Audiophile quality stereo equipment can get ridiculously expensive and take up a lot of space in the room it’s in, which of course is the only room where you can listen to it. That was all changed by the introduction of the original Walkman in 1979. High quality audio anywhere (we’re not talking AM transistor radios) was an idea whose time had come, so 30 years later there are iPods, iPhones, Android phones and MP3 players everywhere. The audio quality is good, but battery life is the main trade-off. You can’t get a good, distortion-free listening level with most portable devices. This creates a need for a headphone amp to go in between. The Chu Moy circuit is extremely popular, and you could theoretically build one yourself, but there is a cottage industry of people selling them on eBay for less than $50. You can get one custom-built on eBay (from a high-rated seller), with your choice of options, in your choice of Altoids tins. Once you try one, you will notice the difference.
Affordability: 8 Luxury: 7
Want more luxury? Check out the Earmax line of tube amplifiers. I love tubes, and I want one of these bad, but it looks a little heavy to go around my neck …
Affordability: 2 Luxury: 9