Buying Guide

Best Headphone Setups for Audiophiles Under ₹30,000

In today's video, we're looking at complete audiophile setups or headphone systems for a budget of 30,000 rupees. In today's video, we're going to be talking to you about six different complete audiophile-grade headphone setups, all of which include a headphone, a DAC, an Amplifier and cables within a total budget of 30,000 rupees. I've got six setups today that I like - three that are centred around full-sized headphones and three that have IEMs - all six of these setups sound amazing, and in this video, you'll figure out which is the right one for you for a budget of 30,000 rupees.


In today's video we're looking at complete audiophile setups or headphone systems for a budget of 30,000 rupees. Very often when we're recommending some amazing sounding headphones and IEMs you also find that we tell you to use them along with a headphone amplifier or a DAC and balance cables but all these components add to the overall budget for the setup. In today's video we're going to be talking to you about six different complete audiophile grade headphone setups, all which include a headphone, a DAC, Amplifier and cables within a total budget of 30,000 rupees. I've got six setups today that I really really like - three that are centred around full sized headphones and three that have IEMs - all six of these setups sound amazing and hopefully in this video you'll figure out which is the right one for you for a budget of 30,000 rupees.

Setup 1

All right guys for our first setup today I'm going to be looking at full size headphones. Now if I would take a budget of 30,000 rupees and I try and split it pretty evenly between the headphone and the DAC and Amp, you'll find my favourite headphone for 15,000 or so is this, this is the Meze 99 Neo. Some of you have been following the channel know that I really really like the headphones from Meze Audio and the 99 Neo is one of the cheapest, most affordable offerings from a super premium brand like Meze Audio. All the headphones are made in Romania, they're gorgeous, they're designed very well and the Meze 99 Neo for about 15,999 is my pick for the best headphone in this price segment for me and the Meze 99 Neo is a closed back headphone something that's relatively easy to drive, so you don't need a very heavy duty amplifier to use along with it. It's something that you can use at home on your desktop or it's something that you can carry with you and use on the go. So what we're gonna go for is a very versatile setup to use with the Meze 99 Neo. What we've done though is because the Meze 99 Neo comes with detachable cables we're going to upgrade the cables with a balanced cable from Meze Audio for 4,499 rupees, this is an oxygen free cable and it has a 4.4 millimeter connector that the cable has. This is specifically meant to be used with DACs and Amps which has a balanced output. Now what difference does the balanced cable make? Well it makes quite a bit - one it allows you to use the balanced output on any DAC and Amp and the second and most importantly you find that it improves the sound stage just a little bit by removing the crosstalk between the left and right channel but in the case of the Meze 99 Neo it just makes the bass a little tighter, it makes the vocals just seem a little bit up front and I like the way that it makes the entire headphone sound a little bit more balanced. So the additional 4,499 to use with Mess 99 Neo, I think is a great spend. The next thing we want to do is we want to make sure that we have a DAC which features a 4.4 mm balanced output so that we can take advantage of the balance cable. Lucky for us right smack in the budget for 7499 you have the Shanling UA2 Plus, which is an incredible portable dongle DAC. You'll find that it comes with a USB-C cable so you can plug this into your Android phone and if you want to use it with an iOS device you can swap out the cable for a lightning cable. It has a 3.5 mm unbalanced output as well as the 4.4 mm balanced output that we're looking for and voila you've got a complete audiophile set up right here bringing you up to a grand total of 27,997 rupees, well within the budget of 30,000 rupees and this is a fabulous setup that is superbly optimised. All the components work really really well to give you a portable full-size headphone that you can use.

