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How does the value of ohms affect performance of headphones

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 

Yo kinda new to forums here and audio things so i hopped on Amazon and saw a certain headphones that varied in price due to the amount of ohms it had. Now what im wondering is 

1) How ohms affect the sound quality of headphones

2) Why certain amounts of ohms in headphones are priced higher than others

3) Which would be the best ohm version to pick for running on a gaming pc and iPhone?

Thanks.

post #2 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by LocalAudioNoob View Post
 

Yo kinda new to forums here and audio things so I hopped on Amazon and saw a certain headphones that varied in price due to the amount of ohms it had. Now what I'm wondering is 

1) How ohms affect the sound quality of headphones

2) Why certain amounts of ohms in headphones are priced higher than others

3) Which would be the best ohm version to pick for running on a gaming pc and iPhone?

Thanks.

I personally think Ohms is just one of many factors that affects audio quality.

My DT880 Premium 600-Ohm are great sounding headphones, but needs a decent amplifier to drive them.

Where as lots of people really like the audio quality of their Denon AH-D2000 headphones and they are only 25-Ohms and they work fine plugged into a decent portable DAP (or iPhone).

A headphone in the 32-Ohm to 50-Ohm range would be something for use with a PC and a iPhone.

post #3 of 16

There is no consistent effect of impedance on sound quality.

 

For portable use a lower impedance will usually help to get higher sound pressure without an additional amp.

post #4 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by xnor View Post
 

There is no consistent effect of impedance on sound quality.

 

For portable use a lower impedance will usually help to get higher sound pressure without an additional amp.

LocalAudioNoob:

 

xnor is right about that, impedance levels (shown in Ohms) really only gives you an idea of what sort of amplification the headphones should be paired with.

 

It really has nothing to do with the price of the headphone (Audeze LCD3 is rated at 50 Ohms) or sound quality (see last parentheses.)

 

Was there a specific set you were looking at, or a style, or a price range?  There's a lot of information around here, but it takes a while to figure out what will work best for you in terms of budget, style (on-ear, over-ear, in-ear), and the sound profile you're looking for.

 

I think there are definitely some threads around that give advice on gaming headphones.

 

Keep up the hunt!

post #5 of 16
Thread Starter 

Ive been looking at the DT990 Pro 250ohm as i heard they provide a good amount of bass and have a nice soundstage. I really want a headset that delivers the soundstage of the AD700s yet also has a good amount of bass. Having the best of both worlds (bass and soundstage)would make me happy. Thanks!

post #6 of 16
Thread Starter 

So the lower the impedance, the easier it is to get higher volumes from the headphones?

post #7 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by LocalAudioNoob View Post
 

So the lower the impedance, the easier it is to get higher volumes from the headphones?

The higher the headphones impedance, the more voltage is needed to overcome the impedance.

So the lower the impedance of the headphone, the less voltage is needed to over the impedance.

post #8 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by LocalAudioNoob View Post
 

So the lower the impedance, the easier it is to get higher volumes from the headphones?

If sensitivity is the same, then yes. Without getting too much into volts and amps and all that, here's a simple way to think about it:

Amps will put different amounts of power into different headphone impedances. Most amps (pretty much all solid state amps and some tube amps) have less power at higher headphone impedances. Certain tube amps, like OTL designs, are the other way around and put more power into higher impedances. 

The sensitivity of a headphone determines how much power it needs to reach a given volume. More sensitive headphones need less power to reach the same headphone. 

If you had a 32 ohm headphone and 250 ohm headphone with the same sensitivity, each would need the same power to get the same volume. The difference is that it is usually more difficult for an amp to get that same amount of power into the 250 ohm headphone. If you used these two headphones on the same amp, you'd have to turn up the volume knob higher to get the same volume on the 250 ohm headphone. This is not because the 250 ohm headphone needs more power; it's because the amp is working harder to put the same power into the 250 ohm headphone. The 250 ohm headphone needs more voltage for the same volume (but less current, so the power works out to be the same), and the volume knob controls voltage. 


