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good portable headphone amp under $200?

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

Looking for a nice headphone amp, something pro sounding and looking that won't break the bank.  My first choice of stuff would be Ray Samuels Audio (Hornet, SR-71A), which I still may end up going with, but I figure if I get something under $200 I can have some scratch left for a new pair of cans.


I've been out of the game for a while and when I left, the Meta42, Pimeta, PINT and their ilk were the latest and greatest thing.  Seems like now we're dominated with Fiio's and the like.


So what's a good amp for under the $200 mark?  I'd prefer something that has the option of regular batteries (9V, AAA, etc.), as I hate the idea of a Li-Ion battery that's going to die eventually and that I'll either have to deal with getting replaced by the manufacturer or just scrapping the amp.

post #2 of 6

This should be a great starting place to get caught up: http://www.head-fi.org/t/620775/the-sub-200-portable-amps-shootout-13-11-amps-compared 


Some of the more recommended amps on there do not have standard batteries but the batteries are still user replaceable. If you want a tranportable amp for  iems, the C5 is a great current option in your price. If you're ok with something bigger, tough to beat the Objective2. 

post #3 of 6

If you are looking to use this amp in a portable environment with a phone/tablet/laptop I'd seriously consider a DAC/amp.  I'm a big believer in paying attention to your source and for digital audio that means DAC. Most portable devices come with poor DACs and imo amping a low quality source signal is like saying "wow that pile of dog poo smells really terrible. Here, let me kneel down so I can smell it better".


Fiio has a new DAC/amp, the e18, that just became available for order in the US this last week for less than half of the Hornet.  ClieOS has reviewed it and declares it to be superior to the e17 as a DAC and an amp.  I personally have no experience with the e18 but that will change this coming Tuesday.

post #4 of 6

jds labs C5 is excellent about 189.00 


also the jds labs c421 is a great amp for the price used.

post #5 of 6

And if you have need for a DAC consider the JDS Labs C5D which is the C5 amp and a DAC combined. Same amp as the C5.

post #6 of 6

Notice he said replaceable batteries?? (And I agree personally I'll never use a amp with a built in cell-phone type battery-Give me a recharge 9v any day)  Hard to find under $200, You might want to go up price wise to around $250 if you want world class.

Look into some Meier products,

You'll get, Pico, RS, quality for just a little less $ wise.  plus you can't beat German products, (Even tho Jan is not from Germany originally)

Look into the PCstep if you need a good DAC as well or the 2stepdance (For your price range)


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