Setup 2

All right guys the second setup for today is a full-size planar magnetic open back headphone something that's ideally suited to be listened to at home for a complete audiophile listening experience. We've got the HiFiMAN HE400se, which is a full-size planar magnetic headphone from HiFiMAN, the most affordable offering and it's priced at only 9,999. Planar magnetic headphones have drivers which are very very accurate but the downside is that very often they need a lot of power for them to sound good. In this particular case the HE-400se sounds good only and only when they're given an adequate amount of power for the magnets to really really shine. They have very very low distortion, they have a great wide soundstage but the secret ingredient is to have a powerful amplifier to drive it so with the remaining budget that we have in this setup I've chosen the Topping DX3 Pro Plus a phenomenal amplifier priced at 19,999, giving this entire setup a grand total of 29,998, perfectly within a budget of 30,000 rupees. You'll find that the HiFiMAN HE400se has a 3.5 mm connector on its cable and the DX3 Pro Plus has exactly a 3.5 mm connector so no adapters required and you'll find that on the High Gain mode this has so much power that the HE400se sounds very very good. Now of course the setup seems a little skewed in its budget because I'm spending 33 of the budget - 10,000 rupees on the headphone and 20,000 rupees or 66 percent of the budget on the headphone amp and that's intentional because even though you'll find that the HE400se is not a very expensive headphone it does require the amount of power that only and only the Topping DX3 Pro Plus can give it within this budget, but for the overall budget of 30,000 rupees, I do believe that this is a great open back planar headphone setup that every audio file can enjoy as a part of their home listening setup.

Setup 3

All right guys our third setup for today is another full-sized open back headphone and this one's from Beyerdynamic - the DT900 Pro X. It's a brand new headphone and Beyerdynamic released it this year. It's a dynamic driver headphone and sounds very very nice and we had to have it as a part of our video today. It's priced at 19,999 so you'll find that in this particular case I swapped the budgets. I'm taking the majority of my budget for a great headphone and the Beyerdynamic DT900 Pro X is that and you'll find that this is a relatively easy to drive headphone and therefore with the remaining budget I need a DAC and Amp that can do justice to that headphone and the one that I'm going with is this, this is the Topping DX1 for only rupees 8,999. It has a nice 3.5 mm unbalanced output that I can plug my Beyerdynamic into. You'll find that it does a great job powering it up and for the overall price of 28,989, I think that this setup is a complete setup that sounds very very nice. The Topping DX1 is a very capable DAC and Amp, it's got just the right amount of power to be able to drive the Beyerdynamic DT900 Pro X. It's a great sounding headphone, full bodied, nice and warm while being very very balanced overall. Some of you may want a closed back headphone only and only because of your requirements for it to not leak out or for it to sound fine in a noisy environment and you can very easily swap the DT900 Pro X for a DT700 Pro X which is pretty much the identical headphone but a closed back for the same price and make that work for you.

Setup 4

The next setup we're going to be talking about is an in-ear monitor paired along with a portable dongle DAC. The one that I'm going for today is one of my favourite IEM from FiiO. FiiO is a great brand, they make some fabulous audiophile products across multiple product categories and their in-ear monitor lineup is quite extensive with lots of different setups - hybrid, balanced armatures, but today go for a single dynamic driver. The earphone of my choice is the FiiO FD5. It's a very popular IEM especially for people who are looking for a nice warm and smooth sound signature with nice meaty low end, the FD5 is exactly for them. It features a beryllium coated dynamic driver so it's very very powerful, very very good sounding and you find that it's fun to listen to, while at the same time giving you a lot of resolution and detail that only a dynamic driver with the beryllium coating can give you. What's amazing about FiiO is that they put a lot of attention to detail into a lot of the accessories as well as cables connectors and your tips that they give you in the box. The FD5, in the Box has a balanced cable and you can swap out the plug for a 4.4 mm plug or a 3.5 mm plug, it's entirely up to you. So we're going to take advantage of the 4.4 mm connector and balanced cable that the FD5 comes with and pick a DAC from FiiO that has the 4.4 mm balanced output and I'm gonna go with the FiiO KA3. It's got a USB-C connector, it's okay you can swap it out and connect it to an Android phone or an iOS device by using a lightning adapter. You'll find that it's a really nice powerful DAC that you can use along with your mobile phone that has a 4.4 mm as well as a 3.5 mm unbalanced output. We want to definitely use the 4.4 mm balanced output on this DAC because it just sounds so much nicer. You'll find that the instruments are well separated, the bass gets a little bit tighter and why not the DAC of course is priced at rupees 6,999, so this overall budget for this setup - IEMs and DAC included go slightly over budget to 31,998 but I think that even though it goes slightly over a budget of 30,000 rupees, what you get is phenomenal value for money and very often these days you'll find that the FD5 does go on promotion giving you a couple thousand rupees off which makes the entire budget then fit within the 30,000 rupee price bucket. If I have to pick a single IEM as well as DAC and Amp combination that's portable and sounds fun this has to be one of my top picks for this budget.

