What Are Ohms in Headphones?

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Updated June 27, 2022

Before understanding the best headphones for your given situation, you need a general understanding of the basic specs. And one of the most important specs to know is ohms. So that’s why we will outline for you what are ohms in headphones and how this will affect your purchasing decision.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • Ohms are a measure of impedance or resistance and indicate the power levels needed to bring ear headphones to an average listening volume.
  • A low impedance pair of headphones is used for mobile devices, like phones, tablets, and MP3 players, because it takes less source voltage to power them.
  • High impedance headphones need a powerful amplifier to run on and are used more often in music studios.

Another essential thing to know about your headphones is the type of paring connection. And for more information on this, you can check out our article covering what are NFC headphones.

What Do Ohms Mean for Headphones?

You’ve most likely heard the term Ohms used around other words like resistance and impedance. All these words are interrelated, and all have to do with how a pair of headphones is electronically powered. An Ohm is a metric used to calculate the amount of resistance to an electric current. The greater the ohms, the greater the resistance (impedance). The greater the resistance, the weaker the flow of electricity.

Insider Tip

Low impedance does not mean a poorer listening experience, just that it takes less voltage to power a device and bring it to an average listening volume.

So, what does headphone impedance matter?

Headphones are gauged with source impedance ratings of between 8 and 600 Ohms. And the average pair of casual listening headphones clocks in a load impedance of about 34 Ohms.

Read our article explaining what headphone driver size means for more information on headphone specs.

Differences in Impedance

The average consumer headphones are lower than 34 Ohms because of the amount of electricity it takes to run high-impedance headphones. If someone were to use headphones with a high impedance through an average battery-powered device, the juice would drain way too fast. That’s why low-impedance headphones are commonly used by those connecting them to portable devices, and high-end headphones are used in places like music studios.

Studio headphones have a far more extensive winding on their voice coil, leading to deeper bass response and more sensitive sound quality.

Warning

Always make sure to match impedance in audio sources before using; otherwise, you could blow your pair of headphones.

F.A.Q.S

What does the term “headphone sensitivity” mean?

Sensitivity ratings indicate how effectively a device converts a power source into audio sound. Therefore, the higher the sensitivity, the louder your device will be.


Are 32 ohms suitable for ear headphones?

A set of headphones with a 32 Ohm load impedance will deliver a good sound quality through any average portable device.


When do I need a dedicated headphone amplifier?

For a high-impedance dynamic headphone, getting a dedicated amplifier will be necessary to access power levels that drive the full extent of the device’s sound quality.



STAT: Most modern headphones have a load impedance of 20 to 40 Ohms. High-impedance headphones are considered to have an impedance of over 64 Ohms. (source)

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