Are expensive amps bulls*t?

I see many audiophiles getting expensive amps but I also see people like Zeos that are fine with using a cheap amp with lots of power(Crown xls). What is the point of more expensive “audiophile” amps? Do they make a huge difference in sound quality?

1 Like

They will either

  • Have more power
  • Be cleaner
  • Have a different (more desirable?) soundsignature

To some some of these reasons are worth it. But our ears, and the speakers we use, have limits… So if YOU don’t hear a difference between 3000$ speakers with a 100$ amp and 3000$ speakers with a 1000$ amp then you should pick that 100$ amp. If YOU hear a difference and you like it, go for it!

I for example recently got the chance to compare my SU-8 (200$ DAC) to a Schiit BiFrost (700$ DAC) and I couldn’t tell the difference in 20 songs on headphones I know… So that’s whay MY ears tell ME.

Of course, besides quality, soundstaging, soundsignature, power, features (remote?) can be worth the extra moolah!


personally my $250 Bas X A-100 which has all the power you will ever need didn’t sound as detailed as my $80 Schiit Magni 3… that being said it does have other good qualities what you call transparency and I run DT1990’s so more detail really I don’t need since I don’t critical listen so I just sold my Schiit Magni 3.

I can respect people who want different sound after all I have 4 headphones (soon to be 3) and love the different sounds but I think what AMP’s provide is 98% power and %2 sound for a price way to high to truly give a fuck about sound differences unless they are somehow very bad. Same for DACs I run a $30 bluetooth adapter and it does great. IMO Headphones once over like $100 are %50 just providing sound and %50 how they actually sounds so if I want different sounds I will stick to buying different headphones and using my monstrous AMP


Depends what you want…
Sometimes it is like with telling time - some people just have a phone which is ridiculously accurate, some go for Swiss mechanical watches.
There are “cheap” amps which will deliver; there are expensive ones.
If they are bullshit? sometimes.
You can get cost of material, amount of work (like point-to-point in some tube amps), “exclusivity” of the brand (which in 99% of cases does not translate to sound quality; vide Swiss watches).
My experience - i had an urge years back to get some crazy audio stuff, it sounded great at the dealer. When brought home - it occurred my power supply is so crap so the sound, I have returned everything and stayed on basic Pioneer amp with JBLs. Only moving to new place with proper power and grounding lines, could enjoy high(er) end gear and sound.
As always: try in your place if possible. If you like it for whatever reason - the looks, the sound, the brand - and can afford - take it.


I would not run a Class-D, Class-G or Class-H amplifier meant for PA applications at home. Very different applications, very different requirements and very different speakers.

There are certain implementations you as a manufacturer can’t do for cheap.
For example a powerful Class A amplifier is intensive in research and expensive in BOM (= Bill of Materials).
Class D amplifiers on the other hands are almost building blocks where most of the engineering is in the parts already.

When you are running a pair of for example Behringer PA speakers, no.
When running expensive towers, definitely yes.

The question is: Is the cost worth it to you?

1 Like

Go listen to a $1000 dollar well put together system and then go listen to a $10,000 well put together system and see what you think.

BTW, if you ever go to a show where a manufacturer is selling their new $800 speaker and it sound glorious to you, check the equipment they have that speaker connected to and see how many of them are connected to a cheap PA amp and how many are connected to an amp that sells for five times the cost of those speakers.


Poking the dot.
Basically D-class could be used for Sub’s and Bass drivers but would not any cheap D-class unless it’s just for going loud… quality still is quality.
Differences are small or marginally noticeable.

Not for normal midrange or tweeter driver setups, D-just ain’t the thing…
Unless just going for cheap. You just want cheap.

