02 April 2012

Audio setup for under $200

With $200 it is possible to build a fairly good audio setup. In this post I will give an example of such a setup. First of all, I'm going to assume that the user already has a computer in which his music library is located. This keeps the total price low, as it excludes CD players and other transports.
So, what are we going to need?

  • A computer: where the music is located;
  • A DAC: to convert the digital data into analog (sound) signals;
  • A headphone amp: to amplify the signal coming from the DAC;
  • A pair of headphones: to listen to the music, how else would you?

On any audio setup, the component through which you listen to the music is the most important (speakers/headphones). So, let's give the headphones the biggest share of our budget:
  • DAC - 75$
  • Headphone Amp - 25$
  • Headphones - 100$

The Grados SR80i are a really nice pair of headphones for the price: $99. They are acclaimed by most audiophiles to be one of the best ways to build an entry-level headphone setup. They are great for rock music, having a right-in-your-face sound that will amaze you. You can also buy some replacement pads ($12.70) to make them more confortable.
Read some reviews: Head-Fi | What Hi-Fi?

For the DAC, we're going with the Fiio E7. At $88.59, this is above our budget, but this USB DAC has a little surprise: it has a headphone amp included! This means we now have $12.41 left on our original $200 budget, which you can use to buy the replacement pads I mentioned!
Reviews: Head-Fi | NwAvGuy

I hope this small article has showed you how you can build a fairly nice entry-level audio setup for only $200. Enjoy!
I hereby present to you The Music of Sound Waves! Well, what is this crap, you ask? It's simply a semi-audiophile blog in which I will try to present to you the best headphones, recievers, CDs, vinyls and the likes. You will not be disappointed (or your money back).

Your faithful admin,