PTJ 90: Pump Up the Volume and Pump That Bass

Nothing drives me crazier than seeing folks sporting humongous, power-hungry headphones directly connected to their personal media players and smartphones. Actually, if they wear those headphones OVER a ski hat that’s keeping their ears warm, that would make me twice as crazy.

A few weeks ago I overheard a colleague of mine at the day job complaining that as much as he liked the way his Beyerdynamic headphones looked, they didn’t sound anywhere near as good as advertised. They also drained the battery on his phone painfully fast because he needed to keep the volume at full to get a decent level.

Turns out he was using the 250 Ohm version of his headphone model instead of the iPod-friendly 32 Ohm version. I could have wasted hours explaining how impedance makes a world of difference when it comes to sound quality and volume but instead I just let him borrow my headphone amplifier.

His mind was blown.

While I don’t make a habit of schlepping full sized headphones with me on my morning commutes I will on occasion drag them along to provide the appropriate soundtrack to my day. I will, of course also drag along a portable amp.

You can listen to my full review of FiiO’s Mont Blanc E12 portable headphone amplifier (pictured above) on this week’s episode of the podcast but in short, it is sleek, black and powerful enough to drive a pair of 300 Ohm set of cans.


I compared them to Fiio’s own inexpensive discontinued E5 amp and the Total Bithead headphone amp and DAC from Headroom, sadly, also discontinued.


I was happy to learn that my cube mate ordered his own portable amp the very same day he test-drove mine. El Kaiser loves nothing more than helping someone get the most out of their gadgets.

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