Portable Audio Setup Recommendation Under 1200$!!
For an audiophile getting the best of the music quality is always their first priority. But whenever they search for their next purchase they get confused with many new products in the market. We at Hifigo always try our best to support the community, we try our best to provide the best products at the best prices. And to help our friends and customers in the community to lower their confusion for their next purchase we are trying to bring setup recommendation articles within different price ranges. Last time we mentioned some portable setups under 500$ price range for a beginner to the mid-level audiophile, you can check it out here. This time we are going to provide portable setup recommendations for around 1000-1200$ price range, so for the users who are looking to upgrade their current setup and step up their game in the field or our friends who want to start their audio journey from the mid to high-level audio products, this article is for you all.
The Core of Enjoying Good Music, Audio Chain:-
A good audio chain is very important for enjoying music with all its glitters and glory. An audio chain depends upon all the aspects and items in it. First users need to have a good recording quality, cd-quality Flac or above, a good audio source, good amplification, and most importantly a good pair of earphones. For portable chains, considering users have good quality recordings, we use usually two items in the chain, one a good powerful source mostly a DAP in portable scenarios, with inbuilt powerful amplification and a good pair of IEM. There are a lot of DAPs currently available in the market that starts from as low as 60-70$ and goes up to 2000-3000$. To get a powerful and good enough DAP in under our budget with a decent pair of IEMs, we will be looking at mid-level DAPs paired with mid to high-level IEMs that will provide the users with amazing music experience. So without discussing any further let’s begin.
>iBasso DX160 2020+Moondrop S8:-
1080P Crisp Display, Smooth UI, Dual Output Ports on DAP including 4.4mm Balanced, Full open Android OS, Flagship IEM with 8BA drivers on each side, 3D printed Skin-friendly transparent ear shells, Comfortable Fit, great noise isolation.
No 2.5mm port on DX160.
For our first portable setup recommendation, we can never go wrong with the iBasso DX160 and Moondrop S8. iBasso have recently updated their DX160 Android DAP to the 2020 variant. It features a new buffer that provides wider bandwidth and higher output current resulting in better and cleaner output. It runs open Android OS so users can use any of the streaming services like Tidal, Qobuz, and more. Apart from a 3.5mm unbalanced output the DX160 2020 also features a fully balanced output with a 4.4mm balanced port. It utilizes its dual CS43198 DAC chips quite efficiently and provides a good battery life of up to 13 hours. It houses all the necessary features like Bluetooth functionality with Hi-Res Codecs, a crisp 1080P JDI Display, and much more. The DX160 has clean sound output. It can easily drive all the IEM’s. It pairs really well with the Moondrop S8 and produces a lifelike natural sound output. Moondrop S8 not only sounds amazing, but it also has exquisitely beautiful looks. It has 8 BA drivers on each side. The pair together sounds outstanding, reproduces a neutral and natural sound output with crisp details. It feels energetic, vocals show natural texture and tonality. The pair suits with Electronic, Hip-Hop, Vocal, Acoustic songs really well, so if you have these genres as your main preferences this is the pair to go to. The pair costs around 1100$ approx and is a good investment in the hobby with TOTL sound output.
You can go for FiiO M11 for 80$ extra and you will get an AK4493EQ Dual DAC setup with three output ports including one 3.5mm unbalanced, one 2.5mm, and one 4.4mm balanced ports. But it will lack the crisp 1080P display on the DX160.
>Shanlng M6 Pro+Moondrop Blessing 2.
Open Android OS, Triple Output Ports, Premium Built and Finish, Outstanding Details Reproduction, Beautiful looks, Bright Sparkly Sound, Wide Soundstage.
Slight Treble Peak.
Shanling M6 Pro has similar specs to that of the FiiO M11 Pro with Dual AK4497EQ DAC chips but instead of the THX amplification circuit, the Shanling M6 Pro has a custom amplification unit featuring OPA1622 OPAMP and other low-pass filter chips. The M6 Pro produces a powerful output and powers IEMs, and Headphones with ease. The Blessing 2 is an amazing pair of in-ear monitors with a hybrid driver setup featuring one dynamic driver and four BA units on each side. It has a crisp detailed sound output with crisp clarity. Even though Blessing 2 has low impedance and high sensitivity, it shines beautifully with a powerful source like the Shanling M6 Pro. The pair produces an outstanding sound output. The pair has beautiful vocals, rich deep bass, and well detailed airy instruments. The only issue with Blessing 2 can be a slight peak in the treble region that might bother some people. It suits well with EDM, Metal, and other quick genres of music with its powerful thumping bass and detailed treble section. The pair collectively costs 1079.98$, it is one of our go-to pairs for detailed sound output.
