Best Cheap Headphone Amp under $100 (Year 2018)

If you or someone you know is looking for the best cheap headphone amp under $100, you have come to the right place. Buying headphones and listening to them was such a simple experience in the past. However, as the techies realized people’s love for music and high quality sound, they started working on improving the experience for them through various audio enhancing gadgets. Among many other gadgets that audiophiles often like to keep with them there is a headphone amp. People, who are mainly concerned about listening to music on their smartphones, don’t delve too much into the mechanics and depths of sound quality.

When they see someone looking for a cheap headphone amp with so much concern, they ask themselves “is it really that important of a component?” It would be wrong to say that a headphone amp is for every headphone user out there. For some people, an amplifier can play a huge role in the overall sound quality and experience whereas for others it might not make any noticeable difference. So the question is “what makes people buy headphone amps?”

Why Is There a Need to Buy a Headphone Amp?

Amp is short for amplifier and the full term gives a clear idea what this gadget is meant to do. The main purpose of connecting an amplifier to a device is to amplify its sound. When you see bands performing at concerts, they are using large amplifiers to create big sound for the entire crowd.

Those big things on the stage are amplifiers – headphone amplifiers are just the miniature form of those large components.

A person buying the headphone amplifier is mainly looking to increase the sound coming from their device. The need arises because the device they are playing music on does not have the best audio component on it.

So, the important thing to know here is that any device you own that makes sound has an amplifier on its board already.

However, the built-in amplifier is not powerful or you could say it has very inferior quality. 

Now, why would huge tech companies choose to put such low quality amplifiers on their devices?

Does it mean Samsung, Sony, Apple and Google don’t have enough money to afford high-quality amplifiers on their smartphones and tablets? No, the main reason is that high quality audio is not their main target.

Upbeat Audio T613-BNC Boostaroo

Upbeat Audio T613-BNC Boostaroo

After realizing the trend of low powered amplifiers on these devices, many headphone makers decided to make adjustments. They started making headphones that were optimized for smartphones and similar devices.

In short, not every smartphone user with a pair of headphones needs the best cheap headphone amp under $100. The headphones optimized for smartphones often have a very low impedance rating.

With a low impedance rating, these headphones pick weak signals and can easily throw enough output for users to hear.

If the impedance rating is high for a pair of headphones, the resistance against already weak signals results in a very weak output i.e. the sound is very low and weak.

More often than not, headphones that are optimized for smartphones will have an impedance rating of 16ohms or less than 25ohms. With this impedance rating, you don’t need a dedicated headphone amp.

Furthermore, if you are using in-ear headphones, you probably won’t need a headphone amp. This is because in-ear headphones require very little voltage to produce powerful sound.

Furthermore, they go inside your ear tube so their proximity to your ear drums makes them sound loud even if they are not that loud. If you have on-ear or over-the-ear headphones, you could definitely look into buying a headphone amp.

Indigo Portable Powered Headphone Amp

Indigo Portable Powered Headphone Amp

With this information at hand, you should now be able to make a well-informed decision on whether you need to buy a headphone amp or not. When you have made up your mind to buy one, here is a list of some great headphone amps to pick the best cheap headphone amp under $100 from.

Best Cheap Headphone Amp under $100 – 3 of the Best for Performance, Features and Build

1. FiiO A3 Portable Headphone Amplifier Review

FiiO A3

When the device you want to amplify the sound of is portable, why would you want to buy an amp that’s not portable? FiiO A3 has been designed with modern users in mind. It is one of the most convenient to use portable amplifiers on the market. It can go in your pocket just like your smartphone and boost the sound to give you a memorable listening experience no matter which device you connect it to. You have to give props to FiiO for coming up with such an intelligent design for a portable amp. Here are the main features and specifications of this amp.

