing AMPs that are no more than $100.

ImageProductFeaturesPrice
FiiO A3

FiiO A3

8.6
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Fosi Audio Q4

Fosi Audio Q4

8.5
Check Latest Price
Neoteck Portable 3.5mm

Neoteck Portable 3.5mm

9.1
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EarStudio ES100 MK2-24bit

EarStudio ES100 MK2-24bit

8.8
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FX AUDIO DAC-X6

FX AUDIO DAC-X6

8.6
Check Latest Price

Key Takeaways

  • Most headphones with an impedance between 16-600 ohms can work with any amplifier.
  • My favorite pick from the list is FX AUDIO DAC-X6 and EarStudio ES100 MK2.
  •  Things to check beforehand are whether the amplifier supports certain technologies you are looking for, let’s say Dolby atmos or directional sound, the portability, and the price.

Top 5 Best Headphone Amps Under $100

5. FiiO A3- Best Portable

FiiO A3 is the most compact amplifier you can find in this business field. It looks super cool, covered in an aluminum body and a jet-black chassis. Additionally, this type of construction with an all-aluminum body contributed heavily to shielding against EM interference.

The manufacturer employed the OPA1642 preamp and AD8397 amp section for the output power. A3 is doing an excellent job with effects on treble, mid-range, and bass production. I can’t tell the same thing about the soundstage and details. The details were below average at low volumes, but it seems to work nicely at average and high volumes. The cherry on top is the bass boost because it changes the mood entirely, and lower tones become more exciting. The manufacturer warns the customers not to use the amplifier if their headphone’s impedance is not between 16 to 150 ohms.

Under the gorgeous body, FiiO A3 hides a 1400mAh battery capacity that will last you up to 16 hours of use. Avoid using the amplifier while charging as it damages the device’s overall performance. 

Why Should You Buy It?

The pocket-size body makes the amplifier easy to port. Plus, durability and sound quality with minimal distortion will give a satisfying on-the-go listening experience.

Dimensions/ Weight0.51 x 3.59 x 2.2 inches/ 3.25 ounces
Output Power270 mW (32 Ω) 450 mW (16 Ω)
Frequency Response20-20.000 Hz
Signal to Noise Ratio108 dB
Battery Run Time16 hours

Pros

  • Portable
  • Durable and robust
  • Excellent battery run time
  • Great mid ranges and bass production

Cons

  • Lacks soundstage and imaging

4. Fosi Audio Q4- Best For Home Desktop

Q4 amplifier addresses anyone who wants a tabletop or desktop amplifier. It is an excellent option to put beside speakers or headphones. The body isn’t that compact to carry around, but it certainly can fit in the bag if you seek portability. Furthermore, this amplifier can withstand sharp drops and is built to last forever, thanks to the complete cover metal construction.

As for the sound quality, Fosi Audio Q4 rocks, especially in the bass and treble control. It can be used as a preamp and volume controller for your PC, laptop, headphone, and speaker. The high fidelity is present and can run in most headphones with 16 to 200-ohm impedance.

It works well in every frequency range with 0.01% THD distortion, which means no more distracting sound coloration, even at high volumes. It may not manage to block the entire noise in the standard volume, but that also depends on the environment you are using. I’m pretty satisfied with the bass accuracy in EDM music specifically; the booming effect creates a little earthquake in the ears.

Q4 employs RCA, PC-USB, optical, coaxial, and 3.5mm aux, which means it works in a wired way. Please note that it doesn’t support a microphone. 

Why Should You Buy It?

You have found a suitable amplifier that will perform remarkably in all aspects regarding sound quality and cannot withstand the slightest distortion. The full metal, durable design is built to last a lifetime.

Dimensions/ Weight3.9 x 2.9 x 1.3 inches/ 14.1 ounces
Output Power160mW RMS (32 ohms, 0.01% THD)
Frequency Response20-20.000 Hz
Signal to Noise Ratio105 dB
Battery Run TimeWired

Pros

  • Excellent audio quality
  • No sound coloration
  • Precise bass effect
  • Affordable
  • Extremely durable

Cons

  • Works in a wired way
  • Heavyweight

3. Neoteck NTK059- Best Budget

With its affordable price tag, the NTK059 is worth giving a chance to update your headphone’s audio quality. It’s unchallenging to use and suitable for any headphone type. What I like most about this amp is the compact and lightweight construction that makes it very portable. A full aluminum cover proves that the durability is on point and will last for ages without getting damaged.

