We all love listening to music. You will find at least one headphone in every household. Headphones have become such an integral part of our daily lives that it is difficult to imagine living without a headphone. Whether you use it while working out or just to listen to relaxing music at the end of a hectic day, headphones are probably your best friend, after your mobile phone, of course.
However if you are a serious music enthusiast who listens to music for the sake of enjoying it in high definition and with utmost clarity, as opposed to just as a distraction, you will have noticed that there are times when your headphones do not do justice to the music or the song you are listening to. Your headphones might be the best in its class, but there can still be times when they feel like they are not enough.
Do not worry, that is not the fault of your headphones. Often the sound circuitry of your phone or your computer are just not as advanced or sensitive enough to process the high quality of the music. In such a case you need a headphone amplifier. These are standalone audio drivers that bypass your device’s audio setup and act as digital sound cards. They increase the quality of the music and make your listening experience richer and smoother than before. These work best with high quality headphones which require a driver more powerful than your usual mobile device.
10 Best Portable Headphone Amplifiers
FiiO is famous for its audio solutions. Over the years it has mastered the art of redefining your listening experience. The A3 portable headphone amplifier from FiiO lives up to its brand image. This is one of the best headphone amps in its class. It is best suited for headphones which have a power range of 16 to 150 ohms. It also comes with a manually adjustable gain switch to match the output to the power needs of the headphones. It also comes with a bass boost circuit which increases output by upto 3.5dB at 60Hz. THis headphone amplifier is powered by a 1400mAh rechargeable battery which can give you up to 16 hours of nonstop usage at optimum settings.
- FiiO is a household name and its products boast of superior quality.
- This portable amplifier works best with headphones that range from 16 to 150 Ohms.
- It is finished in an all-aluminium body that looks beautiful and classy. THe sleek finish and the ergonomically placed buttons make it easy to use.
- It is very sturdy and its chassis shields against any type of EM Interference.
- It also gets a bass boost circuit which further betters the listening experience.
- There is no proper battery level indicator in place.
If you already have a headphone amplifier and want to move up the range to one which would support your high impedance headphones at a range of around 55 to 300 ohms, the Topping NX3s is the perfect product for you. It comes with a 3.5mm headphone jack and provides an output power upto 545 mW at 32 ohms and 100 mW at 300 ohms. It comes with a 2400mah rechargeable lithium ion battery which can provide upto 4 hours of playing time. It can be used to cater to different types of listeners with different listening preferences and can even make up for a lack of bass boost in your headphones.
- This particular headphone amplifier is perfectly suited to deal with headphones with high impedance.
- The amplifier comes in two different colors and is designed in a very classy and elegant way.
- It is extremely lightweight and can be easily carried around conveniently.
- It provides extra bass boost to make up for the lack of the same in your headphones.
- It is powered by a rechargeable 2400mah lithium ion battery.
- It has sturdy knobs and buttons which feel good to use.
- It comes with a short charging cable which makes it difficult to charge everywhere.
This is one of the smartest portable headphone amplifiers available in the market today. It is a small device which can do wonders. It has two output channels. One is a 3.5mm output which is unbalanced, while the other is a 2.5mm balanced channel. It is equipped with the latest generation bluetooth 5.0 software for seamless connection to wireless devices. It is powered by a Qualcomm CSR8675 chipset and contains the best high quality codecs like the Sony LDAC, MPEG AAC and the Qualcomm aptX HD. Another great feature in this product is the mobile application that comes with it. It is compatible with both android and iOS devices and you can control literally everything about the amplifier using your phone. Right from the bluetooth codec and battery to the DAC filter and oversampling, you can control everything through the application software.
- This amp is niftily equipped with a rather solid shirt clip so that you can attach it to your clothes while using.
- It is finished in a scratch resistant color coat.
- It has an intuitive and easy-to-use application software which can be used on android or iOS devices.
- Everything about the headphone amp can be controlled from that app.
- The mobile application is not compatible with Windows phones and might be difficult for older people to use.
