Best Headphone Amps
In case you’re spending big on a pair of premium headphones, a devoted headphone amplifier will make them sing rather more than in the event you were to easily plug them into a pc, or telephone, and even, relying on the quality of its built-in headphone amp, a hi-fi component.
An exterior headphone amp is designed to be between your source/amplifier and pair of headphones and could be the premise of a compact and efficient desktop hi-fi system. There is no best desktop amp, so you will need to find a set that will fit your needs.
So what do you have to search for in a headphone amplifier? Analog inputs are the most typical and imply you possibly can plug in any source that has analog outputs (which is most of them). Balanced and unbalanced outputs, build quality, transparent sound of the audio signal, and maximum output volume control for the ultimate listening experience.
Lately, although, nearly all of the headphone amps additionally boast built-in DACs (digital-to-analog converters) that feed digital inputs for broader compatibility – ideal if you are listening to music saved on a computer. In many cases, you might need a separate DAC if you are not going for the amp combo.
But also, many headphone amplifiers are additionally DACs (and could be referred to as such), though you may get DACs without headphone sockets. We have rounded up the best headphone amplifiers money can purchase, including the top-budget, mid-range, and high-end choices. So you are in for a good headphone amp to meet headphones‘ power requirements? Stay tuned!
We just want to let you know that we’ll list these best headphone amp reviews in no particular order. They’ll be randomized as we don’t wish to sort them from best to worst.
Listed below are our Top 10 Best Headphone Amps for 2023:
1. Rupert Neve Designs RNHP
The Rupert Neve Designs RNHP shocked the hell out of everybody. We could not consider how good it made any headphones sound, with audio high quality that was both balanced and fascinating. It actually felt like it introduced the best out of whatever it is plugged into it. The sound was dripping with energy, putting actual weight behind the music.
Then once more, that is hardly stunning. Rupert Neve is a renowned designer of mixing consoles for recording studios. That is his firm’s first headphone amp, and so they have knocked it out of the park when it comes to sound quality. And the bang-for-the-buck ratio is simply huge right here – this sounds better than much-more costly solid-state amps, just like the Burson Conductor 3R.
Nevertheless, the RNHP is about as simple an amp as you may get. It does not actually have a gain switch. The commercial look might make the amp robust, however, it’s not precisely simple on the eyes. Parts like super-bright input lights do not help issues much, either.
It lacks a DAC so you’ll want one in case you plan to use it with digital media, but it surely’s hard to beat Neve’s RNHP when you’re a listener who calls for a sincere, high-quality sound.
- Three switchable inputs (XLR, RCA, mini-jack)
- Solid steel housing
- Output impedance: 0.08 Ohm at 1KHz
- Frequency response: +/- 0.2 dB from 10 to 12,0000 Hz
I had the pleasure of using the RNHP headphone amplifier by Rupert Neve Designs. With it, I am able to hear every detail in my music because it delivers a remarkably clear and transparent audio signal. This model is built to Rupert Neve’s high standards, reflecting his reputation for craftsmanship.
- High-Quality Audio
- Great Construction
- Easy to Use
- Not a budget item
2. SPL Phonitor One Headphone Amplifier
The Phonitor One focuses on a single activity: the high-quality processing of input indicators to be used with headphones. Thus, the emphasis is on sound quality and enough performance. For signal amplification, SPL depends on two audiophile-grade Burr-Brown OPA 2134 SoundPlus operational amplifiers and different high-quality elements.
The result’s a really low inherent noise and an equally spectacular and highly effective sound image, which is delivered to the output by a Class A/B amplifier stage with thermally coupled field-effect transistors.
The all-important power supply has a 12 V plug-in power supply unit (1.5 amps), however is processed internally to a working current of +/-17 volts for the audio vary, so as to preserve the required dynamics and energy out there. In practice, even low-impedance models like AKG K702 may very well be operated at adequate ranges.
As a consequence of its low noise and impartial gain, the Phonitor One delivers a splendidly balanced sound outcome with excessive element resolution, dynamics, and an intimacy hardly ever discovered on standard options. Other than the crossfeed function, the Phonitor One behaves as you’d count on an amplifier: sound-neutral, without coloration, and quick in response.
