Tag: Headphone Amplifier

Portable and Desktop Headphone Amplifier Solutions

At the most subjective level, headphone amplifiers might make a pair of headphones sound louder at lower volume levels. More specifically, a headphone amplifier does much more to the physics of a headphone’s drivers than simply produce more sound. Most importantly, a headphone amplifier gives the drivers the power necessary to control its motions in a precise manner and thus increase the quality of a headphone’s sound reproduction.

Portable Headphone Amplifier Solutions

The AKG K240 MKII

For music lovers seeking to ditch the white buds, it is important that the headphones are adequately matched to an appropriately potent power source. Assuming the highest quality sound files, pairing a set of new AKG K240 MKII to a standard iPod would be much like filling a Formula One race car with standard unleaded fuel. While the AKG K240 MKII might perform better than standard Apple earbuds, the full potential of the AKG K240 MKII will not be fully reached without a portable amp such as the FiiO E11 to compensate for the lack of power from the iPod. The increase in sound fidelity and volume when a higher impedance headphone is properly powered is attributed to the fact the the headphones have enough current being fed to them to respond to the demands of the high and low frequencies in a timely and responsive way, reducing overall distortion.

Home and Studio Solutions

Headphone amplifiers in home and studio settings often serve a similar purpose as their portable counterparts, but in a slightly different way. For instance, most computers and home stereo systems feature sufficiently powerful sound cards to drive higher impedance headphones of up to approximately 250 Ohms. In the case of home and studio sound systems, power is not the issue; the issue is quality. Most often, the quality issue is characterized by an annoying hiss. A desktop amplifiercan function as an external sound card, bypassing the internal sound card of lower quality and delivering an equally powerful signal with added clarity.

Whether at Home or On the Road

A headphone amplifier can be a great step in the direction of high quality sound. While an amplifier alone cannot itself make listening better, with a proper set of headphones and quality sound files, you will be on your way to a listening experience that will make you fall in love with your music all over again.

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What It All Means: Frequency Response, Impedance, Sensitivity, and Drivers

As headphones of all types gradually become  fashion accessories, important technical measures of performance with unglamorous scientific measures seem to be preeminently targeted for exclusion by many manufacturers. Further still, even when manufacturers supply technical information, it can often be overlooked and placed beneath less pertinent factors to listening experience and sound reproduction such as model style, crafty novelty, and brand name. Just as one would not purchase a new set of reading glasses because they look “cool” without first considering the appropriate magnification, buying headphones requires that buyers are equally aware of the characteristics that best fit their particular needs. Whether it is a total suppression of relevant information or lack of knowledge surrounding the specifications that make a true difference in sound reproduction, purchasing headphones of any type based solely on emotive judgement can  result in an inadequate and unsatisfying listening experience. To help you make your next headphone purchase as a discerning and refined buyer, this blog will explain the importance and relevance of their most crucial technical specifications.

In the following sections we will define and explore the effect on listening experience of specifications including Frequency Response, Impedance, Sensitivity, and Drivers (which classify better as components rather than a characteristic, yet are imperative to sound quality). This list covers only the most common specifications and do not take signal quality or signal source into account.

Frequency Response

The Grado SR225i features a frequency response between 20 - 22,000 Hz, well within the average human range

Perhaps the most controversial specification among audiophiles, the frequency response uses Hertz (Hz) as a measure of sound waves per second where 1 Kilohertz (kHz) = 1,000 Hz. In reference to headphones, and speakers in general, the frequency response describes the frequencies a set of headphones can produce. Essentially, the lower end of the frequency response indicates the lowest frequency the speaker can produce while the larger number describes the highest frequency the speaker can produce. This, of course, does not necessarily translate into sound heard. The reason for this is because human hearing averages between 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz. What makes this measure particularly polarizing is the general assumption that a frequency response with a lower Hz measurement translates into a better bass reproduction. While a frequency response lower than 20 Hz can be taken as a strong indicator of the potential bass reproduction, measures beneath roughly 16 Hz are felt as sound pressures rather than audible tones. The same logic that applies to bass applies to the treble scale. Sound above roughly 22 kHz tend not to be audible. As a general principle when shopping for headphones, buyers should at the very least be sure to accommodate for the average audible range for human hearing with a safe amount above and below the human hearing range. For example, a set of headphones with a frequency range of about 16 Hz – 23 kHz is  adequate for most casual listeners. Nevertheless, frequency response should not be the lone factor in deciding a purchase, there is plenty more to consider.

