The world of audio equipment has seen a lot of changes in recent years. Gone are the days of gigantic, clunky amplifiers and receivers that took up an entire bookshelf.
Now, we have compact amps and docks to power our headphones with ease. Here is a list of Best Headphone Amp Under 300 in 2021 to help you find your perfect match for sound quality. Keep reading Hooke audio’s article to see the full list and things to know before purchase.
Why do I need a headphone AMP?
The DAC headphone amp is an indispensable device in your arsenal that can handle the hard work of making bass and high frequencies better.
This handy gadget gives you a noticeable difference after just one turn on, with the sound becoming clearer while also expanding to include more volume ranges.
If you haven’t got enough volume even at maximum speed, then this problem should disappear too!
Suppose you want to feel bass, high and low-frequency tracks how professionals do. In that case, the DAC headphone amp is irreplaceable for its ability to make these happen easily (and without any expensive additions).
After turning it on once, you’ll notice a significant transformation: sounds will be much clearer; volumes greater across all levels even if they lacked before due to maxed-out speeds
How to Find the Best headphone amps: Buyers Guide
Types of DACS
A summing amplifier is a simple and easy-to-use circuit that can be used in many different applications.
It’s often called an op-amp DAC because it has one voltage input, two or more resistors connected via the virtual ground, summed together by the headphone output of this type of op-amp DAC.
The binary input received from these multiple inputs will then create a powerful analog signal for accurate outputs at various connections on its terminals.
The R-2R is the most basic and common form of DAC, which requires only two ladder-arranged resistor values. This can be thought of as a complex voltage divider that converts binary input to the analog headphone output.
The 2R resistors receive the binary input at the top and bottom ends, respectively. Each step in between determining both positive or negative polarity for an incremental increase from one end to another on either side until there are no more steps left (or they meet).
Using an Arduino microcontroller, a PWM signal is used to produce analog signals. The headphone output of the circuitry at this point is a binary waveform with both high and low peaks.
However, these are not just any old highs or lows that you might find on your conventional TV Screen they’re much more sophisticated than what one would typically expect from such technology nowadays!
Common applications of DACs
Digital signal processing
Signal processing is made much easier if the signal can be converted into binary output. This type of conversion takes an audio input and converts it to a digital sound for editing, playback, or other modification.
Digital power supplies
Audio editing is made much easier through the use of binary audio signals. A DAC (Digital to Analog Converter) converts these digital bits into an analog signal, typically heard by human ears as sound waves.
Factors to consider when buying a DAC
It doesn’t matter if you’re an audiophile or are simply looking to improve your mobile device’s audio quality.
A Digital-to-Analog Converter (DAC) is a great investment for any music lover that wants to get the most out of their listening experience.
DACs can be used with just about anything from PCs and Mac computers down to low-priced MP3 players – essentially making it one piece of equipment for every listener no matter what they own!
A DAC does exactly as its name suggests by taking digital information in through USB ports on personal devices like smartphones and tablets then converts them into analog signals, which sounds better than ever before because now there are not only electrical impulses being sent but actual waves vibrating.
What device do you intend to connect the DAC to?
Look for a DAC that is compatible with your source device. Most are designed specifically for high-end stereos, iPads, and iPods, but this may not be the best option if you’re looking to use it on other devices as well.
The quality of your music sources
The magic of a quality DAC is that it can bring out the subtleties in any music. The effectiveness depends on two things: how good your initial sound source was and what format you encode to (WAV or MP3).
A high-quality original recording will improve listening with an expensive, powerful system than if someone rips a low-bitrate WMA file from YouTube onto their hard drive.
Before buying one, check whether its specifications are compatible with the type of records you usually listen to music!
The Terms of Sound quality of the systems to which you will connect the DAC
Your headphones or speakers are just as important to the better sound quality of your music system. To ensure that you’re getting everything out of what’s in your music players, invest in a well-made set of stereo equipment and rely on them for all future listening sessions.
The features of the DAC
The features of the DAC are numerous and depend on how you want to listen. Some wireless connections work with larger systems, while others offer a wired connection that might be more convenient for listening at home or in your office.
Ease-of-use of the DAC
Most have an easy-to-use plug-and-play feature where they can get up and running quickly without any adjustments needed.
