Modern headphones are designed to get the very best of audio performance from your music player or smartphone and are thus tailored towards the demands that MP3 playback involves and will improve performance more than a conventional pair of headphones.
Headphone amplifiers are not something that is found so commonly in most gadget stores. They are made especially for music enthusiasts, who are willing to invest in high-quality music.
They are small audio amplifiers, designed for headphones and not speakers that allow for higher volumes, better current capacity, high input impedance, low output impedance, and a greater range of output voltages.
Generally, headphones amplifiers are found embedded in electronic devices that have a headphones jack, like integrated amps, TVs, and portable music players.
There are a number of headphone amplifiers available on the market today:
When buying a headphone amplifier, you will need to pay special attention to the following factors:
Headphone impedance figures are generally provided in the user manual or on the packaging of the headphones.
There should also be a conforming figure for an amp as well as and both these figures are listed in a value of ohms.
The best way to find a pairing on the basis of impedance is to pair a headphone that comes with at least 10 times the ohm value of the amp being used.
For instance, a 3000-ohm headphone would pair best with a 30-ohm amp.
The second most important factor is headphone sensitivity, which will help you determine if your earphones or headphones will actually benefit from amping. Sensitivity ratings are typically shown as decibels (DB) levels per Milliwatts (mW) of supplied power.
In general, anything over 100 decibels at 1mW will be driven adequately to full volume without the need for an external amplifier.
It is also a good idea to ask yourself:
It is important to consider how you intend on using the amplifier; if you need something that will be best for listening on-the-go, or if you want something that will add to fixed desktop arrangement. For on-the-go listening, portable amps are the way to go and for a desktop setup, desktop headphones amps work best.
Headphone amps are only responsible for processing analog audio signals, but in today’s advanced technological era, streaming services and digital music, there is another important component in audio setups, known as DAC or digital to analog converter.
DACs are responsible for taking a digital music file and convert it into an analog music signal.
Just like with amps, the DAC quality in non-audio specific devices such as PCs, laptops, tablets, phones, is a low priority for producers.
For this reason, it is best to pair headphone amps with dedicated, quality DAC chips to provide a full audio processing solution for enhanced sound quality.
Other important factors to consider
DSP allows headphone amps to deliver a surround sound experience using only standard headphones. An example of DSP is Dolby headphone format. DSP allows for the signal to be improved and modified.
Another thing to look for in a headphone amplifier is the number of channels it offers.
Headphone amps typically come with 1 to 8 channels. More channels are better as they deliver multiple signal distribution options for keeping the flexibility in check.
Every channel arranges individual stereo line distribution in a one-rack package.
The signal-to-noise rating is a measurement of the headphone amp’s noise in comparison with its original source, which is measured in decibels.
The higher the ratio, the less noise compared to the signal. This is to keep that strange noise you have to bear when listening to your favorite music, a sort of white noise.
An optimal signal to noise rating means you will not have to worry about this little annoyance anymore.
The Root-mean-squared power is the extent of real power that is delivered to the load. The amount shows how loud the headphones will get at their peak.
This factor allows for the headphone amps to multifunction as either a loud amplifier or a pre-amplifier. A pre-amp readies a small amount of electrical signal for additional processing or amplification and decreases interruption. While offering the headphone amp added flexibility, this option is also rather expensive.
A basic amplifier simply substantiates the strength of audio from the source and that alone fills in the gaps. However, exemplary headphones generate a precise reproduction, making the most of the audio they receive. Here we will be looking at the best headphone amplifiers under $100. You can expect these sets to offer the following:
Creative is a well-known brand when it comes to audio products, and the Creative Sound Blaster E1 Portable Headphone Amplifier is their best product in this category. It may come off as very compact, but don’t get fooled by its size because the powerful hardware inside is what counts.
It also comes with a battery life of 25 hours and supports 600 ohms of amplification. Furthermore, it also features an inbuilt mic, which can be used to take/end calls. For added user convenience, the amp also comes with a shirt clip at the back and can be easily taken anywhere since it weighs only 25 g.
The company also provided a USB cable and Orange Stereo inside the box, which is a quick attention grabber. The best part is, you can use the E1 as a DAC and connect it to your desktop as an external sound card.
This headphone amp is a popular favorite, especially because it offers high-quality sound at a very low price. It is lightweight, compact and compatible with any audio device with a 3.5 mm cable. It features EQ control, which allows you to add a hint of bass boost if you feel like it.
Even though the claimed battery life is 10 hours, a lot of users reported that the headphone amp worked for approximately 5 hours with a full charge. The transparent clip is also ideal for fitting the device on to clothes while traveling; otherwise, it also fits perfectly in your pocket.
If you are on a budget ad are only looking for audio amplification, then FiiO A1 is your best bet.