- Max. Input level: +22.5 dBu
- Noise (A-weighted, 600 O): -97 dBu
- Max. Output power (600 O): 2x 190 mW
- Max. Output power (250 O): 2x 330 mW
- Max. Output power (47 O): 2x 400 mW
As a result of my recent experience with the SPL Phonitor One Headphone Amplifier, I am left with a long-lasting impression. “Crossfeed,” an innovative feature of the Phonitor One, simulates the natural stereo image of speakers and enhances listening pleasure. There is an excellent sound quality, with a detailed soundstage and a balanced sound.
- Crossfeed Feature
- Amazing Audio Performance
- Great Build Quality
- Another expensive unit
3. AKG HP4E 4-channel Headphone Amplifier
The HP4E 4-Channel Headphone Amplifier from AKG has 2 stereo input and 4 stereo output channels of high-quality audio. It may be used so as to add up to 4 headphones in functions for mixing and recording and is designed with handy switches on the front panel to allow you to pick out your required input.
Headphones require no adapters. The front panel is constructed with both a 1/8″ and a 1/4″ headphone output and volume management for every channel. Housed in a sturdy chassis, the HP4E is a perfect headphone amplifier for any recording session. So if you are after a dedicated headphone amplifier that has excellent sound quality, this is the one!
The AKG brings the bass up just enough and offers it a pleasant weight and warmth. There is no such thing as an EQ on it, so no coloration will be introduced from the unit. What this box does properly is amplify your instrument correctly – in stereo, making it straightforward to get an ideal analog sound out of your instrument. And you can also use the outputs directly into your PC soundcard.
All controls, in’s-out’s, and channel selections are easy and logical. The sonic quality? It’s off the chain! Crystal clear and completely silent with all the amount any home or professional recordist would ever need. With this compact headphone amp, you can power up many headphone types, even Bluetooth headphones will get more bite!
- 4-channel professional headphone amplifier
- 4 independent high-power stereo amplifiers onboard
- 1/4″ and 1/8″ stereo outputs per channel
- Rugged metal 1RU half-rackspace chassis
AKG HP4E 4-channel headphone amplifier caught my attention during my audio journey. Multiple headphones can be connected and controlled simultaneously with this versatile amplifier. Each headphone receives a powerful and clear signal thanks to the HP4E. Portability and convenience are provided by its compact size.
- Multi-Channel Amp
- Good Sound Quality
- Missing Advanced Features
4. ART HeadAmp 4 4-channel Headphone Amplifier
The HeadAmp4 from ART is a high-quality four-channel headphone amplifier nice for band rehearsals, home theater, or any application where you want a number of headphone connections. This is a solid headphone amp with very detailed sound quality.
The stackable steel unit has both 1/4″ and 1/8″ input connectors for receiving a stereo signal from a mixer, tape deck, iPod, and so forth. Each of the 4 output channels additionally has a 1/4″ and a 1/8″ connector so you may connect as many as eight of your favorite set of headphones or in-ear monitors.
The front panel has 4 giant knobs for controlling the level of every channel, and green energy LED lets you know that energy is reaching the unit. For top-quality, low distortion audio in a slim, inexpensive design, the HeadAmp4 is a superb alternative. This one is simply excellent, being no bigger than a couple of smartphones stacked on top of one another and the power from this unit is ideal.
This product was recommended as an in-line amp to spice up the signal. It really works perfectly. Very low noise floor, principally no noise at all. If you own a high headphone impedance set, then you will need a high-power amplifier – and this certainly can match them well.
- Volume control for every channel
- Line-input 6.3 mm stereo- and 3.5 mm stereo mini-jack
- With external power supply
It’s a solid 4-channel headphone amp at an affordable price, and I tried the ART HeadAmp 4 myself. My music sounds good on the HeadAmp 4, with no distortion or coloration. Portable setups benefit from its compact size and lightweight design.
