Would you like to improve the sound quality of your favorite music? When it comes to audio, the power of your headphone amplifier is vital. A headphone amplifier is an audio device that amplifies sound before it reaches your headphones. It increases the volume, sound quality and ensures that sounds are heard at their best.
When purchasing a headphone amplifier, there are many factors to consider, but be sure to choose one that will work with your existing setup. Keep reading Hooke Audio’s article on Best Headphone Amp to see complete information about these devices.
- Best Headphone Amplifiers 2023
- 1. Naim DAC-V1 Headphone Amp
- 2. Chord Hugo 2 Headphone Amp
- 3. Burson Conductor 3 Reference Headphone Amp
- 4. Grace Design m900 Portable Headphone Amp
- 5. Rupert Neve Designs RNHP Headphone Amp
- 6. Monoprice Monolith Liquid Platinum
- 7. AudioQuest DragonFly Cobalt Headphone Amp
- 8. Cyrus soundly Headphone Amp
- 9. Cambridge Audio DacMagic 200M Headphone Amp
- 10. Top DX3 Pro Headphone Amp
- 11. Schiit Magnius Headphone Amp
- 12. iFi Audio Hip-DAC Headphone Amp
- 13. PreSonus HP2 Headphone Amp
- 14. Behringer MicroAmp HA400 Headphone Amp
- 15. Chord Mojo
- Why Do I Need a Headphone Amp?
- Do More Expensive Amps Mean Better Sound?
- What Are the Advantages of Using a Headphone Amp?
- How Do I Choose a Headphone Amplifier?
- FAQs on Best Headphone Amps
Best Headphone Amplifiers 2023
1. Naim DAC-V1 Headphone Amp
This Naim long-lasting audiophile-grade headphone amplifier looks just as good today as it did in 2013.
The DACV1 headphone amps have five digital inputs, three coaxial and two digital audio digital. There is also an asynchronous USB port that can be used to connect to a laptop.
Analog outputs include analog stereo, DIN, and digital optical audio. It is compatible with DSD and Hi-res but does not support MQA as preferred by Tidal Masters.
Naim headphone amps are a rocker when it comes to musicality. The brand’s signature sound has earned it a legion of audiophiles.
It is also practical. Its compact design makes it easy to place on your desk or shelf. Naim DAC headphone amps are simple buttons on the body to select inputs. Simply plug your headphones into the 6.3mm headphone outputs, and you are good to go. It is seen as the very Best headphone amp/DAC combo.
- Timeless design
- Signature Naim excellent sound quality
- Good build quality
- MQA is not supported
- Bluetooth is not supported
2. Chord Hugo 2 Headphone Amp
Best headphone amplifiers
The Hugo 2 headphone amp is a great headphone amplifier. The Hugo 2 headphone amp is small enough to carry around (though it does have its battery) but large enough to fit in your pocket.
It’s not the best device for listening on the go. The system of colored lights can make it challenging to use, making it not the most user-friendly device.
You might wonder, “What’s it doing on this list?” audio quality is what you need. Hugo 2 does a great job of converting and delivering digital audio files. It is difficult to fault. Hugo 2 delivers a dynamic, punchy, and detailed sound performance at high quality and lower resolutions.
There are many inputs available, as well as aptX Bluetooth. You’ll find a dynamic, punchy, well-designed performance that transcends its quirky appearance.
- Well-made and well-detailed
- Multi-colored exotic control system
- Incredibly detailed sound design, good audio quality
- Good build quality
- Mixing colors
- Not very portable
3. Burson Conductor 3 Reference Headphone Amp
The new Burson Conductor3 Reference headphone amps are an excellent choice if you like to get into fine-grained details and customize your sound. You can adjust the DAC settings, change filters and even swap out the opamps to alter the sound.
Simply put, no other amplifier we tested gives you as much control. This makes the Conductor 3 an excellent choice for people who love to tinker. It also helps that the sound quality of the Conductor 3 is excellent, matching well with the Woo Audio WA11 Topaz.
The design is the biggest problem with the Burson Conductor3 Reference. Although the industrial design may be appealing to some, it didn’t appeal much to us.
