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8 best headphone amplifiers

* Review of the best according to the editorial board of expertology.ru. On the selection criteria. This material is subjective and does not constitute advertising and does not serve as a purchase guide.

Before buying, you need to consult with a specialist.

The richest variety in the retail sale of a wide variety of headphones, with the complete absence of even a hint of scarcity, limits the consumer in choosing only the cost of each specific model. But purchasing even the highest quality and most expensive headphones, we may not suspect that they can not fully reveal their full potential on every device. Often, in order to hear all the richness of a musical composition, the headphones need to be “helped” by means of a special device – an amplifier.

This is especially true for headphones with high impedance (impedance).

The Expertology editors, based on the results of market research by our specialized specialists, have prepared for you a short overview of the most interesting and noteworthy amplifiers as of the beginning of 2020.

How to choose a headphone amplifier.

First, let’s clarify the most important points to take into account when choosing a headphone amplifier.

The main task of any headphone amplifier is, in fact, to amplify the signal without introducing additional “accidental” or “intentional” distortions into it. That is, to give the opportunity to hear everything that was originally included in the track being listened to. Everything else – surround sound, emphasizing highs or lows, creating a scene, suppressing noise – all these are already bonuses that may not even always be appropriate.

The ability of an amplifier, in combination with a specific headphone model, to transmit sound as it should be “as intended”, or to embellish it in various ways, is characterized by a number of indicators.

Amplifier class.

The most common characteristic that makes it possible to quickly narrow the search field. Two approaches have been established here. More or less objective – division into classes A, B, AB, C, D and others; and purely marketing – division into Hi Fi and Hi End classes.

It is conventionally considered that Hi Fi is the basic level of truly high-quality sound, and Hi End is the highest level. In fact, there is no objective and, moreover, no documentary base for this classification. Therefore, to generalize strongly, we can say that Hi Fi solutions are mostly good and at a fair price, and Hi End are often overvalued in all respects, and their real advantages are too subtle, and only narrow-profile specialists can appreciate them at their true worth.

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Classes B, AB and C are tradeoffs that strike a balance between efficiency and distortion tolerance. Class D amplifiers are digital, while the previous ones are analog. The difference is more or less obvious – analog amplifiers “try” to convey the sound of the track “as is”, that is, as it is, without embellishment and distortion, while the digital D-class tends more towards modeling good sound, broadcasting at the output, albeit excellent sounding, but actually completely different audio material.

Combines amplifier performance with headphone performance.

Finally, the main criterion for choosing an amplifier is the compatibility of its characteristics with the characteristics of the headphones themselves, in tandem with which it will work. The amplifier must be selected for a specific headphone model, or at least for a certain range.