- Multi-Channel Feature
- Compact and Light
- Not for audiophiles
5. Apogee Groove
Why the Apogee Groove requires an instruction booklet is past us. It’s couldn’t be any less complicated to use. There’s the mini USB port for input out of your computer, a headphone output, one rubber button to make the sound louder, and one rubber button to make the sound quieter.
In spite of everything, this can be a headphone amp and DAC marketed at these aiming to use it for home recording and production. When it comes to detail, there’s enough for the Apogee to be satisfying. In our humble opinion, this one is the best portable headphone amp on the list.
Groove is Apogee’s “entry-stage” transportable DAC-AMP aimed toward providing audio professionals with an easy-going tool they’ll carry with them and plug onto their laptops while on the go, delivering a high-quality that must be in line with Apogee’s higher-end equipment the same customer is meant to frequently use of their studio. E.g. Apogee Symphony, to name one thing.
The reconstruction filter is excellent, however by far crucial of all those graphs is the frequency response one, which is wonderfully linear well into the 60KHz vary, and that’s why when playing FLACs sampled at 96KHz Apogee Groove delivers clarity and space reconstruction audibly even superior to what it delivers from 44.1KHz information – where efficiency is nonetheless already a full pair of steps above the standard budget suspects.
- 4 DACs per channel for highest dynamic range
- Multi-color LED for status and level display
- A-Synchronous Clocking
- USB Bus-Powered
Using the Apogee Groove, I was able to get great sound from my headphones. On the move, it provides impressive audio performance with a sleek and compact design. Groove offers significantly better sound quality than built-in headphones on computers and smartphones. Sound reproduction is accurate and detailed thanks to its integrated digital-to-analog converter (DAC).
- Great Sound and Audio Quality
- DAC feature
- Limited Connectivity Features
6. Little Labs Monotor 2-channel Headphone Amplifier
Headphones are in all places as of late, which is why accurate, low-fatigue headphone reference monitoring is important for professional audio engineers. The Monotor incorporates a purist circuit topology with one state-of-the-art active stage per channel; the rest of the circuit path is straight-wire passive.
There are individually amplified, twin 1/4″ and 1/8″ headphone jacks, and a single volume potentiometer. Little Lab knows that appraising your mixes in mono is important, so the Monotor affords left-plus-right, left, right, and left-minus-right settings for checking phase and analyzing artifacts in compressed digital data.
And then there’s the monitor-mode selector, managed by a bigger knob next to the quantity management. The mode selector has six discrete positions: reverse stereo (R/L), regular stereo (L/R), summed mono (L+R), left-channel to both ears (L), right-channel to both ears (R), and distinction to both ears (L−R).
The Monotor employs a cutting-edge, full-voltage low-noise inside a linear regulation system with a huge capacitance that delivers power on demand for every rail. In contrast with most headphone amps, this allows for dramatically improved dynamic vary.
One other benefit is that the Monotor can even be able to drive high-impedance ‘phones to full volume with no drawback, and with no noticeable hiss, even with the volume full up.
- Ideal for checking phase and analyzing artifacts in compressed digital files
- Internal cutting-edge, full-voltage low-noise internal linear regulation system
- Audiophile circuit topology with one state-of-the-art active stage per channel
- Remainder of circuit path is straight-wire passive
I had the opportunity to try out Little Labs Monotor, a headphone amplifier with two channels. It reproduces sound with a clean, transparent quality that is exceptional. There is a dedicated volume control for each channel on the Monotor, allowing you to adjust the volume level precisely. Studio and portable setups can benefit from its compact size.
- High-Quality Audio
- Individual Control for Volume
- Compact and Light
- Expensive compared with other 2-channel amps
7. Whirlwind PW-1 Personal Wedge Headphone Amp
We have all been there: you and your bandmates take the stage with delight, totally ready to point out to the audience every little thing you’ve got been cooking up while making a reputation for yourselves. Seconds into your first music, it hits you, you can’t hear a thing! With the Whirlwind PW-1 Personal Wedge Headphone Amp, worries of deafening stage volumes and out-of-tune playing could be put to rest.
