Buying Guide

Best Headphone Setups for Audiophiles Under ₹20,000

In today's video, we're doing a complete audiophile-grade headphone system built for under a budget of 20,000 rupees. Now you'll find that for a budget of 20,000 rupees you have some incredible Headphones and IEMs which are available but very often we'll ask you to add a dongle DAC a Headphone Amplifier maybe a balanced cable to bring out most of your IEMs or your Headphones and that adds to the components and the cost of the overall system. So we're taking a budget of 20,000 rupees which I think is a very generous budget and moving backwards from there to figure out what the best-sounding setups are with the complete setup falling within the budget of 20,000 rupees.


In today's video we're doing a complete audiophile grade headphone system build for under a budget of 20,000 rupees. Now you'll find that for a budget of 20,000 rupees you have some incredible Headphones and IEMs which are available but very often we'll ask you to add a dongle DAC a Headphone Amplifier maybe a balanced cable to bring out the most of your IEMs or your Headphones and that adds to the components and the cost of the overall system, but we get so many people who are saying - Hey raghav we have a particular budget in mind and for this what setup would you recommend - which is an all-in-one setup that sounds very very good. So we're taking a budget of 20,000 rupees which I think is a very generous budget and moving backwards from there to figure out what the best sounding setups are with the complete setup falling within the budget of 20,000 rupees. And we've got five setups today all of which sound incredible and all of them very very different from each other. Two of them feature IEMs and are portable setups that you can listen anywhere and three of them feature headphones so this is going to get quite interesting today because all these setups sound very good and are very different and hopefully one of them is the perfect one for you let's get started.

Setup 1

All right guys the first setup today is a complete IEM setup and I've taken the vast majority of the budget and I'm spending it on getting a really really nice sounding IEM and my favourite IEM that falls within the bucket is this the 1Custom Junior. It's an incredible IEM and it costs 15,999. So out of a total budget of 20,000 rupees I've already used most of the budget in getting a phenomenal sounding IEM and I'll tell you why this is a good decision because this is not just like any other IEM it sounds phenomenal for the price. I don't think I know of any other IEM that I enjoy as much as the 1Custom Junior. 1Custom is a boutique brand, it's not one that makes too many different products so they're not very popular. This particular IEM has a three driver hybrid configuration a dynamic driver for the bass and two balanced armatures for the mids and highs and what's very interesting is that it comes with these dip switches on the earbud and by pulling up and down these switches you can change the sound signature a little bit and I use it on a very neutral balanced sound signature which sounds superb but you can make it a little bit more fun and engaging as well by changing the switches up and down. It becomes one of the best sounding IEMs I have in this budget now that leaves me with a budget of 4000 Rupees to get a dongle DAC and Amp and that's no problem because I'm gonna pick the Shanling UA1s which is for 4,299. It’s not very expensive dongle DAC, it's got a 3.5 mm balanced output and I'm using the 1Custom Juniors 3.5 mm cable and plugging that into it the UA1s. The UA1s comes with a detachable USB cable, so you can use it with a USB-C to USB-C connector to use along with an Android smartphone. It's a plug and play device and you're good to go or you can get yourself a USB-C to Lightning cable specifically for iOS devices and with that ladies and gentlemen for a grand total of 20,298 rupees a complete audiophile grade IEM setup. IEM, DAC and Amp included in all in one setup. Now I know that this is not a setup that follows conventional logic for dividing the budget but I find that the 1Custom Junior already sounds so good that even if I go for a better DAC and Amp with a relatively inexpensive IEM I'm not finding myself finding an IEM that beats this system. Also the 1Custom Junior doesn't necessarily benefit from having a fancier upgrade cable or anything of the sort. This system just works and for 20,000 rupees it's one of my favourite IEM systems there.

