What Does a Headphone Amplifier do?

By Kartikeya Rokde Sep 04, 2020

Wouldn’t you  agree that there is no other feeling quite like being transported into a private world of your own with your favorite music and a pair of headphones in place? But even with premium quality music and the best headphones, many rely on a headphone amplifier to be able to use their headphones to their full potential. Adding an amplifier between the player and your headphones can go a long way in improving the audio clarity and details.

What is an amplifier? Can a headphone amplifier really do the trick? How does sound amplification work? Do you really need one? Let’s find out, shall we!

What is a Headphone Amp?

Simply put, a headphone amplifier is a device that improves a low-voltage audio signal from the source to a sufficient level, so that it can be converted into sound waves by your headphone speaker. An important component of sound amplification is digital-to-analog converter (DAC) that converts digital audio information into a low-voltage signal, which the amplifier can, in turn, amplify. 

With high impedance headphones, you can particularly benefit from a headphone amplifier as they tend to resist electrical signals. The higher the impedance, therefore, the higher the likelihood of a headphone amp coming to your rescue! Of course with the advent of new technology, there are a number of high-performance headphones with a low impedance that may not need an added amplifier like the PLAYGO BH70 which comes with Golden Curve Sound Optimisation. 

What does a headphone amplifier do

The audio experience in the BH 70 is fine-tuned by AI. Powered by an AI algorithm, it optimises your hearing curve with the golden curve for premium sound output

What Can a Digital Amplifier do for Me?

For starters, it can make the sound clear and balanced making it sound much richer. A good amplifier can also limit crosstalk that impacts sound quality.

How do I Choose a Headphone Amplifier?

First up, it is the size and dimensions of your headphone that will determine whether or not you need an amplifier. Broadly speaking the in-ear headphones are likely to benefit less from an amplifier as opposed to over-the-ear headphones. Also, if you use noise-canceling earphones, they have a built-in headphone amp, which takes away the need for any external headphone amplifier. 

However, if your heart is set on going in for a sound amp as opposed to getting a PLAYGO upgrade, then, here are your options. (of course, we are judging you a little!)

Portable Headphone Amp

The portable headphone amp, as its name suggests is portable and can fit into your pocket. It accepts audio from the smartphone and in turn, delivers the power to your headphones. All you need to do is to remember to keep it charged.

Desktop Headphone Amp

You could also opt for the desktop headphone amp. Even though these are bulky and designed to sit on your desk, they could take your audio experience to the next level.

Rack Mount Amp

The rackmount variety amplifiers would typically rest on your rack and have four to six headphone jacks to power a lot of headphones at once.

Essentially, while a portable headphone amplifier can be carried around and works well for your pleasure listening, a rackmount or desktop amp is ideally used for mixing and studio recording. 

Closing Thoughts on Headphone Amplifiers 

We stand by our opinion that, in the age of minimalism and going wireless, do you need the extra equipment to weigh you down? However, to each their own and we hope you learnt a bit more about audio quality for our article. So, cheers and keep the sound on! 

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