- Amp up your Audio
- The many different headphone amplifiers
- How to know if your headphones need an amplifier
- Great brands of headphone amplifiers
Most mainstream headphones that are targeted towards the mainstream consumers come with many different sound qualities, and they often don’t require a lot of power to drive them. Just plug them into your computers or smartphones and you’ll be able to listen just fine. If you want to have some high-fidelity audio in your headphones however, they’re a whole different ballgame altogether.
High-end headphones are expensive, but they sound exceptionally good. While they delivery fantastic sound quality, expensive headphones tend to require a little bit more in terms of power; the typical computer and audio jacks on smartphones are usually not enough to power these headphones. That is where these headphone amplifiers come into play, giving these high-end headphones that much-required power boost.
Headphone amplifiers come in a variety of different shapes and sizes – as well as specifications and pricing. However, whenever people mention headphone amplifiers, it is commonly referring to portable amplifiers that can be taken around to be paired with digital audio players and smartphones. There are also desktop amplifiers that are made to power headphones at home, those are significantly larger and tend to require constant power supply rather than operate on a battery like most portable amplifiers do.
There are several different ways to know if your headphones could do with the help of a headphone amplifier, and these are sometimes also conditional; some headphones may seem like they need an amp, but they don’t.
- Your headphones sound quiet when plugged into your device, even at higher volumes.
- Your headphones have a high impedance of 32 ohms or more.
Those two are the most common signs that your headphones could probably do with an amplifier. The issue with quiet headphones is more prevalent when it comes to mobile devices such as your music player or smartphone. The specifications of your headphone are also commonly listed on the back of the packaging where you will be able to see if it has a high impedance.
One thing to keep in mind that most in-ear headphones or earphones typically do not require the use of a headphone amplifier because they do not require much power. Most earphones are also optimized for use with mobile devices.
Like the headphones themselves, there are many different brands of headphone amplifiers, as well as different price points depending on the specifications and components in the amplifiers. Here are some great brands of headphone amplifiers:
Fiio is a rather famous headphone amplifier brand – largely because of their excellent value. Most Fiio products aren’t expensive, but they deliver fantastic performance in comparison to the other brands out there.
AudioQuest is famous for its DragonFly DAC/AMP that plugs directly into the USB ports of your computers. The DragonFly DAC/AMP gives your headphones the much needed power and also delivers cleaner and more detailed sound thanks to the built-in DAC.
Sony themselves are one of the pioneers of high-fidelity audio to mainstream consumers. They have a large line of music players as well as headphone amplifiers that may be a little on the expensive side of things, but deliver on all fronts.