The PW-1 Personal Wedge Headphone Driver from Whirlwind is a hardwired driver to be used with on-stage, in-ear monitoring programs. It options left and right balanced line-level XLR inputs in addition to a stereo 1/8″ input. To guard your hearing, it has a peak limiter with an adjustable threshold. For compatibility with mono sources, the PW-1 has a stereo/mono swap.
Whirlwind outfitted the PW-1 with both 1/4-inch and 3.5mm headphone jacks, ensuring compatibility with your standard in-ear monitors or studio headphones. And with the built-in adjustable limiter, audio peaks are a factor of the past. Step up your live efficiency game with the Whirlwind PW-1 Personal Wedge Headphone Amp!
- Compact headphone amplifier with belt clip
- Stereo XLR inputs and 3.5mm TRS line-in handles audio sources of all kinds
- Adjustable limiter prevents unwanted peaks
- Stereo/mono switch
An amp I tried in my local music store, Whirlwind PW-1, proved reliable and practical. In live performance situations, the PW-1 provides personal monitoring. Musicians on stage can monitor their performance accurately with this setup thanks to its clean, balanced sound. Compact and rugged, the PW-1 features a metal construction for durability.
- Reliable and Balanced
- Sturdy Quality
- Very Portable
- Not the best for studio usage
8. PreSonus HP2 Personal Headphone Amplifier
Designed for musicians and performers who demand mobility without compromising audio high quality, the PreSonus HP2 personal headphone amplifier is a good alternative for driving wired in-ear monitors (IEMs), in addition to headphones.
PreSonus HP-series headphone amplifiers have long been common for their loud, clean, clear sound and roadworthy constructed quality. The new HP2 delivers these qualities in a simply reasonably priced, stereo device so that you’ll hear every note and beat clearly wherever your music takes you.
Moveable and compact, the HP2 provides you all you’ll want to drive your headphones or in-ears without complicating your setup. It features two XLR line-level inputs and one stereo 1/8-inch headphone output with volume management. The operation can be switched between stereo and mono, and a Pan knob is also supplied
If you’re playing an additional long show or two exhibits back-to-back, having to stop and alter batteries on your headphone amp is a problem you don’t want. No worries! HP2 stands for “Has Power 2 Spare.”
The HP2 may be powered with an exterior DC power supply or a nine-volt battery that lasts more than seven hours and consists of an LED battery indicator. So you possibly can play these extra-long gigs and listen to your monitor mix completely, all night long.
- Large volume and panorama control
- Output: TRS stereo jack (3.5 mm)
- Frequency range: 30 Hz – 20 kHz (±2 dB)
- Maximum input level: +4 dBV
A PreSonus HP2 Personal Headphone Amplifier caught my attention during my audio exploration. The device offers decent sound quality and is portable and budget-friendly. There are two headphone outputs on the HP2, each with its own volume control, which makes monitoring and collaborating easy.
- 2-Channel Feature
- Not good as higher-cost models.
9. Mackie HM-4
The ultra-compact Mackie HM-4 4-Way Headphone Amplifier includes a 1/4” stereo input and four 1/4″ headphone outputs with individual stage controls. Excellent for studios and even at home when up to 4 folks need to hear together.
Every output is managed through a devoted level knob, permitting assorted listening volumes for every individual. The compact heavy-gauge metal chassis presents rugged sturdiness and a handy power-status indicator on its front panel. Use the included 12 VDC power supply to fuel the HM-4.
Whether or not you need to expand your house studio headphone monitoring functionality or add strong cue mix distribution, the reasonably priced HM Series presents the sound with high quality, reliability, and adaptability you need to broaden your setup.
The ultra-compact HM-4 presents an easy but efficient way to split a single stereo signal out into 4 pairs of headphones. Excellent for rapidly splitting a phone’s mix within the studio and even crowding around a tablet to watch a film at home.
- Share a single stereo source with up to 4 headphone pairs
- Dimensions: 51 x 109 x 58 mm
- Weight: 200 g
- Includes 12V power supply
This Mackie HM-4 headphone amplifier is a straightforward 4-channel model that I was able to try out. Multiple headphones can be amplified simultaneously with reliable and clean sound. Each channel of the HM-4 has an individual volume control, which allows users to customize monitoring levels. As a result of its compact design and durability, it can be used both for studio and live sound applications.
