Best Headphone AMP Reviews 2017

Looking for the best Heaphone AMP? To get the best out of a pair of headphones, one needs a headphone amplifier. This review will provide you with an excellent introduction to the features and specifications you need to know about the best headphone amplifiers before making your choice. We’ve critically considered these features and specifications and have come up with 5 products from some great, reputable brands. Please keep in mind that these brands have more headphones than the ones displayed here.
Overview
PROS
CONS
SPECS
Type
Size
Integrated DAC
Frequency
Amplifier
Our Top Choice
Sony USB Headphone Hi-Res Amplifier
For more than 60 years, Sony has been creating top quality electronics that are used worldwide.
This headphone amp has a battery life of up to 6 hours. Smartphones, iOS’s and PC’s are also able to connect directly with it. It’s very lightweight and compact.
It lacks heavy bass.
Portable
3.6 x 2.5 x 7.1”; 0.92 pounds
192kHz/24 bit
10 HZ-100kHz
1 stereo amp
Best Value
FiiO E11K Portable Headphone Amplifier
Since 2007, FiiO has been producing top quality products at the most reasonable prices to encourage music lovers around the world.
This headphone amp has an approximate run time of 16 hours! It also has a bass boost circuit which means it’s able to completely boost the sound of connected devices.
However, there have been complaints about hissing sounds when the device is at its loudest.
Portable
3.6 x 2.2 x 0.5”; 0.22 pounds
192kHz/24 bit
20Hz ~ 20kHz
1 stereo amp
Marantz High Definition Headphone Amplifier
For over six decades, Marantz has been dedicated to producing electronics for music lovers around the world.
This amplifier has a super hi-fi sound which is easy to use and produces clear sound at any volume. It also does not have any floor noise.
There’s no Bluetooth connection. .
Desktop
10.6 x 9.8 x 3.5”; 11 pounds
192kHz/24 bit
2Hz-20kHz
1 stereo amp
AudioQuest DragonFly Headphone Amplifier
AudioQuest has been around for more than 3 decades and it has been designing and producing high quality and affordable audio equipment.
This headphone amplifier is easy to use. It can be connected to several digital devices such as apple devices and PC’s. It is durable and reliable.
The increase of volume for each increment is too large.
Portable
8.9 x 6.7 x 1.6”; 0.4 pounds
192kHz/32 bit
Info not provided
1 stereo amp
Behringer Microamp Headphone Amp
Behringer is a global leader in the industry and has been producing a wide range of pro-audio products that are trusted by professional musicians.
This headphone amplifier can be used simultaneously by more than one person because 4 headphones can be plugged in. It emits sonic quality sound even at maximum volume level.
There have been a few complaints about floor noise.
Desktop
2.5 x 5.2 x 7.5”; 0.42 pounds
Info not provided/32 bit
Info not provided
4 stereo amps

(Updated )
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Watch Our Headphone AMP Review

How Do I Choose the Best Headphone AMP?

Headphone amplifiers are specially designed to produce higher volumes, crisper sound, and better current capacities. They act as an interface between headphones and audio sources through an analog or digital connection. Most stereo receivers have integrated headphone amplifier circuits, which may perform well with their customized earphones, but they are often unable to perform optimally with high-performance headphones. It usually isn’t advisable to use high-performance headphones on inbuilt amplifiers because that’d result in reduced sound quality. To optimize your sound quality, you will need headphones amplifiers designed for high-performance headphones.

Headphone amps used to be associated with professional recording studios. Producers use them to monitor the progress of recording sessions. With the advancement in headphone technology, the demand for headphone amplifiers has been steadily increasing. A headphone amplifier is now more mainstream. Let’s begin with the different types of headphone amplifier:
  • Portable headphone amplifier: this type of amp is designed to be compact and portable. It’s mostly used for mobile music devices like iPods or laptops. It can fit into pockets and small pouches and are powered by batteries.
  • Desktop headphone amplifier: this is larger in size than the portable headphone amp. They’re designed to be stationary. They cannot be used in transit. They are suitable for personal computers, home theaters, stereo systems and laptops.
  • Full-size headphones amplifier: this is the largest in size of all the headphone amplifiers, designed to be used in a permanent listening spot. It gives the highest level of performance.
For each of these types above, there are dozens of headphones available. Before you make a choice of the headphone amplifier to purchase, consider the features that are more compatible with your needs.
Price
The price of a product is usually the ultimate limiting factor when it comes to making purchases. You might not be able to buy the headphone amplifier of your choice because the price is higher than you can afford; certain features and the brand’s quality can be responsible for this. Therefore, it’s important that you don’t lock your budget until you find out which headphone amp is best for your headphones.

