Are you a lover of music? Then you will agree with me that music has been better with the emergence of portable audio devices such as smartphones, MP3 players and the likes. You can store or carry thousands of songs along with you, wherever you go and enjoy them with just a few pushes on some buttons or taps on your device’s screen.
However, it can be disappointing and frustrating if your mobile device cannot provide you the high-quality audio you crave, especially when it is being paired with high-end headphones. When this happens, you probably need to use a headphone amplifier to improve your listening pleasure.
What does a headphone amplifier do? What is a headphone amplifier? And how can you use a headphone amplifier with your portable music devices to improve your headphone’s performances for a better listening experience? As a serious lover of music, these are some of the questions probably running through your mind right now, aren’t they? Well, we’ve got you covered! In this article, we are going to address these questions and show you how to use a headphone amplifier so you can enrich your life with sweet and glorious music anywhere you go.
I know you are eager to know what a headphone amplifier does and even how to use headphone one. But keep calm, and let us consider what a headphone amplifier is at first.
What is a headphone amplifier?
There are two main components here; the “amplifier” and the “headphone.” Let us break it down to get the right perception of what a headphone amp is. I believe you must have heard the term “amp” or “amplifier” before even if you do not know what it is used for.
Just as the name implies, an amplifier is a device that simply works by increasing the power of a signal. Amplifiers make sound louder, and add some depth to the music. They can be found in several electronic devices such as laptops, phones, TVs and any other device that produces sound. They are sometimes used in home theaters (especially in their receivers) to power big speakers since they increase the power of the audio. On the other hand, headphones are a set of speakers that are made to set on your head and over your ears.
So, what is a headphone amplifier? It is an audio amplifier which is made to drive headphones; it is just a similar but smaller and portable version of what has been explained above. Headphones are often used with a portable audio source, for this reason, some headphone amplifiers are battery-powered so you can use them on the go. Some even come with an inbuilt DAC (digital to analog converters), optical port or USB to connect directly to a PC, laptop, tablet and other digital audio sources.
Most of the time, headphone amplifiers are incorporated or found in electronic devices with a headphone Jack. They are meant to complement the action of the internal amplifier which is present in the audio source device. They also help to make analog audio signals sound louder and make a distinct difference in your listening experience.
What does a headphone amp do?
Having known what a headphone amp is, the next thing to know is what a headphone amplifier does? This way, you will be able to decide if you need one or not. Of course, most audio devices come with an inbuilt amplifier, but there is need to know why you may want to improve or enhance the signal produced by the amplifier that is already installed in your device.
External headphone amplifiers improve the control, dynamic range extension and detail resolution of audio signals and also help to maximize the musical clarity of sounds from an audio source. Most audio device producers consider the sound quality of their product as a low priority compared to some other set of requirements. This is true especially for mobile devices and phones where a lot of requirements are considered as being more important by users such as; battery durability, the size of the product, and so on.
In order to save space, battery power, money, manufacturers tend to use low-quality amplifier chips. These inferior amplifier chips that come with your mobile device do not just offer a poor sound quality but are also not suitable or capable of driving adequate power or energy into some certain types of headphones to get a suitable sound pressure level for better volume level. For this reason, using an external amplifier will be your best bet as it offers great sound quality amplifying components that surpasses the cheap internal chips that come with your mobile music player or audio device.
Low impedance headphones need a lot of currents, which causes distortion and limited bandwidth. In the same manner, headphones with high impedance need a lot of voltage headroom for the production of the power required. For both tasks, a standard headphone output may fail at some point, but when a headphone amp is added, the load is taken off the system when driving headphones, which makes the audio system to be free of stress.
A lot of modern headphones are fashioned for use with mobile devices and most times; they do not require the power that is supplied by a dedicated amp. But some headphones require more power than what is provided by a mobile device. In this case, you need to use a headphone amplifier to increase and supply enough power required to drive your headphone speakers for impressive sound output.
How To Use a Headphone Amp
A headphone amp can be easy to use if the instruction is appropriately followed. Just plug it into a power source (if it’s not battery powered) connect it to your audio source and your headphones, switch it on, and you are good to go. However, you have to pay attention to power. Headphones also need power just like any other speaker, and the power needed is supplied through their 3.5 mm audio jack. The power required by your headphone is determined by its impedance ratings.
If the power supplied through the jack is low or inadequate to drive the speakers fully, some aspects of the sound produced will be affected. You will probably experience lower sound volume, distortion, or feel some aspect, such as strong bass, missing. I believe you now know about headphone “impedance rating.” Impedance is that combined reactivity and resistance which is presented as an electrical load by the headphones.
We earlier discussed high-impedance and low-impedance. For the high-impedance headphones to get to a standard level of listening, more voltage is usually needed. But headphones with low-impedance get the damping factor between the amp and headphones reduced and therefore need more current to reach a standard listening level. So, with this, the low-impedance headphones might actually be vocal enough when you play from a small device, but it can be made better and improved when you use a headphone amp.
You may likely run into trouble if the impedance produced by your device is too high compared to the impedance produced by your headphone. Normally, the impedance produced by an amplifying device should not be more than 1/8 of that of the headphone which it is connected with. So your headphone impedance should at least 8 to 10 times the output impedance of your headphone amplifier.
For instance, a headphone of 10 Ohms impedance will work best with a headphone amplifier whose output impedance is under 1 Ohm. When you follow this range or ratio, your headphones will get good electrical damping and sound tighter and clearer.
If you own high-impedance audiophile set, want improved sound quality or intend to use your headphone to the best of its performance and experience its full potential, you probably need a headphone amplifier. Amps are a bit difficult to understand and understanding them is not necessarily a quest you have to embark on.
Headphone amplifier does not work by blasting deafening sounds into your ear; they simply work by improving the quality of the audio signal and not necessarily the quantity. Adding an amp to your headphone provides clearer, more audible, detail and dynamic sound for your listening pleasure. However, if your headphone is already too loud to bear at its highest volume, you have no amp problem.
We also don’t recommend you use this device on the earbuds under $50 because the price is 10 times more expensive the value of earbuds. If you think this article is useful, let’s share it to your friend.