Can you answer this question about headphone impedance?
Dec 29, 2011 at 11:19 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 9

K-MONEY

Banned for flipping
Joined
Aug 3, 2010
Posts
397
Likes
12
I always wondered whether or not a dedicated AMP, or a sound card with an AMP (such as xonar essence from asus) would make a headphone with an impedance of anything less < 150 sound any better?
 
We got the AH-D2000 from Denon, that is 32ohm; or, maybe the ATH M-50 with 38ohms. Many headphones that are the same model come in different impedance for a reason, so people would be able to drive them without an AMP, hence, as portable headphones. The question is, will any sound better hooked up to an AMP rather than just a typical 3.5mm jack or does an AMP actually bring something magical to any kind of headphone with any kind of specifications in it? Their impedance are low, so I'm guessing they don't need an AMP for all the juice to get pulled out, especially pushing them to the limits with high volume.
 
My thoughts are, a dedicated AMP would be best ideal for headphones with 300-600ohm for maximum volume and clarity.
 
What are your thoughts?
 
Dec 29, 2011 at 11:28 AM Post #2 of 9

iceman23

New Head-Fier
Joined
Dec 18, 2006
Posts
41
Likes
10
It all depends on the sensitivity, impedance is not the only measurement of how hard a headphone is to drive. Take the k701 for example, it is relatively low impedance but also low sensitivity. Because of this, an amp is almost a necessity. I've used a pair of D2000s, and recently 325is and I can say for absolute certain that the D2000 improves with an amp, it sounds like garbage out of my laptops headphone out (of course this is also due to poor D/A conversion); as for the 325is, they are really very sensitive already but I can't seem to get them to produce much bass at all without an amp.
 
Dec 29, 2011 at 11:36 AM Post #3 of 9

K-MONEY

Banned for flipping
Joined
Aug 3, 2010
Posts
397
Likes
12
So, you're telling me that it's a very noticeable difference? How noticeable is it and to whom? Will it be very noticeable to one who has tried many headphones and who has experience with sound from AMPs as to without, or will it be also noticeable to the average consumer?
 
Speaking of sensitivity, will the higher sensitivity mean more sensitive? In that case, will it mean it will be better off being driven with an AMP?
 
For example:
 
106 dB/mW
vs.
99 dB/mW
 
How would you explain the difference?
 
Quote:
It all depends on the sensitivity, impedance is not the only measurement of how hard a headphone is to drive. Take the k701 for example, it is relatively low impedance but also low sensitivity. Because of this, an amp is almost a necessity. I've used a pair of D2000s, and recently 325is and I can say for absolute certain that the D2000 improves with an amp, it sounds like garbage out of my laptops headphone out (of course this is also due to poor D/A conversion); as for the 325is, they are really very sensitive already but I can't seem to get them to produce much bass at all without an amp.



 
 
Dec 29, 2011 at 11:44 AM Post #4 of 9

DVDRey

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
Apr 6, 2011
Posts
812
Likes
31
Sensitivity and impedance are one thing, but the most important thing provided by a good amp is the dynamic. Able to listen loud, it's easy, to have a proper dynamic restitution is really different.
 
Dec 29, 2011 at 11:48 AM Post #5 of 9

K-MONEY

Banned for flipping
Joined
Aug 3, 2010
Posts
397
Likes
12
I'm talking more about headphones that have low impedance and their quality with an AMP. My educated guess is that there really is no noticeable difference being hooked up to an AMP (it's all in the mind) as to opposed a 3.5mm jack, which is why companies would make headphones with low impedance and even high impedance in the same model for more flexibility for both portable and only home use.
 
Quote:
Sensitivity and impedance are one thing, but the most important thing provided by a good amp is the dynamic. Able to listen loud, it's easy, to have a proper dynamic restitution is really different.



 
 
Dec 29, 2011 at 11:50 AM Post #6 of 9

Head Injury

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Sep 11, 2009
Posts
5,404
Likes
441
Quote:
Able to listen loud, it's easy, to have a proper dynamic restitution is really different.


They're the same thing, though. Dynamics is the difference between loud and quiet. Low noise, distortion, and enough volume for peaks means dynamics is as good as it can get.
 
Dec 29, 2011 at 11:53 AM Post #7 of 9

liamstrain

Member of the Trade: The Audio Guild
Joined
Sep 18, 2011
Posts
3,692
Likes
258


Quote:
I'm talking more about headphones that have low impedance and their quality with an AMP. My educated guess is that there really is no noticeable difference being hooked up to an AMP (it's all in the mind) as to opposed a 3.5mm jack, which is why companies would make headphones with low impedance and even high impedance in the same model for more flexibility for both portable and only home use.
 


The reasons to have high-impedance versions vary... mostly, it is so many headphones can be wired into a distribution amp, and not overload it (production environement). Also some voice them differently with more windings in the voice coils, different magnets, etc. 
 
But as for your question - an amp can make a difference over a portable device, even with low impedence/high sensitivity cans, especially as regards control over the bass via electrical damping.
 
 
Dec 29, 2011 at 12:03 PM Post #8 of 9

DVDRey

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
Apr 6, 2011
Posts
812
Likes
31
 
Quote:
Dynamics is the difference between loud and quiet

 
Of course, but not all amp can restore perfectly all the dynamic. Background noise and sound resolution are also inherent to the dynamic. Sorry for my bad english, but I often have trouble to express what I think with the technical term,lol.
 
 
Dec 29, 2011 at 12:06 PM Post #9 of 9

iceman23

New Head-Fier
Joined
Dec 18, 2006
Posts
41
Likes
10


Quote:
So, you're telling me that it's a very noticeable difference? How noticeable is it and to whom? Will it be very noticeable to one who has tried many headphones and who has experience with sound from AMPs as to without, or will it be also noticeable to the average consumer?
 
Speaking of sensitivity, will the higher sensitivity mean more sensitive? In that case, will it mean it will be better off being driven with an AMP?
 
For example:
 
106 dB/mW
vs.
99 dB/mW
 
How would you explain the difference?
 


 




In the case of my laptop output vs the output from my DAC/AMP, you'd have to be deaf not to notice a huge difference on either of the headphones I own - I simply cannot listen out of the laptops output anymore. As liamstrain noted, generally very high impedance headphones are designed that way for the pro audio market, in which several headphones are connected at a single time. That said, a solid sound card probably has enough power to drive either phone adequately, I wouldn't say it's an absolute necessity. If you can't hear a difference, don't get a amp, it's that simple.  I'm not perpetrating that an amp will produce any miracles here :D For the average consumer, with low impedance, high sensitivity headphones, a difference probably would not be heard in a level matched comparison. And yes, a higher sensitivity rating means the headphone is easier to drive - it would produce a higher output per unit of power.
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Top