However, if this is not available, there could be some difficulties when making changes, such as which input device should connect first.
Best Headphones Amp Under 300 in 2021
1. AudioQuest Dragonfly Cobalt
- Dimensions: 57mm (l) x 19mm (w) x 12mm (h)
- Connectivity technology: Wired
- Connector type: USB Type A
- Native Resolution up to 24-bit / 96kHz
- Plays All Music Files: MP3 to MQA and Hi-Res
AudioQuest’s latest headphone amp is a 24-bit, 96kHz device with an ES9038Q2M chipset and 4 x 6ohm outputs.
The maximum DAC frequency when operating in the USB 2.0 model is average at best, but this doesn’t reflect on its performance which shines through beautifully given that it would be difficult to find any other of AudioQuest’s products made better than this one both design and dimensions are executed flawlessly leaving you nothing more to ask for from such a price range!
The headphone amp DAC is a simple device that can enhance your music listening experience by expanding the volume control. It operates from 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz and comes with an adapter for mobile devices as well.
The headphone Amp and DAC also has indicator lights that show you how it’s currently operating, so there are no surprises when plugging in!
It will allow you to enjoy excellent music using your computer or laptop and use your mobile phone. It is seen as the very best value headphone amp.
- Perform an outstanding job in your daily tasks
- It can be used with both a computer and a smartphone, unlike other portable USB headphone amplifiers. The adapter is also included.
- You cannot use the microphone when you are listening to music through the headphone amp. To answer the phone, turn the headphone Amp and DAC off.
- If the structure is not strong enough, you can carry it around with you. Over time, the headphone output will begin to shift.
2. Little Dot MK2 Headphone Amplifier
- Brand EMPIRE
- Color MKII
- Connectivity Technology Wired
- Model Name Little Dot MK2
- Form Factor Over-Ear
- Product Dimensions 8.66 x 4.33 x 4.21 inches
- Item Weight 4.4 pounds
AIMPIRE’s Little Dot headphone amp is among the very best amps under 300, and there are many reasons for this.
One of the most popular features among consumers is that it can be customized to change from warm sound effects to sharp sounds with just one adjustment.
For example, you could use tubes that provide warmth to make your music more relaxing or select ones that produce sharper tones if you’re looking for something more vibrant.
- The first tube amp we’ve seen on our list makes AIMPIIRE stand out as unique because they offer customers two different types of audio output: clean & rich mids and highs (which allow vocals to shine) or brassier/wider lows
- Customers may notice right away how well balanced these sounds come
This headphone amp delivers tracks’ incredibly dynamic and musical sound in all genres, from rock to hip hop.
In addition to all the advantages listed, it can also be connected as a preamplifier to your main amplifier.
The standard set includes two lamps (master lamp 6JI and generator lamp 6N6) that are used at different operating modes: Master mode with power output 100 mW / 32 Ohms or 200 MW/120 ohms;
Generator Mode 300 mW/300Ohms for high-quality audio reproduction on pair of headphones without affecting its operation level while driving speakers simultaneously!
The input frequency range is 20 Hz up until 50 kHz if desired, so you’ll get crystal clear music even when playing bass drums! And what
At the same time, when it comes to output impedance headphones levels, we are looking at 600 Ohms.
In this price segment for pair of headphones under $500, many different models can be found that will suit professionals or experienced music lovers who have used similar devices before and want their favorite tracks’ sound quality taken up to new heights they never thought possible!
- High-powered and technical features that can compete with higher-priced models
- The headphone amp includes everything you need: mini Jack cable – 2 *RCA, 3.5mm – 6.35mm adapter.
- The headphone amp can heat up even with the best anti-overheating circuitry. This is even when it’s in continuous operation for a long time.
- Low-quality lamps should not be connected to the amplifier. Otherwise, the work could be interrupted.
3. Audioengine D1
- Item Weight 8.8 ounces
- Product Dimensions 3.5 x 3.75 x 1 inches
- WARRANTY: 3 years
- FEATURES High-performance DAC and headphone amp, USB and optical inputs, stream bit-perfect 24/96 HD audio, desktop amp or portable DAC, use with Mac or PC, no driver to install.
This headphone amp under 200 from Audioengine, a company dedicated to making the finest home speakers and headphone amplifiers, is the Best headphone amplifier choice for everyday use at work or in your office.
