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headphone amp

What is a Headphone Amplifier? Do I Need One?

What is a headphone amp? This is a completely fair question even for non-beginners. Most of us are familiar with the small headphones that come with our smart phones and MP3 players. Even when we encounter headphones that are big like studio versions they are typically only like that in appearance and are still on the consumer level. Even beyond that, many headphones that could benefit from an amplifier can still be used without one at low volumes and you'd never know the difference. But eventually in the professional music industry you run into a headphone amp... Just what is it and why do we need them?