Headphone amp recommendations

for better or worse, I prefer the bigger over the ear closed headphones. Quite often the impediance of these units really over powers cell phones or portable players. Which is why I opted for a headphone amp and once again I was a happy camper. But my amp died and now I’m looking for another. Recommendations?


What headphone amp were you using previously?

What headphones are you currently using that will be powered by the amp?

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Yes, and just for reference, what was the amp that died?


sorry, should have given more info…realized that a few minutes after I posted.

old amp is the HeadRoom TotalAirHead, and i used it primarily with 2 sets:
Etymotic ER-4B
Beyer Dynamics DT 880 250 ohms

My music tends towards more technical accoustic, plus I also game, so the headphones are used on computers and cell phones. I opted for a portable amp so I could use it with my cell phone and take it on the road.


Some relatively affordable headphone amp/DACs are the FiiO E10K or the iFi Audio Nano iDSD Black Label.

Both will drive the Beyers just fine and are pretty convenient to bring around with you. The Nano has a few extra features over the E10K but you can’t really go wrong with either of them!

sweet. excellent place to start. The iFi looks good and i don’t mind spending the extra money so that’s looking like my choice right now. Thanks for the help.

I went with the FiiO types of amps because they are the most affordable. Just a word of caution, if you get any amp with a battery, make sure you can change it by its third year. FiiO has a few where the batteries are removable and these have lasted over 5 years already, except for the battery. Batteries aren’t designed to last forever.

Sorry to hear about your loss, but hopefully, you’ll have an opportunity to find something that you like better. I was an original headroom owner as well. :slight_smile:

I’ll offer another +1 for the iFi Audio nano iDSD Black Label. It continues the typical iFi house sound–possibly adding a touch more warmth than previous generations of iDSD and even its big brother, the micro iDSD BL.

Just to be clear, it’s not actually a headphone amp, so if you have one or more analog sources, you’ll need to consider other options. But as DAC/Amps go, it’s tough to beat in the ~$200 price range. It has balanced output via a somewhat non-standard TRRS 3.5mm jack, a decent amount of power, can run from an internal battery (keeps an attached smartphone from dying so fast), natively decodes all common formats (PCM up to 32-bit, 384 kHz, up to DSD256, DXD, and MQA - first unfold must be done in software). It has a line-out for connecting to your big rig, but you’ll need a 3.5mm TRS to stereo RCA adapter.

Things to watch out for:

  • No analog inputs
  • No S/PDIF inputs (or outputs)
  • USB input is Type A, not the more common Type B, mini USB or micro USB

The other fun thing about iFi Audio is that they have a lot of depth in their product line around USB “clean-up” accessories, cables, power supplies, DAC/Amps, and related gear. Once you have one iFi component, more are often soon to follow. :slight_smile:


aaahhhh, so nice to have experience and good info. My old TotalAirHead had interchangeable batteries, and I wasn’t thinking of the ability to change the battery in whatever unit i go with…definitely something to determine.

the iFi still looks good even with the connectivity concerns. But as most of my listening will come from either my phone or a computer, that shouldn’t be an issue. I still have my old turn table and albums which will throw a curve into it if i ever get that system back up and running. Realistically the iFi should meet 99% of my needs.

Hello, I’m late … I use a FiiO E12A IEM that is able to drive the HiFiMan HE1000 also vigorously … Great sound, really.

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lol if you’re enjoying the HE1000’s, you take music seriously…nice to meet another addict.:syringe: I’ll check out the E12A. Thanks

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I really like my Aune X1s and fiio q1. The x1s doesnt have that strong of an amp, but if you get the massdrop version it has an upgraded amp section.

Had a Headroom years ago, then a CIAudio, Earmax Pro and now the Mytek Brooklyn. Am going to give a try with the Brooklyn driving the Earmax in a week or so. Still using the Sennheiser HD650’s through all of these but have been trying a friend’s pair of HiFiman HE-500’s and am thinking to move on from the 650’s.

Almost forgot I had the HiFiman EF 5 amp in there at some point…

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I have a pair of IEMs (Shute SE425) that don’t need to be driven, but always wondered whether an amp/dac would improve the sound. Is this your experience? Your advice is appreciated.

I have the same pair. The most noticeable improvement is a tighter bass; but I wouldn’t go as far as buying an amp just for that purpose.

This might be stretching your definition of “portable”, but I would recommend the OBJECTIVE2. It uses 2x user replaceable, rechargeable 9V batteries.
This is not a truly portable setup as in for workouts or your subway commute, but it’s perfect for sitting outside on your porch, backyard or anywhere where a powersource is not available or impractical. This will drive pretty much any headphone easily.

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thanks for the look at the “Objective2”…hadn’t heard or seen that unit before…looks good.

I had already ordered the iFi Audio Nano and very happy with how it’s going so far. But thanks for the recommendation

I have the O2 (Objective2) manufactured by Mayflower Electronics, and I love it. Plenty of power for all my headphones (including the DT880 600 ohm and the HE-560) and super neutral, and certainly reasonably priced.

I really like the Oppo HA-2SE Portable Headphone Amplifier and DAC. High-resolution USB DAC with the ESS Sabre32 Reference ES9028-Q2M DAC chip

I have had a number of other headphone amps, but this one tops them. I use it with open and closed backs (Sennheiser, Oppo, AKG, etc.) and with IEMs (Shure, Etymotic, etc.). Right up there with my tube EarMax but super portable.