So you have bought a premium headphone still you are not getting that full sound clarity that you are expecting. Your smartphone’s low-quality built-in amplifier might be the primary reasons for that. What is the solution for that? A portable headphone amp is a cheapest and best option to get the best out of the headphones. You will need the best amplifier DAC for headphones as a combo that gives you the full potential.
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Also Read: Top Studio Monitors Under $500
If you are an audiophile and use a premium headphone, then you must look for a good amplifier for your headphone. Built-in amplifiers in smartphones, laptops and other portable media players devices are not good enough to use the full potential of any high-end headphones.
Remember, if you are using a cheap budget than headphone amplifiers won’t create much difference. A good headphone amplifier increases both sound level and details of the music coming out of your smartphone. If you have a headphone that costs more than $100, you must look for an amplifier.
Moreover, if you have studio headphones or headphones with high impedance, the chances are that built in DAC of the smartphone won’t be able to power them to their full potential. Now the question arises how to choose a good headphone amplifier. Don’t worry, after hours of hours of research we have written this post. The sole purpose of this post is to help you out in choosing the best headphone amplifier.
This post includes 12 headphone amplifiers that range from $30 to $600. The starting amps in the list are basic ones that are easily portable and used only for headphones, while the premium amplifiers offer plenty of advanced features and control over the sound. Plus, they can be used to amplify the input of the different type of devices and feed the output to the headphone or sound system. So let’s get started with the list.
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Fiio A1 is sleek, compact and fashionable headphone amplifier. It is the perfect accessory to use with high impedance and low sensitivity headphones. It is small that you can carry it in your pocket without even a noticeable effect.
It can be used with headphones to add more power, higher bass, and better sound dynamics. It comes to three built-in Bass EQ effects to meet every listener requirement. Design wise; the outer body is made up of aluminum alloy body that makes it durable and stylish. A 160mAh Li-poly battery powers it. A single LED will give you an idea about the battery level; a red light means the battery is low. It can be easily worn on shirts and t-shirts like an iPod.
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A3 is the upgraded version of the modern A1. Fiio A3 is bigger with improved sound performance. It serves as voltage amplifier by a large medium and high-frequency extension. Power amplifier which acts as a current amplifier to control bass. It features a dedicated bass toggle switch to boost the bass output without influencing the treble and vocals.
A 1400 mAh battery ensures around 15 to 16 hours of active use time. The outer chassis is made up of aluminum alloy giving it a premium look and durability. In the sales box, you will get Fiio A3- portable headphone amplifier, USB charging cable and 3.5 mm to 3.5 mm connector.
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Soun Blaster E3 is a portable headphone that features Bluetooth, NFC, and AUX connectivity. It provides high-quality headphone amplification up to 600ohms impedance and 112 dB DAC.
It provides up to 8 hours of Bluetooth audio streaming and 17 hours of playback time using the analog audio via the AUX cable. It can power up to 2 headphones at the same time. Plus, it also has a built-in microphone and buttons control- Power/ Bluetooth, volume control, forward/backward, next track/ previous track. You can even pick calls via the buttons on the E3 headphone amplifier.
Plus, it also has a built-in microphone and buttons control- Power/ Bluetooth, volume control, forward/backward, next track/ previous track. You can even pick calls via the buttons on the E3 headphone amplifier.
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Fiio E17K Alpen 2 is the new version of the outstanding Fiio E17 Alpen. The E17K packs a built-in DAC along with a very high-quality amplifier designed to power up almost any headphone.
It is sleek and solidly engineered with a premium look. A multi function scroll wheel on E17 Alpen 2 allows volume adjustment and menu access by pushing it. It has built-in bass and treble boost EQ controls. It provides up to 15 hours of playback time. It comes with 12 months warranty for headphone amplifier and six months warranty for the battery.
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Schiit Magin 2 is a simple looking headphone amp. There is no Bluetooth or display, but still, we have placed it on the list because of the amazing sound quality. The Magni 2 is fully DC coupled with no capacitors that provide more refined, fully discrete and dynamic sound.
The Magni 2 use only fully separate amps in its price class. Magni 2 also use a new gain stage with constant feedback that makes it capable of producing the detailed and clear sound that audiophiles want. Two years warranty backs this headphone amplifier.
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If you are looking specifically for a DAC/ headphone amp for your laptop or desktop AudioQuest, DragonFly Red might be a good option for you. On the first look, it sounds like a pen drive. But the problem is that it can’t be used directly with smartphones and other portable media players. It needs a standard USB port as audio input.
It is nearly a perfect option for anyone looking to enhance their computer sound quality. It is sophisticated, robust and provides subtle sound. Its versatile DAC improves everything- details, transparency, richness, and tone.
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Audioengine N22 is a compact integrated stereo power amplifier that works fine with almost all the headphones and Audioengine bookshelf speakers. It is capable of producing 22-watt x 2 channels RMS output. For input, it has RCA and 3.5 mm audio jack.
The front of the amplifier has only ON/OFF switch, analog volume control and headphone jack. Connect your iPod, computer, and speakers or headphones for optimal sound output. Even a subwoofer can be added to the system. It has high performance, low-noise distortion amplifier that works well with all types of earphones and headphones. Plus, the idle power save mode will save power when in standby mode.
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Now we are moving to the high-end advanced feature ready premium headphone amplifiers/DAC. Oppo HA-2 is a portable headphone amplifier and DAC that is used for a high-resolution sound that you will be missing with the built-in amplifiers of smartphones and laptops.
Oppo HA-2 is an elegant yet sophisticated headphone amp. It has a built-in battery that will give you 13 hours of music playback time. The battery can be recharged again in 30 minutes. It packs hybrid class AB amplification, and USB DAC delivers sound that other amplifiers fail to match with.
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V-Moda VAMP Verza headphone amp is not in the budget of everyone. It is a premium headphone amplifier that works with Android, Apple and Windows devices. It has two dedicated Digital to Analog converter (DAC) chips for a pure analog performance.
A 2200 mAh battery gives 7 hours of playback time and can also be used to charge your smartphone in case of emergency. The amplifier is capable of producing 150mW x 2 USB audio or 130 mW x 2 for iPhone, iPad, iPod. It is designed to work with headphones with 32-ohm impedance or more. V-Moda headphone amplifier has ON/OFF switched and metal knob for volume control. V-Moda provides a 1-year warranty on the device and 60 days test drive guarantee.
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The last and the most expensive headphone amplifier is Audeze Deckard. Though it is costlier than all the headphones here, it is worth the price. Audeze planar magnetic headphones have been a huge success. Audeze Deckard is aground breaking headphone amplifier and DAC.
It is a multi-purpose device that can be used to amplify the sound from almost all the devices that we use more often nowadays. It used Class A amplifier. This powerful headphone amp handles 16 – 32-bits and 44.1kHz – 384kHz sampling rates. The outer chassis is precisely brushed with aluminum finish and shines and gives it a premium feel.
It is more suitable for the headphones whose impedance lies between 20 ohms to 300 ohms. The distortion on this amplifier/DAC is very little or almost negligible. Overall, if the music is an important part of your life and it fits in your budget then look no further Audeze Deckard headphone amplifier.
The professional audio world is expensive. If you want the best, it is going to cost you, a lot! If you want the best, investing in an Amplifier does make sense. The mystical world of Pro Audio, headphone-amps can easily get incredibly dark and very technical and that too incredibly fast. For the rest of the non-eggheads, picking up anyone from our list within your budget should meet your expectations.
We hope you like our article on the Best Amplifier DAC for Headphones. For any questions or suggestions, do drop us a comment below.