Specialty amplifiers for headphones are certainly niche items for audio fans looking to get the most out of their headphones, and even more so on the high end of the print spectrum: Many higher end cans actually require amplification to obtain the best possible sound, but those benefits also resonate into more common headphones, including earbuds and over-the-ear headphones common on the streets today, especially when used with laptops. While the typical Macbook or Levono laptops offer built-in audio jacks for headphones, the circuitry is not all that impressive in outputting the very best audio. This is where Cambridge Audio’s DACMagic XS may lend a helping hand.

The Cambridge Audio DACMagic XS is a very small amplifier meant to elevate the sonic power of your laptop. The DACMagic XS bypasses the built-in audio jack circuitry in favor of its own DAC chip housed inside the small, black aluminum case. Headphones plug into the DACMagic XS using a typical 3.5mm jack and audio levels are controlled by two simple buttons on the top of the unit.

Users should immediately hear a difference in sound: The DACMagic XS offers higher levels of output than the laptop’s on-board audio jack with more punch and clarity between the notes. It also has the benefit of supporting higher resolution sound files than a laptop’s on-board audio card, making it a favorite amongst audiophiles looking for a small, portable amplifier to take on the road and beyond.

A portable headphone amplifier is clearly marketed for those looking to improve sound from the typical, and for many, may not be a necessary addition to their current setups. But like all things on Selectism, we’re looking to go beyond the normal. Anyone who cares about the sonics and quality of their music will benefit greatly from the use of the DACMagic XS or any amplifier. We certainly recommend them. The DACMagic XS mini amp is available now for $190 on Amazon.

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