Just for fun. Not only headphones, but mostly, for now.
This is “too good for the price” according to multiple sources.
Sorted by price, more or less.
- Koss KPH30i (and PortaPros): Great sound quality stuff for 40$ and better than many pricier headphones.
- Koss KSC75: Great sound quality stuff for 15$ and better than many many pricier headphones (but you may not like the “on-ear clip” style).
- Coolermaster MH751: “Gaming” headphones that actually sound good, with a removable cable and a removable mic. For 75$?! Enough said!
- Beyerdynamics DT880, 600 ohms version: Hard to find better for a “neutral” sound at 225$.
- Massdrop HD58X/HD6XX: The quality of the Sennheiser HD6–'s range, for 150$-200$.
- Verum Ones: Handmade planars for 350$, punching way above their price range.
- Neumann NDH20: Monitors, detail monsters, bassy, 400$.
- Hifiman Sundaras: They’re like 350$, but, they’re planar detail monsters for 350$. Here’s both Joshua Valour and “Resolve” / The Headphone Show basically saying that’s the best “all-around” you can get in hi-fi for cheap.
- Koss ESP 95X: Electrostatic headphones (hmm, “earspeakers” ? ), energizer included, lifetime warranty included, for 500$.
- Takstar HF580: 200$-ish planar detail monsters, because they got the same drivers as the 480$ Sendy Aivas. But bassy and dark-sounding.
- Monoprice M570: Same drivers as the 480$ Sendy Aivas again, for 300$! A bit treble-y.
- AudioQuest Nighthawk: A love/hate thing. Polarizing headphones. If you want something different, for 200 to 250$, these used to be 700$.
(Note: For KZ headphones, get another cable. The standard, 1$ cable they come with, litterally can’t reproduce the mids properly. Even the 4$ “silver color” KZ cable is way better.)
- KZ ZS10 Pros: Hybrid IEMS with 4x balanced armature + 1x dynamic, by ear, for 35$ – This technology was hundreds of dollars a few years ago! A bit V-shaped.
- KZ AS06: 30$ for 3x balanced armatures by ear. No dynamic drivers! In-your-face sound. Planar-ish bass/kick slam in IEMs. Recommended if you’re treble sensitive and/or the ZS10 Pros have too much treble for you.
- Panasonic HJE-120/125: Great, neutral-sounding IEMs for 10$. A bit bassy.
- Sony MH755: Great sounding IEMs for 5$! V-Shaped, the graph is similar to the Ikko Oh10.
- Tin T2: “The only IEM you need” according to Zeos, also really well received by Crinacle. 40$ USD, metal enclosure, removable MMCX cable!
- Moondrop Starfield: All-around great neutral-sounding IEMs for 110$ (and they’re beautiful!).
- Final Audio E Series (E2000, etc.): When a company making 5000$ headphones starts making 50$ IEMs, it can only sound good. E2000s are neutral, E3000s have more bass. The new E4000 and E5000 have a detachable MMCX cable, but are 100$+.
- Etymotics ER3XRs/ER4XRs: IEMs, detail monsters for 250$ – most “detail monsters” are 1000$ and over.
- Edifier R1700BT: DSP-corrected bookshelves for 150$. Digital Bass and Treble knobs. And Bluetooth, but no AptX.
- …yeah I need to add more.
- Fluance SX6: Big ass bookshelves. 100$. Heard about people selling 500$ speakers and buying these instead. For bassheads, you’ll want a subwoofer. Otherwise, a tiny bit treble-y, but extended to 20khz+.
- Micca OoO: “Centers”… for 100$ a pair. As Zeos said, just get 2 or 3 pairs of these and you have a great home theater! (…just don’t forget the actual center channel. )
- Micca RB42: Excellent bookshelves for 150$ a pair. Someone at Zeos’s and DMS’s RMAF room thought these were 5000$.
- Triangle Borea BR02/BR03: More or less 500$. The least expensive speakers Triangle makes. These wowed a few reviewers who said the Boreas sound better than a lot of stuff under 1000$.
- Ohm Walsh: Zeos’s main, omnidirectional, speakers. 1600$ for the pair I believe. But he was blown away by how everything sounds good everywhere in the room, and how it sounded as good if not better than 10 000 to 50 000$ speakers at an audio show. Edit/Warning: Apparently omnidirectional speakers sound different than anything else, but not necessarily better.
- Topping D10, SMSL M100, SMSL Sanskrit 10th and the JDS Atom DAC are all good desktop DACs, all 100$ . Considering you can’t hear the difference between DACs at this price unless (maybe) you have “golden ears”, choose the one which looks the best for you and enjoy.
- Behringer UCA-202: 40$-ish USB DAC with a 100+dB SINAD RCA line-out. Maximum 48khz. This is actually a DAC + Amp but with really low power, so it’s not included in the “DAC/Amp” list below.
- Khadas Tone Board: Just a board. No enclosure. A board with an ESS chip and 110dB SINAD for 100$.
