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    Best Headphone Amps

    Getting Amped Up for Autumn

    Our top recs for seriously impressive headphone amplifiers.

    Stick a pin in it, summer's just about done for. Now we're staring down the barrel of the big chill, and we're gonna have to get serious about our indoor entertainment if we want to get through it without either losing our marbles or freezing them off. What else are you supposed to do, take in the beautiful changing foliage? Get really into trick-or-treating? As if. It doesn't have to be all gloom and doom, though! Whether you're looking for something to complement your perfect gaming rig or a punch of power for your juice-hungry headphones, we'd be willing to bet we've got something for you to get excited about.

    Pick 1: The Burson Audio Play with V6 Vivid

    Burson Audio Play V6 Vivid Headphone Amplifier, Pre-Amp & USB DAC Settle in for a long winter's night with this awesome, customisable amplifier from Burson. This is one of the most powerful headphone amps around, and it's perfect for anybody looking to upgrade their gaming setup to include a serious sonic boost. No high end soundcards in gaming feature the DAC chip found in the Play, which means PC gamers have to settle for distortion, poor sound quality, and noisy power supplies. Who wants subpar audio dragging you out of the moment when you're trying to keep an ear out for raiders lurking in the capital wasteland? The Play is perfect for users wanting to roll their opamps, which means you can tweak that sound to your exact specifications and lose yourself completely in whatever world you'd like to substitute for the cold, wet one outside.

    Pick 2: The iFi Audio Micro iDSD Black Label with USB DAC

    iFi Audio Micro iDSD BL Headphone Amplifier & USB DAC - Black Label You've gotta show your face in the real world eventually, but why resign yourself to a less-than-stellar listening experience while you're making moves? The Micro iDSD Black Label is a perfect portable companion for those wanting to maintain a high standard both at home and on the way to your friend's ill-advised homemade fireworks display. Drown out the sounds of his self-inflicted injuries with three power output modes to make it the perfect match for the most sensitive headphones all the way to the most power-hungry. What's that? You need more options? It's got you covered- the 3D+ option allows you to focus the stereo image, and the XBass+ gives you control over deepening and tightening bass frequencies. This amp is a real ride-or-die. You'll get 6-12 hours of power out of it depending on use and settings, and the USB port means you can charge your phone or other electronic devices as well! Do your other friends put in this kind of effort for you? Ricky won't even lend you £5 for lunch. Serves him right about the fireworks mishap.

    Pick 3: JDS Labs 'The Element'

    JDS Labs The Element Headphone Amplifier & USB DAC - Copper Ring Treat yourself to a slice of simplicity in the form of The Element, a deceptively powerful unit from JDS Labs. You don't need anything too showy- not like your neighbours already throwing their Christmas lights up. The Element's gentle copper-coloured ring of light beneath the volume control will inspire plenty of warm cozy feelings. The Element's minimalist design houses absolute reference quality perfection in a body that doesn't fight for attention, but will probably get it, because- let's face it, it looks good. And it's more multifaceted than it appears- just turn the amplifier off and use the analog jack inputs to turn The Element into a standalone DAC. The gift that keeps on giving!

    So whether you're dreading the change of the seasons or welcoming it with open arms, it's more fun to do things with a buddy. Or three.

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