Headphones and Headphone Amplifiers

A great pair of headphones can provide a uniquely immersive experience – putting you firmly in the middle of the music, and exposing new depths of detail.

Not only can they make the performance more intimate, they can focus it even more by the exclusion of ambient noise and other distractions.

How are you going to use them – portable, or in the home – do they need to fold up or come in a suitable carry case?

What is their primary function – to augment a pair of loudspeakers or as your main listening method?

So what makes a good headphone?

If they are to be used in addition to loudspeakers – will they be used only in a specific way, possibly at low volume late at night?

Will they be used for extended periods – are comfort and lightness an important factor?

Are they to be used in a high noise environment, would closed back be better than open back?

At Loud & Clear we offer a wide range of headphones to suit all listeners and tastes – from RHA’s lovely little T20i earbuds, mid-range exceptional value Meze 99 Classics, German-engineered Beyerdynamic and all the way through to the incredible Pioneer SE-Master 1s at £1699 and the stunning Focal Utopia headphones at £3,400.

Headphone amplifiers – do I need one ?

Headphones are just miniature speakers. And all speakers require some form of amplifier All devices with a headphone socket have some form of amplifier in them – smartphones, laptops, CD players, etc. However the headphone socket is often a compromise – driving headphones is not the main purpose of the device and can be a bit of an afterthought.

A stand alone headphone amplifier is designed for purpose with specific circuitry, a good power supply and quality components. The net result is the same benefits you get with every amplifier upgrade – lower noise, less distortion and improved ability to drive the output – ultimately more music.

In the case of some high end headphones – connecting these to a standard headphone output can often produce very disappointing results.


Low impedance headphones can require too much current, causing distortion and limited dynamics. High impedance headphones often require a large voltage to produce the required power.

Adding a headphone amp takes much of the load when driving headphones, with the voltage gain also offering a boost in output without adding distortion.


Many headphone amplifiers now also come with a built in DAC – bringing additional sonic benefits from sources such as laptops capable of providing a digital output.

We currently stock a range of DAC/headphone amps from Arcam’s small but mighty rHead to the stunning Trilogy 931 and onto the astonishing reference MOON 430HA.

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