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Headphone Amp Under $100

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

I'm looking for a suitable headphone amp under $100 for my laptop to use with my Audio Technica ATH-M50's and my Sony MDR-1R's. I mostly listen to chill electronic and dubstep. Preferably portable, but I don't want a large amp.

 

I've already looked at the Fiio lineup, but none really suit my needs for the quality. I've also looked at the JDS Labs cMoyBB, but I've heard that the bass boost isn't that much of a boost, and the compatibility wasn't that good with low impedance headphones.

post #2 of 6
Quote:
Originally Posted by Xcuz View Post

I'm looking for a suitable headphone amp under $100 for my laptop to use with my Audio Technica ATH-M50's and my Sony MDR-1R's. I mostly listen to chill electronic and dubstep. Preferably portable, but I don't want a large amp.

 

I've already looked at the Fiio lineup, but none really suit my needs for the quality. I've also looked at the JDS Labs cMoyBB, but I've heard that the bass boost isn't that much of a boost, and the compatibility wasn't that good with low impedance headphones.

 

You've eliminated two of the usual suspects.

 

Why don't you like the FiiO line? The tiny E5, at least, produces very good sound, excellent for its price.

 

I would recommend JDS Labs' O2 but, at $150, it's considerably out of your price range.

post #3 of 6
Quote:
Originally Posted by HamilcarBarca View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by Xcuz View Post

I'm looking for a suitable headphone amp under $100 for my laptop to use with my Audio Technica ATH-M50's and my Sony MDR-1R's. I mostly listen to chill electronic and dubstep. Preferably portable, but I don't want a large amp.

 

I've already looked at the Fiio lineup, but none really suit my needs for the quality. I've also looked at the JDS Labs cMoyBB, but I've heard that the bass boost isn't that much of a boost, and the compatibility wasn't that good with low impedance headphones.

 

You've eliminated two of the usual suspects.

 

Why don't you like the FiiO line? The tiny E5, at least, produces very good sound, excellent for its price.

 

I would recommend JDS Labs' O2 but, at $150, it's considerably out of your price range.


Why do you feel that you need an amp? Those are pretty sensitive cans. They are low-impedance, they might benefit from a buffer, to bump up the current, but unless they really aren't loud enough, you probably could do without voltage gain. Nevertheless, I have the V6, which is a bit older, less sensitive, and has higher impedance, but really I have never found it to NEED an amp, though it does benefit. If I were you, I'd look at a decent USB DAC with a buffered headphone out, I would expect a much more drastic improvement from a better source, than I would a better amp. Isn't there a sub-$100 Fiio USB DAC? That would be my suggestion.

 

The E17 is currently $130 on Amazon, I know it's above your max slightly, but it is both a DAC and an amp, given that you use a laptop, the inclusion of the DAC will mean a HUGE performance bump.

 

There's also the E7 and E10, both of which is about $65, and again, contains a DACs.

 

Also, the designer of the ODAC and O2 gave high praises to the $30 Behringer DAC: http://www.amazon.com/Behringer-UCA202-Audio-Interface/dp/B000KW2YEI

 

He tested it, it performed very, very well.

There is a lot of talk about amps on head-fi, and amps can make a good system sound better, but without a good source and good speakers (headphones) no amp is going to sound good. You have the cans, the next step should be improving source, not necessarily an amp.

post #4 of 6
Quote:

Originally Posted by scootsit View Post

 

Also, the designer of the ODAC and O2 gave high praises to the $30 Behringer DAC: http://www.amazon.com/Behringer-UCA202-Audio-Interface/dp/B000KW2YEI

 

He tested it, it performed very, very well.

 

There is a lot of talk about amps on head-fi, and amps can make a good system sound better, but without a good source and good speakers (headphones) no amp is going to sound good. You have the cans, the next step should be improving source, not necessarily an amp.

 

I have two Behringer UCA-222's. It's the same electronics in a red case with some additional software I've never touched. I replaced one with an ODAC+O2 combo.

 

I could recommend either. I think I paid ~$25 for the Behringer.

post #5 of 6
that upgrade beats the hell out of an amp upgrade. The fiio maybe worth the money because he has no other amp, it could serve multiple roles.
post #6 of 6

For listening from a laptop, you don't usually need an amp -- plenty of power coming from the laptop.  What you could get, however, is a DAC (or DAC/Amp like the Fiio E7 or E17).  It will improve the quality of the sound out of the digital processor of the laptop and remove the computer noises.

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