The headphone amp looked like it was made of ribbed silver, with clunky controls. It’s all well and good to customize settings, but it doesn’t enjoy doing so while staring at the rectangular screen or fiddling with the tiny buttons.
The fact that the Conductor 3 can be placed horizontally or vertically is something we like. Bluetooth 5.0 is also a plus. This headphone amp is unique in its voice quality, but it fails in design. It is one of the very best headphone amplifiers on the market now.
- High-end clean sound and unbelievable customization options.
- Poor design and clunky controls
4. Grace Design m900 Portable Headphone Amp
Great for desktop or on the go use
Grace designs m900 portable headphone amp is a 2-channel multi-use headphone amplifier that can also be used as a digital to analog converter (DAC) and the preamp outputs.
Grace Design’s m900 desktop headphone amps are a great choice, especially for producers and musicians. It can be carried easily and used in many situations. This is the Best desktop headphone amp.
Grace Design m900 headphone amps provide transparent audio playback via USB c, S/PDIF, and TOSLINK. The m900 is a versatile solution for a small studio or a portable setup such as a laptop to DJ, edit, or mix. It provides the same high-quality performance as a more extensive audio interface or DAC amp.
Grace Design m900 headphone amp is quite rugged. It can take a lot of abuse, such as spilling coffee on your desk or bumping it around when you travel with it. However, I wouldn’t recommend getting in situations where it could damage or bang up your gear.
The m900 desktop amplifier is powered by an AKM4490 chip, the latest generation chip in Grace Design’s amplifiers. The 32-bit processing of the AKM 4490 chip allows for extremely high sample rates, up to 384 kHz PCM and 256x DSD.
The chip allows the USB interface on the m900 to act as the clock master, protecting the system against problems caused by the USB bus.
The m900’s S/PDIF, Toslink, and Headphone inputs enable the enhancement of any DAW interface. This allows for high-quality conversion, headphone monitoring, and even studio monitor control.
Two power modes are available for the m900: Low and High. The m900 desktop amps operate in low power mode by connecting to the first USB connector that supplies bus power and data.
When you connect the included 2A USB DC power supply (included), the m900 desktop amp will switch to High power mode. This allows headphones to be used to hear your music with higher quality.
The m900 headphone amp has a zero-ohm balanced output impedance driver. This ensures that headphones have a clear low end while still allowing for plenty of space and transparency.
The headphones simulate an acoustic listening environment. These headphones can give you a fresh perspective on old songs that have been listened to over 100 times.
You will also find a mono listening mode and left minus proper modes. There are also different monitoring modes. The frequency range of the M900 is crazy at 0.5 Hz to 45.9 kHz.
Grace Design’s m900 Headphone Amp multi-channel amplifier is an excellent choice for anyone who needs a reliable amp with a good amount of power amplifier. It is also straightforward to use.
It is small enough to be considered one of the top desktop headphone amplifiers. However, it can also be one of the best portable headphone amp and a good choice for anyone, just starting with headphone amplifiers.
- It’s great for desktop and on-the-go use.
- Two channels to serve different purposes or multiple concurrently
- There are multiple power modes to suit different situations.
- There are limited Bluetooth connectivity options.
- The volume boost is not particularly impressive.
5. Rupert Neve Designs RNHP Headphone Amp
We were pleasantly surprised by the Rupert Neve Designs RNHP. It was amazing how great our headphones sound, with an audio quality that was both balanced as well as engaging.
t brought out the best headphone amplifiers from whatever we connected to it. It was full of power and put a lot of weight behind the music. It’s not surprising, but it is.
Rupert Neve, a well-known designer of mixing consoles used in recording studios, is an acknowledged innovator. They are the first company to produce a headphone amplifier, and it is a great sounding amp. This amp sounds even better than the Burson Conductor3R solid-state amplifiers.
The RNHP, however, is a simple amp. The RNHP doesn’t even come with a gain switch. It is also hideous. It’s not easy to see, but the amp is strong. It doesn’t have elements like bright input lights that make matters worse.
Element II does not have a DAC. If you are looking for a dedicated headphone amplifier in this price range, the JDS Labs The Element II is a good choice.
Although the Element does not sound as good as RNHP, it is a complete solution. The RNHP is a good choice if you are looking for a dedicated headphone amp with high-quality sound and attractive looks.
