While the amount of smartphones and laptops ditching a dedicated headphone port is growing, there are those of us who still prefer plugging in to watch movies, listen to music, or talk to people over Skype. And luckily for us, there are companies who want to make our listening experience even better. That’s exactly what the Helm Audio DB12 AAAMP does.
A thumb-sized amplifier, it sits between your headphones and your audio source, performing corrections, cleaning up distortion, and increasing power output in real time. Whether you’re watching a movie on an iPad, streaming music on your phone, or button-mashing on your Xbox One X controller, this thing beefs up the music piping out of your headphones to a more satisfying level.
The Helm Audio DB12 AAAMP is an inline headphone amplifier equipped with THX AAA, the same hi-fi audio technology used in various audio equipment currently in the market. In this case, though, they packed that tech in a tiny dongle barely bigger than a regular thumb drive, allowing you to drop this in your pocket, along with your regular EDC stash. Even better, it’s purely plug-and-play, with no need to add any external power source (it has an onboard battery), so you simply plug it to a 3.5mm slot, plug in your headphones to the amp, flick the switch, and you’re all set up.
That onboard battery holds six hours’ worth of charge, so you can keep listening to a couple of movies or play through a good load of video game levels before running out of power. And it’s USB-rechargeable, so when it drains, you just plug in to an outlet or a power bank to get back up and running. The amplifier’s wires, by the way, are made from silver-coiled cable, which is supposedly the highest conductive metal, so it delivers audio signals from the source to your headphones completely uninterrupted.
The Helm Audio DB12 AAAMP will boost audio from your source by over 12 decibels, delivering a greater dynamic range and sound pressure level, all while removing all sorts of distortion to create a fatigue-free listening experience. It also adds an independently-controlled boost function for the bass, which will level it up by 6 decibels, creating a sound that, the outfit claims, recreates a “full-blown studio experience.” This is true linear amplification, by the way, which means the sound quality will be maintained even as the volume increases, allowing you to crank up the loudness without creating any unwanted noise.
With that much amplification, you should be able to enjoy a satisfactory listening experience, even with older headphones, allowing you to enjoy your favorite pair of cans in an entirely new way. Additionally, the 12-decibel gain should also be enough of a boost for power-hungry gear like planar magnetic and high-impedance headphones, so it should help improve everything from cheap earbuds that came with your smartphone and expensive over-ear cans that you paid way too much money to get.
The Helm Audio DB12 AAAMP comes out in July, priced at $199.99.