The Topping NX2 Headphone Amp is a very sleek amplifier that also works as a DAC having a length of 11 cm. It also provides a total music distortion of 0.0001% at 32 ohms and comes with a battery life of 100 hours thanks to its built-in mAh battery.
It is due to the battery that the NX2 is so big and not the best-looking headphone amplifier out in the market since it maintains that industrial design, which is what make it appear bigger than your average amplifier headphones. The amp supports up to 300 ohms, which is perfect. Even though it does not come with features such as a built-in microphone or dual headphones support, it certainly delivers what it promises.
Topping also added five Velcro pieces and 2 two silicone pieces so users can attach it behind their smartphones.
This is not your regular headphone amp; the Bravo Audio V2 Class A 12AU7 is a tube amplifier, which means it offers a higher music distortion and sounds less tinny.
In addition to that, it looks super cool when sitting on the desktop and will surely fetch you some compliments. The quality of sound is also incredible and it powers up any headphones up to 600 ohms.
You also have the option to replace the stock tube if you wish to.
The E3 Portable Headphone Amplifier brings users solid technology, with many impressive features. To start off, it gives Bluetooth connectivity, a built-in mic, and awesome impedance support.
In addition to that, the battery life can last up to 24 hours, which makes it perfect for traveling. You have also got around 600 ohms which are sufficient for most headphone pairs. The Creative Sound Blaster E3 is a great, portable option at a decent price.
Buying headphones can be quite a challenging experience because there is so much to look at before buying one. From their internal components to external looks, you have to make your choice very carefully.
If you are looking specifically for the most durable headphones on the market, you have started on the right track. Among many other things that really annoy people about their headphones, flimsy built and non-durability are prominent ones.
So what are the different components of a pair of headphones that you have to get a close look at to see if the headphones are really durable? Here are a few things to check.
If you are buying headphones with cords, you have to see the cord first to know how durable it is. Cords can be annoying at times, but they are much better in giving you the audio quality that cordless headphones can’t, so sometimes they are the only choice you have.
Many manufacturers have now started make cords that look like ropes i.e. they are made of canvas. It is virtually impossible to break those cords even if you tug them really hard accidentally. Other important thing to see in a cord is its thickness.
The second most important component of a pair of headphones to see its strength and durability is the ear cups. You have to analyze the ear cups to see how they are attached to the headband.
If the attachment is not strong and the ear cups feel shaky on the headband, it’s a bad sign.
If you are going for swiveling ear cups, feel the strength of the joints and how durable they seem.
Another important thing to look at is how the cushions are attached to the ear cups.
If the attachment seems unfinished and you notice gaps between the material of the ear cup and the cushion, this is a telltale sign of a badly built pair of headphones.
This is the most important part of any pair of headphones. When you are looking for most durable headphones, ensure you check the headband carefully.
First, you want some material for headband that does not bend easily. Sometimes you see headbands made of metal, but the metal is so thin that it could bend easily.
If the headband is made of plastic, it should not be so hard that it breaks into pieces at one fall. Double tubes for plastic headbands prove to be great in terms of durability.
Most people do not pay much attention to the microphone attached to their headphones, but you should. When you need a microphone, you need it.
Not to mention, if the microphone is attached with your headphone, you will have to take care of it. The most important thing to look at when analyzing the durability of microphone on a headphone is how securely it tucks away when you are not using it.
Headphones made for gamers come with some really durable microphones. They are not only made from strong materials, but the microphone shaft is really thick to give it maximum sturdiness.
Now that you know how and which parts of your headphones you have to look at to see the durability of the overall headphones, here are some the most durable headphones for you to pick one from.
As the name tells the story, these headphones are meant for those who use them for professional work. If you make music, upload videos on YouTube or review music albums, you need one of these. Right from the first look they send an impression of sturdy, strong and durable headphones. Durability has been made a part of these headphones in other ways too. For example, the audio cable on the headphones is detachable on both ends. This means a tug on the cable will only pull it out of the jack, not break it.
The ear cups are swiveling so you don’t have to stretch the headband when you want to listen to your favorite music track with a friend. The headband is fully cushioned with thick materials. The swiveling joints of the ear cups are also pretty thick so they can take some abuse. Here are some notable features of Audio-Technica ATH-M50x headphones.
The price for these headphones can vary based on the color you want. The white pair is more expensive than the black one and there is no doubt that the white one looks much cooler and completely out of this world.
If you are tired of throwing away your headphones after every few months – you have to consider a more durable option. The V-MODA Crossfade M-100 metal headphones are just the right thing for you. These headphones are also known for their noise cancelation and isolation capabilities. The thing that makes these headphones one of the best on the market is how they have been tuned by skilled audio engineers in the industry. If you are an audiophile and have been looking for sturdy and high-quality sounding headphones, get your hands on this one – it is a gem.
