Best Headphone Amplifier 2017-Buyer’s Guide

I hope you will agree with me when I say,  

Life  is not colorful without the high quality music, or is it?

Well, there is only ONE problem. Finding that “Suitable” headphone amplifier isn’t an easy job.

That is why I have created a list of Best Headphone Amplifier 2017. After researching online and spending hours in testing these headphone amplifier, I have shortlisted the top 10 headphone amp which you can buy right now.

best portable headphone amp

What may suit one person might not suit another person.

Surely, these headphone amplifier are not for everyone as each audiophile has their own favorite brand.

With that said, one thing can be said for sure, these headphone amp are good enough to make it to our list of the top 10 best headphone amplifier 2017.

Best Headphone Amplifier 2017

 

Model NumberBrand
Fiio E10KFiioCheck Price
Behringer Microamp Ha400Behringer Check Price
Creative Sound Blaster E5CreativeCheck Price
FiiO A5FiioCheck Price
FiiO E17FiioCheck Price
Bravo Audio V2Bravo Check Price
Nobsound NS-08ENobsound Check Price
SMSL SD793-IISMSL Check Price
TOPPING NX1ATOPPINGCheck Price

FiiO E10K—The best USB DAC amp under $100

FiiO E10K headphone amplifier is an awesome product of the FiiO Company. This dac amp comes boxed with a USB cord. This amp works exceptionally and uniquely well, you plug it to any USB port and it easily and automatically works well with files of up to 24 bits and 96 khz sampling rates. There absolutely no need for installing drivers.

The black shiny portable headphone amplifier is well designed and small enough to fit in your pocket. It has dimensions of 79.0mm x 49.1mm x 21.0mm and only weighs 28 grams.

What’s amazing about this portable amp is that you don’t have to worry about your battery running out while in use, E10K is powered by a USB cable via Micro-USB port.

E10K has an option that lets you boost the bass or even turn it off with it’s on and off bass switch. This portable amplifier has a coax out pass through that is digital and a jack line out that lets you convert USB input from a computer to a digital output that is coaxially standardized.

Quality sound output, the most important considerations among the headphone amplifiers. Just how good is these sleek designed amp in terms of sound output? In terms of sound output and design, E10K is an improved version of E10 that was well received in the market due to its great sound features.

The amp is driven by a LMH6643 chipset which results into incredibly more power as well as transient response than the previous versions. There is a reduction of noise floor in the advanced low-pass switch of the bass boost filter making it an additional bonus. The amp has an output power of up to 200mW at 32 Ohms with a signal to noise ratio of 108 dB.

Pros

  Its small size and light weight makes it highly portable

  Very low noise floor

   Have value for its money

  Highly dynamic

   Durable

Cons

⊙ This amplifier is limited in usage. Input is only through USB and thus locking out other options of audio inputs.

Conclusion

FiiO E10K is the right choice for those who want to get value for their money in a headphone amplifier. FiiO Company once again does not disappoint and the several worth mentioning testimonies of this amp is proof enough it is among the best in the market.

Behringer Micro amp HA400—Budget Friendly DAC Amplifier

This portable headphone amplifier is described as flexible and super-compact dac amplifier. What’s amazing about HA400 is the fact that it is able to amplify 4 different pairs of headphones at the same time with their own independent volumes. This implies that, 4 different people can use this portable amplifier at the same time.

This is the best amp among other amps in its price range. Other amplifiers in its price range are not powered enough as HA400 which has an active circuitry implying it has dedicated power supply that boosts each channel back up to their original levels.

HA400 maintains the highest levels of sonic quality with the use its four high-power stereo amps. As if that was not enough, the amazing headphone amplifier consists of Ultra low-noise 4580 responsible for remarkable audio performance.

It has a maximum input level of about 15 dBu and a maximum output level of approximately 40 mW in 100 Ohms. All these features and so much more in a dac amp that only measures about 46.5 mm x 57.2 mm x 103.6 mm and weighs only 190 grams.

The Behringer Mcroamp HA400 has features you can find in a full-size and complete audio equipment. This device can be applicable in professional studios, the control rooms in radio stations, at home, portable music devices or even with your own personal computer.

Pros

  It is compact, comfortable and flexible

   It is designed to last

   Its small size and lightweight makes it even more portable 

 It is very stylish in appearance

Cons

⊙ The only major complain among some of its user is adds noticeable noise to signals.

⊙ Other users are disturbed by the fact that it does not have an on and off button.