The monolith 124460m has one of the most linear amplifying technologies in the world. It delivers the highest fidelity audio and reduces noise and distortions to a minimum. This headphone amplifier creates a large, wide and immersive listening experience for you. It can make your headphones output the same level of sound quality and creativity as a home theatre system. It is diverse in its usage, offering both digital and analog input options. It has a 3.5mm optical input, along with a USB input, while at the same time also offers a more conventional 3.5mm analog stereo input for devices which do not have digital outputs. It has Dynamic Range Control which can split low and high frequencies and then use a compressor and a mixer to combine the two bands.
- It is the most linear headphone amplifier in the world.
- It offers both digital and analog 3.5mm inputs for a more versatile usage.
- It transforms your musical experience into a wider, better and crisper soundscape.
- Its DIRAC SenseAround system provides a well-rounded musical experience.
- It is finished in a beautiful textured paint job and is extremely easy to carry around.
- Customers have complained about the quality of the hardware.
The headphone amplifier from eSynic is a small and lightweight amplifier which is suitable for headphones having an impedance range of 16 to 150 ohms. It is not the most powerful amplifier out there, but it gets the job done for your regular listening activities. It is easy to carry and is finished in beautiful matte aluminium. It reduces distortion and outputs a crisper and louder sound for an advanced listening experience. It is powered by a 1000mAh battery which can last for 8 hours on optimum settings. The battery can be charged with the 1.2m USB cable that comes with it. Additionally this amplifier is compatible with a number of different digital devices which have a 3.5mm output. It has a two-stage gain switch which can enhance the signal input and output the best quality music without any distortion or noise.
- It is a light and practical headphone amplifier which can be carried around easily.
- It is best suited for headphones of an impedance ranging from 16 to 150 ohms.
- It is powered by a 1000mAh rechargeable battery.
- It is compatible with any device having a 3.5mm output.
- It outputs louder and clearer sound, enhancing your listening experience.
- It is best suited for casual listeners who want to experience crisper music.
- It is not suited for serious music enthusiasts because it supports a relatively lower impedance range.
THe iFi Micro iDSD Amplifier is one of the most powerful amplifiers on sale today. It can support headphones with impedances ranging from 16 to 600 ohms. It also has power output modes like eco, normal and Headamp Turbo which adjust power and gain for different types of amplifiers. It can even double up as a preamplifier. It is powered by a lithium-ion battery which can provide upto 12 hours of playback on optimum settings. This amplifier can also be used as a power bank to charge other devices when not being used. It has top-of-the-line bass boost and sound stage courtesy of performance tuning drivers, the 3D Matrix Plus and the XBass Plus. It also reduces any noise level to extremely low and makes the music crisper and better. It can be connected to any audio device as long as that device has a 3.5mm female jack. It can also be used to connect to a desktop using the USB 3.0 cable.
- This is among the best portable headphone amplifiers in the world.
- It supports a massive impedance range of 16 to 600 ohms.
- It can be connected to practically all kinds of electronic devices.
- It is finished in lightweight aircraft-grade aluminium to handle EMI and RFI.
- It can be slightly complicated to use for a lot of people.
The PreSonus HP2 is probably one of the most versatile portable headphone amplifiers available in the market. It is easy-to-use, extremely handy and is very simple to understand. It can either be powered by a 9V battery or an external DC Power supply. It has two female XLR connectors as inputs and one one by eight inch phone connector to act as the output. It has volume and pan control knobs and switches for stereo and mono operations. It also comes with a low-battery indicator, which is a nifty feature not a lot of headphone amps have. It also has creature features like a belt clip and mic stand mount socket, and comes with a 2m cable. It is suitable for headphones, but is built to drive in-ear monitors.
- This is probably the best amp when it comes to ease of use.
- It does not have any extra frills and is practical and rugged.
- It can be powered by a 9V battery or an external DC circuit.
- It is best suited for powering in-ear monitors.
- It has an LED light acting as a battery life indicator.
- It has two female inputs and one phone connector output.
- It can shift between stereo and mono outputs.
- Customers have complained about the cables that come with the product.
