The category of headphone amplifiers is the least known of all audio components. Will hooke audio explain how to use a headphone amplifier? and why you might need one.
what is a headphone amplifier?
The headphone amplifier is a relatively small amplifier that boosts the low-voltage audio signal coming from a source device, such as a computer, smartphone, or record player, to a level sufficient for its user to convert it into sound waves. headphones. the amp works the same way as full size speakers but on a smaller scale.
Reading: How to connect a headphone amp
but how do you use a headphone amp?
what is a dac?
modern includes an electronic component dac (digital to analog converter). a dac’s job is to convert digital audio data into a low voltage signal that can be amplified by an amplifier.
analog components, like a cassette deck or turntable, don’t require a dac; already output low-voltage analog signals. but digital audio devices like smartphones, tablets and ipods need both a dac and a headphone amp to be able to hear sound through your headphones.
what do headphone amps do?
an amplifier can be added between your player and your pair of headphones to improve clarity, detail and dynamics.
Headphone impedance rating is something you may be familiar with. the combined resistance and reactivity of the headphones to an amplifier acting as an electrical load is called impedance.
- high impedance headphones require more voltage to achieve a solid listening level. it’s an excellent choice for portable players with limited internal battery voltage.
- low-impedance headphones may have a lower damping factor and draw more current. an amplifier can improve the sound quality of low-impedance headphones.
- an amplifier may be warranted depending on the size and dimensions of your pair of headphones. in-ear and in-ear headphones are generally very efficient and won’t benefit from an amplifier.
- an amplifier will make larger headphones sound clearer and more natural. Some audiophile models may require an amplifier to achieve desired volume and sound quality, especially if connected to portable devices.
- Headphone amplifiers with internal digital-to-analog converters (DACs) may improve drastically your quality of music listening experience if you have a tablet, computer or laptop.
use a line out port on your portable device to connect to headphone amps. if there is no line output, you can use the headphone jack to send the audio signal to the amplifier.
why do i need a headphone amp?
your headphones are a set, but your current audio device doesn’t have one
many home hifis do not come with a headphone jack. this is especially true when stepping up to the more expensive standalone audio components. this situation is best resolved by choosing a suitable headphone amplifier.
you have a pair of headphones with a higher impedance and they are not loud enough
- many commercially available headphones need a lot of power to sound loud enough. these headphones are typically high impedance (above 100 ohms).
- most smartphones and other audio components do not include a headphone amplifier that can provide enough power to drive the toughest. headphones for driving.
you need to use your headset in a different room or while on the go
Your central hi-fi system could be in your family room. however, you may want to listen to music in your office or other rooms. you’ll have more options when it comes to where you can listen to your headphones.
you want to increase the audio quality of your headphones
The right kind can make your music listening experience more enjoyable if you are a music lover. smartphones allocate as little money as possible to the headphone jack. it is essential enough for it to work. this is the pattern followed by many home audio components.
An amplifier designed specifically for headphones and using high-quality ingredients can significantly improve sound quality. some can also enhance the digital signal through their built-in digital-to-analog converter headphone amplifier.
types of headphone amplifiers
You can find various sizes of headphone amps, from large home audio components to tiny pieces that can be folded into the palm of your hand. some can be battery operated, while others require AC power. some inputs and signals can be supported and will be broken down to choose the right category for your needs.
They come with one or two analog inputs. this allows you to connect a cd player or your phone’s audio output. some amps only have a phono input for a turntable. all others have volume control and headphone jack.
Although these amps are typically small in size, they require AC power and are designed for home use.
These amplifiers can be used if your equipment does not have a headphone jack. You can create a great-sounding turntable system using just a turntable and headphones.
computer audio only
Although many people enjoy listening to their headphones on their computers, let’s face the fact that they’re not as good as you’d like. computers will convert digital files to analog, which is usually as cheap as possible.
a new generation of amplifiers allows you to connect your computer via usb cable to this amplifier. the amp will come with dacs that are better than the ones in your computer. some even resynchronize the incoming signal to improve timing. you can know more.
there are two types. the one will have a usb connector that plugs into the usb connector on your computer. the other will have a standard headphone jack and can control the volume through the computer. you will need a usb cable to connect the other type of component. the front of this guy will have volume control and a full size headphone jack.
the usb connector feeds the amplifier which is connected indirectly. you can connect the amp to your smartphone with the correct adapter cable for much better audio on the go.
multiple audio inputs
These amps will include usb audio input to a computer or smartphone, analog audio output or digital sound. some models may have both a digital and analog input.