Conclusion

The The Behringer Mcroamp HA400 is an outstanding headphone amplifier with advanced features and it can actually be used by up to 4 different people with each person having their own settings in volumes and output levels.

Creative Sound Blaster E5More-in-one headphone amp

This list could not have been done without what I would consider as the “creative audio powerhouse.” Creative Sound Blaster comes well and creatively packed in a presentable box. If you did not know much about this dac amp you would still pick it among others largely due to its packaging. Well packaged products are likely to be picked by a customer and E5 is no exception. And if you thought the product does not live up to its exterior packaging, you would be surprised.

The portable headphone amplifier comes with decent list of outstanding accessories that include a flashy black and red Micro-USB cable, branded elastic bands, mini TOSLINK cable and desk stand (it can’t get any better).

E5 has some extra neat final touches with a very appealing design. The black attractive dac amp is made of high quality hard plastic guaranteeing durability. It is professionally made and there are no signs of imperfections to speak of. The volume control is appropriately placed to protect it from unpredicted and unnecessary movements. The amp can conveniently be muted by pressing the volume pot when need be.

The on and off power button doubles up to serve as a Bluetooth button which is discoverable when pressed and held. The Bluetooth is discoverable when the amp indicates a flashing blue color. The other buttons located besides the on and off buttons are for sound enhancements. Also on the amp are three LED lights that indicate the battery life of the dac amp.

Functionality

It is a DAC that is compatible with Android, iGadget, PC and Mac. This implies that the amp can run several digitized audiophiles usages and needs. The amp has Cirrus Logic CS4398 DAC implemented on it for decoding to a level of 24/192. E5 is fully an combination of an amp and a Dac.

The manufacturer added a feature for users who like going all wireless. The Bluetooth feature consists of APTX technology enhances low latency and better sound quality when compared to the regular Bluetooth audio signals that are compressed. Aside from audio reproduction, E5 has HFP & AVRCP profiles which allow hands free as well as remote operations of gaming and devices that are compatible to the amp.

Creative Sound Blaster E5 has a battery life of up to 8 hours with its Lithium ion 3200 mAH battery.

Sound Output

 The sound output on this amp is exceptionally great. The bass, tone, treble & mids effects are out of this world. Without interfering with the sound effects, E5 is a amp/dac that cleans sound with great detail and neutral tones with a little bit of bass warmth. However, the texture or the detail of the bass is rather average for a headphone amplifier of its caliber. The treble & mids effects are great but that is only achievable through selected kinds of headphones. On a wrong kind of headphone, the treble comes out just a bit overly digitized and unnatural. The highly powerful and efficient headphone amplifier is 600 Ohms rated meaning it can drive a number of headphones that are demanding.

Pros

  Outstanding audio performance

  Incredibly versatile

  Highly convenient and flexible

√  Stylish design

  Bluetooth features

Cons

⊙  Low battery life

⊙  It is a bit bulky

Conclusion

Though a bit complex, Creative Sound Blaster E5 is the headphone amplifiers for just anyone including gamers, sound production managers, radio owners, or just anyone. It has a variety of advanced features and performance for its price range. If you are looking for a more-in-one kind of a headphone amp, E5 is just the right choice.

FiiO A5 –The well worth amp

FiiO A5 is said to achieve about the same output power of E12 but a bit more improved and improved. The portable headphone amplifier comes in titanium or black colors. A5 comes neatly packaged with accessories that include micro cable, silicone stacking pads and micro-USB charging cable.

A5 is designed in a rectangular shape with edges beveled all round the amp. This appealingly great portable amp measures 124mm x 65.5mm x 14.5mm and only weighs 168 grams.

 The main body is made of solid aluminum machined block with both the top and the bottom plates supporting the internals. This guarantees protection of the internal of the amp and strength for durability of the whole headphone amplifier.

At the top of the amp, are the 3.5mm earphone and line-in jacks that are made of stainless steel for aesthetic look and durability. On the same side are the volume top and alps potentiometer. On the top front face are two LED lights that indicate when the amp is charging or in operation. The light indicating the when the amp is charging also indicates at what speed it is charging, that is, faster blinking shows that the amp is actually charging faster. To the side are the switch and the micro-USB port.

On the inside of the FiiO A5, half the space is occupied by a 880mAH battery. This battery detects the rate at which your power supply is charging automatically. Additionally, the battery adjusts the charging rate automatically for efficiency of the amp. Though the battery seems small, it can last up to 13 hours.

The FiiO A5 has a combination of MUSES02 + LME49600 op-amp at the center of the amplification circuit and metallic film detectors of high precision meaning the amp is able to achieve extra power with very low noise output. This feature makes it an improved version of E12.

