Best headphone amp under $100 – 6 great options

Using headphones is very straightforward, just plug them into your smartphone, tablet, or computer. All the aforementioned devices already have a built-in headphone amplifier. So, why do you need an external headphone amplifier? An external headphone amplifier will deliver better quality sound with enhanced details. If you’re using high-end headphones (high impedance) an external amplifier will have more power to drive the headphones. Let us help you find the best headphone amp under $100.

If you’re looking for a greater listening experience a headphone amplifier is the next step, and the good news is that you do not have to spend a fortune to get one. There are some solid headphone amps under $100 for both beginners and more seasoned users.

1.- FiiO E10K USB DAC and Headphone Amplifier

FiiO is one reputed company that manufacturers some of the best headphone amplifiers. Most of the headphone amps from this company have been very affordable and deliver impressive audio performance.

The FiiO E10K Headphone amp combo is made of aluminum making it strong and durable. On the front, you get a 3.5mm headphone jack (1/8” headphone jack), an off/on bass switch, and a volume knob. On the back you will find a coaxial out port, a line out port the high and low gain switch, and a USB power port. 

A warning, It did not have enough power to drive headphones of 300 Ohms impedance. With lower impedance headphones it will perform like a champ and it’s probably the best headphone amp under $100 we can recommend.

2.- AudioQuest DragonFly Black v1.5 Plug-in USB DAC + Preamp + Headphone Amp

The very first Dragonfly DAC/headphone amplifier was launched in 2012. Two years later in 2014, they launched the Dragonfly v1.2 (discontinued). Now comes the AudioQuest Dragonfly v1.5

It comes with a portable design that just fits in your pockets. Looking at its built quality the housing is made up of metals with a soft rubbery texture finished. The DAC/Headphone amp also features an LED that indicates the sampling rate of music files it is processing.

Due to its form factor, and USB port is ideal to step up the audio of your PC/laptop. It’s possible to use with smartphones, android, and iOS. Nevertheless, you will need some adapters which are not included.

The DragonFly Black has a power output of 1.2 volts. In case you need more power, the DragonFly Red has a higher power output of 2.1 volts and a higher price tag of around 200 dollars. This is one of the best headphone amps you can find for under $100.

Best headphone amp under $100

3.- Fosi Audio Q4 – Mini Stereo Gaming DAC & Headphone Amplifier

The unit is small and the shell is full metallic to give a high-quality feeling. On the back, the Fosi Audio Q4 is loaded with several inputs. There is one optical, one USB, and coaxial inputs. Also on the back is the 5V DC input that is required for operation. Two RCA audio outputs can be connected to amplifiers or powered speakers on your desktop.

On the front, you will find three knobs: one for bass, one for treble, and one for volume. Which could be useful for quick sound tunning with downloading any driver, software, or changing sound settings. Also on the front the headphone output jack and input switch with three options.

4.- Syba Sonic 24bit USB DAC Stereo Headphone Amplifier

Syba was founded in 2001, according to the company they follow 3 simple principles “superior product quality, competitive yet affordable pricing, and outstanding customer service”.

This unit is driver-less, can be USB powered, and has digital (optical and coax) and analog (RCA) outputs. On the front, there is line-in, mic-in and two jack outputs 1/4″ & 1/8″. Also on the front, there is a switch that changes between three hardware EQ modes: bass boost, default or direct, and treble boost. The huge volume wheel on top will allow you for quick volume changes.

The Syba Sonic 24bit is compatible with PC and PS4 consoles which could be appealing for gamers.

5.-Nobsound NS-08E Vacuum Tube Headphone Amplifier

Nobsound (Douk Audio) is a company that has brought quality products at favorable prices to most audio consumers. The NS-08E uses both tubes and transistors for high-quality amplification, the tubes are used for pre-amplification of the audio while the solid-state part of the amp output the audio.

It’s a well-built amp, the case is made of CNC aluminum. The size is very compact, it can fit in your palm. The two tubes that come out on the top can be replaced with the same model 6J3 or with 6J4, 6J5, 6K4, and many other models.

The Nobsound NS-08E headphone amp can power headphones with impedance values from 24 ohms to 600 ohms. Which is very impressive for the price tag of this amplifier. As a bonus, the Nobsound NS-08E will look awesome on your desk.

Extra: HELM Audio Bolt DAC/AMP, USB-C Portable

This USB-C device is very interesting and almost made it to the list, is $109 which positions it over our $100 budget. Nevertheless, is very likely you could find it below $100 during certain seasons.

The product is very compact and you could think is a simple USB-C to 3.5mm adapter. Make no mistake since the HELM Audio Bolt is a very portable DAC and amplifier that is compatible with smartphones (android and iOS) and PC/Mac computers.

This tiny gadget is THX certified and supports MQA (Master Quality Authenticated) audio. The LED changes color to let you know which kind of audio you are listening to. Blue for SD audio, Red for HD Audio, and Magenta for MQA audio.

Best headphone amp under $100? your choice

There are hundreds of DAC, amplifiers, pre-amps available at different price points. I hope this list of headphone amps under $100 will make it easier for you to choose your next amplifier.

As always, before buying a headphone amplifier always set your budget, check build quality or material used, brand reputation, impedance, other specifications, and read reviews of users who had already used it.

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