Difference between headset amplifier and an audio interface

Difference between a headset amplifier and an audio interface

The majority of individuals are confused about the difference between a headset amplifier and an audio interface. It’s difficult to grasp what they do and why they’re named that way unless you’re involved in audio creation or processing.

Some people simply require a headset amplifier, but they end up spending a significant amount of money on an audio interface that is not required. Because of the necessity for various inputs and outputs, audio interfaces are becoming more popular. At the same time, the head amplifier is designed to compensate for the loss of audio quality that occurs when utilizing a headset splitter.

A headset amplifier is a gadget that works in the same way as phantom power for condenser microphones. It does not generate a new signal. It amplifies the original signal so that the audio drivers can properly read it and transform it into music for the listeners to enjoy. An audio interface serves a much broader purpose.

Audio interfaces are utilized by producers in everything from high-end music studios to home studios. This type of audio interface is also in high demand. This is one of the reasons why, even with basic features like phantom power, two outputs, and inputs, an audio interface costs 20 times more than a headset amplifier.

The fundamental distinction between an audio interface and a headset amplifier is that an audio interface may function as a sound card on its own, whereas a headset amplifier cannot. The headset amplifier is designed to solely increase the receiving signals from an electronic device, whilst the audio interface is a multipurpose device.

It’s one thing to know that audio interfaces and headset amplifiers are different, but you’ll be able to choose the proper component for your use case if you study and grasp the fundamental distinctions in how they work. I’ll go over everything you need to know about the audio interface and headset amplifier in this article. Let’s get this party started, shall we?

What is a headset amplifier?

A headphone or headset amplifier is just a low-powered amplifier that boosts the low voltage audio signal from the sound source to a level that the listener can hear. Most headset amplifiers are designed to increase the voltage of the audio signal output.

Because of the low demand for headset amplifiers compared to the proportional cost of design and production, they are pricey. Some headset amplifiers include an output splitter, whereas others do not. The use of a headset amplifier eliminates the loss of sound quality.

Amplifiers for headsets come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Some have more outputs, while others include extra connectors for phantom power. Headset amplifiers have come a long way in terms of design. Headset amplifiers are available for both mobile phones and desktop computers. The amount of inputs and outputs available in each design is the only difference. The portable headset amplifiers provide only input and output for mobile phones.

When the headset’s impedance exceeds the 250-ohm limit and is unable to be powered by the entertainment system that is producing the audio, headset amplifiers are utilized.

Selecting a headphone amplifier that has all of the necessary capabilities is more significant than choosing a brand that sells a lot of them. Make sure you don’t get an audio interface instead of a headphone amplifier. I’ll go over the several applications of a headphone amplifier so you can figure out when you might need one.

Usage of headset amplifier

Higher-impedance headphones are more widespread in today’s audio industry due to the superior sound quality they provide. Because of mixing and mastering, many firms now provide headsets with a greater impedance. The sound quality of these higher impedance headsets is superior to that of standard headsets.

The sole disadvantage of higher impedance headsets is that they require the use of an audio interface or a headset amplifier to amplify the signal, unless the power is sufficient. Without a headset amplifier, you can hear the audio in the higher impedance headsets, but even at the maximum volume of the entertainment system, it will feel like the sound is at 65 percent.

If you use a splitter to split your mobile phone’s audio port or your laptop’s audio port into two while watching movies or listening to music, you will lose the clarity of the audio. This is due to the fact that the audio output connectors on computers and mobile phones do not receive enough power to power two headsets.

The only option to acquire extra power in this instance is to utilize a headset amplifier. The audio splitter is connected to the headset amplifier, and the audio splitter sends power to both headsets, preventing audio loudness and quality loss during the listening experience.

There will be a lot of monitoring headphones in use in music production studios. These headsets can’t be driven just by an audio interface, from backup vocal monitoring headsets to active listening headphones used by producers and musical composers. To power these headphones, you’ll need a headset amplifier.

When you have a lot of open-backs or even closed-back monitoring headphones with an impedance of 250 ohms, you’ll need more than just an audio interface to power them. If you only need to connect a couple of headsets for output, audio interfaces will do. When the number of outputs required reaches two, you should consider using headset amplifiers.

These headset amplifiers are powerful enough to drive a condenser microphone. Some manufacturers have even included phantom power in their headset amplifiers. As a result, a digital audio processor can use the headset amplifier no matter where he works. RCA outputs are another feature that these have.

What is an audio interface?

An audio interface is just a sound card that processes audio in a computer system. A sound card is usually included with a computer’s motherboard. These sound cards are of extremely poor quality and are unsuitable for music production.

External sound cards began to be referred to as audio interfaces at this point. Sound cards that enable your input and output audio into a system are known as audio interfaces. The cost of an audio interface will vary depending on the number of inputs and outputs it has.

The basic purpose of an audio interface is to appropriately manage the input audio without causing lag before passing it on to the processer for output. The audio interface can also be used to transform signals.

An analog signal is converted to a digital signal, and vice versa, through the audio interface. This makes it easier to connect microphones to the audio interface and record them in audio editing software.

They also supply 48-volt phantom power in the case of condenser microphones. The majority of audio interfaces also have a preamp. Sounds interfaces are required for recording and monitoring audio in a music production studio.

Each audio interface will have different types of outputs and inputs depending on the design. When you have too many headsets to power for a recording session, some audio interfaces will include two or three headphone outputs, which will obviate the requirement for audio output splitters.

