• Wish list
  • Choose your store
    All countries
  • 0

Thomann's Cool Online Guides: Headphone Amps

3. Basic Features

In the first instance, headphone amps are defined primarily by their intended area of use. Most obviously, the priorities for studio and live models are rather different: sound quality is usually the most important factor in the studio, whereas high quality is of little use in a loud live situation if there is not enough volume. Of course, many units are intended for general use in both areas, particularly in the lower price range.

The simplest headphone amps enable a single listener to use headphones in conjunction with equipment that lacks a headphone output. This is often the case with audiophile hi-fi components. Also, some equipment (including budget/mid-range hi-fi amps and many budget mixers) is let down by headphone outputs which are of poorer quality than the main outputs. This type of headphone amp usually has a single pair of phono or jack inputs, one or two stereo headphone outputs and a volume control.

Headphone amps are also defined in terms of number of channels (inputs) and number of outputs, and the two must not be confused. In the studio, most mixing desks (and computer audio interfaces) have a single headphone output; occasionally there may be two. This is often perfectly adequate in a home/project studio; the main reason for equipping a studio with a headphone amp is to enable several people to use headphones at once. This defines the next-simplest type of headphone amp, which has a single stereo input but several (typically four or eight) headphone outputs. Controls are usually limited to a volume control per output. In the studio, this makes it easy for each musician to control the volume in his cans, but does not help when a singer asks to hear more of herself and less of everything else while the other musicians want just the opposite…

A multi-channel headphone amp may help in this situation. At its most basic, such a unit simply comprises several stereo headphone amps within one box, each with its own input and output. To keep the singer and musicians happy in the above example, the recording engineer would have to create several different mixes (usually using aux sends) and feed each to its own headphone amp channel.

This often works well enough, but still means that the engineer constantly has to deal with requests for more of one instrument or less of another. A more sophisticated variety of multi-channel headphone amp which solves this problem is essentially a simple mixer, but with the controls grouped by output rather than input. In the case of a typical ‘4x4’ unit (four ins, four outs), four headphone output sections each have four volume controls corresponding to four inputs. The engineer simply sends separate instruments (or submixes) to each channel; each musician has total control over how much (if any) of each input he wishes to hear.

Many designs can be switched between these modes of operation. Of course, the sound engineer can also achieve a compromise appropriate to a particular session, for instance by sending the main mix to one channel while reserving three channels for particularly important components. He could even phase reverse these so that while the musicians all get the same basic mix, they can turn an individual channel knob up in order to hear less of a particular instrument!

As with many other pieces of equipment, attention to specifications can be important. In particular, make sure that any headphone amp under consideration is designed to match the impedance of your headphones. While most budget/mid-range headphones and amps will all work together happily, some high-impedance studio headphones (400-600ohms) will not be driven properly by consumer-grade headphone amps and will sound very quiet as a result.

Your Contact People
Phone: +49-9546-9223-30
FAX: +49-9546-922328
Phone: +49-9546-9223-33
FAX: +49-9546-9223-24
Get Your Free Copy of our Hot Deals Catalogue!

More than 7.900.000 musicians are avid readers of Thomann's Hot Deals catalogue. Get your free copy now! More than 500 current offers!

Hot Deals
Question! Give the right answer and win 1x Thomann Rack Case 6U worth €68.
Which of the following is not a type of filter?
Conditions of participation
Terms and Conditions for participation
in online competitions

Note: Participation in an online competition runs independently from any purchase at Thomann GmbH. The following Competition Rules apply when participating in any online competition run by Musikhaus Thomann:

  1. Competition

    1. The competitions are organised by Thomann GmbH, CEO: Hans Thomann, Hans-Thomann-Straße 1, 96138 Burgebrach, Germany.
  2. Participation

    1. Competitions are only open to persons of full age.
    2. To take part in the competition you must answer all questions correctly, fill in the registration form and submit your entry to Thomann GmbH by pressing the "send" button.
      By pressing the "send" button the participant accepts the aforementioned terms and conditions.
    3. The participant is responsible for entering their email and/or postal address correctly. Entries to the competition will be logged electronically.
  3. Qualifying Entrants

    1. Staff of Thomann GmbH and any cooperation partners and their dependants are excluded from participation.
    2. Should these conditions of participation be violated, especially by using illegitimate means, Thomann GmbH reserves the right to exclude persons from the competition. In case of such violations prizes can be withdrawn and claimed back subsequently.
  4. Announcing the winner

    1. The winners will be notified by Thomann GmbH by email or in writing and their names may be published on the homepage www.thomann.de. The winner accepts this form of publication explicitly.
      Should for whatever reason the winner not claim their prize, then a new winner will be drawn.
    2. The prize presented to the winner may not be identical to the item description. There can be deviances regarding the model, colour etc.
    3. The merchandise prizes will be sent by Thomann GmbH or by one of its contracting delivery companies, per freight forwarder, courier or postal service to the postal address indicated by the winner.

      The delivery is free of charge. Only extra transport costs and customs/duties must be covered by the winner. In the case that the delivery has to be made through a freight forwarding company the freight forwarding company will contact the winner to arrange delivery timings.
    4. An exchange, cash alternative or replacement prize is not possible.
    5. The claim to the prize or replacement of the prize cannot be assigned to a third party.
  5. Data protection

    1. The participant accepts explicitly that Thomann GmbH saves all necessary data for the duration of the competition and forwards them exclusively for purposes related to the winning process to the respective cooperation partner, who is also permitted to save the personal data only for the duration of the competition. The participant is free to withdraw his entry at any time. Please direct the withdrawal to:

      Thomann GmbH
      to the data protection officer
      Hans-Thomann-Straße 1
      96138 Burgebrach, Germany
    2. Thomann GmbH is obliged to consider the regulations for data protection according to the Federal Data Protection Law (BDSG) valid at the conclusion of the competition. In this context the general data protection regulations under notes regarding data protection should be noted.
  6. Liability

    1. Thomann GmbH will be released from any obligations by handing out the prize.
    2. Thomann GmbH is not liable for the insolvency of a cooperation partner and the resulting consequences for the implementation and processing of the competition.
  7. Other

    1. Legal proceedings are barred.
    2. The law of the Federal Republic of Germany applies exclusively.
One of our Fans
I would like to thank all at Thomann for your prompt and efficient service......excellent!
andrewxxxisbury@yxxx.com, 02.03.2017

Headphone Amps overview


Found an error or want to give us feedback about this page?

We're looking forward to hearing from you and aim to solve any problems as soon as we can.