Best Headphone Amps in 2020



Headphone Amplifier, Portable Headphone AMP 3.5mm Stereo Audio Out, Powered Dual-Output With Lithium Battery And 2-Level Boost, Headphone Amplifier for iPhone, iPod, iPad, MP3, MP4 And Computers Review:


First, I hope this comes off as a positive review. That said, I was hoping for a little more umph (volume), but I probably need to shell out more $$$ for that.

I got this mainly 'cause some tv shows are low-volume, and I can barely hear anything sometimes. Especially low-volume is Amazon Video. They definitely turn down the sound, for some reason. Well, this device makes it so that I actually can hear EVERYTHING, even on Amazon Video. So kudos!

I guess my expectations were just too high. I was hoping that I'd be amazed by the loudness of this device. And I'm not. The only way to get to hear everything on Amazon Video is to have this device switched to high-gain, and the volume knob ALL the way up. But, at least I CAN hear everything, now. I just had hoped I'd have to turn the volume DOWN in order to not go deaf. LOL. Oh, well.

For the PRICE, it's DEFINITELY worth purchasing!



Schiit Magni 3 Headphone Amp and Preamp Review:


I used to own an Objective O2 ODAC that cost $230 or so. That thing had so many issues with popping, white noise, cutting sound out making me reconnect the USB port over and over to get it to work, and sometimes even crashing my computer while doing it! Lived with it for a year because it powered my Sennheiser HD650’s just fine WHEN IT WORKED, but eventually I got fed up with the issues. Went on Amazon to look for a new DAC/AMP, and found Schiit is finally selling on Amazon. Bought the Schiit Modi/Magni 3 stack immediately. Absolutely amazing difference. Much better sound, no crackling or popping or sound cut off issues AT ALL. So happy with this purchase. Also made my HD650’s come to life so much more I thought I had upgraded headphones. Bought the Audeze LCD-X recently to use with this setup, and wow! I can’t say anything that could describe the sound quality massed; just look at reviews yourself online; they’re everywhere. And they aren’t lying.

The ONLY issue I had with this setup was the USB cable that came with the Modi was defective. Windows refused to acknowledge any device with the cable. Fortunately I had the same type of USB cord from my old FiiO DAC and connected the Modi to my computer. BOOM, worked immediately.

Fantastic product, I reccomend Schiit to anyone who wants top end audio through headphones of audiophile quality.



EarStudio ES100-24bit Portable High-Resolution Bluetooth Receiver/USB DAC/Headphone Amp with LDAC, aptX HD, aptX, AAC (3.5mm Unbalanced & 2.5mm Balanced Output) Review:


Updates on the Bottom

I just wanted to add a quick review for now because I think this little device is fantastic and it’s a shame that more people don’t know about it. I will give it 5 stars for my first impression but will continue to update this review as I spend more time testing it.

I have been looking for a Bluetooth solution like this for a while now and I had never heard of this company or this product before. Even after finding it on Amazon and seeing the impressive spec sheet, I was very skeptical that it was legitimate. What finally convinced me to give it a try was finding forums on it and seeing people’s experiences with it as well as seeing a strong presence from the company in the form of a representative from the company thoroughly answering questions.

Although I’ve seen many pictures and the promotional video about this I wasn’t prepared for how small and lightweight this would be. The device looks very nice and has a simple but functional layout. One button to power on, power off, put into pairing, play, and pause. It also has a volume rocker and a back/next track rocker that is also used to turn on ambient mode. It was very easy to connect to my iPhone and get it up and running straight out of the box in a minute.

I don’t want to get too much into sound, battery life, or the app because I haven’t had enough time to test any of them very much. I will say that it does sound great using the 3.5mm jack and AAC codec and I threw a wide variety of music at it. Previously the V-Moda Bluetooth was some of the best I’ve ever heard but I would say so far that this is noticeably better for me.

