The 5 Best Headphone Amps Under $200 in 2022

Alex | Last Updated On May 10th, 2022 | This post may contain affiliate links.

The purpose of a headphone amp is to provide a bit of extra power when it’s needed most. For higher end headphones, sometimes the devices you connect them to do not have enough power to produce a proper and high-quality sound.

This is where a headphone amp comes in. The job of the amplifier is to boost the power output and remove the bottleneck you may run into with lower powered devices. This helps ensure you get every single high quality note of sound out of your music regardless of your device and headphone pairing.

In today’s market, there are hundreds of choices for headphone amps, and many of those share similar features. However, we have taken a closer look at a wide range of headphone amps and have narrowed it down to five of the best amps we think you will love.

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Comparison of the Best Headphone Amp Under $200

photo of the Schiit<br> Magni Heresy Headphone AmplifierSchiit
Magni Heresy Headphone Amplifier
Best High Quality Headphone Amp Under $200See On Amazon
photo of the Drop<br> Objective2 Headphone AmplifierDrop
Objective2 Headphone Amplifier
Best All-Around Headphone Amp Under $200See On Amazon
photo of the Cyrus<br> SoundKey Headphone AmplifierCyrus
SoundKey Headphone Amplifier
Best Combination Headphone Amp Under $200See On Amazon
photo of the FiiO<br> K5 Pro AmplifierFiiO
K5 Pro Amplifier
Best Desktop Headphone Amp Under $200See On Amazon
photo of the FiiO<br> K3 Headphone AmpFiiO
K3 Headphone Amp
Best Compact Headphone Amp Under $200See On Amazon

Reviews of the Best Headphone Amp Under $200

The Magni is a powerful and high quality headphone amp that is perfect for audiophiles that are seeking a balanced and expansive soundscape.

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  • Size
    • 5 inches x 3.5 inches
  • Input
    • RCA stereo
  • Features
    • 100% op-amp for high end headphones
    • Eight OPA stages per channel
    • Compact size but high quality sound

The Magni Heresy is the third version of the popular Magni model and is a 100% op-amp that has some powerful specifications for the discerning listener. It provides 8 stages per channel with dual OPA1688 amps. The impedance rating is suitable to combine with a high current to give you some of the deepest bass and best mid and high tones possible.

Magni is smaller in size but has a good bit of weight to it, making it feel extremely durable and well built. The external components are well made and feel solid, though accessing the rear panel gain switch can be difficult in some setups. Inputs include stereo RCA and also offers two toggles for hi/lo and powering on/off.

What We Like

Extremely solid and well built exterior

Great balance across low, mid and high frequencies

Suitable for use as a pre-amp

Know Before Buying

Does not include a built-in DAC

Partially portable, but can be heavy

Gain switch can be difficult to reach

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The Objective2 is a great option for someone looking for an above-average headphone amp in every way without having to break the bank.

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  • Size
    • 4.12 inches x 3.87 inches
  • Input
    • Dual RCA stereo
  • Features
    • Rubber feet for non-slip stability
    • Includes heavy duty wall wart PS
    • Simplistic design inside and out

If you’re looking for a sleek and fancy exterior, the Objective2 is not the amp for you. On the other hand, if you want a simple design with powerful interior components, the Objective2 could be what you need. What it lacks in design it makes up for in features and power for a wide range of headphone types.

You’ll find two RCA stereo inputs, a hi/lo gain switch, and a 6.3mm headphone jack. Additionally, this amp features a 2 year warranty in case you have issues with the internal or external components. It’s a very versatile amp that can pair well with other devices to custom build the perfect audio system for your needs.

What We Like

Simple design with no unnecessary frills

Unit has minimal noise and distortion

Great amp for basic audio usage

Know Before Buying

Lacks a bass boost toggle or switch

Volume knob boosts heavily without distorting

Headphone jack can be difficult to use in some units

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This high quality amp and DAC combination is the perfect answer for serious audiophiles looking to improve their listening experience.

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  • Size
    • 18g dongle
  • Input
    • 3.5mm jack
    • Micro USB
  • Features
    • Includes a digital-to-analog converter
    • Connects to iOS and Android devices
    • Outstanding balance of sound overall

For any audiophiles looking for a small and portable amp and DAC combination, look no further than the SoundKey. This small USB dongle is great for a wide range of mobile devices, laptops, or other audio sources. It’s extremely small, but delivers an expansive and highly detailed soundscape.

This amplifier ensures you can enjoy every note in a wide range of music from hip hop and techno, to classical and operatic. While the bass is not as deep as it could be, it still feels very impactful when used with a good pair of headphones. Other tones such as your mids and highs are extremely clean with an outstanding texture and clarity you can’t find in some larger desktop amps.

What We Like

Extremely small and portable size

Perfect for use with mobile devices

Extremely durable aluminum exterior

Know Before Buying

Dongle style so has very limited connection options

Can become moderately warm when being used

Deep bass music may sound slightly lacking

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Larger and stationary desktop amp, the K5 is an excellent choice for the audiophile that enjoys listening to a wide range of music genres.

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  • Size
    • 4.72 inches x 5.12 inches
  • Input
    • S/PDIF
    • USB
    • Pre-amp line in
  • Features
    • 768kHz/DSD512 max sampling rate

For the discerning audiophile, the K5 can be the amplifier you are searching for. This amp has power for days and is an excellent choice for larger headphones and professional studio cans that need a bit more of a boost. The gain selectors give you a chance to direct your power where it’s needed; be that the 6.5mm jack, stereo RCA, or universal USB outputs.

