10 Best Headphone Amplifiers
A well-made and reasonably priced option, the iFi Zen offers helpful features for those with high-fidelity audio devices, including a robust 4.4-millimeter unbalanced jack, a toggle switch for fixed or variable mode, and support for the lossless MQA format.
- Bass adjustment knob on the front
- Burr brown converter chip
- Asynchronous usb type-b input
If you want to eliminate wires from your setup, look no further than the EarStudio ES100 , which is versatile enough for simple earbuds, as well as more power-hungry drivers. This cost-effective model uses Bluetooth codecs like aptX HD and LDAC for near-lossless audio.
- Supports unbalanced output
- Fits easily in a pocket
- Battery life of 14 hours
The SMSL M500 is reasonably priced for a model that supports the advanced Master-Quality Audio, or MQA, format. It has a full-function remote control and utilizes the powerful Sabre ES9038PRO conversion chip to deliver a studio-quality experience.
- True 32-bit processing
- 2-inch led display
- Low noise floor
JDS Labs cMoyBB
A novel, refined version of a famous DIY setup, the JDS Labs cMoyBB consists of thoughtfully designed components housed in an actual Altoids tin. Despite its small size and limited connector selection, this Japanese-import model offers especially clean sound.
- Automatic on-off sensor
- Bass boost toggle switch
- Powered by a 9-volt battery
Monolith Liquid Spark
With a peak power of over 1.3 watts, the Monolith Liquid Spark can accommodate some of the most demanding drivers. Its DC-coupled technology without inline capacitors, along with high-quality transistors throughout, ensure clean amplification with minimal interference.
- Premium metal body
- Rca preamp passthrough
- Has only a quarter-inch output
Sporting advanced features like Direct Sound Digital and 32-bit playback, the FiiO BTR5 is about as good of a portable option as you can get without spending a fortune. It has dual DACs and a mated app for controlling its 8 low-pass filters and 10-band equalizer.
- Also serves as a bluetooth receiver
- Utilizes high-resolution codecs
- Balanced and single-ended outputs
Schiit Magni 3
Despite its relatively moderate price, the Schiit Magni 3 is lauded as one of the best options on the market. Its discrete, switchable gain stage and refined, solid-state wiring help it to perform at the level of many ten times its cost.
- Delayed startup eliminates popping
- Can push 2000 milliwatts at 32 ohms
- Doesn't have a dac
AudioQuest Dragonfly Red
One of the most popular in-line DACs around, the AudioQuest Dragonfly Red is more powerful than its small stature would have you believe. With the addition of a simple dongle, it makes for a major upgrade to nearly any tablet or smartphone.
- No bigger than a thumb drive
- Works with most operating systems
- May require some software tweaking
Schiit Fulla 3
Many PC motherboards are overrun with interference, but the Schiit Fulla 3 can get around that without requiring a huge investment. It takes up very little desk space and most of the manufacturing and production is done in the USA.
- Line-in and usb inputs
- Dedicated microphone jack
- Lacks optical or rca connections
Sabaj Audio PHA2
The Sabaj Audio PHA2 delivers plenty of versatility in a small package, with both stereo miniplug and quarter-inch jacks, RCA input and output, and micro USB and DC barrel plug connectors for its 5-watt power requirement, all at an impressively low price.
- Up to 15 volts of amplification
- Suitable for high-impedance drivers
- Not ideal for lossless playback