Modern music lovers prefer deep and high-quality sound. Often, people simply do not have the opportunity to listen to music through speakers with a sufficient volume level. In this case, they are replaced by various kinds of headphones, ranging from wireless, vacuum and ending with professional overhead products. Unfortunately, the sound amplifier built into the player is often not enough to ensure the perfect harmony of the melody.
Especially for this purpose, an original sound equipment was developed – a headphone amplifier. With its help, it is possible to achieve optimal volume and playback quality, without disturbing others. Unfortunately, not all music lovers are able to understand the characteristics of such devices. Especially for them, we have developed a ranking of the best headphone amplifiers in 2022. As part of this review, we will not only analyze the key characteristics of the most popular products, but also give a number of rather useful tips that will definitely help when buying products. With this, perhaps, we will begin.
How to choose the right headphone amplifier?
In general, all such products can be classified according to the principle of operation: they can be tube, transistor and hybrid. The first type allows you to achieve a warm and most comfortable sound. Lamps, which also glow in the dark, give a special visual effect to the devices. If they are outside the main body, then the amplifier must be located in such a way that pets or children cannot reach it. This is due to the fact that the lamps get quite hot during operation, so babies or pets can be severely burned. Still, tube amplifiers are not installed in a confined space – they must be provided with access to fresh air.
Transistor-type amplifiers reproduce music accurately and clearly, and are ideal for low-impedance headphones. In addition, they are characterized by compact overall dimensions, consume a small amount of electricity. Hybrid devices use both lamps and transistors. These are the most versatile devices that combine the positive features of the two designs discussed above. These devices are suitable for any type of headphones, because the tubes provide the most soft sound, and the transistor elements provide the necessary power.
As a rule, amplifiers are designed for a certain type of headphones – some work fine with low-impedance, others are suitable for high-sensitivity devices. When we chose products to include in the review of the best headphone amplifiers, we relied, first of all, on all the points discussed above. However, we also took into account some other factors: value for money, as well as user reviews. We have tried to include in the rating the most popular models that will be affordable for most of our readers.
Top 10 best headphone amps in 2022
10Fiio Q1 Mark II
It features excellent manufacturing quality and advanced functionality. In particular, with the help of this amplifier, it will be possible to fully reveal the capabilities of any type of headphones, even when the main sound source is a smartphone. Although this model is made in China, it is solidly built to ensure a long service life. The design power is 0.22 W, there is a built-in battery that allows the amplifier to work without interruption for 20 hours. Overall dimensions are 99x59x12.5 mm with a weight of 101.5 g.
If necessary, this model can be connected without the use of adapters (they always negatively affect the quality of sound reproduction) to a device running on the iOS operating system – the original Lightning cable is included in the kit. The upper frequencies during playback are colored quite brightly, due to which the sound delivery acquires a slight unnaturalness. The middle frequency range is audible and quite natural. The bass line and gain level can be adjusted if necessary.
- Quite acceptable cost;
- Compact overall dimensions;
- The kit comes with a cable to connect to Apple products.
- There is no battery indicator on the case.
- The micro-USB connector is rather tight.
Headphone Amplifier Fiio Q1 Mark II
The device is placed in a dense case made of high-quality artificial leather, which gives it additional style and presentability. Belongs to the middle price group, has a power of 0.22 W, as well as a dynamic range of 115 dB. The design has a fairly reliable amplified DAC at 384 kHz / 32 bits. The built-in accumulator allows to use the device without interruption for 13 hours. The overall dimensions are as follows – 137x68x12 mm, the weight of the device is 175 g.
With this amplifier, it is possible to provide high-quality processing of the PCM signal in real time. Thanks to the use of this technology, it is possible to obtain a very powerful sound that will fully reveal all the facets of the track being played. The product has a significant number of connectors, among which there are two 3.5mm ports Line In and Line Out. Due to this, the user is able to independently choose the sound quality – in the first case, the DAC does not turn on and there is no processing of the melody, and in the second track, you can pump and feel the power of the converter to the maximum.
- The original design of the case;
- Quite compact overall dimensions;
- You can charge other devices as needed.
- There is a certain musical color;
- With regular use, the volume control starts to loosen.
Headphone Amplifier OPPO HA-2SE
8.iFi micro iDSD Black Label
When using this amplifier, up to 1 W is output per channel at a resistance of 64 Ohms – this is a fairly high figure among most of the devices included in this review. It should be said right away that the device is quite expensive, but it is able to provide a dynamic range of 115 dB. The built-in battery can work up to 12 hours without recharging. It has a built-in DAC at 768 kHz/32 bit. The dimensions are insignificant – 158x68x28 mm, its weight is 265 g, so it is easy to take it with you on business trips, trips or hikes.
Users express quite a lot of positive feedback about this device. The amplifier can be used both portable and as a stationary device. The presence of the original coaxial-optical input allows you to work on the output, which allows you to use the gadget as a signal converter. A USB connector is provided on the side of the case, thanks to which the amplifier can be used as a charger for smartphones, players and tablets.
- If necessary, it is possible to provide professional sound tuning;
- Decent sound quality;
- Extended functionality;
- Other devices can also be charged from the built-in battery.
- In terms of dimensions, it is larger than similar devices;
- It is quite expensive.
iFi micro iDSD Black Label Headphone Amplifier
7.M-Audio Bass Traveler
The device is one of the cheapest among all the models presented in our ranking of the best headphone amplifiers. The device is manufactured in the United States on the basis of original components, which automatically indicates the high quality of production and assembly of the product. The power of the device is 0.025 W, thanks to this factor, the amplifier can operate in a dynamic range up to 90 dB. DAC is not provided here. The gadget is one of the lightest – it weighs only 30 g with overall dimensions of 45.7×46.9×15.2 mm. In offline mode, the device can work for 8 hours.
