How easy is it for an underpowered amp to damage headphones?
Sep 9, 2023 at 9:19 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 8

cactus_farmer

1000+ Head-Fier
Joined
Feb 12, 2008
Posts
1,107
Likes
101
I've been using a Cayin RU6 DAC dongle with a (non-stealth) Hifiman Arya. By all accounts the RU6 does not have enough power to drive the non-stealth Arya 'properly'.

However, on high gain on the RU6 I get to 50 out of 100 on the volume scale to achieve a comfortable listening level. At this level I cannot hear any audible distortion or clipping, and it sounds fine to me. 60 out of 100 would be uncomfortably loud but still no audible clipping or distortion.

But, because the RU6 is apparently so underpowered for the Arya, is there likely to be 'micro' and inaudible (to me) clipping of the Arya driver occurring that over time will lead to degradation in sound quality, or complete failure?
 
Sep 9, 2023 at 4:10 PM Post #2 of 8
I doubt you are going to have "issues" with degradation or failure.
The Hifiman Arya is only 35-Ohms, my $25 Fiio headphone amplifier could drive it decenty.
 
Sep 20, 2023 at 4:06 PM Post #3 of 8
I have the Arya V2 though (not the Stealth magnet version) which has lower sensitivity and requires more power.

Even though I didn't hear any audible distortion when running it with the dongle DAC - could I have been causing micro-damage that will slightly degrade the sound quality?
 
Sep 20, 2023 at 7:37 PM Post #4 of 8
I have the Arya V2 though (not the Stealth magnet version) which has lower sensitivity and requires more power.

Even though I didn't hear any audible distortion when running it with the dongle DAC - could I have been causing micro-damage that will slightly degrade the sound quality?
I really doubt there is any damage going on.
Do you max out all the volume setting on the source (computer?)?
Have you installed the Cayin software?
 
Sep 20, 2023 at 9:12 PM Post #5 of 8
I can't see how an underpowered amp would ever damage a headphone, if anything the opposite is what you should worry about - if you have an amp that can massively overpower your headphones then you want to be careful not to turn it up so loud you damage the drivers.

Though you'll probably know long before you get that loud because you'll have no eardrums left 😂
 
Sep 20, 2023 at 10:24 PM Post #6 of 8
I can't see how an underpowered amp would ever damage a headphone, if anything the opposite is what you should worry about - if you have an amp that can massively overpower your headphones then you want to be careful not to turn it up so loud you damage the drivers.

Though you'll probably know long before you get that loud because you'll have no eardrums left 😂
An underpowered amp can damage a speaker (headphone or otherwise) by clipping, sending ‘jagged pulses’ of high frequencies which burn out coils etc.
 
Sep 20, 2023 at 10:32 PM Post #7 of 8
An underpowered amp can damage a speaker (headphone or otherwise) by clipping, sending ‘jagged pulses’ of high frequencies which burn out coils etc.

Damn, I wasn't aware of this. Well.. now I'm staring at my amp nervously.
 
Sep 21, 2023 at 6:41 AM Post #8 of 8
An underpowered amp can damage a speaker (headphone or otherwise) by clipping, sending ‘jagged pulses’ of high frequencies which burn out coils etc.

Yeh, my understanding is that you should rather connect a headphone to a literal nuclear power station that will obliterate your eardrums at 0.0001% of the volume pot than connect it to a slightly underpowered amp.

You can actually never damage a headphone by giving it too much power (even if we take that argument to the utter extreme and connect it to a 500 billion watt amp) you can only damage them by giving it too little power.

That being said, if connecting a headphone to a slightly underpowered amp such that you notice things like 'reduced bass impact' and 'suboptimal dynamics' but you can't actually hear any audible distortion or clipping - and the amp still gets uncomfortably loud at 65% volume - is that amp still doing damage to the voice coils in your headphones? You just can't hear the damage, but it is still being done?
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Back
Top