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Do I Need A Headphone Amp?

"Not sure whether to buy a headphone amplifier? This article will inform you of the benefits of adding an amplifier to your existing setup, or buying an amplifier with your new headphones."

What's the point of a headphone amplifier?

Not sure whether to buy a headphone amplifier? This article will inform you of the benefits of adding an amplifier to your existing setup, or buying an amplifier with your new headphones.

When you're buying some new headphones it's always good to think about what your source will be; whether it's an iPhone, Laptop, DAP (Digital Audio Player), your home HiFi or a bit of everything, figure out which has the lowest output and if it can drive your chosen headphone. So if you use a mobile phone as your main source and you've decided on some Earsonics SM64 earphones which are very hard to drive, you will need a headphone amp to add some extra power so you can get the most from your new purchase.

There are plenty of headphones designed to be used with mobile phones and other low powered portable devices; these headphones generally have low impedance (up to 32ohm) and high sensitivity (95db and over) so they are very easy to drive. This doesn't mean that you won't benefit from an amp; not only do amps add extra power but they can also change the sound by improving sound stage, separation and depending on the amp add warmth or brightness.

Another benefit of getting a headphone amp is that some of them have EQ settings on them, so you can adjust the amount of bass you want depending on what you're listening to.

If you have decided to go for a headphone amp you now need to decide which one to go for, there are many to choose from and they go for anything between £20 and £1500. Amps can be split into two main groups, portable and desktop. If you are going for a portable amp then you could go for something like the FiiO E11 which is powerful enough to drive most portable headphones, it is a good size and has two EQ settings. If you require more power then you could go for the FiiO E12 or the Just Audio UHA-120. Both of these amps can drive most headphones and they will also improve the sound quality, with the Just Audio being slightly warmer than the E12. For the harder to drive headphones there is the Just Audio AHA-120. This amp has adjustable gain settings and is class A, this provides a less distorted, more accurate sound.

If you only use your headphones at home then you should go for a desktop amplifier as they are generally more powerful. There is a much larger range of desktop amplifiers and you really should know what headphone you will be using before choosing the amp, for example if your headphones have a warm/bassy sound then it's a good idea to go for a brighter/detailed amplifier. This also works the other way around; a warm sounding amp will compliment bright headphones and balance the sound out.

If you have any questions about choosing the right amplifier then give us a call at Hifi Headphones on 01903 768 910 or you can send an email to support@hifiheadphones.co.uk - we will be more than happy to help.

About Shaun Gostelow

Shaun is co-founder of hifiheadphones.co.uk and spends most of his time dealing with the business side of running the store, but still loves listening to music with headphones just the same as ever.
Follow Shaun on Google+
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