Introduction to Headphone Amplifier Reviews

With the wider proliferation of high quality headphones in the marketplace, a need for more dedicated sources of quality amplification has followed. A proper headphone amp used to be seen only in tandem with expensive electrostatic headphones or in a recording studio. Not anymore. In the quest to develop higher resolution headphones, a number of models now present a more challenging load to drive to their fullest potential. This applies to many models of both home and portable headgear.

Typically, an easily driven headphone presents a load of about 16 - 50 ohms. These headphones can be comfortably driven with most portable devices alone. Anywhere above this level of impedance and you will not generate adequate volume using your average portable device. Most home preamplifiers will continue to be fine driving loads up to 100 ohms, after which a dedicated headphone amplifier is in order. Many higher end home headphones, for example, will have impedance ratings of 250 and 600 ohms.

Today, a wide array of headphone amplification is available to use in conjunction with both portable and home equipment, with prices varying accordingly. They range from tube to solid state amplification. Some have built in DACs and USB connections for use with computers. Some of the portable units are robust enough to allow you to take your home headphones on the go, while some of the home units will feature both standard and balanced connections for various headphone types.

Through our reviews, featuring both subjective analysis and bench testing, we will help narrow down the best amplifier match for your given headphone need.

Headphone Amplifier Reviews

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AURALiC TAURUS MKII Balanced Headphone Amp Review

The AURALiC TAURUS MKII uses their proprietary ORFEO Classs-A output modules to deliver amazing sound to high-end headphones. Enjoy incredible transparency and tonal quality via either the standard or balanced output of the TAURUS MKII. Easily one of the best headphone amps on the market and a reference quality pairing with the HiFiMAN HE-6 planar magnetic headphones.

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Meridian Prime Headphone Amplifier / Prime Power Supply Review

The Meridian Prime and its Prime Power Supply are a compact unit designed to fit on even the most cluttered of desks. Enjoy clean and neutral playback up to 192/24 bit PCM via USB connection. The Prime even has enough power built into it's mini stature to handle beefy planar magnetic headphones. At $2,000 for just the Prime, it is a bit pricey, but worth checking out if you need something small.

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OPPO HA-1 Headphone Amplifier Review

Since headphones have become so popular, it seems only natural that dedicated headphone amplifiers would follow. Many have come to market, and the OPPO HA-1 headphone amplifier has just been introduced. It has numerous digital and analog inputs, and the output stage operates in Pure Class A. It also can handle digital audio in the new ultra-high resolution formats, e.g., 24/352.8 PCM and DSD128. A dynamite product from a dynamite company, the HA-1 is a champion in the ring!