It features two analog outputs and optical output, so you can easily connect it with computer screens like Apple TV.
The power indicator on top not only lights up when this device is turned on but also shows whether there’s enough battery left to continue working without interruption.
The sound card is a 24-bit DAC that can work at frequencies from 10Hz to 25 kHz. It only needs 200mA power, which the computer provides when this desktop headphone amp runs without any other external sources of electricity needed.
- This headphone amp is a great option for computers with bad audio cards.
- It can be used to connect to a TV and work with computers.
- Some interference can become noticeable after a while when the Amp is at a minimum volume control.
- The headphone amp can be turned up to maximum volume control, which will produce a very clean, loud sound that is both machine-like and electrical.
4. Cambridge-DACMagic 100
- Three digital inputs
- It weighs 1.1 pounds
- 24-bit/192k support
- 5.12 x 4.17 x 1.81 inches
- a digital audio output impedance
DACMagic is the best headphone for those who like to listen to their music from TVs, computers, and other digital devices.
This device will ensure that your sound stays as crisp and clear as it was originally recorded without any reduction in detail or depth.
DACMagic is a high-performance DAC that decodes digital audio to provide improved better sound quality. It can support playback of up 24/192kHz resolution and has two coaxial inputs, 1 USB input, and one optical input for connectivity.
You switch between the four devices using controls on the front panel it’s excellent in terms of performance but maybe too pricey depending on your requirements!
- It can connect to up four devices, making it extremely convenient to use.
- Excellent for improving better sound quality
- It is easy to use
- Sometimes, signals may be highly distorted.
- Sometimes, the system automatically shuts off.
5. Sound BlasterX G6 Hi-Res External Gaming DAC
- 7.1 Virtual Surround
- Sound Blaster proprietary surround or Dolby Digital
- One Ohm output impedance
- Advance 32-bit oversampled multi-bit modulator
The Sound Blaster X G6 Hi-Res 130dB high end is the Best tube headphone amp that offers an immersive 7.1 surround system and enhanced audio realism, meaning your gaming experience will be ten times better!
Connect the device to any PS4 or PC for richer sounds in games like Call of Duty WWII, Splatoon 2, etc. Now nothing gets past this amazing piece because every single moment becomes as exciting as possible!
You deserve the best sound quality, and you can get it with Xamp’s discrete component design. With bi-amping, your audio channels will be amplified individually for an authentic experience that satisfies you! Make your system truly yours by adding a DAC of choice from our selection under $150.
- Enhances gaming experience, among others, with PS$, Xbox ONE, and NINTENDO.
- Sound Surround makes it sound extremely real.
- High-quality sound quality with authentic tone
- Chat features make the sounds echo.
- The mic works best when the headphone Amp is set higher than 0 dB.
6. V90-DAC Digital To Analog Converter
- Weighs 2.16 pounds
- 6.69 x 4.02 x 1.85 inches
- Excellent quality DAC chip (Burr-Brown PCM 1795)
The V90-DAC is the best budget headphone amp/DAC for audiophiles who want to use their music library of high-resolution files and enjoy the best possible sound quality.
The DAC has a lot going for it with state-of-the-art components, excellent performance in technical terms like noise, distortion linearity phase bandwidth alterations that are better than any other product out there.
It’s specially designed so your time spent listening isn’t wasted on inferior audio reproduction or features you never wanted anyway all at an affordable price!
- High-quality sound
- Realistic and well-defined bass
- It is cost-effective
- For optimal performance, you will need a pyramid PSU and a suitable power cable.
- The lock signal could drop repeatedly.
7. Sennheiser GSX 1000 Gaming DAC
- 7.1 Sound Surround and Binaural Rendering Engine
- 3.5 mm headphone jack
The Sennheiser GSX 1000 is the best headphone to come in gaming audio equipment. Its surround sound experience will make you feel like you are being teleported into a different world where all of your enemies are waiting for you, ready to destroy everything that they have ever seen before.
The LED touchpad allows users four customized settings, including spatial awareness and positional audio, which increases excitement and enjoyment while playing games immensely!
You can adjust the reverberations to match your room size and improve gaming immersion with this headset’s easy-to-use DAC chip.