- Life-changing, incredible sound.
- This is something you would see in a university’s physics lab.
6. Monoprice Monolith Liquid Platinum
We weren’t expecting it to be this close. Monoprice, the ultra-square manufacturer, has teamed up with Alex Cavalli, the headphone retailer. Okay, guys. The Monoprice Monolith Liquid Platinum tube amps are a great name and a fantastic sound.
The amp’s twin tubes produce powerful bass and are surprisingly easy to use, even with cheaper headphones. The Liquid Platinum is a great tube amp. It has a warm sound, easy-swappable tubes, and modern features such as balanced outputs.
One criticism we have is that the highs are not as good as they could be. Although the lows and mids are delicious and gooey, the highs can sometimes feel a bit brittle. This amp is among the best headphone amplifiers, a sub-$1,000 product that will be a staple on this list for the future.
- A forgiving amp with great bass.
- Woolly highs and undefined.
7. AudioQuest DragonFly Cobalt Headphone Amp
Best headphone amps
Although it is not inexpensive, Audioquest’s new Dragonfly is a great performer. Red is already a talented performer, but the Cobalt has a better sound quality and more precise sound. Cobalt’s transparency makes it more able to see the source and the recordings better than other members of the family.
You might need to be careful with lower-quality recordings. It can still give Chord’s Mojo a difficult time if it has a good signal. That’s something that not many headphone amplifiers can boast.
Many of the same features are found in the award-winning DragonFly red, such as the 2.1v output, bit-perfect digital volume control, and MQA renderer.
There are many upgrades like the new DAC amp chip that delivers a clearer and more natural sound. The processor also has a 33% increase in processing speed. Also, the enclosure is 10 percent smaller.
It includes a DragonTail USB A (female to USB-C) adaptor to allow you to use the increasing number of electronic devices that have connectivity.
- Amazing resolution and clarity
- As convenient as ever
- Smartphone compatible
- Red is less forgiving than Red
8. Cyrus soundly Headphone Amp
The Award-winning is soundly one of the best headphone amps. It’s also very affordable. A killer combination.
These portable headphone amps can handle all file types, including MP3, AAC, and FLAC. It’s perfect for anyone, whether a casual listener or someone more concerned about sound quality.
It’s perfect when it comes to sound quality. A spacious presentation is an order, giving each instrument the room it needs. This is particularly true when listening to slower, more sparse material than to fast, bustling tracks. This allows the minor details to shine through and gives tunes a widescreen aspect that lesser portable DACs simply cannot.
What is the result? The result? A stunningly detailed soundstage that will make mobile listeners from all walks of life proud. It’s essential to have.
- Clean, open sound
- Details packed with love
- It is compact and discreet
- It’s easy to attach an iOS device.
- It is not as dynamic as its rivals.
9. Cambridge Audio DacMagic 200M Headphone Amp
The Cambridge Audio DacMagic 200M headphone amp is a DAC with all the right features in an attractive, sonically astute package. It’s a great choice, especially for this price.
It is well-equipped to fit easily into any desktop or hi-fi system. There are many digital inputs available to cater to a variety of sources. The device also has an aptX Bluetooth connection. You can also add balanced and unbalanced outputs to the mix and headphone output and hi-res audio support.
It has a distinctive Cambridge sound. This is a rich, whole tone with an authoritative delivery. You must not ignore this versatile all-rounder. Cambridge Audio DacMagic 200M is seen as the very Best headphone amplifier for Beyerdynamic.
- Smooth, clean, insightful sound
- Connectivity is a blessing
- Native MQA support
- Remote control not available
- Competitor tough
10. Top DX3 Pro Headphone Amp
The rugged headphone amp for headphone amplifiers will provide boost infidelity without placing undue strain on your wallet. It is designed for desktop use at home and features remote control to control volume and a variety of delicious features.
Bluetooth is built-in (v5.0), with support for aptX HD and LDAC. And unlike many other headphone amps and DACs of this size, the on-body status indicator is clear. High-resolution audio support is available up to DSD512 – The AKM DAC chip is the top.
There are two input options: optical digital audio and coaxial. You can also get stereo analog output. It has a sound power output and adjustable gain to be used with a variety of headphones. the best headphone amps.
