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"Exploding a Myth About Headphones"

post #1 of 34
Thread Starter 

While Head-Fi was down for maintenance yesterday I took the time to catch up with a few websites I hadn't been to in a few weeks.  I stopped by Stereophile where I noticed an article/review on the new and improved Grado SR60i headphones.  At the bottom of the page, at the end of the review, I noticed a link titled "Exploding a Myth About Headphones".  I thought I would bring it to everyone's attention and share with you what it stated.

 

Link to main review page -->  http://stereophile.com/headphones/grado_sr60i_headphones/index.html

 

Link to "Exploding a Myth About Headphones" -->  http://stereophile.com/headphones/grado_sr60i_headphones/index2.html

 

"So what is the source of the myth that high-impedance 'phones are harder for portables to drive? It probably has to do with the volume level attainable. Most amplifiers are designed to deliver a certain voltage at a certain volume-control setting—but volume depends on power as well as voltage. Ohm's Law says that power is inversely proportional to load resistance. All else being equal, a higher resistance means a lower volume at a given setting. If the impedance is too high, you may not get the volume you want.

 

But a headphone's sensitivity depends as well on things other than impedance. The Grado SR60is have a nominal impedance of 32 ohms; my Sennheiser HD650 'phones have a nominal impedance of 300 ohms. Conventional wisdom would have it that the lower-impedance Grados would be the better choice for a low-power portable device. Yet, at a given setting of the volume control, the Grados and Sennheisers deliver very similar volume levels. So which is the better match for a low-power portable device? Both have adequately high impedance, and both sound fine through my iPhone—but the Sennheiser, with its higher impedance, is theoretically the better choice, both because it draws less current from the battery-powered player and because variations in its frequency response will be less severe.—Jim Austin"

 

Seems as though we are going to all have to change up our recommendations for people with iPods. mail

post #2 of 34

Exploding?

 

wtf stereophile does not have any proof readers or they actually meant to use exploding? exploring to exploding... wawaweewa...

 

Subtle, don't just copy and paste, think...lol


Edited by wali - 5/6/10 at 1:15pm
post #3 of 34

So what's the problem? If volume isn't a problem with the higher impedance cans... I don't see one.

 

What's exploding is my head when I see people giving the same line on amping over and over again like "a dedicated amp with headphone X is a must", "sounds crap un-amped" or the like. Most of these guys (including ones with thousands of posts) don't seem to understand or even know the basics of electronics.


Edited by xnor - 5/6/10 at 1:27pm
post #4 of 34

Anyone with basic understanding of physics would understand this. It's not really a myth at all - it is plain wrong. The vast majority of people know this.

 

Furthermore, a portable device is terrible at providing both voltage and current. It is better at providing current than voltage, however, so I would sooner recommend a phone that matches the output impedance for efficient transfer than either a high or low impedance phone.

post #5 of 34
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by wali View Post

Exploding?

 

wtf stereophile does not have any proof readers or they actually meant to use exploding? exploring to exploding... wawaweewa...

 

Subtle, don't just copy and paste, think...lol


Think what?  Think like you?  They clearly meant exploding and not exploring, because the widespread use of recommending low impedance phones for portable use is pretty apparent.

 

Wali, don't just assume you're right about everything, think...lol

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by MrGreen View Post

Anyone with basic understanding of physics would understand this. It's not really a myth at all - it is plain wrong. The vast majority of people know this.

 

Furthermore, a portable device is terrible at providing both voltage and current. It is better at providing current than voltage, however, so I would sooner recommend a phone that matches the output impedance for efficient transfer than either a high or low impedance phone.


I would disagree that the "vast majority" of people know this, at least around these parts.

post #6 of 34

Clearly that title was badly worded... maybe a coma after exploding i.e. "Exploding, a myth about headphones" would have been more indicative of the content.

post #7 of 34

exploding doesn't always mean bombs, guys.

it also means pulling apart to see the workings of.

like an "exploded axonometric drawing".

so, exploding a myth simply means pulling it apart.

post #8 of 34

^ exploding means, an explosion, not disassembly.

 

there is a difference.


Edited by wali - 5/6/10 at 1:52pm
post #9 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by wali View Post

^ exploding means, an explosion, not disassembly.

 

there is a difference.


Where I come from it means faster-than-rapid decompression


Edited by MrGreen - 5/6/10 at 1:59pm
post #10 of 34

Where you come from, green is the new black.

post #11 of 34

So Stereophile have chosen an over dramatic headline for an article that partially explains (not very well) why ohms alone do not accurately show a headphone's sensitivity.

post #12 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by wali View Post

^ exploding means, an explosion, not disassembly.

 

there is a difference.


They are exploding the myth (or 'busting' the myth if you like)....nothing wrong with that title...

post #13 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by wali View Post

Where you come from, green is the new black.

 

So everywhere important, then ;)
 

post #14 of 34
Quote:
Originally Posted by xnor View Post

So what's the problem? If volume isn't a problem with the higher impedance cans... I don't see one.

 

What's exploding is my head when I see people giving the same line on amping over and over again like "a dedicated amp with headphone X is a must", "sounds crap un-amped" or the like. Most of these guys (including ones with thousands of posts) don't seem to understand or even know the basics of electronics.


Well I do and any full sized can as well as even portable headphones or IEM's I've ever heard sounds better with a dedicated amp, usually much better. (No, not just louder!)

 

How much better though does depend on can. My 702's just don't sound good out of any receiver/integrated amp I've used with them (including several vintage receivers that supposedly have great head phone outs: like my Pioneer 650 and 980, Sherwood 7100a, and Kenwood 7600, as well as my newer Cambridge azur 640a v2 that has a "great" headphone out). My decent-at-best X-Head headphone amp kills all of these in terms of power and SQ, and my EF-1 really does.

 

The same with even my Grado 225i's and Senn HD 595's. They sound better externally amped then unamped (or internally amped via the receiver/amp's headphone out).

 

And switching tubes with my EF-1 also improves SQ.

 

This isn't the placebo effect either, since I've been blindfolded and had people hook up my DAC to all these different amps/receivers and external headphone amps without me knowing what the cans I then put on my head were hooked into. I always knew when it was a mere receiver or integrated internal headphone amp powering the cans or an external one, though I usually couldn't tell which (although I did guess the Sherwood right because it has a unique SS). I could also tell the difference between the X-Head and EF-1 when switching between just those blindfolded, and even the type of tube that was in my EF-1 (RCA Cleartop, Slyvania, or Tung Sol Black Glass).

 

Not that hard to tell imo, in fact most of the time easy (because some--the receivers/integrated amp sound like crap, and others--the external amps do not) and no, I don't believe in "golden ears".

post #15 of 34

OK, this is wrong. High impedance headphones need more voltage than an ipod can supply. Sure, an ipod can make the volume high enough. but volume is not equal to sound quality. If this was true, then everybody with an Omega 2 would be using a SRM-323A amplifier. It gets the volume high enough, why waste money on anything else...

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