Can a Portable Amp Make Your Smartphone Sound as Good as Hi-Fi Audio Equipment?

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These days we can stream almost any track from any location, but music quality has suffered as a result.  Which is why there are lots of companies trying to make the mobile music listening experience better.  Examples of this are Tidal, Deezer Elite, and Woojer.

Uamp is a new product that wants to improve sound quality by adding a portable amplifier to the mix.  Plug your smartphone or digital music player into Uamp, and then plug your headphones in.

The product’s co-founders launched a Kickstarter campaign, and the product was quickly funded. The campaign has raised $133,499 AUD ($103, 790 USD) so far, way more than their goal of $15,000 AUD.  The Kickstarter campaign still has 22 days to go.

How does Uamp work? Here’s a diagram of its components:

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Co-founder Joseph Chehade gave me this explanation:

“Headphone amplification is more common in the high-end audio industry. It works by having a very low output impedance (10x better than a typical phone), much higher range and better performance under load. This means that the output is less affected by the changing load that is your headphones.

 

Basically, this results in your phone or laptop performing at its best, while the Uamp does all the hard work with your headphones. Good quality headphones benefit the most from dedicated amplification, as they can be quite difficult to drive. Not to mention higher impedance or lower sensitivity headphones won’t reach acceptable volume levels without amplification.

Does Uamp live up to the hype? We’ll be reviewing the product when the first production run is completed.

 

Nina Ulloa covers breaking news, tech, and more. Follow her on Twitter: @nine_u

16 Responses

  1. jw

    So this is basically an overpriced FiiO E6.

    Clearly, absolutely anything can be Kickstarted with the help of a few gullible internet journalists.

    Reply
    • RickyLopez

      It’s like Spinal Tap …. It goes to 11 – If anyone in this biz should hasn’t watched that movie then do so.

      Reply
  2. big y99

    While it’s not yet possible to determine if the hype will be met, the product promise is based on real world facts. Matching headphone impedance to the source output is critical to performance. Similar products are currently in development now for use in the pro-audio market.

    Reply
  3. RickyLopez

    hahahahahhah. So because the source material is louder…..It must be better. Mind you Beats got a couple of billion from that snake oil

    Reply
    • Big y99

      It’s not about volume, it’s about distortion. A mismatched impedance introduces unwanted audio artifacts that color the audio and increase ear fatigue. I’m glad there are so many experts here; the maker hasn’t announced a price and people are saying it isn’t worth it. I’m currently using a device like this and know the concept is sound.

      Reply
  4. Adam

    Wait, so this isn’t a digital to analog converter too? What’s the point?? Blow your hearing faster?

    Reply
    • Anonymous

      At this point in the signal path the signal is neither digital or analog, it is a voltage that will excite a driver to move a piece of material that will move air creating sound waves your ear will perceive as content. This product will allow the best efficiency of the components.

      Reply
    • jw

      My favorite photo is of the device connected to the laptop with two cables… USB for power & then 3.5mm for audio lmao.

      Reply
  5. Anonymous

    Great idea – just one problem: If you’re already streaming compressed mp3 files, are you really going to notice a significant difference? The answer: NO

    Reply
  6. john

    How about designing a pair of new ears?????? A whole generation(s) is/are growing up with hearing disabilities after permanently listening to crappy mp3 files via earbuds at volumes which harm human ears.

    Any thoughts about this issue ????

    Reply
    • Anonymous

      Yeah, use headphones instead of earbuds. Sounds so much better, too.

      Earbuds should be illegal.

      Reply
  7. Sam

    I listen to music on my phone at home – laying on the couch at night, using good headphones – sounds fine. I don’t listen to music when I’m out and had never even tried those earbuds until last month when I was on a flight with, what seemed like 345,213.8 SCREAMING little brats. I’ve always kept the earbuds that came with my iPhone in my bag in case I ever needed them. I NEEDED THEM NOW!

    After 2 minutes, all I could think was “HOLY SHIT! There are millions of people out there who actually think that THIS SHIT is what MUSIC sounds like!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! What the fuck!?!?!”

    I was absolutely floored at how shitty it sounded, and that people would put up with that every day.

    What the fuck’s the matter with you people?

    Reply

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