When you first think about it, it may sound a bit ridiculous, but amps can, in some circumstances, really improve your listening experience when using a good pair of headphones. Remember, your sound quality is only as good as the weakest link, so if you have great audio files, a perfect player, and a good headphones, you may not need it. But, in some cases, you can get even better quality out of your headphones if use one. So do you need an amp for your headphones? Let’s look at a few instances when an amp is a good idea and when its not.
When to Use an Amp
If you have purchased high-end headphones, such as studio headphones, then you may want to consider purchasing an amp to give them a little more power. The fact is that the batteries on smartphones and mp3 players just can’t provide enough juice to give you an accurate and perfect listening experience.
You should also check the impedance of your headphones. Impedance is the combined resistance and reactivity the headphones present to the amp represented by electrical load. This impedance rating can have a huge impact on your listening quality. Higher impedance headphones will need more voltage from the amp in order to provide the audio you want. If you have high impedance headphones, you will need more power for your headphones and often the batteries on your favorite players just aren’t up to the task.
In some cases of very high-end headphones, you will be required to buy an amp in order to use them. These are usually reserved for only the best of the best that require a lot of power for a listening experience that’s pretty much second to none. If you use these with portable devices, you won’t be able to avoid the need of an amp, but in other cases, having one may just give you a listening bonus.
When NOT to Use an Amp
There are two main circumstances that won’t require the use of an amp with your headphones.
First, if you have in ear headphones, then you probably don’t need an amp. These headphones are highly efficient and don’t need as much power in the first place. That means the power from your smartphone or stereo will be more than enough to power them. Second, if you use noise cancelling headphones, then you won’t need an amp. These headphones already have their own amp built into the headphones to help with the noise-cancelling features. Because of this, an external amp won’t be able to do much to improve your overall listening experience, so it is pretty much pointless to invest in an amp, unless you plan on buying a new set of headphones along with it.
At the end of the day, your headphones are actually the most important piece to the listening puzzle. So if you are shopping on a budget, you can save a little money by purchasing high quality headphones without an amp. But, if you have the cash, you could get even better sound out of your headphones by adding a good quality amp for your headphones.