headphone amp power speakers
Jul 5, 2009 at 9:20 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 7


1000+ Head-Fier
Dec 20, 2008
Hey I was wondering, can a headphone amp power bookshelf speakers?
Are there noteworthy improvements or maybe disadvantages to using them with speakers?

I just want to switch between my speakers and headphones and use my headphone out of my amp to power both of them... I just am not familiar with how everything works.
Jul 5, 2009 at 9:26 AM Post #2 of 7
That depends on the headphone amplifier.
Some, like my β22, can power both headphones and speakers..
Jul 6, 2009 at 6:10 AM Post #6 of 7

Originally Posted by myk7000 /img/forum/go_quote.gif
So it wont make a difference for me to plug in my audioengine A5's which are coming soon to my gilmore lite?

Aren't the A5s self-powered? IIRC, they have an internal amp.

As for your question in general, it depends. There are two factors:

1. How much power a headphone amp can output, and

2. How much power the speakers need.

There are a few other factors, but let's talk about these because they're most relevant.

First, headphone amps don't always output much power. I think the Gilmore Lite gives you about 1W. Some output more, but you don't need much power for heqdphones.

Next, keep in mind that speakers are a type of electric motor. You need to have a certain amount of power to move that motor. In a dynamic driver, you have a voicecoil, which is a coil of wire, a cone that the voicecoil is attached to, and a magnet. You put power from the amp through the voicecoil, which creates a magnetic field. That magnetic field interacts with the magnet, and that pushes the cone back and forth, making sound.

So, it depends on the strength of the magnet, weight of the cone, and how much power the voicecoil needs. If these things don't need much power to work, then the speaker is very efficient and can be driven with very little power. However, most loudspeakers, including bookshelves, need more power to operate than a headphone amp is designed to deliver.

If you want to look at highly efficient speakers, look at the big Klipsch horns and Lowthers. Both of those will run from a Gilmore Lite.

On the other hand, typical dynamic loudspeakers like the ProAc Response 2.5 clones I built need more. The ProAcs are happy with around 40W-50W input. So you can see why 1W from a Gilmore Lite would only produce sound at whisper levels on them.
Jul 6, 2009 at 6:26 AM Post #7 of 7
Anything that can adequately power K1000s should be able to handle certain efficient speakers. Remember, some speaker amps only put out like 2W. But we're generally talking big horns, single drivers, and other really efficient designs. Headphone amps won't be able to handle small multi-driver things like monitors. Well, maybe if you made a beastly 50W B22...

Off the top of my head, the following have or can have speaker outs:
Woo 5
Yamamoto HA-02

Anyways, cheap bookshelf and computer speakers generally have amps built in, so they don't need power.

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