Headphone amplifiers can go for as high as $800 and as low as $29. This is a wide range, but you don’t want to go for a cheap headphone amplifier that you won’t make the most of for whatever reason. We did come across these types, but we tossed them aside because we’re interested in giving you information on headphone amplifiers of better value.
Features
Depending on the type of headphone amplifier you are going for, there are certain features you need to consider critically before making a choice. Here are the important features that can come with a headphone amplifier.
  • Analogue input and output
  • RMS power
  • Digital sound processing
  • Pre-amplifier/loudspeaker amplifier
  • Signal-to-noise ratio
  • Power output
  • Integrated DAC
  • Number of channels
Construction and Design
Even the most basic headphone amp comes with analog and digital output. The input can either be a stereo RCA jack or a 3.5mm headphone jack while the output is in the form of a 3.5mm headphone jack. With this feature, you can hook up to your music source device (computer, laptop, mobile phone, CD, etc) with an RCA cable or 3.5mm cable mini stereo. The headphone is plugged into the amp which is itself plugged into the music source device.

Power outputs for headphones are calculated in milliwatts (MW). The average headphone requires less than 20MW to reach its maximum output. However, impedance and sensitivity ratings can increase the power output requirement for some headphones. Based on the preceding ratings, a headphone amp with more than 500MW can run most headphones. Do consider the specific ratings of your headphones before choosing a headphone amp.

Very common with most headphone amps are integrated DAC features. This feature allows for a digital connection between the sound source component and the headphone amplifier. This connection can either be a USB or S/PDIF. A headphone amplifier with this type of connection is most desirable when the sound source is a laptop or a computer. It can also work for a CD transport to be connected directly to the headphone amplifier. It has been argued that DACs can introduce noise during the performance due to the digital circuits. Well-designed headphone amps can eliminate the chances of this negative effect.
Performance and Ease of Use
The RMS (root-mean-squared) is the measurement of the actual power a headphone amplifier is getting. This measurement determines how loud the headphone will be at its peak. Noise is calculated in decibels. Certain levels of noise aren’t healthy for humans because they can cause hearing damage. The safe decibel level is beneath 120 decibels for short periods and 85 decibels for longer periods of time. Anything beyond this can potentially cause hearing damage.

The signal-to-noise ratio is a major factor to consider when choosing a headphone amplifier. The signal-to-noise ratio is the measurement of the amp’s amount of noise compared to that of its source. We already mentioned that the sound from the source is measured in decibels. The greater this ratio is, the lesser the noise, which isn’t the case in the signal of origin. The importance of this ratio to the performance of your headphone amplifier cannot be over-emphasized.

An example of the Digital Sound Processing (DSP) is the popular Dolby headphone format for standard headphones. This feature improves the overall sound experience of headphone amplifiers by digitally modifying and improving the sound processing of the headphone amplifier.

The preamplifier/loudspeaker amplifier feature allows the headphone amp to play dual functions. The preamplifier function reduces interference and prepares a small electrical signal for further processing or amplification. As much as this feature gives the headphone amp a lot of flexibility, it’s more expensive to run and it doesn’t exactly increase the performance of the headphone amp itself. For this feature, you need to prioritize.

Most headphone amplifiers come with one to eight channels, each of which arranges independent stereo line distributions into a single-track package. This feature is important for monitoring flexibility. Also, more channels means more provision of multiple signal distributions

What is the Best Headphone AMP?

As you already know from our buying guide, every headphone amplifier has its own distinctive features and specifications, meaning that your choice of amp will depend on your own preferences and what you need it for. From the great selection our review has offered you, we trust that you can make an informed purchase. Let’s now look at the different features and specifications of these headphones we selected for this review.
Our Top Choice
The Sony USB Headphone Amplifier is an advanced amp that supports up to 192kHz/24 bit. It records at a very high frequency range of 10 Hz to 100 kHz, so you’ll be able to listen to any audio with outstanding clarity. If you prefer a desktop headphone amp, we recommend the Sony PHA-3 Headphone Amp, which can nevertheless also be used as a portable amp.
Sony PHA1A Portable Silver Hi-Res DAC/Headphone Amplifier

Sony Headphone Amp PHA1A


Features
Sony is a leading producer of a wide range of electronic products which are used worldwide. It has a burning passion for technology and it pursues innovation in all its products. Sony is made up of the most professional and dedicated engineers who work to ensure that the quality of its products always reach the maximum level. It also creates unique new experiences and cultures for you via the electronic gadgets it makes. With a mission to move you emotionally, Sony has created one of the best customer service and support systems in the electronics industry.