- Great specs for the price
- Display on the body
- Industrial looks
11. Schiit Magnius Headphone Amp
The Schiit Magnius headphone amp is larger than the Magni, but the most notable difference is fully balanced. The signal of balanced amplifiers is cleaner and has less distortion.
We included the Magnius because it is the most affordable balanced headphone amp we have ever seen. It is also a great amp, with a rich and clear sound and an output section that helps you use powered headphones as well as powered monitors.
The Schiit Magnius’ most significant pro is also its biggest negative. Although a balanced amplifier is excellent, many headphones could take advantage of it. This is the great headphone amp under 300 on the market now.
- Excellent design, balanced sound.
- Other options are available for people who don’t require fully balanced audio.
12. iFi Audio Hip-DAC Headphone Amp
Although it may look like a hip flask or a headphone amp, the Hip-DAC by iFi Audio is just as serious as it gets. The compact headphone amps/DACs are lightweight and packs some high-quality severe tech.
Burr-Brown DACs make the most of all audio formats, including PCM, DSD, and MQA. They also have sampling rates up to 11 (or 384kHz),
The rotary volume control is a great feature that makes it easy to use. The connector includes a USB input and two outputs: a standard socket of 3.5mm and a Pentaconn socket of 4.4mm headphone outputs.
There’s a PowerMatch mode for over-ear headphones that optimizes their output. XBass, a user-selectable boost tool that ripens low frequencies while not affecting the mid-range, is available.
The battery life lasts is approximately eight hours. iFi Audio Hip-DAC is one of the best headphone amps.
- Compact design
- It uses a variety of headphones
- Bluetooth is not supported
13. PreSonus HP2 Headphone Amp
This is a great place to perform live!
This one was a great option for live performances, and I am happy with it. PreSonus HP2 personal headphone amp is perfect for playing the guitar or piano while performing.
The HP2 is a battery- or DC-powered stereo amplifier and features 2 TRS connections (via a Y cable) and a stereo 1/8 inch output. The HP2 little amp and DAC are small enough to be carried in your pocket or attached to your belt with the included belt clip.
The HP2 also features a volume control knob and pan knob, and a power button that allows you to Nintendo switch between mono or stereo. The HP2 has a handy indicator that shows you how much battery is left. If you are using it with DC power, it does not indicate anything.
The frequency range is between 30 Hz and 20 kHz. This is quite evident in the lower end, as it lacks some thump. This headphone amp was used on stage with my guitar. I received a feed from my guitar, click tracks, and the lead singer into my in-ear monitors through a snake attached to the in-house mixer.
PreSonus HP2 headphone amp sounded great and worked well with my setup. It worked great with DC power, and I switched to using a battery. It sounded great in terms of sound. The mixer output and the EQ were both very accurate.
The PreSonus HP2 headphone amp is a small, portable device that can be used to perform live. It is straightforward to use and sounds great.
It is an excellent choice for anyone looking for something for on-stage use. However, it can also be used as a portable amp and DAC for your phone with some jerry-rigging.
- If you are mostly stationary, this is the ideal product for performing on stage during live performances.
- It sounds balanced and clear.
- Includes a belt clip.
- It’s a little restrictive; it must be connected with an audio source. This is not ideal for people who want to move around on the stage a lot.
- The low-end frequency response range is a little disappointing.
14. Behringer MicroAmp HA400 Headphone Amp
Best budget headphone amps
You may be wondering if the item is worth it considering its price. A 4-channel headphone amp can be purchased for $25. It’s impossible to believe.
Although the Behringer MicroAmp HA400 headphone amp is the most affordable on the market, it is also tried and tested and is among the best-rated.
MicroAmp HA400 lets you connect four headphones to the amp and allows you to control each volume individually. To maintain high-quality audio, the HA400 headphone amp has four high-power stereo amplifiers.
You will also enjoy incredible performance with ultra-low noise 4580 operational amplifiers. RC4580 amps, which are often found in large-sized audio equipment, are robust and reliable.
The MicroAmp HA400 headphone amp and DAC is a stereo amplifier with a 1/4-inch input and four 1/4-inch outputs. Each output has its level control. It also comes equipped with a DC power supply that will power it without causing any noise problems.
