blog posts

What Is A Headphone Amplifier And What Does It Do?

Headphone amplifier is one of the sound related hardware that is not well understood by the people. Headphone amplifiers are not a magic device and may be more of a paper weight for the general public. 

Some headphones require a separate amplifier to show their full potential. This piece can make a significant improvement in sound quality.

If the sound quality of a headphone is not very pleasant, then perhaps the solution to this problem is to use an amplifier.

What is the meaning of headphone amplifier?

You may not believe it, but you are already very familiar with amplifiers. An amplifier is a device that sends an electrical signal to a speaker and causes it to vibrate.

When you turn up the volume on your phone or laptop, you are actually allowing more electricity to be transferred from the amplifier of your device to the speaker. This will vibrate your speaker and make a louder sound.

Modern devices use low-output amplifiers. The amplifiers of these devices do not consume much energy. To use these amplifiers, most headphones and speakers have poor impedance.

This means that headphones or speakers show very little resistance to electric current and usually provide acceptable volume without consuming much energy.

Some headphones and speakers, especially in the studio or live performance category, have high sound resistance. Usually these devices (with a resistance of 25 ohms or higher) need a high voltage sound to achieve acceptable volume.

This is where the amplifier comes into play.

The headphone amplifier uses more power and also sends a stronger audio signal than most amplifiers on laptops and laptops.

In this way, you can use your expensive headphones on not so high-end devices.

Of course, these rules can change in some cases. Some headphones with high acoustic resistance are sensitive and also require very little power (power in watts; varies in voltage) to produce high volume.

While high-quality headphones can achieve acceptable sound volume by connecting to a low-output source, on the other hand, limited voltage can cause sound distortion, noise, or bass weakness.

From the above, it can be said that the headphone amplifier can also improve the quality of the music being played by improving the performance of your headphones.

Most amplifiers do not have a recognizable effect on audio signals. Of course, some companies sell amplifiers that intentionally manipulate the signal to create a state similar to the sound of a cassette tape or turntable.

This is usually done by cutting selective frequencies or saturating the sound using a vacuum lamp.

Headphone amplifiers differ from digital to analog (DAC) converters

Headphone amplifier

Many portable headphone amplifiers are interpreted as DACs or analog-to-digital converters, but you need to know that they are two very different things.

A DAC, as its name implies, receives a digital signal and then converts it into an analog electrical signal for your amplifier and headphones. All digital audio sources have a built-in DAC. So why buy another one?

Early digital audio equipment, especially CD players and desktops, did not always have the best built-in DACs.

Inadequate protection was one of the common problems that caused electrical interference.

The poor sampling rate of consumer-grade DACs also causes the sound level meter (a kind of percussion instrument) or high-pitches (consisting of two meters and a pedal) to become distorted when the volume increases.

Such problems no longer exist today.

These days, even the cheapest electronic devices have DACs that do not affect sound quality. Some music lovers may say that onboard DACs are not suitable for formats such as FLAC or WAV.

In any case, it is very difficult to distinguish between a file encoded in 320 quality with its original file.

DACs still have their own uses, and you should not be afraid to buy a headphone amplifier that has a built-in DAC. Headphone amplifier with an on-board DAC can be connected to your phone or your computer’s USB port. That way, you no longer need to use your device’s headphone jack directly.

Headphone jacks are usually a source of distortion or noise. Some DACs even have pre-set equalizer and wireless settings. Such features allow you to change the sound or have a more reliable Bluetooth connection when playing audio on an older phone or computer.

Do I need a headphone amplifier?

Headphone amplifier

For most people, a headphone amplifier is nothing more than an expensive volume-adjusting device (with no significant effect on sound quality).

But if you have expensive headphones and you have problems using the built-in headphone amplifier on your computer or phone, then the amplifier becomes a necessary part.

Here are six reasons to buy a headphone amplifier:

  • Your headphones do not have much noise, they do not have a satisfactory bass, the sound is distorting and noisy, and also on your computer or phone, the sound quality is very low. This is a sign that your headphones have a high sound resistance of 25 ohms or higher.
  • Your computer or phone headphone jack has a very low quality sound compared to other devices in your home.
  • Your computer or phone audio jack has a problem and you need a USB DAC to get around this.
  • You want to make your music feel analog and old-fashioned. Of course, very few amplifiers have this feature today.
  • Have a studio and want to control the volume of each one individually while having multiple headphone inputs.
  • You are not happy with the volume control using your computer and want to adjust the volume using the physical keys of the amplifier.

If your headphones have the expected performance, then you do not need an amplifier.

If your headphones are wireless, then there is still no justification for buying an amplifier.

It should be noted that headphone amplifiers are not a good alternative to larger speaker amplifiers, although they can be used when Bluetooth speakers are very quiet in Aux mode.