The unit had 75% battery and while I haven’t tested to see if any firmware updates fix a battery issue, the app seems to show the battery life while the battery notification on my iPhone always shows 100%. I used it for an hour on 3.5mm high performance and it took me to 70%. I don’t think this is any real indication of battery life but will try to test it going forward in an update to this review.

The app so far is fully featured and I added pictures of the app in this review. With only limited time in the app I will say that I really like the equalizer and the fact that it has a healthy amount of presets as well as what looks like customizable and savable presets but I will test this out more soon. I also briefly tried out the ambient mode and thought it was a very neat feature with a surprising amount of features. I don’t know how much I would personally use it but enjoyed playing with it and found the implementation well done.

So far I have only tried it on two of my many headphones but it was a pretty wide range with the IE80S and the HD800S. While I expected it to drive the IE80S without a problem I didn’t expect it to drive the HD800S so well. To think I got that sound quality out of Bluetooth from my iPhone is just amazing and I do see a lot of potential to use my headphones with the ES100.

It is a little too early to give any recommendation other than people should take notice of this little device because so far it is very impressive. I will continue to test the ES100 and update my review after a lot more use but if it holds up, I can definitely say it will be a deal at $100.

[UPDATE]

I’ve still only used this for a couple of days but I am very impressed with the sound this puts out. I’m using the balanced output now and it is hard to believe that this is Bluetooth.

I’ve also tried to test the battery and although the battery indicator seems to be buggy, if it is anywhere near accurate the 14 hour estimation of battery life could be very accurate and that is with EQ on, volume at 50%, and using the 2.5 balanced output.

[UPDATE 2}

There has been a firmware update that seems to have addressed the battery life indicator issue.

The ES100 has been working amazingly and it is still impressive how good the quality of the audio is. If I had to change anything about the ES100 it would be with the placement and style of the controls. They do work well but they could be a little better and easier to locate and press without looking. Overall this is a great device and is a must have for people looking for something like this.



USB C DAC - Portable 32 Bit Headphone Amplifier - USB C Headphone Adapter - Premium Sound Enhancer for Google Pixel 2 XL/3XL,Moto Z,Oneplus,Huawei Mate10 Pro/P20/Mate20 Review:


I purchased these to use in my vehicle paired with my Note 10+. I really appreciate the noise reduction feature, I typically experience feedback from the car stereo if I have the phone charging while I'm listening to music; I use a 3.5mm headphone cable to plug in an aux input, no bluetooth or anything. I can't detect that feedback at all now. My vehicle came with a premium sound system stock, so I wanted a solution that didn't require a new after market stereo since the Note 10+ no longer has a headphone port. I'm quite happy that I was able to get something worthwhile for a sale price of ~$22.

As far as headphones, I have a pair of Sony MDR-1A which are fairly low impedance (24 ohms), and Fostex TH-X00 (25 ohms), this dac drives them just fine. I bought these headphones specifically because I wanted my phone to power them without an external amp while still enjoying premium sound and loud enough volume for my needs - without a headphone jack on my phone, this fits the niche. I'd imagine that some of the other audiophile headphones such as Sennheiser's higher end audiophile offerings, which are typically 150-300 ohm headphones, may experience issues with volume; impedance is only one variable but often the culprit when it comes to low volume on certain devices. So, its worthwhile to understand what you are plugging into this unit. For my purpose, this product delivers exactly as I have expected.



Behringer Microamp HA400 Ultra-Compact 4-Channel Stereo Headphone Amplifier Review:


I was skeptical of this headamp since I purchased one that set me back $100, and while that one did what it was meant to do, I realized $100 was expensive for what it was. This one being $25 made me hesitate about what it was capable of doing... I took the risk and purchased it. This is definitely worth the $25! It did the exact same thing my other $100 did! I saved myself the extra $75 and went ahead and bought a packet of Cable Matters 3.5 mm to 1/4 in adapter (set of 5). It's not the sleekest headamp you can buy but it definitely gets the job done. Happy Amazon shopping!



