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Can I damage my headphones with the volume set too loud?

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

Hi

I have a couple of HD 650 plugged in to my external sound card Fast Track C400. By an accident it was left with volume cranked all the way up for like maybe an hour.

Is the power of the sound card great enough have caused damage to my headphones?

 

Thanks!

post #2 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by donjepski View Post

Hi
I have a couple of HD 650 plugged in to my external sound card Fast Track C400. By an accident it was left with volume cranked all the way up for like maybe an hour.
Is the power of the sound card great enough have caused damage to my headphones?

Thanks!

They are probably fine, but you should listen to them. Is the bass farty now?
post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 

I think there's a change, but it might just as well be my imagination. I can say that if I turn the volume all the way up, there's plenty of distortion, but I don't know if it is created from the headphones or the sound card.

post #4 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by donjepski View Post
 

I think there's a change, but it might just as well be my imagination. I can say that if I turn the volume all the way up, there's plenty of distortion, but I don't know if it is created from the headphones or the sound card.

 If it only happens at loud volumes, it's just your amp running out of steam. I'd be more concerned about regular listening volumes as far as the headphones go. 

You can also look up the maximum power handling of the HD650 and the maximum output of your amp. 

post #5 of 12
Thread Starter 

Hi, thanks for your answer.

 

My sound card specs says this:

- Headphone Output (D/A)
Max Output Level into 32 Ohms: -2.0dBV at THD < 0.03% into 32 ohms
Power into Ohms: 20 mW into 32 ohms
Channel-to-Channel Crosstalk: < -70dB
SNR: -104dB, A-weighted
Dynamic Range: 104dB, A-weighted
Frequency Response: 20Hz to 20kHz, +/- 0.3dB
Working Range: 24 to 600 ohms

 

My headphones:

Nominal impedance 300 Ù

Contact pressure ca. 2,5 N

Weight w/o cable ca. 260g

Transducer principle (Headphones) dynamic, open

Ear coupling circumaural

Cable length 3 m

Frequency response (headphones) 10 - 39500 Hz

Sound pressure level (SPL) 103 dB

THD, total harmonic distortion 0,05 %

 

How do I interpret that?

post #6 of 12

You'd know about it if they were damaged. The 650's can handle a lot of more juice than any soundcard can give :) 

 

The only way you can damage quality drivers like the Senn's is by feeding them enough current that the voice coil melts. Most amps don't have enough juice to do this. In rare cases the membrane can get dislodged and this would give you the farty sound, but there would have to be some crazy bass to do this. 

 

I would stop worrying they are fine. 

post #7 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by donjepski View Post
 

Hi, thanks for your answer.

 

My sound card specs says this:

- Headphone Output (D/A)
Max Output Level into 32 Ohms: -2.0dBV at THD < 0.03% into 32 ohms
Power into Ohms: 20 mW into 32 ohms
Channel-to-Channel Crosstalk: < -70dB
SNR: -104dB, A-weighted
Dynamic Range: 104dB, A-weighted
Frequency Response: 20Hz to 20kHz, +/- 0.3dB
Working Range: 24 to 600 ohms

 

My headphones:

Nominal impedance 300 Ù

Contact pressure ca. 2,5 N

Weight w/o cable ca. 260g

Transducer principle (Headphones) dynamic, open

Ear coupling circumaural

Cable length 3 m

Frequency response (headphones) 10 - 39500 Hz

Sound pressure level (SPL) 103 dB

THD, total harmonic distortion 0,05 %

 

How do I interpret that?


I think you're good. Even though we don't have a number for the power handling of the HD650's, your amp can only do 20mw into into 32 ohms. Since the HD650 are 300 ohms, we're probably looking at less than 20mw into the HD650. No problem at all. Many desktop amps that people use with the HD650 output at least 10 times that amount of power, often more like 50+ times as much. 

 

post #8 of 12
Thread Starter 

Hi, thanks for your answers! Helps alot.

 

If I turn the volume all the way up, it hurts when listening. Won't this be enough to damage the phones? Isn't volume alone a factor, or is it necessary to look at the impedance as well?

 

I think I'll compare the sound with my friend's HD600 to make sure.

 

I guess we all know the feeling when you look for and "hear" damages, because you know there's a risc. I hope it's just my imagination.

