What is a headphone amplifier and do you need one? – Overview of Geek.
Headphone amplifiers are some of the most misunderstood products in audio. They are not magical, and to the average person they are no more useful than a paperweight. But some wired headphones actually require a dedicated amplifier to reach their full potential, resulting in incredible improvements in sound quality.
If your trendy new headphones sound a little underwhelming, a headphone amplifier might be the solution you’re looking for.
What is a headphone amplifier?
Believe it or not, you are already quite familiar with amplifiers. An amplifier is just a tool that transmits an electrical signal to a speaker and makes the speaker vibrate. When you turn up the volume on your phone or laptop, you are allowing more electricity to pass from the amplifier to its speaker, causing the speaker to vibrate harder and make a louder sound.
Modern devices use low power amplifiers that do not consume much power and do not burn batteries. To make these low power amplifiers usable, most headphones and speakers are “low impedance,” which means they have very low electrical resistance Listing – tz.top-fashion.shop and usually reach usable loudness without much power.
But some headphones and speakers, especially recording studio equipment or professional equipment, are “high impedance”. These devices (rated at 25 ohms or higher) typically require a high voltage sound source to achieve acceptable volume levels – this is where good headphone amplifiers come into play. Headphone amplifiers consume more power and produce a more powerful audio signal than amplifiers built into most phones and laptops, allowing you to enjoy your fancy headphones on modest equipment.
Of course, these rules are not hard and fast. Some high impedance headphones are sensitive and require very little power (other than voltage) to achieve high volume. And while a pair of high-quality headphones can achieve the desired volume with a low-output source, limited voltage can result in sound distortion, hiss, or lack of bass.
In general, headphone amplifiers can improve the quality of your music by improving the performance of your headphones. Most amplifiers are “transparent” and have no discernible effect on your audio signal, although some companies sell amplifiers that intentionally alter the signal to add analog “warmth” comparable to the sound of tape or vinyl (usually by reducing selected frequencies or adding saturation using antique vacuum tube).
Headphone amps are not DACs.
Many portable headphone amplifiers are used as DACs or “digital to analogue converters,” but DACs and amplifiers are two very different things. As the name suggests, a DAC takes a digital signal and converts it into an analog electrical signal for your amplifier and headphones. All digital audio sources have a built-in DAC, so what’s the point in buying a new one?
Early digital audio equipment, especially CD players and desktop computers, did not always have the best built-in DACs. Improper shielding was a common problem that resulted in static electrical noise, and the low sampling rate of consumer DACs could actually distort the high-pitched sound of cymbals or hi-hats.
But today these problems do not exist – even the cheapest electronics have “transparent” DACs that do not affect the sound quality. And while audiophiles claim that built-in DACs are not suitable for lossless FLAC or WAV files, it is very difficult (if not impossible) to distinguish a modern file encoded at 320 kbps from its lossless equivalent.
However, DACs are not useless, and you shouldn’t be afraid to buy a headphone amplifier just because it has a built-in DAC. Headphone amplifiers with built-in DACs plug into the USB port of your phone or computer, allowing you to bypass the device’s built-in headphone jack, a common source of distortion or hiss. Some DACs even have preset EQ settings and wireless connectivity that can help you shape sound or get a more reliable Bluetooth connection when playing music on your old computer or phone.
Do I need a headphone amplifier?
For most people, headphone amplifiers are nothing more than an expensive volume knob with no discernible effect on sound quality. But headphone amplifiers are often necessary when you have an expensive pair of headphones, and they can solve some of the common problems that come with using the built-in headphone amplifier on your computer or phone.