If you're plugging your headphones into a DAP, smartphone, or laptop/computer, you're using an amplifier. So why would you not want the amplifier to be better? Yes, some headphones sound acceptable without a dedicated amp, but almost all I've tested have been improved with proper amplification, even from small amps. Yeah, if your source player/source materials are crap, and your headphones don't sound good, a dedicated amp won't make a difference, but amps are still a critical part in the chain. Remember, you're always using a headphone amp, even if you don't expect it!
Originally Posted by kramer5150
In my rig the RCA outputs from my DAC are hotter than the headphone signal coming out of any of my amps. So technically my amps are not amplifying anything. They are there more for signal attenuation (given my general low volume listening), impedance matching, and of course to impose harmonic distortions and their own EQ curve. Of course there's the psycological affects of tubes glowing in the dark.
Fun story: I plugged a pair of Grados into a DAC that had a 3.5mm output. I'm pretty sure blood was coming out of my ears afterwards
Edited by wes008 - 2/21/14 at 9:05am