Best Headphone Amp to Boost Up Your Sounds and Tones

Eric Chan

If you have a set of headphones and you're hoping to get better performance out of them, then you'll want to invest in the best headphone amp. To get the best sound quality, you need to ensure that the headphones are sufficiently powered.

While finding the best amplifier can be a simple process, many people can find it difficult because of the wide range of models that offer unique features and prices. In addition, many new models are also hitting the market, which makes it even more complicated.

To help you find the best headphone amplifiers, we have curated the five best headphone amps in the market today, their pros and cons, as well as the factors you need to consider before buying a headphone amp.

What's a Headphone Amp?

A headphone amp is a moderately low-powered amplifier that usually increases the low-voltage audio signal from a source gadget (a PC, turntable or smartphone) to a sufficient level to be transduced or converted into sound waves the speakers in the headphones. Besides, it works like the amplifiers used to power full-sized speakers though it operates at a lower scale.

All headphones need the power to operate, and they get it from a headphone amp. Therefore, each headphone output or jack device has a headphone amplifier inside. Conversely, there is a small amplifier in your smartphone though that one is weak compared to the other circuitry inside your phone. So when you buy a good pair of wired headphones, it will be worth getting a dedicated headphone amplifier.

Why Do You Need a Headphone Amp?

Most digital devices have a DAC and dedicated headphone amp built right in; that is why you can plug your headphones in and hear sound. So what's the reason then for having separate headphone amplifiers. Unluckily, the quality of those built-in components usually varies from device to device, and so does the sound quality. For instance, a MacBook laptop has a decent DAC and headphone amplifier built-in making it sound decent, while some other laptops have low-quality DACs and headphone amplifiers, so they sound very bad. The same thing with phones; some sound superb, some are decent, and some sound terrible.

The truth is, if you don't own a good-quality pair of headphones, you won't yield benefit from a headphone amplifier since as the quality of headphones increases, so does the potential benefit of using a headphone amplifier. So now that we understand why you need the best headphone amp let's check out the best options.

Which is the best best headphone amp?

10 Best Headphone Amplifiers

1. VOX AP2AC amPlug 2 AC30 Guitar/Bass Headphone Amplifier

VOX AP2AC amPlug 2 AC30 Guitar/Bass Headphone Amplifier
  • Power supply: AAA batteries x 2 (Best with Polaroid AAA batteries)
  • Connections: headphone out, aux in
  • Dimensions: W x D x H) 3.39 x 3.15 x 1.22" 86 x 80 x 31mm)

VOX amPlug 2 portable guitar/bass headphone amp will provide you with high-quality audio, especially when playing an electric guitar or bass into your headphones. The battery-powered headphones come in 7 different models with different designs, tones and uses. The models include a metal version and tones for blues and classic rock, a clean tone and a bass model. You will find that there are pots for adjusting volume, tone, and gain for every amp model, similar to that of a normal amplifier. Also, there are three discrete values for effects that you can select by a button that's labeled FX adjacent to the adjustable pots. Depending on the type of model you have, you will find that VOX amPlug 2 has the following additional features,3 choruses, 3 reverbs, an onboard drum metronome, 3 delays, and an aux input.

Not only does this headphone have exceptional features, but also a cheap headphone amp that can fit any budget. The manufacturer, VOX, claims that the battery life for the amPlug 2 is 17 hours. So, expect that you will be running through quite an AA battery but few compared to many other battery-powered amps. Moreover, the VOX portable amPlug 2 has an ergonomic 180-degrees swivel that's easily flexible to allow you to ply your guitar with ease.


  • High-quality headphones
  • Specialized for Guitar/Bass
  • Low Price
  • Variety of Models
  • Onboard Effects


  • Has a constant static hissing sound

2. FiiO E10K USB Headphone Amp and DAC

FiiO Headphone Amps Portable DAC USB Type-C coaxial 384kHz/32bit...
  • Easy to Operate Design: The refined E10K-TC is tiny enough to carry with you wherever you...
  • Impeccable XMOS Decoding: The E10K-TC comes with the flagship XMOS XUF208 for better USB...
  • Quality Chips to Delight your Ears: The DAC is the PCM5102, with improvements to the...
  • 2 Gain Levels and BASS Boost: The E10K-TC comes with high/low gain adjustment as well as a...
  • Low Noise Floor: Optimized active low pass and BASS circuit design ensure low noise floor...