Setup 2

Okay ladies and gentlemen setup number two and this one is from FiiO. The IEM is from FiiO, the dongle DAC is from FiiO. It's a portable setup that's an IEM system for a budget of 20,000 rupees and one that follows a slightly more conventional thinking but gives you a really really nice sounding output and you'll find that this is very very popular for that reason. Now the dongle DAC that I'm going with is the FiiO KA3, this is really really nice powerful dongle DAC. It features a 3.5 mm output as well as a 4.4 mm balanced output and it's for a price of rupees 6,999. For under 7,000 rupees so I think there's a reasonable chunk of the budget that's going towards the DAC and Amp and you'll find that because it has the 4.4 mm balanced output we definitely want to take advantage of that. So we want to make sure that whatever IEMs we're using we use a balanced cable to go along with it and that brings me to my IEM of choice. This is the FiiO FD3 Pro now for those of you who know the few naming convention the FD3 should immediately tell you that this is featuring a single dynamic driver. It's a phenomenal beryllium coated dynamic driver. It sounds very very nice, it comes with detachable upgrade cables but what's very very interesting is that the FD3 pro for a price of 11,999 rupees also features a balanced cable which comes with a 4.4 mm termination so you save quite a bit of money and not having to go and get yourself an extra upgrade cable which would potentially cost you two three thousand rupees. It's there in the box and therefore you'll find that this makes for an ideal system when paired with along with the FiiO KA3. We simply plug it into the 4.4 mm output on the KA3 and now you have a balanced DAC and Amp, a balanced cable connected to your IEMs and for a grand total of 18,900 rupees you've now got a phenomenal setup which is well within the budget of 20,000 rupees. It sounds very very nice, it's fully balanced, upgradable and it's a very popular setup for this price bucket and therefore it has to feature on my list for the best audiophile setups for a budget of 20,000 rupees.

Setup 3

All right guys setup number three and this one is featuring a full-sized headphone. So you'll find that the budget of 20,000 rupees now you've got some really really nice sounding headphone options as well as IEMs and one of my favourite headphones in this price bucket is the Meze 99 Neo. Meze is a beautiful brand from Romania and you'll find the Meze 99 Neo is their entry level headphone offering. It's priced at rupees 15,999, so I'm taking a good chunk of this budget and spending it on just getting a great sounding headphone. The Mezze 99 Neo is a gorgeous headphone it's been around for a while you'll find it sounds really nice, a little warm and little laid back but makes for a fun listen to. It's a closed back headphone that isn't super hard to drive, you don't need gigantic amplifiers to drive this and for that reason you'll find that this is a great sounding headphone that you can actually use on the go and listen to with your smartphone. You don't have to be listening to this on a desktop setup sitting at home although if you do that, they sound great too but this is pretty portable so it's a little bit of best of both world. It's a full-size headphone and at the same time it's portable and easy to carry like IEMs and for that reason you find that it's a very very special headphone for the price. Now having spent 15,999 on this headphone I am now left with a budget of four thousand rupees for my DAC and Amp and lucky for us the Meze 99 Neo is not very hard to drive, so my choice of a dongle that go along with this is this one right here. It’s super lightweight, super portable, this is the brand new iFi Audio Go Link. It's one of my favourite dongle DAC at this price segment. It's priced at 4,999 and you'll find that it's one of those DACs that works virtually with every headphone or IEM that you plug into it. It sound fun interesting and very very revealing, very very detailed. Now you'll find that it's got a simple 3.5 mm output so you don't need fancy upgrade cables. The 3.5 mm cable that comes with the Meze 99 Neo can simply plug into it and you've now got complete system. On the other end this has got a very very unique adapter which allows you to use with USB-C with your Android phone and with a lightning port with your iOS devices so you'll find that for the price you get the versatility of using this with lightning as well as USB-C so you can use it with your iOS devices your Android devices and I don't think there's any other DAC in this price bucket that does that so for a grand total of 20,998, just a little bit over the 20,000 rupee price bucket that we had set, you get a complete portable or desktop closed back headphone setup using the Meze 99 Neo and the iFi Audio Go Link. I don't mind going over that budget just a little bit because I believe that this adapter that you get for use with lightning makes it worth its while. You don't have to go and get another cable or another adapter specifically to use with your iOS devices and therefore I would say that this is probably my favourite headphone recommendation in this bucket.