A5 takes pride in 2 toggle features that include a high/low gain switch and the bass boost. High/low gain switch increases volume by 14dB within a loop-back. It only adjusts the true volume. The setback with this feature is that the high/low volume only adds volume and does not decrease. The power output of the A5 is up to 800 mW at a 32 Ohms.

Pros

  More dynamic and portable

  Durability

  Long battery life

√  Stylish design

  Immune to damage

Cons

⊙  Lose of in-line control

⊙  Poor bass output

Conclusion

If you are the kind of person who removes your mobile device continually from your pocket, the amp will won’t come in-hand despite its sleek make. But if you enjoy things such as DJ mixes and podcasts, or you have no problem leaving your device in a bag/purse FiiO A5 is the right Headphone amplifier. The outstanding sound quality as well as instant bass boost to your music are well worth amp.

FiiO E17—MP3 player or headphone amplifier ?

What impresses you about the FiiO E17 headphone amplifier is its design when you unbox it. Its metal casing that is well brushed gives it an appealing look as well as ensuring it serves you for quite a long time. It is a flexible and a versatile device that is made up of 3 different metal sections, at the front, back and all round the side of the device. It is a solid amp that is built to last.

E17 might confuse you with an MP3 player by how it is designed. It is slightly thicker and smaller than an iPod Classic it easily might mistake you for an MP3 player especially with its menu layer as well as the sound customization.

FiiO E17 comes with a number of accessories including a short jack connector that allows you to easily plug in to an MP3 player, a mini USB cable as well as carry case. You might also want a digital cable but it is not understood why FiiO Company does not include one. Apart from the costs that might be involved, the digital cable length needed might vary in lengths if, for example, you want to plug in into, say, a Hi-Fi located in another room.

The portable headphone accepts 4 different kinds of inputs, the mini USB port, 3.5mm jack and a SPDIF jack for coaxial or optical digital entry. The mini USB allows you connect the device to a computer and get it to function as a sound card.

It is critically claimed that E17 is similar to the E7 version in size, screen and even take headphones of 300Ὠ impedance. They are both Dac/Amp combo but E17 is more advanced and much more powerful.

At 300 Ohms impedance, the amp has an output of 30mW while E7 only manages a 16mW output level. The battery life of the E17 is much better and longer up to 15 hours with a larger 1500 mAH battery than its counterparts 1050 mAh battery. Overall, E17 has better and faster performance.

With the SPDIF connection, the device is able to accept a real high-end signal bits of up to 24/192 but when it comes to USB connection, limit is 96K/24bit. 

Pros

  It is built to last

  Much longer battery life than most headphone amplifiers

  Sleek design and stylish

√  Great sound quality

 

Cons

⊙  It does not come with all needed accessories

 

Conclusion

If you are looking for a portable headphone amplifier that will serve you for a significantly a longer period of time, FiiO E17 is just the right device. With its price, it gives you value for your money.

Bravo Audio V2—The most unique design Headphone amplifier

Are in need of best quality portable headphone amplifier or dip into the world of audiophiles? The Bravo Audio V2 allows you to do either, or both!

The amp is stylish with modern aesthetic design consisting of 2 LED lights (red and blue) than light up all through when the amp is on.  Another feature of aesthesia is the amp is designed between acrylic plates. It is openly designed for ultimate cooling purposes. It consists of a Shuguang 12AU7 tube ALPS potentiometer from Japan and a Chemi-Con capacitor among other well-regarded parts.

This device is powerful and can work with any given headphone.

With dimensions of 79.0 mm x 79.0 mm x 44.0 mm and lightweight, it is highly portable and can be carried around with ease.

The Bravo Audio V2 headphone amplifier is an exceptionally good and also musical sounding amp. It adds warmth as well as richness to low end & midranges while slightly putting emphasis on the treble. The device is however not perfect as there slightly is loss of significant detail when compared with the JDS Labs CMoy amplifier. 

Many experts in audio believe that the technology is keeping up with the benefits of the sonic offered by the “old-fashioned” tubes in the amps. The tube circuitry simplicity contributes to the reduced counts of parts and greater clarity of the sonic. Tubes use much less negative (if any) feedback when compared to amplification circuits that are transistorized.

If the tubes overload, their subjective quality in sound is often preferred to breakup features of transistors. Though these glass vacuum tubes seem fragile in nature, they are electrically robust. They can tolerate high peaks of voltages, and withstand long term overload conditions even better than their equivalents that are solid state.