FiiO E10K headphone amp features the PCM102 DAC chip, and you are guaranteed that it can handle PCM files of up to 24-bit/96 kHz. Furthermore, with this best headphone amplifier, you are guaranteed that it will enhance your sound/audio quality with its integrated delay, onboard linear filter and phase shift reduction. Furthermore, the E10k boasts a low noise floor that is achieved via a lowpass filter that is optimized.

The E10k's internal hosts an in-built bass boost that adds an incredible punch to the low end of the frequency spectrum. You will feel satisfied with the E10K's bass boost that originates from the EQ curve applied when the bass boost is engaged from clicking the switch on the front panel of the headphone amp.

The headphone amp is designed with an aluminum finish that can look good at any desk. If you are looking for a headphone amp that is slightly minimalistic in the looks to avoid clashing with other accessories, then FiiO E10K is most suitable for you. The unit has great connectivity options, a 3.5mm amp line and coaxes ports that are well labeled for convenience. Moreover, the unit features a large gain knob on the front that sports an LED indicator for the gain settings. The knob is satisfying to use and will lead you to the volume of the other part of this unit.


  • Low noise floor
  • Variety of connections
  • Bass boost
  • Sleek design
  • USB input


  • Sound is average

3. AudioQuest Dragonfly Cobalt USB Digital-to-Analog Converter

AudioQuest Dragonfly Cobalt USB Digital-to-Analog Converter
  • Native Resolution up to 24-bit / 96kHz
  • DAC Chip ESS ES9038Q2M DAC chip with minimum-phase slow roll-off filter for more natural...
  • Plays All Music Files: MP3 to MQA and Hi-Res
  • Compatible with iOS Mobile Devices (requires Apple Lightning-to-USB adaptor) and Android...
  • Dimensions: 57mm (l) x 19mm (w) x 12mm (h)

The AudioQuest Dragonfly Cobalt USB Digital-to-Analog Converter is one of the few portable headphone amplifiers with a portable solid-state type. This is because it comes in size similar to a USB thumb drive that you can easily plug into the side of your smartphone or laptop, which in turn boosts your audio quality.

It features the new ESS ES9038Q2M DAC chip, resulting in high dynamic contrast and a great signal-to-noise ratio. The 2.1-volt output makes it compatible with a wide range of headphones, including those low-efficiency models. It has a 2.1-volt output that makes it compatible with many headphones, even the low-efficiency types.

The AudioQuest has intentionally limited the Hi-res support to 24bi/96kHz PCM, making it one of the widest possible ranges of host device compatibility. It is one of the few native MQA renderers that make it incredibly versatile. Although it is small, the device doesn't compromise on sound performance.


  • Wide file support
  • Great presentation and dynamics
  • Excellent sounds
  • Portable
  • Compatible with both iOS and Android mobile devices
  • Great value for money
  • High performance


  • Pricey

4. FiiO Native DSD256 Hi-Res Bluetooth 5.0 Receiver Headphone Amp

FiiO BTR5-384K/32Bit Native DSD256 Hi-Res CSR8675 Bluetooth5.0...
  • Including Hi-fi DACs(ES9218P*2) for extremely detailed reproduction of sound and...
  • CSR8675 Bluetooth 5.0 receiver designed to deliver studio-quality sound through your ears...
  • For greater power and detail resolution,the BTR5 features both balanced 2.5mm and...
  • Can be remotely controlled via FiiO Music app to swtich channel balance,8 different DAC...
  • FPGA precision clock management+OLED Displaying+9 hours battery life+2 microphones with...

The FiiO Native DSD256 Hi-Res Bluetooth5.0 is the best headphone amp, especially for people searching for a portable one. It provides a well-balanced sound and lightweight housing, which is quite portable. Moreover, it comes with several excellent features and a great BTR range.

