Audio Setup Under 500$ Recommendation Guide!!
Today the audio market is full of products that always confuses us audiophiles in planning our next purchase or even a beginner audiophile to grab his/her first hi-fi setup. There are products starting from as low as 30-50$ and goes up to 2000$ and more obviously there are differences in a 50$ and 500$ product, so how to decide what’s best for us, what will suit our needs, what are the best audio setups for under 500$ which be it a beginner or an experienced audiophile will enjoy. Today we are going to recommend some of the best audio setups under 500$ price range which you can grab to start your audiophile journey or to upgrade your current setups.
Please note that our recommendations will be consisting of two products in the chain, one source/DAC, and one pair of IEM’s to keep the chain as simple as possible for our audiophile buddies.
>Fiio BTR5 Bluetooth DAC/AMP+KB Ear Diamond:-
BTR5(124.99)+ KB Ear Diamond(79.99$).
Wireless Bluetooth Hi-Res Sound Quality, Value For Money, Dual Output Ports on the BTR5.
IEM has a bit early treble roll-off.
If you already have a smartphone that you use for enjoying music that either has a 3.5mm jack or not, but now you want to upgrade your sound quality experience. The first upgrade that you should look for is getting a Fiio BTR5. It is a very powerful Bluetooth DAC/AMP that features all the latest Hi-Res Bluetooth codecs like LDAC, APTX HD, and many more. The BTR5 is a very good entry point for beginner audiophiles too, it is loaded with features like a high-performance ES9218P dual DAC setup, dual output ports including 3.5mm single-ended, and 2.5mm balanced port. It features Bluetooth 5.0 connectivity providing a stable and lag-free music experience. You can also connect the BTR5 as a USB DAC with your PC. The KB Ear Diamond pairs well with the BTR5 and provides a crispy sound output. It has a premium built quality with metal housing and beautiful looks. The IEM has a quick and punchy bass with natural rich vocals and crisp instrument details. The collective cost of both the products will be 204.98$ which is approx 200$ and a good entry investment to the hobby.
Alternatives in similar price range:-
IF you don’t want a Bluetooth DAC/AMP and looking for a standalone DAP you can go for Shanling Q1 DAP and KB Ear Diamond IEM.
Q1(119$)+ KB Ear Diamond(79.99$).
Standalone DAP as Source, Easy To Carry, Value For Money.
No Balanced Port on the DAP as with BTR5.
If you are looking to buy a standalone DAP then pair the KB Ear Diamond with Shanling Q1. The Shanling Q1 is a cute looking, powerful sounding DAP with a small form factor. It is very easy to carry around with your other gadgets due to its small form factor. Q1 houses the same DAC as that with the BTR5, ES9218P, the sound quality is similar in both the cases. The Q1 can act as a standalone source where you can store songs in MicroSD card instead of using your smartphone as a source. It also features Bluetooth connectivity so you can use wireless headphones with Q1 as well. The only drawback with the Q1 as compared to the BTR5 is that it doesn’t feature 2.5mm balanced port. The KB Ear Diamond pairs well with the Shanling Q1 and provides the users with a powerful sound output with crisp clarity. The collective cost of this pair will be 198.99$ which is again approx 200$ and a good entry investment to the hobby.
AP80 Pro(169.99$)+Blessing 2(319.99$).
Extremely Detailed Sound, Smooth User Interface, Balanced Output Port on AP80 Pro, Unmatched Sound Output.
No Android on AP80 Pro so No Streaming.
Hidizs AP80 Pro is a powerful DAP with dual ES Sabre DAC chip featuring two ES9218P DAC chips. It has an excellent build quality with an all-aluminum CNC frame and a small form factor. The dap is very easy to carry around with other gadgets thanks to its small form factor. It features a Samsung IPS touchscreen display with a Japanese ALPS volume knob. It houses all the latest features including Bluetooth with Hi-res codecs support. The only drawback with the DAP is the absence of streaming services and no Android OS. So you can’t use streaming apps and are only dependent on your offline music library. Pairing this with an excellent IEM from Moondrop, Blessing 2 is a heavenly experience. Blessing 2 is one of the finest pairs of IEM’s available under 500$ in the current market. It houses a five driver hybrid driver setup featuring one DD and four BA drivers on each side. The pair produces an unmatched sound output with rich and crispy vocals, deep punchy bass, and outstanding detail retrieval. The pair retrieves micro details with utmost precision and shows no signs of sibilance or harshness. This pair is suited to any genre of music. Both the AP80 Pro and Blessing 2 collectively cost 489.98$ and is one of the finest setups you can make under 500$.
You can include the Moondrop Blessing 2 either with the Shanling Q1 or Fiio BTR5 depending on your final budget, the Blessing 2 is one of the best pair you can get under 500$ so look for including this into your collection.
Powerful DAP, Open Android OS, Streaming Apps, Balanced and Natural Sound Output, Full HD 1080P Screen.
A bit over 500$ Price Range.
The iBasso DX160 is one of the finest DAP’s currently available in the market for under 500$ price range. It features a high-performance dual DAC setup featuring dual CS43198 DAC chips. The DAP runs an open Android 8.1 OS that provides the user's freedom to use any streaming app. It features dual output ports including a 3.5mm single-ended and a 4.4mm balanced port that provides a powerful sound output with utmost sound clarity. It also features all the latest features like a 1080P full HD display, Octa-core ARM Cpu, 32GB ROM, 2GB RAM, and much more. Pairing the DX160 with Tin T4 or Moondrop Starfield provides a high-quality sound experience with crisp clarity. Both these IEM’s have a balanced and natural sound output with deep punchy bass, lifelike rich vocals, and a well detailed extended treble portion. The pair collectively provides an outstanding sound output but it goes beyond our budget a bit, the pair costs 509.98$. It is just 10$ extra over the 500$ price range but will provide the users a high-quality sound clarity enjoyment.
You can pair the iBasso DX160 2020 with Moondrop Blessing 2, yes we know that goes high beyond our budget of 500$ but believe us that is an ultimate pair and you won’t be looking to upgrade anything for a long time with it. They will collectively cost 719.98$.
We really hope this will help you out with your next purchase, we will be listing more setup recommendations with under 1000$ and more soon. Stay tuned with us and keep enjoying good music.