Pros

  More powerful

  Uniquely different in design and specs

  Small and lightweight to carry around

√  High quality sound output 

√ Great product in its price range

 

Cons

⊙ It is openly design thus making it fragile and easily exposed to damages by spilling liquids on it. or even dust

Conclusion

Bravo Adio V2 is the portable headphone amplifier if you desire to look unique in design, have best performance in amp and have a device with wide range of feature at a quite competitive price. This headphone amp never disappoints.

Nobsound NS-08E—The powerful tube headphone amplifier

The Nobsound NS-08E is one of the most famous headphone amplifiers in the market largely due to its small size regardless of the double tubes it has, ease in using and the spontaneous power.

The amplifier comes in a well packaged in a cardboard box that is plain brown. It comes with 2 6J9 vacuum tubes and power supply what is not understood to many is why Nobsound does not package audio cables a long with the amp.

It boasts of being among the smallest in the market but yet so much powerful than most of the dac amps that are even 5 times bigger its size. It only measures 111 mm x 69 mm x 32 mm with a weight of only 185 grams. NS-08E is said to be similar to the previous NS-01E headphone amp, this device is nicely made and also put together.

On the front end that is gold colored are the 3.3mm headphone out and line in jacks, set along with the volume knob. The knob rotates in slow tactile steps that are again similar to NS-01E version and also same as that on the FX-Audio DAC-X6. And just like the whole case, the strong amp is crafted from the machined aluminum which makes it have quite a solid feel to it. this also ensures that it serves you for quite a long period of time.

NS-08E can work with a variety of headphones including Q 701, HD 580, HD 650,HD 600, K 702, K 701, and so much more. The vacuum tubes can be replaced with 6ж9П, E180F, 6688, and EF861.

The soundstage of the amp is a little deeper which is guaranteed to please you. The bass and treble remain quite well extended with this awesome device. With some headphones such as the T1 Pro and others, the NS-08E is able to add more punch to the already great bass and quite a controlled sense at low end. The small portable fragile-looking device pushes out a 1100 mW at 32ohms. The Nobsound NS-08E has no problems with driving the 600Ohm T1 Pro headphone with more room left for adjustments of the volume. With some IEMs that are highly sensitive you can detect a slight background noise. This noise is however not noticeable when the music is in play and does not detract you from enjoying the experience of the amplifier.

The tube headphone amp is lively, much energetic and does not even display any lack of timing or slowness. It is very fast and also detailed, with the capability of rumbling bass as well as the treble and also adds rich significant effects to the extended mids for a satisfying experiences.

The unit can get just a little warm while being used but it is actually not what you’d consider hot. The case can be touched comfortably with not discomforts but touching the actual tubes is not recommend. There is also the customization of sound by actually rolling the tubes.

Pros

  It is built to last

  It has an extremely powerful output

  Long battery life

√  It is very well designed and stylish

 

Cons

⊙ The amplifier has very limited input

 The tubes are highly fragile and can easily be damaged

 

Conclusion

For the lovers of tubes and their appearances, this awesome amplifier has them in twos. Though very small, it has a performance of combination of up to 5 different amplifiers in the market depending on the ones you pick. It brings value for your money and it is a product you should definitely consider.

SMSL SD793-II—-Coming from a company focusing on Amplifier

We could not have done this list without this incredibly built device.

SMSL SD793-II is a well-known Dac/Amp combo built and designed by SMSL Audio. The amp has the ability of powering low/high impedance headphones the same way. It uses a combination of DIR9001, PCM1793 and OPA2134 set of chipsets and accommodates up to 24 bit/96kHz signals. However, the device doesn’t have a USB connection option so the input is only through coaxial and a separate cable in order to use the DAC component.

SD793-II has a shell made of aluminum metal guaranteeing durability. It is considerably well made to last and catch some eyes. The amplifier has a great appearance. It measures 128 mm x 77 mm x 35 mm (including the parts that are protruding) and has a weigh of weight 500 grams

The SD-793II headphone amplifier utilizes a top digitized receiver chip DIR9001 that can receive up to 24 bit/96K signals at its maximum, a receiver chip DIR9001 which is considered the lowest audio jitter digital receiver. DAC decoding employs the best D/A amp chip that is PCM1793. Output uses low pass filters that are active with in-line package. The amp can be used in computers, DVD, LCD TV, MD, CD, and some of the rest of the audio equipment that have optical or coaxial fiber interface.

