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Topic: 32ohm vs 250ohm vs 600 ohm headphones (Read 102966 times) previous topic - next topic

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  • aaronius
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32ohm vs 250ohm vs 600 ohm headphones
Ok, I'm just getting my feet wet into this audiophile stuff. But, I love my music and want to hear in the best way possible that I can afford.  I have found a really nice pair of headphones that fit my budget.
However, they come in 3 different OHM's.  I can get the Beyerdynamic DT 990's in 32 ohm, 250 ohm, 600 ohm.  From what I understand the 32 ohm doesn't require a seperate headphone amp
and can easily be driven by a pc or mp3 player.  (I'll mention that all my music is in AAC 256kbps.  Not quite lossless but still much better than standard 128 kbps mp3.) But the 250 ohm and 600 ohm do need an
amp to get the best out of them. 

My questions are:

1) how much better sounding is the 600 ohm over the 250 ohm over the 32 ohm?  If any?
2) Will an inexpensive headphone amp like the Fiio E7 or E11 drive the 250 ohm enough to get the sound I paid for?
3) I plan on using these on my desktop computer for music (rock/metal) and gaming.  Am I better off with the 32 ohm or is it worth the extra expense to get a cheap amp for the 250 ohm?

I appreciate the educated feedback as I am a complete noob and need help on this. 


  • hlloyge
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32ohm vs 250ohm vs 600 ohm headphones
Reply #1
Are specs for all three of them the same? If they are, I would choose 32 ohm ones, easiest to drive with practically whatever you plug them in.

  • markanini
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32ohm vs 250ohm vs 600 ohm headphones
Reply #2
The freqency responce ends up being slightly different for the same model with different Ohmage as in this case. Which one is better is up to you. As a generality higher Ohmage headphones are better performing across the board. You might want a amp even if you choose a 32Ohm model for the sake of impedance matching, I doubt there is a sound card with an 8Ohm headphone outout(1:8 rule).

  • saratoga
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32ohm vs 250ohm vs 600 ohm headphones
Reply #3
1) how much better sounding is the 600 ohm over the 250 ohm over the 32 ohm?  If any?


Impedance doesn't relate to quality.  Mostly, the difference is just that higher impedances won't be quite as loud for a given amplifier voltage, and lower impedances will be somewhat harder on an amp since they'll draw more current.  For things in the 32-100 range, theres not much difference.  600 ohms might be a little quiet on some devices, depends on the sensitivity of the headphones (how loud they are per mW of power delivered).

2) Will an inexpensive headphone amp like the Fiio E7 or E11 drive the 250 ohm enough to get the sound I paid for?


I probably wouldn't bother amping high impedance headphones unless they're too quiet. 

As a generality higher Ohmage headphones are better performing across the board.


Thats not true.

You might want a amp even if you choose a 32Ohm model for the sake of impedance matching,


I think you just misphrased this, but you don't impedance match headphones.  They're deliberately run mismatched.

I doubt there is a sound card with an 8Ohm headphone outout(1:8 rule).


32 divided by 8 would actually be 4 ohms.  And to be clear, thats not particularly low for a good headphone output.

  • IgorC
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32ohm vs 250ohm vs 600 ohm headphones
Reply #4
Higher impedance implies less distortion in this particular case (DT990). http://www.headphone.com/buildAGraph.php?g...pare+Headphones
  • Last Edit: 17 February, 2012, 10:18:04 AM by IgorC

  • pdq
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32ohm vs 250ohm vs 600 ohm headphones
Reply #5
Higher impedance implies less distortion in this particular case (DT990). http://www.headphone.com/buildAGraph.php?g...pare+Headphones

I'm not sure I would read too much into that. The highest harmonic peak is down more than 60 dB.

  • saratoga
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32ohm vs 250ohm vs 600 ohm headphones
Reply #6
That tiny difference is probably due to the limitations of the headphone amp, not the headphones.  Higher impedance == lower load on the amp == (very slightly) less THD.

  • IgorC
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32ohm vs 250ohm vs 600 ohm headphones
Reply #7
That tiny difference is probably due to the limitations of the headphone amp, not the headphones.

