How to Connect A Headphone Amp to An Audio Interface

Norvan Martin
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So you’ve set up an excellent home recording system, but you notice that your headphones are just too low. Moreover, maybe you want to add multiple headphones, but the more you add, the lower the volume on each gets! 

How can you fix this?

You will need a headphone amplifier.

In this article, we show you how to connect a headphone amp to an audio interface.

Here are the exact steps you need to follow to connect your headphone amplifier to your audio interface:

1. Get Your Audio Equipment in Order

At this point, start by deciding whether you want to establish a mono or stereo connection. If you require an option that’s easier to set up, you should consider “mono.”


If you’ve opted for “Mono,” you should buy a patch lead for “mono” connections.


If you prefer stereo, start by assessing the connection leads that your technology takes. If your audio interface uses RCA leads and the phone amplifier patch leads, buy them.

In this case, you require a connection lead that adapts the two to each other. The ends of the connection lead should be “male.”

2. Connect The Audio Interface


Insert the patch lead (connecting cable) into the first output on your audio interface. It should be labeled “mono.”

audio interface and amp

Note: You’ll have two options depending on your device’s model. It would be best if you went for the first one. You’ll likely find it on your left. 

If you have numerous options, go for the one labeled “1” if not in use.


Insert the two leads into the “L” and “R” outputs. Be sure your leads are plugged into the correct sockets.

3. Connect The Headphone Amp


Insert the remaining end of the patch leads into the headphone amp’s input. It should be labeled “mono.” Alternatively, you can use the left socket labeled “L.”


Carefully insert the leads into the right input sockets. The red should go into the socket marked “R.” Simultaneously, the white one should go to the left, “L.”

4. Position Your Head Amplifier Properly

Start by putting your headphone amplifier wherever you want it to go. After that, neaten up the attendant patch cable you are using to connect these two devices.

5. Switch On

Connect your headphone amplifier to the power outlet. Switch your device on and start enjoying the enhanced listening experience.


Can You Use An Amp as An Audio Interface?

Many modern headphone amplifiers are equipped with quality USB ports. So, you can use a USB cable to connect your amp to your computer. If you can do this, you can use the amp as an audio interface. You can select the amp in your DAW preferences.

Do Headphone Amps Always Improve Sound Quality?

Connecting a headphone amp to your audio interface typically provides a considerable audible improvement in details, dynamics, and clarity. If you have low-impedance headphones, it can help to make it louder.headphone amplifier

However, adding a headphone amp can’t improve the overall sound quality if you have low-quality or low-impedance headphones. In other words, you should choose high-quality headphones if you’re interested in taking advantage of your headphone amp to improve your experience.

Do You Need An Audio Interface?

If you have sound cards shipped on desktop computers and laptops, you might be tempted to ask whether you need an audio interface. You may have seen some audiophiles use these cards to improve the loudness and quality of sound.

 If you have these sound cards and are asking whether you need an audio interface, the answer is, “Yes, you most likely do.” An audio interface guarantees you the best audio quality that’s required for professional music production.

Most sound cards shipped with laptops and desktop computers lack this quality. In other words, you can have the freedom to choose either of them if you’re not interested in quality music production.

However, if you are into professional music production, you need an audio interface and should learn to connect your headphone amp to it.

How Do I Know If My Headphones Don’t Require Headphone Amps?

You can improve the quality of your music by using headphone amps with inbuilt digital-to-analog converters (DAC). This particularly applies if you are listening to your music on desktop computers, tablets, and laptops.

If you have a portable device, consider using a “line output” to connect to the headphone amp to get this kind of result. Alternatively, you can use the headphone jack to transmit the signals over to your headphones.

Nevertheless, there are instances when you do not require a headphone amp. So, you need to know whether you should consider this device an unnecessary investment.

If you have purchased a modern ear headphone or earphone, it might have been designed to efficiently work with most portable devices like smartphones. So, you need to find out whether your devices are highly efficient and can deliver quality sound without the help of a headphone amp.

If you are using headphones with noise-canceling features, you don’t need to determine whether you need the amp. They have built-in headphone amplifiers. So, you’ll have quality sound without connecting your headphone amp to the audio interface. Please note that the built-in amps are also designed to prevent external headphone amps from adding significant value to the sound.

Overall, you only need to acquire and connect your external headphone amp to the audio interface if your ear headphone or earphone lacks an inbuilt amp.

What Are The Key Features to Consider When Selecting Audio Interfaces?

If you want to choose the correct audio interface, here are what you should consider:

  1. Cost: Budget-friendly audio interfaces currently deliver top-notch sound. You can consider cheaper options if you’re on a tight budget.
  2. Compatibility: Most modern audio interfaces are cross-platform compatible. However, you should ensure your chosen option is compatible with the operating system your device is currently running on.
  3. Connectivity: Ensure the interface can connect to whatever ports are available on your computer. You can connect with adaptors if need be.
  4. Ins and Outs: Your current and future requirements should help you decide whether you need more or fewer ins and outs.

Do Audio Interfaces Have Headphone Amps?

Some audio interfaces come with a headphone amp, while others do not. If you are connecting headphones to your interface the device likely has an integrated one built right in. 

Does an Audio Interface Work as a DAC?

In most cases, you can use an audio interface as a DAC. However, in some instances, an audio interface won’t function as a DAC and it won’t provide any amplification of its own. An external Digital-to-Analog Converter (DAC) is needed to process the digital signal into an analog that can be sent to amplifiers for playback.

The DAC will need at least one optical or coaxial input port which you’ll connect your PC’s line-out output using either RCA cables or TOSLINK cables respectively.

This connection does not affect latency in most applications since there isn’t enough time between sending data from the source application and when it arrives at the speakers/headphones for this delay between connections to have much impact.

Because of the differences between audio interfaces and DACs, some people choose to connect their headphones to both a DAC and an audio interface. However, in this case, your headphone should have 2 inputs

Do I Need an Audio Interface for Streaming?

If you’re not planning on streaming audio to your audiences, then no, an interface is unnecessary. External sound cards can work just fine for most people.

However, if you plan on recording life, mixing tracks, and/or broadcasting video with audio (including gameplay), then consider using a dedicated digital mixer or external audio interface with its built-in DACs and preamps.


Now you have all the details required to connect your headphone amp to your audio interface with considerable ease. With that said, there are often a few differences between various pieces of audio equipment on the market today. So, when planning to connect your headphone amp to your audio interface, you should remember to consult your user manual whenever you come across a feature you are not familiar with.

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Norvan Martin is the founder of He is a professional Electronics Engineer and is passionate about home theater systems and AV electronics. BoomSpeaker was created as an online hub to share his knowledge and experiences as it relates to home theaters and home audio electronics. My email: [email protected]  Connect on Pinterest and Linkedin