Companies have also created portable audio interfaces that can be utilized for live recordings in the last two years.

Usage of an audio interface

The ability to power condenser microphones is the audio interface’s first use. Condenser microphones necessitate the usage of 48 volts of additional power. This amount of power is required for them to enhance the input signal sufficiently.

Because condenser mics are more precise than dynamic microphones, they are commonly used in studio environments.

The signal produced by an audio interface is often weak. As a result, phantom power is required to run a condenser microphone. Even though there are many devices that only give phantom power, having audio interfaces with phantom power decreases the amount of space in a studio while also lowering the amount of equipment required.

Audio interfaces with this phantom power function are more useful in music creation. Instead of carrying a phantom power and a sound card, a producer who wishes to record and edit some voices only needs an audio interface. Audio interfaces have become more popular among creative producers as a result of these advances.

Any electric guitar linked to a PC or music production program requires a lot of z power. It’s difficult to pick up the guitar tones in their purest form without a high-z power connection. You’ll have to rely on external microphones to accomplish this.

When an audio interface has high z power inputs, it makes a studio recording producer’s job considerably easier by allowing him to attach a high z connection in the audio interface to record high-quality sounds from an electric guitar. Electric guitars are usually recorded by removing the amp from the guitar amplifier. This has been made easier because of high-z connections.

Another part of an audio interface that isn’t given enough recognition is the midi connection. Many audio interfaces now include midi connectors, allowing you to connect your midi keyboards and drum pads.

The ability to connect and control midi equipment has made audio interfaces a necessary component in every production studio, and all home studio producers desire them. Although a midi instrument can be connected directly to a computer, using an audio interface reduces feedback lag times dramatically.

To connect studio monitors, an audio interface must have RCA outputs. Instead of relying on external aux outputs, having multiple audio outputs allows you to obtain the exact feedback you need from the software.

The majority of soundcards that come with desktops and laptops only have one headphone output. Only by attaching an external soundcard (audio interface) with RCA outputs for studio monitors can you get a studio monitor output from your PC.

As the price rises, more RCA outputs become available, allowing you to connect more monitors. Some studios prefer to have two monitors for added reference; in these circumstances, an audio interface with RCA output comes in handy.

The headphones that come with an audio interface are not the same as the ones that come with a laptop. In terms of quality and functionality, they are vastly different. You can’t expect high-quality audio from a 250-ohm impedance headset plugged into a laptop headphone socket.

In the case of an audio interface, it can increase the audio quality of your headphones. Multiple headphone connectors are another feature that comes standard with more expensive audio interfaces.

When you have a lot of songs recorded at the same time, having numerous headphone ports on an audio interface eliminates a lot of hassles. It also prevents the usage of headphone splitters, which lowers the audio quality of listening.

Do I need a headphone amp with an audio interface?

If you only use one headphone out from an electronic gadget, you won’t need a headphone amplifier. If you’re using a splitter to split the output into two, you’ll need a headphone amplifier connected in series to get the most power out of the headsets.

Another situation in which a headphone amplifier is required is when the headset has a very low ohm value. In such circumstances, an amplifier would be required to power the headsets.

Can you connect a headphone amp to an audio interface?

Yes, a headphone amplifier can be connected to an audio interface; the key question is if this changes anything in terms of the use case. A headphone amplifier’s job is to ensure that the headset’s drivers receive adequate power to play music.

The use of a headphone amplifier is no longer necessary when your audio interface can supply power to the headset. It’s either one or the other.

Does an audio interface have an amp?

Yes, audio interfaces contain built-in amplifiers; the crucial thing to be aware of is the wattage of these amplifiers. Power headsets and condenser microphones are supported by these amplifiers.

They are not meant to be amplifiers for loudspeaker systems, but they do improve the sound quality you get from your sound card. As a result, every audio interface has an RCA cable line for connecting to studio monitors.

Do I need a headphone amp?

It is highly dependent on your use case. If you want to connect many headsets or audio output splitters to a single audio output port, you’ll need a headphone amplifier to provide enough power for all of the connections.

You won’t need a headphone amplifier if you’re only connecting one headset to an audio output port. When utilizing headsets with a high ohm value, you should anticipate needing a headphone amplifier.

Does a headphone amp improve sound quality?

Yes, the headphone amplifier ensures that the sound quality remains constant throughout the song and that no signal is lost. It usually enhances weak signals, making them brighter and more audible for the listener to appreciate.

Headphone amplifiers make a major difference in how the audio sounds in each headset when using an audio splitter. With and without headphone amplifiers, there is a significant difference.

Do you need an amp for 250-ohm headphones?

It is dependent on how the 250-ohm headphone will be used. You don’t need a headphone amplifier if you’re only planning to use it for casual listening, even if the sound will be a touch low.

If you’re mixing and mastering using open-back 250-ohm headphones, you’ll need a headphone amplifier to deliver enough power for the headset to reach its maximum loudness.


The most crucial thing to consider when selecting audio to derive is whether it is the correct solution for your needs. This is where most people go astray. They select the incorrect product for the incorrect use case, resulting in product returns and a loss of time.

When you’re looking for an audio device, make sure you know what each product’s use case is.

Even while many people place an excessive amount of attention on specs, at the end of the day, if the product in question meets our needs, it is more than enough to invest in it.

The only thing you need to remember is to always look for the best value-for-money goods first, and then look for ones that are slightly better. You will wind up with decent options rather than specifications if you do it this way.

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