It comes with Bluetooth 5.0 and full app control that you can easily pair to your smartphone. It also comes with an excellent DAC chip that produces an extremely detailed sound and independent control for the ultimate decoding performance. In addition, the Bluetooth receiver is designed to deliver good quality sound to your ears wirelessly.

This BTR5 headphone amplifier features single-ended 3.5mm outputs and balanced 2.5mm. The battery gives 9 hours of battery life and has two microphones that feature a CVC 8.0 noise cancellation technology. The 10 band EQ and 8 different DAC lowpass filters also help to produce an amazing sound.


  • Studio-quality sound
  • Nine hours battery life
  • OLED displaying
  • Noise cancellation microphones
  • Independent control chip
  • An easy to use application that is compatible with both iOS and Android applications
  • High performance and great build quality
  • Portable


  • The EQ can be a bit grainy sometimes

5. iFi Audio ZEN CAN Balanced Desktop Headphone Amp and Preamp

iFi ZEN CAN Balanced Desktop Headphone Amp and Preamp with 4.4mm...
  • SUPERIOR ENGINEERING - Extremely low distortion and noise from a circuit design inspired...
  • POWER REALIZED - Maximize the performance of your headphones, more than just getting...
  • IMMERSIVE SOUND - Enhanced with our signature analog signal processing to deliver...
  • THE INS AND OUTS - Features both a balanced 4.4mm pentacon and a single ended 6.3mm...
  • INCLUDED - RCA Cables, Standard 5v Power Supply and 3.5mm to 6.3mm adaptor.

IFI audio claims that its Zen can headphones will offer you 25 times more power than a smartphone. iFi audio has designed the desktop amp to feature ceramic capacitors, MELF resistors and uses class A amplification. This clearly shows that a lot is happening inside the diminutive headphone amp. The design is great, and the sound is on point; hence, most users opt for it. IFI Zen Desktop Amp has three inputs a 3.5mm jack, stereo phonos and a 4.4mm Pentaconn hence versatile. Moreover, this balanced desktop amplifier offers you a choice of balanced and unbalanced outputs so that you can pair it with higher-end and head-fi.

The iFi desktop amplifier has a switchable XBass that boosts your headphones if they drop deep enough. The other features that stand out include a four-stage gain control to precisely match the Zen can to your headphones; Meaning that you can eke out more volume without going into distortion, which is very good. However, there is no Bluetooth connectivity on board.


  • XBass
  • Has four-level gain control
  • Good volume control


  • No Bluetooth connectivity

6. PreSonus HP4 4-Channel Compact Headphone Amplifier

PreSonus HP4 4-Channel Compact Headphone Amplifier
  • 4 screaming-loud (130 mW per channel) stereo headphone amps
  • Wide dynamic range
  • Can serve as control room monitor control w/ level control & Monitor Mute button
  • Daisy-chain multiple units via 2 balanced ¼” monitor outputs
  • Compact 1/3U rack-mount chassis

PreSonus HP4 4-channel headphone amplifier's main competitive selling advantage is the ability to power up to 4 pairs of headphones. Moreover, the unit has a global mute, slots to mount the amp on the rack and a room monitor control. However, the extra unique upgrade features PreSonus audio and audio quality, making it expensive compared to the other amps.

Presonus audio headphone amplifier has everything you require to share quality sound in a studio. When recording with collaborators, it's important to have equally powered headphones so that every collaborator can accurately hear sound while producing. Even when you are not doing production-related work, this amp proves to be an excellent way of sharing audio with 1-3 other people without having to play your audio out loud via speakers or studio monitor.


  • 4-Channel output
  • Has a wide dynamic range
  • 1/3U rack-mount chassis
  • Monitor cue control


  • A little bit expensive

7. Bravo Audio V2 Class A 12AU7 Headphone Amplifier

Bravo Audio V2 Class A 12AU7 Tube Multi-Hybrid Headphone Amplifier
  • Includes high-quality Shuguang 12AU7 tube
  • Parallel 3.5mm and RCA stereo inputs
  • Gain control with Japanese ALPS potentiometer

In most cases, most amplifiers are in solid-state, but in very rare cases, you will see the vacuum tube technology used. The tube amps have the following characteristics: distortion and roll-off at extreme frequencies. The sound is organic and pleasing to the ears. You will notice that every tube amp adds a different set of colors to the sound and Bravo Audio V2 features a Shuguang 12AU7 tube that produces a soft and warm sound.

