Goal question: How do I get this hooked up properly?

I’ve tried simply hooking the MBA to the amp’s Line In. Doesn’t sound good. I assume that since it’s a headphone port it’s pre-amplified whereas Line In expects a plain un-amplified Line Out signal, ergo distortion. Yes?

If so, does one of the amp’s other inputs expect a signal pre-amplified as per the headphone port’s output, so that clear sound will come out the other end?

Or is there no place on the amp where the signal from the headphone port is suitable, meaning I’ll need extra USB hardware? If so, what keywords am I looking for? Is a DAC what I’m after? Those seem to usually come with a headphone amp built in, though? (That is useless to me.) Or should I be looking for something else – e.g. is a “USB soundcard” the thing I’m after? Or maybe I want something entirely different?

I’m finding that my grasp of all this stuff is at a level just sufficient to give me leads – and then leave me confused about which direction to choose for what case.


  1. What’s the done thing here?
  2. It would also be nice to get enough of a glossary intro that I understand the choices.

I would recommend getting a usb audio device ("USB soundcard"). I'm not an expert audiophile, but an amazon search for usb audio interface will reveal a lot of price points to give you different audio out options which should sound better in a stereo system than the headphone port.

  • I don’t have expert audiophile level demands, so that is fine. :) Mar 7 '14 at 1:28
  • It has been a few years and it looks like the successor to the device I used has changed quite a bit, so I'm not comfortable recommending it in the answer, but I had good luck with the ~$30 Griffen iMic. It does audio in and out with 1/8" ports.
    – dwightk
    Mar 7 '14 at 2:43
  • Ah, I’ll take a look. I had my eye on a Behringer UCA202, FWIW. Mar 7 '14 at 5:08
  • That one looks good, costs less and more outputs.
    – dwightk
    Mar 7 '14 at 13:48

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