The distortion introduced by headphones is much higher than one of amp's.
The transducer will always have higher distortion than electric/electronic circuit.

Example:
Headphones HD650 - THD 0.05% = -66 dB
Headphone amplifier of audiointerface E-MU Pre Tracker - THD+Noise  0.00175% = -95 dBA

http://www.sennheiser.com/sennheiser/home_...adphones_009969
http://www.ixbt.com/proaudio/emu/tracker-pre/2444.shtml

Higher impedance implies less distortion in this particular case (DT990). http://www.headphone.com/buildAGraph.php?g...pare+Headphones

I'm not sure I would read too much into that. The highest harmonic peak is down more than 60 dB.

60dB.  Is it much or not. It's relative.  Apple cheap stock buds have noise at -40 dB. Is it much?
  • Last Edit: 17 February, 2012, 11:39:49 AM by IgorC

  • pdq
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32ohm vs 250ohm vs 600 ohm headphones
Reply #8
I think what saratoga was trying to say is that the harmonic distortion of the headphones varies with the ratio of the headphone's impedance to that of the amplifier, i.e. the 600 ohm headphones perform better from the same amplifier than the 250 ohm headphones. The amplifier is not the source of the distortion, but it affects the distortion of the headphones.

As for THD, 0.05% is way less than the best that you can get from vinyl, but you don't see audiophiles throwing away their turntables.
  • Last Edit: 17 February, 2012, 11:42:23 AM by pdq

  • IgorC
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32ohm vs 250ohm vs 600 ohm headphones
Reply #9
I think what saratoga was trying to say ...i.e. the 600 ohm headphones perform better from the same amplifier than the 250 ohm headphones.


Impedance doesn't relate to quality.


These two statements have a very little sense together. 


  • saratoga
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32ohm vs 250ohm vs 600 ohm headphones
Reply #10
That tiny difference is probably due to the limitations of the headphone amp, not the headphones.

The distortion introduced by headphones is much higher than one of amp's.
The transducer will always have higher distortion than electric/electronic circuit.


Not necessarily.  The distortion introduced by the amplifier depends on how good it is, and the load applied.

Example:
Headphones HD650 - THD 0.05% = -66 dB
Headphone amplifier of audiointerface E-MU Pre Tracker - THD+Noise  0.00175% = -95 dBA


Those are 0 load measurements.  The distortion introduced by an amplifier is approximately proportional to the load.  As you noted, at zero load there is essentially 0 THD.  Try those measurements again with a 16 ohm load.  Then an 8 ohm load.  I bet THD is >>1% then

60dB.  Is it much or not. It's relative.  Apple cheap stock buds have noise at -40 dB. Is it much?


-60dB is basically irrelevant.

These two statements have a very little sense together.


Higher impedance will introduce less load on the amp, but its ridiculous to imply that distortion 60dB below peak (or even more!) equates to quality.  Its basically irrelevant compared to the performance of the headphone itself.

  • IgorC
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32ohm vs 250ohm vs 600 ohm headphones
Reply #11
Those are 0 load measurements.  The distortion introduced by an amplifier is approximately proportional to the load.  As you noted, at zero load there is essentially 0 THD.  Try those measurements again with a 16 ohm load.  Then an 8 ohm load.  I bet THD is >>1% then

It was a loopback between line-out and line-in. Not quite 0 load but, yes, I tend to admit that the impedance is on high side there.
l take some time for detailed researchment and learning

  • saratoga
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32ohm vs 250ohm vs 600 ohm headphones
Reply #12
For what its worth, this series of blog posts is one of the best overviews on the subject I have seen:

http://nwavguy.blogspot.com/2011/02/headph...-explained.html

Although it touches more on frequency response then THD (which is fine, since frequency response is probably more important anyway).

  • markanini
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32ohm vs 250ohm vs 600 ohm headphones
Reply #13
As a generality higher Ohmage headphones are better performing across the board.


Thats not true.

