Best Headphone Amplifiers for Vinyl Turntables

There was a time when vinyl records were the dominant form of music playback. They’re not quite as popular these days, but many audiophiles still swear by them for sound quality. And if you want to get the absolute best sound from your vinyl records, there are some things you need to do!

One way is to make sure that your system has good speakers and a good headphone amp. We’ll cover the speakers in another article, but today we’ll be looking at headphone amps to power your cans.

Buying Guide

1. Amplifier Cost:

The cost of a headphone amplifier varies a lot from unit to unit, and even from brand to brand. For example, the Polk Audio TSIi  is reasonably priced for what you get. We also have a budget-friendly option for headphone amplifiers right here .

But there are way more expensive models out there too. The best affordable models still deliver good sound quality, but the pricier ones tend to provide much better performance. You can find best prices on these higher price models from these sources: .

2. Decibels:

Most audiophiles prefer amplifiers that deliver around 85dB of output power per channel (or at least 80dB). The higher the dB rating of your headphone amp, the better. You can check out some of our dB ratings here .

3. Power:

A good headphone amp can handle a wide range of headphones. If you’re going to be using the amp with a wide variety of headphones, make sure that it has a high enough peak power rating to handle them all. You can find this rating on the product page of any amplifier on our site. We have a useful headphone guide here .

4. Load Specs:

Most amplifier manufacturers provide specific information on their product pages about load specs, or impedance numbers for their units. For example, the Bel Canto headphone amps we recommend here and here list the load specs on their product pages.

To keep things simple, we’ll stick with listing high-quality headphone amps for turntables in this article. But if you want to know more about the technical side of things like load specs and impedance, read this article .

5 Best Headphone Amplifiers For Vinyl Turntables:

Pro-Ject Head Box S2 Headphone Amplifier - Black
Pro-Ject Head Box S2 Headphone Amplifier - Black
Audiophile headphone amplifier; 1/4" and 1/8" headphone jacks; Bypass RCA loop output for additional amplifier
beyerdynamic A20 Headphone Amplifier - Silver
beyerdynamic A20 Headphone Amplifier - Silver
T.H.D = 0.01 % at 170 mW / 250 Ω, Elegant, wrapped screwless solid all-metal housing; Audiophile grade, suitable for all headphones up to 600 Ohms
Pro-Ject Head Box DS2B Headphone Amplifier - Black
Pro-Ject Head Box DS2B Headphone Amplifier - Black
Enough power to drive demanding headphones; Dual mono design; Four gain settings to match any headphone

Last update on 2022-05-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

1. Pro-Ject Head Box S2 Headphone Amplifier – Black

Pro-Ject Head Box S2 Headphone Amplifier - Black
  • Audiophile headphone amplifier
  • 1/4" and 1/8" headphone jacks
  • Bypass RCA loop output for additional amplifier
  • Low noise components for ultimate sound performance
  • Aluminum/metal sandwich casing protects against vibrations and electromagnetic interference

Last update on 2022-05-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

If you want to know exactly what we like about this model, we’ll tell you: nothing at all. But we do think it’s a decent option for those who do not want to spend a lot of money but still want good headphone amplification. It’s also the only model in our list priced under $200. So, if you’re on a tight budget, this is the one to get!

It is powered by the PI 3025E chip that comes with its own power supply and has two sets of RCA inputs that you can use for either headphones or stereo input sources such as tape decks and CD players.

Pros:

  • Solid build quality. Looks and feels like a quality unit.
  • The Pro-Ject Head Box S2 is very compact and lightweight. It weighs least than 1 pound and measures 9 x 3 x 1 inches.
  • It comes with a built-in phono pre-amp and can power your cans with a sensitivity of 100dB or lower.

Cons:

  • Although the Pro-Ject Head Box S2 has a lot of nice features, it doesn’t have any USB ports for wired connections.

2. Schiit Magni 3 Headphone Amp and Preamp

Schiit Magni 3 Headphone Amp and Preamp
  • Magni 3 has the power, performance, resolution, and versatility to meet all your headphone needs.
  • Designed to have low distortion, an exceptionally low noise floor, and switchable gain. Magni’s gain stage is an-all-new, fully discrete,...
  • With its built-in time-delayed start-up and instant shut-down, there’ll be no glitches or pops through either headphones or speakers.
  • Use Magni 3 with any headphone from IEMs to hard-to-drive planar designs. With a full 2000mW into 32 ohms, Magni has tremendous reserves of power....
  • Magni 3 includes preamp outputs so you can connect it to your desktop powered monitors for a complete system--or even connect it to a speaker power...

Last update on 2022-05-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The Schiit Magni 3 headphone amp is our favorite budget-friendly model. We recommend it because it costs less than $100, but still provides impressive sound quality that can compete with higher end models. And if you’re not happy with your purchase, you can always send it back for a refund!

The only drawback is that the unit does not have any tone controls or enough power to drive some headphones very loudly. But overall, it’s an excellent choice for both novices and audiophiles alike.

Pros:

  • It’s got very clean sound quality that’s way better than most other budget amplifiers for headphones.
  • It has a pleasant neutral sound signature that sounds great with most headphones.
  • The Schiit Magni 3 has premium build quality and design. The unit has an aluminum body and is powered by two Burr Brown op-amps.

Cons:

  • It does not have very high output power to drive some headphones, so it may not be able to deliver enough volume for bass lovers.

