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Does anybody know if a headphone audio amplifier actually helps improve the quality of the music? Not interested in volume, just quality. Thanks.

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    As it stands, this question is a bit like asking "Would a meal in a restaurant taste better?". What meal? Better than what? What restaurant? A few more details might help someone write a short answer without writing "it depends" too many times. – user16 Sep 23 '15 at 0:53
  • Mostly Rock music using Nose headphones. Don't know if that will help but thanks. – Azure Sep 23 '15 at 0:54
  • What would you be plugging the headphones into if you weren't using the headphone amp? – user16 Sep 23 '15 at 7:46
  • @topomorto Aa Samsung Galaxy s3. I meant Bose headphones. Thanks again. – Azure Sep 23 '15 at 10:56
  • And would you be plugging the headphone amp into the Galaxy's headphone output? – user16 Sep 24 '15 at 11:09
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A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. And it's particularly true for audio.

If the recording, or its encoding, or the DAC, or the headphone, is of bad quality, it won't make a difference to have a good dedicated headphone amp. Or it could even be worse since you may be able to hear distorsions more clearly.

Conversely, if the recording is very good, and you use a lossless CD-quality (or higher) audio encoding and a good headphone, using a built-in computer sound card or an entry level smartphone could really make it dull.

For an audiophile-only use, a dedicated headphone amplifier is a must indeed. For instance:

For a more versatile use, such as computer-aided music, an good audio interface could provide reliable audio listening experience too. For instance:

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  • Can both those devices you suggest be used with the Galaxy s3 mentioned by the OP? – user16 Sep 24 '15 at 11:13
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    @maxime "For an audiophile-only use, a dedicated headphone amplifier is a must indeed." Why? How does an amplifier improve the audio quality? Why not just choose headphones with a low impedance, and forget about the amplifier? – Static Storm Sep 25 '15 at 12:55
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    @staticstrom Low-impedance headphones exist mostly because of the last decades popularity of portable sources which supply as low voltages as possible in order to lower power dissipation. It's over-simplification here because this subjet is complex, but for instance you could get less distortion, less sensibility to the length of the cable, and more precise frequency response with a high-impedance designed headphone. – maxime.bochon Sep 27 '15 at 17:41
  • @topomorto As seen here it is possible with an iPhone using the proper USB-Adapter. Now for Android, full support of USB DAC audio devices on Android seems to exist from version 5 and Galaxy S III is natively provided with Android 4, so some upgrade may be required. – maxime.bochon Sep 27 '15 at 17:59

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