This amplifier remains cool to the touch even when being pushed to the max which is rare for amplifiers of this size and power level. Sounds are extremely crisp and clean with a great neutral level. Maximum gain will give you some very punchy tones and an impressing booming bass that can turn your casual listening into an immersive experience.

What We Like

Volume wheel is lighted for easy access

Amp provides a huge power output

Very deep and rich bass impact

Know Before Buying

Much better suited for larger headphones

Can hear faint background hum at 0 attenuation

Gain selectors allow you to direct power where needed

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For anyone looking for a small and compact headphone amp, the K3 from FiiO is an excellent choice with its discreet size and advanced features.

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  • Size
    • 2.76 inches x 2.28 inches
  • Input
    • USB-C
  • Features
    • 384kHz/DSD256 max sampling rate
    • 2.5mm and 3.5mm headphone jacks
    • Can easily be connected to a DAC

While this amp has a very small and compact exterior, the interior components are able to deliver a large sound through a variety of headphone types. The K3 is constructed with a full metal exterior which makes it durable and sturdy. The volume wheel is large and easy to access on the front of the unit, along with two headphone jacks and switches for both gain and bass.

The output options include coaxial and optical, with a USB option to switch from 1.0 to 2.0. This amp also offers a line out for use as a preamp when needed. One of the biggest perks we noticed was the volume knob being lighted to provide information on different situations. For example, when it is blue, the amp is working as intended. When green, the amp is processing high resolution audio, and when red, there is a driver issue.

What We Like

Extremely durable and solid exterior

Large volume wheel glows different colors

Multiple input and output o

Know Before Buying

Includes USB 1.0, 2.0 and C ports

Includes 2.5mm and 3.5mm jacksIncludes 2.5mm and 3.5mm jacks

Bass boost can have some distortion

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Buyers Guide

Things to Consider When Buying a Headphone Amp

Headphones and microphone pop filter on digital equipment of a recording studio

Sound Quality

Obviously, the sound quality should be your first consideration when deciding on a headphone amp. Afterall, your high-quality headphones will only be as good as the amplifier they are connected to.

One of the biggest things to consider with sound quality is the power output of the amplifier, and how it compares to your headphones. For example, the increased power from an amplifier can remove the bottleneck on your headphones, boosting their sound output to the high quality level the designer and manufacturer intended.

Impedance Levels

Impedance is often misunderstood or overlooked, but can have a direct relation to the sound quality. Some headphones will require a higher impedance level than others, especially if you are comparing full cans to small earbuds. High quality studio cans will not be able to be used with some devices without an amplifier as those devices cannot provide the right amount of power for those cans.

It’s always important to take a look at the ohms rating on your headphones and then compare it to the power output of your audio device. If your device is lower than what your headphones require, you will have very poor sound quality when listening to any audio.

Price and Value

While a reasonable price and the value for money is subjective and will be unique to each person, it’s always important to take a bit of time and consider the value of the amplifier you are considering. Compare it to others that offer the same features and see if there is a drastic gap in the price.

Some name brand amplifiers can cost almost double what a lesser known brand may cost, even though the internal and external components are nearly identical. Paying for the brand name is not always the best value, and in some cases it’s difficult to recommend a model because of this.

Construction and Design

Headphone amps should not only perform their job well, but should also be well made and look good too. The build quality is definitely something to consider before making your purchase, silver or gold plated connections (see also types of audio connectors here), secure USB ports, and more can all play into how well an amplifier is constructed.

Additionally, you don’t just want your amp to look like a block of metal or plastic. You want it to look stylish and sleek, or perhaps even be discreet, so it doesn’t detract from the rest of your audio equipment. There’s nothing wrong with selecting one amplifier over another simply due to the design aspect and aesthetics, so take some time to consider what looks good to you.

Which Headphone Amp Works For You

After taking a look at the potential features each headphone amplifier can offer, and why it might or might not be important to you, let’s now take a look at which headphone amp would be better for your needs. It can depend on the general use or location you have in mind for your headphone amp.

Portable vs Stationary

There are both portable amps as well as stationary amps that will remain on a desktop. Deciding on which one you want most can help narrow down your search for the right headphone amp.

Portable headphone amps are battery powered, so may only end up giving you a few hours of usable time before they need to be recharged. However, for those that travel a lot or want to enjoy high quality music while commuting, a portable headphone amp is definitely the choice for you.

On the other hand, a stationary amp will normally be able to offer more features than a portable amp can. It can also offer more power since it is not limited by battery life. However, a stationary amp is not able to be taken along on car rides without a separate battery bank which will be large and obtrusive.

Gaming Amps

There are a range of headphone amps that were made with gamers in mind. These amps can provide 7.1 virtual surround sound to give you a more immersive experience in games of all types. Additionally, these amps also provide microphone support to ensure you have the best communication options available with your gaming teammates.

One of the biggest benefits to using a gaming amp is that you can have a better situational awareness. For example, when exploring buildings in looter/shooter games, you can easily hear the footsteps of the enemy and have a precise direction of those footsteps. This can give you an edge when it comes to competitive gameplay.

Conclusion

Best High Quality Headphone Amp Under $200
Best All-Around Headphone Amp Under $200
Best Combination Headphone Amp Under $200

Whether you are just looking to give your favorite music a boost, or want to gain a situational edge in gaming, having the right headphone amp can make all the difference. With so many options on the market today, it may be difficult to decide on the one amp for you. Don’t be afraid to take some time and consider the various features available as well as what might be important to you before making your initial purchase.