Do You Even Need A Headset Amp? Will It Improve Music Quality?


You probably want to consider an amplifier if you spend more than $200 on your headsets. A headset amplifier such as a Fiio Amplifier entry level can help you get the most of your money from your headsets and is an inexpensive key to the benefits of amplifying headsets. See the full line of headset amplifiers to find the right one for your needs if you want to step up a notch in musical success. An audio system is just as strong as its weakest connection, of course.

Headset Amplifier

If you have possibly the best music and great audiophile headsets, but rely on the power-limited headset amplifier within your mobile, laptop or tablet to make the headsets sing, you are not likely to push your headsets to their maximum potential. Adding an amp between the player and your audiophile headsets will provide a major, noticeable boost in clarity, detail and dynamics. Resistance is the total resistance and reactivity presented as an electrical load by the headsets to the amplifier.

In order to get up to a solid listening level, high-resistance cans typically need more voltage, so they can benefit from a headset amplifier, especially with portable players with minimal voltage available from their internal batteries. But very low-resistance cans minimize the damping factor between the amplifier and the headsets and actually need more current. So, while low-resistance headsets from a portable device can be loud enough, by adding a headset amplifier, music quality can be greatly enhanced. The size and measurements of your headset can provide some basic clues as to whether an amplifier is needed.

Usually, most earbuds and earphones are very effective and less likely to gain greatly from an amplifier. However, with an amplifier, several bigger over-ear headsets can become louder and better sounding. In order to achieve listenable volume levels and sonic output, a few select audiophile models can also require a headset amplifier, particularly if connected to portable devices. Digital audio sources are often ignored due to the abundance of electronic devices that can play music easily, such as laptops and smartphones. But the fact is that not all sources are generated equally. And when using better quality audio output devices such as headsets, that is clearly evidenced.

Like the headsets themselves, the source of your audio is just as important. Irrespective of how much you spent on your headsets, a weak audio source will adversely affect the overall experience. If your source is unable to completely control your headsets, then the best results will not be achieved. This idea can be compared to an electric guitar. And without a guitar amp, an electric guitar creates music. Plugging the guitar into an amp, however, allows it to create a broader variety of sounds that are equivalent to those you hear in properly recorded albums.

If you have a semi or higher-end headset, and you want to ensure you get the most out of your pair, you need to consider upgrading your source. To enhance the music quality of your headsets, there are different products that you can buy.

Quality Sound

The primary function of a headset amp is to enhance the signal being fed to a headset. In other words, a headset amp is designed to help bring out the full capabilities of the headset drivers (or, in some instances, color). In the first place, it is not intended to add a music that is not there. Take this, for instance. A headset amp, regardless of cost, will not transform a more costly headset such as the Audeze LCD-X into your budget headsets such as the Philips SHP 9500. These two headsets have entirely different music signatures and driver technologies used.

A headset amp can only make headsets music more accurate, but cannot boost them beyond what their drivers are capable of reproducing. If no more amplification is needed for a headset, then there will probably be no sound change in music quality. This refers to headsets with low resistance. On the other hand, mid to high resistance headsets have some advantages depending on the model. Some features such as the soundstage and dynamics can have some changes, aside from the volume. This is because the drivers’ added power helps provide more detail. These changes could be slight, depending on the headsets and amp used.

For headsets with an resistance of between 100 and 300, such as the Sennheiser HD660s or Sennheiser HD58X with an resistance of 150 ohms, these can typically operate without an amp. Vintage gear is often associated with a tube amp, which is an old technology. Thus, the music of the headsets helps to add coloration. In reality, this added warmth is favored by users who have bright sounding headsets and want to tame the peaks in the treble field. Tube amp often have a modular feature. This is not a bad thing. The vacuum tubes can be replaced with various forms that can produce different effects.

The potential to music like a tube amp and a solid-state amp is available for hybrid tube amp such as the Schiit Lyr 3. A tube headset amp is more of a modular device to summarize these points, which can have different effects on the music but is not fully accurate. On the other hand, solid-state amp provides less coloration, offering a more detailed tone. One could be a better match for your setup than the other, depending on what your needs are. You can always plug them into it if you already own a headset amp and don’t want to unplug it just to use low resistance headsets.

To prevent harm to the drivers, just be patient and try not to raise the volume too much. Another case where a headset amp should not be used is when working with sources that, such as a smartphone, do not have a dedicated line-output. A system must have a dedicated line-output in order to use an external headset amp properly. This is because it creates the double amplifying effect by attaching your headset amp through the 3.5mm headset. Double amplifying occurs if the internal amp of a source is not bypassed when a standalone headset amp is attached. This suggests that both the internal and external headset amp are running simultaneously.


If it wasn’t clear before, to operate reliably, very few headsets out there take a lot of juice. It’s really only when you start getting into the realm of audiophile-grade cans that you start seeing models that need a specialized amp to function the way their designers expected, and that’s because most headsets are built for use with items like iPods, phones, and Wireless; low-power devices, including the newer high-end ones.