The unit is designed in a way that you can see the tube and surrounding engineering, which makes it appealing to look at when you plug in your headphones. In addition, a blue color lights up the tube from below, giving it an aesthetic touch. Bravo audio headphone amp features an RCA and headphone jacks for inputs, gain control and headphone out. We recommend the Bravo audio V2 if you are on a tight budget, which will guarantee you comprehensive service through its unique features, just like Schiit Magni Heresy for audiophiles.


  • Has an organic tube sound
  • Produces a soft and warm sound
  • Affordable


  • Has issues with reliability

8. Schiit Magni Heresy 100% Op-Amp-Based Headphone Amp and Preamp

Schiit Magni Heresy 100% Op-Amp-Based Headphone Amp and Preamp
  • Utilizes super high quality parts, including a multiple paralleled output stage with...

Schiit audio is a popular company founded by audio engineers in 2010 who made DACs and headphone amplifiers. The Schiit Magni Heresy 100% Op-Amp-Based Headphone Amp is an op-amp-based headphone amplifier with a desktop solid-state type, exceptionally low noise, tremendous power reserves, switchable gain, and low distortion.

Furthermore, it is high-quality, which includes multiple paralleled output stages. Schiit audiophile headphones come with a built-in time-delayed start-up and instant shut-down that ensures no pops or glitches on headphones and speakers. The versatility and the quality of this headphone amplifier are unmatched.

It comes with preamp outputs that you can easily connect to the desktop-powered monitors to achieve a complete system or connect to a speaker power amp and use as a preamp. However, the product will only work in a 110-120V US power supply and may not work for 220-240 countries.


  • Great power
  • Compact casing
  • Sleek and attractive design
  • Includes preamp outputs
  • Great quality parts
  • Low distortion
  • Low noise
  • Great power reserves


  • The power switch is at the back, which might not be a preference to some
  • Only works with a 110 – 120V power supply

9. ART HeadAmp6 Pro 6 Channel Professional Headphone

ART HeadAmp6 Pro 6 Channel Professional Headphone Amplifier With EQ
  • 6 independent channels
  • Bass and treble EQ
  • Dual function pan mix control
  • Multiple monitoring settings
  • Front panel main jack insert

The ART HeadAmp6 Pro Professional Headphone is a 6 channel headphone amp that features a rack mount style. Its auxiliary inputs come in handy to give the popular More-Me function for each headphone mix. It comes with a 6-channel auxiliary input section, with each output having a dual function balance control.

This balance control provides you with flexibility and freedom, especially when recording live in the studio with a group of people. Moreover, the bass and treble controls are included on each output channel to help you tweak the tone further. The outputs include a stereo 1/4-inch TRS jack on the back and front panels for quicker patching and easier installation.

There are also two mono-select buttons for each channel. All the front and rear panel outputs can be used simultaneously with the headphones connected to the unit. Moreover, the LED level indicators are available for every input to give visual feedback for each channel, including the mains. It comes with a frequency response range of 20 Hz to 50 kHz.


  • Very affordable price
  • Multiple monitoring modes
  • Great for studio use
  • High-quality sound
  • Six independent channels
  • Bass and treble EQ controls
  • Multiple monitoring settings
  • Dual function mix control


  • Not very portable as it has a rack mount design
  • It may have a bit of noise for some channels

10. iFi Micro iDSD Black Label DAC / Headphone Amplifier/Preamp

iFi Micro iDSD Black Label DAC / Headphone Amplifier/Preamp with MQA...
  • HIGH RESOLUTION AUDIO - Playback any hi-res audio format natively with our signature Dual...
  • POWERFUL AMPLIFIER - Experience the full dynamic range of high impedance headphones with...
  • UNIVERSAL DESIGN - Constructed with a stylish black matte finish and a durable but...
  • TECH PACKED - 3D Matrix Plus and XBass Plus performance tuning delivers an incredible...
  • EASY CONNECTIVITY - Connect directly to your iPhone or Android, Digital Audio Player (DAP)...

