The Headphone Amps category is the least understood of all audio components. Hooke Audio will explain How To Use A Headphone Amp? and why you might need one.
What is a Headphone Amp?
The headphone amp is a relatively small amp that increases the low-voltage audio signal coming from a source device, such as a PC, smartphone, or turntable, to a sufficient level so that it can be converted into sound waves by your headphones. The amp works in the same way as full-sized speakers but at a smaller scale.
But how to use a headphone amplifier?
What is a DAC?
Modern includes a DAC (digital to analog converter) electronic component. The job of a DAC is to convert digital audio data into a low voltage signal that an amplifier can amplify.
Analog components such as a tape deck or turntable don’t require a DAC – these already emit analog low-voltage signals. But digital audio devices such as smartphones, tablets, and iPods need both a DAC and a headphones amplifier to be able to hear sound through your pair of headphones.
What do the Headphone Amps?
An amp can be added between your player and your pair of headphones to improve clarity, detail, and dynamics.
An impedance rating for headphones is something you may be familiar with. The combined resistance and reactivity of headphones to an amp acting as an electrical load is called impedance.
- High-impedance headphones require more voltage to reach a solid listening level. It’s a great option for portable players with limited internal battery voltage.
- Low-impedance headphones can have a lower damping factor and require more current. An amplifier can improve the sound quality of low-impedance headphones.
- An amp may be warranted based on the size and dimensions of your pair of headphones. In-ear and earbud headphones are generally very efficient and will not benefit from an amplifier.
- An amp will make larger headphones sound clearer and more natural. Some audiophile models might require an amp to achieve the desired volume and sound quality, particularly if they are connected to portable devices.
- The Headphone amps with internal digital-to-analog converters (DACs) can dramatically improve your music listening experience quality if you have a tablet, computer, or laptop.
Use a line-out port on your portable device to connect to the headphone amps. If there is no line-out, you can use the headphone connector to send the audio signal to the amp.
Why do I need a headphone amp?
Your headphones are a set, but your current audio device doesn’t have one
Many pieces of home HiFi gear do not come with a headphone jack. This is especially true when you go up to the more expensive, separate audio components. This situation is best solved by choosing a suitable headphone amplifier.
You have a pair of headphones with a higher impedance, and they are not loud enough
- Many headphones available on the market need a lot of power to drive loud enough. These headphones are usually of high impedance (above 100 ohms).
- Most smartphones and other audio components do not include a headphone amplifier that can provide enough power to drive the more difficult-to-drive headphones.
You need to use your headphones in a different room or while on the move
Your central HiFi system might be in your family room. However, you may want to listen to music in your office or other rooms. You will have more options when it comes to where you can listen to your headphones.
You wish to increase the audio quality of your headphones
The right type can make your music listening experience more enjoyable if you’re a music lover. Smartphones allocate as little money as possible to the headphone jack. It is essential enough to make it work. This is the pattern that many home audio components follow.
An amplifier explicitly made for headphones and featuring high-quality ingredients can make a significant improvement in sound quality. Some can also improve the digital signal through their built-in headphone amp Digital to Analog Converter.
Types Of Headphone Amps
You can find various sizes for headphones amps, from large-sized home audio components to tiny pieces that can be folded into your palm. Some can be powered by batteries, while others require AC power. Some inputs and signals can be supported, and these will be broken down to choose the right category for your needs.
Come with one or two analog inputs. This allows you to plug in a CD player or your phone’s audio output. A few amps only have a phono input to a turntable. All others have volume control and a headphone socket.
Although these amps are often small in size, they require AC power and are intended for home use.
These amps can be used if your gear doesn’t have a headphone socket. You can create a fantastic-sounding turntable system using only a turntable and headphones.
Computer Audio Only
Although many people enjoy listening to their headphones on their computers, let’s face the fact that they are not as good as you would like. The computers will convert digital files to analog, which is usually as inexpensive as possible.
A new generation of amplifiers allows you to connect your computer via a USB cable to this amp. The amp will come with DAC’s that are better than those on your computer. Some even reclock the incoming signal to improve timing. You can find out more.
There are two types. The one will have a USB connector that plugs into your computer’s USB jack. The other will have a standard headphone jack, and you can control the volume via the computer. You will need a USB cable to connect the other component type. The front of this type will have volume control and a full-sized headphone socket.
The USB jack powers the amp that plugs indirectly. You can connect the amp to your smartphone with the correct adapter cable for greatly improved audio on the go.
Multiple Audio Inputs
These amps will include USB audio input to a computer or smartphone, analog audio out, or digital sound. Some models may have both a digital and an analog input.
Multiple Audio Input headphone amplifiers can be either portable or battery-powered. These amps have an excellent section for headphone amps and can drive a power amp or feed a pair of powered speakers.
Each component of your system can be connected to the amp that provides the switching. You can also use amps with extra audio outputs to allow you to drive an amp or pair of powered speakers. This will help you build a small but great-sounding system and improve your headphone performance.
