Do High Impedance Headphones Sound Better?


When you research for a pair of quality headphones, you will find plenty of products under various technical terms including ‘High-impedance’ headphones. If you are looking for some recommendations and curious whether those high impedance headphones sound better, this is a must-read article for you. 

Do high impedance headphones sound better? High impedance headphones comprise of lighter voice coils with lower moving mass compared to 32-ohm and lower models. The lower mass of these headphones is the key reason for high impedance headphones to sound better. That minimizes the distortion and eventually produces better sound quality. 

What is impedance in headphones? 

Describing impedance in headphones is not as easy as one would think. In fact, you must be aware of several other terms to understand the real meaning of impedance. However, we will try to explain it as simple as possible for our readers to get awareness. 

Let’s consider headphones as a pretty simple electronic circuit. In that case, the impedance of the audio source can be described as the output impedance of source impedance. Meanwhile, the impedance of the respective device (headphones) can be described as load impedance. 

Basically, the impedance of headphones falls between the value of 8-600 ohms. A value around 32 ohms is considered to be the standard of the headphones and that’s a pretty common parameter. The source impedance is very low in general. In most cases, it reads a value of 4 ohms and towards zero ohms. However, when it comes to devices such as specialized tube amplifiers (particularly the output transformer-less models), the audio source impedance can be a whopping value of 120 ohms or more. 

What are the differences between high and low impedance headphones?

If you take a look at the modern-day headphones market, you can find both low and high impedance options. So, it is always better to know the differences between the two. 

  • Low impedance headphones

These are the headphones that have impedance between 16 and 32 ohms. In fact, this specific range works fine with all the portable music players, phones and other devices that come with not-too-powerful built-in amplification. Headphones with low impedance can be more susceptible to blowouts. This is true particularly if you are using a powerful amplifier.

  • High impedance headphones

Headphones that have an impedance over 100 Ohm are considered to be high impedance headphones. Obviously, these headphones demand more power because they produce higher audio levels compared to the low impedance devices. In general, high impedance headphones don’t have the risk of experiencing any blowouts. In addition to that, you can use high impedance headphones with a larger range of audio equipment.

What are the benefits of high impedance headphones?

One of the key reasons for a person to buy a pair of high impedance headphones over low impedance headphones is the clarity of the sound. Compared to the lower impedance headphones, high impedance headphones come with more layers of wire on the voice coil. Also, they have a lower moving mass as well. As a result of the combination of these two aspects, you can enjoy better sound quality with impressive clarity.

The voice coil wires of the high impedance headphones come with a significantly smaller diameter. The wires can fit perfectly together leaving less air between the windings. This formation creates a stronger electromagnetic field on the voice coil. The end result of this is a clearer, stronger audio. The distortion of these headphones is minimal when compared to low-impedance headphones. 

As we have already explained, high impedance headphones require more power to generate audio output. This very reason becomes beneficial because it reduces the chances of blowouts. Even if you use a high impedance headphone with a device that has a powerful amplifier, it will not blowout.

What to consider when buying a high impedance headphone

In general, high-end headphones with higher impedance comes with hundreds of ohms. A large number of consumer headphones you will come across have lower impedance. Those low impedance headphones can be used with your smartphone, tablet, laptop or computer without any issue.

However, when it comes to high impedance headphones, the scenario is different. Those who buy high impedance headphones expect higher sound quality from high-end devices. In fact, high impedance headphones require a dedicated headphone to produce powerful sound output.

As long as you are going to use your headphones with your phone, tablet or a PC, any low impedance headphone would be fine. That means any headphone that has an impedance of 25 ohms or lesser would be good enough. Nevertheless, if you have a device with a headphone amplifier, you can go for a high impedance headphone. 

In general, you should consider the below-mentioned aspects when buying a new pair of high impedance headphones. 

  • The impedance level of the headphone is the major aspect you should consider in this case. Obviously, it should be over 25 ohms, since you are looking for a pair of high impedance device. You should remember the greater the number of ohms, the more the power it needs. There are some headphones that come with impedance as high as 250 ohms and they get hardly distorted. 
  • The formation of the headphone must be comfortable to wear for longer periods. The earmuffs must be soft and comfortable and the overall design should be ergonomic. The ear cups must retail a minimal amount of heat to prevent potential discomforts. 
  • Noise cancellation feature is another important feature you should check for when purchasing high impedance headphones. This feature is exceptionally helpful if you intend to experience seamless, clear and high-resolution audio. 
  • Having a tangle-free headphone is another important feature you should check. Otherwise, dealing with cables becomes a nightmare for any individual. 
  • The type of driver is another important aspect you must check before purchasing headphones. This indicates the style of the headphones (open-back Vs. closed). Open-back headphones come with no sound isolation and they come with pretty smaller speakers that are closer to your ears. If you listen to music with a cranked-up volume with open-air headphones, the ones around you can hear it. Pretty much all the audiophiles prefer having an open-air model because this model doesn’t necessarily muffle the sound as opposed to closed type. Also, they accumulate less amount of heat. 

Examples of high impedance headphones

Now that you know the meaning of impedance and the difference between high- and low-impedance headphones, it’s better to take a look at a couple of examples. Mentioned below are two great high-impedance headphones that can deliver superior sound quality. 

Sony Noise Cancelling Headphones WH1000XM3

Sony Noise Cancelling Headphones WH1000XM3

This is a powerful piece that can deliver incredible sound quality with high resolution. This device can be considered as a versatile one because it matches nearly any device you use. It comes with a very handy noise cancelation feature so you can experience undisturbed sound all the time.

You can wear it for longer hours because of the ergonomic design. It comes with an impedance of 47 ohms. One of the key features of this device is that it comes with wireless design. So, you don’t have to worry about dealing with messy codes. However, it can be used as a wired headphone as well. It is activated for Alexa as well. It also has quick attention mode. You can cover the right year cup to turn the music down.

It is smart enough to adjust to ambient sound and offer perfect noise cancellation. It assures 30-hour run time upon a single charge. If you prefer to use a wired connection, you can use the audio cable included in the box. 

Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro 

Beyerdynamic DT 1990 Pro

This is a superb option for those who are looking for high-impedance headphones. It comes with impedance as high as 250 ohms to astonish you. It offers excellent sound quality with superior resolution. This product is manufactured in Germany assuring the impressive quality. This device can be used for purposes such as editing, mastering, and mixing. It has an open-air design to deliver a sound experience with no muffle. You can expect a natural balance of sound with this device. On top of all that, it has a 2-year manufacturer warranty and a 1-year extended warranty. 

Conclusion

Choosing a headphone has become harder these days especially due to a large number of devices available with various types. They vary in design, shape, price, features, etc. High impedance headphones are one of the most special types of devices that are preferred especially by audiophiles.

In this article, we have explained the meaning of impedance and the specialties of high impedance headphones to make it easier for you. You can go through the information once again and choose a product wisely to match your exact requirements. If you need a recommendation, you can consider the two products we have mentioned in this article. 

Rune Bearson

As you can see, I love my headphones! I use them every day when commuting, watching YouTube videos, playing guitar/piano and doing chores. I'm a podcast addict and I like all kinds of music from metal to chillout ambient.

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