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Do I need a headphones amplifier?

Discussion in 'Recording In Progress' started by D_Malone, Dec 3, 2020.

  1. D_Malone

    D_Malone Tele-Holic

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    When read reviews on headphones an amplifier is almost always recommended. Why is that? Most devices (DAW, IR loader, stereo amplifier, etc.) I plug headphones into have a level adjustment, so that means there’s some sort of headphones amp in there, right? Is it just that most built-in headphones amps are not good? Will I hear any improvement if I buy a cheap headphones amp, or do I need to get something fancy/expensive to hear a difference?
     
  2. T Prior

    T Prior Poster Extraordinaire

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    Headphone amps are typically so more than 1 person can listen at a time. 4 is typical. I don't think they are actually amplifiers but rather BUFFERS so more than 1 set can be plugged in at the same time with no issues with independent volume controls. I have two, a rack mount Behringer 4x , its been flawless for probably 10 years . It also has AUX inputs for each channel. The other is a small desk mounted 4 channel ART unit. This one also has an AUX Stereo input .

    I also feed my monitors from the headphones amp. No issues.
     
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  3. BelairPlayer

    BelairPlayer Tele-Afflicted

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    I suspect that recommendation is most likely coming with the idea that you are strictly listening to music via computer/phone/iPod etc. In that case, yes the included amp could be improved upon.

    A quality DAW interface would have a much better built in headphone monitor than your phone, for instance. In that case you wouldn’t need one.

    Each use case will vary.
     
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  4. LutherBurger

    LutherBurger Poster Extraordinaire

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    Don't read headphone reviews. The people who write them are nuts.

    "Tell me more about the 'soundstage', Larry." :rolleyes:
     
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  5. mfguitar

    mfguitar Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    My son is much more of an audiophile than I am and has some pretty high end gear, yes you can certainly hear the difference. If I was listening all the time on headphones I would certainly have a modest model.
     
  6. wabashslim

    wabashslim Friend of Leo's

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    You've already got a cheap one in there, adding more cheapness will only make it worse. So yes, you need something fancy/expensive to hear a difference. Sorry, that's how the world works.

    On the other hand, you could spend a boatload of money & not hear a difference. This is because:

    1. Your hearing isn't sophisticated enough (yet) to hear a difference. This afflicts about 95% of the population, especially among those those who claim to hear a difference. Luckily, this can be cured over time with experience, expense, and Youtube experts telling you what sounds good.

    2. You got fooled by well-researched setups in stereo stores, scientifically designed to not sound as good when you get the items home.

    3. You went to a Bose store. See #2.

    4. You bought something from a store with the word freight, railroad, surplus, salvage, or overstock in the name.

    5. You plain got screwed. See #1, 2, 3, &4 above.
     
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  7. D_Malone

    D_Malone Tele-Holic

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    Great reply. Thanks for the laugh. :lol:
     
  8. LutherBurger

    LutherBurger Poster Extraordinaire

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    The headphone outputs in most studio gear are capable of driving a pair of headphones whose sensitivity and impedance are within reasonable ranges. If you can hear what you need to hear through your current headphones, you don't need an additional amp.
     
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  9. fjblair

    fjblair Tele-Holic

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    I've never seen a headphone amp that had more than one output jack. I think there must be different types. The one's I am familiar with are typically used with DAC's. I have a couple different amps myself. Great forum at https://www.head-fi.org/forums/
     
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  10. still_fiddlin

    still_fiddlin Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

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    For recording it's most often the case you need one to add additional outputs, and possibly to have a bit more power to drive headphones with higher impedances. These are generally not "audiophile" types of things, but just have essentially the same level of headphone amp that's in your interface, only more of them.

    I have a 4 channel headphone amp and have a couple sets of closed back earphones on it if I needed to track 2 people at once (did that a couple years ago but obviously, perhaps, not recently, so one set is not plugged in), plus I have a set of open back cans I use when mixing later at night, and a set of in-ear/earbuds I use sometimes if doing a video test and don't what to look more dorkish than I already do :).
     
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  11. LutherBurger

    LutherBurger Poster Extraordinaire

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    Those are for personal entertainment. Studio headphone amps have multiple outputs.

    When I was considering an additional headphone amp because the one in my new Scarlett interface didn't have enough juice for me (I returned it), I poked around online and was surprised and puzzled to see so many amps with built-in converters. I suppose I could use the Googlemachine to learn where all these digital input signals are coming from, but I haven't.
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2020
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  12. Ben-Zion

    Ben-Zion Tele-Holic

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    I'd love some specific recommendations. I have a nice set of headphones that I use specifically late at night for watching YouTube videos via my MacBook. Sound quality is, of course, "variable,", but mainly I just need more volume! Suggestions?
     
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