Headphone amps - How, Where, most importantly, Why?


New member
Aug 10, 2019
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Hello, I was overjoyed to source some brand spanker Grado SR60s for £50 inc postage last night and now I've wandered into another quagmire of the hi-fi world, the headphone amp. How?
How does a headphone amp work? Is it any different to the headphone output on my amp or my cd player? Where?
Where do i put it in the [ever expanding] chain of componentry i already own? Why?
Why use a headphone amp, if i already have a headphone socket on my gear? Lastly
Anyone got any recommendations as to headphone amps, I wouldn't be wanting to spend more than £100, though if there is one for say £140 that's the bog's dollocks, I'd probably stretch... As always, many thanks. Neil.

Clare Newsome

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Jun 4, 2007
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Hi Neil,

It's the whole built-in capability vs specialist device issue.

If your kit's got a headphone socket/amplification, it may or may not be the same quality as a dedicated device - in the same way that an amp's integrated phono stage may not be as good as a dedicated phono amp.

To be honest, I reckon your Rotel's headphone output's going to be fine driving that level of headphones. Headphone amps come into their own with pricier cans and a desire for seriously long solo listening sessions.