Looking For A Quality PC Audio Amplifier With Independent Left / Right Volume Control

Hello Experts -

I am looking for an amplifier to boost the volume from incoming streamed audio. I've been on Amazon and found that they have 4,000 models to chose from.

There are a couple of requirements. The ultimate sound destination is a set of headphones (I've got those. No problem here.)  This is not an in-home theatre situation, and it's not going to be used in my car or in any way mobile. Also, I do not intend to use the amplifier with a musical instrument.

I expect to use wires - so I'm not looking for something that is Blue Tooth-compatible or otherwise wireless.

The really IMPORTANT FEATURE would be independent volume controls for the left and right side. I have a hearing problem in the left ear, so I'd like to boost the volume on the left side higher than on the right.

I'd rather have separate control over the left and right channels - and not just a Balance Knob.  

Can anyone point me in the correct direction? Thanks for your suggestions.
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Paul SauvéRetiredCommented:
what sound card do you have on your PC currently?
gbmcneilAuthor Commented:
Thanks for responding, Paul.

I've got a Sony laptop with Realtek High Definition Audio. I assume that this is a chunk of circuits and software that is soldered onto the motherboard.

There is a small audio Jack on the front that I plug my earphones into.

I am aware that some headphone amplifiers allow a connection from a USB port with a wire. But if I were to do that I'd run out of USB connections, as I am currently using them for thumb drives, a wireless mouse, etc.  Thus, I would prefer that the connection be made via the small audio Jack that I am currently using, and would be doing nothing with if I didn't use it for the audio-out feed.

I hope this helps.
Paul SauvéRetiredCommented:
I think your best bet is a small car stereo system with adapters from the headphone/speaker output to the amp.

You'll also need a 12 volt power supply!
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gbmcneil  since your connected to your pc have you looked into the audio option of your sound card?
Is this windows 7?
Without knowing your sound card and to example mine, Realtek HD audio manager is
in the control panel
In here you can adjust the sound to more left than right for your headphones so no need really  to buy a volume manager to do this.
Real tek audio manager balanceYou can also adjust sound effects and loudness.
sound effectsLoudnessMay I ask you what is the brand of your headphones, headphones by design should not be altered increasing the volume beyond the headphones capabilities as you may damage the speaker padding and distort over vibrate the speakers.,
Rather than throw good money at a volume manager I would suggest to you buy a decent set of headphones that have those things you need louder volume and since you can adjust the volume balance in your sound manager no need to have them include adjustment of left and right.
Also remember volume from any source has it's limits based on the original volume.
I'll post you some examples of headphones customers have used for partially deaf family,
Sennheiser HD 65 Closed Dynamic TV Over-Ear Headphones with Independent Volume Control

read the feed back please.
Darkiron 852 Headphones Headset with In-line Microphone, Extremely Portable Foldable and Adjustable for Smart Phones/ipad/ipod/mp3/mp4

Adjustable Stereo/Mono Headphones

Hearing Impaired Earphones, Headset, Headphones, Personal Sound Amplifier
Just for pointers, what's your thoughts?
Regards Merete
gbmcneilAuthor Commented:
Hello Merete -

You must be a glutton for punishment.

You've also thrown a lot at me here.

I've got a Sony laptop. I've had it about four years. I'm running Windows 7. I have no idea what the Sound Card is, as I have never opened the beast up. I'm not trying to find  an amplifier simply to "balance" the sound. I've just started to use TuneIn to play radio stations thru my earphones. While I have no problem playing MP3s on my system, the volume available from one radio station to the next can vary considerably. If you add that to my hearing problem, it is difficult at times to get the volume the way I want it. I thought a real amplifier would eliminate my problems.

However, pursuing your line of thinking, if I go to the Control Panel I see "Sound". And, clicking on Sound takes me to the screen below.

Control Panel - Sound screen
It is certainly possible that if I had new Realtek software, maybe the volume would improve such that I didn't need a separate amplifier. So tell me, where did you get the software you're using? I don't think I've had an upgrade in years.

Thanks for responding.
gbmcneilAuthor Commented:
Hello Merete -

A thought... Do you know the name of the Realtek Audio Manager executable? Maybe I should just download it from Gigabyte and install it.

Also, there is some software out there which claims to be able to increase PC audio volume. Letasoft's "Sound Booster" is one such product. See Letasoft.Com.

If a new version of Realtek doesn't help me, maybe Letasoft would solve my problem.

gbmcneilAuthor Commented:
Hi Merete -

I have a Realtek High Definition Audio Driver installed in Programs and Features.

