What is Headphone Impedance? Difference between High and Low? Full FAQs


Headphone impedance is a theory that is frequently misunderstood. While impedance does certainly play a crucial function in discerning whether a headphone can be difficult to drive or not, there are extra components such as headphone sensitivity that must be recognized to rightly discern how power thirsty a headphone is.

Comprehending these two theories facilitates you to retain an adequate knowledge of how the drivers on headphones function. This ensure that you won’t be making errors when purchasing headphones and headphone amplifiers. In this article, we will be discussing about the technological descriptions of impedance, and sensitivity, as well as how to precisely discern whether your headphones need an amplifier or not.

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What Is Headphone Impedance?

Headphone Impedance refers to the quantity of voltage that headphones need to be appropriately driven by a source. Onward with the sensitivity, these two stand as the major purpose that differentiates whether or not a headphone needs a headphone amplifier. 

Normally, the law is that the higher the impedance of the headphones, the better voltage that it needs. It, nonetheless, does not certainly suggest that high impedance headphones become more hard to drive and vice versa.

What is Headphone Sensitivity?

Headphone sensitivity refers to the amount of recent headphones expect to be appropriately driven by a source. Forward with the impedance, these two carry out the major factor that discerns whether or not a headphone needs a headphone amplifier.

Naturally, the law is that the lower the sensitivity a headphone has, the more current it needs. Also, having a lower sensitivity does not certainly make a headphone more hard to drive and vice versa, This theory will furthermore be broadened along with the theory of headphone impedance.


Do I Need an Amplifier Based on Impedance Alone?

To tell whether or not headphones require a headphone amplifier, you must assess both the impedance and the sensitivity. Headphones with an outstanding impedance and low sensitivity are difficult to drive while headphones that have a low impedance and high sensitivity are simpler to drive. 

Harder to drive headphones will need an amplifier while easier to drive headphones can be driven by maximum modern-day sources. Retaining a higher sensitivity does not automatically indicate a headphone no longer needs a headphone amplifier. The HD650, for instance, possesses an impedance of 300 ohms but retains a higher sensitivity than most hard to drive headphones. This implies that it still needs an amplifier but it doesn’t certainly require a high percentage of power. Most middle range amplifiers will be competent to do the hoax.

There is nevertheless a thing with headphone impedance. Headphones that have an impedance less than 100 ohms normally do not require an amplifier. This is obvious with small headphones that are constructed to be paired with a smartphone. Headphones between 100 and 300 ohms can still be driven by most sources to a specific degree. Putting in an amplifier usually boosts the sound of these headphones. 

However, headphones that retain an impedance above 300 ohms require an amplifier. There are circumstances where some low impedance headphones are more hard to drive and vice versa but that is unusual to see. This is not often the case but without examining the sensitivity, you can tell if a headphone needs an amplifier. 

Are Higher Impedance Headphones Better?

Keeping a high impedance is often a characteristic of the more costly headphones. Nevertheless, it does not constantly make them superior over lower impedance companions. Other elements that need to be assessed when relating high and low impedance headphones. 

Furthermore, an instance is the Sennheiser HD800s and the Beyerdynamic T1. The HD800s have an impedance of 300-ohms while the Beyerdynamic T1 has an impedance of 600 ohms. Despite retaining twice the impedance of the HD800s, the T1 cost less than the HD800s. The T1 is yet considered as an identical sounding headphone due to the resemblances in their sound symbols. It is naturally considered as a proportional or rated below the HD800s. 

Higher Impedance Headphones Advantages

One advantage of higher impedance headphones is that they are not overfilled effortlessly. Headphones with an impedance over 100 ohms can normally take in more power from sources without becoming too loud and hurting the drivers. Furthermore, the sound that they develop does not easily Advantage

Additional advantage of high impedance headphones is that they can be paired with several types of amplifiers. Contrary to lower impedance headphones that do not possess a substantial alteration nor expand when paired with an amplifier, the sound of higher impedance headphones can be simply amended or enhanced when paired with a headphone amplifier.

Higher Impedance Headphones Disadvantages

The fundamental disadvantage of high impedance headphones is the evidence that most of them require an amplifier to be appropriately driven. This is not suitable since they will have limited use case procedures as correlated to low impedance headphones.

This implies that lot of higher impedance headphones cannot be used in a mobile setting since they cannot be suitably driven by customer mobile appliances such as smartphones. Specialists such as musicians also cannot readily use these types of headphones in their studio since digital mixers, interface, and wireless receivers do not commonly have a strong output for high impedance headphones. 

Additional disadvantage of higher impedance headphones is they may not sound nice when not appropriately driven. Some sources can make headphones loud sufficiently but if these sources do not meet the ideal requirements of the headphone, then some characteristics of the headphone may not become known. Instances of these are full soundstage or middy highs, and absence of bass. The HD6xx series of headphones are examples of this where bass comes to be less present if not suitably driven. 

Lower Impedance Headphones Advantages

The major advantage of low impedance headphones is that they can be effortlessly driven by most sources. This is perfect for amateurs who might only possess a smartphone or a Personal Computer or MacBook as their source. Another explanation why low impedance headphones are a great option for amateurs is that their sound is not modified too much by the source.

Lower Impedance Headphones Disadvantages

The prominent disadvantage of low impedance headphones is the validity that it can be effortlessly overloaded. What this implies is that the drivers of these types of headphones are vulnerable to destruction or distortion if they are provided with extremely much volume. This implies that they are not approved to be used with headphone amplifiers. 


Discerning these two types of headphones impedance helps you to gain a better knowledge of how the drivers on headphones work.

Read about the types of Headphones here‘.