Impedance

The Sennheiser HD 650 features an impedance of 300 Ohms making it practically impossible to play with only a portable device

Without complicating matters too much, impedance basically indicates the power demand of a headphone and is most useful to buyers as an indication of a headphone’s application. Impedance is measured in Ohms and when thinking of impedance it is useful to separate into low and high impedance categories.

Low impedance headphones ranging from around 32 ohms to around 100 ohms are particularly well suited for portable applications. Because low impedance headphones require less voltage to produce high volume, a battery powered MP3 player or a portable device like an iPod have enough voltage to allow the voice coil and magnet to push and pull the speaker in the appropriate direction.

On the other hand, high impedance headphones are intended primarily for high-powered applications. High impedance headphones require more voltage from the source in order to reach comparable volumes to a lower impedance headphone. Nonetheless,  at a higher impedance, the tightly wound, thin voice coil wire creates resistance and results in a greater magnetic field that allows a more responsive diaphragm allowing high impedance headphones to push and pull the speaker with greater ease. High impedance headphones can be used with portable devices if they are paired with an appropriate headphone amplifier that will provide the high impedance headphone enough voltage to convert the electrical signal into music.

Sensitivity

In direct relation to impedance is a headphones sensitivity. While impedance describes the voltage necessary to power the headphone at a specified volume level, sensitivity is describes the amount of electrical signal that is converted into sound.  The relationship between sensitivity and impedance is such that sensitivity is a direct result of voltage. In other words, sensitivity tells users about the volume level, measured in decibels (dB), at a specified voltage.  So, if you know the impedance of a set of headphones and the power supply, sensitivity can give users a good idea of the volume you can expect for a set of headphones.

Drivers

Finally, the driver. Easily the most important part of a set of headphones as this is the place where the music happens. Although there are many types of drivers available to consumers, perhaps the most common is the dynamic driver. All the specification discussed up to this point directly affect the performance of the driver. Of particular importance is the driver size, as this most often indicates the type of frequency the driver will best suited to reproduce.

The old adage that bigger is better is only partially true in regard to headphones. For instance, if the goal is to get the most bass out of a pair of headphones and have made sure to see that the frequency response of the headset is sufficiently low, then a large driver may be the best option. Because a large driver with a larger surface area will push more air through the chambers, the large driver is best suited to provide the best bass response. Moreover, because of the large surface area, the pressure of inaudible frequencies will be more noticeable.

However, if your musical tastes and demands tend toward the higher frequencies, a larger driver is antithetical to your purposes. Higher frequencies travel in faster and tighter waves than the broad bass frequencies. This means that your driver will need to respond quicker and fluctuate faster than it would need to with low frequencies. Smaller drivers, with a smaller surface area and reduced mass, are much easier to move making it the most appropriate option for mid to high frequencies.

Conclusion

Despite the continuing trend toward marketable and trendy headphones, these devices are complicated and technologically advanced pieces of equipment that have developed over many years. Understanding how to get the most of a set of headphones require a dedicated degree of commitment and personal investment. Ultimately, the diligence necessary to fully appreciate the characteristics of a pair of headphones can be the difference between just another mundane experience and a lifetime of enjoyment.

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i.Fuzen Premium Cases for iPhone 4/4S Now At Sonic!

Start searching “iPhone” on Google, and you’ll quickly notice that battery life is on the minds of a huge amount of cell phone users. And it’s no wonder – modern smartphones have so many features and capabilities that it’s surprising there’s room for a battery at all, and the battery that is built-in is quickly drained just utilizing the features the phone was designed for! Well, the fine folks at i.Fuzen had enough of singing the Battery Blues, and have developed an exciting new solution for the iPhone 4/4S. The i.Fuzen HP-1 is a stylish cell phone case for the iPhone 4/4S that protects your iPhone while enhancing it’s capabilities with a built-in battery and headphone amplifier.

