True audiophiles know that if you want to listen to the best music, you need exceptional gear. Sound technology has seen a steady improvement over the years thanks to high-quality headphone brands.
But how can you improve the sound from your current headphones?
This is where a headphone amp comes in. These small amplifiers do the same thing a traditional amp does, and most of them utilize DAC combo (digital-to-analog convertor) technology to allow amplification.
The best headphone amplifiers can round out your personal sound setup, significantly improving your audio experience while you listen to your favorite music or binge-watch a new show.
Table of Contents
- Top Headphone Amplifiers
- 1. Creative Sound BlasterX G5
- 2. Schiit Magni Heresy
- 3. FiiO E10K USB DAC
- 4. FX-Audio DAC-X6 Mini
- 5. Quidelix-5K Bluetooth USB DAC Amplifier
- 6. Fosi Audio Q4 DAC Headphone Amp
- 7. iFi ZEN CAN Balanced Desktop Amp
- 8. AIYIMA DAC-A2 Headphone Amplifier
- 9. S.M.S.L. M500 DAC Headphone Amp
- 10. Donner Headphone Amplifier
Top Headphone Amplifiers
Regardless of if you are most concerned about price, connectivity or sound, there’s a product out there for you. Here are the top headphone amps to take your listening experience to the next level.
1. Creative Sound BlasterX G5
- Country Of Origin : China
- Immersive 3D Pc Gaming Audio
- Best-In-Class Console Gaming Audio
There couldn’t be a better option to start with than the Creative Sound BlasterX G5. With native 7.1 surround sound support and immersive 3D PC gaming audio, this headphone amp provides what you need to start listening immediately.
Creative boasts that this “audiophile-grade” headphone amp has best-in-class console gaming audio. Additionally, while it’s not a tube headphone amp, it is compatible with Windows and Mac PCs, PS4 and several other consoles.
The best way to describe the Sound BlasterX is “standard.” Basically, it does everything you need without being complex.
With a backlit volume controller and volume indicator, this amp is extremely easy to use, even in the dark.
- 7.1 Surround sound
- 13.7 ounces
- SB-Axx1 Audio processor
- Simple to use
- Compatible with plenty of platforms
- Backlights make use in the dark easy
- Average performance
- Barebones in features
2. Schiit Magni Heresy
- Utilizes super high quality parts, including a multiple paralleled output stage with feedforward. Made in...
On the surface, the Schiit Magni Heresy may seem substandard and dull. Its laid-back design makes it look as unassuming as possible, with a smooth surface and limited controls.
However, hiding inside of the Magni Heresy is one of the best headphone amplifiers on the market. Despite seeming simple, many professionals tout it as one of the better parts of their kits.
Depending on your sound setup, the Magni Heresy can be used as a preamp or a headphone amp. Schiit says that their headphone amp “raises the bar even higher,” touting its incredible output power for its price class.
With its clean performance, this is an excellent piece to add to your audio setup today. It also comes with a two-year limited warranty for added value and protection.
- 2.4 pounds
- Multi-output stage
- Feedforward features
- Fits any setup
- Can work as a headphone amp or preamp
- Easy to use
- May need to purchase other adapters for certain setups
3. FiiO E10K USB DAC
- Easy to Operate Design: The refined E10K-TC is tiny enough to carry with you wherever you go but is also...
- Impeccable XMOS Decoding: The E10K-TC comes with the flagship XMOS XUF208 for better USB decoding....
- Quality Chips to Delight your Ears: The DAC is the PCM5102, with improvements to the flatness and delays...
If you’re looking for a low-noise, easy-to-use headphone amp DAC, the FiiO E10K USB DAC has everything you need.
This best portable headphone amp comes with a low noise floor and uses an optimized low-pass filter. It also includes a selectable bass boost circuit that is meant for use with this filter.
A heavily portable design with a sleek aluminum shell means this headphone amp can come with you anywhere.
With a USB-C connector, this device is extremely compatible with most uses and equipment. The linear internal filter reduces delay and gives silence on tracks to help improve audio quality, especially on computers.
That said, the FiiO E10K USB DAC is one of the best headphone amps built specifically for use on laptops and smaller computers. This build means that it may not provide the best performance in its class in certain situations.
While it may not find a space in your professional-quality audiophile sound rig, it’s still one of the best portable headphone amps.
- 2.72 ounces
- Battery operated
- USB-C connector
- Highly portable
- Small and easy-to-use
- Great noise canceling
- Less powerful than many others
- Meant for use with laptops, performance may vary
4. FX-Audio DAC-X6 Mini
- Unique Design: Compact and adaptable, connect to active speakers via RCA to improve sound quality, or for...
- A variety of input and output modes: The amps can be PC-USB, optical fiber, coaxial three inputs, can be...
