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Mixing headphones, impedance and amp/dac

Postby Kea » Mon Nov 23, 2020 4:54 pm

Hello everyone,

I am currently looking to buy good headphones to mix podcast (voices, atmosphere and some music, but no music production). I have finally decided to acquire the Beyerdynamic DT-880 Edition, but I am still struggling to know which impedance to choose. I have the choice between:

- 32 Ohms
- 250 Ohms
- 600 Ohms

600 Ohms is not a possibility, as I will definitely not be able to drive it.
I do not have an audio interface, and I do not need one, as I only do outdoor recording using my Zoom and mics. This means that, if I wanted to get the 250 Ohms, I would need an amp/dac. This would be possible, but it would mean spending a lot more money. On the other hand, I do not need to use these headphones with my phones or on the way, as I have another pair designed for this. The DT-880 would only be used in the studio, to mix my episodes.

My question then is: is it worth investing in 250 Ohms + amp/dac, or would the 32 Ohms be enough for me? Does it make a real difference?

Thanks in advance for those of you who will answer!
Kea
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Re: Mixing headphones, impedance and amp/dac

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Mon Nov 23, 2020 5:00 pm

The 32 Ohms model will be ideal for use with your Zoom recorder. The 250 Ohm version would also work adequately, but you'll almost certainly get more volume from the 32 Ohm set.
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Re: Mixing headphones, impedance and amp/dac

Postby Kea » Mon Nov 23, 2020 6:39 pm

It would be to use with my laptop, not to record with my Zoom! Do you think it doesn't make any difference on the quality of sound to use a 32 Ohm directly plugged in my laptop, compared to a 250 Ohm with an amp/dac?
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Re: Mixing headphones, impedance and amp/dac

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Mon Nov 23, 2020 6:54 pm

Kea wrote:It would be to use with my laptop, not to record with my Zoom!

I don't think anyone here is capable of mind-reading... so thanks for adding the pertinent information!

32 Ohms phones will be fine with your laptop...

Do you think it doesn't make any difference on the quality of sound to use a 32 Ohm directly plugged in my laptop, compared to a 250 Ohm with an amp/dac?

A decent DAC/headphone amp will always outperform the general purpose headphone amp in a laptop.

However, the relevant question is whether the difference would affect your ability to edit and mix a podcast... and I can be confident that it would not!

However, if, in the future, you decide you need higher quality headphone monitoring, then there are plenty of DAC/Amps available, and most would work very happily with 32 Ohm headphones. I've just reviewed the Grace Design m900, for example, which does its best work with 32 Ohm phones... ;-)
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Re: Mixing headphones, impedance and amp/dac

Postby Kea » Mon Nov 23, 2020 8:23 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:I don't think anyone here is capable of mind-reading... so thanks for adding the pertinent information!

Sorry for not being clear enough ahah, just should have proof-read :D

Thanks for your answer, that's exactly what I needed confirmation about. And thanks for the amp idea, I'll keep it somewhere in my mind for later, if I ever want to get one.
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Re: Mixing headphones, impedance and amp/dac

Postby James Perrett » Tue Nov 24, 2020 2:46 am

Kea wrote:It would be to use with my laptop, not to record with my Zoom! Do you think it doesn't make any difference on the quality of sound to use a 32 Ohm directly plugged in my laptop, compared to a 250 Ohm with an amp/dac?

My experience of laptop headphone outputs is that most are a bit disappointing and easily outperformed by most external audio interfaces. Ironically, in my personal experience, the ones boasting the big home audio brand names have been worst. So, even if you don't go for an expensive DAC/amplifier right now, it would be worth picking up a £100-ish audio interface to drive your headphones.

Alternatively, use your Zoom recorder in audio interface mode. If the headphone outputs are anything like those on my Zoom U44 interface they'll be fine (I use it with 300 ohm headphones).
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