More than 40% DJs around the world have made these headphones their preferred choice while performing live on stage. They have been built in such a way that they are equally perfect for audiophiles, DJs and even gamers.
The hexagonal shape of the ear cups makes them look really unique. V-MODA does a great job at even making them look solid by putting those screws on top of the ear cups.
In-ear headphones came into the world and became popular in no time. This is because they are able to give you high quality sound with convenience that no other headphones can. They are small in size, fit perfectly in your ears and can be stronger and more durable than even the bulkiest headphones out there. The RHA MA750 premium in-ear headphones are a good example of how in-ear headphones can be durable too. As simple as they look, they get closest to your eardrums and produce sound quality that audiophiles crave. What makes these headphones really durable is that their components are made of stainless steel.
The drivers inside these headphones are made with hands. Not to mention, noise cancelation and isolation is not even a big deal for in-ear headphones. These headphones come with 6 different sets of tips so you can pick the one that best suit your ear tube size and cancel the noise.
Even the cables used with these headphones contain oxygen-free copper cores so ensure that only the highest quality sounds touch your eardrums.
These headphones look beautiful and they are one of the best you can get your hands on when it comes to noise cancellation. Just like all other modern wireless and Bluetooth headphones, they also have the option for you to plug in your cable with 3.5mm headphone jack. This option ensures you keep listening to your favorite music even when the battery on your headphones is about to die.
The good thing about Cowin E-7 active noise-cancelling wireless headphones is that their design is pretty seamless. These types of designs are always really durable and since they are compactly joined with each other, accidental falls really don’t make a big difference on their sturdiness.
There is a lot that can be said about these headphones.
It won’t be wrong to say that these headphones have a very minimalistic design and yet it comes out to be one of the coolest looking designs on the market. When you want durability from your headphones along with top notch noise cancelation features, these are the ones you have to pick.
When you are looking for the most durable headphones, you could pick any of these without thinking too much about it. The best thing about these headphones is that not only are they durable, but they look great too.
Oftentimes, durability and sturdiness is a compromise on the looks of products, but that’s not the case here. Their prices might seem a bit high at first, but you will end up spending more than that on other headphones as you will have to keep on buying them over and over.
Lastly, the sound quality and clarity for these headphones is on a professional level.
Podcasts have surged in popularity over the last few years. According to a recent report by Wondery (an audio network) and comScore, nearly 20% of adults in the United States between the age of 18 and 49 listen to podcasts at least once a month. Podcast popularity reached unprecedented levels with the release of genre-defining podcast called Serial and since its release the industry has not looked back.
So are you a podcast fan? I definitely am. Or you may be a podcast producer. If you are, then you must have a simple question:
Do I need expensive or fancy headphones for making the most of my podcast listening or recording experience?
You will be glad to know that the answer to that question is no. However, that does not mean that any outdated or old pair will do the job. A great pair of headphones can make a substantial difference to your podcast listening experience.
It is important to keep in mind that best podcast headphones combine realistic sound with a comfortable fit that you can wear for hours at a reasonable price. Shopping for podcast headphones is different compared to shopping for regular headphones. This is because you will be listening mostly to spoken voice instead of music and it is probable that you will be wearing them for longer time periods hopefully in a quiet room.
There are 3 main types of podcast:
Interview shows are generally produced in mono, which means the sound you hear is almost the same in both ears. This audio tends to be less complex, making it easier to set a consistent volume level. A mono show that is entirely composed of spoken words allows the producer to set much lower bitrates.
On the other hand, documentary or audio drama-style shows are more complex. They use a combination of sound effects, music and ambience and are produced in stereo, which means that you will be able to hear subtle differences between what you hear in each ear.
These sound features play a part in determining which headphones are good for podcasts.
There are a couple of key things that are important to keep in mind when purchasing a good pair of podcast headphones. We know that selecting the best headphones is a highly subjective process, but it is advisable to consider the following criteria:
Sound reproduction is the most important consideration when choosing podcast headphones. It is vital that the recorded sound mirrors what you hear. A majority of consumer headphones are developed with music listening in mind and tend to enhance certain frequencies.
While this makes music listening great, a more accurate audio reproduction is required in the case of podcasts. This phenomenon is called flat frequency response. Professional headphones labeled monitor or studio typically do a good job at maintaining this flat frequency response.
This factor must never be overlooked, especially for podcast headphones. You may end up getting a pair having nearly all the qualities of an ideal headphone, but if it is not comfortable it is as good as useless.
When buying podcasting headphones ensure they are comfortable not just on your ears, but also on your head.
