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What Are the Different Types of Headphone Amps?

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  • Written By: A. Leverkuhn
  • Edited By: Andrew Jones
  • Last Modified Date: 29 November 2016
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Headphone amps are amplifiers that drive headphones instead of loudspeakers; these items come in many forms, including various designs, shapes, and sizes, and meeting different specifications. Although some may also refer to small speakers as “headphone amplifiers,” when they replace headphones in a sound system, the more common definition is the above one. Headphone amplifiers generally fit into a sound system by including a headphone sized jack that headphones plug into.

One difference between different types of headphone amps is that while many of them are built into electronic devices, some are sold as standalone elements. There’s also the variety of standards in terms of sound quality, output, impedance, and other parameters. Buyers can find headphone amps of different shapes and sizes; wholesale buyers who are putting these items into an electronic device can usually get these small amps customized for their uses.

Another difference between types of headphone amps is the brand or manufacturer. Some brands have a better reputation for excellence. Again, if the products are being sold to the makers of electronic devices, the knowledge around quality for brands may be restricted to people within the electronics industry.

Different kinds of headphone amplifiers supply different devices in a certain way. Experts sometimes express this connection or ratio as a “damping factor.” Considering the use of a specific headphone amplifier with a specific electronic device is rather like the evaluation of an engine in a specific auto frame.

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Alternatively, the consumer might look at different models of headphone amps in regard to the sound manipulation features built into them. For instance, the crossfeeding feature is one that gets a lot of attention in the world of audio electronics. With crossfeeding, the device blends the two audio tracks, and eliminates problems with excessive channel separation. This can be useful for a device.

One type of headphone amplifier is the “pro-audio” style device, where the device allows for streaming to or from multiple sources. A useful feature for these models is called sub-mixing, where some models may afford users the ability to enhance sounds from multiple sources. With digital distribution, another desirable feature for headphone amplifiers, the product provides better output to multiple devices.

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