Setup 4

All right ladies and gentlemen setup number four today is a very very popular setup. I have with me a full sized open back headphone from Beyerdynamic, this is the very very popular DT990 Pro. You'll find that the 990 Pro along with its closed back brother the 770 Pro, you'll find them in virtually every studio everywhere around the world for the last 35 years. They're all handmade in Germany, they're super popular among studio professionals and musicians alike and they've been around forever because they're just that good. It's an industry standard - the Beyerdynamic DT990 Pro is so popular that even audiophiles swear by the fact that as an open back headphone at a price of 11,999 there is virtually nothing else like it in the market so it has to be a part of our list today for a budget of 20,000 rupees. If you're going to take 11,999 and spend it on the headphone you think you should have a reasonable budget left for the DAC and Amp but this is going to get a little tricky because what I haven't told you is yet is that the Beyerdynamic DT990 pros come with 250 ohms of impedance which means that these are really really hard to drive. You need a powerful amplifier to get these to sound good. Now that's usually not a problem when you're in the studio, you've got tons of equipment that's capable of driving a 250 ohms headphone and that's really who this headphone was made for but at home us audiophiles don't have amplifiers and equipment just lying around that we can plug our headphone into, which is why it's really really important that we take the remaining budget and spend it on getting ourselves a DAC and a Headphone Amp that's capable of driving something with 250 ohms and that's exactly what's led me to the Topping DX1. This is a phenomenal device that looks really really tiny but is really really powerful. It's priced at rupees 8,999 so you'll find that it fits pretty much within the budget that we have left. DX1 connects to your computer via USB, you'll find that it doesn't need an external power supply - the USB cable from your laptop should be able to power this up and you find that on High Gain mode and there's a gain switch right at the back you can plug your DT990 Pro into the 6.35 mm output in front, crank up the volume and it's more than capable of driving it and it's pretty much a match made in heaven. You'll find that the pairing between the DT990 Pro 250 ohms and the DX1 sounds pretty pretty good and I don't think I can think of any other DAC and Amp with this budget that is able to power the DT990 pro so effortlessly and sounds phenomenal. Now keep in mind that the 990 Pro does not have detachable cables so there's no reason for you to go around upgrading to balance cables and using a balanced DAC and Amp. None of that is required and that's perfectly fine because the DX1 is a no-fills device that just does its job of powering a full-size headphone to its full potential and giving you a really nice clean output from the DAC. It just works and for a total of 20,998 rupees, just a little bit over that bucket of 20,000 rupees this is a complete headphone system headphone DAC and Amp included for 20,998. I know it's a little over budget but there's literally nothing else that works with the DT990 Pro and therefore I don't mind adding this to our list today.

Setup 5

All right guys our fifth setup today is another open back headphone. This is not as popular as the Beyerdynamic - this is Grado SR80x from the US. The Grados sound very very different from the Beyerydnamics. They are far more forward, they are punchier, it's an open back headphone but it's an on-ear headphone. It doesn't sit over your ears the way Beyerdynamics do and this is not designed for the studio. This is designed for giving you a rocking good time when you're listening to music. It's such a fun sounding headphone, the build quality is going to be nowhere near the Beyerdynamics but you'll find nonetheless they are very very durable. They should last you a long long time and the SR80x is from the updated X Series that adds a little bit more low end and punch to the Grados and therefore I have to recommend this when it comes to open back headphones in this budget. The Grado SR80x is priced at 13,999 so they're a little bit more expensive than the Beyerdynamics and what that means is that we have a little lesser budget available for the DAC and Amp so I can't add the topping DX1 in this particular combination, in this particular setup and I'm going to go with the iFi Audio Uno which is another pretty small, pretty compact but desktop DAC and Amp that has a very simple 3.5 mm output that you can plug the Grados into and you'll find that with that it becomes a complete audiophile setup. The DAC and Amp is the iFi Audio Uno - the headphones is the Grados this is priced at 13,999 so for the exactly the same price as the previous setup 20,999 you now have a full setup but one that sounds very very different. Between the Beyerdynamicl I don't have an easy way to help you pick between the two setups the Beyerdynamic is the more neutral reference sounding open back headphone. The Grado is the more fun forward, exciting rocking out kind of headphone and you'll find with the iFi Audio Uno it sounds just fine. You've got a couple of EQ settings on the iFi Audio Uno which I love playing around with so this is a little bit more fun - that's a little bit more serious. That's pretty much the only way I can help you pick between these two setups.


All right guys that's five of my favourite setups for a complete audiophile grade headphone system for a total budget of 20,000 rupees that I've described to you two of them are IEM setups and of course IEMS are going to give you great value for money if you're looking at a headphone system that you want to carry with you everywhere use something on the go the Meze 99 Neo - one of my favourite headphones is a full sized headphone that you can use on the go, they're not very hard to drive and it'll sound great and you've got two desktop grade full-sized headphone systems with a desktop DAC and Amp that are also over here the Grados as well as the Beyerdynamics and with these five setups I think you're going to get phenomenal value for money for under 20,000 rupees and you can't really go wrong with it and if you use this as a little bit of a rule of thumb I'm sure you'll be able to come up with enough combinations that you can build for the same kind of a headphone system within the budget of your picking and you'll invariably find that these five systems are just a starting point for you in this Hobby and you can go on and on experimenting with different combinations to pick out the right combination that works for you. Thank you so much I hope you found this video useful and I look forward to catching you on the next one