Gigabyte is a motherboard manufacturer. So, I'd guess that what you are showing is a special piece of software that is custom mated to your Gigabyte motherboard. Whether that software is available for non-Gigabyte motherboards is unknown.

By the way, the Version of my Realtek audio driver is   I don't know if this is the latest for a Windows 7 computer. I am going to research that now.

gbmcneilAuthor Commented:
Hello Merete -

I checked the Version of my Realtek Audio Driver and found it up to date.  So, I don't think there is any flashy audio management software available to replace what I've already got. Instead I went into the Sound option on the Control Panel to see if I could substantially improve things.  I was able to improve things substantially.

After clicking on Sound, I was brought to Playback. Then I pressed Properties to take me to the next screen and selected the Levels tab. At this point I was able to play with the Balances slider. I had done this several months ago, but what I discovered was that I had mistakenly confused the left channel for the right, and visa versa. Well, this was obviously a momentous difference.

I am now positioned as shown below. And, I seem to have much more volume. If you don't recommend that I make a change to bring up a more modern version of the Realtek Audio Manager, I think that I may explore Letasoft to see if that makes a difference.

Simply pushing the volume control higher by adjusting the Balance would appear to be all that is necessary. However, as the volume increases the clarity drops. So there is some subtle tweaking.

Hello gbmcneil
thankyou for your updates, seems we may have similar computers mine is also Gigabyte but a desktop/you also have the Realtek HD audio great..
Good to hear you found progress with the windows sound.
Yes it is that simple :)
You'll have lots of fun exploring this new area, as I'm in Australia our time zones differ but I will respond at my morning time.
To see your sound manager for your audio card. Go to control panel/all items if it opens to control panel click the small arrow at the end of control panel
all control panel itemsrealtek audio managerLook at at your taskbar bottom right you may see the two speakers for the different audio. One is windows sound and one is your realtek audio manager, for quick access.
Note the windows sound  speaker icon is yellow and the realtek is red
two volume speakersrightclick it and you have all the options
Realtek audio manager shortcutClicking on audio devices then your default then properties here again you can control the volume
Audio devices realtek
with regards to your comment>Simply pushing the volume control higher by adjusting the Balance would appear to be all that is necessary. However, as the volume increases the clarity drops. So there is some subtle tweaking.<< possibility the headphones cant handle the increase?
You can tweak this in your realtek HD audio manager test a few different sound enhancements tweak the equalizer, these enhance the audio experience,
With equalizer you can adjust the treble for clarity reduce the bass and the subtle mid tones.
realtek audio enhancements

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gbmcneilAuthor Commented:
This will be my final response on this topic. I originally sought to get advice on an amplifier that I could connect to my PC to increase the audio volume. The request was complicated by the fact that the requester has a hearing problem in one ear. Therefore, when I have tried to balance the sound to give me a binaural effect, this step had the effect of further reducing the overall volume - making amplification even more necessary.

Changing certain settings in the "audio control panel" may be possible, but the problem is that such a panel will differ from computer to computer with the specific brand of sound card installed. Unfortunately, the panel that Merete is using (and the one that she has provided video snipettes of), is not the same as my audio control panel. So, trying to modify my computer per her examples is impossible.

Nonetheless, I do have a functions that come with my sound board to balance the left and right sound, and increase the overall volume. When put to use, I discovered that the quality and volume of sound varied considerably from MP3 to MP3. Even listening to music on Panadora required that I often had to change the volume depending on the song being broadcast.

In the end I came to the conclusion that purchasing an external amplifier was not the solution. In its place there seem to be two things that could be done to increase the sound volume. The first is a software utility called Letasoft "Sound Booster" that can be purchased for $19.95 at http://www.letasoft.com/. I found that this utility was able to increase the volume two-fold for relatively cheap bucks. The second is a small piece of hardware called at Boostaroo that is available from http://boostaroo.com/. It costs $19.99. I found this miniature amplifier was able to supplement the Letasoft software - such that I ended up with precisely the level of volume I was seeking. What's more, it too was comparatively cheap. If one were to purchase an external amplifier, I think you'd have to pay at least $150 to achieve the same effect.

So, that is the final solution I arrived at.
gbmcneilAuthor Commented:
Many thanks for Merete's assistance. While she once again didn't layout the final solution on a platter, she acted as a good soundboard to explore different approaches. I appreciate her help.
Thank you as always  I'm happy to help where I can gbmcneil
 the Sound Booster looks interesting good to see it does the job for you.
Best Wishes to you and yours for Christmas.
gbmcneilAuthor Commented:
Thanks again, Merete. I'm sure our paths will cross again.
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