When you’re considering buying your first pair of headphones, you might have heard the terms high impedance and low impedance before, but what do they mean?
In short, headphone impedance refers to how well a pair of headphones can handle the current you send through it. The higher the impedance rating, the greater the power can flow through your headphones and, typically, better quality sound reproduction.
If you’re an audiophile or just enjoy having crystal clear sound while on the go, check out this article to learn more about headphone impedance and how it can affect your listening experience!
What is Headphone Impedance?
Impedance is the measure of the opposition a circuit experiences during the flow of alternating current (AC). It is measured in Ohms (Ω), and it can be thought of as a measure of the circuit’s capacity to pass current. In layman’s terms, impedance is the amount of power your headphones can handle before they start to break down.
The higher the impedance rating, the greater the power can flow through your headphones and, typically, better quality sound reproduction.
A good way to think about it is by comparing it to a garden hose. If you have a small garden hose, it can only handle so much water before it starts to leak.
If you try to push too much water through it, it won’t be able to contain it and will leak. A larger garden hose, on the other hand, can handle more water without leaking because it has a bigger capacity.
The same logic applies to headphones: the higher the impedance, the greater the power can flow through them without causing them to break down.
Why Is Headphone Impedance Important?
Just like with a garden hose, impedance plays a critical role when it comes to powering your headphones. With lower impedance, you are able to push more power through your headphones, giving you a louder sound.
However, as loudness increases, distortion is introduced. When you start to push more power through your headphones, you can expect to hear a tinny, distorted sound. With higher impedance, you are able to push less power through your headphones, but you are also able to avoid the introduction of distortion.
How to Measure Impedance?
There are two main ways to measure impedance: AC methods and DC methods. AC methods like the root-mean-square (RMS) and the peak-to-peak method are used to measure distortion and noise in audio equipment.
DC methods, like the average bias and average effective bias, are used to measure the amount of power a circuit can handle. AC methods can only measure the distortion within a circuit, while DC methods can measure both the amount of power a circuit can handle and the amount of distortion present within a circuit.
Because there are two methods that can be used to measure impedance, the impedance rating can be slightly misleading.
For example, let’s say you’re shopping around for a pair of headphones and come across a pair that is rated at 33 Ohms.
You notice that most of the other headphones at the store are rated at 32 Ohms, so you decide to buy the 33 Ohm pair because it’s one Ohm higher. But are those headphones really 33 Ohms? No!
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As we discussed above, the higher a pair of headphones’ impedance, the greater the power can flow through them. In other words, headphones with a high impedance rating are able to handle a higher volume without experiencing distortion.
A pair of high-impedance headphones would be ideal for someone who listens to music at a high volume.
If you’re often listening to music at a high volume and don’t want to damage your ears, high-impedance headphones would be a great option for you because they can handle a higher volume without experiencing distortion.
You may know that low-impedance headphones are able to produce a louder sound than high-impedance headphones.
However, this isn’t always the case. In fact, there are many low-impedance headphones that are capable of producing a louder sound than high-impedance headphones.
With low-impedance headphones, you are able to push more power through your headphones, giving you a louder sound.
However, as loudness increases, distortion is introduced. When you start to push more power through your headphones, you can expect to hear a tinny, distorted sound.
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As we discussed above, low-impedance headphones are able to push more power through your headphones, giving you a louder sound. Because low-impedance headphones can push more power through your headphones, you don’t have to turn up the volume as high as you would with high-impedance headphones.
If you’re often listening to music at a low volume, low-impedance headphones would be a great option for you.
While low-impedance headphones produce a louder sound than high-impedance headphones, loudness is not the only factor to consider when choosing between the two types of headphones.
Because low-impedance headphones can push more power through your headphones, you can expect to experience more distortion. If you prefer crystal clear sound, low-impedance headphones might not be the best option for you.
Is 32 Impedance Good for Headphones?
In general, lower impedance headphones (typically below 32 ohms) are best for most portable devices because they do not require as much power from the device.
Higher impedance headphones (typically above 100 ohms) are best for desktop devices because they require more power but can often provide better quality sound.
Note that some higher-end desktop recordings may also require higher impedance headphones due to the speakers typically being larger and requiring more power.
Are 600 Ohm Headphones Better?
600-ohm headphones are better at canceling out noise and ambient noise. The higher the impedance of a headphone, the more energy it can handle before it starts to degrade. 600-ohm headphones are able to handle a lot of power before they start to break down. They are also better at blocking out background noise.
This is because 600-ohm headphones have thicker wires that can make up for the loss of insulation between the wire and the coil inside the ear cup. They are also made with more durable materials like metal or rubber.
Less than 600-ohm headphones are less durable and may not be able to completely block out background noise.
They also have thinner wires that could be easily damaged. However, less than 600-ohm headphones still provide good sound quality.
How Many Ohms Can a Phone Handle?
Most phones will have a resistance of around 32 ohms, but some can handle higher voltages and higher current levels. In order to find out what your phone will be compatible with, you should check the manufacturer’s website or contact them directly.
If a phone is not listed on their website, it might still be compatible with their devices as long as there are no major changes to the device’s design in the past few years.
If a charger is designed for a certain voltage level, then it should also be able to charge any device that can use this voltage level. If a charger is designed for a certain current level, then it should also be able to deliver this level of current to any device.
However, if you’re using an older phone from before 2010, you should probably get a new charger anyway, just to be safe (since they’ve likely changed the design since then).
When buying a new charger, it’s good to make sure that its input and output voltage levels do not exceed the voltage level of your phone or battery.
You can also use an inexpensive multimeter for continuity tester (available at most electronics stores) to verify that your charger is working correctly.
Now you know what impedance is and why it’s important! You’ve also learned about high-impedance and low-impedance headphones and have seen how impedance can affect the way sound is reproduced through your headphones.
If you’re new to the world of headphones, all of this information can be a bit overwhelming, but don’t worry!
Now that you know what impedance is and why it’s important, you can make an informed decision when it comes to purchasing your first pair of headphones.