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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.
- Headphone amplifier
- AC adapter (15 VDC, 2A)
- USB cable
- Audio cable
- User's manual
|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 ~ 6Vrms|
|Power Supply||15 VDC, 2A|
- User's Manual (May 19, 2014)
Questions and Answers
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
The thing is that this DAC is wonderful, it is really just plug and play( pleasee change the settings within windows to 24bit 96000Hz). The sound in short is spectacular. I play games on it and to tell you the truth it is better than the "super effects" of a internal soundcard.
I played Overwatch and DOOM recently, what a difference. Flac music... just WOW, it is very clear, hearing things that normally I wouldn't. I plug in it an ONEU speaker amplifier(ZYDZ040) with some Monoprice bookshelfs( the cheaps one) and the sound is amazing for the price. I'm planning to buy a subwoofer for my setup.
I'm very happy with this DAC/AMP so happy that I will buy the planar headphones from Monoprice in a near future. I haven't had any issues that some people mention here.
In Summary this is really better than a sound card, it is cheaper(buy it when the price goes to $70 or less) and have many options to play with it. Oh and other thing, be careful with the volume, your ears can explode with this. Just buy it, you won't regret it.
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 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.
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!
PROS: Really nice audio quality, feels solid
CONS: The piercing blue LED seems to be a pattern here, but it doesn't bother me that much.
Next, the LED is ridiculously bright. Must be made by the same people that made the HDMI switches I bought from them recently. Needed three layers of translucent tape over the LED to make it tolerable.
On the plus side, it sounds very good and powers everything from my Ultimate Ears ear buds to my brand new Koss Pro4/A headphones.
Wish they worked as promised and hope they will find a better/gentler LED vendor in the future.
PROS: Sounds better than computer sound card.
Easily powers full size headphones.
Convenient and smoothly operating volume control.
CONS: Plugging in headphone does not cut rear outputs.
Ridiculously bright blue LED that could light runways at airports it is so bright.
Good build quality
Sound quality is great
CONS: Piercing blue led
PROS: Metal case nice
Knobs socket feel solid/good
Great sound quality
CONS: None so far
Unlike some of the other reviewers, the knob on mine is nicely aligned.
PROS: Does exactly what I needed: increases the headphone volume from my PC's audio out jack. My PC is my primary multimedia player. Often the audio wasn't quite loud enough for my aging ears. I had been using a FiiO portable amp to jack up the sound but it has to be re-charged after a few hours use. The Monoprice headphone amp is powered by a wall-wart so it's one less gizmo to charge.
CONS: No serious complaints:
1 Missing the obvious mini-stereo input jack or an included adapter for use with a PC. The Aux. input is a pair of RCA sockets and RCA cables are included but all my PCs have optical and mini-stereo jacks so I had to dig through my adapter collection to find the right one. Also had to dig out a standard stereo phone jack to mini-stereo adapter for my earbuds. For the price, an optical input might have been included as well.
2 Adds yet another wall-wart to the collection.
3 Very minor point, but I would prefer that the volume knob had a bit of surface texture it's so smooth that sliding my thumb on it to turn it on takes more pressure than I like.