Best Headphone Amp under $200 (Year 2018)

For some people, listening to is all about plugging their headphones into their smartphones and having a fun time, but for some it is much more than that.

Some people are so passionate about their experience and want to hear music on headphones that can deliver streamlined sound quality and bass with other prominent features.

To make this possible, they buy expensive headphones, convert their audio files to rich formats and even go for the headphone amps.

Today, you will be looking at the best headphone amp under $200 that gets the job done and makes the difference that you can really notice. But do you really need a headphone amp?

Why Do You Need a Headphone Amp?

Of course, as a wise customer you would always like to know the reasons why you are buying something. You would not want to buy a headphone amp if you do not know what benefit you will obtain from it.

In simpler words, you should buy headphone amps only when you are someone who does not want to listen to low-quality sound.

At the same time, you want to make sure your headphones are going to be suitable with the amp. Some headphones are so efficient they will not require any amps. Even if you connected an amp with those headphones you will not notice any difference in sound.

The first reason why you need a headphone amp is that you want to increase the volume of your headphones. What happens sometimes is that your headphones have a high impedance rating.

When these headphones with high impedance are connected to devices with a low voltage supply, they don’t perform well. What you hear is very low and weak sounds. No matter what you do you can’t raise the volume.

It is as though you wasted your money on an expensive pair of headphones for nothing.

This is where the headphone amp comes into the picture.

When you connect the amplifier with the device that’s playing your music, it comes in between your headphones and the device. 

In this position the amplifier is performing the job of amplifying the signals. It delivers your headphones the power they need to play the music as loudly as possible.

So, if your headphones have high impedance and their volume is very low when you connect them to your portable devices, connecting an amplifier will significantly increase the volume. For some headphones, you will also notice a big difference in the sound quality.

What to Know before Buying the Best Headphone Amp under $200

There are many different factors that need your attention in order for you to pick the right headphone amp from the bunch.

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How Much Does It Cost?

Creative Sound Blaster E3

Creative Sound Blaster E3

Price is the first thing you will be looking at when you want to buy the best headphone amp under $200. You don’t necessarily have to buy something that costs you $199 just because it is under $200.

You can easily find headphone amplifiers that cost you much less than $100 and still have some really good features. There are certain features that would make some headphone amplifiers expensive and some less expensive. You just need to know the things you need and ignore what you don’t need.

How Much Impedance Can It Handle?

One of the reasons why you are buying a headphone amplifier is because you want your headphones to have a higher volume.

Sometimes your headphones sound so low that you can’t practically hear music on them due to the surrounding noise.

If your headphones have an impedance rating of 100ohms, you would want your amplifier to be able to handle that impedance. 

Some amplifiers are made to handle up to 600ohms of impedance. Always make your purchase after knowing the impedance rating of your headphones.

Nobsound NS-08E

Nobsound NS-08E

How Good Is Its Connectivity?

Now, since you are going to connect your headphones to the amplifier, you might have to repeat the connecting process over and over during the day.

This can get annoying if connectivity is not a breeze on your amplifier. You should look for amplifiers that have multiple connectivity options such as cable, Bluetooth and even NFC.

How Good Is Its Battery Timing?

Even the best headphone amp under $200 will do you no good if it does not offer easy portability.

Easy portability in headphone amp world means good charging time. Your headphone amp should hold the charge for long and play music non-stop for long hours too.

Some headphone amps can play continuous music for up to 6 hours while you are using them with Bluetooth. Their battery performance gets even better when you are playing songs through cable connection.

Now that you have some good information available with you to buy the best headphone amp under $200, here are a few of them so you can pick your favorite.

Best Headphone Amp under $200 – The Ones with the Most Useful Features

1. Creative Sound Blaster E3 Headphone Amplifier Review

Creative Sound Blaster E3

As simple as it looks, this headphone amplifier has got a long list of features on it. There is nothing fancy about its features. There are big round buttons on it to select your options and the ports are located on both sides of the unit. Here are the best features of this headphone amp.