1 Like

like most things, as the price scales, the quality goes up, however there is a point where the differences become more nuanced despite the price begging to rise what seems exponentially.

and as mentioned, the differences in them has to do with sound signatures. some amps make the sound clear and analytical, while others add warmth making the sound more fun. and the amps can affect the imaging and the soundstage. same for DAC…and headphones really. they all have sound profiles and people mix the equipment and the headphones and find combinations they just love.

creating really good sound doesn’t have to be expensive though, as the ease of providing quality audio at more reasonable prices has dropped significantly in the last 20 years. however, you should match the quality of DAC and amp to the same level as the headphones you’re using. if you have $3000 headphones but plug them into $100 DAC and $100 amp, they’ll work, but it’s akin to having a Bentley and swapping out the V10 / V12 for a 4 cylinder from a Toyota. you’ll love the comfort and ergonomics, but you would be missing out on the excellent sound reproduction they are capable of.

audio is a rabbit hole and you can go as deep as you want. many are very happy with gear under $500 because the sound they give is sooo much better than what they had before.

it’s quite educational!

1 Like

what do you have for DAC / Amp and Headphones / IEMs?

1 Like

Right now I have an Audiolab 600a and I use its internal dac. I’m more of a speaker guy so I have a pair of Elac Debut Reference and Klipsch Heresy III(I’m thinking about replacing the Elac with Kef ls50s)

1 Like

ahhh! I’m daft and sometimes forget there is some speaker discussion on HFG. most is headphone related, so my bad. >.<

1 Like

Cleaner, sometimes sterile
Different sound characteristics like theres a pretty big difference from a liquid platinum and a thx amp as the plat is wide warm and very colored while thx is more neutral clean sterile a bit anemic and bright
Soundstage differences
Detail retrieval and imaging differences

1 Like

The difference between a good $500 amp and a good $3000 amp is less than the difference between nothing and a good $100 amp and probably a $100 amp and a $200 amp


yeh…most DAC and Amp below $100 aren’t really worth considering as the difference between a $70 - $90 DAC / Amp and a $100 - $120 DAC / Amp is astounding!


Soooo, this is where knowledge, training, patience, sound signature preferences, synergy and experience (musical) all start To play a major role in your enjoyment and personal performance to value ratio.
The extent of my musical background is that i studied/practiced (badly) trumpet and piano for a few years when i was between the ages of 8-10 or so and my parents belonged to a Greek social club which threw all sorts of events that we attended often with live Greek music. I damned well know what a bouzouki sounds like but have no idea what a piccolo or clarinet are supposed to sound like. IN other words, I have almost no musical background or talent…:grimacing: I do enjoy music though and over the past 4 decades have had exposure to some variety of musical listening in both live events and controlled environments.
What this all Means is that MY OPINION of what a great sounding System is and everyone else’s will vary based on our exposure and experience. It also means that i am not trained in any way form or manner to distinguish the fine details found in any sort of recording or Music playback system whatsoever and so everything i say or speak to is based purely on my own emotional sensory feedback of the music and environment i am partaking in at the moment.
Like everyone across the internet i sometimes spout my opinions on things based on my own experiences and knowledge and for the most part it means Nothing to anyone who has an in-depth Musical background. When i hear differences in any sort of equipment in can be based off a thousand different Possibly nonsensical reasons…I am blatantly and purposely using myself as the example in this long winded post because this is As truthful and general a scenario As applies to the question, “are expensive amps bullshit” along with every other expensive piece of audio kit! The answer is, it depends on you and your abilities to tell the difference, the equipment is mostly based on science and engineering while the enjoyment of music is based on an emotional state, environment and personal preferences.
We can both sit down in the same exact room and listen to the same exact equipment and have a different opinion on what we perceive as the quality of the Music being played. This exact scenario i have experienced multiple times while auditioning pieces i was interested in purchasing. Sometimes i found value in items, other times i did not, regardless of price.
No idea if any of my ramblings affect your opinion or offer an answer to your question, i have both cheap and relatively expensive stuff at hand in mynown collection amd honestly enjoy it all because it’s MINE :hugs:


I have 2 systems for my home
Cambridge Audio AXA25. $225.00
Cambridge Audio SX50 speakers $199.99

Onkyo tx 8020 receiver $149.99
Fluance sx6 speakers. $89.99

Both systems sound great in my smaller living area.

Long as you get the correct wattage and speakers for for listening area, its very hard to get bad sounding equip in today’s world.

Get a modest receiver/amp, some speakers and a $100 dollar DAC and call it a day.

Many people just like blowing money on needless stuff. One thing I wouldn’t buy is a small cheap Class D amp, to me those don’t sound great.

1 Like