Howler Monkey LogoThe Genesis

Recently we went looking for a high quality studio headphone amplifier for a project.  After testing several offerings from different manufacturers world-wide, we were left wanting.  So we decided to do what every crazy idiot with an engineering degree does… we designed our own.

We did extensive component testing and discovered that no matter how smart you are, an electrolytic capacitor will still explode violently when accidentally put in the breadboard backwards (thank goodness for safety glasses!).  Apparently, that “You’ll shoot your eye out, kid” guy was right!  At the end of all of this work, we are extremely proud to bring you what we feel is our best product yet.  We call it the “Howler Monkey.”

Hey NBY, why Howler Monkey?

The adult howler monkey is one of the loudest animals on earth with their baritone call peaking at nearly 140 decibels, and can be heard clearly at a range of 3 miles.  The howler monkey can be found in the tropical regions of Central and South America but the Howler Monkey headphone amplifier by NotaBotYet can be found at your favorite broadcast dealer!


The Howler Monkey was designed to deliver precision and reliable amplification of an audio source to nearly any pair of headphones. It is a dedicated headphone amplifier with +4dBu balanced line stereo inputs on an RJ-45 connector. The amplifier is packaged in a durable 12-gauge aluminum compact chassis designed to be easily mounted under a studio counter or as a countertop unit.

But with so many headphone amp choices out there, why use the Howler Monkey?

We did not “monkey” around with the design of this product. After designing and building many broadcast studios over the years, we have had the opportunity to use many different types of headphone amplifiers.  Some have been good, some have been terrible.  What we noticed in the current selection of headphone amps out there is that impedance matters.  We noticed was that instead of expensive high impedance headphones, most air talent and studio producers are opting for more readily available lower impedance headphones like Sony, Beats, Shure, and others.  Many of these popular headphones have rated impedances of 32 to 44 ohms.  Why does this matter?

To figure out why, we performed a variety of listening tests and measurements on several popular studio headphone amplifiers. In our lab tests, many of these amplifiers were severely lacking in performance with popular low impedance headphones.  When listening to this combination at a moderately loud listening level, they could not supply the current needed for these headphones, and suffered severe distortion. Other amplifiers suffered the opposite problem and could not drive a large enough voltage to drive high-impedance headphones.  Also, knowing that the impedance of headphones can vary across the frequency band, either of these amplifiers could affect the overall sound in headphones.  We wanted something that would provide excellent audio quality across a variety of headphones.

The Result.

Every component in the Howler Monkey was carefully selected to provide the highest possible quality audio performance while keeping the device affordable. (Seriously, we could have gone crazy here, but decided against hand-matched gold-plated germanium FETs!). The Howler Monkey was, however, designed to handle a wide range of headphone impedances, providing what we feel will be one of the best listening experiences you will have with your headphones.

Instruction Manual
Part # N20-HP10-0