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Burning in high-impedance headphones off my laptop's built-in card

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

So, the first component of the new setup I ordered last week arrived: my Sennheiser HD650s. However, my old headphone amp breaking was what prompted getting this setup, and my new one hasn't arrived yet. I tested them briefly on my laptop's built-in headphone jack and was surprised to learn that, while quieter, they still work with it pretty well. Which gives me two questions...

 

1. Could anyone explain to me (electrically) briefly how this is possible, and what the consequences of not driving them from a dedicated headphone amp are?

 

2. Is there any reason I couldn't preemptively burn them in from my laptop, even if they won't sound their best?

post #2 of 7

There's nothing that unusual about the HD 650 in terms of being an electrical load for an amplifier to drive.  There's not any magical difference between dedicated headphone amplifiers and whatever is in your laptop.  They both attempt to generate and maintain an electrical output that makes headphones drivers move and make sounds.  It's just a matter of different electronics having different capabilities, performance.  The consequences are that a dedicated headphone amplifier might be shinier and fancier.  Oh, and they may have better performance, probably are capable of higher output power with all kinds of headphones.

 

By better performance, I mean lower distortion in some sense, less crud that's not supposed to be there.  Or sometimes, for dedicated headphone amplifiers, people go for higher distortion in certain ways to enhance the sound (maybe, YMMV).

 

Some of the potential issues with cheap integrated headphone outputs include high source output impedance, low output current capability, maybe a higher noise floor, etc. are not problems (or not as big of problems) when using high-impedance headphones like HD 650s.  You just run into the output voltage limitation, so it can be too quiet, even at the loudest setting.

 

You can break them in—for what it's worth—with the laptop if you want.


Edited by mikeaj - 9/10/12 at 3:38pm
post #3 of 7
Thread Starter 

Well, my DAC is here but the amp could take several more weeks (it's a Bottlehead). Is there anything to worry about connecting the headphones directly to the DAC (HRT MusicStreamer II+) for now?

post #4 of 7

Yes, DACs are designed for ~10k ohm loads and not to drive headphones.

post #5 of 7
Thread Starter 

Okay--hopefully no harm done from playing two songs through it.

post #6 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by DarthMarth View Post

Well, my DAC is here but the amp could take several more weeks (it's a Bottlehead). Is there anything to worry about connecting the headphones directly to the DAC (HRT MusicStreamer II+) for now?


Wait, you are pairing a highly transparent DAC with a (not remotely transparent) Class A tube amp?

 

anyways, I wouldn't put much thought into "burning in". It is most likely a myth, one which remains highly popular here. Now it probably is true that drivers break-in, but it has never been proven that it makes an audible difference, nor has it been proven that more than a few hours is needed.

 

Just listen to your awesome new headphones, don't worry about it.


Edited by Eisenhower - 9/18/12 at 1:11am
post #7 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by Eisenhower View Post


 

 

 It is most likely a myth, one which remains highly popular here. Now it probably is true that drivers break-in, but it has never been proven that it makes an audible difference, nor has it been proven that more than a few hours is needed.

 

 

Unless the speaker has a paper cone AND suspension, like certain speakers used in guitar-amp speaker-cabinets ..

But these speakers will change sound until the day they die, so it isn't really 'burn-in', it's the materials changing properties over their entire life-span .

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