Notable Features

  • The best thing about this amplifier is the level of impedance it can handle. Some of the best headphones in the market have an impedance rating of up to 600ohms. This headphone amplifier has a maximum impedance handling capacity of 600ohms too.
  • Connection with smartphones and other portable devices is as easy as using an OTG cable and connecting it to the amplifier on one end and the music playing device on the other.
  • Connectivity is the area where this amazing headphone amp takes the cake. Creative has provided all the possible means of connectivity to make it easy for users to connect their devices. You have use the OTG cable for connection, Bluetooth or even NFC by tapping your device on the amplifier.
  • Battery timing is another strong area of this amplifier. With one full charge you will be able to play through Bluetooth for up to 8 hours. Using the cable you should be able to listen to music for up to 17 hours without needing a recharge.
  • This amplifier is rich in ports and gives you 2 headphone connection ports so you can connect two headphones at the same time.
  • The on-board button allows you to play, pause, forward, rewind, skip, etc. tracks so you never have to touch your phone while playing music.
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Keep in mind that there are certain system requirements that you have to meet in order for the amplifier to work. For example, it will not work with phones having Android versions before 2.3.

Overall Impression

Everything about Creative Sound Blaster E3 is impressive. While it does what it is meant to do, it makes life easier for the users by putting a lot of ports, easy to use buttons and features on the unit. The fact that you can connect your amplifier in three different ways shows that the company really wants to make things easier for its users.

2. FiiO A1 Portable Audio Headphone Amplifier Review

FiiO A1

FiiO A1

If you are looking for the best headphone amplifier and are on a tight budget, you need to pick this one without giving it a second thought. FiiO A1 really cares about its customers because at such an affordable price the company is ready to offer some great features. For anyone purchasing their first headphone amplifier, FiiO A1 is the way to go. Here are the notable features of this amplifier.

Notable Features

  • The first thing you will notice about this amplifier is how compact it is. With a clip added to it you can simply attach it to your clothing for easy portability.
  • This portable amplifier will work with a great number of devices from smartphones and tablets to mp3 players and laptops.
  • If you are someone who wants to hear bass boosted EDM remixes, this one is going to be your favorite amplifier with bass boost presets loaded.
  • While it is available at such a small cost, it can handle some of the most expensive headphones with high impedance ratings on the market. The maximum impedance this amplifier can handle is 300ohms.
  • Despite this great impedance handling and volume improvements, the distortion of the sound is less than 0.0009 percent.
  • The small size of the amplifier does not compromise on the battery size. Its battery is big enough to give you up to 10 hours of music playtime without any interruptions.

If you are buying this amplifier for the first time, keep in mind that the USB port on the amplifier is only meant for charging purposes. You will not be able to play music through it.

3. Nobsound NS-08E Vacuum Tube Integrated Headphone Amplifier Review

Nobsound NS-08E

Very few headphone amplifier makers are able to bring stylishness to their amplifiers. Who would imagine stylishness and amplifiers together? However, by adding two vacuum tubes on top of this little amplifier, Nobsound wants to remind you of the amplifier era before 1970s. Here are the amazing features of this headphone amplifier.

Notable Features

  • The best thing about this amplifier is that it has been priced really low but it amplifies the sound better than many expensive headphone amplifiers using a combination of transistor and tube based amplification.
  • This headphone amplifier can handle some of the best headphones out there. Whether your headphone has an impedance rating of 24ohms or 600ohms, this amplifier will do the job for you.
  • While the tubes perform the pre-amp function on this amplifier, they look really cool resting on top of the unit.
  • Despite its amazing performance with high quality headphones and the use of vacuum tubes, the harmonic distortion is less than 0.0005%.
  • This headphone amplifier is also amazing for providing you a huge frequency range and delivering the crispiest high notes on your headphone. The frequency response range of the amplifier is 20Hz at the bottom to 30,000Hz on top. This can solve the problem for people who want therapeutic listening but don’t have the headphones with such good frequency response.

This is quite a famous headphone amplifier and also one of the best performing ones. In order for you to play music from it you will need a cable with 3.5mm jack on both ends. The cable does not come included with the package.

Overall Impression

There is no doubt that Nobsound has created an amazing headphone amplifier because customers seem to love its sound quality. However, there are few things that the company should definitely consider.

Including a cable for line in and line out will be a great idea as the package seems incomplete without it. The manufacturer asks you to keep the amplifier steady when you are using it due to the valve microphone effect. It would be great if the company would find a way to get rid of this problem.

They also ask you to keep the amplifier away from routers and mobile devices to avoid signal interference. In an industry where sound is everything, Nobsound has to think of ways to make their devices good enough to block the signal interference. It would be hard for modern users to not have their phones with them while using amplifier. Aside from these little things, the sound quality and the even the build quality of the amplifier are great.

Hopefully, with a list of these amazing headphone amplifiers with such low prices you will be able to make a good purchase and enjoy high quality music listening.