With a few simple clicks of an EQ, you can enjoy limitless customization as it has preset options for both games and music that will make your experience on any device better!
- Experience real-life gaming with 7.1 Sound surround
- It’s easy to plug and play without the need for additional drivers.
- You can adjust the sound quality according to your preferences using four settings.
- Sometimes, the volume control on Windows and the volume control on the volume control wheel are not always in sync.
- The buttons can be touched with the four preset buttons.
8. AudioQuest DragonFly Black
- 2.36 x 0.79 x 1.18 inches
- Item Weight 3.5 ounces
- Item model number Dragonfly Black
- Connector type: USB 2.0
- 32-bit ESS 9010 Sabre DAC
This budget headphone amp is the Best budget portable headphone amp for beginners that want to listen to their music on high-quality pair of headphones.
For its inexpensive cost, this headphone amp will provide excellent audio quality with both increasing volumes and removing any fuzzy background noise present in your sound transmission without distortion.
This is due in part because this headphone amp has a built-in DAC amp that provides 24-bit audio resolution!
Audioquest is committed to creating only high-quality products, and the dragonfly amplifier proves that it isn’t kidding.
This small device can fit right in your pocket with all of its features intact, so you don’t have to worry about battery life while on a long plane ride or to wait for class to start.
This headphone amp can be plugged into any convenient connection from your laptop or computer and works on all types of audio, including MP3s to hi-res music files.
It is so small that it would be impossible to put a volume control on them, which makes for a good and bad thing. It is seen as the very Best desktop headphone amp.
- Great headphone amp design. Compact and portable, it will last you a lifetime without any problems.
- A built-in DAC amp combo will save you more money than buying a separate unit.
- This amplifier’s simple design is both a plus as well as a drawback. There is no volume control.
- We don’t like the sound of stringed tracks.
9. Topping D30 DSD
- Provides DSD128, DSD64, and 24bit/192 kHz
- Weighs 15.1 pounds
- 2 watts output wattage
- 240 volts
The D30 is the Best headphone amp under $200 for those who want to take their music with them and still enjoy a high-quality sound.
The device has three inputs: USB compatible (so you can use your computer) and two other input modes, which are optical or coaxial depending on what type of speakers/headphones you have hooked up to it.
With its LED display and switches that allow operation without opening the unit itself, this compact gadget will make any room come alive!
- It is easy to use and understandable.
- High-quality sound
- Quality construction
- It isn’t easy to find compatible drivers.
- It may be harsh.
10. Astell & Kern AK USB-C Dual DAC Cable
- Inputs: USB-C
- Outputs: 3.5 mm
- Bluetooth: No
- Native sample rate support: PCM 32-bit/384kHz, DSD256
- Weight: 27g
It is the best headphone for those looking to take their music listening experience to the next level.
This affordable, easy-to-use cable from Astell & Kern provides power and high-resolution audio via its dual ESS Sabre ES9018K2M chipsets found in competing products that cost more than 10x as much!
Astell & Kren’s newest product can make your smartphone or laptop sound like it came straight out of an audiophile stereo system by converting analog signals into digital ones with incredible detail using two powerful states of the art chipsets: The Sabre ES9038PRO and the newer but equally amazing version the Es 918K2M.
- Audio has seen a significant improvement
- A clean, precise, and neat character
- Beautifully designed
- No iOS device compatibility
11. Cyrus SoundKey
- In-built DAC: Yes
- Inputs: USB micro-B
- Sampling rate: 24bit/96kHz
- Dimensions (HWD): 2.3 x 5.4 x 0.8cm
- Weight: 18g
The Award-winning is the very best portable headphone amp with soundly an excellent piece of kit. It’s also very affordable, a killer combination.
This DAC and headphone amp can handle all file types, including MP3, AAC, and FLAC. It’s perfect for anyone, whether you are a casual listener or someone more concerned about sound quality.
It’s perfect when it comes to sound quality. A spacious presentation is an order, giving each instrument the room it needs. This is particularly true when listening to slower, more sparse material than to fast, bustling tracks.
This allows the minor details to shine through and gives tunes a widescreen aspect that lesser portable DACs simply cannot. It is seen as the very best headphone amp under $300.