The Sony USB Headphone Amplifier is a well-designed headphone amplifier that produces very pure sound. It’s able to connect directly and easily to smartphones, PC’s and iOS devices. It provides a high-resolution audio which means that it records at a higher frequency than a CD. It’s a hi-res audio amplifier that supports PCM 192 kHz/24 bit. It’s lightweight and compact so it can be easily carried around. This headphone amplifier has a lithium battery which has up to six-hour battery life and its approximate charge time is only 3.5 hours. It also has a high frequency rate of 10Hz to 100 kHz; when it’s at 100 kHz you’ll be able to listen to any audio with excellent clarity. It’s also known to be quite reliable.

Here are some other headphone amps by Sony:
  • Sony PHA-2 Headphone Amplifier- It has full Hi-Res audio of PCM 192kHz/24 bit. PC’s and Apple devices can be connected easily and directly
  • Sony Portable Headphone Amplifier PHA-2A - It has a frequency characteristic of 10 Hz- 100 kHz. It also has both output and input terminals
Best Value
The FiiO Portable Headphone Amplifier is an advanced amplifier that has a high frequency rate of 20- 20,000 Hz. It’s also built with an all-aluminum alloy body which shields it against EM interference. If you’re looking for a desktop headphone amp, you could check out the FiiO E10K Headphone Amplifier, which has a built-in 3dB bass boosting circuit that’s superior to any software EQ effect.
FiiO E11K Portable Headphone Amplifier - Available in Black and Silver

FiiO Headphone Amp A3BK - Black


Features
What do you think of when you hear “Made in China”? FiiO’s aspiration is to change that common assumption that products made in China are not of the best quality and it’s already doing that. Since 2007, FiiO has been designing and producing top quality gadgets to encourage people with a passion for music and style. Its products are made to flawlessly combine functionality and style. They’re also made to last for a really long time, hence saving the consumer’s time and money. FiiO adheres strictly to its high quality standards so as to minimize the number of its products requiring replacement after they’ve been sold. FiiO’s spirit revolves around quality, innovation and service.

The FiiO Portable Headphone Amplifier is a stylish, all aluminum body portable headphone amp. The all-aluminum body accounts for its sturdiness and the ability to shield against Electromagnetic interferences. It’s suitable for headphones that range from 16 to 150 ohms and has a battery life of approximately 16 hours because of its 1400 mAh rechargeable battery. This headphone amplifier also has a high frequency response of 20 to 20,000 Hz. It utilizes OPA1642 preamp and AD8397 amp and it is easy to use, reliable and highly durable.

Here are some other headphone amps by FiiO:
  • FiiO K1 Portable Headphone Amplifier and USB DAC, Titanium - Its drive ability is 16 to 1000hms and its audio input is a micro USB
  • FiiO A5 Portable Headphone Amplifier - It has a signal to noise ratio of 115db
  • FiiO K5 Docking Headphone Amplifier, Titanium - It has 6.35mm audio jack and volume control is via an analog potentiometer
  • FiiO E17K ALPEN 2 USB DAC Headphone Amplifier - It has a scroll wheel menu for navigation and can be used as an external sound card
  • FiiO E6 Portable Audio Headphone Amplifier – It’s small and sleek. It also has two level bass boost and electronic control
The Marantz Headphone Amplifier has a jitter remover 24 bit converter which helps the audio to be incredibly fine-tuned and clear. You can also connect it directly to any of your devices. If you prefer an integrated amplifier, we recommend the Marantz PM5005 Integrated Amplifier, which has perfectly balanced stereo sound reproduction and a very open and precise sound stage.
Marantz HD High Definition USB DAC Headphone Amplifier

Marantz Headphone AMP HDDAC1


Features
Marantz is a brand that’s highly passionate about music, which is why it’s dedicated to giving music lovers everything they need to sustain their passion. All its products are made to unlock the emotion, excitement and power of music. Marantz has been around for more than 60 years and is known worldwide for its top quality products. Its philosophy is “because music matters”. It places so much value on all its customers, which is why customer satisfaction is its number one priority. If you’re a music lover, Marantz is one brand you should not fail to check out.

The Marantz Headphone Amplifier is a high definition amplifier that has a jitter remover 24-bit converter and a dual clock for extreme accuracy, adding an extra special intensity to music. It’s highly connectable which means that most electronic devices can be connected to it. It also has a USB-B port and optical coaxial digital inputs, which enable PC’s and MAC’s to be connected to it. This headphone amplifier also has double hot plate which prevents Electromagnetic interference and protects it from scratches and dents. All in all, this headphone amplifier is reliable, compact and easy to use.