- Simple and Affordable
- 4 Channel Feature
- Really Portable
- Feels Fragile
Best Headphone Amps – 2023 Additions
10. SPL Phonitor 3
In order to compensate for the unnatural stereo image that is created on headphones, the Phonitor matrix utilizes analog circuitry. You are able to replicate your ideal stereo-monitoring image by adjusting the crossfeed, angle, and center controls.
With a conversion rate of up to 32 bits at 768 kHz, the Phonitor 3 DAC features USB, AES, optical, and coaxial inputs, providing audiophiles and professionals with a variety of connectivity options. As well as M-S monitoring, the polarity function allows for the monitoring of either the mid or side of the signal.
The Phonitor 3 DAC, which is based on SPL 120V technology, offers the same quality monitoring on loudspeakers as well as headphones as the large SPL mastering consoles.
A Phonitor Matrix is an analog mixer and mastering system that allows for mixing and mastering on headphones to be performed in the highest quality – with the same spatial perception of the stereo stage as is possible with loudspeakers.
- Frequency range: 10 – 100,000 Hz
- Dynamic range: 134.5 dB
- Dimensions (W x H x D): 278 x 100 x 300 mm
- Weight: 4.15 kg
We are still waiting to try out this amazing unit and we only provided details on it based on our research and previous experience with using SPL units. We believe that we will be in for a treat here!
- A Great Many Features
- Bunch of Connections
- Amazing Build Quality
- Not a budget item
Things To Think About When Searching For The Best Headphone Amp
Headphones are simply two powered speakers strapped to your head and speakers need electrical current to translate signals into vibrations, finally producing the sound waves you understand as music. A headphone amplifier does simply what it promises in its title: amplifies the low-voltage signal that the headphones convert.
In case your first question is whether or not that just means you’ll hear something louder, the reply is yes and no. A headphone amp is much less about simply amount and more about a high quality, much less about pushing pure abundance, and more about addressing the transducer’s resistance.
Headphone amps aren’t simply attempting to make your headphones louder, pushing them to distort; they’re attempting to provide them the voltage, or current they have to be extra efficient, letting them sound dynamic at lower decibels.
A simple rule of thumb: The higher the “impedance score” of your headphone, the more it could possibly benefit from and even require an amp (although even a $100 headphone can obtain extra balance with the right power).
Do I need a DAC?
Today, we frequently listen to music from digital sources; suppose streaming through a smartphone or dedicated player. To transform these 1s and 0s into an analog signal for wired headphones you need a DAC or digital-to-analog converter.
The DAC might be a part of the headphone amp or be a standalone unit. And whereas all of them carry out the same function, not all DACs go about it equally. In case you plan to hear exclusively old records and cassettes, a DAC is probably not necessary. But when digital is in your life, a DAC might be needed.
A Cost-Efficient Step Into High-End Audio
In case you’re fearful about an amp adding value to your headphone setup, contemplate this: a high-quality headphone rig is essentially the most cost-effective path to audio nirvana. They’re comparatively affordable in comparison with a high-end stereo system.
Plus, they’re neighbor- and apartment-friendly. They do not take up a lot of area and you’ll hear whenever you need, as loudly as you need (just give your ears a break – extended exposure to music at a loud volume can harm your hearing).
Conclusion on Headphone Amplifiers
So if you are after a dedicated headphone amp and DAC combo that will improve the volume and audio quality of your audiophile headphones, then this article will surely be helpful to you.
There are many headphone amps with different technologies in terms of creation; Solid State headphone amp, Tube headphone amp. Combined amps with DACs, portable headphone amps, USB input amps, and whatnot. We didn’t pay much attention to the background of these amps, but we were focused on the quality they produce.
We believe that we delivered nice options for your headphones and that you will go with one of these amps. If you are having any questions in regards to the topic, please let us know in the comment section below.