Double Your Battery Life

Battery Chart
The brilliantly vibrant Retina display is a favorite feature of iPhone 4/4S owners, who have historically had to sacrifice brightness of the screen in favor of longer battery life. With the i.Fuzen HP-1, no longer will you have to limit your iPhone’s potential. The 1650 mAh backup battery built-into this slim case is more than capable of doubling the functional battery life of the iPhone.

Double Your Audio

Headphone Amplifier And Splitter
With all the power available in the onboard battery, it would be a shame if the HP-1 was just a power backup. Luckily, this case features a headphone amplifier designed to dramatically improve the quality and response of any headphones or portable speakers you plug your iPhone into. In addition to providing vacuum tube-quality sound, the proprietary J-FET OP-AMP amplifier is powerful enough to drive two pairs of headphones, which can be conveniently plugged into the dual headphone jacks on the bottom of the case.

The Antithesis of Dull

The HP-1 is available in Black in the “Original” version, and the improved “Sharp” version is available in both Black and White. The Sharp version offers these advantages over the already feature-packed Original model:

  • Unlimited Headphone Amp Usage While Charging
  • Longer Headphone Amp Usage
  • Auto Shut-Off To Extend Battery Reserve
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Upbeat Audio Boostaroo Revolution

Upbeat Audio Boostaroo Revolution R234-2 Pocket Amplifier

I am very picky about the sound quality of my music when listening to it, whether it is in my car, on my laptop, or from my iPod. When it comes to listening to music in my car, I have no problem with the quality, but when im using my computer or iPod, im never satisfied, always wishing that would be louder or pack more of a punch. Well, I guess im not the only person in the world that has these thoughts; Upbeat Audio has made a product specifically for this issue with their Boostaroo Revolution Personal Amplifier.

This exclusive portable pocket headphone amplifier will double the volume output of your laptop or personal audio device while enhancing the sound quality at the same time. The Boostaroo is designed for use with high end quality headphones such as the German Maestro GMP 400 and the Grado SR60i. Its compact, lightweight design allows this amplifier to fit in your shirt and pants pockets with a player and can be clipped to belts, lanyards, or keychains with the built-in link feature. The Boostaroo Revolution is equipped with 2 outputs jacks for use with 2 headphones or speakers and is compatible with portable DVD players, MP3 and CD players, satellite radios, PC’s, Laptops, FM transmitters and anything that has a 3.5mm headphone jack. Boostaroo Audio has constructed this pocket amplifier inside a durable and rugged casing that will last for years, its also features a LED indicator on the casing to let you know when the device is on. For longer playing time, you can use alkaline batteries, rechargeable batteries; and nickel-metal hydride type batteries.

The Boostaroo Pocket Amplifier is great for students, business presentations, teachers, and more. It has enhanced my listening sessions a ton and I can’t believe I went so long without one.

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Grado SR80i Headphones

Grado SR80i

By David D. – Product Specialist

Grado is known to manufacture some of the finest sounding headphones you will ever hear, with the introduction of the SR80i, their reputation will not be diminished. When I had a chance to try the Grado SR80i Prestige Series Headphones, I was quickly intrigued by the lightweight, on-ear design with spongy, supple ear cushions and a soft, fully adjustable headband, which provided me with incredible comfort.   The thick copper cable is equipped with a 1/8” plug and gold-plated connectors, this is perfect for today’s music lovers because it provides a connection for iPod, portable music players, laptops or any other electronic devices that have a mini-jack audio output. A large, screw on 1/4” plug adapter is also included with the headphones for use with studio or DJ equipment, which make the SR80i a well rounded headphone that can be used in any type of musical environment.

As powerful and as impressive as these headphones are, they will not reach their fullest potential until you implement a Grado Headphone Amplifier to them. This is not a necessity by any means, but will enhance your listening sessions immensely. Grados SR80i Headphones sound magnificent with all genres of music, the highs are stunning and the bass isn’t over powering like some higher end headphones. An improved dynamic driver design with open air operation decreases distortion and provides more control over the upper and lower ranges of the frequency range to enhance sound clarity even more. Grado has also produced replaceable earpads for all of their headphones for an increased life-span. When I first listened to these headphones, I was unaware of the price, if somebody would’ve asked me how much I would pay for them, I probably would say around $200-$300, when I found out they were only $99, I purchased them on the spot and have not been disappointed. No matter what music you listen to, the Grado SR80i will not let you down.

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