Notable Features

  • The first thing that needs to be mentioned is the design. FiiO has done a great job by making this headphone compact and providing controls and ports at top and bottom for ease of access.
  • All the controls have vivid markings on them.
  • You can charge this amp using a micro-USB cable. The best thing is that you can enjoy your music through the amp while charging it.
  • Many components of FiiO A3 have received upgrades such as the new OPA1642 pre-amp for creating the best midrange and high notes.
  • The body is made of aluminum not only for sturdiness but to avoid EM interference as well.
  • The high and low gain setting is an amazing addition as they let you work with headphone with high and low sensitivity settings.
  • Any headphones with impedance rating of 16ohms to 150ohms will work with this amp.
  • A bass boost circuit has been added to make the bass sound better. However, you can turn this feature off to listen to the pure sound and low notes.
  • The best part of this portable amplifier is the 1400mAh battery. With such a huge battery you can continue hearing music for up to 16 hours non-stop. The battery will need 4 hours to charge completely.
  • The total harmonic distortion at 1 kHz is only 0.0004%.
  • The frequency range that this headphone can produce is between 20Hz and 20,000Hz, giving you an uncompromised music listening experience.
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The grayish black aluminum chassis of this portable amplifier makes it look very decent so you can carry it with you anywhere you want with pride.

Overall Impression

For anyone looking for the best cheap headphone amp under their budget, this is one of the most valuable purchases. Not only does it offer ease of use for first time headphone amp users but it has the most needed features on it for the affordable price.

It is portable and has a large battery, so it perfectly suits people who hear music on their mp3 players, iPods, smartphones and even tablets. The build quality definitely deserves admiration and the fact that one can hear music while charging the unit makes it the perfect pick for passionate music listeners.

2. Upbeat Audio T613-BNC Boostaroo Review

Upbeat Audio T613-BNC Boostaroo

If you want the best cheap headphone amp under your budget with entry level features and straightforward features, this is just the right thing for you. Boostaroo is a portable headphone amplifier that works with many different types of devices such as computers, laptops, tablets, smartphones, mp3 players etc. This is the perfect gift for someone who is just turning into an audiophile and needs a basic headphone amp. Here are the notable features of Boostaroo.

Notable Features

  • The portability factor of this headphone amp beats some of the best ones out there. It is more like a pen in your pocket than an electronic device for sound amplification.
  • According to the manufacturers, it gives you 100% increase in the volume level. This means you will be able to double the volume coming from your headphones using this little device.
  • The setup is easiest for this portable amp. A 3.5mm pin is connected to its back through a tail that you can insert in your device’s 3.5mm port.
  • There are 3 headphone ports available on Boostaroo allowing you to connect 3 headphones at the same time – which means it is a sound splitter too.
  • It works with rechargeable or onetime batteries that don’t come with the package but can be bought for cheap.
  • If you use it fairly and turn it off every time you stop using it, the batteries will last a long time. One pair of batteries should give you at least 36 hours of playtime.
  • It can handle headphones with impedance of up to 500ohms. This means you can connect some of the best and most expensive headphones with such an affordable amp for them to sound great.
  • Frequency response on this thing is also great starting from 20Hz and maximizing at 20,000Hz.
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This is one of the most portable headphone amps out there and weighs only 0.45lbs. Carrying it around should be no problem at all.

Overall Impression

Looking at Boostaroo, its looks and functionality, you could safely say that this is the best cheap headphone amp for entry level audiophiles. There is nothing gimmicky about it and no distractions. You just plug it into your smartphone or mp3 player, and then use the 3 headphone connection ports to listen to 100% amplified sound.

The fact that you can replace the batteries saves you from any battery related problems as well. Due to its light weight and small size, it is the perfect headphone amp to carry with you when you go on picnics.

3. Indigo Portable Powered Headphone Amp Review

Indigo Portable Powered Headphone Amp

Indigo portable powered headphone amp is another entry-level amp but with some additional features it adds that extra attraction for first time buyers. This is a basic headphone amp with straightforward features but an intelligent design and commendable performance. Here are the features that make this headphone amp the last entry on the list of best cheap headphone amp under your budget.

Notable Features

  • The first impressive thing about this headphone amp is that it can amplify the sounds of your headphones by up to 5 times.
  • There are 2 headphone jacks so you can listen to two headphones at the same time.
  • There is a bass boost setting button with 2 settings. You can choose the setting you want for extra bass juice in your songs or simply move the switch to left to turn off bass boost mode.
  • The big knob with grooves allows easy volume controls.
  • It is so small that you could compare it with a large matchbox, so it easily fits in your pocket.
  • According to the manufacturers that battery is good enough to provide you 8 hours of non-stop music listening with one charge.
  • It amplifies sounds best for headphones with impedance of 16ohms to 150ohms.
  • Frequency response of this headphone amp is 15Hz to 20,000Hz.

You can get a maximum gain of 7dB with this headphone amp, so you know the difference in volume loudness will be greatly noticeable.