Podcast producers usually spend marathon sessions recording and editing their podcasts, while avid listeners devour many episodes in one go.
Therefore, comfortable podcast headphones are a must.
Sound leakage from your headphones can pose recording problems or simple annoyances for nearby people.
In case you record solo, sound leakage would only be problematic when you are simultaneously playing and recording sounds.
In other cases, any minor sound leak from a professional podcast headphone will be so quiet that it will not trigger the risk of feedback loop.
However, sound leak could turn out to be a major concern if you are recording with co-hosts, whether, in the studio or remotely and especially if you produce a double-ender.
The other person’s voice leak may creep into your audio track and in case the real audio is not in perfect alignment, this will produce a subtle echo or may be something more mystic.
In contrast to sound leaking out of your headphones, sound isolation means how well your headphones perform in terms of blocking noise coming into your ears.
Although the ideal situation may be to keep your door closed and block outside sounds during your recording and editing sessions, this will not be practical in all situations (especially if your computer is noisy).
This is where a good podcast headphone comes in handy as it isolates different sounds and helps you in figure out whether the noise you are hearing (like the noise of an overhead fan) is in your recording or not.
For podcasting, we highly recommend avoiding active noise cancellation. This will result in the headphone capturing external sounds, inverting your sound, which will lead to sound cancellation, which can do strange things with your co-hosts’ audio.
Audio-Technica makes some of the finest sounding headphones and Audio-Technica ATH-M70x is the cream of the crop for podcasting purposes. These are a pair of drier and thinner sounding headphones that have a flat balance. Therefore, they are the best contenders for getting you closer to hearing your own voice precisely the way it sounds compared to any other headphone brand on the market.
These headphones are also quite comfortable which makes them a good choice to wear for long periods of time. They have large cups that go over your ears instead of pressing on them. In comparison to other models, they are nice and flexible especially built with metal expanders to fit almost any head size. In addition, each cup can swivel a complete 90 degrees, which enables 1 ear listening. You can also choose from 3 chord options (1.5 m, 3 m and 3 m coiled), which means the chord will not hamper your podcasting experience.
Audio-Technica ATH-M70x renders an exceptionally clean, ultra-detailed listen that is impeccable for podcast editing where your priority is to ensure the absolute best sound possible. These are highly recommended for podcasting purposes.
Sony MDR7506 is an excellent pair of headphones, which is extensively used and recommended by numerous well-known podcasters in the industry like Cliff Ravenscraft. These headphones produce astounding sound quality and are much better than other brands that cost twice as much. They have a perfect tonal balance, which enables you to listen to numerous nuances in your voice recording and present your voice precisely as it sounds.
They do a better job of detecting any imperfections and flaws in your recordings compared to other headphones. They are also comfortable when compared with other brands in the same price range and have a cup size that fits well on most ears. However, in case you have large ears you may notice they hug your ears a little bit, which can be a tad uncomfortable.
Grado SR80e is a pair of headphones that have an open-back design, which is very different compared to headphones we have listed above. Although the open-back design permits some sound leakage, it generally leads to exceptional sound quality when editing. They allow you to hear every little detail in your voice and come extremely close to the original sound of your voice which is immensely crucial for podcast producers.
The build of Grado SR80e may seem a little cheap. They are mostly made of plastic materials and have no padding on the headband. Instead of the regular cups they feature removable foam covers. Although these headphones are comfortable to wear, using them for extended periods of time can make your ears a little hot at times. Overall, this headphone brand has an excellent sound quality and is a good choice for podcasters.
For ensuring variability, we have included Audio-Technica ATH-M50x on this list. It is ideal for those of you who do not want to pay the higher price tag of the newer Audio-Technica ATH-M70x. We have tested this pair of headphones and they are phenomenal. Their flat balance enables you to get very close to literally listening to your own voice precisely and also has the capability to detect impurities in your recording.
They have large cups that easily cover most ears and are very soft in texture. They are an exceptionally comfortable pair of headphones that can be worn consecutively for hours. Again you can also choose from 3 chord options (1.5m, 3m and 4m coiled), which means the chord will not hamper your podcasting experience. The shorter chord is ideal when going portable (like on an airplane), while the longer chord is better when you are using them on a computer.
While they may not be as good as their more recent counterparts, they come very close and if your budget is restricted to a little high, they may just be the ideal headphones for your podcasting needs.
These headphones have managed to attract significant attention because they can be easily customized in terms of both sound and look. They have an excellent feature, which is a port on both ears – the ports allow you to adjust base levels according to your preferences which tune these headphones for just the perfect podcast experience.
Their build quality is also very good making them robust and dependable and they are extremely comfortable. The ear pads are soft, breathable and large which means you are less likely to get hot sweaty ears.