As the owners of such amplifiers note in their reviews, the device is best suited for owners of high-quality headphones that can sound good in combination with a personal computer or laptop, but they are not able to fully reveal their qualities if they work with a smartphone. There are two headphone jacks at once, so two people can listen to the same music at once, and absolutely synchronously.
- It is enough just to operate the device;
- One of the cheapest models;
- There is an LED-type battery charge indicator;
- At the same time, if necessary, you can connect two pairs of headphones at once.
- The body is made of glossy plastic, which will leave traces.
Headphone Amplifier M-Audio Bass Traveler
6. Questyle CMA-800R
Despite the fact that this model is really the best in the world market in terms of performance, it is characterized by a very high price. For this reason, many users are not able to afford such an acquisition. The device is distinguished by increased power – 0.18 W, which is really a lot for an amplifier. The device can operate in a dynamic range up to 118 dB. Another key point is the lack of a battery. The overall dimensions are as follows: 330x55x300 mm, the weight of the gadget is 265 g.
For headphones, this model really will be the best version of the amplifier, and the amplification is carried out exclusively by current, which minimizes the distortion of the melody. A similar technology is used in video signal processing, as well as in high-speed communications. The amplifier is able to work with headphones of any type, regardless of their impedance.
- A significant number of various inputs and outputs;
- Perfect sound quality, almost indistinguishable from live;
- Perfect for high impedance headphones.
- Quite high cost;
- Fully revealed only with headphones belonging to the premium class;
- No option to use offline.
Headphone Amplifier Questyle CMA-800R
It is characterized by an increased capacity of the built-in battery, thanks to which the device is able to function continuously throughout the day – this is the highest indicator among all the models presented in this review. The product is not too expensive, although it is British-made, equipped with a built-in DAC. Due to the capacious battery, I had to give up some overall dimensions, which are 81x25x70 mm with a weight of 270 g.
Another important distinguishing feature of this device is the ability to transmit a signal via a wireless Bluetooth channel. The amplifier converts it to an analog version, and then transmits it to headphones or speakers. There is an RCA input, the product can be used on both stationary and mobile devices.
- Long battery life;
- The body is made of high quality metal;
- There is a Bluetooth module;
- You can work with both stationary and mobile devices.
- The dimensions are insignificant, but there is an antenna protruding beyond the body.
Headphone Amplifier SMSL B1
4. Sony PHA3
Ideal for use with headphones from the same manufacturer. The built-in battery can provide up to 5 hours of battery life. The product is made in Japan and is, therefore, traditionally of high quality. The power of the amplifier is 0.1 W. The dimensions of the device are 140x80x29 mm with a weight of 230 g.
The gadget appeared on the market in 2020, it can also work with balanced headphones, where each channel is connected separately. The scope of delivery is quite wide, which is why the cost turned out to be very high. In particular, there are wires for Walkamp, speaker wires with 3.5 mm jacks, rubber gaskets and rings. The sound is detailed, but there is no pronounced part of the range here.
- Steel body;
- Many inputs of various types;
- Extended equipment.
- The battery is fully charged for as long as 15 hours;
- The device is quite expensive.
Headphone Amplifier Sony PHA3
3. Sennheiser GSX 1200 PRO
In third place in our ranking of the best headphone amplifiers is products from a world famous manufacturer of acoustic products. In general, this device was designed specifically for stationary use with personal computers. In particular, it is ideal for game lovers – you can instantly hear any rustle of an enemy sneaking up on you. As is already clear, there is no built-in battery here, although the device has compact overall dimensions – 143x70x139 mm with a weight of 413 g.
Up to 8 amplifiers can be connected to this amplifier at the same time, it is capable of supporting the latest generation of sound – 7.1. The volume can be adjusted, quickly switched between loudspeaker and headset, and a customizable equalizer is provided. Long warranty period – 2 years. You can use this device as an external USB sound card, and no drivers are required.
- Works with any operating systems – Windows, Macintosh;
- Ideal for gamers;
- There is no need to install drivers.
- The battery is missing;
- The included USB cable is only 1.2m long.
Headphone Amplifier Sennheiser GSX 1200 PRO
2. xDuoo XD-05
Although the power of this gadget is somewhat lower compared to other models from our review, it is able to work on a single battery charge for 23 hours. In addition, the amplifier has a liquid crystal display, which will display the main information useful to the user, for example, the current sampling frequency.
A smartphone and other mobile devices are connected to the device exclusively via an OTG cable. It is very important that the smartphone or tablet supports this function, otherwise you will not be able to play music. Users in the reviews note another important fact: if the gadget is based on the Android platform, then you will have to install a special USB Audio Player Pro player, otherwise it will not work to reveal all the capabilities of the amplifier.
- Compact overall dimensions;
- Acceptable cost;
- The presence of a liquid crystal screen;
- Long battery life.
- There are certain difficulties when installing the software;
- There are no wireless connections.
Headphone Amplifier xDuoo XD-05
1. Fostex HP-A3
The leaders of headphone amplifiers turned out to be the most reliable and functional model that can work without failures for many years. The sound is excellent – the music is detailed, the entire spectrum of frequencies is heard perfectly. There is no need to switch cables: this is the additional originality of this device. Here, just press the button and the channel switches from speakers to headphones. The case is quite large, but the battery is not provided here, besides, the amplifier weighs a lot.
- Small overall dimensions;
- Classic appearance;
- It is convenient to switch between audio output devices.
- Built-in battery not included
- There is no on/off button here.
Headphone Amplifier Fostex HP-A3
In conclusion, a useful video
This concludes our review of the best headphone amplifiers. We have tried to collect as much information as possible on each of the most popular models. If there are certain incomprehensible points, then you can always ask about them in the comments to this article.