It often happens that after buying expensive in-ear headphones, the sound quality rises far from the level expected from the top model. A similar picture is observed with full-size models: the volume seems to be good, but the sound itself is somehow cloudy and flat.

Usually, this situation is typical when you connect the headphones to a cell phone, music center or built-in sound card. In search of a solution, it turns out that you need a specialized headphone amp. Let’s try to figure out what role it plays and what its possible technical parameters are.By connecting headphones through a special amplifier, using the regulator you can change the voltage level of the device and, as a result, the output power.

How it works?

By the principle of its operation, it is no different from other power amplifiers.

As a rule, headphone amplifiers are quite compact in size, which allows you to use them with your phone outside the home. The energy consumption in them depends on the volume of the load, and on the voltage you set.

By connecting headphones to the amplifier, we use the volume control to set the voltage level applied to this load. The current consumption is proportional to the voltage and inversely proportional to the load resistance.

However, there are some nuances. Each amplifier has two limiting factors: these are the levels of maximum voltage and maximum output current. In the case when we set the volume so high that the amplifier does not have enough voltage or current, noticeable and unpleasant distortions appear in the output signal of the device. And for example, low-impedance headphones tend to have high sensitivity, and they don’t need an amplifier with a high output voltage threshold.

Do headphone amps improve sound quality?

Some models have a digital to analog converter. The presence of this feature in the amplifier design allows you to feel the old songs in a completely new form. This criterion is important if the bulk of the audio material is listened to by you from a personal computer.

It is necessary to distinguish between a stationary Hi-Fi device and a portable amplifier.

Selection criteria

There is a number of basic criteria that you should pay attention to when buying a power amplifier.

  •         Personal feeling. The amplifier should create a feeling of complete immersion in the atmosphere of a musical work. Whether soft or accurate, smooth, you should feel deeply satisfied listening to your favorite song.
  •         The right choice of the type of amplifier. Depending on your preferences, you should give preference to one of three types of devices (tube type, transistor type, hybrid type).
  •         A number of connection options. Many models allow you to make the choice of connecting the device. If you own both a CD player and a regular stereo system, the most logical option would be to choose a headphone amplifier that will support each type of connection.