Edited by manbear - 1/3/14 at 12:09pm
post #9 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by manbear View Post
 

If sensitivity is the same, then yes. Without getting too much into volts and amps and all that, here's a simple way to think about it:

Amps will put different amounts of power into different headphone impedances. Most amps (pretty much all solid state amps and some tube amps) have less power at higher headphone impedances. Certain tube amps, like OTL designs, are the other way around and put more power into higher impedances. 

The sensitivity of a headphone determines how much power it needs to reach a given volume. More sensitive headphones need less power to reach the same headphone. 

If you had a 32 ohm headphone and 250 ohm headphone with the same sensitivity, each would need the same power to get the same volume. The difference is that it is usually more difficult for an amp to get that same amount of power into the 250 ohm headphone. If you used these two headphones on the same amp, you'd have to turn up the volume knob higher to get the same volume on the 250 ohm headphone. This is not because the 250 ohm headphone needs more power; it's because the amp is working harder to put the same power into the 250 ohm headphone. The 250 ohm headphone needs more voltage for the same volume (but less current, so the power works out to be the same), and the volume knob controls voltage. 

Nicely explained.

 

I just finished watching the video listed in this post:

http://www.head-fi.org/t/695166/aes-damn-lies-workshop

 

head to about 28:53 in the video for a visual analogy/explanation of impedance...helped me get a better sense of it all.

post #10 of 16

The easiest analogy, imho, still is the water analogy:

 

A pump (the amp) is pumping water through different pipes (the cables, headphones). The cables are like really thick pipes because they offer very low resistance.

 

A high impedance headphone is like a very thin piece of pipe, so the pump needs high pressure (voltage).

A low impedance headphone is like a thicker piece of pipe, so the pump needs less pressure but needs to transport more amount of water (current). Portable devices usually can provide the current, but not very high voltage.

 

If you imagine that there's a water wheel in the middle of these pipes, then how easy this water wheel is to move can be seen analogous to sensitivity. High sensitivity means you get the wheel to move really fast (play the headphone really loud) with very little effort by the pump.

 

Impedance is like a fancy version of resistance: If you pump water not just into one direction but back at forth at a certain frequency then the resistance is different at different frequencies.

 

 

 

I know, that's overly simplistic but easier to follow than Wikipedia articles on impedance..


Edited by xnor - 1/3/14 at 1:23pm
post #11 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by xnor View Post

 

If you imagine that there's a water wheel in the middle of these pipes, then how easy this water wheel is to move can be seen analogous to sensitivity.

Your water wheel has me a little confused.  But I don't really understand sensitivity well to begin with.  Initially I thought it related directly to impedance (a false notion which I was schooled on in another thread, but without much clarity.)

 

Anyhow, I'm going to look around for a bit of reading to try to get this into my head.

 

Let's all come up with more analogies :)

 

If blowing up a balloon, the thickness of the balloon walls would be the impedance......or something :)

post #12 of 16

What's the problem?

 

Sensitivity just tells you the sound pressure the headphone will produce for a given input voltage or power.

 

If two headphones have the same sensitivity for a given amount of power, then the high impedance one will need higher voltage but less current.

If they have same sensitivity for a given voltage, then both will need the same voltage, but the high impedance one will need less current (stressing the amplifier less).

post #13 of 16

Alright, I think that's making some sense to me now - I was actually just reading your 'Headphone sensitivity, imped...' thread.

 

I should do a considerable bit more reading about all of this though, I don't have the strongest of backgrounds here.  Greatly appreciate the info!

post #14 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gignac View Post
 

Alright, I think that's making some sense to me now - I was actually just reading your 'Headphone sensitivity, imped...' thread.

 

I should do a considerable bit more reading about all of this though, I don't have the strongest of backgrounds here.  Greatly appreciate the info!

 

I know you're new, but always search for your question before posting a new thread.

 

This is a thread I made to get newbies up and going.

post #15 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by proton007 View Post
 

 

I know you're new, but always search for your question before posting a new thread.

 

This is a thread I made to get newbies up and going.

Much obliged again - but I didn't start this thread, just taking advantage of LocalAudioNoob's post :) 

 

And yes, I appreciate not starting threads on extensively covered topics, so I'm off to do some reading.

 

Best,

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