FiiO E10K USB DAC and Headphone Amplifier (Black) Review:


Probably the only amp you'll need unless you want to spend north of $300. I just recently bought a pair of HD650 and tried out a few amps and none of them can power the HD650 properly. I have the FiiO K1 and like that little USB DAC/Amp very much, so I decided to give this one a try. FiiO official website stated that the E10K is the updated version of their older E10, which includes a newer DAC and amp chip. Got this amp/DAC the same day and here is a short review.
- Build quality: Very nicely made with no sharp corner that can cut you (like other cheap Chinese products). FiiO has always have good aesthetic design and the material used is of high quality. The switches and rotating knob feel good during operation. I also really like the front blue LED light when the unit is on. Quite cool looking.
- Headphones handling: As mentioned before, I am using this unit with my Sennheiser HD650 (300 ohms). In short, it drives these cans with ease and plenty loud enough in case you want to listen at ear-bleeding level. Make sure you set the switch to "high gain" in order to get good volume out of higher impedance headphones. So for those people having the HD600/HD650, yes this will power them with no problem whatsoever.
- Sound quality: This is where FiiO hit it out of the park with this DAC/amp combo. The sound quality is warm and detail after a few hours of breaking-in. This amp is very easy to listen to and works very well with Windows 10. I set the bass boost to off and used iTunes' equalizer setting instead. This thing is seriously of audiophile quality. and definitely put many of the more expensive amps to shame. The E10K brings out the best of my HD650 without a sweat. I think most people would find this amp to be an excellent sounding DAC/amp.

Conclusion: With its good look, ease of use, and great sound, it is hard to not recommend this DAC/amp for Hi-Fi use. Thanks to modern technology, products like the E10K could exist at such a low price point. This unit is a serious amp with a very good DAC built into it. If you have a nicer pair of headphones, do yourself a favor and check this item out before spending more money on other DAC/amps.



HIDIZS Portable Headphone Amplifier USB Type C DAC Headphone Amp for Android/Windows/MacOSX System Smartphone Laptop (Mark II) Review:


Ultimately, the sound coming from this device, as long as you have upgraded to Firmware D, is terrific for the money, well above the sound quality you get going straight from your smartphone through the headphone jack. The headphone jack employs the phone's built-in digital-audio-convert (DAC) and amplifier. Phone makers are not putting much money into those things.

When you buy the HIDIZS headphone amp/DAC, it comes with two types of firmware programmed in - the A firmware is designed to allow you to make phone calls with it and emphasizes that ability, with sound quality a secondary importance. The C firmware still allows you to make phone calls through it, but emphasizes sound quality more.

Neither sound very good. You'll get a bit more volume than going through the headphone jack, but sound is still harsh (If you have better quality headphones to hear it) and dynamically flat. The AKG earbuds that come with Samsung 8 and 9 headphones are actually quite neutral and musical. But the sound experience overall was just not all that much better. I noticed a bit more volume, and I noticed the bass more articulate. But soundstage was flat and so were the dynamics. Just not a very interesting listen. Unless you're going to want to upgrade to Firmware D, this device isn't worth much. Once the D firmware is installed, apparently phone calls won't able to handled through the phone with the dongle connected. I haven't had a chance to try this, but I'm assuming that you'd need to pull out the dongle and talk via the phone normally.

I have high-rez files on my smartphone. I generally use either .wav or FLAC files, when available, but have a few 24/96 files (better than CD quality). There's so much more musical life in those files than what you get with .mp3 files. Sure, you can store a greater number of songs with the latter, but you lose a lot of the music's impact. And the music's impact gets more revealed with a better DAC, amp, and certainly headphones.

