Yes! Much like many other hobbies, interests, and just things in general, you don’t need to spend a ton of money in order to have a good experience! The trick is to remember what it is all about.
Being an audiophile is about getting the most out of the music, media, and other things that you listen to. It’s about being able to enjoy the deep bass tones of explosions in your favorite movie, or the cute jingle after you enter into your jackpot casino login.
If you are somebody just getting into the idea of being an “audiophile” or someone who starts to want to put thought into the devices they use to listen to music, then it can seem like a daunting task!
You may see some people saying how great X brand mainstream headphone is, while other people seem to say it is garbage. Then, you look at the price tag of some big name headphone brands and it makes your eyes bulge!
Headphones from companies that rhyme with yeets by may, gony, hennsieser, and rose can run you anywhere from 400 to several thousand USD! It makes you think, is it even worth it to spend more money on a pair of headphones?
Then you start to dig deeper into what being an audiophile means, and you hear about all sorts of equipment people have. “You need a DAC/Amp,” they say “(insert popular music streaming platform) is garbage,” they say.
It’s enough to make your head swim. Before you know it, you start to think that if you want superior audio quality you have to drop five grand on a surround sound speaker system with addressable RGB lighting and a DAC/Amp the size of a toaster oven.
Then you realize you don’t even know what DAC/Amp stands for, and you figure it’s probably just some sort of snobbery and you don’t need anything other than the earbuds that came with your smartphone. To you I say “Wait!”
It doesn’t have to be so terribly overwhelming! With a few tips, ideas, and pointers, you can learn what are the most important parts of making your music sound good, and how much money you should spend on them.
By a large margin, headphones are the single most important thing you should look into buying if you want to get into the “audiophile” world. I don’t really like the term audiophile to be honest, as it sounds too uptight.
I’d prefer to just say you like to be able to enjoy the sounds of the media you play. Whether it’s movies, music, or video games, sounds are a large part of our lives and our entertainment.
I mean, think about it! Would you buy a gaming PC and then buy a cheap monitor from 2005? I doubt it.
What’s the point of having something to consume media, if you can’t effectively get the media from the digital signals in your device to actual analog stuff your brain can understand.
Back to headphones though. Headphones are the most important piece of equipment you could buy to help you enjoy your media. Why do you ask?
Because nothing else is going to matter if the headphones you are wearing aren’t able to tell the difference from the improvements those pieces of equipment made.
You could buy a nice DAC/Amp (Digital Analog Converter/Amplifier), but the earbuds you got with your phone, or the headphones you bought as “Amazon’s Choice” aren’t going to know the difference.
The headphones themselves just aren’t good enough to help you distinguish if the signal coming to them is higher quality or not.
You could download all the music you get and play it through a music player app on your phone or an expensive MP3 player, but why? Streaming music will sound great unless you have a super expensive “hifi” setup.
You could spend extra money to get a better cable for your headphone, or even a better cable to connect your listening device to its amplifier or speaker or whatever, but why? You won’t be able to tell the difference if your headphones aren’t good enough!
At the end of the day, my main point is that the single most important thing you need to have a better listening experience is to just buy a nicer pair of headphones! (Or speakers if you want to go that route).
How Much Should You Spend?
“Okay, I’m sold” you tell me. “But how much should I spend on a pair of headphones!?” Great question! You could spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars, but why bother?
We are talking about being an audiophile on a budget. This means your current pair of headphones are probably something you got with your phone or something cheap you bought online or at a store.
Statistically, that’s usually how it goes. This is because of the Law of Diminishing Returns. The difference between having no music and having music is huge.
By comparison, the difference between having music, and having better music is smaller. So, as you spend more money on audio equipment the “value” of that audio equipment goes down.
From my own experience and what others have said online, it seems the sweet spot for a value pair of headphones is less than 300 USD. Spending more than that is really only worthwhile if you are really into audiophilia etc.
300 USD sounds like a lot of money, and it is, but that is really the upper limit. The headphones I currently use are a 70 USD pair of Takstar Pro 82s. They are the single best pair of headphones I have ever owned.
This is because compared to my previous headphones, they are amazing! They have good bass, nice high-end (treble) and they feel wide. They sound like sounds are happening around me, and not just in my headphones.
The difference was honestly astonishing. I felt like crying a little when I first listened to music with them. Just spending this little bit extra on a pair of headphones opened up the sound quality so much.
If you want, you could even go cheaper and still get a great experience. If you don’t mind IEMs (a fancy word for earbuds so audiophiles can feel better about themselves) then I would suggest the Tin T2s.
They are only around 50 USD, and are by far the most comfortable and best sounding pair of earbuds I have ever listened to. Even if you don’t want to get new headphones, just buy a pair of foam ear tips for your earbuds!
They will make your earbuds a thousand times more comfortable. The foam tips on my Tin T2s were like night and day. They didn’t dig into my ears, and I could finally be comfortable listening to music for long periods or bus rides.
Let me let you in on a little secret, those are my only pairs of headphones! Both of which are what many “real” audiophiles would consider budget options. That is my point, I have firsthand experience.
I know exactly how good these headphones will sound to someone coming from more common options. You don’t need to spend a lot to enjoy the sounds in your media. All you gotta do is find the right pair of headphones for you.
One last thing I will mention is that a nice pair of headphones doesn’t just increase the quality of your audio, it increases the entire listening experience. They are more comfortable, and that means you can stand to wear them for longer periods.
If you don’t enjoy wearing the headphones you have on, then you aren’t going to want to wear them. You certainly won’t enjoy it. That’s what having nicer audio equipment is about; being able to enjoy yourself to the max.