A few allow you to add network streaming. This will enable you to download audio files from your network and stream them from your smartphone. You can still connect your computer audio amp to your smartphone using adapter cables.
How to Choose the Headphone amps
You can see that there are many input options and places you can use. Consider all possible uses. Need a headphone amp that best suits your selection.
After you have decided on the category you wish to be in, there will likely be a wide range of prices available. Once you have chosen the amp that best suits your needs, you will want to consider all or some of the features.
It can be used on the go, connected to your smartphone, or as a home component. You’ll need something small and lightweight if you are using your headphones for primary purposes. There are many options in the category of component sizes for home use.
High-quality DAC and audio components
You should pay attention to the internal components of your headphone amplifier if audio quality is a significant reason you are looking into it. It’s often sold with the adage you get what you pay for. You might find amps with pure Class A or high-end tube output sections if you’re using an analog-only model.
When you add digital audio to your computer with optical in or audio inputs, be aware that DAC’s can have a wide range of sound quality. They will be rated according to a sampling rate. The higher the number, the better.
Few manufacturers can produce their DAC chips, so they purchase an off-the-shelf model. To compare the raw prices of DAC’s, it’s easy to find the part number. This correlates very closely with sound quality.
Type of output
You will need to ensure that your headphone amps have an audio output jack if you intend to use it with a power amplifier or pair of the powered speaker. Sometimes, the headphone output can drive an amp or speaker. If the output rating is higher than 2 V, it will work in many situations.
How To Use Headphone Amps?
How to connect a headphones amplifier to a hi-fi amplifier
You probably have an existing hi-fi system. This means that all of your sources are connected to a HiFi amplifier. How can you get these sources to your hi-fi amplifier as well as your headphone amps without needing to unplug them all? Many stereo amplifiers have two options for this purpose: a preset or a REC out.
- The hi-fi amp will work as a preamplifier if it is connected to the preout. You will adjust the volume of both the hi-fi amp and the headphone amplifier in practice.
- This arrangement can be extremely convenient if your headphone amps don’t have a remote control. You can control the volume remotely using the remote control of the stereo amplifier.
- To avoid distortion, it is important to maintain the output level within the limits of what the amplifier can accept. It is better to connect a headphone amp to an amplifier’s REC output since the latter has a constant level. The volume can be adjusted only from the amplifier, and there is less chance of distortion.
- To maximize signal transfer between your sources, whether the amplifier is connected to the REC output of a hi-fi amplifier or the pre-out of a HiFi amplifier’s amplifier, it is best to use a high-quality RCA cable.
- The electrical installation may affect the ability to associate a headphones amplifier with the REC output. This can lead to unwanted noise from headphones and speakers. It is important to isolate each element with a galvanic filter.
Connect to an AV receiver
Poor quality headphones are often output by A/V receivers. To get the best sound quality, an external amplifier is often required. The best way to connect an amplifier to an AV receiver is to use the Zone 2 output of the receiver.
You can set the output to either fixed or variable. To maximize the amplifier’s performance, the volume should be set at a fixed level. The Zone 2 output also allows you to have an independent output, allowing you to listen to your music while watching TV.
Connect to a Computer
A mini-jack cable can be used to connect a headphone amplifier and a computer. This solution, although practical, is not the most efficient. The computer’s sound card converts and amplifies the music. Even on the most powerful computers, this latter can often be of poor quality. A headphone amplifier with its own DAC is best.
This configuration allows you to play Hi-Res music as well as DSD files. Your computer can’t decode or read these files without losing any information. The function can be added to an audio DAC, which will allow you to have the highest quality music possible.
You can still enjoy the best sound quality using a computer. This DAC supports the conversion of music from your computer via a USB-B input. It can then be connected to the analog RCA output.
Connect to a Phone
The latest smartphones don’t have a minijack output that allows you to connect headphones or in-ear monitors. Although some smartphones still have this output, the quality is not great, and there is insufficient power to power headphones.
- To use hi-fi headphones at their best, you will need to connect a headphone amplifier to your smartphone. The connection is similar to the one used for computers. You will need either a USB Audio or USB Input amplifier to do this.
- However, the required cable will vary from one smartphone to the next. Headphone jack sizes come in different varieties, and so do headphone amps. You will need an adapter for Apple Lightning to USB, which is required for Android models.
You can pair your smartphone with either a portable audio-DAC or portable amplifier for mobile use. These can also be connected to your smartphone’s USB port.
The only difference is that they are smaller and easier to carry around in your pocket.
When not to use an Ampere?
In-ear headphones and earphones can be used with most smartphones without the need for this device.
It is not necessary for Noise-canceling headphones (built-in headphones). They already have an internal headphone amplifier.
The right type of headphone amplifier can make your music listening experience more enjoyable if you’re a music lover. Hooke Audio believes you already know the true use of each type of audio amplifier you own and using a headphone amp. Hope you are a smart technology user.