Only the Firmware D will play high-rez files with their complete resolution. So I was bent on making sure I could audition this dongle with the Firmware D installed in the dongle. The problem is, I kept getting a "USB device not found" error. And I could not find the solution. Trying different USB ports didn't help. And what confused me further is that one of the windows that comes up in the process of installation had Vendor ID and Product ID windows already filled in. Someone had posted instructions that included a step of going to the Device Settings in Windows, looking for the Sonata HD (which is another name for this product), and getting the Vendor ID (VID) and Product ID (PID). Why was I getting this USB error problem? But I'm getting ahead of myself in the review.

Once I found the solution (partly on my own), I was able to proceed and install the Firmware D. After the end of my review, I have typed up more explicit instructions on how to get around the USB device not found error. Even HIDIZS' own website doesn't have this information. So for the solution to the problem, continue reading after the end of the review.

The sound with the Firmware D installed is on a whole other planet. It's not close to the mediocre sound quality of the A and C firmware. It gives music the space to breathe, there's greater depth, it's sweeter sounding, the top end is no longer harsh. There's much more depth, authority and presence to the bass. The soundstage is greatly increased, and so has the dynamics. Instrumental body has become more 3-dimensional. This has now become very musical, and I used both the AKG earbuds as well as Bowers & Wilkins P5 Series 2 headphones. It's with the latter that the difference is even more dramatic. I imagine the better your headphones, the more you'll appreciate this little HIDIZS device. There are no audio adjustments other than volume to be made on the device. My Poweramp app is partly designed to handle 24/96 outside DACs, so you can alter the sound from within that app. On the other hand, the music app built into my Samsung 8 will not allow alteration of sound in conjunction with this DAC (other than volume).

The HIDIZS also has no internal battery, so it's likely to draw more power from your phone than a device with its own battery supply. But the draw on power is pretty small. And thank goodness it's not one more device you have to worry about recharging. Do keep in mind, however, that since you're using the USB-C out in your phone, there's no way with this device to both use it AND charge your phone.

I do love the size of this DAC/headphone amp as it adds little in the way of bulk. It's just an extension on the cable, essentially. There's no additional brick-like piece that adds bulk

I have no doubt that the Dragonfly Red ($200) will provide better sound than this one. If I point out an aspect of the sound which could be improved, it could be a slight lack of distinctive harmonic texture. Images, perhaps, are not quite as juicy as they could be. Instruments could be a bit more distinct in their own space. But we're quibbling because this is a $30 or so item.

I mostly listen to podcasts anyway, where even this is not even necessary. But listening to music and the better quality files on have loaded to my phone, this is an awesome buy. I have spent at least a couple of hours trying to find a solution to the USB device not found message. I'm sort of perturbed by the company not putting out a readily obtainable solution. I'm obviously not the only once that has encountered this. And the solution is not the most intuitive. But I have spelled it out below. If anyone has further questions, I'll try to look here. But the solution I have typed up should explain it.

In any event, if you're looking to greatly improve the sound coming from your smartphone, this thing is a HUGE bang for the buck, AS long as you upgrade to the Firmware D. Otherwise, don't bother. And take it from someone who is an audiophile, a musician, and who has a very good hifi system. This device at least makes the sound from the smartphone natural sounding and musical. A big step up from the phone's built-in DAC/amp. And heck, you have a 30 day money back, right?

NOTE: SOLUTION TO USB DEVICE NOT FOUND ERROR arising during installation:

Okay, so if you're encountering this error during the attempt to upgrade to Firmware D, the firmware that allows you to hear high-rez files through headphones, you'll get to the Write To EEPROM window. The Vendor and Product ID spaces will be filled in. But if you get the USB device not found error, this means that the Vendor and Product IDs are not correct for the Windows drivers. Assuming your HIDIZS dongle is plugged into the Windows computer, you'll go to the Hardware and Devices settings page in your Windows system. You should see the Sonata HD device listed. Double-clicking on that will bring up a window for Sonata HD Audio Properties. You'll want to click on the Hardware tab, and then in the new Window, click on the Events tab.