- SMSL IDEA: A dongle DAC with ESS chipset and 115-to-120dB SINAD for 85$.
- Topping E30 is a new and great DAC for 130$. Even if the name starts with E. (…Stand-alone Topping dacs before the E 30: D 10, D 30, D 50, D 90…). Will play all your files up to 32bit/768khz/DSD512 for all the bats around you.
- Mass/drop Airist R2R: Ladder DAC for 350$ – This technology was THOUSANDS of dollars a few years ago!
- Topping D50S: I believe this is the cheapest that does “everything”. Another “32/768/512”, with a screen showing the file format (Khz), with Bluetooth AptX-HD/LDAC, with volume and a remote.
- Pro-ject Pre-Box S2: A dual mono DAC (two ESS9038 chipsets in two completely separate channels) for 400$.
- JDS Labs Atom: 1dB less distortion than the “benchmark” THX AAA 789 amp and [email protected] for 100$. And no, you don’t get the “effortlessness” and detail of the AAA technology, obviously, but wow.
- Schiit Heresy: 119dB SINAD and twice the power of the Atom for the same price. In a metal box. Also made in USA. For 100$ too. Damn.
- Schiit Asgard 3: 200$ for a 3.5 watts per channel modular headphone amp (you can transform this into a DAC/Amp for 100$ or 200$ – but maybe you shouldn’t).
- Rupert Neve RNHP: A 500$ amplifier. Who’s Rupert Neve? The third person to receive a “Technical Grammy Award”. The “number one audio personality of the 20th century”… Well, just look at this thread.
- Emotiva BasX A-100: A really special one. Not quite an AVR (but probably better than most AVRs). A 50W RMSx2 @ 8 ohms speaker amp, and a headphone amp with a special “jumper” allowing you to push really, really power-hungry headphones. 12 f—ing watts at 33 ohms into your headphones. Webpage says “USE WITH CAUTION”… Indeed. All for 230$.
Balanced headphone amps:
- Geshelli Erish Balanced: Simply great. A balanced only headphone amplifier for 200$. Power: [email protected]
- SMSL SP200: The latest THX AAA Technology for 260$. Others are all 350$ or more. Warning: THX sounds too clinical according to some! Power: [email protected] for XLR and 1/4". (Yup, for the purists: This one is not “100% balanced”.)
- Topping A90: Excellent for some, “endgame” for others. A 500$ headphone amp even rivaling the 3000$ Benchmark HPA4 according to Soundnews. Powerful: [email protected] for the 1/4" and [email protected] balanced.
DAC/Amps (All-in-ones… or daclifiers ):
- Nobsound Mini: A 20$ DAC and passive speaker amp, now with Bluetooth 5 (…apparently). Old versions even include a headphone amp. And it all works. For 20$. Therefore it’s in the list, lol.
- FiiO K5 Pro: 150$ DAC and headphone amplifier with pre out for speakers (says “line out” but it’s a variable, pre-out!). Power: [email protected]
- FiiO BTR5: I mean, it just does everything… 150$ for a portable Bluetooth, battery powered DAC/Amp with LDAC which can also be used as a wired USB DAC/Amp , with dual ESS Chipsets, 3.5mm and balanced outputs. Screen shows encoding (AptX, LDAC, etc) or sample rate when used as a USB DAC.
- Ifi Zen Dac: DAC + Balanced headphone amplifier + switchable (variable or fixed) RCA and balanced outputs, and it supports MQA. For 130$. USB-only power possible for a portable DAC/Amp. Beat that…!
- Schiit Asgard 3: 200$ for a 3.5 watts per channel Class AB headphone amp. Add 100$ for the AK4490 DAC module, or 200$ for the True Multibit DAC module. (But maybe you shouldn’t).
- Sabaj D5: ESS 9038PRO DAC + 118dB SINAD XLR OUT + 116dB SINAD RCA OUT and 106dB SINAD balanced headphone amp (only [email protected] ohms for 1/4", but [email protected] for XLR). For 470$! Above all, impressive XLR OUT measurements.
- Topping DX7s: This “everythingizer” (sorry again) is now 400$. 2 x ES9038Q2M DAC + Full balanced headphone out + Balanced XLR out. For 600$, there’s also the DX7 Pro, adding Bluetooth AptX-HD/LDAC (among other things). Power: [email protected] 1/4", [email protected] balanced.
- Topping PA3: [email protected] for 100$.
- SMSL DA-8s: [email protected], and Balanced and RCA inputs, and Bluetooth, and a remote, for 170$.
- Denon PMA-600NE: A 400$ stereo amp (70Wx2) with Bluetooth and excellent sound for the price.
- Emotiva BasX A-100: A really special one. Not quite an AVR (but probably better than most AVRs). A 50W [email protected] speaker amp, and a headphone amp with a special “jumper” allowing you to push really, really power-hungry headphones. 12 f—ing watts at 33 ohms into your headphones. Webpage says “USE WITH CAUTION”… Indeed. All for 230$.