The portable headphone amplifier has a tiny signal to noise ratio of beloow113 dB making the device quite remarkable with clear sound output. The device has an incredible headphone output power of between 65 mW at just 16 Ohms to 130 mW at 32 Ohms. The output distortion is just at 0.01 % plus 100 mW per 32 Ohms.

Pros

  Strongly designed to last

  Outstanding audio output with minimal noise interference

  Relatively cheap

√  It is very well designed and stylish

 

Cons

With an amplifier of its caliber, it is a little bit disappointing in terms of features

 

Conclusion

Even though it does not match up to portable headphones in its price range, it remains highly convenient and one of a kind dac amp that you should definitely consider trying. It is designed not to fail you.

TOPPING NX1A—Not so famous, but good quality

We close our top 10 list of the best amplifiers of 2017 with the sleek TOPPING NXIA.

Though not as popular in the market as FiiO Company and other big names in audiophile production, a reliable research indicates that TOPPING is Chinese brand that can highly be relied upon and not disappoint. Its earlier releases like the analog NX1and the digital NX2 were well accepted into the market with positive feedback and this is evident that the brand has a great track in audiophile.

You may require the need of NXIA portable amplifier when you have had the volume on you headphone at a maximum level and still you are not satisfied with the output of the sound, the specifications of your headphones have very low sensitivity requiring more a powerful portable headphone amplifier in order to deliver responses of optimal levels of audio signals and the source devices or machine do not actually have good audio processors for example laptops, in which you have to locate a portal  DAC (digital to analog converter) amplifier in place of an analog amp.

The device is quite small to fit in the pocket or the palm. It has the dimensions of 58 mm x 90 mm x 13.5 mm and it weighs only 93 grams. The small size in nature, Compactness and the sleek design are for convenience and simplicity in using the portable amp.

As an improved version from its previous, the TOPPING NXIA has a new installed amplifier circuit that enhances low noise in output and also the distortion with the enhanced dynamics.  The amplifier offers a significant high-quality and clean audio sound that is ideal for any portable music machines and mobile devices. The headphone amplifier is applicable in a number of areas including music production studios, radio stations, on portable music devices, computers, among others. It is known to support MP3, MP4, and other formats of audio output. It is universally designed to drive any kind of headphone.

The single OPA1611 and the dual OPA1612 bipolar-input highly operational amps achieve very low 1.1 nV/Hz density in noise with a tiny low distortion of just 0.000015 % at 1kHz. OPA1611 and the OPA1612 offer output swing within 600 mV with 2 kΩ load which boosts headroom as well as maximizes dynamic range.

You may require the need of NXIA portable amplifier when you have had the volume on you headphone at a maximum level and still you are not satisfied with the output of the sound, the specifications of your headphones have very low sensitivity requiring more a powerful portable headphone amplifier in order to deliver responses of optimal levels of audio signals and the source devices or machine do not actually have good audio processors for example laptops, in which you have to locate a portal  DAC (digital to analog converter) amplifier in place of an analog amp.

The device is quite small to fit in the pocket or the palm. It has the dimensions of 58 mm x 90 mm x 13.5 mm and it weighs only 93 grams. The small size in nature, Compactness and the sleek design are for convenience and simplicity in using the portable amp.

As an improved version from its previous, the TOPPING NXIA has a new installed amplifier circuit that enhances low noise in output and also the distortion with the enhanced dynamics.  The amplifier offers a significant high-quality and clean audio sound that is ideal for any portable music machines and mobile devices. The headphone amplifier is applicable in a number of areas including music production studios, radio stations, on portable music devices, computers, among others. It is known to support MP3, MP4, and other formats of audio output. It is universally designed to drive any kind of headphone.

The single OPA1611 and the dual OPA1612 bipolar-input highly operational amps achieve very low 1.1 nV/Hz density in noise with a tiny low distortion of just 0.000015 % at 1kHz. OPA1611 and the OPA1612 offer output swing within 600 mV with 2 kΩ load which boosts headroom as well as maximizes dynamic range.

Pros

 Convenient to use

 Built to last

  Relatively cheap

 

 

Cons

There are claims that the device does not leave up to its expectations in terms of out put levels in quality and sound.

Conclusion

This portable amplifier looks very simple to understand and use because it is actually very easy to execute various functionalities with this device. It has a very competitive price in the market for a product of its nature. Though not in the league of big names, its sleek design and vast functionalities and features are reason enough for you to get yourself a TOPPING NXIA.

These headphones amplifiers have not been ranked in any particular order. There are a number of factors that were involved in coming up with this list of the best headphone amplifiers of 2017 and some of these factors include, specifications and features of the devices, prices of the amps, functionalities, and so on.