The M-Audio Bass Traveler is one of the smallest portable headphone amplifiers available. It comes with two 1/8inch audio outputs. It is suitable for headphones with an impedance range of 16 to 100 ohms. It has a gain switch that boosts the signal levels and makes the sound crisper and clearer. THis portable headphone amplifier is powered by a lithium polymer battery which can last upto 8 hours and can be charged using a universal micro USB port. It is extremely ergonomically designed and has bright battery level and charging indicators. It can also be connected to virtually all sorts of audio devices using the 3.5mm stereo input jack. It is small and is built to be strong and sturdy. This product offers great confidence and every part feels solid to touch.
- The Bass Traveler is a small portable headphone amplifier which can support devices with impedance ranging from 16 to 100 ohms.
- It has an intuitive gain switch to boost signal levels.
- It is powered by a large lithium polymer battery which can be charged by a universal micro USB port.
- It has intelligently placed buttons, knobs and indicators which make it easy to use.
- It is not suitable for headphones with impedance higher than 100 ohms.
The Proster Amp is one of the most powerful headphone amplifiers out there. It is compatible with a wide range of headphones and supports an impedance range of 16 to 500 ohms. It can work wonders with any headphone in that range and entirely remove noise, outputting perfect, distortion-free music. It comes with a gain switch to match the output with the headphone’s power needs. It also gets power level and charging indicators. You can also adjust the headphone output using the volume button on the amp. It is powered by a 2400mAh rechargeable lithium battery which provides a massive 16 hours of continuous usage on optimum settings. It is built using strong and durable matte aluminium which shields from signal interference and overheating.
- It supports a wide impedance range of 16 to 500 ohms and is compatible with almost any audio device.
- It has all the necessary indicators and the knobs and switches feel good to hold and use.
- It is made of sturdy matte aluminium which reduces signal interference and offers greater heat resistance, while at the same time feels solid to hold.
- It is lightweight and can be carried around anywhere.
- The audio gain on the amp is not the best in its class.
If you are someone who is not the biggest musical enthusiast, but loves to play games, the last headphone amplifier on our list is built for you. The Sound BlasterX G5 is the perfect device to give you the best gaming audio experience you could hope for. It supports a 7.1 channel audio input signal that provides the most realistic virtualisation, taking your gaming audio experience to the next level. It is without a doubt the best-in-class when it comes to console gaming audio as well. It can be connected to your desktop, XBox One or PS4 and has both analog and a digital optical output port. It caters to a massive range of headphones with impedance levels ranging from 2.2 ohms to a massive 600 ohms. It is also compatible with in-ear monitors that are available in the market today.
- It is one of the most stylish portable headphone amplifiers available in the market.
- It is a dedicated gaming audio amplifier.
- It provides glitch and noise-free, crisp, 3D surround sound.
- It is compatible with all kinds of gaming devices.
- It supports an impedance range of 2.2 ohms to 600 ohms.
- It has both digital and analog output ports.
- It is expensive and not suited purely for music.
Buying Guide for Portable Headphone Amplifier
Headphone amplifiers are essentially power sources for your headphones. Even though mobile devices have small amplifiers on their own, those are not powerful enough to explore the full potential of your headphones. If you are someone who is deeply into music or an avid gamer, you would want your prized headphones to provide you the best quality audio that it possibly can. Headphone amplifiers help to reduce the noise, the signal interference and output a clear, crisp audio. A proper headphone amplifier is absolutely essential to use your high-end headphones at their full potential. It also usually adds a bass boost to your listening experience, making it the best version of the data that it is. Here are a few things that you need to keep in mind, when you are out looking for a good portable headphone amplifier:
- Needless to say the most important filter to narrow down your shortlist is your Headphone amps are available in a wide range of prices.
- Another very important factor to keep in mind is the impedance range that your amp supports. Different amplifiers support different impedance ranges, and you need to make sure that your headphone belongs to the range supported by your amp.
- Connections are vital to an amp. Make sure it can connect to your audio source and your headphones.
- Another important feature that you should look for is a gain switch.
- The Company that you are buying your amplifier from is very important.
Buying the perfect headphone amplifier is a difficult task. It is a technical device with lots of features that can be difficult to understand for someone who is not well-versed with sound engineering. However using a headphone amplifier completely transforms your musical experience and is worth a shot. It does justice to the expensive headphones that you bought. Even though choosing the best amp is a complicated decision, go through the buying guide and the products mentioned above to get the best portable headphone amplifier for your headphones.