Samson QH4 4-Channel Headphone Amplifier - Listening Tests and Final Thoughts

Article Index
Samson QH4 4-Channel Headphone Amplifier
Features and Specifications
Listening Tests and Final Thoughts

 

Plugged In:

Once we unboxed and took pictures of the QH4, we plugged it into the wall and found a couple of different audio sources to use. During the weeks that I've had the QH4, I plugged in my laptop via a ASUS Xonar USB sound card, my iPod Classic and several other devices including mobile phones, media players and more. I used a couple different pair of over-the-ear headphones to check out the performance and to see if I could pick up any distortion or artifacts that weren't there with the raw audio without the amplifier. 

I have a few loss-less audio tracks from Thousand Foot Krutch and I was able to play these large files and they sounded very good indeed. My headphones of choice were the Sennheiser Momentum M2 as well as the Sennheiser Urbanites XL. While the Urbanites are geared more toward pop music with heavier bass, the Momentum M2's are very balanced and clean. Both worked equally well and the performance of these headphones was greatly improved over a standard connection to a laptop, phone or media player.

Both of these headphones do well when driven harder from an amplifier and the Samson QH4 does just that. It drives them harder, better and louder with great audio reproduction. While all of this section is really quite subjective, my experience with the QH4 was better than without it.

Samson QH4 Top-Down

 

The good news is that virtually everything from instrumental, to country, pop, rock and even some light metal sounded fantastic when played through the QH4. I noticed that some of my older MP3 that I encoded way back in the day didn't sound very good when pushed hard. I checked the file properties and they were encoded at 96kbps. That would explain it, but the poor quality remains unnoticed when using cheap headphones - or played at low volume without the QH4. 

The upside to the QH4 - or any other headphone amplifier for that matter - is that it magnifies the sound. It boosts the good stuff, but also showcases poor audio as well. The takeaway here is that you should always encode audio at a high-bit rate instead of trying to save space or cram more music on your media player.

Now for some bad news. While it's not a huge deal, I noticed that on every one of the volume control potentiometer's the sound reverted to a single channel at low volume. Granted, the volume was very low and this would only occur when you turned the knob off the lowest setting and started to turn it up, but that shows there is some inconsistency with the potentiometer. When listening at anything above the bare minimum, this problem immediately disappears, but it's something worth noting that probably wouldn't exist on a $1,000 headphone amplifier.

It certainly isn't a deal-breaker, especially considering the price, but it's worth noting. At the end of the day you can't really expect complete perfection for a $70 price tag when other amplifiers cost 3x - 10x the price. 

 

Final Thoughts:

Samson's QH4 is touted as a "high power, great sounding solution for stereo desktop headphone distribution," and it certainly is that. It works very well and gives multiple people control over the volume level of their headphones. This has come in handy during podcast recording sessions for WeeklyTechUpdate as we have different users, different microphones but had previously all been sharing the same headphone output via a splitter on my mixer. Now, there are more options and more control for each participant.

While there isn't a lot of times that I need four channels, it gives expansion and flexibility for a lot of different situations. Often I have two channels in use, but it's nice to know that if things get a bit more crowded around the podcast table, we still have headphone monitor options for each person.

For $70, the Samson QH4 should be on the wish list of pretty much anyone who enjoys music, creates content or monitors audio. Expensive headphone amplifiers also modify the sound to create a warmer, richer experience, but the QH4 is simply an amplifier. It does that job very well. The only real drawback I saw was the potentiometers are low volume, but if you're using a headphone amplifier, you probably aren't listening to audio at the bare minimum volume level. As I mentioned before, it's not a deal-breaker, but it is worth noting that this existed on all four channels.

Pros:

  • Affordable headphone amplifier
  • Four channels
  • Master volume control plus independent channel controls
  • Multiple input options
  • Mute and Mono switches for convenience and testing audio phase

 

Cons:

  • Bundle doesn't include 1/4-inch to 1/8-inch adapters
  • Channel 1-4 volume potentiometers are a little inconsistent at low volume

 

For the price, the performance is outstanding and while the product isn't perfect, it does a darn good job. It's probably one of the most affordable four-channel headphone amplifiers money can buy and it performs very well for an amplifier of twice the price.

If you have any questions, comments or general feedback regarding the Samson QH4 headphone amplifier, please feel free to comment and post in the forum right here.