The 14 Best Headphone AMP: What to Expect in 2024

Shani Maddox
  Apr 22, 2024 6:30 PM

If you're spending big on a pair of premium headphones, a dedicated headphone amplifier will make them sing much more than if you were to simply plug them into a computer, phone or even, depending on the quality of its built-in headphone amp, a hi-fi component. An external headphone amp is designed to sit between your source/amplifier and pair of headphones for listening to your hi-fi in intimate isolation, and it can be the basis of a compact and effective desktop hi-fi system too.

Schiit Magni 3+B Headphone Amplifier and Preamp

Our Top Picks

We've rounded up the best headphone amplifiers money can buy, including the top budget, mid-range, and high-end options, starting. Below, are the top 5 best headphone amps.

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Last update on 2024-04-22 / Affiliate links / Images, Product Titles, and Product Highlights from Amazon Product Advertising API

In-Depth Review

#1. Schiit Magni 3+B - Best for overall

Product Highlight

The Magni 3+B is about the size of a chunky wallet, so will fit almost anywhere. And its premium-feeling brushed aluminum casing looks very smart next to a MacBook Pro. 

Around the back, you get one stereo RCA input and one output, plus two old-school toggle switches – one for power, one for hi/lo gain (17 or 6db).

That analog output tells you this headphone amp can also act as a preamp, allowing you to connect straight to a pair of powered speakers. Very handy indeed.

What we like 

  ✅Impressive resolution and clarity

  ✅Preamp outputs: Connect to desktop-powered monitors for a complete system

  ✅Smartphone compatible

  ✅Organised, tidy, expansive listen

Check the latest price: View on Amazon

 

#2. Rupert Neve Designs RNHP - Best portable

Product Highlight

The Rupert Neve Designs RNHP surprised the hell out of us.

We couldn't believe how good it made our headphones sound, with audio quality that was both balanced and engaging.

It really felt like it brought the best out of whatever we plugged into it. 

What we like 

  ✅Incredible, life-changing sound

  ✅Exotic multi-colored control system

  ✅Gorgeous design with a solid block of glass exposing two tubes

  ✅Well made and specified

Check the latest price: View on Amazon

 

#3. FiiO NEWK3 headphone amp - Best budget

Product Highlight

If you’re looking for a great budget headphone amp, FiiO Newk3 is very difficult to compete with.

Their BTR range has set the standard for some time, and the newest model, the BTR5, is a powerhouse.

It offers clean, balanced sound and lightweight housing (less than two ounces) that make it supremely portable.

What we like 

  ✅Tiny design with a great range of features and clean sound

  ✅Benchmark transparency

  ✅Built-in time-delayed start-up and instant shut-down

  ✅Clearer and more insightful than predecessor

Check the latest price: View on Amazon

 

#4. Schiit Magni Op-Amp-Based - Best solid-state

Product Highlight

The Schiit Magni is the bigger brother of the top-ranked Magni amp, and the biggest difference is the fact that it is fully balanced.

Balanced amplifiers have a much cleaner signal, with significantly less noise and distortion.

The reason we’ve included the Magnius here is that it is one of the most affordable balanced amplifiers we’ve ever seen. 

What we like 

  ✅The amp offers a weighty, powerful sound

  ✅Easy to use, and offers excellent design and functionality

  ✅Added preamps, improved DAC

  ✅Native MQA support

Check the latest price: View on Amazon

 

#5. Arklove Mixing 2 in 4 - Best high-end

 

Product Highlight

The Arklove Mixing 2 in 4 offers some of the purest, cleanest sound of any headphone amp we’ve ever heard.

It’s not overly neutral or balanced, but it presents music in breathtaking detail, to a level we don’t think we’ve heard from anything else on this list.

The housing and construction are outstanding, and the amp even provides enough power to function as a dedicated preamp for sensitive bookshelf speakers.

What we like 

  ✅Smooth, clean, insightful sound

  ✅Wonderfully articulate

  ✅Pleasing sense of sonic stability

  ✅Balanced and unbalanced inputs

Check the latest price: View on Amazon

 

FAQs

1. What Do Headphone Amplifiers Do?

They’re able to raise a low-voltage signal sent from a source such as a computer, mobile device, turntable, or otherwise, up to an optimal level that the headphone drivers can reproduce.

2. Why Do I Need a Headphone Amp?

All headphones need them. They're speakers - just small ones that go on your head - because they are speakers, they require amplification in order to get the sound to a level you can actually hear.

3. Do More Expensive Amps Mean Better Sound?

Yes. The more money you pay, the more likely you are to get an amplifier with a set of components that treats your sound well.

 

Final Thought

In this list we’ll be taking a look at a variety of headphone amps, including standalone ones and 2-in-1 headphone amp/DACs. To kick things off, let’s start with a dedicated headphone amp which is all the rage and one of the best ones we’ve ever tested. The best headphone amp we want to recommend is Schiit Magni 3+B .