Neoteck NTK059 provides a great stereo level where the sounds give the illusion of voices coming in different directions. It blocks external noises, and you won’t experience any humming or distortion at high frequencies. The present 3.5 mm jack allows you to use the amplifier on every possible device, such as laptops, smartphones, tablets, MP3, MP4, and PCs. For Mac and IOS operating systems, it requires an additional AUX cable.

The lithium-ion battery capacity manages to last 8 hours of playtime in total. Just a friendly reminder, do not use the amplifier while charging to avoid the buzzing effect. Remember, to use the Neoteck NTK059; your headphone impedance should be between 16 to 150 ohms.

Why Should You Buy It?

The minimal price point and offered value doesn’t add up. The strong body, versatile use, and sound quality will give an extra boost to your music listening.

Dimensions/ Weight0.51 x 3.59 x 2.2 inches/ 3.25 ounces
Output Power270 mW (32 Ω) 450 mW (16 Ω)
Frequency Response20-20.000 Hz
Signal to Noise Ratio108 dB
Battery Run Time8 hours

Pros

  • Inexpensive price tag
  • Portable
  • Compact and lightweight
  • Great battery run time

Cons

  • The use while charging damages the Amp

2. EarStudio ES100 MK2- Best Overall

The avenger of the list has landed. The South Korean company keeps impressing us with the sound quality of most audio equipment. Asians know how to do their best and serve them at low prices. The compact yet ergonomic metal design proves to be nothing but the master of portability with its almost car key size construction. When buying EarStudio ES100 MK2, you get a portable Bluetooth receiver and DAC at once. The EQ option in the app is quite helpful for quick adjustments. In the passthrough mode, the microphone records the environmental noises and mixes them with your favorite tracks. In brief, you can call it as a hearing aid to eliminate undesired voices.

The sound quality has the capacity to rule kingdoms. The overall sound signature is warm and dynamic. It gets smoother because of the wide range of frequencies at some point, but it’s not that deep or disturbingly punchy. The bass is what I’m leaving for, and this amplifier successfully completes the mission in full depth and accuracy, especially in the mid-range tones. 

The battery isn’t as impressive as the sound quality, but it still ensures a good 14 hours of playtime.

Why Should You Buy It?

It’s one of the most extreme small-body and lightweight amplifiers you can ever find. The fantastic sound boost and deep bass will excite your mood. What more reasons could you ask for the “best overall” categorized amplifier?  

Dimensions/ Weight1 x 2 x 0.5 inches/ 0.704 ounces
Output Power75 mW (16 Ω, unbalanced) 302 mW (16 Ω, balanced)
Frequency ResponseN/A
Signal to Noise Ratio109 dB
Battery Run Time14 hours

Pros

  • Incredible sound signature
  • Deep and punchy bass
  • Compact
  • Lightweight
  • EQ option for easy adjustment

Cons

  • Prone to scratches
  • Not very durable

1. FX AUDIO DAC-X6- Best Value For Price

With the lightweight body brushed in aluminum with some hints of metal, you can’t tell that FX Audio DAC-X6 belongs in the group of budget prices. On the rear panel, you can notice various connectivity options, including coaxial, plug mount, and USB, besides wireless.

I’m quite satisfied with the given sound quality. The sound profile is nicely balanced in all frequencies. The clarity follows in the mid-ranges and high notes. Simply put, you can listen to any recording in any environment without the feeling of hiss and distortion. However, at the peak, high frequencies give an echo like you are in an open ambient. Personally, I don’t mind that, but if you do, you can adjust in the way you please.

The best part of FX Audio DAC-X6, besides the fantastic music experience, is being a good company for FPS gaming. As a nice bonus, this “Best Value for Price” amp, the FX Audio DAC-X6 also comes with a surround sound system technology that supports Dolby Atmos and directional sound. These two sound technologies are successfully spreading the noises to provide that cinematic experience where it is engineered to break the traditional sounds.

Why Should You Buy It?

Purchase it simply for versatile use. You get to listen to music seamlessly and, at the same time, watch movies with multidirectional sound support and also be provided with an optimum gaming experience. Imagine all that comes at a super low-cost range.

