My wife and I have different noise-cancelling headphones that we prefer for air travel, but they are too quiet when connected to an iPad with a headphone splitter. I purchased a portable battery-powered splitter/amp, but the volume outputs are so different that we can't both comfortably hear. I need a headphone splitter/amplifier with the following characteristics:

  • standard 3.5mm headphone jack input
  • portable (pocket sized)
  • battery powered
  • at least 2 standard 3.5mm headphone outputs, preferably 3
  • separate volume control for each output
  • $50 or less

I would also accept a multi-device solution (separate in-line volume controls, for example), as long as the total price still fits.

  • 1
    The price point you want might be an issue. Headphone amps are low-volume products... so they tend to have high prices (relative to the components inside). I've always made my own for that very reason. Oct 2, 2015 at 5:21
  • 1
    Are you only interested in using a standard headphone jack output? There are other options which may work, too, but you seem to be set on using a standard headphone jack output. It seems you are defining your solution criteria rather than the problem driving the criteria - you will get better answers if you explain the problem you want your hardware to solve.
    – enderland
    Oct 2, 2015 at 13:17
  • @enderland: Really? I thought that was pretty clear--I have two existing sets of headphones that I need to use and they both have standard 3.5mm jacks. As I stated at the end, if you have some other solution with some other input/output and can include adapters within the price and still remain reasonably portable that would certainly solve the problem (though not having 4 separate items to lose would be ideal).
    – James
    Oct 2, 2015 at 13:57
  • @James I use this to bypass my iPod amp, and connect to an external amp, which would probably help with your problem or solve it entirely (but doesn't fit the criteria you are listing).
    – enderland
    Oct 2, 2015 at 14:00
  • @enderland: I have an iPad 4, so that doesn't fit (lightning vs. 30-pin), and it looks like that just gives line-out instead of headphone out, so I'd still need an amp, just one that took line-in instead of headphone-in.
    – James
    Oct 2, 2015 at 14:31

1 Answer 1


Maybe two of FiiO-E6? A few dollars over your budget (for two). I have not used them myself, but are recommended reviewed on http://lifehacker.com/five-best-portable-headphone-amplifiers-1722800379

Response to comment: well, they meet your requirements of being

  • pocket-sized: "1.6 x 0.4 x 1.6 inches ; 0.6 ounces"
  • battery powered: "1 Lithium ion batteries required. (included) [...] Built-in rechargeable battery provides up to 10 hours of normal use. Mini USB charger port can be used with any USB power source."

As for "standard headphone jack input", I'm guessing you want 3.5mm jack. The Amazon page fails to say the jack size, but in this video review you can see it's a 3.5mm jack.

Since you're using two devices, these following requirements

  • at least 2 standard headphone outputs, preferably 3
  • separate volume control for each output

are trivially met (2 outputs).

As for price, "$27.99 & FREE Shipping on orders over $35" at Amazon. So if you buy two right now... $56 shipped. (Since you already have one amp, you could just keep that and buy just one other single-output amp [this or another], saving some dough.)

People say (in those reviews) that reliability of FiiO products is mediocre though. The most geeky/in-depth review of it you can find is probably the one by NwAvGuy. His review can probably summarized by quoting this bit:

The E6 is not an especially clean or well behaved amplifier but in light of the very modest $30 price it’s likely acceptable for many applications for those on a budget.

Here comes the stuff you probably don't care about. The opamp (i.e. the chip that determines sound quality) inside this FiiO E6 is an AD8692 ($0.60 list price in 1K quantities). Most the parts cost goes into making this thing run a Li battery. The opamp is a surface mount (SMT) part, so you have to be pretty adept to replace it with something better in your garage, but some have pulled it off without professional SMT equipment.

  • 2
    Hi Respawned Fluff. Although you haven't personally used this product, it's still best to list the pros and cons and provide some extra info on it in your own words. This makes reading answers easier and faster.
    – Adam
    Oct 2, 2015 at 6:55

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