The 7 Best Headphone Amps of 2020

Get the most out of your music

Best Overall: FiiO A3 Portable Headphone Amplifier

The FiiO A3 is a solid all-purpose portable headphone amplifier that produces sharp and clear sound even with bass turned up. The brushed aluminum box is slim and about as long as a lighter, making it easy to slip into your pocket next to your phone. It is suitable for headphones ranging from 16 to 150 ohms, making it compatible with most products, but still worth checking before purchase. It gives a fully discrete bass boost output of 3.5dB at 60H with bypass off, enough to make the difference between flat and room-filling sound. Expect a long life from the 1400mAh internal battery, which is good for about 16 hours of uninterrupted use.

Best DAC Headphone Amplifier: FiiO e17k

Connect your vintage audio equipment to your headphones or smart device with the FiiO E17K, a headphone amp with a built-in digital to analog converter (DAC). This device is essential for getting the best sound out of your high quality headphones and audio equipment, giving you the ability to fine tune both the treble and bass on your device. This means you can find the perfect balance whether you are listening to classical music or hard-hitting trap. A multi-function wheel gives intuitive and agile control for easy adjustment, without the annoying tweaking some DAC’s require. The device will get the most out of your audio with DSD decoding and supports up to 96 kHz/32bit sound. Expect a long lasting battery and portability, as the device is about the size as a deck of cards.

Runner-Up, Best DAC: Sony PHA1A

The Sony PHA-1A DAC allows you to enjoy portable performance that delivers 14x the detail of MP3s, turning your listening experience into one that is audiophile approved. This powerful device includes a DAC that will decode hi-res PCM audio file formats all the way up to 24-bit, giving you access to professional quality recordings even when you are on the go. The small silver device is outfitted with a premium WM8740 Wolfson DAC and a LME49860 operational amp that expands sound stage and delivers smooth audio without distortion or noise. It delivers 120dB of dynamic range, ensuring all details of music are heard without any inaccuracies. The circuitry is protected by quality aluminum, while the rechargeable battery can last for about six hours on a single charge.

Best Budget: Monoprice 615220

This headphone amp is meant to route one signal to a bunch of different headphones, keeping it loud enough and even providing some mix features for each line. The Monoprice 615220 is a great choice for a home studio, offering two line-level RCA inputs on the back for a primary signal, as well as the option to use a stereo out (most often just by using the headphone out of a stereo or audio interface). It’s important to note that this is an unbalanced input. There are then four different channels of stereo headphone output that take ¼-inch TRS cables, with a minimum of 10 ohms per channel. The maximum output level is 22 dB, but you can adjust the volume of each channel with a handy knob assigned to each one. The whole package comes out clean, too, as Monoprice is promising 98dB of signal-to-noise ratio. It all goes for a very budget-friendly price.

Runner-Up, Best Budget: Indigo Portable Powered Headphone Amplifier

This pocket-sized ultra portable headphone amp is about the size of a matchbook, but packs 250mW of power output for an enhanced listening experience. The Indigo PHPA-1 can power two headphones at once, using an analog volume knob to adjust sound and two level bass EQ to provide extra oomph. The ultra portable amp works with any pair of headphones between 16 to 150 Ohms, covering most models. It lasts for up to eight hours on a single charge, good enough for an entire work day of enhanced music.

Best Guitar Headphone Amp: Vox AP2BS amPlug Bass G2

Vox fans will love this portable low frequency guitar amp, a simple and convenient way to deliver true analog amplifier sound in your headphones. This amp series has been a best-seller for more than a decade. It provides three modes to guitars for multi-effect, including choices specifically tuned for different styles such as Blues and Metal. The foldable plug rotates 180 degrees and includes an auto off feature, fitting nicely into any guitar model and pairing with any headphones. The full analog circuit is also re-worked for clearer and simpler sound.

Best HiFi: Cayin C5 Portable HiFi

Japan’s top ALPS Hi-Fi portable amplifier packs a powerful punch and effortlessly improves your listening experience. The durable and reliable Cayin C5 is brushed black metal and includes a one-year warranty, making it a long-lasting value that will stand up to regular wear and tear (and it also has quality circuit build). Expect output rated power of 800mW or a 32 ohm load and a 1000mAh capacity for about 12 hours of battery life. The frequency response is between 20Hz-100kHz and total harmonic distortion is less than .02 percent.