What is impedance?

What is impedance?


To start, impedance is a topic that can get technical and complicated very quickly. For this reason, we are going to focus this article with the basics of what impedance is, the differences between high and low impedance headphones, and what that means for you when looking into a pair of headphones.


By Oxford definition:"Impedance is the effective resistance of an electric circuit or component to alternating current, arising from the combined effects of ohmic resistance and reactance."To simplify by application, impedance (effective resistance) exists in both the audio source (often referred to as output impedance) and the speakers/headphones to you listening with (often referred to as load impedance). Impedance is measured in ohms, and depending on the “resistance” level of your headphones, you may or may not need more power from your audio source. The question you can ask yourself when considering impedance is “what is the best match I can make to compliment my headphones to my audio source. 

For now, let’s focus on load impedance for headphones.Headphones with low impedance usually do not require high power output from its audio source to produce audio at high levels. This is because the electrical current isn’t being resisted as much. Most cell phones are good examples of sources that would be more suitable for low impedance headphones. It is important to note that overloading low impedance headphones with a high power source or amplifier will more than likely result in a blown speaker. Low impedance headphones are generally estimated at 25 ohms or below.


On the other end, headphones with high impedance have more electrical resistance. This means that you will naturally need more power output from your audio source to allow these high impedance headphones to achieve their optimal sound and volume. This boost of power usually makes for a wider representation of audio frequencies as well as more impactful dynamic range. There is a large variety of different headphone amplifiers and portable audio players that have higher electrical output, but as mentioned earlier, impedance also occurs in the audio source. High impedance headphones are usually estimated at 25 ohms and above.In regards to Moore’s law, technology is simply getting better and better. In 2019, headphones with an average load impedance of 32 ohms are becoming the new audio standard for a high-quality sound that doesn’t cost a fortune or requires an expensive headphone amplifier. Most smartphones are suitable for powering these headphones, which means the sound quality and musical experience we have will get better and better in time. Our new AU Stream ANC headphones meet this new 32-ohm standard and sound great with standard smartphones, and since they aren’t considered low impedance (<25 ohms), you can generally power these a bit more, resulting in a richer and louder sound.Impedance matching doesn’t simply mean matching impedance numbers of your audio source and headphone. Finding the most appropriate match depends on more factors including the power of your amplifier or audio source, your headphones “load impedance”, your “output impedance”, and your headphone sensitivity (a whole different but relevant topic). There is a lot more to cover in regards to impedance, so stay tuned for future articles where we cover impedance matching, headphone sensitivity, and much more that will empower you to make the best decision on your next pair of headphones.


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Ausounds Headphone Testing


Ausounds headphones undergo rigorous testing before they are approved to hit the shelves. In order to deliver the best quality listening experience possible, it is absolutely crucial that headphone manufacturers test their headphones correctly to ensure that they perform as intended. For electronic performance alone, we have a 30 step testing process, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg.


Our headphones are tested over 150 times for the best balance of dB isolation for top-tier quality audio reproduction. In addition, we test over twelve different touch points for each pair of headphones we make. These tests include but are not limited to: driver good/bad tests, semi-finished driver testing, ANC mic tests, call mic tests, radio frequency (RF) tests, finished product Audio Signature testing, two-hour charge tests, sweat water spray tests, low temp environment tests(-40C), high temp environment tests (65-75C), 1.2 meter drop tests, waterproof testing, etc. EQ and tuning are a particularly important part of our process so that the Audio Signature in your new pair of headphones is the same that was intended.


Overall, we have a 45-step quality control process because we truly care about providing the best value and listening experience possible. Every time.What about when you get your headphones and want to test them yourself? There are some great resources out there that you can download free frequency sweeps (with voiceovers) to test the Audio Signature yourself. We would recommend AudioCheck.Net for various test tones and frequencies.Finally, It wouldn’t make much sense to use different songs with different sonic qualities when comparing specific sections of the frequency spectrum such as the low end. Some songs in different genres don’t even have audio information below or above certain frequencies because of how they are recorded or filtered. Because of this, it is generally useful to use a spectrogram to visually see audio information of your file while listening, so that you can intentionally listen for qualities in each frequency range. There are a few browser-based spectrograms out there, but you can also download a free spectrogram application from this link:


We are committed not only to bringing you the best audio we can engineer but also the best information about audio news and music creators.


Best Headphones For Music


Headphones are not all built in the same way and can have various different built-in EQs or frequency curves for “enhancing” sound quality. 


Sometimes, this can improve the sound quality in a way that it gives “personality” to the headphone (think of the bass in Beats headphones). Other times it can amplify muddiness or harshness that wasn’t intended by the audio engineer or artist. This is why most producers, artists, and engineers usually lean toward a more tame frequency response curve.The best headphones for music creation/monitoring have mostly flat frequency response curves to get the most accurate reproduction of the original intended sound. While this can be great for its purpose, not all headphone users are recording artists or producers. This is why there isn’t an overall “best” frequency curve for headphones - it all just depends on what you are using them for.As recording technologies become more affordable and portable over time, artists have been more frequently using “mobile studios” record demos and samples in different environments.A few examples are Andrew Huang, Lights, and Ninajirachi, but there are plenty of other artists who go “sample hunting” for unique samples to bring home and produce with.


Aside from a flat frequency response curve, comfort and mobility are also considerable factors in the modern-day “mobile studio” in regards to headphones. As Active Noise Cancellation (ANC) is becoming more and more common, artists and music lovers are more frequently bringing their laptops to coffee shops and libraries to work on or listen to their music without outside noise being an issue. Our AU Stream ANC headphones are a great example of a quality pair you can take out in the field when you are arranging, mixing, or recording samples for your tracks. They are even perfect for everyday listening or studying when you need to drown out the world for a moment.Inspiration can strike at a moments notice. Being so, it is important to have the right headphones for the job. Our AU Stream ANC headphones are lightweight, portable, durable, and most importantly comfortable. Did we mention that they also sound amazing? Try them out for yourself!


We are committed not only to bringing you the best audio we can engineer but also the best information about audio news and music creators.