Dimensions/ Weight5.91 x 3.86 x 1.26 inches/ 1.48 pounds
Output Power450 mW 32 Ω/ 250 mW 64 Ω
Frequency ResponseNot Specified by Manufacturer
Signal to Noise Ratio105 dB
Battery Run TimeWired

Pros

  • Supports Dolby Atmos and directional sound
  • You can play FPS gaming
  • Sleek and durable body
  • Nice balanced sound profile

Cons

  • Not compatible with below 32 ohms impedance

The Influential Specification You Should Consider Before Buying an Amplifier

Portable vs. Tabletop Amplifier

First and foremost, you need to answer the question of whether you want to take the amplifier anywhere with you or you want it to sit on the desktop. Depending on the answer, look for options. The surprising fact is both the portable and tabletop amplifiers come pretty much at the same price tags.   

Keep in mind that portable amplifiers tend to be smaller; therefore, they offer less power. The majority of the small-sized AMPs offer Bluetooth connectivity relying on the battery life. The limited features are less likely to satisfy your needs as an audiophile. On the contrary, desktop amplifiers offer more durability as well as pack more features in them. The sound quality is visibly better and delivers premium clarity to the table. 

 Audio Quality

The audio quality is of utmost importance to reach the objective and desired loudness. The problem arises when the audio quality is good because any amplifier compatible with your headphones will give a performance boost. 

I strongly suggest trying as many amplifiers as possible to notice the difference before purchasing. Do not settle for anything less than you expect or desire.   

DAC (Digital to Analog Converter)

Any song you hear on online streaming platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal Deezer, or many more is converted into analog. Otherwise, you won’t hear a single voice coming out of the device except for vinyl records. For that reason, the headphone amplifier must pair with DAC. You can either connect the DAC with a 3.5 mm jack or purchase the amplifier with DAC built-in.  

THD+N (Total Harmonic Distortion + Noise)

The efficiency of an amplifier depends on the measurement of the THD. The distortion, which happens to be at a higher volume range, creates that sound coloration, and the distortion should be at the lowest in number. Bear in mind that the speaker’s or the headphone quality is primer. Therefore, consider getting better-quality headphones before blaming the quality of an amplifier.

Headphone and Amplifier Compatibility

Do your research beforehand because not every amplifier is compatible with your headphones. However, the chances of compatibility are 99%, but there’s still 1% that can get in your way and ruin the entire mood. First, check your headphone’s impedance, which is required to be between 16-600 ohms. If these impedance numbers match your headphones, worry less because most of the amplifiers will be compatible with your headphones.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Do Amplifiers Bring to the Table?

An amplifier does not improve the sound quality or whatsoever. The primary job of an amplifier is to increase the audio signal levels, which means reproduction of input audio signals. 

What are the Benefits of Using Amplifiers in Headphones?

Depending on the manufacturer, many amplifiers have connectors that you can use for different situations. Moreover, the amplifiers allow you to adjust the volume level manually, for instance, the bass boost. This is quite helpful if the headphone’s sound profile is neutral and you are a huge fan of rap, hip-hop, and EDM music.

Can you use Stereo Amplifier on Headphones?

Yes, you can, but it depends on the chosen amplifier. For better clarification, the difference between regular and stereo Amps is the lack of power. Regular amplifiers supply headphones, and stereo amplifiers supply speakers. Headphone amplifiers don’t own that much power to rule the speakers, but stereo amplifiers have the capacity to give extra power output to headphones. So, if you go back and forth with headphones and speakers, it seems practical and economical to use the same amp.

Final Words

If you want to get the best audio quality, or at least improve your current audio quality, throwing a bit of money onto headphone amps is a good idea.

Look, I know it’s hard to choose the best headphone amp, especially when it comes to choosing between devices that are highly connected with technology, and you happen to be kind of a technophobe just like me, and it is even harder when you are on a search of that particular device while you are on a budget. So, with all these difficulty levels while choosing, I really hope that I have eased your process of choosing with this article. In this article, I have listed 5 of the best amplifiers that you can get on a budget but that doesn’t mean that they guarantee quality too, so don’t let the fact that they are cheap, worry you!

Further Reading

It is hard to believe any source of information these days, especially when it comes to technology, but I’ve also written different articles, based on what you are interested in, completely reliable! For, example if you are a person who is constantly seeking knowledge, but you just can’t sit reading a book for hours, I present to you the 6 best headphones for audiobook listening that guarantee amazing learning as a listening experience. Also, as I mentioned learning, you guys may have in mind checking some great headphones for studying and finding out the types of music that help while studying!

Josh Harper

Whether you’re looking for information on audio equipment, looking to learn more about how things work in the music field, or looking for reviews of products, we got you covered!

 
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