If the sound source is not powerful enough to rock the headphones, the first thing that comes to mind is buying an external amplifier.
Amplifiers built into smartphones or portable players are often not of high quality. On the one hand, in order to increase the overall performance of the gadget, engineers are forced to choose more energy-efficient, but less powerful amplifiers. On the other hand, embedded solutions cannot always provide a stable sound without any distortion.
In this case, a discrete amplifier designed specifically for outputting a high-quality audio signal can be the desired alternative. At the same time, compact external amplifiers provide not only the necessary sound volume in the headphones but also the proper sound stability.
With DACs built into user devices, the situation is similar to amplifiers. Energy efficiency and optimization of dimensions force manufacturers to install compact components that do not meet the tasks of outputting detailed sound. In addition, not all users need the phone (or laptop) to “play.” As a result, lovers of high-quality sound are forced to be puzzled by the acquisition of additional peripherals.
It is worth noting that buying a combined product will not necessarily be a compromise. Most often, the manufacturer selects the components in such a way that the DAC and amplifier path, if they are not an ideal pair, at least correspond to the characteristics of each other. In addition, instead of two separate devices, one is obtained, and sometimes quite compact.
Is there a solution?
Unfortunately, in matters of quality sound, there is no “right” answer. There is no perfect combination of devices, and sometimes it is impossible to achieve this ideal. In choosing the right solution, you can trust only your own hearing.