With a balanced tube headphone amp, you get certain liveliness to the instruments, vocals, and the pitch of music you are hearing. The music turns more robust with faster bass.
If you want to buy a pure tube headphone amplifier, we have prepared a guide for you to make the right purchase. However, there is one thing you should keep in mind.
In order to make the best use of your amp, you need to own a good headphone set as well. There will be no use of purchasing a tube amp if you have cheap headphones that cannot get the job done.
Buy yourself good quality headphones and when you have done that, here is the list of some of the best headphone amps to choose from:
Best Tube Headphone Amp
1. DARED MP-5BTHIFI
Dared MP-5BTHIFI is the best headphone amp in the valve-based options. The controls are easy to use as you get an on-off button, a chrome volume switch, and an input switch to handle all that you need to do.
The input switch is available so you can pick between analog options, USB, and Bluetooth. The headphone jack is a standard 3.5mm as well. The backside of the amp has an analog input and a pre-amp output. Both of these are on gold RCA jacks.
The amp kit also comes with a USB B input so you can connect it to a computer, the Bluetooth antenna, a 110/220V voltage selector, two speaker terminals and the main input with a separate fuse.
With the build of this amp, the conversion is limited to 16 bits to 44.1 kHz. Those files that are in HD will also be presented in Direct Sound (DS) by Bluetooth or software players due to this conversion. There is a CSR chip that makes sure the easy switch between USB and Bluetooth signals.
The signals proceed symmetrically, are processed by an LM358 Op-Amp Differential Amplifier and then sent to the front. This makes sure any pollution that can deter the sound is purified.
This technology is the best in the tube headphones industry, which means you are definitely getting your hands on something premium here.
- Excellent performance
- Amazing quality
- The tubes are almost perfect, better than any other option
- More than one input would have been preferable
2. NOBSOUND NS-08E
If you are in search of the best-budgeted tube headphone amp, NS-08E a Hi-Fi unit you need to get your hands on. This amp can offer 1100mW at 32Ohm. It can drive headsets and headphones with 18-600 Ohms.
The new version of this amp has replaceable valve tubes and a warmer tube sound. This is due to a 6J3 vacuum. Explaining in a lay man’s terms, the upgraded amp makes sure the bass is more powerful than ever, the background noise is lower and the treble is brilliant.
What’s more, is that NS-08E can be used on active speakers and amplifiers as a stereo preamplifier. It has a super mini size, which makes it easy to carry and control and the CNC Aluminum shell is reliable.
- Budgeted tube headphone amp
- Warms up the entire sound-stage experience when paired with a good headphone
- The sound is great
- The Chinese stock tubes are pretty cheap in quality
- Some headphones might not be able to connect out of the box
3. LITTLE DOT MK2
The Little Dot MK2 is a push-pull transformer-free headphone amplifier. It operators on Class A, OTL circuit. It is one of the best options to consider because of the musical sound and its dynamics. There is a gain switch inside the device which allows the amplifier to be an operator with headphones of 32 to 600Ohms.
Another reason we recommend this amplifier is because you can use it with several kinds of lamps to attune the sound as per your liking.
These include 6JI, WE403A / B, GE5654, M8100, CV4010, EF95. In case you reproach the lamp legs, you can use the EF92, CV131 equivalent and other variants.
There is a 3.5mm to 6.5mm adopter jack alongside an RCA cable. The power output is 100mW into 32 ohms, 200mW into 120 ohms, and 300mW into 300 ohms.
The power it consumes is 28W (228V x 0.124A). Overall, this amp is another good, low-budgeted option on the list.
- Has amazing power capability to handle even the most demanding of headphones
- Even when the passages are demanding you won’t witness any distortion
- The drivers (two front tubes) are cheap and need an instant replacement
3. RFTLYS EA1A
The RFTLYS EA1A is one of the best headphone amplifiers due to its input voltage. The two-stage RC amplifier comes with a common cathode resistance that can reach more than 40dB before any negative feedback is added. It means that this amplifier is capable of increasing the input audio signal amplitude by a significant margin.
The vacuum tube of the amp has a standard class AB1 power amplifier circuit. The load resistance from the tube to the screen is six Ohm. The voltage on the plate is 375V.
When you are on the negative shutter bias mode only with zero signal, the power of the two-layer electrode is 85 mA and the large screen current is 150 mA. The output power is 65 watts which can reach up to 22 watts in high power.
The cathodes of the tube amplifier alongside the output ensure that the distortion is reduced, the sound level is improved and the music characteristics are enhanced as well.
The EA1A should be your choice if you want your amplifier to understand all the specifics of the sound enhancement at your headphones without breaking your bank.
- The soundstage has great depth
- Open sound
- The build and the quality of the amp are amazing
- The manual is in Chinese, so you won’t be able to understand what it means
4. WOO AUDIO WA7 FIREFLIES
The Woo Audio WA7 has combined the USB input of 32 bits/ 192kHZ parameters with a DAC and the tube amplifier for stereo phones to provide the best result.
The USB-DAC is asynchronous, which produces great results when high-res files are played. It is best for MacBook Pro running signal source music application and the likes.
It has ultra-quiet ¼ inch and 3.5mm headphone outputs to plug. With the linear power supply, the sound quality of the amplifier can even be improved when connected through a power strip instead of a cable.
The background noise is reduced marginally when this amplifier is used as well as the graininess is completely eliminated. This is the reason WA7 is expensive because it used the Hydra 2 network conditioner and Venom 3 connector to provide the best output.
Paying such a price shouldn’t be your concern, especially when you have high-quality headphones because buying cheap amp won’t be justifiable in that case.
With this amplifier, you will be able to differentiate between standard and high-resolution sound. This is why, if you have high-res audio recordings or a library of them, buying it would be preferable.
- Can be paired with any headphones (premium or otherwise) as this amplifier can meet their demands
- Best value for money, even if you feel the cost is high
- LED lights are reported to have malfunctioned for many users
- XLR output might not be everyone’s choice
We know choosing a headphone amplifier isn’t an easy decision. It isn’t something you have been buying years after years. This is why, researching the best features, making the list of products while ensuring all the while they have the preferred specifications isn’t an easy job. This is why we created this list of the best headphone amplifiers with extensive details.
We wanted to make sure you understand the right options with the features that are high on demand in the amp world right now.
Overall, the best pick is the Dared MP-5BTHIFI. If we had to bet on one option that will never fail to impress you that would be this one. It has the right budget, so it isn’t too heavy on the pocket and has all the features you need in an amp to pair with the headphone of any category.
On the other hand, if you are in a position to afford a premium version that provides the best of features and does not compromise on anything, Woo Audio WA7 FireFlies is the best choice.
Finally, if you are tight on budget and just want an amp to provide you the right experience without costing a lot, Nobsound NS-08E because it provides a bang for the buck. Consider your budget, and we are sure you will have your pick.