Some other headphone amps by Marantz are:
  • Marantz Professional PHA-3 Stereo Field Production Headphone Amplifier with XLR- It has 1/4inch & 1/8inch Headphone Outputs
  • Marantz USB-DAC headphone amp silver gold HD-DAC1
The AudioQuest DragonFly Headphone Amplifier supports up to 32 bits which helps it to produce clear and authentic sound. It also has complementary Windows and OS X desktop applications which make it easily upgradeable. If you want a more powerful headphone amplifier, you could check out the AudioQuest DragonFly Red Headphone Amplifier, which has a 2.1v output and can play anything from MP3s to 24-bit/96kHz high-resolution files.
AudioQuest DragonFly Black v1.5 USBDAC Headphone Amp and Micro OTG USB 2.0

AudioQuest Headphone Amp N38865859947


Features
AudioQuest was founded in 1980 by Bill Low. As a kid Bill struggled to find the best quality audio equipment so he decided to create a small platform where people could get the highest quality audio equipment without any hassle. Since then, AudioQuest has expanded into a remarkable company and is achieving all of Bill Low’s dreams. As of now, AudioQuest is the largest cable supplier to the high-end specialist market. Its products are now sold in more than sixty countries. If you need a top quality headphone amplifier that expresses your passion for music, AudioQuest is definitely your go-to brand.

The AudioQuest DragonFly Headphone Amplifier is a highly advanced headphone amp that outputs 1.2 volts. This is enough power to drive reasonably efficient headphones and all preamplifier input circuits. It also has 32 bits DAC chips which help to produce very authentic and detailed sound. It’s compatible with almost all digital devices such as Apple, PC’s, IOS and android devices, and it’s also upgradeable, which means that as new developments arise, dragonfly users will be able to incorporate these developments into their devices through the use of Windows and OS X Desktop applications. This saves a lot of time and money for the consumer.

Here are some other headphone amps by AudioQuest:
  • AudioQuest DragonFly USB DAC Preamp Headphone Amp Version 1.2 - It connects directly to powered speakers, headphones and amplifiers. It also has a 24 bit and 96 kHz capacity
  • AudioQuest DragonFly Red USB DAC, Apple bundle, Preamp, Headphone Amp and Apple Lightening to USB Camera Adapter
The Behringer Microamp Headphone Amp emits sonic quality sound even at maximum volume level, which makes its powerful battery life of roughly sixteen hours all the more important. If you want a headphone amp with double the headphone jacks (that makes 8), we recommend the Behringer AMP800 Headphone Amp, which also has an accurate 6-digit LED output meter per channel for easy level monitoring.
Behringer Microamp HA400 Ultra-Compact 4-Channel Stereo Headphone Amplifier

Behringer Headphone AMP HA400


Features
Behringer started from a kitchen table in 1989 and has now become one of the most successful pro-audio companies, with its wide range of products being used all over the world. The company’s philosophy is to provide specialized and professional products at prices every musician can afford. Behringer performed so well at this that its motto even became “Double the features at half the price”. Behringer produces all types of pro-audio equipment and has won many awards worldwide for its highly advanced ideas and innovative designs. Behringer is the brand for music lovers so if you’re looking for a great headphone amplifier, you should definitely check Behringer:

The Behringer Microamp HA400 is an ultra-compact headphone amplifier that can be used for studio and stage applications. It’s designed in Germany, but is quite affordable and easy to use. It comes with 4 stereo amplifier sections that are high power and independent. It also has high quality audio even at minimum and maximum volume levels and a powerful battery life of about sixteen hours. Finally, it has a distribution system that allows up to four people to listen to their own individual playback and control the volume of his or her own earphones. In the less than likely case that anything goes wrong, this product has a three-year warranty on it.

Some other headphone amps by Behringer include:
  • Behringer AMP800 Four Channel Headphone Amp – It’s a 9.5-inch amplifier that’s used for stage and studio applications
  • Behringer Powerplay Pro-8 Ha8000 8-Channel High-Power Headphones Distribution Amplifier System – comes with eight high power independent studio amplifier sections

Get the Best Headphone AMP of 2017!

Well, you’ve made it to the end. We hope we’ve provided you with adequate information to help you make an informed choice of a headphone amplifier. If these products we’ve showcased aren’t suitable for you, feel free to check out the other amazing headphones these great brands have to offer.

Our Top Choice
Sony USB Headphone Hi-Res Amplifier
Best Value
FiiO E11K Portable Headphone Amplifier
Marantz High Definition Headphone Amplifier
AudioQuest DragonFly Headphone Amplifier
Behringer Microamp Headphone Amp