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Can dynamic headphones be damaged by amplification clipping?

Discussion in 'Headphones (full-size)' started by onebigunion, Feb 20, 2015.
  1. onebigunion
    This came up in another thread,and instead of hijacking that one, I though I'd start a new one.  Clipping occurs when the amp is driven beyond its capabilities and sends out a distorted waveform.  You can definitely take out a speaker this way, but what about a headphone?  The consensus on the other thread seemed to be that you can't damage a headphone's driver if this happens.  But it would seem to me that it would be possible.  After all, the driver is still a dynamic transducer, a miniature loudspeaker basically, so would the same process not apply?
  2. TMRaven
    Yes, however I don't see too many amplifiers clipping under too much pressure from a headphone.  Most headphones, even most planar magnetics are sensitive enough to be fully driven without clipping and plentiful headroom from even iPhones, iPods etc.  I can't recall once where I've had to push an amp hard enough to the point of clipping, nor have I ever heard an amp clip.  The one exception was when I used the O2 with a DAC whose voltage output was too high for the O2 to handle on high gain.  That was a DAC problem, and not a headphone problem.
  3. Mr Rick
    It depends. If you are driving your cans with an under-powered amp and can somehow provide enough drive that it starts to go into clipping than no damage may occur.
    On the other hand, if you could somehow drive a powerhouse like the Schiit Lyr into clipping , damage could be done. But, chances are the high levels of power generated by the amp would have damaged the HP before the point of clipping.

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