The frequency response range is 20 Hz to 20 kHz. This makes it one of the most versatile headphone amplifiers.
This studio headphone amp is also transparent and balanced. Users can hear the real mix without any boosted bass or tweaked frequency curve.
The MicroAmp HA400 headphone amp by Behringer is a multi-channel headphone amp that’s great for mixing. It can be used in a studio or live setting and is a superb choice. It is affordable, which makes it an excellent choice for those on a tight budget but still need a headphone amp to do the job.
It’s simple enough to use for beginners, but anyone with any skill level can use it. It’s not the best amp for audiophile quality monitoring, but it can work with a pair of headphones. It is seen as the very headphone amp under 100.
- It has a flat, transparent, and balanced frequency response, which is great for studio use.
- Very affordable.
- It is small enough to be carried in your pocket and easy to take with you on trips.
- It uses DC power making it less portable.
- There is no power switch. You must turn it off by unplugging.
15. Chord Mojo
Best cheap headphone amp
The Mojo has the same sound quality as the Chord Hugo but is much cheaper. Although the Mojo is smaller than a credit card, there are plenty of connections available, including optical, a good micro USB for vocals, and 3.5mm headphones jacks.
The build quality is excellent. The aluminum casing is made of aircraft-grade aluminum and feels solid. It will last you for a while, lasting eight hours when fully charged. However, this can vary depending on how loud your pair of headphones are and what headphones you use.
The sound is also excellent. It is full of detail and rich with insight. It’s Mojo’s ability to organize all this information into a coherent and musical whole that sets it apart from the rest. It is well-presented and full-bodied, but it doesn’t seem to have any excess richness in the mid- or low-frequency ranges.
All of it sounds amazing together. It is highly recommended for people who are looking for the Best headphone amp for gaming.
- A dynamic, informative, and subtle sound
- Fine rhythmic drive headphones
- Solid-state construction and excellent finish
- Micro USB
- Good build quality
- Heats up
Why Do I Need a Headphone Amp?
Here’s the deal. They are required for all headphones. They are power speakers. But they can only be worn on the head. Speakers require amplifying to make the sound clearer. Most cans aren’t used with external amps and instead plug straight into your
iPhone/PC/Mac/iPad/ whatever because these devices contain their miniature amps. You’d prefer an external amp to the existing ones.
They’re a bit weak and have stock components that don’t do your music justice. While they can do the job, you will get better results if the amplification tasks are left to someone designed explicitly for them.
These boxes are designed to fit between your headphones and your music source. Plug your headphones into the amp and plug it into your computer, cd player, turntable, or another device.
We’ll also discuss inserting a DAC amp. This allows the audio signal to travel through the amp and DAC and into your ears before reaching your ears. The result is, theoretically speaking, warmer, more prosperous, and more powerful sound.
The sound is not louder; it’s also better at higher volume control levels with minimal distortion. Important note: We don’t recommend that you listen to music at high volumes on headphones.
This can cause hearing damage. Headphone amplifiers are made up of various combinations of tubes, valves, and other analog elements.
They help amplify the signal sent to the tiny speakers on either side of your head. The headphone amp enhances the sound quality and highlights specific frequencies. You won’t need one if you own noise-canceling headphones. They have their internal DAC. We can’t recommend enough buying one.
You will need headphones more often if they are more expensive. Two reasons are why this is so. It is better for headphones, and it exposes the shortcomings of audio sources (e.g., the MP3 on your iPhone). You’ll need headphones because you can’t buy a great amp without having cans. These are the best high-end models.
Do More Expensive Amps Mean Better Sound?
Do you generally agree? Yes. Yes. The higher your budget, the more likely you will get an amplifier with the right components to enhance your sound. This isn’t a simple rule. Please get the best sound possible, but we warn you not to use price as a guideline when choosing an amplifier.
The Rupert Neve Designs RNHP is a great amp and almost a quarter the price of something similar to the Burson Conductor 3.R. The Burson Conductor 3R is the better amp, but on paper, it’s not. We know which amp we would save from a fire-damaged building.
Amplifiers that cost more can have better sound but are not portable and heavy. You might also find fragile parts, such as tubes, which have a high failure rate.