- Chipset: The mini amps chip uses TPA6120A2+LM4562NA+SA9123+CS4398+CS8416 to provide strong guarantee for...
Continuing with portability, the FX-Audio DAC-X6 Mini provides everything you’ll need in a small package. Its unique design provides compact, adaptable capabilities in a powerful little box.
These are some of the best headphone amps that can be set to PC-USB, optical fiber and coaxial. They can connect to televisions and DVD players.
This product is extremely adaptable to any situation and can fit in with nearly all of your sound setups, from professional mixing to casual enjoyment.
The FX-Audio DAC-X6 Mini is perfect for music, but there are many other ways to use it as well. Dolby Atmos and directional sounds are compatible with this small package, making it great for gaming.
Some parts, such as the op-amp, can have individual upgrades to customize and increase performance.
Overall, this is one of the best headphone amps for users who know how to customize and change around their experience. Whether you’re using it for your favorite album, sound mixing or a competitive game, it won’t disappoint.
- 1.1 pounds
- PC USB/Coaxial/Optical
- Compatible with Dolby Atmos
- Adaptable to many platforms
- Stellar audio quality
- Individually upgradable
- Novice users likely won’t make many upgrades
5. Quidelix-5K Bluetooth USB DAC Amplifier
- Dual ES9219 HiFi DAC 2.5mm Balanced (4V RMS) 3.5mm Unbalanced (2V RMS)
- Qualcomm QCC5124 Bluetooth Chipset HFP / HSP / A2DP / AVRCP LDAC / aptX Adaptive / aptX HD / AAC
- Bluetooth and USB DAC 96KHz/24bit with embedded double-precision equalizer
The Quidelix-5K is notable in its use of a Bluetooth DAC/AMP. It receives digital audio through the Bluetooth connection and performs all of the conversions within its hardware.
This ability makes it incredible for use with smartphones and other Bluetooth devices if you want to upgrade your sound quality.
Of course, it isn’t only for smartphones. USB capabilities make it so that you can use the Quidelix-5K on your laptop, computer or anything else that can accommodate a USB connection.
With enhanced processing capabilities and a pro-grade equalizer, you can use this device to process audio from any source. This includes most streaming platforms and many different OS systems, such as Mac, Android and iOS.
This particular headphone amp is built to focus on Bluetooth. This means that much of its notable capability will focus on Bluetooth compatibility.
If you don’t use Bluetooth-compatible devices and don’t intend to for your main listening sources, you may want a different headphone amp.
- 0.9 ounces
- Battery operated
- Bluetooth and USB connectivity
- Great for smartphones
- Highly portable
- Focuses on Bluetooth capabilities
- Usable with many platforms, but not as high of performance on all
6. Fosi Audio Q4 DAC Headphone Amp
- Q4 DAC headphone amplifier is designed with RCA/PC-USB/optical/coaxial/ inputs and 3.5MM headphone...
- Q4 Heaphone USB DAC Adopts the Texas Instruments NE5532 high-performance operational amplifiers chip...
- 160mW RMS(32 ohms, 20 Hz - 20 KHz, 0.01% THD), with bass and treble control Q4 can be used as preamp or...
Some audio setups require multiple parts to keep them functioning as effectively as possible, but the Fosi Audio Q4 DAC Headphone Amp is already several parts in one.
This is one of the best headphone amps that comes with an integrated decoder. It pairs with the Hi Fi headphone amp and supports optical, coaxial and USB connections.
Whether you use a PC or Mac, this mini stereo can also work as a preamp or volume controller for your computer. Furthermore, there are higher resolution sampling rates, lower distortion and a clear, detailed sound.
With specific adjustments for treble and bass, you can customize it to whatever you’d like your sound to be. You also receive an 18-month warranty with this amplifier.
- 5V power supply
- 0.5 pounds
- Integrated decoder
- Hi Fi audio
- Highly adjustable
- Small and compact
- Great for beginners
- Experts may prefer using specific equipment instead of an all-in-one
7. iFi ZEN CAN Balanced Desktop Amp
- ✅ SUPERIOR ENGINEERING - Extremely low distortion and noise from a circuit design inspired by our...
- ✅ POWER REALIZED - Maximize the performance of your headphones, more than just getting loud, but...
- ✅ IMMERSIVE SOUND - Enhanced with our signature analog signal processing to deliver accurate and more...
Do you want a headphone amp with a bit more stylization than the standard options come with? If so, the iFi ZEN CAN has a unique design that makes it stick out among the rest of your sound setup, bringing life to your stack.
However, there’s more than just looks on display here. Superior engineering brings shockingly low distortion and noise via a dedicated input stage to match your score.
Expect to maximize the performance of your favorite pair of headphones as well. The ZEN CAN will help to realize the dynamic range of your headphones, from the softest vocals to the most dominant drums.