In the Information window at the bottom, this or something like it should be typed in: "Device USBVID_22E1&PID_E202&MI_016&da306e8&0&0001 requires further installation." Notice each 4-space code after the underscore after VID (vendor ID) and PID (product ID). THOSE are the values you want to put into the windows in the Write to EEPROM window. So in my case, I had to replace the alphanumeric code in the vendor ID window with 22E1, and the code in the PID window with E202. Wow. Those are sort of buried, aren't they?

So, again, even though there are already alphanumeric codes in the windows that come up when you are attempting to install Firmware D, if you're getting the USB device not found error, those codes are not the ones that will get your upgrade to work.

By the way, the alphanumeric codes in that Information space in the Device Settings may be different than mine. I don't know. But once you have gone back to the upgrade Write to EEPROM window and entered the alphanumeric codes from the Sonata HD device settings on your computer, clicking the Write to EEPROM button should now work. It will ask you to unplug and then replug in the dongle. Follow instructions.



4-Channel Portable Stereo Headphone Amplifier - Professional Multi Channel Mini Earphone Splitter Amp w/ 4 ¼” Balanced TRS Headphones Output Jack and 1/4" TRS Audio Input For Sound Mixer - Pyle PHA40 Review:


I bought this headphone amp to split the signal from my audio interface to multiple headphones, and to plug my headphones into my TV. It works perfectly for both applications. Just take the headphone-out from any device (computer, receiver, interface, etc.) and plug it in into the input on the Pyle-Pro with a stereo 1/4 inch cable (or 3.5mm to 1/4 inch adapter). The signal is then split into 4 outputs where you can adjust the volume independently for each. Simple as that.

For devices without a headphone jack (such as my TV) an RCA to 1/4 inch adapter can be used to send audio to the Pyle-Pro.

Some things I like about the Pyle-Pro are:
1) It's small. Really small. Smaller than my LG cell phone. For those worried about it moving or slipping, a little bit of velcro, or even blue sticky, tack should solve that.
2) The sound. This thing sounds great (maybe not Audiophile-great, but it's quiet and accurate), and it gets LOUD. So loud that I haven't turned the volume to max for fear of going deaf. Even using a pair of Grado Alessandro MS-1s, which are hard to drive, I find it painfully loud at about 3/4 volume.
3)The price. For less than $20 shipped I couldn't ask for anything more. This thing provides a lot of power, splits it 4 ways, and has a small footprint. Definitely worth the money.

What I don't like:
1) No on/off switch. It's nothing to nitpick over, but you have to unplug it to power it down. For me it's fine, but for some it may be an inconvenience.
2) The LED. The red light when it powers on is a little bright. Not obnoxious, but a little bright.

All in all this is a wonderful purchase. I wouldn't hesitate to buy another one.



FIFINE Headphone Amplifier 4 Channels Metal Stereo Audio Amplifier,Mini Earphone Splitter with Power Adapter-4x Quarter Inch Balanced TRS Headphones Output and TRS Audio Input For Sound Mixer-N6 Review:


This headphone amplifier is perfect for recording engineers on-the-go. Fits easily into a backpack front-pouch. The quality is impressive. It's built tough and has smooth dials. I tried it out with Sennheiser studio headphones and a pair of Beats just for fun, monitoring out from a Focusrite Solo console using Reaper DAW with 25ft extensions. The sound quality was pristine with no latency or distortion issues. Having a headphone amp like this will allow the band to record simultaneous tracks and at the very least, allow the sound engineer to hear what the artist hears. The portability factor alone makes this unit a steal for the price point. You don't have to worry about what to bring to a recording session or loading up heavy rack units anymore. In today's music scene, it's important to be mobile and lightweight. If you're just starting out or on a limited budget, you really can't go wrong with this one. I'm a professional musician with recording experience so I know how important it is to have high quality monitoring over long distances.