>FiiO M11 Pro+ Dunu DK3001 Pro.
Balanced and Neutral Sound, Rich Lush Details, Natural and Transparent vocals, Deep Bass, Powerful and Clean THX AMP, Modular Plugs, Premium Cable, Streaming Apps, Triple Output Ports.
M11 Pro runs old Android V7.0.
This is one of our favorite portable setup that we use almost every day. The DUNU DK-3001 Pro is a very balanced and neutral pair of IEM featuring a hybrid five driver setup on each side. It comes with a very premium monocrystalline copper cable with a modular plug designed by Dunu. It comes bundled with multiple termination plugs that include 3.5mm unbalanced, 2.5mm, 4.4mm, and 3.5mm balanced plugs in the package. So whatever output port your source has, it supports all of them straight out of the box. FiiO M11 Pro, on the other hand, is the mid-level DAP from the brand that features a dual AK4497EQ DAC chipset along with a power THX amplification circuit. It has three output ports 3.5mm unbalanced, 2.5mm, and 4.4mm balanced ports. The pair sounds outstanding and transparent. They produce crisp soothing details with great extensions at the lower and higher-end. Bass response is deep and punchy, vocals feel natural and transparent, musical instruments carry a natural timbre and tone. This pair has a natural tonality and timbre, making the output organic and lively. If you are looking for a completely balanced sound output lush with details, look no further and get the FiiO M11 Pro with Dunu DK-3001 Pro and be satisfied for a long time. The pair will collectively cost approx 1150$.
Users can switch FiiO M11 Pro with Shanling M6 Pro in the above-mentioned setups. Even though they both have similar specs, the Shanling M6 Pro produces better and output power and will be able to use it with Headphones.
Some More IEM Recommendations that Users can pair with above-mentioned DAPs:-
6BA units, 4 Knowles, and 2 Sonion BA Units.
Very Beautiful Looks, Very Easy to Drive, Tube-like Analogue Sound, Thick Lush Mids, Mid-Centric Tuning.
Slow lower end, Details feel a bit less as compared to similarly priced Dunu DK3001 Pro and Moondrop Blessing 2.
QOA Mojito is the latest pair of in-ear monitors from Queen Of Audio, a sister brand to Kinera. It is one of the best-looking pairs currently available in the market. It features 6 BA driver units on each side with 4 Knowles BA and 2 Sonion BA drivers. The pair has a mid centric sound output with thick vocals, and airy instruments. Though the bass feels a bit slow and details are not that good as compared to other IEMs but the beautiful vocals make up for it. If you are looking to buy an IEM for beautiful lush vocals you can consider getting the QOA Mojito.
4BA, 2 Knowles, and 2 Sonion BA Units.
CNC Aviation-grade Aluminium Shells, Good Micro Details Reproduction, Very Easy to Drive, Powerful detailed Output.
Ear shells a bit heavy, Vocals get Shouty at Louder Volumes.
Cayin YB04 is a brilliantly built pair of in-ear monitors with beautiful aesthetics and elegant looks. The pair is built of CNC aviation-grade Aluminium earpieces and comes with a high quality crystallized OFC silver alloy cable. It has a powerful detailed sound output though the vocals might get shouty at louder volumes. It produces brilliant details and is a very good pair for listening to metal, electronic, or other similar fast genres. Though for vocals I will not recommend getting the Cayin YB04. It is priced at 499$ and can be paired with any of the above mentioned DAPs without any issue.
These are the best mid to high level portable audio setups that consumers can get under 1200$ price range. These are tested by us and we can guarantee these can give the top of the line sound experience at mid-level price segments. Share your thoughts and current setups with us and if you have any more questions feel free to comment below.