 

Another thing - it seems like you know a alot about the specs. Should I consider buying another USB DAC?

post #9 of 12

Unless your hearing is terrible, the threshold for damaging your headphones is much higher than the threshold for painful volume. 

Impedance affects how much power your amp is putting into the headphones. An amp will have different power ratings at different impedance levels. It's common for amps to have less power at higher impedances, but the reverse is also true sometimes (only for certain tube amps, as far I'm aware). A solid state amp like yours most likely has less power as impedance increases. Since your headphones are 300 ohms, you want to know how much power an amp can output at 300 ohms. 

The impedance affects how much power goes into your headphones, but volume is not just a question of power. I'm a little fuzzy on the exact science here, but volume is determined by voltage (which has more to do with the gain setting of the amp than just the power rating). Power is voltage times current, so your amp could be doing 10 V with not much current, while a 1 or 2 Watt amp could be outputting the same voltage with much more current, but not necessarily more volume. High impedance headphones like yours need more voltage to reach a given volume than lower impedance headphones do, all other things being equal. 

Your amp only has 20mw of power, which is pretty skimpy. Are you happy with the sound? You mentioned that the bass distorts when you turn it up -- does this only happen at volumes that you wouldn't normally listen to? Getting a more powerful amp has benefits beyond just volume -- the bass will be controlled and won't distort, and brief loud peaks in the music  won't cause distortion either, leading to increased clarity. 

If you are happy with your amp, I'm not going to try to get you to buy a new one, but I do think that you could get better sound with an upgrade. 

Some upgrade options to consider though. All of these have way more than 20mw of power and are in the ~$100 range.

Just an amp (Your soundcard has line outs than you can connect to a more powerful amp while still using its built in USB DAC):
JDS Labs Cmoy
Schiit Magni
Fiio E09K
JDS Labs O2

DAC/ Amp combo units
Fiio E17
JDS Labs O2 w/ built in ODAC

ASUS Xonar soundcards (internal and external models) -- Check the power ratings here, but I think they are all pretty decently powered

post #10 of 12
Thread Starter 

Thanks a lot. That sorted a couple of things out for me.

 

The thing I like about my sound card is that I can plug in a guitar and MIDI instruments. The card has a digital S/PDIF output - should I use this for pass-through to another and better amp/DAC, or will the analog outputs work out just fine?

 

I want to maintain the line in and midi in, and I don't mind having two amps/DAC/sound cards.

 

Overall, I like the sound, but that's only compared to my onboard sound card and laptop.

post #11 of 12

Many of the budget-level DACs don't have S/PDIF in, just USB in, so that ups the price range a bit for a new DAC. I don't know what your budget is though. 

IMO, just use the analog line outs for a more powerful amp. There's lots of great DACs out there, but upgrading your DAC would just be MOAR is better type thinking. On the other hand, it seems like your headphones could benefit from a more powerful amp at a practical technical level. A new DAC would also improve your sound, but I think you're looking at the $300+ range if you want to find one with S/PDIF. You could always had a DAC to your set-up later too. 

Personally, I think the Schiit Magni would be a good choice for an amp. 1.2 Watts for $100, and it looks nice. Or if you want tubes, Schiit is coming out with a ~$120, 650 mW (still plenty) amp later this month, called the Vali. I'm going to be getting one. :)

post #12 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by manbear View Post
 

Many of the budget-level DACs don't have S/PDIF in, just USB in, so that ups the price range a bit for a new DAC. I don't know what your budget is though. 

IMO, just use the analog line outs for a more powerful amp. There's lots of great DACs out there, but upgrading your DAC would just be MOAR is better type thinking. On the other hand, it seems like your headphones could benefit from a more powerful amp at a practical technical level. A new DAC would also improve your sound, but I think you're looking at the $300+ range if you want to find one with S/PDIF. You could always had a DAC to your set-up later too. 

Personally, I think the Schiit Magni would be a good choice for an amp. 1.2 Watts for $100, and it looks nice. Or if you want tubes, Schiit is coming out with a ~$120, 650 mW (still plenty) amp later this month, called the Vali. I'm going to be getting one. :)

OOH! thanks for that, didn't know. Might have to check one out myself :)

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