Setup 5

Okay here's another IEM setup and this one's quite interesting, I really really like this. For those of you been watching our channel, you'll find that this year planar magnetic IEMs are all the rage and one of the best tuned planar magnetic IEM just happens to fall within our budget in this particular segment. This is the 7Hz Timeless. It's one of those planar magnetic IEMs that really started this trend and it's superb sounding, it's very very well tuned and you'll find that at 16,999 it sits right within the budget of what we're looking for so I had to pick this IEM for today's setup. Now for the remaining budget, I'm going to be spending on two different things my DAC and Amp of choice is the brand new FiiO Q11. This is a battery powered DAC that sounds very very nice, very very powerful it features both the 3.5 mm unbalanced as well as a 4.4 mm balanced output. It comes with a nice volume control and allows you to select high and low gain mode and because it has its own inbuilt battery it's able to give you a much higher power output as compared to the regular dongle DACs that we have in this video. Why have I chosen this because planar magnetic IEMs although they're very very compact and use very small drivers that fit into your ears, they still sound very very nice with a little bit more power than most dongle DACs can give you so we wanted to make sure that we're using a DAC and Amp that gives you that additional power that's needed to make a planar magnetic driver sound good. So this is only priced at 7,999 and you'll find that what you get is phenomenal value for money with the FiiO Q11. You'll find that it comes with USB cables to connect to your Android device or your laptop or even a lightning connector to connect to your iPhone, so you quite literally don't need to buy any additional adapters and the product in itself has everything right out of the box. With the remaining budget of 3,690 I'm going to be getting myself a Tripowin Petrichor balanced cable for these IEMs. You'll find that these use MMCX connectors so as long as you're using any balance cable that has an MMCX connector and a 4.4 mm termination you should be able to take advantage of the FiiO Q11s balanced output and really upgrade the sound on the 7Hz Timeless for a grand total of 28,679. Well within our budget of 30,000 rupees. A fabulous sounding planar magnetic IEM as a portable setup that you can use with your mobile device anywhere.

Setup 6

My third setup for today is another IEM but now with a very different sound signature this is specifically chosen for people who want a forward sound and analytical sound signature and my IEM of choice to be able to give you that is the Moondrop Kato. It has a single dynamic driver but it is tuned to give you a very attacking forward leaning sound signature which people who really like that kind of sound are going to enjoy a lot and its price is 17,999 is giving us a lot of headroom for getting a balanced cable as well as a DAC and Amp. The DAC and Amp that I'm going to be choosing to go along with this is the Shanling UA3. Now there's a specific reason for that one it has both a 3.5 mm unbalanced and a 4.4 mm balanced output which I fully intend to take advantage of but at the same time this sounds a little bit warmer and so it kind of complements the forward sound signature of the Kato really really well to give you what I think is a well balanced and a well-tuned setup. UA3 is a very very nice portable DAC and you'll find that it comes with a detachable USB-C cable so you can plug into your Android phone and you're good to go right off the bat and if you're using your iOS device you can simply swap it out for a lightning to USB-C cable and it works perfectly fine. With the remaining budget I'm going to be getting again the Tripowin Petrichor balanced cable. You will find that the Moondrop Kato uses a 2-pin connector so the balance cables would also have to be using a 2-pin connector to go with the Moondrop Kato and I'm going to be using a 4.4 mm termination so I can take advantage of the 4.4 mm balanced output on the Shanling UA3 for grand total of 30,570 which is just over our budget by 500 rupees but I do believe it is a nice complete setup especially for those who are looking for an IEM that sounds very forward and analytical and this entire setup really really suits them.


Okay guys so with that I've given you six complete audiophile setups with headphones, IEMs, DAC & Amps and balanced cables, all included for a budget of 30,000 rupees. You'll find that all of them sound very very good. All of them suit somebody's preferences a little bit more than the other and you find that they all cater to a slightly different requirement but I can recommend that you can also build your own setups using the same guidelines that I've used as long as you understand how we're pursuing this. You'll find that any setup that you're going to be able to pick out with the right DAC Amp and headphone is going to sound pretty pretty nice and these six setups according to me are best ones that you can get for 30,000 rupees at this point of time and I'm very happy for you to come down and try them out for yourself at our experience store here in Mumbai or or at a headphone connect event that's happening in a city near you. Thank you so much for watching this video bye.