Headphones & Mp3 Players forum

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Headphone Impedance affecting MP3 players

by Faztang / December 11, 2004 12:07 AM PST

I am interested in getting a pair of noise canceling headphones for my Creative ZEN Micro but it seems like most of them have very high Impedance ratings. I read that you should try to keep the impedance under 64 Ohm's for mp3 players.
The Sennheiser PXC250's that CNET rated very high have a whopping 300 Ohm's! What, if any, are the negative effects of using a pair of headphones with a very high Ohm rating?

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Re: Headphone Impedance affecting MP3 players
by Art / December 11, 2004 2:14 PM PST

I don't think 300 ohms is whoppingly high; I believe that is normal for earphones. For whatever reason/s that mp3 player have lower impedance but I don't think that should affect the fidelity (at least that's my guess).

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Re: Headphone Impedance affecting MP3 players
by Faztang / December 11, 2004 10:35 PM PST

Thanks. The reason I thought 300 was high is because every other pair of portable headphones i have bought ranged from 16-32 ohms. 300 seems like a significant difference.

This was the article from Crutchfield:
One issue that's especially important for portable headphones is impedance. The higher the impedance, the more electrical energy is required to drive the headphones' tiny speakers. Because of the limited power available from a portable player, headphones for portable use should have a maximum impedance of 64 ohms ? the lower the impedance, the more efficient the 'phones, and the more volume you'll get out of them.

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That article over simplified how things work.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / December 11, 2004 10:59 PM PST

Apologies in advance if something doesn't make sense. But do ask if you feel like it.

The issue is not so simple. To get 100 mW from some earphones, the same "electrical energy is required" at either 16 Ohms or 300 Ohms. In fact the 300 Ohm headphone would have an advantage which I'll reveal in a moment.

The first problem is that the amplifier in the player may not be able to reach the higher voltages to get the 300 Ohm non-amplified headset to produce a lot of volume. But if it did produce the sufficient voltage the 300 Ohm headset wins out in other areas. One is that the small amount of resistance in the cable and connection now play a much smaller role. More power actually makes it to the speakers and less is lost in the wires and connections.

Another issue pops up and the amplifier may not work well at all impedances. Nothing firm can be stated here since there is no standard design in these units.

You'll have to try it and see if you like it.

Hope this helps.


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Re: Headphone Impedance affecting MP3 players
by olyinaz / December 12, 2004 11:28 AM PST

Yes, you will indeed find that MANY headsets do not work well with your Zen Micro.

I tried the Sennheisers and they did not work well at all because the player was unable to drive them to acceptable sound levels.

I settled on a pair of Bose QuietComfort 2 active noise canceling headsets. Yes, they're bloody expensive. They do, in fact, sound really great though and the ANC circuitry works better than most.

The Bose CQ2s come with a variable impedance that allows you to set them for portable music players and then notch it up a level if you are going to be using them with home stereo or, more troublesome sometimes, airplane audio.

With that said, I often find myself jamming at near max, or even max, volume levels with my Micro and the great thing about that player is it will still drive cleanly at max volume if that's where you need to be to get high sound pressure levels. I tried a Rio Carbon, for example, and it would start to degrade and clip at two clicks from max and was unable to drive even my Boses at acceptable sound levels.

If you find another set of ANC headsets or ear buds that work well with the Micro, please post!

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Re: Headphone Impedance affecting MP3 players
by Faztang / December 13, 2004 12:25 PM PST

Thanks for the info..very helpful.
In regards to ear buds the Sony MDR-J20 are pretty good for working out.

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