When we speak of amplifiers we are referring to
In this article, we will talk about whether or not headphone amps are worth it. We will define headphone APMS and talk about when it is appropriate to use a headphone AMP.
We will also spend a little bit of time talking about the disadvantages of headphone AMPS.
Without further ado, let’s discuss whether or not headphone AMPS are worth it.
If you can get yourself a decent set of Bluetooth headphones, then the answer to whether or not headphone amps are worth it is a resounding no.
I have only ever seen a headphone amp being used by someone who just had a lot of fomo. This was the kind of person who must have the latest of everything and all necessary add-ons.
A headphone amp increases low voltage audio signal from a source device, allowing the signal to be converted into a sound wave by your headphones.
It functions exactly like an amp for large speakers, only at a lower scale.
A headphone amplifier is an accessory. Most high-end headphones are designed to ensure that they produce quality sound.
The sound is often rich and powerful. Most manufacturers of headphones understand that audiophiles and music lovers alike are very particular about how their music sounds.
Therefore, with successive variations and models of headphones, manufacturers have designed cans that strike a delicate balance between lows, mids, and highs.
However, if you do insist on a headphone amplifier, then the question will become to what extent can your headphones benefit from having an amp.
A source device is what you use to watch your movies on or play your music. This could be your laptop, phone, tablet etc.
If it so happens that the maximum output of your source device is less than or insufficient to get the headphones to their maximum level, then you can make the case for an amplifier.
I am not here to bash headphone amps as they do have their place.
If you have a set of headphones that you like, but you recon the sound is not up to standard, then a headphone amp or digital to analog converter is something to be considered.
Headphones amps have been known to give headphones better clarity and definition. Perhaps your audio source is just not living up to expectation.
In which case, this cannot be blamed on the headphones.
The decision is then one between getting a new more powerful device or getting a headphone amp.
I do not know about you, but I would rather spend a $100 or less on an amp than an extra $1000 on a laptop or $800 on the latest iPhone.
Now I mentioned Bluetooth headphones earlier. These headphones can usually handle the interaction between headphone and source pretty well and on their own.
As a result, high quality Bluetooth headphones should not pose any problems.
However, when it comes to wired headphones the story is a little different.
If you connect your wired headphones to a source device and when you turn up the volume, you notice that there is something missing.
Either the instruments are not as loud or the musicians voice is not as powerful Then you should definitely consider getting a headphones AMP.
Now let’s just clear up something very quickly. The term headphone amp does not imply that the amplifier is boosting your headphones.
On the contrary, it is the source device that must be powered in order to reach the level of output of your headphones.
Now it is of vital importance that you make sure, that if your headphones are not cranking up the music, then ensure that there is definitely a correlation between the lower volume and the weak output from your source device.
In other words, take your headphones in for a checkup and make sure that there are no issues with the headphones themselves.
As silly as this sounds, make sure that you are not having hearing problems. Once all the above has been confirmed you are then in a position to start searching for a headphones amp.
Remember impedance? the effective resistance of an electric circuit or component to alternating current, arising from the combined effects of ohmic resistance and reactant.
So, a set of headphones with high impedance need more power/voltage to get them to steady listening state.
Such headphones would benefit greatly from headphone amps. On the other hand, lower impedance headphones may also benefit from the use of a headphone amp.
This is because the headphone amp not only provides a boost to the volume, but additionally to the clarity of the sound coming from the headphones.
Traditional in ear headphones seldom need an amplifier to get them to efficient listening mode. However, with larger on or over ear headphone models, a headphone amp can come in handy.
Remember that thing called a DAC that we mentioned earlier? Let’s talk a little bit about this. A DAC (digital to analogue converter) is often compatible with most modern headphone amps.
The DAC transforms digital audio into a low voltage signal and this lower signal is then powered by the amplifier.
Modern devices such as PC’s and iPhones are the types of devices for which you would consider getting a DAC and amplifier.
Of course, the quality and strength of sound coming from output devices will differ between brands and will differ between models as well.
It has been said that apples are very good sound sources for instance.
Apart from Bluetooth headphones, if you get yourself a nice set of noise cancelling headphones, you probably do not need a DAC or AMP as they have a built in AMP.
Disadvantages of a headphone amp
One thing that I find very troubling about headphone amps are the fact that they become necessary for products that are already expensive.
As mentioned previously, your rum of the mill $10-$40 small ear buds are not going to need an amp for the most part.
But once we start getting to headphones above the $150 mark, there is a risk that these may need additional components to sound good.
Does that sound fair? Makes you wonder sometimes.
Headphone amps range in prices. I have seen headphone amps retailing for as much as $50 and there are some that can go for upwards of $1000.
So, you may end up needing to buy an amp that is as expensive as your headphones.
So, are headphone amps worth it? As with most things in life the answer is it depends.
Bluetooth and noise canceling headphones do not generally require a headphone AMP as they have built in amps.
A headphone amp increases low voltage audio signal from a source device.
Headphone amps become necessary when the output from your source device is weaker than that of your headphones.
Headphone amps provide better clarity and definition to sound
Headphone amps are most useful with larger over dear headphones
Headphone amps can be pricey