- Clean, open sound
- Loaded with detail
- Compact and unobtrusive
- Attaching to an iOS device is a faff
- Not as dynamic as some rivals
12. Rockville BluTube
- Brand Rockville
- Connectivity Technology Bluetooth, USB
- Product Dimensions 10.6 x 10.2 x 5.1 inches; 4.62 Pounds
Another headphone amp with a unique design that stands out among the rest is the one that features tubes protected by a protective frame.
Rockville Blutube’s single configuration combines both a solid-state amp and a tube amp. This was possible because of this approach.
This design allows for smoother sound propagation, and it is easier to obtain good sound from various sources.
The circuit uses four 70-watt tubes. The headphones sound rich and balanced, thanks to this selection of components.
The amplifier’s features do not stop there. It is equipped with both a USB 2.0 port and Bluetooth protocol for communication with external devices.
This port allows you to connect to any source that supports music via USB. The wireless function is worth mentioning in greater detail. Built-in Bluetooth supports nearly all devices, from regular speakers to home theaters. It is seen as the very best portable headphone amp.
- Transmits even Hi-Fi music via Bluetooth with high quality
- After warming up the tubes, the sound qualities of the headphone amp change for the better. The sound becomes softer but still the same detail
- A fairly strong click is heard when the headphone amp is turned off
- Tubes do not affect the signal much, they act as a buffer
13. EarStudio ES100-24bit
- Brand EarStudio
- Connectivity Technology Bluetooth
- Connector Type 3.5 mm Jack
- Headphones Jack 2.5 mm
- Product Dimensions 1 x 2 x 0.5 inches; 0.71 Ounces
You can enjoy great music no matter where you are.
Ir Studio has created something extraordinary, and it’s not just because your wired headphones can become wireless with its help.
This is because the headphone amplifier comes pre-installed with a Bluetooth module.
The headphone amplifier also has a DAC amp combo, which improves the sound quality.
It measures 1 x 2x 0.5 inches and weighs only 0.704 ounces.
For your convenience, there is a headphone jack as well as two volume buttons.
For 14 hours of active mode, the lithium battery can provide excellent power. The microphone can also be used as a noise-canceling device. It is probably the Best headphone amplifier.
- There is a great app with which you can tune the basic characteristics of the amplifier in your smartphone
- It copes well with both low and high frequencies
- A good price range
- There may be problems with connection to some devices via Bluetooth
- If you connect two phones to this headphone amplifier at once, it can overheat, and also often fail
14. Chord Mojo
- Brand Chord
- Connector Type 3.5 mm Jack
- Product Dimensions 3.23 x 2.36 x 0.87 inches; 6.4 Ounces
The Mojo has the same sound quality as the Chord Hugo but is much cheaper. Although the Mojo is smaller than a credit card, there are plenty of connections available, including optical, micro, and 3.5 mm headphones jacks.
The build quality is excellent. The aluminum casing is made of aircraft-grade aluminum and feels solid.
It will last you for a while, lasting eight hours when fully charged. However, this can vary depending on how loud your headphones are and what headphones you use.
The sound is also excellent. It is full of detail and rich with insight. It’s Mojo’s ability to organize all this information into a coherent and musical whole that sets it apart from the rest.
It is well-presented and full-bodied, but it doesn’t seem to have excess richness in the mid- or low-frequency ranges. It is seen as the Best budget portable headphone amp.
All of it sounds amazing together. It is highly recommended.
- Informative, subtle, dynamic sound
- Fine rhythmic drive
- Solid build and good finish
- Tends to heat up
15. Chord Hugo 2
- In-built DAC: Yes
- Inputs: Micro USB, optical, coaxial, Bluetooth
- Sampling rate: DSD512 and 32bit/768kHz support
- Dimensions (HWD): 2.1 x 10 x 13cm
- Weight: 450g
The Hugo 2 is an unusual one. The Hugo 2 is small enough to carry around (though it has its battery) but large enough to fit your pocket. It’s not the best device for listening on the go.
The system of colored lights can make it challenging to use, making it not the most user-friendly device.
Oh, and it can be expensive.
You might wonder, What’s it doing on this list? Sound quality is what you need. Hugo 2 does a great job of converting and delivering digital audio files.
It is difficult to fault. Hugo 2 has a dynamic, punchy, and detailed performance at high quality and lower resolutions.
