Best headphone amplifiers

null

Want more? Many headphone amps also include a built-in DAC, so you can hook up a laptop and create a compact and effective desktop hi-fi system. Read on for the best headphone amps around right now.

Under £100

Cyrus soundKey

This Award-winner is near-flawless option for anyone looking to give the music on their phone or laptop a hi-fi-tinged boost.

SPECIFICATIONS

USB micro-B | 3.5mm output | 24bit/96kHz

Reasons to Buy
Clean, open sound
Loaded with detail
Compact and unobtrusive
Reasons to Avoid
Attaching to an iOS device is a faff
Not as out-and-out dynamic as some rivals

Under £150

Schiit Audio Magni 3

Crazy name, great product. The form and function is basic, with no added DAC, but the sound quality is superb and a real step-up on your laptop's output.

SPECIFICATIONS

Hi/Lo Gain | RCA analogue input | RCA analogue output

Reasons to Buy
Well-balanced, smooth sound
Easy to listen to
Affordable
Reasons to Avoid
No-frills styling and features

Under £200

AudioQuest DragonFly Red

An upgraded version of an Award-winner - so what's not to like? Clear, open treble and tight bass make this a great option at the price.

SPECIFICATIONS

24-bit/96kHz | 3.5mm output | USB

Reasons to Buy
Sophisticated, solid and subtle sound
As convenient as ever
Smartphone compatible
Reasons to Avoid
Red finish seems easily chipped

Under £300

Oppo HA-2 SE

A swish looker and, at this sort of money, a fine performer.

SPECIFICATIONS

3.5mm, USB inputs | 7 hours battery life | 32-bit/384kHz

Reasons to Buy
Wide compatibility
Clear, agile and detailed sound
More open treble
Tighter bass
Practical design
Reasons to Avoid
Rival is £100 cheaper

Under £500

Chord Mojo

This DAC and headphone amp won our Product of the Year Award in 2016 and figured strongly again in 2017 - and it's easy to hear why. Its audio quality surpasses what we'd expect at this price. 

SPECIFICATIONS

Twin 3.5mm headphone sockets | Coaxial, optical inputs | Micro USB input

Reasons to Buy
Informative, subtle and dynamic sound
Fine rhythmic drive
Solid build and good finish
Portable
Reasons to Avoid
Runs warm and gets hot when charging the battery

Under £1000

Audiolab M-DAC+

Extensive features, fine build and the sound quality we've come to expect from Audiolab. This is a solid upgrade on an Award-winning product that well and truly justifies the outlay.

Reasons to Buy
Extensive spec
Fine build and finish
Organised, tidy and expansive listen
Reasons to Avoid
A touch more attack would make it even better

Under £1500

Naim DAC-V1

This striking headphone amp/DAC delivers an equally striking sound, especially with a decent set of headphones.

SPECIFICATIONS

24bit/384kHz | DSD | 6.3mm headphone socket

Reasons to Buy
Great build
Precise, rhythmic sound
Supports PCM and DSD
Good connectivity
Comes with a remote
Reasons to Avoid
A little forward, meaning it isn’t always the most relaxing presentation

Under £3000

Chord Hugo 2

We don't often give Product of the Year Awards to relatively expensive products like this - so the fact we've done so speaks volumes for Hugo 2's performance.

SPECIFICATIONS

DSD512 and 32bit/768kHz support | 3.5mm and 6.5mm headphone outputs | aptX Bluetooth

Reasons to Buy
Well made and specified
Exotic multi-coloured control system
Prodigiously detailed, dynamic, open and coherent sound
Reasons to Avoid
All those colours can get confusing
Not strictly speaking portable

£3000+

Chord DAVE

Daft name, extraordinary product. If money's no object then you need to hear DAVE.

Reasons to Buy
Class-leading sound quality
Excellent dynamics and rhythmic ability
Impressive feature list
Fine build
Distinctive appearance
Reasons to Avoid
If the price isn’t an issue, nothing