Yeah, actually it's the amp that has a easier job of producing a more accurate output for higher impedance headphones. Amp issues aside the different models will have a different frequency responce which don't have hard correlation to impedance specs. The frequency responce will likely be the most audible parameter which is why you audition a phone before making a purchase.
  • Last Edit: 17 February, 2012, 01:10:41 PM by markanini

  • IgorC
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32ohm vs 250ohm vs 600 ohm headphones
Reply #14
@Saratoga
Thank You for a useful link.

I've read  an overview some time ago. http://doctorhead.ru/articles/emu0204usb
EMU 0204:
For real use ( V >0.1 V)
30 ohms -> THD 0.005% (worst case)
300 ohms -> THD < 0.001%.  (worst case too)

And those THDs are still less than headhpones's one.

  • Last Edit: 17 February, 2012, 01:28:30 PM by IgorC

  • bryan2112
  • [*]
32ohm vs 250ohm vs 600 ohm headphones
Reply #15
Ok, I'm just getting my feet wet into this audiophile stuff. But, I love my music and want to hear in the best way possible that I can afford.  I have found a really nice pair of headphones that fit my budget.
However, they come in 3 different OHM's.  I can get the Beyerdynamic DT 990's in 32 ohm, 250 ohm, 600 ohm.  From what I understand the 32 ohm doesn't require a seperate headphone amp
and can easily be driven by a pc or mp3 player.  (I'll mention that all my music is in AAC 256kbps.  Not quite lossless but still much better than standard 128 kbps mp3.) But the 250 ohm and 600 ohm do need an
amp to get the best out of them. 

My questions are:

1) how much better sounding is the 600 ohm over the 250 ohm over the 32 ohm?  If any?
2) Will an inexpensive headphone amp like the Fiio E7 or E11 drive the 250 ohm enough to get the sound I paid for?
3) I plan on using these on my desktop computer for music (rock/metal) and gaming.  Am I better off with the 32 ohm or is it worth the extra expense to get a cheap amp for the 250 ohm?

I appreciate the educated feedback as I am a complete noob and need help on this.


I haven't had my hands on DT990's, however there similar strategy played with the lower DT880's and I've been fortunate enough to get my hands on both DT880 32 Ohms and DT880 250 Ohms...    the 600 Ohms version wasn't available there.

And as to what I see, I see a credible sound difference between both of them. Though I'm not an audiophile (rather a sound enthusiast); I could clearly hear notable sound difference while listening to DT880 32 Ohms via Asus Smartphone and 250 Ohms coupling it with Creative Sound Baster E1 ($35).

And using a starter DAC like E1 works right... if you want to play with 600 Ohms; you'd do need an expensive DAC like Nuforce uDAC3 or Audioengine D1 to run it. http://theroundingsound.com/best-usb-dac-under-200/

I'd definitely recommend the 250 Ohms version...to get a better sound quality without shelling a lot on Amps/DAC and I do think there would much sound difference comparing both 250 Ohms version of DT880 vs DT990

Thanks!

  • KozmoNaut
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32ohm vs 250ohm vs 600 ohm headphones
Reply #16
Most likely the difference you're hearing is because the output impedance on your sources is a little high. A higher-impedance headphone will match better in that case, using the 1:8 rule of thumb. The lower-impedance headphone will often have a significant hump in the bass frequencies when paired with a high output impedance, which can make the sound bloated and tubby.

With a near-0 ohm output impedance, the difference between the 32 ohm and 250 ohm versions should be very minor. Input impedance is not a measure of quality.

I chose to buy the 250 ohm DT-880s, because I something use them with integrated amps etc. with output impedances up to 20-30 ohms or so, but if was only ever going to use my O2+ODAC, it wouldn't have mattered which version I chose.

32ohm vs 250ohm vs 600 ohm headphones
Reply #17
Easy. Buy the 250 Ohms version. That way you get the best of all possile worlds.

You won't need a headphone amp either to produce extra power or to match impedance.

That's not only money saved but you won't need to carry around something else you can lose, break or require charging. They will plug into virtually any device and always sound the same and, unless you have a deaf wish, you will not need extra power. (I cannot put my 300 Ohms HD650 on to max volume with a lowly Sansa Clip. Even when I'm drunk.