3. Beyerdynamic A20 Headphone Amplifier – Silver

beyerdynamic A20 Headphone Amplifier - Silver
  • ALPS potentiometer for variable volume control, Internal wide-range switching power supply for worldwide use
  • 170 mW / 250 Ω, high-gain RCA input, input signal can be looped through, entirely free from signal-loss thanks to the hard-wired RCA output
  • T.H.D = 0.01 % at 170 mW / 250 Ω, Elegant, wrapped screwless solid all-metal housing
  • Audiophile grade, suitable for all headphones up to 600 Ohms
  • Made in Germany with 2 year Warranty

Last update on 2022-05-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The Beyerdynamic A20 is a premium model with a lot of great features. It comes with 2000 mW power and weighs 2 pounds. It has four inputs: two RCA and two 6.3 mm/3.5mm (1/4″) inputs, and one RCA and one XLR output for connecting your headphones.

The A20 is designed to be compatible with almost any type of headphone, so you won’t have any trouble using it for your vinyl turntables!

Pros:

  • It’s got a warm, full sound with excellent frequency extension. The A20 makes the sound seem to be coming from all directions at once, but there’s still a nice level of detail too.
  • This is a full-size headphone amplifier that offers enough power to drive even some high-impedance cans without distorting the sound quality.
  • It has a high-quality construction and design with an aluminum chassis and an attractive silver finish.

Cons:

  • The A20 has no tone controls, so if you had hoped to use this for vinyl turntables, you’d be disappointed.

4. Pro-Ject Head Box DS2B Headphone Amplifier – Black

Pro-Ject Head Box DS2B Headphone Amplifier - Black
  • Enough power to drive demanding headphones
  • Dual mono design
  • Four gain settings to match any headphone
  • Three current settings to deliver best sonics
  • Phase inverter built in at input stage to convert unbalanced signal to a balanced one for superior s

Last update on 2022-05-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Last on our list of the best headphone amplifiers for vinyl turntables is the Pro-Ject Head Box DS2B. It’s an extremely affordable model that is damped, but it still has a decent sound quality.

It is lightweight and small (measuring 6 x 3.7 x 1.7 inches and weighing just 1 pound) and is powered by an on-board 50 mW amplifying chip that delivers 80 mW RMS power per channel. The headphone amp can handle sensitivity of up to 100 dB or lower.

Pros:

  • It has a nice, neutral sound quality and good detail presentation. The Pro-Ject Head Box DS2B provides a great value for the money.
  • It is capable of driving most headphones without distortion.
  • It’s got clean, natural sound quality that produces a vibrant, non-muddy sound signature.

Cons:

  • It doesn’t provide as much power as some competitors, so it may not be able to drive some high impedance headphones without distorting the sound.

5. Schiit Asgard 3 Headphone Amp and Preamp

Schiit Asgard 3 Headphone Amp and Preamp
  • Designed and Built in California, USA. Product is supplied with a 110–120V US plug suitable for use in the United States, Canada, and Mexico. This...

Last update on 2022-05-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

The last model on our list of the best headphone amplifier for vinyl turntables is the Schiit Asgard 3, a premium model that costs under $300. It’s a full-size, multi-channel headphone amp and preamp with a volume control, tone control, and two inputs.

This model has a clean sound quality and can drive most headphones with no distortion, although it may distort at high volume levels. It comes with both balanced and single-ended output jacks for your turntable or any other source gear too!

Pros:

  • It’s got plenty of power, so it’s capable of driving almost any type of headphone without distorting the sound.
  • The Asgard 3 has a well thought out design that’s simple but well made. It can handle most headphones without distorting the sound, even the high-impedance ones.
  • It has an attractive wood case that’s hand-finished by its own designers at Schiit’s Brooklyn shop.

Cons:

  • This is a premium model for audiophiles who are willing to spend more money, but may not meet the expectations of some consumers looking for cheap solutions for vinyl turntables.

Conclusion:

Finding the best headphone amplifier for vinyl turntables can be tricky since there are many different models that compete for your attention. We hope that our list of the best headphone amplifiers for vinyl turntables will help you find something that fits your needs and budget.

We’ve tried to include models with high value, lower price tags, and high-quality construction.

FAQ:

Q: Can you use a headphone amp with a turntable?

A: If your turntable does not have a built-in phono preamp, and you are using a standalone phono preamp, you connect the headphone amp between the phono preamp and the headphones. A headphone amplifier that will make your headphones sound good doesn’t have to cost a fortune. A very good and popular option is the Schiit Magni 3 Headphone Amp.

Q: How to make vinyl sound better with headphones?

A: Try this headphone amps with a proper set of headphones and be amazed of how good vinyl can sound with headphones. Another great option is to to use a stereo receiver with a built-in headphone amplifier and a dedicated headphone output. A popular and affordable option is the Sony STRDH190 Stereo Receiver with Phono Inputs.

Q: What kind of AMP do I need for headphones?

A: Integrated amplifier with headphone output: Many integrated amps (e.g. stereo receivers) have a built-in headphone amp. These amps will usually have a headphone jack on the front. This is a good option if you have a few audio sources you want to listen to through headphones.

Q: What is the best affordable turntable amplifier?

A: Best Affordable Amplifiers for Turntables. 1 1. Denon PMA-600NE. Best amplifier for vinyl overall. Denon has an audiophile heritage that’s run almost 100 years back. And with their PMA amplifier … 2 2. Yamaha A-S301BL. 3 3. Sony STRDH190.