Beginner audiophile? Here’s how to level-up your audio game without breaking the bank
Published: July 31, 2020 5:24:47 pm
Headphones having impedance levels above 35 ohms, cannot be driven by your source directly, as they may not be able to provide sufficient power. (Express Photo: Nandagopal Rajan)
The most probable step that a beginner audiophile looks into generally is to look for a Hi-Res Portable DAP (Digital Audio Player) which in most instances, could turn out to be really expensive on your wallet and refrain you from getting into high-quality sound if you choose not to spend so much. Raghav Somani, Founder and CEO, Headphone Zone, shares below few alternate solutions, where you can get high fidelity sound, without breaking the bank!
Go wireless with a Hi-Res Bluetooth amplifier
If you feel like the volume output from just your headphones plugged into your smartphone or your computer is not good enough for you, or if you feel like the bass is lacking the oomph you enjoy, it’s because you need a dedicated headphone amplifier.
In simple words, an Amplifier multiplies the amplitude of your sound. It makes the sound output louder. There are numerous technologies with which amps are made. Basically they consist of a transistor circuit that multitudes the audio and makes it louder with a circuit to control it.
In order to establish what the right amp would be for your headphones, you need to understand the concept of impedance. You may have come across the term impedance quite often, it’s in the specifications of all headphones, earphones and speakers. Impedance, in the context of headphones, is the resistance to current that flows as an audio signal. Most In-ears and Over-ears have an impedance in the range of 15 to 32 ohms. These headphones will definitely be able to play your music to the proper volume levels without the requirement of a headphone amplifier. That said, adding an amplifier to low impedance headphones will still have a positive effect on the quality of the sound, especially if your source’s DAC is of good quality. On the other hand, if the DAC in your smartphone or computer is of substandard quality, adding an amplifier would likely make the sound worse.
Headphones having impedance levels above 35 ohms, cannot be driven by your source directly, as they may not be able to provide sufficient power. From 35 ohms to 300 ohms, headphones have high impedance levels to protect them from damage when plugged into a high power source. Impedance levels are also kept high at par to provide better power response to high-quality materials used in the driver.
Most headphone amplifiers are able to drive headphones up to 100 ohms and above. Do check the impedance of your headphone while getting an Amp. Also check the compatibility of the jack that your headphone has and how you can connect it to the Amp.
Stay wired with the help of Hi-Res dongle DACs
A digital to analog converter or DAC chip is responsible for converting digital music files to an analog signal output from your phone. All phones, laptops, and really any device with a 3.5mm output would have an inbuilt DAC. Unfortunately, most smartphone DACs are woefully inadequate in giving you a good quality sound output.
Since the time our smartphones became our go-to for listening to music, DACs have become all the more important for audiophiles. The only problem here is that while the convenience of using your smartphone for music listening is ideal, smartphones aren’t made to sound great. While our phones and laptops have a DAC, it is not dedicated for playing audio. An external DAC will vastly improve your music listening experience.
Nowadays DACs come separately and are portable, easily connecting to your phone or laptop over Bluetooth or using a USB Type-C or Lightning cable, and bypass the in-built DAC in your smartphone for a better musical experience. The DAC is capable of playing high-resolution audio up to the highest formats and make a very big impact on the signal going to your headphones.
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