Shopping For Earphones amplifier – 3 Things to Look Keenly At

Earphone amplifier – What is it? An earphone amplifier is a small power amplifier specifically designed to drive the tiny speakers inside headphones. The intention is not to increase the volume (often referred as loudness in layman terms) of music but to produce cleaner and controlled sound, especially when producing peak notes. If you are disappointed by the audio quality of your devices – particularly when paired with headphones, then the solution is to pair your device with a portable earphone amplifier. It is a small device that will greatly enhance your listening experience. Choose the best headphones amplifier here.

Uses of Earphone amplifiers

Usage of an earphone amplifier between the audio source and headphones would significantly improve the sound clarity and further enhances its details and dynamics.

Three essential factors to consider while buying earphone amplifiers are:

  1. Category & Type
  2. Features
  3. Performance

Let’s discuss those in detail.

3 Things to Keenly Look Keenly for before buying: 

  1. Category & Type

Earphone amplifiers fall into 3 main categories:

  1. Portable — these amplifiers are compact and are useful for mobile devices such as laptops and iPhones
  2. Desktop –designed to be used in stationary and limited spaces and used for desktops
  3. Full size — used for permanent listening environments and have the highest level of performance and excellent output quality.

Amplifier type will vary according to the design and objectives of that particular amplifier. Each type has its own pros and cons. 

  1. Features

Most amplifiers offer analog input and output in the form of a headphone jack. Headphones can be directly connected to amplifiers rather than source device. A feature that is most common now-a-days is DAC (Digital to Audio Convertor). An amplifier with integrated DAC allows digital connection between amplifier and audio source. Choose the best headphones amplifier. 

  1. Performance

This is the most important factor while choosing amplifier. An Earphone amplifier must be chosen based on performance specifications of the headphone such as impedance, sensitivity, distortion, signal-to-noise ratio, power output, damping factor etc.

For a given amplifier power, the sensitivity or efficiency of headphone indicates how loudly it will play a given sound. Headphones which have sensitivity of 95 dB or less will need an amplifier.

Impedance is measured in ‘ohms’. The general rule of thumb is to choose a headphone with impedance level 10 times that of its amplifier. For example, an earphone amplifier with 40 ohms is suitable for a headphone of 400 ohms. Though complex, the amplifier’s impedance must be very lower than the headphone impedance to get good electrical damping. This helps them resonate well and hence produce very high quality output. 

Conclusion

Hopefully, by now, you would have a good idea of how to choose an earphone amplifier. Though a bit technical, we must look after the above discussed key factors to choose a good amplifier. 

Few suggestions for best headphone amplifiers are:

  1. FiiO A3 Portable Headphone Amplifier (Black)
  2. Audio Quest – Dragon Fly Red USB DAC/Headphone Amplifier
  3. Magni 2 Headphone Amplifier
  4. Indigo Portable Powered Headphone Amplifier with Dual Outputs and 2-Level Boost
  5. OPPO HA-2SE Portable Headphone Amplifier & DAC