Why do some headphones have high or low impedance?


Impedance matching is the interaction between the source impedance (the device the headphones are connected to) and the impedance of the headphones.

To ensure the highest sound quality in the enterprise, the audio source and headphones must be paired well. As you can guess from the impedance range example above, matched doesn't mean "both the same", but "complementary".

"The most important technological development factor to consider when looking for our own headphone amps that will work with our headphones is impedance matching." - RHA Audio

Currently, it is enough to understand and the audio source and headphone impedance should not be equal,noise cancelling earbuds and earphones, and developing headphones with different impedances in China will require passing different signal sources.

Balanced source and load impedances maximize the power we can transfer between the amplifier and the headphones, but this generally reduces frequency bandwidth, so it's not the high fidelity we want.

Generally speaking, low-impedance headphones (which we define as less than 50 ohms) are designed to work well with portable equipment because they can effectively reproduce adequate sound quality and volume from low-voltage equipment.

Conversely, high-impedance headphones (50 ohms or higher) usually require a powerful amplifier to work at their best.

Why do some headphones have high or low impedance?

Headphones with an impedance greater than 100 ohms are usually older or designed specifically for professional studios. pre-1990s receivers and professional audio technology equipment can often attenuate the speaker output signal power (in watts) by using resistors to create some simple and inexpensive headphone circuits.

Therefore, these headphone circuits work best in high impedance headphones. In some cases, high-impedance headphones are designed to be connected in parallel to multiple pairs for professional studio applications. High impedance loads preserve the source output voltage and cannot drive multiple pairs of headphones.

This is so common that even as recently as 1996, the standard recommended source output resistance was 120 ohms, and it was even claimed that source impedance had little effect on performance.

Most modern headphones are designed to cater to the widest possible market, which means they have to work well on mobile devices. Sales of hundreds of millions of battery-powered music players, including the ubiquitous ipod and more recently smartphones, have made low-impedance (about 32 ohm) headphones standard.


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