It is both an amp and a DAC, so it will outperform your computer’s DAC, for improved sound quality. The solid construction is surprising for such a compact component. Sound quality is more crisp than most low-cost alternatives.
The lightweight design can lead to excessive movement and unplugging if bumped. This can cause frustrating interruptions to your listening experience.
Four channels offer convenience and variety for the listener. Each jack has its own volume control, so you can get the right mix every time. The sleek professional look of this amp betrays its frugal price point.
Distortion can be a problem with this amp at higher volumes. Quality of connected peripherals can also cause more sound distortion than with other amps.
Captures that "warm, tune sound" that audiophiles love quite well. Surprisingly powerful unit.
Design leaves tubes uncomfortably exposed; they will need to be replaced overtime and can be quite expensive.
Earns praise by guitar players for producing clear, "metal" sound, and being easy to use. Small design makes it highly portable.
Plastic construction feels flimsy, and the bass it produces isn't very rich. A few complaints of short battery life.
We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.
Mini headphone amplifiers provide a power boost to any high quality headphone. They are useful for when you wish to get the cleanest sound quality on your headphones. The higher quality your headphones, the more you’ll get out of a good mini headphone amp. These amplifiers are designed specifically to improve sound quality and power to a headphone as opposed to a full-sized speaker.
A number of situations may benefit from the use of a mini headphone amp. Some people wish to improve their listening experience through an mp3 player or smartphone. Others want to improve their movie’s sound on a laptop or desktop computer. Another common use for mini headphone amps is for musicians to practice their craft without disturbing those around them. For example, an electric guitar plugged in through a mini headphone amp and into studio quality headphones will give a guitarist the loudest and highest quality sound while remaining silent to the outside world.
The sheer number of mini headphone amplifiers on the market may take you a lot of time to research. Because these amps have a wide range of uses, it is important to consider the one or two features most important for your individual needs. Cost of the amp will also be a consideration — you don’t want to overspend on features you don’t need, but you also don’t want to save money on something that won’t deliver the sound quality you expect.
Whether you plan to use your amp for listening to music on your phone, watching movies and TV shows on a portable device or computer, or playing musical instruments is probably the most important factor in choosing a mini headphone amp. Different amplifiers offer different advantages for each type of use. Make sure you choose one that can give you what you need.
Some mini headphone amps also serve as a DAC, or Digital/Analog converter. Know if you will need this option before you buy. There’s no need to spend extra for this option if won’t use it.
Not all mini headphone amps are so mini. There are a number of different shapes and sizes of mini headphone amps, so look into each one with your usage needs in mind. In addition to physical size, consider weight in your choice. If you plan to hold the amp in your pocket, you want to make sure it’s light enough to do so.
As with any audio equipment, the quality of cables used can have a positive or negative impact on sound quality.
If you know exactly how you plan to use the amp, determine the features that are most important to you. As with any audio equipment, personal preference will play into your decision. Some listeners prefer to focus on volume capabilities, while others are more concerned with practical aspects of the unit, such as peripheral ports or portability.
DAC: Some mini headphone amps are single function. Others also serve as Digital/Analog Converters. This means they convert digital audio signals into a low-voltage signal able to be amplified. Many DACs in headphone amps are superior to those found in your computer, making them a useful addition when playing audio through a laptop or desktop computer.
Channels: Some amps are single channel, while others offer multiple jacks for a number of channels, usually with their own volume control. If you don’t need multiple headphone jacks at the same time, you probably won’t want to make this feature a determining factor in your purchase.
Power supply: Recently, battery-powered mini headphone amplifiers have become more readily available. These are convenient for those who regularly need their headphone amps on the go. However, they are limited by the amount of time able to function only on battery power.
Watts per channel: Make sure the amp you buy offers the right amount of watts per channel for your needs. This will be determined by the component you run with the amp as well as the decibel level you want to achieve without distortion.
Better headphones often make the use of a mini headphone amp a bigger boost to your listening experience. Make sure your headphones can handle what the amp is supplying.
Inexpensive: Lower priced mini headphone amps can be purchased in the $20 to $75 range. These amps offer a range of features for the thrifty shopper. At this price range, you are more likely to end up with an amp that doesn’t meet your sound quality standards, but there are plenty of good choices if you do your research.
Mid-range: In the $75-$125 range you will find a number of options that offer professional sound quality. This is the range where the greatest number of options land. If this is your budget, you should have no trouble at all finding the highest quality sound with additional features to your liking.
Expensive: If you plan to spend more than $125 on a mini headphone amplifier, do so because you have a specific need in mind that can only be accessed by this level of spending. There are fewer choices of amps at this level, because most people can find what they need without spending this much. If you do purchase an amp in this price range, you will be getting the most out of your portable audio.
Mini headphone amplifiers are popular with musicians who have rehearsal space with noise restrictions. Headphone amps allow them to rock and roll without waking the kids.
Not only are there numerous models of mini headphone amplifiers available, but an increasing number of brands are making their way onto the market. Sometimes the new kids on the block have the most innovative approach. Nobsound is a Chinese company started in 2013, and their NS-08E Vacuum Tube Integrated Amplifier Mini Audio HiFi Stereo Headphone Amp offers a lot of benefits at a reasonable price. The visible vacuum tubes make this fun amp an intriguing sound piece for the amateur audiophile. Another quality product is the Neoteck Headphone Amplifier. Within the inexpensive price-range, this perky amp uses a rechargeable lithium battery for portability and allows for eight hours of unplugged use.
Q. Will an amplifier ruin my headphones over time?
A. No. If you are using headphones of a reasonable quality and operating the amp according to suggested settings, you should not have an issue with the sustainability of your headphones. Pushing any electronic past its natural capacity can cause damage, but simply using a headphone amp with decent headphones will not ruin them.
Q. Can using an amp cause me to have long term hearing loss?
A. Using an amp safely should not be harmful. Any sound over a certain decibel level is not healthy for your hearing. However, it is possible to reach these dangerous levels with the most basic sound equipment, and without the use of an amplifier. Always follow recommended guidelines when using any audio equipment and you will be safe.
Q. Are inexpensive mini headphone amps a waste of money?
A. Absolutely not. Because of the basic nature of mini headphone amp functions, it is not a very expensive product to produce well. This is not to say that you are guaranteed to get a good product with every purchase. Do the right research and you’ll be able to find an amp you’ll enjoy at any price.
Q. Will an amp only improve the quality of certain types of music?
A. No. The point of using a mini headphone amplifier is to improve the quality and loudness of any sound coming through your headphones. If you have the right headphones and amp, you should notice an improvement in any sound coming through the unit.
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