The iFi Micro iDSD Black Label DAC / Headphone Amplifier/Preamp is another great headphone amp that offers a great value of money, especially when it comes to the sound quality. It is a desktop solid-state type capable of producing this best sound, and it is also quite portable.

This battery-powered DAC and headphone amp can produce a maximum output power of 10V/4000mW at 16 Ohm. Unlike other common headphone amplifiers, this one has no issue driving the high impedance headphones.

The DAC in the Micro iDSD Black Label is quite good and can also perform native playback in DSD and MQA, which is mostly a feature not in many amplifiers. Furthermore, its optional XBass+ and 3D+' sonic enhancements' to bass and spatiality will help boost the audio setup.


  • Powerful performance
  • 3D+ and xBass+ for fine-tuning
  • Clean and resolving sound
  • Great build quality
  • Attractive design
  • Several input and output options
  • Easy connectivity


  • The switch may easily

Factors to Consider When Buying the Best Headphone Amp

1. Headphone connection

When choosing the best headphone amplifiers, an important factor is the headphone jack; you will need to use the jack adapter. Most headphone amplifiers will need a 1/4-inch headphone jack or 3.5mm headphone jack to connect it to the pair of headphones correctly.

2. Headphone impedance

Impedance is used to describe how much power the headphones will need to give a great performance. While low impedance headphones will need less power from the amplifier, higher ones might require more power. For this reason, it is important to choose the best headphone amplifiers depending on the impedance level of your headphones.

3. Battery life

Many portable amplifiers are powered by batteries, which is why you need to consider the battery life of amplifiers. Ensure the best headphone amps have batteries that last long enough to match your needs.

4. Audio source connection

It is important to confirm that the headphone amp you buy comes with proper connections that you can connect to your phone, soundboard, computer, or any other device you want to receive audio from.

If the amp you decide on has a DAC (Digital Audio Connection), it simply means that you will need a digital cable, either a USB, coaxial or optical cable. On the other hand, a mini RCA cable or a stereo RCA is required if you're using an analog connection.

5. Portability

If you're hoping to listen to music on the go, you will need the best headphone amp that you can easily carry wherever you go. While a larger-sized amp sits on a computer desk, more portable ones are lightweight and compact.

However, the portability is based on the use and preference since the best headphone amplifiers come in different shapes and sizes to choose an option that fits perfectly.

6. Selectable impedance or gain switch

Some headphone amps may come with either a selectable impedance or gain switch control to allow the user to properly match up the power being used to power the headphones. If you're looking for flexibility, an amp with a gain switch feature is recommended because they are more versatile and can work with more headphones.

7. Number of channels

Headphone amps will have channels ranging from two to eight and sometimes even more. Most of the time, the size of the amp determines the number of channels it comes with. Your choice of the number of channels should be entirely based on your needs and preferences when shopping for the best headphone amps.

8. Sensitivity

The sensitivity is one of the simplest ways to determine if the headphones will benefit from the amp. The sensitivity is commonly indicated as DB (Decibels) levels per 1mw (Milliwat) of power supplied. Ideally, anything over 100DB at 1mw will be driven to ample volume without getting an external amplifier. However, some headphones will need additional power to reach the 100DB figure.

9. Durability

You want to ensure that the best headphone amps you settle for have durable parts. Buying a headphone amp is a great investment, and it is crucial to ensure the parts are made from high-quality materials that will last long.

What Are the Common Types of Amp?

There are many types of amplifiers, including solid-state amplifiers and tube amplifiers. Each of the different types has different construction, different circuitry, and provides different sonic characteristics.

Solid-state amps are more transparent, giving a clear sound that is not colored. On the other hand, tube amps have a warmer sound and color the audio very attractively. Sometimes, it has a slight distortion either through excitement.

1. Solid-state

Solid-state models don't use tubes; rather, they use more traditional circuitry to perform the job. Although they lack the warmth and character of tubes, they're known for being reliable and transmitting precise, sharp, and detailed sound. A good example is the FiiO BTR5, a pocket-sized amp that's fully solid-state.