There are many inputs available, as well as aptX Bluetooth. You’ll find a dynamic, punchy, well-designed performance that transcends its quirky appearance. It’s no surprise it was awarded a What Hi-Fi? It was a great effort.
- Well made and specified
- Exotic multi-colored control system
- Prodigiously detailed sound
- Confusing colours
- Not very portable
16. Cambridge Audio DacMagic 200M
- Inputs: Coaxial digital x2, optical digital x2,
- USB Type-B: RCA phono, XLR
- Bluetooth: aptX
- Max sample rate support: 332-bit/768kHz PCM, DSD512, MQA
- Dimensions (hwd): 5.2 x 21.5 x 19.1cm
- Weight: 1.2kg
The DacMagic 200M is the best headphone DAC amp with all the right features in an attractive package that’s also sonically astute. It’s a great choice, especially for this price.
It is well-equipped to fit easily into any desktop amp or hi-fi system. There are many digital input options to suit a variety of sources.
The device also supports aptX Bluetooth. You can also add balanced and unbalanced outputs to the mix and headphone output, as well as a hi-res audio support.
It has a distinctive Cambridge sound. This is a rich, whole tone with an authoritative delivery. It would help if you did not ignore this versatile all-rounder. It is seen as one of the very best headphone amps on the market now.
- Smooth, clean, insightful audio
- Generous connectivity
- Native MQA support
- No remote control
- Tough competition
17. Chord Hugo TT2
- In-built DAC: Yes
- Inputs: optical x2, coaxial digital x2, USB, aptX Bluetooth
- Sampling rate: DSD512 and 24bit/768kHz support
- Dimensions (HWD): 4.6 x 23.5 x 22.3cm
- Weight: 2.53kg
This list shows that Chord is an expert at making a good headphone amplifier-cum DAC. Hugo TT2 is a high-end delight. It is stunning, and not only in looks.
The multiple digital inputs, including coaxial and optical and USB and aptX Bluetooth, make it highly user-friendly.
You have no less than three outputs for your headphone, which is great for sharing music with your friends.
The TT2 can be many things to many people. The TT2 is a high-quality DAC and a headphone amplifier. It can also drive a power amplifier directly or active speakers.
You can set it up to have a fixed output to be plugged directly into an amplifier. This will allow it to function as a standard hi-fi DAC headphone amp.
Although file support is extensive, the real highlight is the audio quality. The Hugo TT2 takes everything in its stride and is one of the most transparent-sounding devices you will ever hear. This is among the very best headphone amps.
- Dynamic, detailed audio
- Wonderfully articulate
- Brilliant build quality
- Can be frustrating to use
18. iFi hip-DAC
- Inputs: USB Type-A, USB 3.0, 3.5mm audio
- Outputs: 3.5mm, 4.4mm
- Bluetooth: No
- Native sample rate support: PCM (up to 384kHz), DXD (up to 384kHz), DSD (up to 256kHz), MQA
- Dimensions (hwd): 1.4 x 7 x 10.2cm (length)
- Weight: 125g
The portable DAC/headphone amplifiers look like a hip flask and provide a high-quality sound while on the go.
It’s the smallest option in iFi’s range and the same as the Zen DAC, a desktop-based Zen DAC from the British brand but smaller and more battery-powered.
The aluminum case is solid and accented with a well-damped metal volume knob. The audio quality of the hip-DAC headphone amplifier is excellent.
It has the classic iFi sound, which we love. We especially like its undemanding nature, paired with expressive dynamics, and pleasing rhythmic precision.
The fire hip-DAC headphone amplifier can be described as a great buy, but it is up against the intense competition. Zoro’s Stella and the Cyrus soundly set high standards for this price range.
These well-designed DAC/headphone amplifiers are an excellent choice if you are looking for a portable one, then it is seen as among the best headphone amps.
- Easy-going by engaging sound
- Battery power
- Fine build quality and finish
- Up against tough competition
- Larger than some rivals
- Sub-par sampling rate indicators
When it comes to listening to your favorite track, there are a lot of options. But the best way is with one that includes an amplifier or sound card and headphone sets like those found in our list for Best Headphones Amp Under 300. We hope you’ve enjoyed reading about these products as much as we have had to put them together!
Last update on 2021-09-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API