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Desktop Headphone Amplifier
Get superior audio reproduction from your computer and audiophile headphones using this Desktop Headphone Amplifier from Monoprice!
This headphone amplifier features a USB input and a professional level Texas Instruments Digital to Analog Converter (DAC), effectively replacing your sound card without requiring you to open your PC and installing a new card. The high-current output allows it to drive headphones with a wide range of impedances, from 16 ohms to 600 ohms.
The RCA line outputs allow you to send the output to a stereo amplifier or powered speakers for those times when you don't want to use headphones. A set of RCA line inputs allows you to connect an external audio source, such as a CD player, so you can enjoy the advantages of the high-current headphone output with other audio sources.
- User's Manual (May 19, 2014)
|USB DAC||96 kHz, 24-bit|
≥ 900mW (32Ω loaded)
≥ 150mW (300Ω loaded)
|Headphone Impedance Range||16Ω ~ 600Ω|
|Signal-to-Noise Ratio||≥ 100dB (A weighted) (AUX IN)|
|Distortion||< 0.003% (AUX IN)|
|Frequency Response||20Hz ~ 20kHz|
|Fixed Line Out||< 2V rms|
|Adjustable Pre-out||0 ~ 6V rms|
|Power Supply||15 VDC, 2A|
- Headphone amplifier
- AC adapter (15 VDC, 2A)
- USB cable
- Audio cable
- User's manual
PROS: Sound good, looks good, will serve as night light when on
CONS: No cons regarding its performance as headphone amp. The blue LED when powered on is bright enough to serve as night light in a dark bedroom. Easy to fix if that bothers you.
A lot of people commented on the LED being too bright. It is very bright, but I think it's cool, so no big deal. It turns off if you turn off the unit by turning the volume all the way down, so I guess it's only an issue if you're watching a movie or something with it.
Overall it's a great value, very happy with it
PROS: USB interface is much easier than most headphone amps
CONS: There aren't any good 1/4in to mini-jack converters for headphones with 3 channels.
Not super portable, so you wouldn't put it in your laptop bag (probably)
The position of the headphone jack is a bit annoying, it's right where your ring finger goes when you spin the knob
PROS: Great sound and now I can really enjoy my Audio-Technica ATH-M50x. Price point is good.
CONS: I hesitate to even list this as a "Con" but, I would have liked to have a smoother feel when using the volume knob. This is very minor and should not sway your decision for making a purchase.
It is a little bit bigger than you think, if you are looking for an amp to be portable while listening to your music/podcasts/movies on your phone while you are on a bus/airplane/train, this will not work out for you. If you are going to put this in a stationary location, then this is not a big deal.
The wire count is reduced by going through a USB hub with all my other USB devices. This works perfectly on my Mac. It was instantly recognized without a driver. Expectations were met, a little less tangle in my life.
Controlling the volume mechanically with a dial is wonderful. You know where it is at a glance. The Mac doesn't even allow you to change the volume in software. It's either muted or not. It clicks off when turned all the way to the left. It supports both high and low gain headphones, but I didn't test this capability.
Then there's the sound. I would have been happy with a small improvement, but I was actually blown away by the difference. I'm listening to my music with new-found delight. My old Sennheiser HD-495 headphones are not particularly special headphones, but to my ears they sound great now. There's more presence and tighter and more bass. I hear details in familiar music that weren't apparent before.
PROS: - Makes a huge difference in how my average quality headphones sound
- Nice metal case with a very solid feel
- Large volume control knob
- The USB audio adapter allows lets it be connected through a hub to my laptop and to have one less wire running to the laptop.
- Don't have to change the volume on the PC/Mac. Love the mechanical control.
CONS: - Blue led is bright, but not a big deal to me
- Would have been nice to include a 3.5mm to 1/4 inch headphone plug adapter.
PROS: Very high quality amplification. Drives difficult headphone loads with ease. Affordable price. It is sold and backed by Monoprice
CONS: None so far. It would be nice to be able to dim the blue LED
I have the 8323 headphones (which sound great, especially when connected to this, and are dirt cheap). Plus, for my regular PC speaker system, I have the line out connected to a 20wpc Lepai T-amp, which powers two old Optimus Pro-77 speakers. Then, I have the Pre-out going to a powered subwoofer, for a nice 2.1 sound, and I can control the subwoofer level with the knob on the DAC. With all this going on, there's still a switchable aux-in, which is ideal because the T-amp only handles one source at a time. With a PC that streams audio and video and plays CDs, why would you possibly need another audio source? A turntable, of course! So what this DAC lets you do is turn your PC into a true stereo. You can connect it to powered speakers, an inexpensive amp and cheap speakers like I do, or a more expensive receiver/amp and enormous speakers if you're so inclined.
If you primarily use your PC for gaming and/or movies and like your surround sound, this probably is not the way to go, but if you stream a lot of music and are still using the onboard audio card/chip and computer speakers, this will be a great upgrade.
I've been looking at inexpensive DACs for a while now, but never quite found one that had all the features I wanted until now. You can find headphone amps for cheaper, but nothing like this for this kind of money.
PROS: All metal construction.
More connectivity than the average USB DAC, with RCA line outs, pre outs, and an aux-in.
CONS: Like many Monoprice products, the LED is too bright.
The volume knob didn't turn smoothly at first, but I pulled it off and removed the glue blob problem solved!
Sounds very nice, drives the senheissers to louder than I normally listen at while staying clean.
The one thing I wish they would do if they ever update it will be to add a 3.5mm jack (just wire it parallel to the 6.3mm jack, I'd rather not have isolation resisters lower the damping factor of the amp). In this day and age, most headphones have 3.5mm plugs (although I still have some oldie but goodie phones that are 6.3mm so it is nice to be able to plug them in also) Having to stick in a 6.3mm to 3.5mm adapter on the front panel looks ugly.
PROS: Excellent value, works out of the box, Window 7 installed a driver for it as soon as I plugged it in.
Sounds as good as my Fiio X3 with FLAC source.
CONS: the default Windows 7 drivers only go up to 24bit / 48K while the spec sheet claims 96K capability .. with no link to get a better device driver (hence one star off)
Good build quality
Sound quality is great
CONS: Piercing blue led
Songs that will sound pretty good are songs like this:
Pink Floyd Bring the Boys Back Home (2011 remaster)
O Brother Where Art Thou? Hard Time Killing Floor Blues
Sarah McLachlan Mercy
Why those three?
In Mercy, the vocals are point sources, and sound beautiful with the quiet strings in the background. Great clarity in the vocals without any noise corrupting the strings.
In Hard Time Killing Floor Blues, the distortion of the mic suffers from the Macbook treatment, and is really feels more like an audio smear. On the Monoprice amp, it's crisp and comes from a distinct point.
Bring the Boys Back Home. Lots of distinct sound sources in space which the ears can begin to pick out. Easier to do so on this amp than the Macbook audio output.
PROS: Delivers subtle details to headphones that the MacBook can't
Lovely, controlled sound.
CONS: The knob is a cheap plastic. Mine was cracked. Blue LED is brighter than anything else in the room.
The unit is extremely well-constructed, being mad entirely of a lightweight black-painted metal. The unit includes a power cable, an RCA cable, and a USB connector that is so short I cannot find any use for it.
You'd be hard-pressed to find anything that approaches this level of bang-for-your-buck with its features, overall high quality, and good looks. The only thing that bugs me is the LED next to the light indicatorI seriously have no idea what they were thinking making it so bright, because it feels like it burns a hole in my retinas even out of the corner of my eye.
PROS: Price, sound quality, connectivity options, gain options, build quality
CONS: The blue LED light could illuminate a small village at night