2. Vacuum tubes

Also known as valves or simply tubes are those glowing glass cylinders you see on the Woo Audio WA7 or the Bravo Audio V2. They usually form part of the audio circuitry by allowing electrons to burn off in a vacuum chamber. A good example of this type of amplifier is the LTA microZOTL MZ3. It is a large daring amp that demands you fully immerse yourself in the intricacies of tubes, having a clear understanding of what driver and power tubes do, how different tubes affect the sound and why some tubes work while others won't. Though it is demanding, it's rewarding, and you will love it.

You can identify a tube amplifier by the giant glass tubes in or on top of it. There is also a giant, boxy power supply at the back of the unit. Valves can be fun and can give you a never-ending project that will leave you with a whole amount of versatile, gleaming tubes. Nonetheless, there are some caveats before you get involved.

 Firstly, any system with valves will give your sound a rich, warm, enticing, analog flavor that we believe you'll find addictive. Secondly, any system with tubes/valves is going to be temperamental. Tubes break easily, short-circuit, or don't perform as advertised. As a result, they'll inevitably require to be replaced. Though this is not too common, it is a defect that you need to be aware of.

Thirdly, any system with tubes/valves should let you do the arcane practice of 'tube rolling,' or replacing the tubes with different ones to alter the sound. You can spend a lot of money and hours doing this. We won't go into finding and choosing different tubes, mostly since that would make us explain the difference between Chinese and Russian tubes and get into the details of the terminology. The conclusion is tube amps are reliable and a great option.

3. Hybrid systems

These amplifiers use both innards above, relying on tubes to offer the color and electronics to produce the power. We can't advise you which of these three amps to choose since it all comes down to a personal option. A Schiit Mjolnir 2 (not a traditional hybrid) will allow you to stick in solid-state circuits in place of the tubes though it is a good example and worth it if you want to experiment. You can even go for the Magni 3, which is generally a better amp.

Stereo Amps Vs. Headphone Amps

The difference between stereo amps and headphone amps is quite simple. Stereo amps power speakers while headphone amps power headphones. Although most amps cannot power speakers by themselves, they lack the output wattage that these stereo amps require (some stereo amps have headphone amps included). Besides, suppose you have an amplifier that produces huge power. In that case, it is not difficult o insert a headphone and allow the interior switching circuitry to dial down the power a little bit. This action will help you not explode a pair of speakers next to your ears or someone else.

However, there is nothing wrong with listening to headphones this way. And if you find yourself switching between speakers and headphones, it can be a very easy option. However, we think that dedicated headphone amplifiers offer excellent sound quality for our money. The amp circuitry is not tacked on as an afterthought which is usually the case with most stereo amps nowadays. So, if you can afford to purchase two separate amps, go ahead.

One trick that headphone amps usually have is that they're able to act as preamps most of the time, sending the audio signal to a power amplifier without enhancing it further. That way, you get the pros of their internal circuitry while using the power amp to offer the grunt for your speakers.

Balanced vs. Unbalanced Cable Connections

This section is mostly about cables, though you need to connect things with your amplifier. First, however, it is worth knowing the main differences between balanced and unbalanced connections.

A cable is usually called unbalanced when two wires are inside its sheath: a signal wire and a ground wire. The signal wire performs the audio processing, sending the sound along to the next equipment in the signal chain ( for instance, your headphones), while the ground wire act as a bodyguard, protecting it from any electronic interference. Unbalanced connections include RCA, 6.3mm jack cable and most standard headphone cables.

Conversely, balanced cables contain two signal wires and the ground wire. Although they function the same way as unbalanced cables, in that roles of every type of wire don't change, they're usually built to work with the converters that they will be plugged into at each end. Those converters usually rely on information in the signal wires to cancel out any distortion. So, theoretically, balanced cables mean your audio will have less distortion in it. Examples of balanced cables include circular male/female connectors, XLR cables (the ones with the chunky) and some 6.33 mm cables.

So which one would you prefer, balanced or unbalanced cables? Firstly, balanced cables and the devices they connect to are always more pricey than unbalanced ones. Secondly, the difference between the two is very understated, only becoming audibly apparent when cables stretch over extended distances. Eventually, you decide as per your budget and your listening setup; however, don't be too stressed out if you can't afford balanced connections.