Immersive sound comes from the signature analog signal processing, giving a wider soundstage without needing a full sound system.
Overall, the iFi ZEN CAN is one of the best options on this list. That said, it’s also one of the highest price points on this list.
Users who are knowledgeable about headphone amplifiers would likely get the full value out of this option. But, if you’re still starting off on your audiophile journey, there may be more attractive options.
- 1.85 pounds
- Wired connectivity
- Exceptional engineering
- Unique design
- Extremely low distortion and high power
- Fantastic sound quality
- Relatively high price
- Not as beginner-friendly as some other options.
8. AIYIMA DAC-A2 Headphone Amplifier
- Dac-A2 a DC5V Headphone Amplifier Destop DAC ,Built-in Hi-Fi Headphone amp chip can drive 16ohm to 200ohm...
- Chipset:SA9023+CS8416+97220+NE5532.With PC-USB, Optical and Coaxial S/PDIF Inputs , Match most Home Audio...
- Professional Headphone amplifier Chipset TPA6120+OP275,DC 5V power input interface,RCA and 3.5mm...
Back towards the more modest price range, the AIYIMA DAC-A2 makes a great showing. Complete with PC-USB, optical and coaxial inputs, this is one of the best headphone amps for nearly any home system.
Complementing these inputs, the Mini USB Digital Audio Amplifier Decoder and Headphone Amplifier match multiple other devices, from consoles to PCs of any OS.
The built-in Hi Fi headphone amp is excellent for even the highest quality headphones. In terms of performance, this device is similar to the Fosi Audio Q4.
This amplifier’s performance is stellar, and the AIYIMA provides everything you need to begin your sound setup. It’s a fantastic value and would enhance your work or leisure environments exponentially.
- 14.4 ounces
- PC-USB/Optical/Coaxial input
- Low distortion
- Excellent price range
- Easy setup
- High-quality audio and power
- Not as customizable as many options
9. S.M.S.L. M500 DAC Headphone Amp
- ♫ USB input supports MQA decoding
- ♫ M500 uses top performance ES9038PRO D/A chip from ESS Technology
- ♫ XMOS XU-216, true 32bit audio processing, supports DoP and Native DSD, and reaches 32bit/768kHz and...
If you’re in the market for something with a bit more oomph to it, the S.M.S.L. M500 DAC Headphone Amp is likely to be your top pick.
The DAC amp is the highest price range on this list, but the price is easy to justify. S.M.S.L is a highly reputable brand, having made its name in the audio circles for more than a decade.
With seven different filter modes, users can easily customize what they want to amplify and muffle. The Master Quality Authenticated (MQA) feature provides studio-level mastering quality to your sounds.
Additionally, the built-in supply processing from the DAC amp combo improves power efficiency and lowers power consumption. Convenience is also unbeatable thanks to an included remote that makes changing filters and using the amplifier even easier.
As far as features go, this is a difficult option to beat. If you don’t mind the higher price range, adding this amplifier to your setup will undoubtedly raise the quality of your audio to new levels.
It’s likely that this headphone amp will remain with you until you decide to upgrade as technology progresses.
- 2.82 pounds
- USB/Optical/Coaxial input
- Remote included
- Extremely high sound quality
- Customizable filters
- Sturdy build, but still compact
- Practically eliminates noise
- High price range
- Some customers say customer support is substandard
10. Donner Headphone Amplifier
- [2 In 2 Out]This audio interface has 2 high-headroom instrument inputs and 2 out USB-C audio interfaces...
- [ 24-bit/192 kHz]The usb audio interface Direct Monitoring feature lets you hear what you are playing in...
- [TRS Balanced ] TRS balanced output of mixer audio interface provide high quality audio output without...
Closing out our list is one of the strongest options, especially for people who may not want to shell out too much money. At a low-to-mid price range, the Donner Headphone Amplifier provides a performance that’s difficult to beat.
With delicate sound processing, Donner claims that they restore music to the “greatest extent, closer to the quality of Hi Fi.”
The internal DAC chip improves audio quality with a linear filter, reducing distortion significantly. It additionally has a zero delay in and out trans. This basically means you are hearing yourself in real-time.
Using a micro-USB helps this headphone amp adapt to most use cases, with a focus on laptops, Android and iOS devices.
Additionally, the metal structure is sturdy and resistant.
- Low-noise monitoring
- USB/RCA/Coaxial input
- Durable structure
- Sleek, easy-to-use display
- Balanced audio quality
- Underpowered sound
Picking the best headphone amp can be difficult. The ideal device can vary based on each person’s unique needs and preferences.
Take note of your sound setup, your available space and which headphone amplifiers will be compatible with your equipment. Also, don’t forget to consider your budget.
No matter which option you choose, any of the headphone amplifiers on this list will elevate your audio experience and leave you satisfied with the sound quality you receive.