Having a higher end headphone amp for your professional level headphones is important, especially if you expect to get a full range of sound that meets or exceeds the level the manufacturer intended.
This article aims to take a closer look at several high-end headphone amps (see also headphone amp under $500) that offer a range of features you may find valuable. We took a close look at the input and output options, power offerings, and different features to see what may work for you and what might not be important.
Things to Consider When Buying a Headphone Amp
Obviously, the sound quality should be your first consideration when deciding on a headphone amp. Afterall, your high quality headphones will only be as good as the amplifier they are connected to.
One of the biggest things to consider with sound quality is the power output of the amplifier, and how it compares to your headphones. For example, the increased power from an amplifier can remove the bottleneck on your headphones, boosting their sound output to the high quality level the designer and manufacturer intended.
Impedance is often misunderstood or overlooked but can have a direct relation to the sound quality. Some headphones will require a higher impedance level than others, especially if you are comparing full cans to small earbuds. High-quality studio cans will not be able to be used with some devices without an amplifier as those devices cannot provide the right amount of power for those cans.
It’s always important to take a look at the ohms rating on your headphones and then compare it to the power output of your audio device. If your device is lower than what your headphones require, you will have very poor sound quality when listening to any audio.
Construction and Design
Headphone amps should not only perform their job well, but should also be well made and look good too. The build quality is definitely something to consider before making your purchase, silver or gold plated connections, secure USB ports, and more can all play into how well an amplifier is constructed.
Additionally, you don’t just want your amp to look like a block of metal or plastic. You want it to look stylish and sleek, or perhaps even be discreet, so it doesn’t detract from the rest of your audio equipment. There’s nothing wrong with selecting one amplifier over another simply due to the design aspect and aesthetics, so take some time to consider what looks good to you.
Price and Value
While a reasonable price and the value for money is subjective and will be unique to each person, it’s always important to take a bit of time and consider the value of the amplifier you are considering. Compare it to others that offer the same features and see if there is a drastic gap in the price.
Some name brand amplifiers can cost almost double what a lesser known brand may cost, even though the internal and external components are nearly identical. Paying for the brand name is not always the best value, and in some cases it’s difficult to recommend a model because of this.
If you are looking for a cheaper headphone amp, we made a review here for the headphone amps under $500.
Which Headphone Amp Works For You
After taking a look at the potential features each headphone amplifier can offer, and why it might or might not be important to you, let’s now take a look at which headphone amp would be better for your needs. It can depend on the general use or location you have in mind for your headphone amp.
There are a range of headphone amps that were made with gamers in mind. These amps can provide 7.1 virtual surround sound to give you a more immersive experience in games of all types. Additionally, these amps also provide microphone support to ensure you have the best communication options available with your gaming teammates.
One of the biggest benefits to using a gaming amp is that you can have a better situational awareness. For example, when exploring buildings in looter/shooter games, you can easily hear the footsteps of the enemy and have a precise direction of those footsteps. This can give you an edge when it comes to competitive gameplay.
Desktop vs Portable Amps
There are both portable amps as well as stationary amps that will remain on a desktop. Deciding on which one you want most can help narrow down your search for the right headphone amp.
Portable headphone amps are battery powered, so may only end up giving you a few hours of usable time before they need to be recharged. However, for those that travel a lot or want to enjoy high quality music while commuting, a portable headphone amp is definitely the choice for you.
On the other hand, a stationary amp will normally be able to offer more features than a portable amp can. It can also offer more power since it is not limited by battery life. However, a stationary amp is not able to be taken along on car rides without a separate battery bank which will be large and obtrusive.