3.5mm vs. 6.3mm Connections

You need to connect your headphones to your amplifier, and to do this, you will come across three different types of ports. They all function the same way, with refined differences. 3.5mm is the most common. Any widely available headphones will have this, a tiny plug that connects to most smartphones. Besides headphone amps and premium headphones, prone to favor 6.3mm connections, the input jacks are bigger, chunkier and longer.

So the reason for this theory is that the increased surface area of the 6.3mm input jack allows for little finer connections, corrodes less easily and is much tougher to bend. Furthermore, you can readily purchase adapters that switch between the two for a few dollars at a local electronics store. Therefore, their differences are insignificant, and you can consider them functionally identical.

Portable Amps vs. Desktop Headphone Amps

It's always complicated when deciding whether to stick to a desktop headphone amp or make your headphone amp portable. Each version has its pros and cons, and it is worth thinking about what you want from the best headphone amplifiers. The main advantage of portable headphone amps such as the Fii0 BTR5 is portable. You can easily take them with you and use them to augment your smartphone or your DAP. Additionally, they're lightweight.

The main drawback is that you don't see a significant drop in power amplifier but what you see is a reduction in the number of inputs and outputs and even the audio formats. Moreover, you will need to worry about battery life. So, a portable amp is worth considering if you have a pair of in-ear monitors (IEMs).

Conversely, a desktop headphone amp usually sacrifices portability for functionality. You get several digital inputs, increased power and a more strong frame. You will also never see portable tube amps meaning desktop amps are the ones you need to look for if you prefer swapping out tubes. However, some exceptions, like the Woo Audio WA8 Eclipse, one of the few portable tube amps available.

Therefore, if you care less about the cost, you can go for this model. Besides, portable headphone amps virtually always include a DAC, while desktop amps sometimes don't. But either way, you will need to think about what you want from an amp before making the final decision on desktop or portable.

What Are Digital-to-Analog Converters (DACs)?

Before sound moves from your computer, laptop or smartphone to your ears, it's usually converted from digital ones and zeros to real audio you can hear, in the form of sound waves in the air. To achieve this, you need a DAC. Many players will already have this built-in, making listening to music from your computer speakers possible; however, the quality is not very good. Therefore, we recommend offloading the task to an external DAC.

Some of the models in this list have one installed already; therefore, you should not worry about it. Even if you have to buy a separate one, you can get some really good ones for not much outlay.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Headphone Amps

1. Are headphone amps worth it?

Most people are always worried about whether or not the best headphone amps are powerful enough to drive their headphones. These amps are a great option in most cases, especially for those looking for volume levels that might cause hearing problems. In addition, a good amp will help the headphones sound much better.

2. What headphone amp should I get?

The best headphone amp for you is dependent on several factors, including the headphone, use, needs, preferences, etc. Our favorite and recommended choice would be the FiiO Native DSD256 Hi-Res Bluetooth5.0 Receiver Headphone Amp, which provides a well-balanced sound and lightweight housing that is quite portable. Moreover, it comes with several excellent features, including Bluetooth 5.0 and full app control that you can easily pair to your smartphone.

3. Are tube headphone amps better?

A tube headphone amp is a better choice if you're looking for a warmer sound and color the audio in a very attractive way. However, some tube amps will require you to fully understand the power tubes, how the different tubes affect the sound, and why some tubes will work and others won't. Thus, a tube amp can be a demanding but also rewarding amp.

4. Does a headphone amplifier enhance sound quality?

Yes, adding an amp between the audiophile headphones and your player can offer a significant audible enhancement in clarity, detail and dynamics. Therefore while low-impedance headphones might be loud enough from a portable device, sound quality can be significantly enhanced by adding a headphone amp.

5.Do you need a headphone amp and DAC?

Your smartphone, laptop, computer and home stereo already have headphones and DAC. However, the quality of the sound might not be superb. So, if you want to buy a headphone amp and DAC, we recommend investing in a DAC/Amp combo instead of purchasing a DAV and an amp separately. The DAC component will create line-level signals, augmenting the amplifier, providing a superb listening experience.

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