Plenty of people are willing to shell out big bucks for high end headphones, but you can’t get the best of certain models unless you have a quality headphone amp to drive them. Samson’s QH4 headphone amp will solve the issue for you in an affordable, easy-to-use format. The QH4 can be used as a personal headphone amp but its four-channel design suggests it will be a favourite of audio engineers, live performers or bands who need to run low volume rehearsals.
Samson QH4 features
The Samson QH4 headphone amp has a straight-forward design. It’s got a master volume and an individual volume knob for each headphone channel. There’s also a mute and mono buttons, two 1/4 inch inputs and an 1/8 inch aux in and out. The design is simple and functional, which is exactly what you need in a headphone amp.
Construction suitable for studio use
The QH4 is made out of hardened plastic, except for the the metal 1/4 inch jacks. It would be tough enough for studio work without any problems at all. It would also be a good choice for low-key live shows. For intense live commitments, like an interstate tour, I’d want to get an amp with a metal chassis.
Who is it for?
The most obvious answer to this is people with a home recording set-up. The four-channel, four-volume knob design means an engineer and three performers would be able monitor the session easily and comfortably. The Samson could also be used to do headphone jams for bands who can’t crank their Marshalls without having the cops called.
The Samson of course is also an option for audiophiles who want to get the best out of their headphones without paying an arm and a leg. Being a four-channel amp, the QH4 is a bit bulkier than some personal headphone amps, but if space isn’t an issue then it would work well as a personal headphone amp.
Audio fidelity comparison
I compared the Samson QH4 to my Scarlett Focusrite 2i4 for audio fidelity. The Focusrite 2i4 ($176 on Amazon) is a recording interface with a single 1/4 inch headphone jack output. For the comparison I used my AKG K240 Mk II studio headphones.
The differences audio quality between the QH4 and the Focusrite 2i4 were subtle but definitely noticeable. The QH4 overall sounded more focused and punchy than the 2i4. The former presented a sharper audio image and the layers had greater separation. The music listened through the 2i4 sounded slightly muffled and woolly compared to the QH4. Listening to the QH4, it didn’t sound like there was anything in the way of you hearing the mix as it was intended.
The Focusrite 2i4 is notably more expensive than the QH4 but of course the money is split among mic preamps and other features, so the headphone amp itself in the interface is lower quality than the Samson amp. I also tried A/Bing my iPhone SE, Focusrite 2i4 and the QH4. Strangely, the listening experience from the phone wasn’t really much different from the Focusrite, so I guess they really skimped on the amp for the interface. The QH4 of course was notably better than both.
The Samson QH4 is an affordable, quality headphone amp that will get you the best out of your headphones. The four-channel design lends itself to recording, rehearsals and live performances. It’s not built for touring but it will do a local show just fine. It can also be used as a personal headphone amp if you don’t mind the somewhat larger footprint.
Inputs: 2 x 1/4″ balanced, stereo 1/8″ unbalanced TRS
Outputs: 4 x stereo 1/4″ unbalanced, stereo 1/8″ unbalanced TRS