For people who love to listen to music on the go, a set of mid-range headphones will be enough to provide decent sound. However, if you are one of those who are only pleased by high-quality music, a pair of high-end headphones or speakers is a must.
Many people believe that buying expensive headphones from top brands will let them experience high-resolution audio quality. But it is not always the case. High-quality headphones normally have a higher impedance, which needs a dedicated headphone amplifier like the iFi iDSD Black Label to work well.
Now, if you have bought a pair of expensive headphones and wondering if you can make it sound better by using a headphone amplifier, keep on reading to learn more.
How to know if you need a headphone amp?
Headphones with higher quality need more power to function properly. Connecting your headphones directly to any audio source, such as a laptop or smartphone, won’t let you enjoy a good quality sound or reach your desired level of volume. It is because built-in amplifiers of these audio sources can’t provide enough energy to high-end power headphones. With that being said, you need a headphone amp to maximize your headphones’ full capacity and experience a better music quality.
If you want to know if the headphones you bought need a headphone amp, you have to check their specifications. Generally, you will see a lot of stuff in a headphone’s specs, but you only need to check three key specifications on the list:
The headphone sensitivity is associated with its impedance and also depends on multiple factors. It measures the loudness that is produced by the headphones when a current runs through them. A pair of headphones with higher sensitivity can produce higher sound levels than ones with lower sensitivity at the same power. It is also called Sound Pressure Level or SPL, or sound efficiency. The SPL is measured in dB or decibel level.
Headphones with lower sensitivity ratings need more power to reach higher sound quality and the right volume. On the other hand, headphones with a high sensitivity rating can detect unwanted sound signals, such as electronic hissing noise.
This is the measure of resistance made by a device or object to the electrical current stream that runs through it. With this in mind, if you put the same amount of energy to two devices with different levels of impedance, the device with less impedance will receive more flow of current compared to the device with a higher impedance. Ohms (Ω) is used to measure impedance.
Regular headphones have 16-32 ohms, and higher quality headphones have at least 200-600 ohms. Normally mp3 players, smartphones, and laptops can handle headphones with 35 ohms well. You can get a good sound quality at 35-100 ohms, but using a headphone amp, such as iFi iDSD black label, can make it a lot better. Moreover, for any headphones with 100 ohms, it is advisable to use a headphone amp.
The range of the sound in which a headphone can produce is measured by frequency response, using Hertz or Hz. Typically, the frequency range covers three sound spectrums: High-frequency treble, mid-range, and low-frequency bass. Most pairs of headphones typically have a range of 20-20,000Hz. The human ear can’t hear any sound that is lower or higher than this range.
The headphone amplifier works like a regular amplifier, boosting an electrical signal’s voltage, current, and power. However, it used less energy to work and was modified to enhance headphones. To use it, you must connect the headphone amp to the audio source and connect your headphones to the headphone amp.
Compared to regular amplifiers used on any device that lets you listen to music; headphone amps are consumer-grade models or standalone units used by hi-fi enthusiasts or audiophiles.