Headphone amplifiers with multiple audio inputs can be portable or battery powered. These amps have a great section for headphone amps and can drive a power amp or power a pair of powered speakers.
every component in your system can be connected to the amplifier that provides the switching. you can also use amplifiers with additional audio outputs that allow you to drive an amplifier or a pair of powered speakers. this will help you build a small but great sounding system and improve the performance of your headphones.
some allow you to add network streaming. this will allow you to download audio files from your network and stream them from your smartphone. you can still connect the audio amplifier from your computer to your smartphone using adapter cables.
how to choose headphone amplifiers
you can see that there are many input options and places you can use. consider all possible uses. you need a headphone amplifier that best suits your selection.
After you’ve decided on the category you want to be in, there’s likely to be a wide range of prices available. Once you’ve chosen the amp that best suits your needs, you’ll want to consider some or all of the features.
can be used on the go, connected to your smartphone, or as a home component. you’ll need something small and light if you’re using your headphones for primary purposes. there are many options in the category of component sizes for home use.
high quality audio and dac components
You should pay attention to the internals of your headphone amp if audio quality is an important reason you’re looking into it. it is often sold with the saying that you get what you pay for. you may find amplifiers with pure or high-end class-a tube output sections if you’re using an analog-only model.
When adding digital audio to your computer with optical input or audio inputs, keep in mind that dacs can have a wide range of sound quality. They will be classified according to a sampling frequency. the higher the number, the better.
few manufacturers can produce their dac chips, so they buy an off-the-shelf model. To compare raw dac prices, it’s easy to find the part number. this correlates very closely with sound quality.
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You’ll need to make sure your headphone amps have an audio out jack if you intend to use it with a power amp or pair of powered speakers. sometimes the headphone output can drive an amplifier or speaker. if the output rating is greater than 2v it will work in many situations.
how to use headphone amplifiers?
how to connect a headphone amp to a hifi amp
You probably already have a hi-fi system. this means that all your sources are connected to a hi-fi amplifier. how can you get these sources into your hi-fi amp, as well as your headphone amps, without unplugging them all? many stereo amps have two options for this purpose: a preset or a record output.
- the hi-fi amplifier will function as a pre-amplifier if it is connected to the pre-out. in practice, you’ll be adjusting the volume of both the hi-fi amp and the headphone amp.
- This arrangement can be extremely convenient if your headphone amps don’t have a remote control. you can control the volume remotely using the stereo amplifier’s remote control.
- To avoid distortion, it is important to keep the output level within the limits of what the amplifier can accept. it is better to connect a headphone amp to the rec output of an amp since the latter has a constant level. volume can be adjusted from the amp alone, and there’s less chance of distortion.
- to maximize signal transfer between your sources, whether the amp is connected to the recording output of a power amp hi-fi or to the pre-amplifier of a hi-fi amplifier, it is best to use a high-quality rca cable.
- Electrical installation may affect the ability to associate a headphone amplifier with the rec production. this can cause unwanted noise in the headphones and speakers. it is important to isolate each element with a galvanic filter.
connect to an av receiver
Poor quality headphones are often emitted by a/v receivers. for the best sound quality, an external amplifier is often required. The best way to connect an amplifier to an AV receiver is to use the receiver’s zone 2 output.
you can configure the output as fixed or variable. To maximize amplifier performance, the volume should be set to a fixed level. the zone 2 outlet also allows you to have an independent outlet, allowing you to listen to your music while watching TV.
connect to a computer
A mini-jack cable can be used to connect a headphone amplifier and a computer. this solution, although practical, is not the most efficient. the computer’s sound card converts and amplifies the music. even on the most powerful computers, the latter can often be of poor quality. a headphone amp with its own dac is best.
This setting allows you to play high resolution music as well as dsd files. your computer cannot decode or read these files without losing any information. the feature can be added to an audio dac, allowing you to have the highest quality music possible.
You can still enjoy the best sound quality using a computer. this dac supports converting music from your computer via a usb-b input. then it can be connected to the analog output rca.
connect to a phone
Latest smartphones do not have a minijack output that allows you to connect headphones or internal monitors. although some smartphones still have this output, the quality is not great and there is not enough power to power the headphones.
- To use hi-fi headphones at their best, you’ll need to connect a headphone amplifier to your smartphone. the connection is similar to the one used for computers. you will need a usb audio or usb input amplifier to do this.
- however, the cable required will vary from smartphone to smartphone. Headphone jack sizes come in different varieties, as do headphone amps. You will need an apple lightning to usb adapter, which is required for android models.
You can pair your smartphone with a portable audio-dac or portable amplifier for mobile use. these can also be plugged into your smartphone’s usb port.
the only difference is that they are smaller and easier to carry in your pocket.
when not to use an amp?
in-ear headphones and earphones can be used with most smartphones without the need for this device.
Not required for noise canceling headphones (built-in headphones). they already have an internal headphone amplifier.
The right kind of headphone amplifier can make your music listening experience more enjoyable if you are a music lover. hooke audio believes he already knows the true use of every type of audio amplifier he owns and uses a headphone amplifier. I hope you are a smart technology user.
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