The Importance Of Impedance

Trying to figure out what exactly headphone impedance is and what it means for you? If you find yourself asking, “What is the importance of impedance in earphones or speakers?” here’s the answer.

To put it simply, impedance is a very technical measurement. It’s also very difficult to explain it without the use of scientific jargon and multiple equations.

That’s why, to keep things easy, we’re going to give an explanation that breaks down headphones with high impedance and those with low impedance so we can explain the difference.

Generally, a headphone set with low impedance (which is under 25 ohms or so) will require very little power in order to deliver high audio levels to the listener. That’s why low impedance headphones tend to work will when it comes to weak amplification equipment, such as a portable music player, a phone, or another portable device.

As such, most consumers find themselves using low impedance headphones. These low impedance headphones are plenty enough to get the job done without them even knowing the difference. You probably have used plenty of pairs of low impedance headphones in your life, and you’re bound to use more in the future. They are practical for the average person’s daily listening use and, as such, are the most popular type of headphone on the market.


High impedance headphones, on the other hand, rate at 25 ohms or above and they demand more power in order to deliver high levels of audio. This means that they are also protected from the damage that could be caused by overloading them and they work with a wide range of audio equipment.

Although you could use high impedance headphones with your favorite portable music player or other device where low impedance headphones are common, they’re generally intended for use with high-end audio equipment that calls for high impedance.

To help give you an idea of where you might use low impedance headphones and when you might use high impedance headphones, and what exactly that entails when considering the impedance rating of a set, most consumers use low impedance headphones in the low 20s.

For instance, Apple earbuds come in at 23 ohms. Higher end studio headphones quickly crawl up in the high 30s and even low 70s.

Most professional DJs will end up picking up a pair of headphones that rate between 25 ohms and 70 ohms.

Although a higher impedance rating won’t necessarily lead to a pair of headphones sounding better, the reason why professionals choose higher impedance headphones is because those with low impedance tend to be more susceptible to “blow outs”, or overloading. This is especially the case when you are working with more powerful equipment and amplifiers, so it makes sense that someone involved in the audio business (or who frequently uses such equipment) may want to pick up a pair of high impedance headphones.

Let’s say you were to use a pair of low-priced, low impedance ear buds (about 18 ohms) with the average DJ mixer. If you turned the mixer up to at or near the max, you’re probably guaranteed to blow out your cheap ear buds, even if they didn’t sound that bad otherwise when considering audio quality. That’s because impedance has little to do with audio quality and more to do with use cases and how much of a load they can withstand.

If you happen to be buying very high impedance headphones, like the 250 ohms Beyerdynamic DT-880-Pro’s, you should take the time to do some more research into the specific equipment you will be using the headphones with. If you are just the average daily listener, however, you could probably never find a need for a pair of headphones with such high impedance.

Remember, impedance doesn’t equal quality. If you bought a pair of super high impedance headphones to use with your daily music player, you’ll just find that you need to turn up the power in order to achieve a higher volume output. That’s why low impedance headphones are generally best suited for such a situation. On the other hand, if you are a person who finds themselves using higher powered audio equipment on a regular basis, it could be beneficial to pick up some higher impedance headphones for that purpose.

So, next time you hear someone asking: what is the importance of impedance in earphones or speakers, you’ll be able to give them the answer! Impedance does not equate to quality. Lower impedance headphones are perfectly suited for lower powered devices, like your smartphone or portable music player. Higher impedance headphones, on the other hand, are better for higher-powered professional audio equipment as they are less susceptible to blow out and better suited for the higher power output these units produce.