If you are looking to purchase, you may be paying more for features that you don’t use. It may be worthwhile to look elsewhere for a simpler model if you don’t want a feature like a bass boost function.
What Are the Advantages of Using a Headphone Amp?
The obvious answer is that you can increase the volume of your audio with a headphone amplifier. However, you also have many advantages if you don’t listen to high-volume music.
Headphone amplifiers generally provide more power for your headphones. However, more power does not necessarily equal higher volume. Even if your music isn’t at high volume, a headphone amplifier provides enough power to enable your headphones to handle the audio better than without it. You won’t experience distortion at high volumes.
Your headphones will be able to handle a more comprehensive dynamic range and sound better overall. Users of headphone amplifiers report that they provide a richer bass, a more transparent midrange, and smoother high frequencies. They also have greater musical transparency and clarity.
How Do I Choose a Headphone Amplifier?
There are many headphone amplifiers on the market, with this article highlighting some of them. However, you must find one that works with your headphones.
When choosing an amp, there are several things to keep in mind.
Without the need for an adapter, what type of headphone jack do you need? Headphone amplifiers typically require either a 3.5mm or 1/4-inch headphone jack to be correctly connected to a pair.
Audio source connection
Make sure the balanced connections on the headphone amplifier you select are compatible with your phone, computer, or any other piece of equipment that allows audio to be received.
An optical, coaxial, or USB digital cable will be required if your desired amp has a DAC (digital audio connection). You will need a mini-RCA or stereo RCA cable if you use an analog connection.
Although impedance is a vast topic, it is simply how much power headphones need to perform well.
An amplifier that is less powerful for low impedance headphones requires less power. Higher impedance headphones require more power. You can find the manufacturer’s website to determine the impedance of your headphones.
Related article: What Is Headphone Impedance? Everything You Need To Know
Selective impedance or switchable
Headphone amplifiers can be equipped with a selectable impedance or Adjustable gain control. This allows you to adjust the power required to power your headphones. An amp equipped with a gain control is more versatile and can be used with more headphones. If you are looking for flexibility, an amp with this feature should be considered.
You may prefer to listen to music while on the move to your favorite songs rather than sitting at a desk. There are many options for headphone amplifiers.
Batteries can power many portable amplifiers. Make sure you consider the battery life of any amplifiers that you are considering to ensure it meets your needs and lasts a long time.
Type of amplifier
There are many types and styles of headphone amplifiers. Each one is unique, has a different circuitry, and provides a different sound quality.
Tube amps tend to have a warmer tone, which can be pleasing and sometimes cause distortion due to excitement or saturation. Solid-state amps sound more straightforward and more transparent than tube amps.
Headphone amplifiers can have as many as eight channels and sometimes more. Keep in mind that amps get more prominent as the channels are added.
FAQs on Best Headphone Amps
Is a headphone amp the same as a guitar amp?
Both headphone amps and guitar amplifiers can be used to amplify sound, but they do it differently. Generally speaking, a headphone amplifier is designed to deliver high-quality sound to headphones.
It amplifies the signal coming from an audio source to levels that can be heard. On the other hand, a guitar amplifier is designed to amplify the sound coming from your electric guitar.
Can use amp damage my hearing?
The distortion of the speakers on an amp is intended to be helpful for musicians, but too much can hurt hearing. It is possible to lose one’s sense of balance and even go deaf.
Can use amp damage my hearing? Amp settings can cause hearing loss. The louder the sound gets, the more likely one will experience some adverse effects. Your ears are particularly vulnerable to damage during concerts.
What is the point of putting an amplifier on stage?
The point of putting an amplifier on stage is to amplify the sound coming from the speaker system that’s mounted into the amp.
This is how most people think of a “stage amp.” Putting a non-amplified system on stage is not a good idea. It may be possible to plug a guitar or bass directly into a speaker cabinet, but the sound is usually too weak and suffers from feedback.
Our purpose in this article is to show you the best headphone amps and what to look for when purchasing one and help you find a suitable headphone amplifier with the necessary power and sound fidelity without breaking the bank.
The Naim DAC-V1 is an excellent choice regarding sound quality, but it’s also the most expensive headphone amplifier we’ve tested in this guide.
Last update on 2023-11-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API