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How to Buy the Best Headphone Amplifier for Your Budget

For anyone who is looking for a good time listening to their music, you might have to invest in a good amplifier based on the headphones you are using. The headphone amplifiers happen to be so important for so many people that most of us audiophiles do not even dare to listen to music without having a good amplifier driving our music.

But how can you buy the best headphone amplifier without really knowing the things that you should look for or the things that you should consider? Obviously, things can easily go wrong if you are not careful about what you are buying.

That is why we have decided to look at some of the factors that will aid you in buying the best possible headphone amplifier that you can get. There is not a lot to worry about there, so you can be assured that you are going to get a good experience regardless.

With that in mind, we are going to take a dive and explore some of the facets of buying a headphone amplifier and how you can buy the best one.

Understanding Headphone Amplifiers

Before you open the list of the best headphone amps, we would like to give you a little background on what the amplifier is. Headphones need the power to work, and they get that power from an amplifier. Yes, your phone with a 3.5mm headphone jack has an amplifier, too. So does your iPod or other similar devices available in the market. However, the amplifiers on those devices are pretty tiny, but weak as well.

Which means that using powerful headphones on your phone with wire is not going to give you the same amount of performance as you would expect. This is where headphone amplifiers come into play.

Do I Still Need an Amp if I Listen on Lower Volumes?

Sure, any headphone amplifier is going to make your headphones sound louder. However, is it this simple or is there more science involved in the process? You see, even if you do not listen to music on higher volumes, one thing that you cannot ignore is that a headphone amplifier is not only going to make your headphones sound louder, but make them sound better, as well.

It is like having a high horsepower engine in your car. You know that even if you are not fully utilizing the horsepower, you still have plenty that you can use. In the case of headphone amp, it simply allows the headphone to play really well with all sorts of frequencies without causing any distortions that might come in the way.

What Kind of Sound Improvements Can I Expect?

This is a very important question that most people ask. Obviously, you are spending a good amount on an amplifier, so what type of improvement can you experience in the overall sound quality? The first noticeable property is going to be bass that is going to be deeper, as well as more accurate. Additionally, the high frequencies are going to sound much smoother and natural, as well. There will be clarity to the music, too.

How Much Should I Spend?

This is where things can get a bit difficult. There are just so many options available for headphone amplifiers available in the market in different price brackets that you can easily get confused. Normally, we would suggest that you spent at least 25 to 50 percent of the price of the headphone. Obviously, the headphones are going to be the most important factor, but if you are going for a high-end headphone, you need an amplifier that can handle that, too.

How Do I Understand the Headphone Impedance?

This is perhaps a complex issue that we are talking about here. The thing is that understanding headphone impedance is not that difficult, to begin with. However, it is such a detailed conversation that it often requires an entire article dedicated to just that.

However, we want to make things easier for readers. If you are going for the headphones that have impedance under 100 ohms, we can guarantee that most of the portable devices you have such as music players, and smartphones will be able to drive them without any issue. However, headphones with higher impedance are going to require more power, which in return, will result in you needing a good amplifier to drive the headphones.

What if I Listen to Music on the Go?

Being someone who listens to music on the go, this is one of the ordeals that I faced a lot when it comes to music and amplifiers. I own a FiiO F9 Pro, a pair of high-end in-ear monitors, and my phone was simply not enough when it comes to driving these. The good thing is that there are so many portable headphone amplifiers available that are smaller than the size of your device. They can easily fit in the same pocket as your smartphone and you can still get a good experience.

However, if you want something better, and you have the choice to go with a DAP (Dedicated Audio Player) these players are specifically made for playing music and offer good DAC/Amp combinations in a body as big as a smartphone. There are a lot of audio-specific features that you get from these, as well. So, that is another important thing to keep in mind.


I know most of you might be overwhelmed by the fact that buying a good amplifier can be a complicated process, and that is true. I still remember my first time buying an amplifier and it was one of the most confusing things I have had the experience to go through.

However, thanks to careful reading and considerations, I was able to make the right purchase without causing too much of a hassle.


Bill Wilson

Bill is a certified Microsoft Professional providing assistance to over 500 remotely connected employees and managing Windows 2008 to 2016 servers.